Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Break!!

Yeah!  Today is the beginning of Spring Break for my kids.  We began this morning by making chocolate chip pancakes.  I'm not sure what the rest of the week will hold but I'm looking forward to hanging out with the kids and taking a little time off from our normally hectic schedule!  YEAH FOR SPRING!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Chocolate Cravings

It was around 8:00 last night and I was craving chocolate.  We only had various types of chocolate chips, nothing special.  Time to do something crazy, I thought.  I had put off making chocolate eclairs for a couple weeks now.  My daughter, Jessica, wanted to make them with me but having never made them before, I was a little intimidated, so I procrastinated.  Last night I decided I would finally act.  
Jessica using her big muscles to stir
We read through the recipe from Julia Child's book, Baking With Julia, a couple of times so we would be familiar with all the steps.  We got out all the ingredients for the pastry and forged ahead.  Now I realize that making these on the spur of the moment may not have been the best plan, but hey I'm a busy working mom.
Mistake #1:  I forgot to bring the eggs to room temp.
Mistake #2:  I added most of the eggs all at once. (I swear I read "add the eggs separately" but somehow in the heat of the moment I forgot.)  It was turning into a comedy cooking show.  Jessica stirred vigorously to mix my mess together.  Finally it did form a dough.  Maybe we had done it after all.  Oops....
Chocolatey Mess
Mistake #3:  Make sure all items are ready for use before starting the recipe!  I had to quickly search for our pastry bags and tips before the batter cooled too much.  I couldn't find what we needed so I slapped together a big plastic bag instead and cut off the corner.... well I cut a pretty large hole not thinking it would matter.  Jessica did a great job piping the dough onto the cookie sheets and brushing them with egg wash.  We cooked them and realized they were giant sized!
Mistake #4:  I never seem to be content with a single recipe and therefore I try to combine multiple recipes.  Sometimes this works.....other times not so well.  We did not have 1 recipe for a filling.  We wanted chocolate inside but how?  SO I went to my favorite  and quickly combined a couple different chocolate filling recipes.
Well in the end we were both covered in a big chocolate mess.... but ooooh was it delicious.

Finished Product :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stomp Away Your Fear

I have never been all that brave.  I'm terrified of large spiders, I'm scared of swimming in the ocean (JAWS just ruined it for me), and I still hear every creak in the night when my husband is away on business.  Could I expect my kids to be more daring?  Well they aren't.  They are even afraid to go upstairs alone in the middle of the day.  I guess they inherited my overactive imagination.  But this week my husband decided they needed to work on this.  He implemented a new rule:  Every day you must do at least one thing you are afraid to do.  Only by facing your fears can you conquer them.  The first couple days they completed small feats of courage.  But last night, my 6 year old son stomped up the steps all by himself and got a book from my room without even turning the lights on.  He didn't even run back down the stairs, he continued to stomp his way down.  When he returned from his journey he proudly proclaimed, "Nothing ate me!" I guess it's time for me to stomp away my fears as well.

I'd love to hear what you're afraid of.


p.s.  Eleanor Roosevelt said, "I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experiences behind him."
This quote was found on  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Constant Chatter

I love hearing all my kids' ideas.  They have a lot of really interesting things to say.  But the one gem of information is usually sprinkled in between a whole hour long thesis on the techniques of the latest video game or some nonsense gossip.  While writing this post I am attempting to be interested in a discussion of LEGO Star Wars people that seems to have no end.  I want to show interest.  I want to encourage ideas and imagination... but there is never silence.  I always feel bad when I answer a question wrong.  They can clearly tell I wasn't paying attention. Ironically, I'm trying to teach my son to pay closer attention to what people say to him.  Sometimes, he just blocks them out.  I told him people will think he's rude if he doesn't answer someone's question. I wonder if I'm being a little hypocritical, maybe I just do a better job of pretending.

How do you handle the nonstop chatter in your house?


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Garden Buddies

Up here in Ohio Spring comes late, but eventually our drab days turn green.  Some of my summer perennials are beginning to awaken from their winter slumber and my daffodils are waiting for the warm Spring sun to bloom.   My son who is also my garden buddy, figured it must be time to plant his favorite crop of all:  Peas.  So on Sunday after we had done a bunch of running around town, he dug in the closet for his gardening boots.  I felt like collapsing on the couch with a book, but somehow he convinced me to dig in the dirt with him. We made three nice rows and he carefully dropped pea seeds along the rows.  We covered them up, watered them, and put away all our stuff.   The whole process only took about a 1/2 hour.  Taking a little time to share the joy of gardening with my 6 yr old made me forget my exhaustion. I was rejuvenated enough from our outdoor work that I was ready to take on our family game of RISK (which I quickly lost and the boys won.)    


Our 3 nice rows for pea seeds
Later perennials

Friday, March 18, 2011

Trip to the Farm!

Yesterday I was lucky enough to join my son's field trip to a local farm park. I thought it might be crazy to have 22 first graders in a barn with a bunch of farm animals, but the kids behaved very well.  They were really excited to learn what they could.  We visited the blacksmith shop and watched a horseshoe being made. The children "ooh and ahhhed" as the glowing steel was taken out of the fire.
2 day old lamb
We saw horses, chickens, goats, rabbits, pigs and a turkey.  The kids  loved petting the soft pink piglets and noticed that the mama's hair was much more rough.  
An official farmer taught us about the different varieties of sheep.  (Honestly I thought sheep were pretty much all the same, but I was wrong.) Then the kids were able to see all the baby lambs, some were only two days old! So cute. Next we traveled by tractor carriage (a tractor pulling an enclosed wagon), to the greenhouse.  Here we learned how bees make honey.  They pass it back and forth to each other multiple times through their straw like tongues.  All the kids let out a big "EWWWW!"  "Honey is bee spit!"  But they quickly forgot by the time the free honey samples were handed out.  Finally we made it to the dairy.  This was the best part.  Every child got a chance to milk the cow.  My son thought this was so cool he asked if he could milk the cow a second time.  All the children left the dairy with a cheek to cheek smile on their faces.    
I was happy that I could share in their joy.
My son milking the cow

The kids' comments and questions were great too.
Some of my favorite were:
"Wow that mama pig has 8 belly buttons!"
"Why is it so smelly in here?"
"Why do bees want to sting us?  Should I not pour water on them?"
"Bees make flowers for us."


Hot horseshoe coming out of oven

Monday, March 14, 2011

OOPS! I Almost Did It Again

Our family has made a conscious effort to unplug from the barrage of electronic data circling the globe.  Most of the time it causes no problems.  Every once in a while however, we miss a rather important bit of information, such as the beginning of Daylight Savings Time.  I missed it last year and was embarrassingly late to work.  Yesterday, I woke up relatively early to get some stuff done and I felt pretty good about my day.  I happened to glance at the calendar and noticed the little caption in the date saying DST begins.  "What? Already?"  I thought.  I didn't believe it.  I had to turn the computer on to see if it was true.  I still wasn't sure.  I checked my cellphone.  Sure enough the Earth had jumped ahead to the future and I was still an hour behind at least this year I made it to work.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Worth Staying Up For

It was 9:45 p.m. and my son was still not ready for bed.  "It will just take a minute Mom", he pleaded. I couldn't wait until my own head hit the pillow, but for some reason I could not keep up my resistance.  I got out a paper plate, the milk, and green food coloring.  He grabbed the soap bottle.  He told me I had to pour the milk onto the plate.  He dripped a couple drops of green into the center.  "Be ready Mom, this is the cool part."  He instructed me to drip some soap right into the center of the green spot.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I figured the result would be slightly underwhelming.  Instead my exhausted eyes feasted on a color explosion as soon as the soap broke the surface of the milk.  Instantly there were streaks of green everywhere.  The experiment was officially over and I could have said "Up to bed", but I didn't.  For about 10 minutes, we gently blew on the it to create a green swirling effect. It was mesmerizing.  Finally, all the milk was green.  We tried to put in another drop of food coloring and soap.  While it did make a darker swirl, the explosion did not repeat.  He explained to me, that the soap pushed away the fat molecules and this is what made the green travel through the milk.
I was so happy I had given in.  What a treat it was that my budding scientist wanted to share with me his wonder of the world.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An Honor

Last week, the mom of one of my students came up to me.  She told me how her daughter, who is 7, had not had any dreams at night yet, at least not any she could ever remember.  Then just the other morning, she ran into her mom's room and happily said, "Mom I had my first dream! Miss Kathy was in it."
What an honor it was for me to be in her first dream! Yes my "job" is to teach these wonderful children to ice skate. But I have truly done my job when they know there is one more person in this great big world who cares about them.



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Good to Be Back!

I'm glad to be back!  I didn't really drop off the face of the Earth just off the blogosphere.  The last two weeks have been filled with all kinds of craziness.... more than usual.  My husband had knee surgery and I had to put everything on the back burner in order to take care of him.  I didn't think I could make it through more than a day without using the computer, but it has been almost 12 days! This is the first time that I have sat down to write.  :(   Though I have missed all my bloggy friends, I realize now just how much time I was spending on the computer not accomplishing a whole lot. OOPS!  I thought I was spending time writing, but I wasn't staying focused on my work.  I would come to a difficult part, lose focus and then check my email for the 12th time.
My sweetie is still recovering and I'm still taking good care of him but I am determined to use my time more wisely!
Wish me luck!! :)  I'd love to hear about where you struggle with time eaters.