Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Break Review

Oh Spring Break, you have been both relaxing and busy.  I have so enjoyed you, but you are coming to an end.

I made a list of goals at the beginning of the week and I accomplished some, but certainly not all, of them.
Get the rest of the clothing clutter to Cross Ministries Blog something everyday (hmm, that didn't happen)
Finish the Clean Sweep tasks that got put on back burner (goal of 2 cupboards and 3 things I've been putting off) and do this week's  (nope)
Walk (only once, but I'm still counting it)
Find the floor in my laundry room (I almost found it, then lost it again)
Hang clothes out
Clean out the van
101 in 1001 list (opened it, looked at it, added one thing.  I need to devote some time to get this organized, my birthday is in less than 2 weeks)
Birthday treats to our daycare lady
Computer homework for preschool  (mostly done)
Visit 3rd grade and 1st grade with birthday treats   Figure out the dinosaur cake for Brody's party I'm in the middle of it, counting it  (I'm hoping to get something like this when I'm done--thanks Brooke for the inspiration and tutorial)
Read (my book, not just the internet)  (really want to, but I have apparently hid it from myself)

I started out Monday motivated and did some cooking, which we have been eating from all week.  I did quite a bit of laundry Monday too since it would be the only day decent enough to warrant hanging clothes on the line.  Monday night was the cake auction for cub scouts.  (I do have a blog written about that, but I'm stuck trying to get pictures loaded.)

Tuesday was supposed to be rainy, but wasn't until that evening.  I did a lot of dishes from Monday's cooking craziness.  I did some laundry.  I goofed around with Brody.  I took a nap.  Then Ron called as he was leaving the dentist in Winterset to see what the deal was with the dark clouds. Turns out it was tornadoes that passed us to the north, then west, then south.  We had friends on their way here to pick up some fence and they actually saw one of the tornadoes out the window of their truck.  Braedon and Ron also saw them from a distance.  None of them were in our county.  Our friends hung out here until the danger had passed (about 9:30) and fixed our dishwasher while they were here--yay!

Wednesday I met the other preschool teacher at work and we visited with the QRS (Quality Rating System) lady to see what we needed to do to update our paperwork.  I worked in the classroom some and then went to my other job at the college.

Thursday I baked treats for my daycare lady's birthday, and Colby's summer birthday.  I took Brody to story hour at the library, dropped him off at daycare (along with her treats) and then visited Colby at school.  We picked up our cookie dough fundraiser and delivered some to Grandma Lewis.  Came home did a little laundry, helped with homework, and vegged.

Friday I went in to work for a couple of hours, got my hair cut, visited 3rd grade, and dropped off clothing clutter to Cross Ministries.  I did some grocery and birthday shopping.

Saturday Braedon woke up with chest pain when he breathed (which ended up going away mid-morning).  He's probably developing bronchitis and we tried to go to the walk in clinic, but we were 8th in line and they only called back two people in the 90 minutes we were there.  Braedon started feeling better and acting better and we made an appointment for Monday and left.  I have been working on the dinosaur cake and the chocolate cake this afternoon.  I hope to get some more laundry done, but I need to make more laundry soap.  That will be tonight's project, along with finishing frosting the cakes, and making up some party favors for the kiddos at the party.  Mt. Dew is in hand, it might be a late night.

Sunday we have Sunday school and church.  We will go to mom's for lunch and then have a birthday party for Brody at 2 at the bowling alley.  Then it will be time to prepare for Monday.  <sigh>  

Here are some recipes from my cake-filled day:

Creamy White Frosting (care of Better Homes)
Two sticks of softened butter
1 tsp of vanilla
1 tsp of almond extract (or your favorite flavor, today I used more vanilla since I forgot to buy almond)
4 cups powdered sugar
4 Tb milk

*Cream together butter and extracts for 30 seconds.  Add 2 cups powdered sugar, blend.  Add 2 Tb milk, blend.  Add the rest of the powdered sugar, blend.  Add enough milk to make it spreading consistency, plus any food coloring (I used green today), blend.  
(Without the food coloring this frosting is a light tan, due to the butter and the vanilla.  It tastes wonderful, but most folks don't shoot for frosting that is tan in color.)

Better-than-sex Cake 
(I always make this for the birthday parties as a treat for the older than 10 set)
Box of some sort of chocolate cake mix (yep, it's a box recipe)
the eggs, water, and butter (I replace the oil with butter--better flavor) that is called for on the box
*Prepare and bake the cake as directed on the box.

Caramel Ice-cream topping
Sweetened condensed milk
2 or 3 Skor or Heath bars
Tub of Cool Whip
*Nuke the caramel for about 30 seconds or so, until it is liquid enough to pour.  Mix half of the topping with half of the condensed milk.  Poke holes in the top of the cooled cake with the handle of a wooden spoon or something similar.  Pour the caramel/milk mixture over the top.  It will soak into the cake.
*Crush the candy bars.  Usually I pound them with the heavy Tupperware ice-cream scoop while they are still in their wrappers.  Sprinkle one or two crushed candy bars over the cake.  (Save one for later.)
*Spread the Cool Whip over the cake.  Sprinkle the other candy bar over the Cool Whip.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let's Play Outside

Danielle from The Mommy and Me Book Club has issued a challenge for parents and caregivers of young children.  The challenge is explained here.  And she has started a new blog to go along with this challenge. The challenge is pretty simple--take your children outside to play everyday during the month of April.  If you accept the challenge go here and become a follower, then comment that you accept the challenge and share your favorite place to play outside as a child.  At the end of April, you'll need to post again to state if you met the challenge.  She will be giving away an Amazon Gift Card at that time.

Throughout the month we will share ideas including books and blogs about the benefits of outdoor play. Each week she will host a link up to share pictures and blog posts about your outdoor play that previous week.  These will have a theme and will be on Sundays.  They are not required, but I think they will be super fun!  I get some of my best ideas from the inspiration of others.

If you take your children outside for at least 30 minutes daily in April, they will have spent at least 900 minutes outside.  Woo Hoo!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Goals for Spring Break

Hello Spring Break!  I have the week of from school and I know if I don't set some goals I will relax and do nothing, which is okay, but I do have things that need to get done.

Get the rest of the clothing clutter to Cross Ministries
Blog something everyday
Finish the Clean Sweep tasks that got put on back burner (goal of 2 cupboards and 3 things I've been putting off) and do this week's
Find the floor in my laundry room
Hang clothes out
Clean out the van
101 in 1001 list
Birthday treats to our daycare lady
Computer homework for preschool
Visit 3rd grade and 1st grade with birthday treats
Figure out the dinosaur cake for Brody's party (I'm hoping to get something like this when I'm done--thanks Brooke for the inspiration and tutorial)
Read (my book, not just the internet)
I'm sure there is more, but that is a good start...

An internet friend of mine has a micropremie that is just a doll.  Baby Nyana is having a surgery Tuesday morning to get her set up for a G-tube.  Please keep her and her parents in your thoughts and prayers that this is a noneventful surgery that helps keep them on the road to going home.

We have a cub scout cake auction tonight that I am looking forward to.  So I hope to blog about that either tonight or tomorrow morning.  It's fun to see two of the men in the house get creative in the kitchen.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Clean Sweep Week 3 Challenge

Clean Mama's Week Three Challenge is to choose 3 things that you've been avoiding cleaning, and clean them.   You get to choose which three.  Clean Mama is cleaning vents and light fixtures.  I've been pretty much avoiding cleaning everything except dishes and laundry around here.  So I  will plan to work on: (1) the fridge, (2) the kitchen floor, and (3) the linen closet.  As always these are subject to change.  Since I tend to set goals that may just be too lofty (especially since I have Brody's birthday, parent teacher conferences, and freezer meal group to prepare for).  

Btw, I did get three kitchen drawers cleaned out and organized, three easy drawers.  The cabinets really needed it, but I was just not feeling up to that job.  

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Clean Sweep Week 2 Update

Well, I'm really sucking at this week's challenge so far.  I do still intend to do something, because something is better than nothing.  But there has been lots of sickness going around at school, and although I have avoided it for the most part, I have been run down and achy all week.  By the time I got home, made supper, and got kids ready for bed, I was ready for bed myself.

Today, we are heading to Des Moines to get the boys' pictures taken with Kayleigh, their cousin.  Hope to hit up a book store after.  But also hope to get something accomplished on the challenge tonight and tomorrow.  Are any of you taking up the challenge?  This week's focus is cleaning out drawers and cupboards and even if you just do one, you've met the challenge.  Have a good weekend!

3, 2, 1--Blast Off! (or fun with duct tape)

We are studying outer space this week in preschool.  There are a variety of good science activities to go along with space, but I was short on time and readily available supplies so this was pulled together with materials we had on hand.  I'm calling it a success!  The kids enjoyed it as well and were able to explore and alter the materials at their own whim.

Materials needed:  plastic spoons, duct tape (or other tape), cotton balls (or pom poms).

We started out by duct taping a few spoons along the edge of the table, with the bowl of the spoon facing out from the table at a 90 degree angle.  (I took pictures, but when I attempt to load a picture here, I get a box with an X...)  I showed the kids how to place a cotton ball into the bowl of the spoon, pull down, and count down from 10, before letting their 'rocket' launch into the sky.

It was fun to hear all the countdowns and enthusiasm as rockets were launched.  I was glad we went with cotton rather than something harder, like a penny, because many rockets were launched into faces.  But a cotton ball to the face, is no deterrent to fun!

The following day I added pencils to the table and showed children my idea to place the pencil at the edge of the table and taping the spoon over the top.  My thought was that this would propel the rockets forward, rather than straight up, and we could aim for a target at the center of the table.  This did happen with a few children eventually.  However the best part was watching the children try to duplicate my thoughts, but not quite getting there.  Spoons were positioned in so many ways, as were pencils.  Knowing the children would learn more if they walked themselves through the process, I tried to offer only minimal assistance and only when frustration was mounting to the extent that the child would leave the experiment.  Soon I had a couple of peer experts that could offer advice to their friends and I could sit back, tear strips of duct tape, and enjoy the show.  One child's a
dvice was always 'You need more duct tape' as he enthusiastically added another strip of tape to his contraption.  He ended up with tape a half inch thick at the base of his catapult.  Another child showed his peers how to hold the spoon at the base as you launch the rocket into space (this step was not always necessary to launch, but in his eyes it was, and it didn't hurt the process).

When I noticed some successful spoon/pencil/duct tape catapults evolving, I retrieved some lids and bowls to become targets that the children could adjust so that they may explore how far they could launch their rocket.  These targets did not escape the duct tape either.  I let a couple parents know that duct tape might be a great gift for their little tykes, as the joy of taping something down made their little faces just glow and their eyes sparkle.  Sometimes it's the simple things....

Shared at No Time for Flashcards' Sunday Link and Learn

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Very brief today...

1.  Girl Scout cookies
2.  OTC Pain Pills
3.  Duct Tape (We had a lot of fun with this in preschool today!  I'll blog and even try to include pictures tomorrow, that is providing this achy stuff goes away and I feel like blogging.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Clean Sweep-- Week 2

Here we are at week 2.  I feel like I accomplished a lot during week 1 and week 2 is focused on another area that definitely needs some attention at my house.  (Who am I kidding, all areas need some attention at my house.)  

Week 2 brings us to drawers and cupboards.  Here is a snippet from Clean Mama's post:

This week's assignment?  In keeping with my simple and  low-key process of spring cleaning this month, the assignment is to work on drawers and cupboards.  You decide - one drawer and/or cabinet or every single one in your home.  What am I working on this week?  I need to give some special attention to the drawers and cupboards in the master bathroom. 

Ooooh I have lots of drawers and cabinets that need attention.  I think my goal will be one drawer and one cupboard per day, knowing that some days I won't get any done and others I will do more than one.  I have drawers in the kitchen.   I still have two dressers to go through.  I have desk drawers to go through.  I have cabinets in the kitchen, under the sinks in the kitchen and bathroom, in the desk, and in the china cabinet.  I will probably focus mostly on the kitchen.  I would like to clear off my countertops and with cleaned out drawers and cabinets, maybe I can get some of the stuff from my countertops put away.  

Who's going to participate with me?  What drawers and cabinets will you work on?

Entering a new decade

Happy Birthday Calob!  I have a stepson who turns 20 today.  He was only one when I met him and was two when I started to date Ron.  Though we have certainly had our moments (it's hard to be a step mom) I feel that we have touched each other's lives in so many ways.  Here are some funny Calob stories from his life:

*When he was three he wouldn't eat chocolate ice cream because it was 'dirty'.

*He used to have a doll named Abby that he carried with him everywhere.  I hear that either Calob or Me-ma still has Abby.  She was a cute little pink doll and I don't know how she became so special to Calob.  We have quite a few pictures of Abby and Calob in the car seat together.

*He and Ron used to sing "Don't Take the Girl" and "I like it, I love it" by Tim McGraw.  He also grew up a Def Leppard fan (and other 80s bands).  We took him to a Def Leppard concert when he was young.  Now he buys his dad tickets to ACDC.

*Calob came to more than one marching band contest with us to see my brother or sister march.  I remember his little body at the top of the bleachers (I was always nervous he would slip between the seats and fall) stomping to the rhythm of the drums with his whole body.  Sadly, he was never in band himself, but he did take private drum lessons for a while.

*Calob used to come visit me when I was in college.  Many of my college friends remember those little footsteps running down the hallways of the dorm.  He was between the ages of two and four then.  Those girls are now women and can't believe he is an adult.  Time flies.

*We took him to Living History Farms, when he was four or five.  My college roommate was interning and he got to help make ice cream with a crank machine.  She even let him have a bite (which was against the rules of the museum).

*I had to convince him to try pizza when he was in kindergarten.  He was convinced he wouldn't like it until I likened it to a cheeseburger (both have meat, cheese, and a bun/crust).

*We spent a lot of time going fishing when Calob was little.  It was a cheap outing and he seemed to especially enjoy when he caught more fish than some of the grownups he was with.

*Calob is the one who started the Christmas cookie decorating tradition with the Feehan family.  This has continued with his younger brothers.  And somehow they all love to pile on so many decorations that they fall off.

*We didn't often have Calob for holidays, but seemed to have him for the weekends that the local Optimist club had their Halloween carnival.  I always pulled together some sort of home made costume and he won prizes more than once for these costumes.

*The first winter we lived in this house we were snowed in for three days and couldn't leave the driveway.  That was before Facebook, but we sent out emails to all our friends asking what they were doing.  He was so excited to see their responses.  He was 8.

*He was Ron's best man in our wedding.  He gave the speech (at the age of 9) and pretty much chose all the music for our reception.

*He was never a member at TV Clubhouse (a website Ron and I frequent, though that isn't strong enough of a word, the members there are friends and family to us), but the folks there know him as Little Crawler and also can't believe how fast the years have flown.  He used to join in the chatroom when he was here for the weekend.  Lance was one of his favorites.

*When he was ten he had to start sharing his dad with a little brother.  We weren't sure how that would go.  He had another brother at his mom's house, but Ron and Calob always had such a special relationship...  I think he has really enjoyed being a big brother, though my boys have to tease him sometimes that they can't remember what he looks like.  Oh the life of a young adult, too busy to spend time with your family.

*He enjoyed many modes of transportation through the years.  I can remember him with his Little Tyke car when he was very young.  This became a battery operated jeep, which he enjoyed taking down the hills of Woodburn (it wasn't as much fun going back up, often needed pushed).  Then he had a go cart that he loved to go mudding in.  We have some great pictures of him covered in mud from head to toe.  Before we knew it he was driving, and like his dad, he has worked his way through a few vehicles in his teenage years.

*He's always been a picky eater.  The only vegetables he liked growing up were green beans and corn.  I didn't think I would hear the end of it when I had him taste cauliflower.  Now he loves Chinese and has even talked his picky dad into eating at the local Chinese restaurant with him.

*As he entered high school he began to date and we met quite a few girls through the years.  We kinda like Katie.  They've been together for over a year and have had their ups and downs.  It's hard to be supportive and at the same time allow him to make his own decisions.

*Hopefully it will be a few years before Calob becomes a dad, but he has a dog, Millie, that is like a kid to him.  She went missing overnight last fall and he called here in tears.  Ron went to help look for her in the dark, but she turned up on her own the next day.

*He is now on his own.  He is learning how to manage a budget and a house.  The first time he went grocery shopping he about passed out when the total came to $200.  It's rough to see a total like that when you are shopping for a family, let alone just yourself.  He works for a glass company, but is currently laid off.  Ron tells me he is thinking about some sort of trade school or internship.  That makes this teacher happy to see him wanting to continue with some sort of schooling.

I'm sure I'll remember more stories after I post this, but I want to get it out there.  Calob, we have sure had our ups and downs through the years, but you have really grown into a wonderful, caring young man with a great sense of humor.  You know, I have known you for over half my life and nearly all of yours.  You are no longer a teenager and before you know it, you'll wonder where all the time has gone.  Enjoy the good times, and try to learn from the bad.    Happy birthday to you!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Clean Sweep-- Weekend 1

I have been working on decluttering some clothes this weekend as part of Clean Mama's Clean Sweep Challenge.  I took three garbage bags in to the thrift store Saturday morning.

As a fun aside, Brianna and friends were holding a bake sale to fund her upcoming trip to Haiti, so I felt both rewarded for bringing in my stuff and glad to help a good cause by buying a treat.  I got some cookies for the boys and this scrumptious ice cream sundae cupcake for myself (that was really hard to eat in the car, but worth it).

I have two more garbage bags ready to be dropped off.  I have two grocery sacks of Brody's 3T clothes ready for our younger cousin, Drayson.  I have started a pile of some stuff for a garage sale.  I have gone through the mountain of clothes in our room and all three boys' dressers.  There is still clothes to be gone through (unbelievable, I know), and bags to get to their destinations, but I feel like I've made a good dent.  Can't wait to see what this week's challenge is!


I remember my brother playing with Legos growing up.  At that time I think they were sold like blocks, a set of random pieces and maybe some picture suggestions of what you could make.  Ron had Legos too.  He enjoyed them enough to make sure that Calob had a big bucket to work with when he was small.  Calob never really played with them much.  Neither does Braedon.  Enter Colby, and we have our Lego-maniac.

Now most Legos come in boxed kits that have a specific directions to make a model of some sort of thing.  Colby got several very involved kits for Christmas to make various Harry Potter items.  He was a rock star at following directions.  And Ron enjoyed the time with Colby and between them they managed to make quite a little Harry Potter village.  I am thrilled that Colby is able to follow directions, though having that Y chromosome, he may not utilize this skill in adulthood.

During the weeks since that village has been altered and dismantled in smaller pieces as Colby has gotten creative with the Legos.  He has made spaceships, superhero vehicles, and other contraptions--all using his own creativity and problem solving skills.  As his brothers see him working with his Legos they have both become interested as well and have made some of their own things.  Braedon and Brody only stay focused for brief times, for different reasons, but you can find Colby tinkering with his Legos most every day.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

Spring is on its way! Come March I always abolish all traces of winter from my preschool classroom. I love winter, but by this time of year I am so sick of it! Spring will be here in the next couple of weeks (even though it will be another month before it will feel like spring), so it is time to start thinking about spring cleaning!  

So anyone who knows me, or has been to my house or my classroom knows that I tend to accumulate clutter. And I also tend to need to have all my stuff out where I can see it. Why? I don't know, maybe because I am becoming a bit forgetful and I can't find it when it is put away. Maybe because I am a spur-of-the-moment kinda gal and I need to have my stuff at my fingertips. Maybe because some of my stuff just doesn't really have a place. But it all boils down to... I have too much stuff.

I come from a long line of clutter collectors. My dad, a farmer, saves and collects random pieces of treasure. We cleaned out an out building (it was once a detached garage, but that was before I was born) a couple of years ago and he finally had to leave because he could not part with the stuff that we were tossing. His mother was one of those depression-era collectors of treasures. Her persona had developed during the depression and when she moved into senior housing and we had to pare down her possessions we found a whole cabinet of cool whip containers and the like. She had a gigantic chest freezer and there were cherries from 1972. My mom's mom has every greeting card she has ever received tucked away somewhere. (Mom I know you are reading this, don't freak out--I don't have that many followers and no one will look at us any differently.) And I married a guy whose bedroom when I met him had a path through the clutter from the door to his bed to his closet. His cousin and brother cleaned his room for him and he complained that they threw away bits of speaker wire and, "You never know when you will need just a little bit of speaker wire."

I am in a profession where we tend to accumulate things in the hope to use them someday. That is not a bad thing, but I really need to figure out a system so that I can keep things without the risk of losing the treasures in the closetful of stuff.

So after that meandering train of thought... I found a blog that will help me to focus this month to make some changes. (I also love FlyLady and I may have a post up my sleeve about her someday when I am back on the FlyLady wagon.)

Clean Mama is holding a 'clean sweep' during the month of March, complete with low-key weekly suggestions to help to deep clean and declutter. Love the low key suggestions, because I have learned from FlyLady that I need to take baby steps to be successful.  

I am a bit late to the party so I am pushing her first week's challenge back a couple of days to this weekend. (Luckily I have already got a bit of a start on this, because I've got a lot to do.) This week we are decluttering our clothing. I will keep slogging through all the clothes in this house and separate it out into four categories:

keep and put away in dressers or closets
pack away into totes Colby's clothes that he's outgrown that are good enough for Brody to wear in a couple of years
give away Brody's decent clothes to Drayson and any other clothes to the thrift store
and throw away those items that need to go.

I'm also supposed to start a cleaning routine. Hmmm that will certainly have to be a baby step since there is a lot that needs to be done, but I know I will get sidetracked if I try to do too much.

Who wants to join me? I know I have others that read here that have mentioned the need for this. (ahem, there's two of you specifically, but I don't want to call you out) I'm challenging you to join me and we'll blog about it a bit to support each other.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Tomorrow is the birthday of Theodore Geisel.  He was born in 1904 and wrote children's books under his own name and the pseudonyms of Theo LeSieg and Dr. Seuss.

We have a Dr. Seuss theme in preschool this year.  We've been enjoying the many works of Dr. Seuss.  Tomorrow we are wearing stripes and silly socks.  Thursday we will make Cat in the Hat hats and green eggs and ham.

My first and third graders are participating in Read Across America Day tomorrow.  Both of their classes are having Read-Ins.  They are bringing some of their favorite books, a pillow, and a snack.  Colby also has a striped shirt picked out.  For a portion of the day they will relax and read for enjoyment.  I love that!

Take a few moments to share a Dr. Seuss (or another wonderful author) book with your children tomorrow!


Squeaking this one in...

I am grateful that spring is approaching and it gives us little glimpses of the coming season every now and then (like today).

I am grateful for Girl Scout Cookies!

I am grateful for competent co-workers and fun kiddos.