weekend link love: april 18, 2014

link love

This week my kids were home for Spring Break, but it definitely didn’t feel like Spring. Apart from a few lovely moments last weekend, it’s been awfully cold and blustery, depleting my motivation to do All the Things that Spring Break is good for like long mornings at the playground or a trip to the zoo or botanical gardens. Instead we spent a lot of time at the grocery store, doing laundry, watching favorite movies and hiding in the bathroom. That last part was mostly me.

So yeah, I’m kind of needing this weekend coming up to recuperate from a long week of “Mom, I’m bored!” and hiding indoors. Before we put a pin in this week, here are some of the better things I found online while the kids were watching Frozen for the 137th time.

  • Easter is THIS WEEKEND guys – I’m not sure how it crept up so quickly but luckily I’m prepared with Easter Basket goodies, plastic eggs ready to be filled with… something – and lots of egg dying projects I want to try. We’re planning to dye the eggs on Easter because apart from Church, cute shoes and some last minute prepared egg hunt, we have nothing planned. Like we’ll probably make the kids wash the cars again. Annnnyway Easter egg dyes I want to try: blue eggs with red cabbage and red eggs with yellow onion skins (food dyes are magic, apparently). There are a lot of great natural dye ideas out there to play with – but I’m also really intrigued by these floral decoupage eggs at The Hunted Interior.
  • Okay so your eggs are soaking in the dye and you remember that dying eggs naturally seems to take forever!!! Keep the littles preoccupied with these Easter printables from Made by Joel (love him). And keep yourself busy with this raspberry chocolate chip banana bread by Sally’s Baking Addictions (seriously).
  • Now after your kids are ODing on Easter candy and running circles around the house with chocolate covered hands and you are getting worried because you haven’t taken any Pinterest worthy Easter pictures yet and you forgot to do that big activity with the Easter Fairy of Hullabaloo, remember that we are done making our kid’s childhood magical now and have another slice of that banana bread. I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me.
  • But then later if you want to make these super cute pom pom jewelry boxes that Ohdeardrea posted about… me, too.
  • Have a quiet moment to enjoy something just for you? I am in awe of this video that Diesel made of an Alphabet of Dance. I’m feeling really unflexible right now.
  • Okay the kids are probably looking for you now with I’m Bored in their eyes – distract them with this collection of drawings of Olaf as the Disney Princesses. My daughter was over the moon about these. Speaking of Frozen, have you seen this cute video of How Frozen Should Have Ended? Finally someone is pointing out the obvious!

What’s the best thing you read online this week?

The difference a year makes.

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The prompt I chose for this week’s Writer’s Workshop hosted by Mama Kat is:

1.) What were you writing about last year at this time? What has changed?

On April 18, 2013 – one year and one day ago - I wrote about having our request to transfer the kids into another local public school denied and coming to terms with our plan for the fall. I wrote about the various options we had considered and the pros and cons for each. That fall BB entered 4k at the same local school that MM attends – it was kind of a major life change for us with both kids about to be at school in the mornings. But it was really just dipping a toe into that world since BB would only be in school for a few hours in the mornings Tuesday-Friday.

Both kids have really had a great academic year but for all the reasons I mentioned in my blog post last year (and a few new ones) we continued to look into other options. This fall she will be starting kindergarten, he third grade. This means both kids will be at school for a full school day – they will arrive and leave together at the same times. I will have a lot more time on my hand to either spend getting into shape, walking the dog and keeping a clean house; finding gainful employment; or playing even more games on Facebook.

This week I dropped off enrollment packets at a local Lutheran school that MM’s best friend attends and LOVES. It’s got the vigorous education standards that the local Catholic schools might boast but at a fraction of the price – and it’s close and comes with a few built in friends for the kids, which means a slightly less scary transition. I’m also a major fan of the fact that they have the same hours every day – no early release or late starts. Also we really got great vibes from the school tour we took a few weeks ago.

This has not been an easy decision – there’s been much deliberation which I won’t get into here just yet and the process is not actually done – we don’t have a for sure spot in the school yet but the odds seem likely that (knock on wood) this will probably be the school our kids attend in the fall.

So – yes – what a difference a year makes! Though I am so glad that I sent the kids to their local public school another year and have been happy with their teachers, all the reasons we’ve thought of transferring them have not changed and the timing feels right now. With BB starting kindergarten in the fall, this seems like an ideal time to make the switch if we are going to. So cross your fingers for us!

Do your kids go to public school, private or other?

What kind of schools did you attend growing up?

Tell me more about it in the comments section!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Twitterature: Mini Book Reviews for April 2014

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I was all set to link up with Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy and write up this month’s Twitterature Report and share with you the books I’ve been reading this month when I realized something horrifying:

I haven’t finished a single book in the last month.

What???? How is this even possible? I’ve been reading all the time, I thought. But then I remembered all the books I’ve picked up and put down – all the book I’ve set down to pick up another seemingly more important title and yes the end result is a half dozen books I never actually finished reading. So I thought I’d share with you the books I’ve been reading, but haven’t finished – because that’s better than nothing right?

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It all started with…

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Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection (4 Novels, 44 Short Stories, and Exclusive Bonus Features) by Arthur Conan Doyle

In early 2014 I set out to read the Sherlock Holmes novels. But after finishing A Study in Scarlet I quickly lost steam and moved onto other things. Like book club picks and fluffy chick lit. And Benedict Cumberbatch.

#Sherlock4eva  #notenoughcumberbatch  #iwillfinishthiseventually

5882515American Gods by Neil Gaiman

My book club read this in March. I read half but lost the motivation to finish after the meeting in which I simply learned too much about the ending – my own fault. Fascinating concept but kind of a bear to actually read. My husband is enjoying it.

#wednesdayiscrazy #deadwivesarecrazy #thetviscrazy #everyoneiscrazy #spoilers

20653500Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maud Montgomery

After I abandoned American Gods, I decided to treat myself to some L.M. Montgomery – I loved the Anne of Green Gables series and quickly got hooked on Emily’s story as well but I didn’t read fast enough and had to put it down before finishing so I could read the April book club pick.

#emilyisakindredspirit4sure #girlsgotsass #mustfinishthisone

91878The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

My book club is reading Hemingway this month. I do not like Hemingway. This is my first time reading one of his novels but I was biased against it after reading The Paris Wife and for some reason reading this book makes me angry. Not sure if I’ll finish it though it is blessedly short.

#jerk #gohometoyourwife #seriously #compensatingmuch?

 

Annnyway that is what my month of reading has looked like, more or less. A lot of classics, some good some less good, none finished. Hopefully April will be kind enough to let me finish at least one book.

What have you been reading? Hopefully, unlike me, you’ve managed to finish a book!

10 things your kids can say that you can’t.

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They say that kids say the darndest things. Over the past few years I’ve come to realize what an understatement that is. When Mama Kat gave this prompt for the Writer’s Workshop this week:

5.) Write a list of things kids say that adults can’t get away with.

I knew I had a fully loaded arsenal of material. Over the past couple years my kids have said stuff so bizarre that I had to write it down so I could use it against them later look back and laugh some day. I’ve shared some of these on the blog before – and some are new. Some are funny, some are darkly… funny and some – there are just no words. Most (but not all) were said by my darling daughter. So in roughly chronological order, I give you -

Things My Kids Say That Would Get Me Arrested, Booed off the Stage, Locked in a Looney Bin or Worse.

Example one: Kids can get away with leading you into an opportunity to berate and humiliate you.  Also known as The Set Up

BB:Mommy what are you eating?”
Me:“Pasta, what are you eating?”
BB (with full on eye roll):“Peanut butter and honey… How many times do I have to tell you???”

Example two: Kids can lie straight to your face about the weirdest things – the equivalent of that girl at the party who is telling you a story that you are later convinced was 100% BS.

MM: “Mom, I know it seemed like the bus was on time today but the bus driver drifted off to sleep earlier while driving the bus and his hands slipped off the wheel and the key fell out and we were parked at Cherry Berry – you know that frozen yogurt place you take us to sometimes? And then the bus driver woke up and bought us ALL frozen yogurt!!” Wait! What??

Example three: Kids can talk about things that are completely irrelevant to everything.

MM: “Mom, sometimes when I look out the window at our backyard… I think it’s so big we could invite ELEPHANTS! Because there’s so much room out there!”

my second grader

Example four: Kids can get away with pretty dark, twisty, incomprehensible humor.

BB: “Daddy, what’s zero plus water? The air gets scared, because there’s a scary dolphin in it. Because that’s my joke, daddy.”

Example five: Sometimes kids are capable of very complex, philosophical thinking that grownups just couldn’t possibly understand.

BB: You know, Daddy, these wings can’t fly on their own. If a person wants to wear them, they can, but that person just won’t fly. They can’t because something is missing. It’s flying that’s missing, because these wings just can’t fly.

But they’re excellent. I just love these wings, Daddy.

Example six: Kids can joke (?) about very morbid things.

BB: “Daddy, you have to put your head on, so you don’t get dirty.”

Dan: “What?? What does that mean?”

BB: “It means you need to put your head on a different size head. Like this size head (points at her own head). It will help………………me.”

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Example seven: Kids can write the purest form of fanfiction and nobody rolls their eyes at them about it.

BB: “Mommy, did you know that Batman has a wife who is a woman and her name is Batwoman and Batman is the King and Batwoman is the Queen and there is a bat princess named Sofia and Bat Sofia has a sister bat named Amber and a brother bat named James and there is a Bat Bailiwick, too, mommy and they all wear beautiful Bat Costumes. Would you like to hear my batman song mommy?”

Example eight: Kids can give backhanded compliments like it’s their job.

BB, pointing to a girl at Starbucks with a cute messy bun updo: “mommy look at that lumpy girl!”

Me: don’t call her that!

BB: “But she has a lumpy hair mommy and it’s beautiful!”

Me: it’s called a bun.

BB: “yeah she has a lumpy bunnnn mommy!”

Me: don’t say that either.

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Example nine: Kids can handle pretty cold temperatures, apparently. Alternately, we’ve been in Wisconsin too long.

MM: How hot do you want your coffee?
BB: Six degrees.
MM: 6 degrees is pretty cold – more like 35 degrees is pretty warm, 65 degrees is SUPER HOT. 43 degrees is perfect for us, ok?

Example ten: Kids can insult your favorite song better than the harshest critic while wearing a tutu and a ninja turtle mask.

While listening to Say Something on the radio which goes something like this…

Say something, I’m giving up on you
I’ll be the one, if you want me to
Anywhere I would’ve followed you
Say something, I’m giving up on you

My daughter asks me: “When are we giving up on THIS SONG mommy? … because I HATE it.”

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What are some of the funnier, stranger things your kids have said? Tell me your favorites in the comments section and check out Mama Kat‘s link up for more great responses!

Mama’s Losin’ It

What’s for dinner?

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Last week Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy blogged about some of the meals her family eats regularly for dinner. I’ll admit, her family’s regular meals may have made me weep a bit with envy: Sesame chicken, cauliflower, salsa verde beef, fritattas and paleo pizzas. That is her world and yeah I’m mildly jealous.

I’ve got a four year old who I’d suspect was a vegetarian if she didn’t devour bacon like it’s her job – and an eight year old who is trying so hard not to be a picky eater but failing miserably. Words like potatoes, chicken, rice, broccoli, seasoning, casserole or crock pot are fighting words to my kids. Simple foods have become the name of the game for this season of our lives. And when you throw in karate classes, cub scouts and other various afternoon and evening activities – suddenly super fast and easy are added to my list of requirements most evenings.

So what can I make that is healthy, balanced, of neutral palate for the kids but not too neutral for my husband, fast to prepare and affordable? Every night.

This is my life right now. I keep a long list of possible dinner ideas on pinterest but lately we are so busy that trying new stuff is rarely a good option so we’re getting by on tried and trues with a few frozen convenience options thrown in for sanity’s sake. And Dairy Queen. I’m not perfect. When a new meal does get prepared and is met with mostly smiling faces, I’ll pin it to my Dinner Wins Board. But a lot of my stand bys are not really “recipe” type meals so much as the “common sense get it on the plate” meals. Some favorites in our house include:

MONDAYS

On Mondays I am usually cranky that it’s Monday and throwing something together after karate. I want something tried and true and quick like:

  • Crock Pot BBQ Chicken is great because I can start it in the late morning / early afternoon and have it waiting when we get home. Use this recipe or just throw frozen chicken breasts in your crock pot and pour a bottle of BBQ sauce on top and heat. Only downside is my children hate chicken and will give me the death glare. Mac and cheese is often a usable peace offering side dish.
  • We also like this brown sugar maple crock pot pork tenderloin. And by “we” of course I don’t mean my children. They don’t like anything. If I really want to make them cry, I’ll serve it with mashed potatoes.
  • Tacos if I have a little extra time. If you are looking for a homemade taco seasoning recipe, we like Alton Brown’s. If my daughter declares that ground beef is the devil, I’ll make her a cheese quesadilla.
  • If I have a little more time – tacos sometimes turn into enchilada style mexican pizza, a recipe I’ve been adapting and tweaking for years. My daughter will not like it but the rest of us love this one. I’ve had to learn to accept that at least one person probably won’t like whatever I make.
  • Or I’ll come up with some reason why I can’t make dinner and try and talk my husband into picking something up or taking us out. Mondays are hard.

TUESDAYS

Tuesdays became Pasta Tuesday at some point when I was playing around with having themed evenings for meals. This is really the only theme that stuck but I like it and so it continues. Most evenings this just means a box of pasta meets up with that one bottle of sauce that everyone likes right now. Sometimes I throw in ground beef or crumbled italian sausage or frozen meatballs that I microwave while the pasta is cooking.

On days when the sun is shining and my motivation is super high (see also, once or twice every other month) I’ll make:

  • The Pioneer Woman’s Penne alla Betsy. My husband LOVES this dish and if I serve the kids before adding in the shrimp there is no blood loss.
  • This End of Summer Pasta recipe from Parents Magazine is one of my favorite things to cook. I found this the first time we bought a share in a local CSA and found ourselves with a mountain of vegetables. It’s pretty adaptable to whatever you have on hand and deeply satisfying if a bit ugly. Sometimes I’ll make the kids’ a version with raw tomatoes  and not much else because it’s prettier and easier for them to pick around. Also pasta with butter and parmesan cheese can go a long way in a pinch.
  • If I don’t make pasta, sometimes I’ll make this vegetarian french onion soup since Tuesdays are usually the only day I seem to have any spare time. It’s been awhile since I’ve made this but my husband and I both love it. The kids will often just have tomato soup from a can and leftover french bread.

WEDNESDAYS AND THURSDAYS

Afternoon and evening commitments-wise these evenings are pretty similar. We’re often rushed and crazy and short tempered. Usual dinner suspects include:

  • Frozen lasagna even though invariably one child will declare they don’t like lasagna (not always the same one) or Stouffer’s will change their recipe just to infuriate me.
  • Sandwiches in a pinch. Ham and cheese makes my son weirdly happy and my daughter would eat PB&J for every meal if we let her.
  • More pasta.
  • Soup – a can of tomato for the kids and maybe something more fun for us. Ramen Noodles if anyone is under the weather.
  • That awesome pre-made meal at the grocery store that just saved my life – sometimes there will be a pre-assembled chicken pot pie or we’ll pick up a rotisserie chicken and a bagged salad and call it a meal.

FRIDAYS

For Friday nights when we may watch a family movie and I have a little time:

  • French Bread Pizza is something I have been really into. Joy the Baker has some great tips and topping ideas.
  • If I have more time, I’ll make pizza dough in my bread machine and make homemade pizza. Pepperoni is the old stand by but we love to play around with toppings. I’ll make two pizzas – one for the kids and something more fun for Dan and I. BBQ chicken or spinach and mushroom on an alfredo sauce are favorites.
  • For a more rushed Friday night, I am not above frozen pizza or take out.
  • Breakfast for dinner is a nice way to end a long week, too. I really like this baked french toast and this waffle recipe.

WEEKENDS

On the weekends we can often have a little more fun with cooking – usually because my husband who loves to cook is home. When we aren’t grabbing something at a resataurant in between errands, some favorites that he may make include:

  1.  Potato soup or clam chowder (love this recipe passed over from my best friend).
  2. Parmesan baked salmon – my husband loves salmon and this is pretty much the only salmon recipe we’ve found that I like.
  3. This is also a time when we might try a *new recipe* – either something fun I’ve seen online or something my husband comes up with.
  4. Or if the weather is nice, we’re grilling hot dogs and bratwurst or fresh fish (and hot dogs).
  5. Or if the weather isn’t nice, we’ll have homemade pizza if we didn’t have pizza on Friday but he’ll make the pizza dough the way he likes to without the bread machine.

So that’s our typical meal situation – what does your family like to do regularly for dinner?

Tell me the glorious and not so glorious details in the comments section!

Eight: A Whovian-ish Celebration for my first born.

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Today is my son’s eighth birthday! Hard to believe how quickly eight years have gone by – we have been celebrating all weekend, kicking it off on Saturday with a birthday party with close friends. We’ve been trying to simplify the holidays around here so we stuck to just two close friends and their families and invited them to join us for pizza and arcade games at a local pizzeria then back to our place for cake and ice cream and a movie.

First we needed to send them an invite. We had a loose Doctor Who theme (of course) for the party and I spent a lot of time looking online for graphics to make something fun. I loved this idea but wanted to incorporate the Doctor and make it our own. But I downloaded her template and played around with it on picmonkey – I googled for images of Matt Smith’s Doctor online because he’s my son’s favorite and this was the end result:

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I put in coordinates of the location of the pizzeria on our invitation which you can get just by looking for the location on google maps and then right clicking on the location and clicking “what’s here” – the longitude / latitude coordinates will show up in the search bar. Rather than fussing with printing the invitation and finding envelopes and postage, I just emailed the whole image to each friend’s mother and printed out one copy for the birthday boy who thought it was the coolest thing ever – and the whole thing cost me basically nothing except time and a bit of ink and paper.

I tried to keep it simple for party decor – we get pretty far on plates and napkins around here. I did decorate some goodie bags to look like the TARDIS again just googling for images online and printing and cutting and pasting them to the bag. I made the window squares in picmonkey just by making a bunch of layered square shapes.

Since the boys ate their weight in pizza beforehand and were having cake and ice cream – snacks were just some popcorn, pretzels and lightly salted chips.
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The cake ended up just being store bought cupcakes because  I was rushed and injured (I’m always injured, aren’t I?) or maybe I just like a good excuse to get out of baking for some reason. Anyway, we bought a few packs of Jammie Dodgers at World Market (the Doctor’s favorite cookie) and broke them in half and stuck each half on top of a cupcake to decorate, which left just enough room for a candle for MM to blow out.

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Otherwise it was a very low key night – we put on Despicable Me for the kids and they actually sat and watched it! By the time the movie ended it was wayyyyy past everyone’s bedtimes so his friends headed home and the kids went to bed and everyone was happy and birthdayed out. A successful evening for sure!

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MM got a lot of fun presents from family and friends but he was especially smitten with these Hero Factory lego thingies which he spent the rest of the weekend working on.

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Another successful birthday behind us and a very happy eight year old birthday boy!

weekend link love: april 4, 2014

weekend link love 4-4-14

Is anyone else terribly excited and thrilled to have arrived at Friday again? We’ve got a fun BIRTHDAY WEEKEND ahead of us with my little boy turning EIGHT on Monday (whaaatttt?) and all the usual weekendish stuff like ballet and karate classes to look forward to as well – and according to the weather reports, some gorgeous weather to boot. While we count down the seconds until Friday night officially begins (hubby gets home, work ends, kids go to BED, etc.) here are some of the better, funnier, most awesome things I’ve read online this week:

I’ll leave you with my two favorite performances from this week’s Idol – who are you rooting for?

 

Have a great weekend guys!

6 Things my son has taught me.

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Next week my son will turn eight years old.  This baffles me completely. That means I’ve been doing this mothering thing for almost eight years now – so I’ll assume I’ve learned a lot in that time. A seasoned pro I think you could say, though most days it still feels like I’m winging it.

Mama Kat challenged us to share 6 things we’ve learned from our eldest child and since he has a birthday coming up it seemed fitting to choose that prompt for this week’s Writer’s Workshop. So here it goes:

6 Things my son has taught me, after eight years:

  1. There is no perfect plan – you cannot design your life from the ground up and pick and choose when things will happen and how it will go. If parenting has taught me anything it is this – life happens when it darn well means to happen and changes come when they are good and ready. Nursing, crawling, walking, potty training, sleeping through the night, riding a bicycle, learning to read – you cannot predict which things will go smoothly and which will shake you to your core for years. So let go of the statistics and the rigid goals and try to just appreciate the moments as they come. Not that I’m always good about this – but I try.
  2. Doctor Who is the coolest super hero ever, and so is Iron Man, Batman, Spiderman and [insert next coolest thing here] Man. My son has taught me that “favorite” is a flexible, fluid word and that we should like all the things.
  3. Your kids will be exactly like you in all the ways that you hate and exactly like your partner in all the ways that you admire and nothing like either of you in all the ways that shock, surprise and delight you. They are a perfect hodge podge and a shining mirror to all the things you’d like to change about yourself. So when you see yourself losing your cool over those mirrored faults, try to be kind and to lead by example. And remember that they take after you in good ways, too – just ask your partner. They probably have a running list.
  4. You cannot teach by omission – when things scare you or seem to hard to properly explain or conflict with your core beliefs – these are the great teachable moments and they are an opportunity to rise above and beyond the call of duty and really teach your kids something important. So don’t shy away from the hard stuff, you and your kids are capable of greater things than you can imagine.
  5. My son taught me what it means to be a mother – I didn’t have a handbook and I didn’t know what I was doing when I set out on this adventure eight years ago. I didn’t know that you can love some one even when they are being completely unreasonable and just giving you absolutely nothing – that in the middle of the biggest temper tantrum and angry eyes and hot words – motherhood endures where all else would fail. Even when they don’t like anything you cook, never pick up after themselves, physically drain you past the point of return and never seem to appreciate the sleepless nights and endless worry – love is always there, unfailing. And it stretches to accommodate all the new ones you take into your family. Your heart is endless when you are a mother.
  6. Motherhood – and my son – have taught me that I don’t know anything – that everything we know is just a fact waiting to be dis-proven.

These are just some of the things that mothering this boy has taught me and I’m sure I have a lot left to learn! Happy early birthday MM – I love you so much!

Mama’s Losin’ It