Sunday, June 26, 2011

Oh, What Do You Do In The Summertime?

Our family is not doing much in the way of traveling this summer.  The hubster is taking his two month sabbatical from work next summer (he gets one every seven years) and we are starting to make big plans to go on a major trip about a year from now.  That means we are staying home this year, except for a possible camping trip at the Oregon Coast.  Tent camping?  Maybe. Hotel camping?   Probably.

So... since we aren't going anywhere, but all of Jabberjaw's friends did go somewhere, it means I have been busy being Activities Director to the 10-year-old.  I know, I know.  Everyone says I should let him figure out how to keep himself  busy, but if I left it up to him, he'd spend the whole summer watching TV, playing video games, and whining about how he has no one to play with.

So I've been hard at work planning some fun activities for me and Jabberjaw to do this summer.  My older three children are teens and therefore they have their own agendas and are independent enough to carry out plans with their friends (most of whom are staying around town, like us).  I'm finding that it's working out really well with it just being the two of us for most of our outings.  Jabber is the perfect age now where we have a lot of fun and can actually carry on a conversation.  I'm enjoying getting to know him as an individual, apart from his siblings.  Being the youngest, he is often overshadowed by the older sibs and spending time alone with him is really giving his personality a chance to shine.  He is quite witty and funny and is really enjoying the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with me, without being pestered by the older kids.

First order of business this summer, for all of the children, was to set up ground rules about the TV and video games.  I established a "No TV Zone" between the hours of noon and 8:00 pm every day.  I can't tell you how lovely it has been to not have the television blaring in the background all day long.  It's been quite peaceful, actually.  Video games are limited to 2 hours a day.  The kids can earn a DVD movie during the day by reading for an hour. 

And speaking of reading... I've got the family doing a lot more reading this summer (Yay!).  Not only can they earn opportunities to watch movies, but I have also made a summer reading chart (thanks to Heidi of The Bartle Bulletin) that we are working on together as a family. When we reach our combined goal of 9,000 total pages read, we get to go to Oaks Park, a local amusement park.  It's really motivating to just about everyone in the family.  Everyone except Genius.  My 15-year-old son couldn't give a rip about going to the amusement park, even when I said he could bring a friend.  But I found a different motivator for him.  A certain amount of pages read earns him a dollar toward a video game. He was all over that!  He read for a full two hours in a row today!  He told me he can't remember ever reading that much at one time in his life before today.  Ya just gotta speak their language, ya know?

Besides reading, we are also working as a family to organize and de-junk the house.  The kids earn allowance for chores but they also have to get work done in order to earn privileges such as outings, hanging out with friends, and having sleepovers.  Bribery Blackmail Incentives work wonders!

I've also found some really great free and cheap stuff to take Jabberjaw to do.  Our local movie theater is running a Kid's Summer Movie Program, where we can go see family movies every Tuesday and Wednesday morning for $1.  I also found a Kids Bowl Free program online that is offered in many bowling alleys nationwide.  It's great! My kids can bowl two free games EVERY DAY all summer long (not that we'll go every day, mind you).

Some other places we plan to go and things we plan to do this summer are:

  • Zoo
  • Swimming Lessons
  • Children's Museum
  • Cub Scout Day Camp
  • Drive-In
  • Water Parks/ Aquatic Center
  • Local Fairs and Amusement Parks
  • Library Programs/Events
  • Children's Play Centers (a la Chuck E. Cheese)
  • Lakes & Rivers
  • Hiking, Biking, Outdoors
  • Skating (roller, ice)
  • Berry Picking/Jamming/Gardening
  • Cooking/Baking

What kinds of things do you plan to do with your  kids and family this summer?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yummy Numminess - Hamburger Quiche

This is a favorite dinner which is generally requested by my boys for their birthdays (especially because I don't make it very often, reserving it for special occasions).  It takes a little planning ahead and extra time for prepping and baking... but ohhh, it is SOOooo worth it!  Yum!!

We just recently had it for Jabberjaw's birthday (per his request).  I generally serve it with quartered muffins and fruit salad.  Enjoy!

Hamburger Quiche

(1) 9" unbaked pastry shell
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 c. grated Swiss cheese
1/3 c. chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brown meat in skillet, drain fat and set aside.  Blend mayo, milk, eggs, and cornstarch with hand mixer until smooth.  Stir in meat, cheeses, onion, salt and pepper.  Turn mixture into pastry shell.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn oven up to 400 degrees and bake for another 20 plus minutes (cover edges of pie shell with foil if browning too fast).  Quiche is done when golden brown on top and knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Cut into wedges and serve hot.  Makes 6 servings.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Real Nail Biter!

If you were hoping for that quiche recipe I referred to in my last post I'm afraid you're gonna have to wait.  I have to do a little bragging about my Li'l Slugger.  Jabberjaw had an amazing baseball game!  If you've read my previous post about Little League you'll know that I don't say that lightly!

Jabberjaw's team is in first place in the playoffs right now, so we were on the edge of our seats during this last game, hoping they would keep up their winning streak.  It was 'neck and neck' the whole way through the game, with some great action.  There was a lot of cheering, clapping, and yelling on both sides.  Even I was getting into it!  Thankfully my voice has returned so I could scream along with everyone else!

Bottom of the game, end of the 6th inning, we are tied 5-5.  The coaches and umpire consult and decide to go into a 7th inning for a tie-breaker.  Other team is up to bat first and our guys never let 'em get a run.  We're up to bat and get a runner on to 2nd.  Jabberjaw is up to bat next... I'm SOOooo nervous!  If I were a nail biter, I would have bitten off all ten!

Jabberjaw hits a sacrifice hit toward first and is out before he reaches the base, but he gets the runner to 3rd.  All we need is one run and we win.  The next batter knocks it into the outfield and brings the runner into home!  We win!!!

Wow!!  What a game!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Perfect '10'!

My baby is a decade old!  I can't believe it!  I no longer have anyone in my home who's age is a single digit number.  Wow, that's hard to wrap my brain around.  Guess that just means I'm getting old (Sigh...)

As per usual in our house, Jabberjaw was asked what he wanted for his birthday meals and what kind of activity he wanted to go do with the family.  He requested french toast and sausages for breakfast and quiche for dinner (a family favorite, I'll share the recipe tomorrow!).  His request for an outing was not in the cards for today so we will be taking the family to Family Fun Center on Thursday.

Since we were unable to fulfill his activity request on his actual birthday, I took him out for some mother/son time, just the two of us.  We had a lot of fun!  In lieu of wrapped presents, I took him to Target and let him pick what he wanted.  When I asked him previously what he wanted for his birthday, he didn't have any idea. When I asked him how he felt about picking stuff out, as opposed to unwrapping 'surprises', he thought it was a great idea. This way he got exactly what he wanted.  He picked himself out some Tech Deck and Lego Pirates sets.

I hadn't told him where we were going for lunch, in order to surprise him.  One of his fave foods is pizza so the day just wouldn't have been complete without it.  He told me to tell him when we were getting close to the restaurant so he could close his eyes.  When we arrived at Papa's Pizza Parlor, he was very excited and yelled out, "I knew it!!".  It has an indoor play area with a climbing castle, ball pit, basketball hoops, and mini merry-go-round and ferris wheel.

On our way back from the restaurant we stopped through the drive-thru of Krispy Kreme donuts and picked out a dozen.  This was to be the birthday dessert later that evening with the intention of putting candles in a maple bar instead of cake (his idea!).  We rounded out the day with some ice cream at Cold Stone.  He ordered Lemon frozen yogurt which he said was (and I quote) 'tart'.  Well... they say a picture's worth a thousand words.  I think this pic I took of him eating said 'tartness' says it all!

HAPPY 10th BIRTHAY, SON!!  Love, Mom

Sunday, June 12, 2011

So Long, Farewell, Alvederzane, Goodbye...

My grandmother passed away recently and we laid her to rest on Saturday.  She lived a long and full 96 years and was loved by many. There was a beautiful graveside service, during which many wonderful memories were shared.  I lovingly dedicate this post to her.  She was one in a million...

Things My Grandmother Taught Me

1.  The most important thing in this life is family.

2.  It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.

3.  A smile can go a long way and laughter really is the best medicine!

4.  Believe in yourself and that you can have anything you're willing to work hard for.

5.  A simple faith in God and Jesus Christ will get you through life's challenges.

6.  Sing, Dance, Act, Live!

7.  Take care of yourself while you're young enough to do something about it.

8.  Work hard, play hard.

9.  See's really does have the best candy!


10.  I was her favorite grandchild (but so was everyone else!).

It is not goodbye, Grandma, but only farewell.  God be with you 'til we meet again...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The 'Hoarse' Whisperer

I have no voice.

 I'm not talking figuratively about
nobody listening to what I have to say.

(Although, at my house that tends to be true.)

I mean I literally lost my voice.

I cannot talk.
I cannot sing (heavy sigh).
I cannot answer the phone.
I cannot yell at talk to my children.

I have laryngitis.

lar-yn-gi-tis [lar-uhn-jahy-tis]
noun/ inflamation of the larynx,
often with accompanying sore throat,
hoarseness or loss of voice,
and dry cough.


That's me.

Inflamed, sore, hoarse, and coughing.

Oh, and did I mention...

I can't talk either.

I'm on day 6 of this now
and it really stinks!

In fact it bites the Big One!

But at least I have my fingers
so I can still have a 'voice' in the blogsphere!

I can't talk to my actual family,
but I can talk to my blogging family.
So thank you all for being out there to 'listen'!


I've been doing a lot of whispering.

Since I can't talk and all.

(Did I mention that already?)

I've heard that whispering is 
just as straining on the vocal chords
as actually talking.

So I've been trying to not talk

Or whisper.


Do you know how hard that is?
Especially with kids?

Pretty much darn near impossible!!
Especially with MY kids!

Let's see.
I have a 10-yr-old boy who dawdles.

Did you know you can 'whisper yell'?

It's true.
I've tested it out.

I had my doubts that a
whispered yell could be effective.
But it actually induced tears.
I was overjoyed shocked.

And my 13-yr-old daughter
is very perturbed distraught 
by the fact that her mother 
can't talk to her.

It's terribly inconvenient for
her to have to wait
for notes to be written.

It's unfair to expect her
to get off the couch
in the TV room 
and walk a few feet.

 To the front room.

To get an answer
to the question 
she yelled at me.

Not to mention the fact
that when I write a note to 
someone other than herself,
'Miss Nosey' doesn't know
what I said to them.

She says it's like we're keeping secrets.

From her.

Like the secret of asking my son
if he had baseball practice today.

We are so cruel 
keeping that secret from her.

Aren't we?


I'm not making
a very fast recovery
in the vocal department 
it seems.

I'm gonna have to get more serious
 about this silence thing 
if I ever want to 

Answer the phone.
Order through the Taco Bell drive thru
Ask my family what healthy meal 
they'd like me to make.



Therefore I've decided to
post a sign on the back of my laptop
for my family.

(Don't scroll down yet... wait for the reveal!)

So they will know that I am
no longer talking and will only
communicate with them through
the written word.
(Just like I'm doing with you all!)

And it looks like this:

(okay... you can scroll down now)


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Movie Review-- Pirates 4: On Stranger Tides

I've seen Pirates of the Carribean 4: On Stranger Tides  twice now. I have to say I enjoyed it much more the second time around. This is due in part to the fact that once I'd seen how it differed from the first three movies, I could enjoy it on it's own merits. If you view it as a stand-apart feature from the first three, it's quite enjoyable, but if you try to compare it, it makes it a little harder.

Johnny Depp, of course, reprises his role as Captain Jack Sparrow, the loveable, quirky pirate who always seems to find a way to get out of any situation. Captain Jack was still quirky, still funny, and still continued to surprise the audience with his ability to creatively improvise. One of the few complaints I had about the movie, after the first viewing, was the fact that Jack seemed to lack some of the “loony-ness” that attracted fans to him in the first three movies. During my second viewing, it occurred to me that his character could afford to be a little more on the “schizo” side in the earlier films because he had Will and Elizabeth to help him out and cover more of the straight-man role. Since Captain Jack was the main character in this installment, he didn't really have the luxury of being the zany sidekick.

I was also skeptical, on my first viewing, of how the directing was going to be. I was hugely fond of the fantastic job Gore Verbinski did in the first three films and wasn't sure if Rob Marshall could pull it off. Marshall is most known for his background as a choreographer in musical theater and did a fantastic job directing the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical, Chicago. It seemed quite a leap to go from musicals to action movies, especially such a beloved series such as Pirates. Again, when I judged it as a stand-apart film, I really thought Marshall did an amazing job.

I thought Penelope Cruz was fantastic and brought a rich, latin romanticism to the story. She and Depp had amazing on-screen chemistry. Kudos also go to Ian McShane, who played Blackbeard with a real subtlety that is often lost in big budget summer action movies. I have to give Marshall further directing credit on this point. The character could have very easily been overplayed, making him seem more cartoonish than scary. It was also fun to see a return of Captain Barbossa, surprising us once again with a twist in his loyalties.

All in all, it was a fun, entertaining movie that I feel very confident in recommending, especially if you have been a fan of the original three. If you are in any way a fan of Captain Jack or Johnny Depp, as well, this is a film not to be missed. It is full of plenty of twists, turns, and swashbuckling action. I definitely plan to add it to my DVD collection.

If you haven't seen it yet, don't wait. It's definitely worth the bucks to see it on the big screen. If you saw it once and weren't sure it lived up to your “Pirate” standards, I encourage you to give it another try, at least on DVD when it comes out in a few months.

Regardless of your opinion of the film, I promise you'll never look at mermaids the same way again... I know I won't!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Turning Tragedy Into Triumph

Hello Dearest Blog-followers!

How I adore you all (all 9 of you!).  
Sorry you've had to wait so long for more 
witty banter and inspiration from me
 (it's been a whole week!  How did you survive this long?). 
 I've been rather busy (or lazy-- you choose).  

Saturday I spent time with my oldest daughter-slash-college student,
 seeing a play so she could write a paper on it for her theater class.
Sunday was church and family time.

Monday was Memorial Day.

I wish I could say I did something
awesome in memory of those who have died
serving our country.
(Thank you! You guys all ROCK!!)

But no.

I got to sit through another Little League game.
("I love my son. I love my son.")

A game that the coaches should have
tried harder to get changed to another day
instead of it being on a holiday.

Oh well.

At least it didn't rain AND I wasn't freezing.

The rest of the week
I have no good excuses for.
(Refer to the 'lazy' comment above).


I wanted to share something amazing with you.

If you have yet to discover 
you really should.

If you already have,
then you already know what I'm talkin' 'bout.
(But you'll especially enjoy this!)

Stephanie Nielsen (aka nienie)
and her husband, Christian,
did an interview on Glenn Beck on Monday
which was entitled
'Turning Tragedy Into Triumph'.

Stephanie is my hero
and such an inspiration.

Watch the interview and...







(Sorry I couldn't find a part 3)


And if you are interested in
more on Stephanie's 
amazing story-