Thursday, May 27, 2010


Posts are few here lately since I've been preparing for a long trip to visit all the family as soon as school is done. After figuring out that we couldn't afford to buy a small trailer to use for all traveling from here on out, we looked and researched and googled and finally decided to get one of these:

It's called a hitch rack and it goes on the back of the jeep. We also bought a bag made to go in the rack, but I'm about to go to Walmart to see if there are rubbermaid tubs that might work better. We have a lot of stuff we have to fit somehow!

And for good measure, we also bought a rooftop bag. When all 6 of us are in the Jeep there's not room for much else. (Although at Christmas we fit the 6 of us, all our luggage, and gifts we were giving in there. It was not a pleasant ride! We're hoping not to repeat that!)

Each of the older three have their own cd players so I've been busily working on making copies of tons of audio books and music cd's from the library.
I making copies so I don't have to worry about keeping up with the library originals - we've lost an audio book on vacation before and had to pay to replace it. Not cheap!!!

I read an idea about using cookie sheets as lap desks since they have the edges to keep crayons from rolling off and they are also magnetic. I think that's smart!

I'm also going to have some games ready. Any suggestions? We have two days of driving on the first leg and then a 10 hour drive a few weeks later and then another 10 hour trip to come home. Are we nuts? John assures me that families all across America do this every summer. Maybe we're all nuts....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It was almost a sweet moment.....

This morning Joshua came to me and reached for my hand. He nuzzled his head in it and then put it to his lips. I was ready for a sweet kiss. Then he started spitting a croissant roll into my waiting hand. What a tease.....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Homemade Blueberry Muffins

I've never made any kind of muffin from scratch except for walnut muffins. We are blueberry muffin lovers but for some reason it has never occurred to me to make them without a mix.

For a long time I used the mix with the imitation berries (I'm gagging a little now that I think about it). I thought I was really stepping up in the world when I switched to the mix with the real blueberries in a can. While my kids gobbled those up faster than I could clean up the mess from making them, they just didn't have much flavor. They were bland.

This week Julia and I decided to try our hand at homemade muffins for some new neighbors we have. I found a recipe, we made them last night, and behold.......

I am now a homemade muffin snob!

I know you want the recipe. It's so simple it's ridiculous. And they are SOOOO good! They even have a fancy crumb topping that makes them perfect.

Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk (or a little more)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 4oo. Grease muffin pan or use liners.
  • Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  • Place vegetable oil in measuring cup. Add egg and enough milk to make 1 cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Add vanilla.
  • Fold in blueberries.
  • Fill muffin cups.
  • To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
  • Sprinkle crumb topping on top of muffin batter.
  • Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.
**Muffin tops are the best part so don't be skimpy when you fill your muffin pan!
**Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before making any kind of muffin.
**Don't make these when you have just started a new diet. Trust me.

And if you want more muffin related reading, this is a great post. =)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Manners and Mommyhood

Lately, I've been frustrated with our kids' behavior at mealtimes. It's nothing horrific, but certainly somewhat chaotic and lacking in the manners department. Every meal left me aggravated and feeling like a bad mom.

And then it dawned on me - we haven't taught them manners and how to act. Of course, I know "more is caught than taught", but obviously there needs to be some deliberate teaching as well.

So tonight we made a list of simple rules and after we prayed over the meal we explained that we really want to take them to some neat places to eat on our upcoming vacation to visit the grandparents, BUT our manners need some work. We went over each rule:
  • Stay in your seat and sit correctly
  • Only talk when food is not in your mouth
  • Use a soft, polite voice
  • Make every word a gift
  • Say please and thank you
  • Do not play with your food
  • Eat your food
And then we showed them a jar of stones (purchased at Dollar Tree) and told them that each time we caught them breaking a rule we would have to take one stone out of the jar. If the stones are all gone before our trip then we won't be able to eat at the cool places we want to go.

Dinner was fun. Or maybe I should say dinner "rocked". Talking with food in their mouths seemed to be the biggest infraction of the night, but it was humorous to see them trying their best and getting a little frustrated when a sibling broke a rule.

It was such a simple thing, a "why didn't I do this a long time ago" kind of thing.

I have trouble remembering that all those moments of frustration are actually opportunities for teaching. Instead of raising my voice and shaking my fists I need to train and redirect, guide and explain.

Grumpily picking up all the toys after they've all gone to bed only teaches them to make bigger messes since they won't be cleaning up.

Yelling at my son because he got mad and yelled at his sister does no good. I've only reinforced what I'm trying to eradicate.

Consistency, gentleness, and patience. I'm working on it.......

Friday, May 14, 2010

Awesome Mom Video

My mom sent this to me and it's definitely worth sharing!

Mom Song - Funny blooper videos are here

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Concert

The kids had their spring concert at school last Friday night. The students sang songs they had worked on (including a couple they performed at a large gathering for National Day of Prayer on Thursday afternoon) and there was also a "talent show" of sorts. It wasn't a competition, just an opportunity for them to perform if they wanted to.

I have to say, I was amazed at how eager and undaunted both John David and Julia were to perform a piano piece. I remember always being so terrified at recitals. I hated them! I could know my song perfectly, but it didn't matter. I wouldn't sleep well for days beforehand. Not these two children of mine though. They were cool as could be and until the moment of the performance, I never detected an ounce of nervousness.

John David was first for the talent part of the concert. It wasn't mistake-free, but I think he did pretty well covering it up. (Just for the record, he can play more difficult things, but this song was Star Wars. Is further explanation even needed?)

Julia was next. She is working her way through her level 1 book and was very proud to be playing this arrangement of Ode to Joy which is towards the end of her book. (I'd like to be a braggy parent and point out that a 4th grader played this exact same piece later on.) She admitted later that her legs were shaking quite a bit, something I remember well from many of my own performances. Julia didn't play her piece perfectly - she was an octave higher than she should have been and went with a much slower than normal tempo - but I so didn't care!

I'm sad they weren't decked out in a suit and a flowing dress for their first performance, but they were just following the dress code for the rest of the night.

At this point, John David doesn't enjoy lessons a whole lot - he'd rather play with legos and go outside. I'm just not making it an option though because it's so incredibly beneficial. (Here's just one article about that.) Besides, I'll just keep reminding him how much the girls like it. ;)

Julia, however, seems to like the piano a lot. Already, she is taking what she learns from songs and is making her own music when she sits down to play. I'm impressed by the melodies she comes up with. Listening to my kids make music is something that makes me happy from the inside out.

I didn't get good video from anything else that night because I was busy with Joshua. He doesn't like to stay in one place very long. Exhibit A - video from after the concert at home:

**edited to say: blogger crops the size of the video. sorry!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hurricane Simulator

The big kids went in a hurricane simulator at the mall last weekend. I need one of these things at home to dry my hair after I shower. I wonder if I could successfully put on makeup while I stood in it. That would be a huge time saver. (hint, hint! There's a present idea for those - cough, my husband, cough,cough - who say I'm hard to buy for. A hurricane simulator!)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Teacher Appreciation Treat

Every day this week we've had a different theme for what to take to the teachers. Monday was a special lunch we hosted (complete with massages for the teachers!), Tuesday was flower day, and Wednesday was sweet day.

I made these brownies (You will hate me forever for giving you this recipe because they are so easy to make and so stinkin' good!) I then had to figure out had to package them to look cute.

Do you know about It's a great site! And it's where I got the free printable treat topper I used.

Here's the link if you want to use it or save it for later. All I did was put the best brownies ever in ziplock bags and then I put the card stock topper on there and stapled it. The kids signed their names on the back and delivered them to their teachers, who by now have surely gained 20 pounds each from all the candy and sweets they were brought. (I know I would have anyway!)

And just to make things easier, here's the brownie recipe from Lindsey's blog from the link above. =)

2 c. sugar
1 c. butter
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
3/4 c. cocoa
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
dash cinnamon

Mix ingredients and bake in greased pan at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

* I think it works best to make them in a 9x13 pan lined in foil that you spray with Pam. Once they've cooled somewhat, lift the brownies out with the foil and fold the foil down on the sides and cut them with a plastic knife. They will be perfect thin brownie squares. You will probably also have to bake them closer to 35-40 minutes. Trust me - I've made them lots of times and have mastered this one!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Star Wars at Chickfila!

When the owner at our local Chickfila told us months ago that there would be a Star Wars night on May 4th, we knew we would go. We go most Tuesdays anyway, but we were sure to mark this night on the calendar. ("May the fourth be with you" they told us to help us remember!)

We were not disappointed. John David was bummed at first because nothing seemed to be happening other than some Star Wars decorations. And then, as we were eating, out came the characters! It was so awesome!

Here's the boy with the loves of his life. Don't let his face fool you - he was very excited.
(Can you see Chewbacca in the back? He kind of blends in. And look at Princess Leia's hair! So cute!)

John David posed with Darth Vader.

Aulora jumped in this picture.

We LOVE Chickfila!

(Thank you to Amy who let us borrow her iPhone for pictures. How could I NOT have taken my Nikon??? At least I have these!)

Monday, May 03, 2010

Totally Missed a Kodak Moment

I was driving to the store last night and as I was passing a McDonald's the sign caught my eye. It was supposed to read,

"Try our bacon and cheese angus burger."

Surely someone lost their job though, because a very important "g" was missing. I drove back a little later to get a picture and it had been corrected. Boo!

Joshua and his Punching Balloons

Punching balloons are good, cheap fun.

Until they pop on a blade of grass. =(

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Just for Laughs

This video.....

made me think about this video......

Update on the Tadpoles

This video was taken when we first got the tadpoles. Below is a picture of them in the ladle when their water was being changed out.

Sadly, when the tadpoles were put back in their tank one of them just floated. We aren't sure why exactly he died, but it was fast.

John David was heart broken. He's crying in this picture and saying over and over, "No! No! Please don't be dead!" When we took the tadpole out John David wanted to look but then turned his head and moaned, "I can't bear to look!" It was funny in a very sad little way.

Poor guy. It's his first pet to lose. Currently the deceased is in a ziplock baggie in the refrigerator awaiting his funeral service.....