October 2, 2012

A giveaway for the preK to 1st grade crew

I just wanted to share a giveaway hosted by one of my homeschool bloggy friends. It's a fantastic set of resources for the K-1st grade crowd. She came up with a very creative way to use pocket binders. Check it out!

This is to enter the giveaway –

and this link http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Ldimom takes you to her store where you can buy it or preview the pages.

August 15, 2012

July 26, 2012

Warm Months Menu

I don't know what the weather is like where you are, but right now we've been (not) enjoying temperatures above 100 degrees EVERY DAY.  Most of the time it's 105 or higher with the heat index taking it up another few notches.  It's hot.  Crazy hot.  So hot I miss the Texas heat.

And because it's hot I'm trying to avoid turning on my oven.  Ever.  Once it's on my kitchen feels like a, well, oven, and I'm miserable.  So, I've come up with a Warm Months Menu.  One that we will use while the weather is hot.  It tries to incorporate recipes that don't require the oven and instead relies on the crockpot, stove top (quickly) and/or lots of fresh fruits and veggies.  Basically we'll use this for 5 to 6 months out of the year and then we'll switch to our Cold Months Menu (yet to be written).  By switching only twice a year, I'll be able to stock up on those items I truly need.  I can also do one big grocery shop for all the canned/frozen goods for the month.  Or for 6 months!  I'll only need to make quick trips for produce now and then.  Yippee!

We're trying to cut down on our meat consumption so we've scheduled it twice a week, for a total of 10 meals in the month.  Most of the recipes I have listed, we've already tried and liked.  Some are new and will (hopefully) become a part of our regular rotation or they'll get booted and I'll try again next month. For some meals I have multiple recipes - like 4 recipes for black bean burgers.  We'll try the first one and if we like it we'll stop there.  If it's blah, we'll try a new one the next month until we find one we like.  I'll try to post the new recipes we like so this index stays current with the actual recipes we're using.

I'm working on a master shopping list as well.  I'll post that when it's done.  It will mostly contain the canned/frozen/meat items that can be stored longer term (freezer or pantry).  The produce will not be listed since it will depend on quality and season and which week we'll be eating that certain meal.

Pretty much every dinner meal we serve includes fruit and at least one veggie, usually 2.  I may or may not go back and add those in to each meal plan....I may just go by what's available at the store and (hopefully) my garden.

Meat recipes:
1.  Tacos - ground beef w/taco seasoning, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, sour cream, avocado or guacamole, salsa, sweet hot chili sauce

2.  Hamburgers (or other "fire" foods - we have a Friday Fire every week) - we will probably try various different kinds of burgers

3.  Cafe Rio Salad (made in crockpot and rice cooker)

4.  Pasta Salad - we'll vary what meats we put in as well as the sauce we use - Italian, mayo-based, chicken, pepperoni, etc.

5.  Make Your Own Rice Bowls (rice cooker and meats either in crockpot or stove top - can also make up a large batch of meats and freeze in meal-sized portions for later months, or freeze leftover meats from other meals)

6.  Enchiladas Verdes

7.  Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwiches (we may vary this with other types of sandwiches)

8.  Pad Thai - I actually have several recipes for Pad Thai to try.  I'll post the one we like best once we find it!

9.  Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad (we may alternate other types of restaurant knock-off salads - Asian, Southwestern, Shrimp & Bacon, etc)

10.  Eat out or Birthday Dinner - we have 6 people in the family, on the non-birthday month we'll go out to eat, on a birthday month we'll have a special birthday dinner chosen by the birthday person

Vegetarian recipes:
1.  Fried rice (make rice in slow cooker then finish on stove top or try a crockpot version) - use whatever veggies available

2.  Lo Mein

3.  Bean Tostadas - same ingredients as tacos listed above, with possible additions of rice, corn, whole beans, can use refried pinto or black beans

4.  Falafal (stove top, crockpot or toaster oven) - I have a bazillion falafel recipes Pinned.  Will post our favorite when we've tried them all.

5.  Make Your Own Salad with corn on cob or other "big veggie"

6.  Baked potatoes (in crockpot), salad

7.  Black Beans and Quinoa

8.  Breakfast (pancakes/waffles/french toast/toast w/eggs, smoothie, fruit, etc)

9.  Quinoa burgers - Again, I have a ton of recipes Pinned.

10.  Quinoa salad w/black beans, avocado and cumin-lime dressing

11.  Peanut Butter Noodles

12.   Out Chinese Spring Roll salad

13.  Navajo Tacos - I'll try to get this recipe posted soon.

14.  Smoothie with fruit to eat on the side, raw veggies and non-baked treat like homemade Lara Balls - we'll have this twice in a month

15.  Leftovers

16.  Black bean burgers (stove top or toaster oven) - several recipes to try

17.  Quesadillas, salsa, chips, Texas Caviar

18.  New recipe - two times a month, until we find our "keepers"

June 30, 2012

Breakfast Salad

I had the most delicious salad for lunch the other day.  And even though it's a "breakfast salad" I could happily eat it any time of day.

The recipe can be found here.  I think it would also be lovely to add some avocado, tomatoes, dried cranberries, and matchstick carrots.  Maybe even some kale.  I used mixed baby greens instead of spinach and really, any salad greens would work well.  You could skip the croutons (I did) and make it gluten-free and omit the bacon (but who'd want to?) to make it vegetarian.

So, so yummy.

May 15, 2012

Lomo Saltado

This is not a vegetarian recipe.  This is an authentic Peruvian recipe, made on Mother's Day by my adorable Peruvian sister-in-law with some help from me and our two husbands.

Start your rice.  It's made in a similar fashion to the Brazilian rice, only with 3 to 4 cloves of garlic and no onion.  She used a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cups water....and we made it for 16 people so it was a HUGE pot.

Next, cut your beef into strips (think stir fry) and place in a bowl.  Add some chopped garlic, soy sauce and salt.  Stir it around until it's all mixed together and then, when nobody is looking, swipe your finger into the blood on the side of the bowl and taste if it's salty enough.  Or not.  You can be 'truly authentic' or not.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  We used almost 3 lbs of beef for 16 people, 7 of them being children so make your best guess on how much you'll need for the number of people you're feeding.

Start peeling potatoes like crazy.  Enlist the help of the whole family.  As you peel them, put them into a bowl of cold water so they don't get all brown and yucky looking.  When you have a few pounds peeled, slice them into french fry sizes and lay out on towels to dry just a tiny bit.  Heat some oil in a skillet then start the never-ending process of frying the potatoes.  Remove them to a pan/bowl/whatever with some paper towels to absorb some oil.  Salt.  We used almost 10 pounds and ended up hating potatoes by the end.  To make this for my family of 6 I'd probably used 2 to 3 pounds.

While you're frying the potatoes, start chopping some red or green peppers and slicing some onions and tomatoes.  You want the peppers in medium sized chunks, the onions in medium-ish slivers (cut from top to bottom, not across the middle) and the tomatoes in wedges (Romas work well for this).  Chop up a bunch of cilantro while you're at it.  You can also use zucchini cut into slices.

Fry the meat you had marinating in the fridge.  You may have to do this in batches in order to get it browned on the outside.  You want to sear the meat, not boil it.  Remove it to a bowl when done.

Once the potatoes are done, remove any extra oil, leaving a thin layer across the bottom.  Add the peppers and cook for a few minutes until medium soft.  Add the onions and stir them around for another 2 or 3 minutes.  You want them tender crisp, not soggy.  Add the tomatoes and cook for a minute or two.  Now dump the meat and fried potatoes into the skillet with the vegetables.  Throw the cilantro on top.  Make sure it's a big skillet.  Stir around and turn off the heat.

To serve, put some rice on your plate then top with the beef/potato/veggie mixture or lomo saltado as we call it.

Heave a big sigh that you're finally able to get out of the hot kitchen.....then enjoy some seriously delicious food.  Then go back for seconds.  And feel free to grab a bite of food from the skillet every time you walk through the kitchen.  Hug your sister-in-law and try to convince her to move to Nebraska.  Then snitch another bite from the skillet.

May 7, 2012

Menu for May - 5th to 12th

In trying to maintain our "meat twice a week" idea (now that we've reached the warmer months), this is the planned menu for the week:

Tacos - grass-fed ground beef with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, cucumbers, avocados, sauerkraut, salsa, and sweet hot chili sauce

Vegetable Lo Mein, fruit

Lasagna, lettuce salad, fruit

Main dish salad with roasted potatoes - we'll probably include the following in small bowls and each person can add what they want:  carrots, tomatoes, avocado, feta cheese, olives, sauerkraut, croutons, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, sweet peppers, craisins/raisins....there are TONS of options, these are just the ones we like

Bean tostadas - with the same toppings as the tacos above, fruit

Brazilian Black Beans and rice, lettuce salad, fruit

Indian-spiced Lentils (without the chicken), rice, naan or tortillas, raw carrots, fruit

Vegetarian Lo Mein

We made this for dinner yesterday and it was super yummy.

Add whatever veggies you want to a large skillet/pan and sauté until just barely cooked or soft, it depends on how you like them.

I used:
shredded cabbage (a mixture of red and green)
onion (sliced thin)
matchstick carrots

other great ideas would be:
snow peas
yellow squash
greens - spinach, chard or kale
bell peppers
bean sprouts
green onions
Napa cabbage
Bok Choy

I cooked the onions until rather soft, then added the rest and cooked until a littler softer than crisp.  I used a combination of coconut oil and water to keep them from burning/sticking.

When they were done I added cooked, drained noodles to the pan (any kind will do....and for my family I used the full package).  To this I added half a bottle of Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce and stirred until heated through and the veggies were mixed in.

We had enough to feed everyone (with a few seconds) and two helpings of leftovers for lunch the next day.

This was super fast, super easy and very tasty.  Not to mention mostly healthy.

May 1, 2012

Brazilian Black Beans and Rice

This is my secret recipe for Brazilian black beans and rice.  I learned how to make it looking over the shoulder of many a Brazilian woman so I don't have exact quantities....they don't use them and I never learned how.  So this is a recipe and a cultural lesson.  I should also add that I lived in Rio Grande do Sul so I make southern-style beans and rice.

For the rice - 
Chop an onion (medium to large based on the amount of people you need to feed).  Fry it in a pan with some oil or butter until soft and lightly browned.  If you want to add a few cloves of garlic, do so now and only cook for a minute.  Add the raw rice and some salt.  (To test for saltiness, stir the raw rice with the salt and onions then cool a small amount and place it in your mouth.  If it tastes salty, you're good.  If not, add a bit more salt.)  Stir the rice around until the grains have turned a light brown color.  Add the water, cover and reduce heat.  Allow to cook for 20 to 30 minutes then check to see if liquid is absorbed.  If not, cover and cook another 5 to 10 minutes.  If all the water is absorbed but the rice is still crunchy, add a bit of water, cover and cook until soft.

For my family of six, we use 2 to 4 cups of rice then twice the amount of water.  So if I use 3 cups of rice I use 6 cups of water.

You could just cook the rice in a rice cooker, but the Brazilians I know rarely do this.  Most of you reading this aren't Brazilian so do what you want!

For the black beans -
You can use either canned or homemade black beans.  Start with cooked, however you get them.  Chop an onion, medium to large and fry in oil or butter.  Yep, do it again!  Once the onion is soft and lightly browned add a garlic clove or two.  Cook for one minute.  Add the black beans and heat through, stirring every few minutes.  Salt to taste.  You can leave these thick or thin them out a bit by adding some water and mashing about half of them.  Some people eat them thin like a gravy or sauce, others keep them looking like beans.  You can alternately use garlic powder instead of the garlic cloves, and onion powder instead of the onion.

Most Brazilians use a pressure cooker for their beans, but I've never owned one so I use the stovetop method.  If you do pressure cook your beans, and want an authentic flavor, add the cooked onions.

To eat it all -
We serve this with beans on the plate, rice on the side.  Sometimes we put the beans on top of the rice like a gravy.  Very often they will fry eggs and put it on top of the beans and rice....usually with a slightly runny yolk so it creates a type of sauce.

Often this is eaten with salted tomato slices or a tomato onion salad.  To make the salada de tomate (tomato salad) slice an onion (yes, another one!!!) and place it in cold water.  Let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes to take out some of the "bite".  Drain.  Add a sliced tomato or three, salt, then add a sprinkling of olive oil and vinegar.  Taste it as you go.  You want a salty, vinegary taste that doesn't overpower.

Another way to eat the beans is to put them over french fries, homemade if possible and usually with a fried egg on top of it all.

Bom apetite!

April 23, 2012

Vegetarian Recipe Index

I'm on a mission to change the way my family eats....again.  I've spent a lot of time reading about nutrition and watching health videos and still don't have the "answer".  My problem is that I feel that two very different ways of eating have merit - I agree with the vegetarians and I agree with the traditional meat eaters.  What's a girl to do?

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe that the Lord has given us a modern-day revelation concerning diet called the Word of Wisdom (WOW).  My husband and I have been discussing this for quite some time and have decided that we'd like to make some changes that will (hopefully) help us live more in accordance with the WOW.

We'll be cutting back on our meat consumption - during winter we'll have meat three times a week.  During the warm months, twice a week.  

We'll also be increasing our already large consumption of fruits and veggies and hopefully grow our own.  

Sugar will be reduced to special occasions and rare treats.  

We've already gotten rid of most refined foods, but we'll continue to see if there are other things we can cut out or make our own.  

I'd like to decrease our dairy consumption significantly but I'm getting a lot of push-back on that so we're still discussing.  In the meantime, we are slowly cutting back and finding better (healthier, more natural) sources for the dairy we do use.

And we'll add more properly prepared whole grains and try to find non-grain alternatives for some meals.

I'd also like to focus on foods that are fast, whole, simple and inexpensive.

Since I need to add more vegetarian meals into our diet, I've decided to create a list of dishes I want to try (or have tried) so I have a quick place to look when I'm planning my menus.  (No, I don't do Pinterest.)  Some of the recipes are from my personal collection and not posted online yet....let me know if you want one and I'll get them posted.

My breakfast philosophy - if it can't be made in 5 minutes (or the night before) then it's a lunch food....

most of our breakfasts will consist of a smoothie (or juice) with something from the "Snack" category - other options include:

Raw Carrot Cake Breakfast Bowl
Eggs (many ways)
Pancakes & Waffles (I have bazillions of recipes for these)
Baked Oatmeal - there are many recipes to try
German Pancake
English Muffins (Food For Life sprouted varieties)
Fruit Cereal
Russian Custard - we serve this over sliced fruit
Soaked Granola Bar
Cinnamon Vanilla Baked Oatmeal
Breakfast Burritos
Crockpot Whole Grain Cereal
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Oatmeal
Mixed Grain Cereal with Chai Spice
Toad-in-a-hole/One-Eyed Susans

Granola - I have a bazillion recipes to try, here are a few:
Live Granola Crunch
Crispy Honey Nut Cereal
Pumpkin Granola
Crockpot Granola

Tom's Fruity Medicine Chest
Ultimate Green (juiced)
My favorite smoothie
smoothie template - has ideas for red and green smoothies
Molasses Chocolate Chip
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
several great ideas here
Hot Pink Smoothie
Citrus Surprise - listed towards bottom
Chocolate Coconut Drink

Main Meal (lunch or dinner)
Falafel or this or this or this or this or this
Azteca Squash Soup
Pumpkin Vegetable Curry Stew
Cuban Black Bean Stew with Rice
Sweet Potato Tacos
Grain and Vegetable Casserole
Spicy Pumpkin Soup
Pasta with White Bean Sauce
Bean and Rice Burritos
Crockpot Sloppy Joes
Red Lentil Soup
Tuscan Bean Soup
Mexican Black Bean Burgers or this or this or this
Armenian Lentils
Bean and Butternut Squash Chili
Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas
Breakfast Salad .... yes, for dinner
Brasilian Black Beans and Rice (my special recipe)
Curried Lentil Soup
Sweet Chilean Lime Beans and Rice
Sweet Pepper Rice
Fried Rice - there are lots of ways to do this
Lo Mein - again, there are lots of ways to cook this
Quinoa Veggie Burgers
Egg Drop Soup
Eggplant Parmesan
"Chicken" Fried Steak
Green Enchiladas
Moroccan Vegetables
Barley and Winter Squash Chowder
Inside Out Pot Pie
Vegetable Pot Pie (take a chicken pot pie recipe and leave out the chicken)
Bean Tostadas - there are lots of variations you could make
Sweet Potatoes with Black Bean Chili
Moroccan Couscous with Saffron
Millet and Sweet Vegetable Porridge
Inside Out Chinese Spring Roll Salad
Main Dish Salad - all the toppings you can think of
Baked Potatoes
Black Beans and Quinoa
White Chili
Red Chili (I haven't found a recipe I love so will need to play with this)
Navajo Tacos (in my recipe box)
Greens and Sweets (roasted sweet potatoes on top of a green salad, with or without dressing)
Potato Curry with Rice (in my recipe box)
Reuben Pinto Burgers
Monterey Beans (in my recipe box)
Peanut Butter Noodles
Everyday Italian Rice Salad
Lentil Tacos - there are lots of recipe out there
Kale and Sweet Potato Soup
Slow Cooker Red Rice & Beans (in my recipe box)
Barley with Sweet Rice & Corn (in my recipe box)
Adzuki Beans with Kabocha Squash
Rice Pilaf with Caramelized Onions (from The Kind Diet book)
Fried Udon Noodles (like Lo Mein)
Rice Waffles with Vegetable Melange
Sweet Potato Lentil Stew
Garlic and Greens Soup
African Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew
Sloppy Col Sandwich
Vegetable Crepes (thin pancake filled with all sorts of fresh or cooked veggies)
Tamale Pie (from World of Wisdom book)
Boston Baked Beans (from World of Wisdom book - possibly as a side)
Italian Pasta Salad
Indian Spiced Lentils (crockpot - leave out the chicken)

Fresh fruit and/or veggies
Laraballs and this and this or this or this
Raw Veggie Crackers
Goji Power Bars
Zucchini Chips
Sweet Potato Hummus
Thai Peanut Pumpkin Hummus
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
Honey Roast Chickpeas
Cranberry Wasabi Trail Mix
Raw Cookies
Granola Bars
Homemade fruit leather
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
Chips & Salsa
Granola Energy Balls
Paleo Breakfast Bread
Pumpkin Bars
Raw Balls
Soaked and dried nuts
Breakfast Bars (from my recipe box)
Caveman Cookies
Sesame Fruit and Nut Bars

Raw Frosted Brownie
Carrot Cake
Chocolate Prune Bar - but I must come up with a better name....
Pumpkin Streusel Pie
Raw Chocolate Pudding
Triple Chocolate Flourless Brownies
Peanut Butter Pong Balls
Nourishing Cocoa Bars
Peanut Butter Fudge

And just for fun, I've read/watched the following (and can't remember a few more):

Nourishing Traditions - Sally Fallon
Maker's Diet - Jordin Rubin
Gut and Psychology Syndrome - Natasha Campbell-McBride
Eat to Live - Joel Fuhrman
The China Diet - T. Colin Campbell
Original Fast Foods - James Simmons
Prime Time Health - William Sears
The Kind Diet - Alicia Silverstone
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (video)
Fresh (video)
Forks Over Knives (video)
Food Matters (video)
Food Inc. (video)
Flexetarian Diet - Dawn Blatner
World of Wisdom - Amy Cox Jones
The WOW Diet Words of Wisdom - Michelle Snow

March 12, 2012


I want to be a composter.  I WILL be a composter.  Now that we have our own property I can make my dream come true.  (My husband will be so glad when I actually start instead of just talking about it.)

I've read a lot of composting books lately and my favorite is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting by Chris McLaughlin.  I love how simple she makes it and it's one of the most detailed (yet easy) books I found.  She has a lot of ideas I didn't see anywhere else.

In making your compost you basically want to add "browns" and "greens".  There is all sorts of sciency stuff about ratios but it more or less comes down to 50% of each or "throw in what you have".  You can do it "hot" or "cold"....I'm not going to discuss that because I really am just writing this to help me remember what to add....and what to plan.

My kitchen waste will be going into an enclosed bin so that small animals won't want to take up residence in my yard and then my house.  This will consist of all fruit and veggie peelings/skins/trimmings, egg shells, etc.  Low on citrus peels and NO dairy or meat products and no fat.  The smaller you cut it, the faster it decomposes.

There is currently a sort-of compost bin going on in my backyard.  The previous owners set up some green plastic fence sort of thing but it's falling over and not contained and looks pretty bad.  I'm going to make a pretty one....and plant things around the outside to disguise it AND to fertilize the plants AND to use my space more efficiently.

Eventually I want a big pile out back, a worm farm, a smaller container for kitchen scraps and a rabbit to provide lots of poop.

Okay, for the big pile....

Hay (aged so the seeds are dead)
Dried leaves (shredded is best)
Chipped wood
Toilet paper rolls
Dried grass
Wood ash (but not coal)
100% cotton fabrics
Dryer lint
Cardboard egg cartons
Paper towels
Wrapping paper
Oat hay
Shredded documents

Green grass clippings
Vegetable trimmings
Green leaves
Tea and tea bags
Coffee grounds (and filters)
Animal manure (from herbivores only)
Aquarium water from freshwater fish
Alfalfa meal or hay
Citrus (use sparingly & chop up small)
Weeds (without the seeds)
Human and animal hair
Old flower bouquets
Green prunings
Bedding from rabbits (soaked with urine and with lots of poop - this is great stuff!!!!)

I'll post pictures as I get projects completed and things planted.  Which should be soon because planting season is fast approaching.

March 10, 2012

One of the hidden benefits of homeschooling

The other day, one of my 11-year-olds was having a rough day.  

He threw himself on the couch and declared, 
"I'm so mad I could cuss."  

He paused for a moment, then said, 
"I don't know any swear words."

March 1, 2012

Hit the Reset Button on Your Day

There are times when things just aren’t working right, when children (and mommies) are grumpy, when the best laid plans crumble before your very eyes in the form of a screaming child or a stubborn pre-teen.  Yes, some days you wish you could just send everybody back to bed so you can wake up and try again.  Or maybe just stay there for a bit.

I recently read a fantastic blog post  which detailed 20 ideas for how to “reset” your day.  To her amazing ideas, I’ve added a few of my own below.

Chuck it all and go for a Nature Walk.  Go for a 10 minute walk or for a 3 hour hike.  You’ll be learning while you relax.  Bring some magnifying glasses, binoculars and field guides if you can.

Tell the Never-Ending Story.  At least that’s what we call it.  One person starts and goes for a minute or two then turns to the next person and they have to continue the story.  After a minute or two they turn to the next person and you keep passing the story around until you’ve all laughed a bit and are ready to move on with the day.  Sometimes you need to set rules like “no killing the character” or “no kissing”.

Read a picture book or two to everyone.  Even my big boys still love picture books. 

Everyone grab a book and read quietly for a certain period of time.  Even mom gets to read what she wants!  This can be tricky if you have littles, but they can quietly look at picture books during this time.

Build something together.  Dump out (or provide a bucket filled with) Legos, blocks, K’nex or Citiblocs, etc.  Everyone works together to build something.  Then knock it down and put it away.

Play the Alphabet List game.  Choose a category like food, animals, book titles, etc and name something for each letter of the alphabet.

Crazy Walk.  This can be done with or without music.  Direct them to walk slowly, backward, forward, like a monkey or a cat.  Big steps, baby steps, crawl, hop, whatever.  Have them follow the tempo of the music or, if you’re doing it without, just change when you direct them.

Don’t Spill the Water or Break the Egg – this should be done outside.  Give them a full cup of water and have them walk a line (taped or natural in the yard or on the sidewalk) or go through an obstacle course, without spilling water.  Alternately, have them hold an egg on a spoon and walk from Point A to Point B without dropping it.

Balloon Volleyball – Blow up a balloon and everyone tries to keep it off the ground by hitting it before it bounces.  To make it more challenging add 2 or 3 balloons.

Read a 2- or 5-Minute Mystery.  There are several free sites on the web with ideas for this, or you can purchase a book. 

Only Questions – Have everyone stand in a circle.  One person points to another and asks a question.  That person must point to someone else and ask a question.  Keep going until someone answers or says ‘uh’ or takes too long.

I Love You, Honey – Have one person stand or sit in front of the group.  One by one, each person stands before the person in front and says, “I love you, honey, won’t you please smile?”  The person in front has to respond, without smiling, “I love you honey, but I just can’t smile.”  The object is to get the “honey” to smile so use silly voices, crazy faces, etc.  Whoever can get the person in front to smile, becomes the new “honey”.

Pick a project from Nature in a Nutshell or Science In Seconds.  They are usually easy, short and use common items.

Play a game of Pick and Draw. 

Play with some homemade play-dough.

Use the table or floor and build a giant picture with pattern blocks.  Everyone contributes to the design.

February 28, 2012

In Which I Explain Where I've Been and What I've Been Doing

I'm so sorry for the long silence.  Life.  It happens.

First things first, we're no longer in TX.  We got orders at the beginning of December for a move to NE.  That's when most of the craziness happened.  (We did have some births and deaths that happened before that - all wonderful, spiritual experiences.)  We made an impromptu drive to find a house...which we did...then came home and packed like mad people.  And yes, packing makes you mad.

I've spent most of the last 2 months unpacking all of the stuff I just packed.  And not unpacking.  We broke 4 bookcases and haven't replaced them yet because I don't know where I want them so don't know what size or color to buy.  This whole "basement" concept is new to me.  What do you do with that big space???

The move has created some sadness.  We left some really great friends; they were like family.  My kids have cried a lot and I've cried with them.  And sometimes by myself too.  It's been slow making friends here but it will come with time.

It's also created some new stress.  I had no idea that owning a home would be so stressful (it's our first not-base house).  The first week our main line sewer backed up into the master bathroom and surrounding areas.  Then the upstairs toilet clogged and because it's a newer funky shape a regular plunger wouldn't work.  The plumber is now our best friend!  Then there was a leak in the roof...fixed by the guys who put a new roof on it 5 months ago.  Broken computer.  Windows that just won't cooperate with where I want to put the furniture.  A garage that can't be parked in because it's filled with boxes.  An awning that completely blocks the view of our yard and the park across the street unless you're sitting on the floor.  And pear wallpaper all over my kitchen.  How come you don't notice the annoying things until AFTER you've moved in?

But, we have a nice sized yard.  We have a crazy squirrel, and his brother/enemy/girlfriend that he chases all over.  We had a hawk sit on a tree in our backyard and eat something squishy and bloody.  There are cardinals and other lovely birds all over the place.  It's so nice to have a YARD.  With big trees and animals.  There are some great hiking areas close by and lots of cool places to visit.  (Remind me that I like the trees once I have to rake up after them.)

Right now I'm planning our garden and trying to control myself and not plant a bazillion trees, berry bushes and more veggies than I can care for.  10 years of no gardens has made me a bit crazy!!!  School is plugging along.  I added my 5-year-old into the mix of 'formal lessons' which is making things a little more interesting.  The boys are really enjoying their studies and are excited about the things we'll learn this year...and the awesome places we'll get to visit.

My husband will most likely start deploying again so I'm trying to prepare myself for that mentally, emotionally and physically - go unpack your basement, woman.

And that's pretty much what I've been doing.  Going crazy.  Moving.  Crying.  Laughing.  Teaching.  Hugging.  Hiking.  Reading.  Planning.  Packing and unpacking.  Living.