Monday, August 11, 2014

School Days

Believe it or not, school has started here in Central Texas. The Blitz and Tinker go to Meridian World School, a charter school nearby.  They start early, take a week off in October and finish a week earlier than everyone else. It works for me!

So the Blitz is in kindergarten. He was fine, but I cried after I left him! He seems too little for school but looks very enthusiastic in these shots.



But he was happy and excited and thinks Ms. Mahoney is the bomb!

Tinker is also very happy to be back in school and practically pushed me out the door. She's a firecracker, that one.

In two weeks Pepper heads to school and then The Captain. More photos to come!

A Clever Homemade Toy - Faux "Find-It"

I've been quiet here because I've been in the summer doldrums. I can't blame the weather.

 Most years by August we are all hunkered down under the nearest A/C vent glowering at each other like trolls because we CAN'T-TAKE-THE-HEAT one more minute! Not the case this year; we had one of the longest winters I have had in my 36 years of Texas life. I did not send the kids to school in shorts until May. We couldn't swim without freezing until well into June and even then it was too cold for me. These past couple of weeks have had very warm days but the evenings and mornings are tolerable, even cool.

Just as it started getting good and hot, we headed. to vacation. Yep that's right! Months ago we planned a fun family reunion at a campground in Colorado and we just got back.

We have taken many a road trip so we have good coping skills, but something new is always fun, right?  I sat down with Pepper to order car bingo and sketch books and she suggested "Find It" which we'd seen in the doctor's offices. It's that clear tube filled with beads and there are tiny objects hidden within it.  We did find them online but they are $20 each. That was more than seemed reasonable. Pepper immediately said, I can make one -- and devoted her day to doing so.

Here is the result. She decided to make it into a robot. Isn't it adorable?  She used little stuff we had around, like keys, pencils, buttons, etc. She used beads from her collection and one day she can have them back! She found a little light that she attached to the top so when they shake it, the light comes on. The kids were wild about it!

Because they need a key for what to look for, she cleverly attached duplicate items to a ribbon to help them see exactly what they are looking for. Isn't it clever?

You could make an even simpler version by not trying to make it cute like Pepper did. If you make your own, be sure to let me know!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

I think the man of the hour had a great day.  He looks pretty relaxed here, right?



Pepper and her fella decided to fix a beautiful feast for us. They made roasted salmon (which I forgot to photograph), cauliflower "Cous Cous"











Luscious sweet potatoes















Here is the whole plate:


And they topped it off with  truly the most amazing cake I have ever eaten.  And I have eaten a little cake in my lifetime.

Now that is saying something. Ever. EVER.

It was amazing. It was delectable. It was memorable. I will never run out of adjectives! They spent hours in the kitchen and it was so beautiful.

(Here they are with our favorite photo bomber.)

I think I am really getting used to having an adult for a child. Oh, my goodness, it was sublime. Can I get a witness? Oh wait, I've got one -- Grandma was here. Here she is playing paper dolls with Tinker.

Happy Father's Day everyone!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

10 Great Books I Bet Your Child's Teacher Hasn't Read

I love to give books. Giving a book is like giving a bit of myself. The trick, of course, is to match the reader with the book and to find something they haven't read.  Since many teachers are also readers and they are all about to finally have some time to read, a book makes the perfect end-of-school gift. Here is a short list of not currently popular books by some great authors; you may even find something you'd enjoy yourself!


  • A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Moreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel. This often hilarious, always surprising, surreal trip into the 70s and 80s is so much fun to read, you forget it's a memoir. The perfect book for someone with a sense of humor. 
  • Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. This lovely novel paints a picture of life in the small-town south through the eyes of a pre-teen boy.
  • Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. For the lover of historical fiction, this story will satisfy! Set near the end of the Civil War, it's the tale of two protagonists, each fighting their own private battles.
  • A Voyage Long and Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists and Other Adventurers in Early America by Tony Horwitz.  This is the history you probably did not learn in school, exhaustively researched but thrillingly presented by this award-winning journalist. Perfect for life-long learners and history enthusiasts.
  • Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. This was the first book I read by Horwitz and the reason I read the others. It is a compellingly told story of the south most of us will never see. It's a little unsettling but you just cannot stop reading it. 
  • Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. If the recipient in question is under 50 years old, they probably never read this book which used to be required reading for all students. Verne is an adept storyteller and this adventurous book falls into the realm of light, fun reading. An especially good choice for those with a love of travel.
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Saffron Foer. You may have seen the movie but nonetheless, this book is a must read. 911 was the catalyst for the protagonist's unraveling of long-held family secrets. This is an extremely well-told story and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
  • The I Hate to Cook Cookbook by Peg Bracken. Recently republished for its 50th anniversary, I actually own the original version, handed down by my mother. This is the perfect cookbook for busy moms and others who may even like to cook but need some tried and true quick meals.
  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Perfect for the sci-fi or fantasy lover, this is a good book for any novel lover. I won't give it away here but this book has some very surprising twists and turns, perfect for summer.
  • The Water is Wide: A Memoir by Pat Conroy. This prolific author has produced so many wonderful stories but this memoir is my favorite. It is the experience of his early years teaching poor children in South Carolina and, more importantly, what he learned about himself as person. Teachers may have read this book, given the subject matter, but I'm betting if they are under 45 years old, you're safe!
What books do you love to gift?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Alive Like Me and a Lesson on Bullying

I have been terribly neglectful of blogging. Soon I will post some Easter pictures. In the meantime, this . . .

On Easter, we woke the kids at 5:15 AM for 6:00 Mass.  It took The Blitz a long while to wake up but midway through the readings he said, "Easter means Jesus is alive, right?" "Right, shhhhhh."  "So why is he dead right there on the cross?" "That's a statue. Shhhh." "Okay so he's alive." "Yes. Alive. Raised from the dead."  "Like zombies?" "No. Like God. Shhhh."  "So he's alive like ME?"

It went on; you can imagine. After Daddy gave us nineteen dirty looks, I told him we'd have to talk about it later. Thankfully, he got to contemplating the unlikeliness of the Easter Bunny and forgot.

A few days later, he gave me a talk on bullying. He began asking me if I was bullied when I was a kid. I said, "Sure." He said, "I know what to do if I get bullied." So he told me:




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Photos and a Wee Catch Up

Lots has been going on here. And I am too far behind on blogging, so I will just have to catch you up in photos.

I love these little monkeys. Snack time.

I was pretty sick on Sunshine's confirmation day but managed to get this shot with Gram and Grandpa.

Her Godmother and Sponsor, Lisa, flew in from Washington state and surprised us by bringing along Mamaw (whose photo I forgot to take in all the pre-church excitement.)

Pepper and her boyfriend, The Chef, cooked while we were at church.
 Everything was perfect including this lovely relish tray!

With Lisa and Mamaw here, we had to take advantage of this year's
extra pretty Bluebonnets. (The Captain and Tink were in school)


Here's Mamaw!!

Mamaw looks extra pretty in a field of blue.

Stinker!

He loves to mug for the camera.

So does Sunshine.


Blue is Lisa's color too!


Here is our Pepper!



The Blitz had a birthday(FIVE!) and this is the only picture I have! He wanted
vegetables on his cupcakes. I made these out of starburst, M&Ms and tootsie rolls.
Pepper styled the cabbages for me out of corn flakes (frosted) and gum drops.
These were a big hit at school. Pepper made him a carrot cake for home and
he loved it. It was a great day even if I didn't get any pics!


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Birthday Boys

The Spring Birthday season has arrived! And not a moment to soon for The Captain!

On Friday, this sweet boy turned 7.  We started the day with birthday pancakes, which were really just our whole-wheat pancakes with sprinkles; don't tell the kids they were still the healthy ones!  I did give them a choice of syrup or frosting (left over from cupcakes) and they all picked frosting. Oh, yuck.

We took cupcakes to daycare (it's Spring Break and Mama works on Fridays so, daycare!) and cupcakes to ball practice but told him a few days back the celebration would wait until Saturday. He got back from ball practice around 7:30 and ate his birthday Mac & Cheese and went to bed anxious for Saturday.

He loved his presents. There was a sweet moment where he got some handkerchiefs I had given him and said, "These remind me of Papa. Sometimes when he isn't here I have to remember hard that he isn't dead. But these will help me remember that I see Papa again some day."  Oh, it broke my heart! He loves his Papa so much.

We got him a basketball hoop and obviously a basketball. He opened the ball and all his other gifts and then Daddy said we needed to come outside to see something. He was standing there with the camera and caught this great shot of The Captain when he saw the hoop.
We've hardly seen him since. We hear a lot of ball dribbling and "boing-g-g-g-g-g-" and we know where he is. He hit the pavement in his jammies this morning and it was none to warm out there. So cute.

Daddy had a great birthday too. I bought him a Fitbit --which he didn't know he wanted-- but already loves. He loves data so much and it is a data machine.

He also got tons of music and lots of other nice stuff. We had King Ranch Chicken for dinner (Dad's fav) and Pepper made them both her amazing Bananas Foster Cake.  It was a great day, truly.