Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: 6/29/11

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90 Day Callange - Complete!

We finished! It has been almost 3 months since we started our challenge of reading through the Bible in 90 days. Leighton has been done for 2 days, and I finished yesterday. I had been right on track (or even ahead of schedule!) until last week when I fell behind. The program we used incorporates 2 days of grace, thankfully. I surely appreciated that extra day!

As I said at the half-way point, it truly was a blessing doing this challenge. There were things we had to set aside in order to accomplish our goal. We were determined to spend more time in God's Word, and as a result, drew closer to Him. Reading such large portions each day really has advantages. It was very interesting noticing similarities in different passages. It also helped to set a mental timeline of the events. 

It feels wonderful knowing that we achieved our goal! But you know what? We're not done. We still had to have devotions today. And we're still going to have to read our Bibles tomorrow. Isaiah 58:2 says "Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God."

The Word of God is powerful. I love this passage in Psalm 19 that describes It.

"7. The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb."

I am so thankful we took part in this challenge. I definitely plan to do it again sometime.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kids Say The Funniest Things: Part 4

We are planning to construct a new schooling room for next year. I am so excited! We're transforming what used to be our computer/craft room but is now our throw-everything-in room into a brand new space for learning. This process will include knocking out walls and closets and painting. Right now, it involves  organizing, purging, and sorting. Fun stuff. 

Today while digging through a box, I found a journal that my mom gave me my first year teaching, seven years ago.  I read through all the funny things my innocent first graders said. Memories of these precious children came flooding back. I can remember the exact spots where each situation took place, the faces they made, the tone of their voices. These kids are in junior high now, yet I still picture them as sweet, little ones.

Here is a sampling of their quotes in my book. All of them were said by six-year-old boys. In fact, I have only one quote by a girl in my book. Apparently girls aren't as funny as boys. Or is it that they don't make as many mistakes as the boys??? Either way, I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoyed rereading them. I'm so thankful my mom encouraged me (forced me?) to preserve this keepsake.

"How am I supposed to get blood separation with these shoes on?"

"If I got hurt like that, I would scream like a girl . . . not that I'm saying I do."

"I wish this sucker was made out of tarter sauce."

Boy 1: "I love swami!" 
Boy 2: "It's not swami. It's slami."  (salami)

"I'm so sweaty I could slip out of my pants!"

"I think I'm half pilgrim."

Boy 1: "My stomach feels like I had a birthday party."
Boy 2: "My stomach feels like I threw up an animal."

After being told it was cold outside: "Lucky for me, I have a bulletproof vest on."

"I'll just crack my fingers goodbye."

"It ain't over until the fat lady sings." (looks at me and says worriedly) "Which ain't anyone in here."

"Dads make a lot of money. That's why I can't wait to be one when I grow up."

"Is tomorrow today?"

"Ugh! I don't know how you got a license when you have a brother!"

After learning that there are 20 countries that speak Spanish: "Yeah, that's why there are so many words."

In response to receiving an assignment: "Ugh, I think I need to go on a diet!"

"I don't know very much stuff because I'm only a little bit Indian." - said by the palest boy in class.

"That was fun getting down and dirty with bubbles!"

"Ladies are gooder than men at puzzles."

"My grandpa told me that if you swallow gum, you'll blow bubbles when you poop."

"How old do you think I am? I look taller than I am." - said by the shortest boy in class.

and last but not least . . . 

"Calcium? That's a rock? I thought it was just something you put in your cereal."

Want to read the first 3 installments (all said by our own kids)?
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
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Our Week

This has been a busy week. Saturday, Leighton took Jake to the Father/Son Cookout at church. They arrived early (2:00 pm) to set up and stayed late (8:00 pm) to clean up. That gave Alyssa, Zac, and me plenty of time to finish up Leighton's father's day present, do some gardening, make cinnamon rolls, and shop at CVS. 

Sunday, Father's day, started with the surprise cinnamon rolls (We have an extra fridge in the basement where I stashed the uncooked rolls until morning.) and the book we made for Leighton. Then we headed to church. After that, we celebrated the day with my parents and grandparents at Andiamo's. Then it was back home for a nap and back to church for the evening service. 

Monday, the kids and I had a play-date with good friends of ours. They splashed in the pool, dumped out every bin and pulled out every toy in the house, ate lunch, laughed and sounded like a herd of elephants. On our way home, they asked, "Can we go back again tomorrow?" I think that means they had a good time.

1) Zac was sleeping on the chair. 2) I don't know where Jake was. 3) I have no idea how Buzz got in our picture.
Tuesday, Leighton and I celebrated eight wonderful years of marriage. He brought home two dozen red roses on Monday night so I could "enjoy them all day." Isn't he sweet? I wanted to make him some fancy-shmancy cake for the occasion. But what does he request? Plain ol' chocolate chip cookies. I'll never understand that man. I love 'im, but I don't understand 'im.

I used a mixture of white chips and milk and dark chocolate chunks (cut up candy bars again because we have no chips.)
We dropped the kids off at my parents' and went to dinner at Abuelo's. It was our first time there and we loved it. Great food, great service, great company. It was, however, strangely . . . quiet. No kids talking, laughing, rolling crayons onto the floor, talking, wondering when the food will come, pointing at other people, asking question after question, talking, talking, talking.  

Instead, we got to talk. We reminisced about our how we fell in love, our wedding day, the births of our children, and our innumerable blessings. You know, all that mushy stuff. I am beyond thankful that the Lord made us for each other. I have been blessed far more than I deserve.

June 21, 2003
So, that's what we've been up to. Well, that and laundry and dishes and vacuuming and ironing and cooking and  . . . I don't think you really want to hear about all that though. Do you?

Did you do anything special this week? How did you honor your father/husband?
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: 6/22/11

I am breaking all rules of Wordless Wednesday, but this picture needs an explanation.

I heard Zac laughing and playing after he woke up from his nap. This is what I found when I walked into his room . . .

Ok, this isn't exactly what I saw, since my view was sans leaf. But this little Leaf had stripped all his clothes and all his bedding.

And was apparently quite proud of himself.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: 6/15/11

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Pantry Surprise 6/13/11

Not one . . . .

Not two . . .


But THREE toys in the dishwasher!!!

Zac had been helping me load the dirty dishes. I guess he continued to "help" even after I finished because I found a few surprises the next time I opened the dishwasher!
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Make It Monday: Pirate Ships

One of the ways in which Jacob is just like his daddy is that he loves to build and design. He will sit down with a pile of Legos or Trios and construct for hours. I'm always amazed by his creativity. I've said many times that Jake has Leighton's engineering mind.  (Leighton originally wanted to go into architectural engineering, but God called him to Bible college. I find it ironic that he is currently working in demolition.) They both enjoy finding a solution to a problem or figuring out the best way of doing something. They love understanding how and why things work. They like getting their hands dirty and building things. Jake gets his creativity from his daddy. Just last night Leighton said, "One of these days that boy will invent something." And Leighton will be right there helping him.

Jake, Alyssa, and I played with the Trios while Zac was napping. I can't make the intricate designs that Leighton can, but we have a pretty good time in spite of it. 

Construction is very messy work. (So is demolition for that matter. Trust me, I wash some pretty nasty work clothes every week!) It is completely necessary to dump out the entire bin of Trios to make sure you have the prime pieces.

After much grueling and intense labor, our structure was finished. It was complete with an anchor, cannon, crow's nest, plank, and working wheel. 

I'd like to take credit for the creativity of this ship . . . but I can't. Jake designed a lot of the details. I love how he used stairs for the flag. 

Arr, these pirates be ready to plunder the seas. They searched long and hard to find treasure. On the voyage, they captured an enemy pirate. He broke the code of conduct and refused parley. 
He be forced to walk the plank.

Ho, be that the giant sea monster lurking in the cool, murky water? He be awaitin' his next meal.

But wait - what be that? Sail ho!

Aye, another cog has come to rescue the captured pirate.

That cannon be pointin' right at 'em.

Fire in the hole!

Shiver me timbers! A direct hit starboard!

The ship be a sinkin'. Grab the loot!

Time to make use of that there jolly boat in the back. Row!

We played for hours, varying the scenario each time. Such fun and imaginative play!

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Monday, June 13, 2011

The Moon

I love listening to the conversations that take place between the kids. This is one from our drive home from church last night.

Alyssa:The moon is following us!

Jake: No, it just looks like it because it's so big.

Alyssa: It's not big. It's so tiny.

Jake: It looks tiny to us, but in space it's really huuuge.

Alyssa: Aaaahh.
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Pantry Surprise 6/10/11

I left this skull hanging in the pantry after I took the picture. The next time Jake opened the door, he said, "Oh, I'm sorry for leaving that there." I think it's funny that he completely forgets when he sets something down . . . or hangs it up.
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Tasty Tuesday: Boston Cream Pie

This is a favorite dessert at our house. Leighton loves custard. Jake loves cake. Alyssa loves chocolate. Zac . . . loves everything. And I love to bake. The flavors of this cake blend together so beautifully.  The delicate sponge cake and the thick vanilla custard are offset by the rich chocolate ganache. This is one of Leighton's favorite desserts, and probably his all-time favorite cake. That is the reason why I stood in my kitchen preparing this treat for his birthday just 4 days after birthing his youngest child. 

Yeah, it's that good.

Monday, while the kids were busy concocting their own cakes, Jake requested to make Boston cream pie for Tasty Tuesday. His requests soon turned into pleas to make his "favorite cake." And wouldn't you know, his desire was granted.

1. Beating the batter. (Should add that to our tongue twisters!)
2. Jake was very thorough while checking the amount of milk.
3. Once they eggs white were foamy, Jake said, "It looks like dish soap."
4. Yummy vanilla custard longing to be sandwiched between layers of cake.
5. Alyssa thought the mixer was TOO LOUD while on high speed.
6. Sifting the flour is always fun.
7. Marrying the foam and the batter.

I explained the process of meringue to the kids and the importance of folding the foamy egg whites into the batter. We talked about how incorporating the air into the mixture will cause the cake to be light and fluffy. Then I poured the batter into the cake pan.

"But, Mommy, I didn't get to try!"

"Alyssa, this is a very . . . special process."

"But, Mommy . . . I'm special."

"Yes, Baby, you are special. But not special enough to densify my sponge cake." 

No, of course I did not say that last part! Had I not already finished, I just may have let her try to fold in the delicate bubbles. It was the just sweetest thing and it broke my heart. Such a sweetie pie that girl of mine.

I didn't assemble the cake until after our bike ride since the custard needed to chill.  Leighton put the kids to bed, and I got busy making the ganache. While the cream was heating, I cut the cake and dumped on the custard. It didn't take long for the cream to boil, melt the chocolate, and pour it on the cake.

Now, we know that Boston cream pie is best eaten after chilling for several hours. The flavors blend and meld and change into something glorious. I always make it the day before we plan to devour it. Always. Except when we haven't tasted it in a while and we have no self control.

Then we sneak a piece.

Here we have sponge cake, custard, and ganache. It was good. It was not amazing. We know better. But that's the power of Boston cream pie. It didn't help that it was 100 degrees out and the custard and chocolate were melting and needed time to set.

Don't worry, the next day we were not disappointed.

Well, we were. But that's not the cake's fault. I used a different recipe this time. (Normally I use this one.) Why did I stray from a recipe that I love so much? Because it's good to branch out and try new things, to stay open-minded.

Oh, and because I was out of shortening.

Both recipe are good. It just depends on your personal taste.

If you like a light airy cake, use recipe A. If you like a denser cake, use recipe B. If you like a rich, thick chocolate, try A. If you like a milder (and cheaper) chocolate, use B. If you like custard, pick A or B because I think both are great.

See which recipe you like better. You might be surprised. I thought I'd like the fluffier cake, but the denser one holds up to the creaminess of the custard better. So, go ahead and try both recipes. After all, it is for the sake of research. 
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tongue Twisters

Jake has been on a big tongue twister kick lately. He walks around saying "Rubber baby buggy bumpers" over and over again. We looked up new twisters today because you can hear "She sells seashells . . . " only so many times before it gets old.  We laughed so hard and had so much fun trying to say some of the new ones. Here are a few of our favorites: 

Can you can a can as a canner can can a can?

Willy's real rear wheel (I can barely say it 1 time!) 

How many cookies could a good cook cook If a good cook could cook cookies? A good cook could cook as much cookies as a good cook who could cook cookies.

How much ground would a groundhog hog, if a groundhog could hog ground? A groundhog would hog all the ground he could hog, if a groundhog could hog ground.

Tie twine to three tree twigs. (twee twigs? Tweety Bird must have inspired this one.)

I wish to wash my Irish wristwatch.

Real rock wall, real rock wall, real rock wall . . . . 

Freshly-fried fat flying fish

Have fun!!!

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: 6/8/11

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Family Bike Ride

We went on a very eventful bike ride last night. Here are some highlights:

1. Jake's bike pedal fell off multiple times on our ride. We'd all stop so Leighton could stick it back on. (He keeps a small pouch of tools on the back of his bike since he rides to work often. There was no wrench though.) One time while he was attempting to fix it, the lady whose house we were stopped in front of pulled up in her car. She asked if we needed tools and kindly went inside the house to get the box. Leighton properly fixed the pedal and off we went. No more run-a-way pedals!
2. This was my first time pulling the bike trailer. I asked Leighton to hook it to my bike so I can take the kids for rides during the day while he's at work. It was surprisingly much easier than I anticipated. What I did not expect was Alyssa's constant talking. She'd ask what was in the garbage bags by the road. She would tell me all about playing with her toys. She would warn me that Jake and Leighton were going to pass us. She would talk about everything that she saw. Talk, talk, talk. She comes by it naturally, I know. I was (am?) the exact same way. (My mom says that my kids are pay-backs for my own childhood. I'm not sure I deserve THREE chatterboxes though!) At one point, Alyssa was  giggling uncontrollably. I asked her what was so funny. She said, "Mommy, you're riding your bike . . . .  and I see white flowers!!!" The girl was having such a fun time on the bike ride. I think she was drunk on fun. High on excitement? Either way, she was slap happy.

3. Jake thinks that he's the best. At everything. The strongest; the smartest; the creative-est; the artistic-est; the everything-est. He kept insisting that he could ride the fastest. We had just started riding again after stopping to quench our thirst when I heard, "Look behind you!" Jake (and subsequently Leighton) was waaaay behind us. I asked, "Why are you going so slow?" He replied, "I'm not going too slow; you're going too fast!" Maybe he had a point . . . but I think he needs to reevaluate his self-ascribed title of "Fastest."

4. I figured that being the loving mother that I am, I would stop and wait for my Little Slowpoke to catch up. Alyssa, still rambling away, declared, "That's a pretty house." As I turned to admire the bricks and mortar, I spotted a bunny just a few feet away. It sat as still as a statue, twitching it's little nose as fast as could be until my pokey boy rode up and frightened it away.

5. We pedaled up to our house and were met with whining and complaining, which were stopped only with promises to go for a bike ride again soon. I asked Jake to pull out the hose and water the garden while Leighton was showing me how to work the trailer. After successfully reassembling and disassembling the trailer, I noticed Alyssa and her dripping shorts. Upon inquiring about this sight, she said, "Jake waterted me." Apparently, veggies aren't the only things growing this summer.

And we thought we were going for a regular ol' bike ride. Who knows what the next trip holds!
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Typical Conversation

Jake: What power do you want?

Alyssa: I want all the powers!

Jake: No, you only get to pick one.

Alyssa: I want all the powers!

Jake: No, you only get one power. You get one or nothing. What power do you want?

Alyssa: Head power.

Jake: Head power? Like if your head falls off you get it put back on?

Alyssa: Yes.

Jake: Ok, you can have that power.
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Pantry Surprise 6/7/11

Kool-Aid, chai tea mix, Crystal Lite, play-doh rolling pin,  Ovalti - Wait, play-dough rolling pin???

Yes, doesn't everybody keep their play-doh toys in the pantry

Oh, it's just my kids?

Want to see more? You can find more Pantry Surprises here.
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Make It Monday: Mud Cakes

My children are fairly skilled in the kitchen. They've baked many times by themselves. But I simply had no idea just how far their skills had advanced.

They made cake after delicious cake. They knew just the right ingredients to make them divine. Alyssa did struggle at first with the proper ratio though when she ran back to the pool to get yet another bucket of water. Jake straightened her out and said matter-of-factly, "Alyssa, you just don't know how to make a nice mud cake." It's a good thing she has a caring big brother who can help her with such things.

Jake informed me that it was "the best cake ever! Well, maybe not as good as Aunt Dawn's cakes." Do you remember some of the cakes that my sister-in-law has made for the kids? A fire-breathing dragon for Zac, a caterpillar, Elmo, and Strawberry Shortcake for Alyssa, a train, a firetruck, and Batman for Jacob. They are always perfect and bring the kids such joy. She is very talented. If you ever need an extra-special cake, she's the one to see. And tell her that I sent you. You won't get a discount, but tell her anyway.

But, if you want an extra-special cake for free, I know just the ones to make it. Come on over. I have two kids who would be delighted to whip up a cake just for you.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Rainbow Cupcakes

Have you noticed the lack of posts the past two weeks?

No, we didn't go on an exotic vacation.

Nope, we weren't abducted by aliens.

The school year is officially over! I know it's cliche, but I can't believe how fast it flew by. Our first year homeschooling has truly been a blessing. The kids have learned a lot. So have I. We've worked out some kinks, rearranged our schedule, and have totally embraced the homeschooling lifestyle. Now that it's summer, things will be a little different. While we're not taking a break from learning, we will be slowing down a bit. Our schedule will consist of more free-play and outdoor learning and less "text book" learning. All that to say, the posts will be a little sparse this summer. I plan soak up the sun with my babies . . . while pulling weeds, pushing swings, watering gardens, building sand castles, and washing sandy kids.

So, not only do we officially have a first grader, we have a half-er too. If you remember the post from last year, you'll know the importance of that extra six months. Jake now wears that honored badge of a half-er. No more plain ol' 5 years old. He is officially 5-and-a-half.

I had someone ask me on Facebook, "Why celebrate a half-birthday?" My answer, "Why not!" Do you really need a reason to make your child feel extra special? Or to eat cake??

We started our day with pancakes covered in powdered sugar, whipped cream, and mini M&Ms. And more powdered sugar. And whipped cream. And more powdered sugar. Not sure what was nutritional about their breakfast, but they sure did enjoy it! And that's really what matters, right? Right???

To keep up with the theme of not letting anything remotely nutritional touch our lips on his half-birthday day, we made cupcakes.

This is what can happen when you let the children do ALL the work. Sometimes they do great. Sometimes they spill the cake mix on the floor.

Yea! Everything in the bowl! (Just ignore the cake mix spilled on the table.)

Not trusting the kids to spoon the batter . . .  evenly into bowls . . .  without spilling it all over the table . . . or into their mouths, I divided the batter into 6 bowls.

Here are the colors and amounts of food coloring starting at the back left: Purple - 9 red drops and 6 blue drops; Red - 18 drops; Blue - 12 drops; Orange - 12 yellow drops and 4 red drops; Yellow - 12 drops; Green - 12 drops. 

This was by far the best part of the entire activity. (Well, maybe second to spilling half the cake mix.)

They loved mixing the batter and watching the colors swirl and blend to make a new colors. This was perfect for Alyssa who is learning how to make secondary colors.

We poured our new bright, pretty batter into plastic bags to make it easier for the kids to layers the colors in the cupcake liners.

What was that I said about easier? Yeah, not so much. As soon as I snipped the corner off the red bag . . . sploosh! It started pouring all over the table. (Uh, I just didn't want my kids to feel bad about making the mess on the floor. Yeah, that's it.) They didn't seem to mind the red cake batter trail from the table to the cupcake tin. They both instantly started using their hands to scoop it into their mouths. 

You can see some that didn't quite make it into Jake's mouth. 

You can also see his little smirk because of it.

The batter was incredibly runny. You think it's because we lost so much mix on the floor??? Nah! 

These were perhaps the messiest cupcakes we've ever made. And definitely the most colorful.

Our rainbow cupcakes! Aren't they pretty?? 

Tasty too!

Not all the colors were visible in all the cupcakes. I guess that's what happens when you have a 3 year old, a 5-and-a-half year old, and a mom trying to pour water-like batter into little liners. 

Next time, we plan to try one big cake.

Zachy loved the "cake-cake" too. Although, what doesn't this kid love??? 

It is our tradition to give the half-birthday-er one single gift. Jake was ecstatic to receive Legos Mega Blocks. Trust me, they are not interchangeable. Leighton tried to tell me. He attempted to convince me. But did I listen? Nooooo. I assumed all interlocking blocks were relatively the same. I came to this conclusion though:

Mega Blocks were produced by Lego as a marketing scheme:
1. Buy the cheaper brand.
2. Attempt to assemble the set.
3. Get frustrated because the pieces refuse to snap together.
4. Get the pieces to go together finally, only to have the entire set crumble in your hands.
5. Repeat steps 2-4 at least 7 times.
6. Vow to never buy Mega Blocks again.
7. Go to the store and buy a Lego set.

And it worked! Never again will I waste my money on Mega Blocks. Some lessons are hard to learn.

There you are again, Lovely Little Cake-Cake. You make me happy.

Go make a batch of colorful cupcakes and make someone else happy. Or yourself. Or another half-er. Just make some cupcakes.  (But don't spill the mix on the floor!)

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