Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mopey Monday

Monday, September 29, 2008

Don't know if it's all the cloudy weather, the extremely busy weekend and lack of sleep, or just a case of the blahs, but it's been a Mopey Monday. So, when I mope, I generally reach for cookies to cheer me up. I know, I know, not the healthiest habit. My defense is that I gave up all of my vices practically the moment I became pregnant for the first time, and I reserve the right to indulge in the glorious combination of butter, sugar and flour when I see fit.
So, in honor of this "Mopey Monday" I'm sharing one of my favorite cookie recipes with you. Savoring one of these babies is sure to put a smile on your face. Sorry, I can't promise that it won't also put a dimple on your rear ;P

1 cup butter (the real stuff...no skimping);
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 8 oz package milk chocolate toffee bits

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking soda and salt. Beat until well mixed. Stir in toffee bits by hand.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets (I use non stick). Bake 10 to 12 minutes (check at 9 minutes for non stick) or until lightly browned at edges. Cool 1 minute, remove from cookie sheets. Enjoy...mmmmmmmm.

The Daily Dog Bone

It's Official...I'm in Bid'ness

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ok, so I have a big announcement (no I'm not pregnant again) and a shameless plug...I'm the latest and greatest addition to Usborne Books at Home. What does this mean? It means I have signed on to be an Independent Consultant for the Usborne company (I prefer Education Consultant, as I've never really been much of a sales person and I can't stand pushy people).

If you aren't familiar with Usborne products, they are simply wonderful books that kids love to read. I am a great lover of children's books. I could practically live in a Barnes and Noble and never leave the children's section, except for a Starbucks fix, of course ;P I love children's books and Usborne publishes some of my favorites. The Farmyard Tales series is well loved by young children and they offer some great kid kits for older kids, as well as several reference books and lots of educational resources. They even have quite a selection of chunky board books for babies. The list goes on and on. There is so much variety, really something for kids of all ages and always some great online sales.

Please take a moment to check out my website and see what you think. If you don't want to order now, you can easily create a wishlist to keep for future reference. It's an easy way to share a booklist with relatives for holiday gifts. Or, you can host an eshow in just a few clicks, then tell all of your friends about it to earn FREE books.

The site is very user-friendly, but if you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me. Be sure to enter the drawing for $50 in FREE books! And leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Lastly, if you are so inclined, there has never been a better time to sign up as a Consultant. The September offer is outstanding - you can start your own business for only $35. So, if you could use some extra cash (who couldn't these days?!) and would love to earn free books, consider signing on with this wonderful company, but hurry!! This offer ends Sept 30th at 10 AM.

This concludes my shameless plug. You may now return to your regular blog browsing.

Economic Bailout

I recently received this in an email, and I have to say, it's a plan that works for me. I mean, if we are actually going to spend $85 billion dollars of tax payer money to fix this problem, why shouldn't the greatest number of taxpayers reap the benefits? Bailing out the greedy just doesn't sit well with me, especially when it effects not only my money and future but my children's financial future as well.
So here's a new plan:

This idea sounds just crazy enough to possibly work, so naturally it won't be given serious consideration.

I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.

Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a We Deserve It Dividend.

To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+.

Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billion that equals $425,000.00.

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free.

So let's assume a tax rate of 30%.

Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.

That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.

But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket.

A husband and wife has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?

Pay off your mortgage - housing crisis solved.

Repay college loans - what a great boost to new grads

Put away money for college - it'll be there

Save in a bank - create money to loan to entrepreneurs.

Buy a new car - create jobs

Invest in the market - capital drives growth

Pay for your parent's medical insurance - health care improves

Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean - or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's really do it...instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( "vote buy" ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout, let's bail out every adult US Citizen 18+!

As for AIG - liquidate it.

Sell off its parts.

Let American General go back to being American General.

Sell off the real estate.

Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.

Here's my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't.

Sure it's a crazy idea that can "never work."

But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!

How do you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion

We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC

And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

So, what do you think?

A Fun Fall Lesson: Johnny Appleseed

Thursday, September 25, 2008

John Chapman, born September 26, 1774 was an American pioneer and missionary who introduced apples to Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. He became an American Legend.
Find out more about him here.
Mrs. Olson, a retired teacher, has listed an entire 8 day Unit Study geared toward Kindergarteners and First Graders with lots of fun activities and plenty of resources for further exploration.
And find lots more links at The Virtual Vine.

That ought to keep 'em busy a while, smile.

If not try this:
* 16 peeled and sliced and diced apples
* 3/4 to 1 Cup of sugar
* 2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

Put the diced apples in the crockpot, add the sugar and cinnamon, and stir it up. Set the crockpot on High and cook for 4 Hours. Mash them up a bit about halfway through. Mmmmmm, the smell alone will inspire an appreciation for old Johnny. (Wouldn't hurt to pour some over Vanilla Ice Cream either)

Free Starbucks? Count me in!

Have you tasted Starbucks' new Pike Place brew? It's yummy. And guess what? They are offering a free cuppa joe to all educators on Monday, September 29.
Here's the scoop:
This coming Monday, September 29, homeschool parents will be able to pick up a complimentary tall size (12 fl. oz.) cup of Pike Place Roast from Starbucks. This is part of Starbucks "Great Start for Great Teachers" promotion, and is now open to all teachers. HSLDA intervened when we alerted that homeschool parents were not included in the promotion. We are pleased that Starbucks is recognizing the contribution of homeschool parents by extending their program to us. In order to pick up your free cup of Pike Place Roast you will need to present evidence that you are a homeschooler. Any one item on the following list should be accepted by Starbucks:
Home School Legal Defense Association membership card.* Membership card from a state homeschooling organization.* Notification from a school district or state government recognizing compliance with compulsory attendance.* Paperwork submitted showing intent to establish a homeschool program.* Paperwork showing the establishment of a private school.If you don't have one of the items on this list be creative and try to provide other proof of homeschooling.

Thank you Starbucks...and those tenacious folks at HSLDA ;)

Election 2008 Lessons for Kids

Have you discussed the election with your kids? This year's race is turning out to be a very interesting one, and provides a wonderful opportunity to explore government and politics with our kids. Mine are a little young to understand the intricacies of modern day politics, but we are discussing the structure of our government and the process of electing officials, as well as some of the key issues and how they effect individuals.

Here are some great resources to get our youngsters involved:
Time for Kids- Meet the candidates, see where they stand on issues, play games, and more.
Scholastic- Play President, submit a question to candidates, create a campaign poster and find lesson plans
BrainPop- cool video shorts on government and history, kid-friendly and fun
Weekly Reader- explore the issues and test your vocabulary with the Election Word Wheel
PBS -curriculum Guide and resources

And for tweens and teens (grown ups too :D):
A fun quiz to help you decide where you stand on key issues.
Candidate biographies
Electoral College Map
How the Electoral College Works
Curriculum Guide and Resources
Fact Check Ed
PBS- curriculum and resources
And Lydia over at Little Blue School has a fabulous Election Unit Study (thanks Shez for the head's up).

Free Election Lapbooking Kit (please consider making a small donation if you use these resources)

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who Knew?

Tomorrow is National Punctuation Day. I have never heard of this before, but apparently it has happened 4 times already. How did I miss all the fun? What a perfect excuse to watch some School House Rock (find lyrics here) and read Eats Shoots and Leaves and The Girl's Like Spaghetti. Then, why not play some Punctuation Paintball? Some of my favorite things!

This must be every English teacher's dream...

First Day of Autumn

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ah, Fall is officially here. I'm finding the cooler weather quite refreshing. I love taking walks with the kids and exploring all the wonders of nature. They collect all sorts of goodies this time of year: leaves, acorns, gumballs, walnuts, crab apples, and of course, the ever popular...rocks. This is the perfect time of year to go apple or pumpkin picking, visit a local farm, or get the kids involved in creating some harvest decorations.
Unfortunately, everyone at our house has come down with a bug so we're hanging low today. But as soon as we're on the mend we'll be crafting and cooking up some fun. How about you?

More Fall Crafts
Autumn and Halloween Crafts
Even more cute stuff here...great gift ideas.
And caramel apple cookies...not exactly health food, but oh so cute and yummy!

A Free Night of Theater

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Here's a sweet little freebie...if you are lucky enough to live near a participating theater, you can treat yourself to a free show! Why not take the kiddos for a little cultural enrichment. Or, steal away with the hubster for a "grown up" night on the town. If you go, drop me a comment and let me know what you saw. Unfortunately, I don't live anywhere near any of these participating cities...I'd love a couple of tickets to the ballet, sigh.

Also, don't forget free museum day, coming up September 27th! With gas prices on the upswing again...I'll take all the FREE I can get.



Her first season of soccer.
The first game of the season.
The first play of the game...
Go Brynie Go!...Score!
Great, huge grin.

We Made It To the Beach After All

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Just as I'd finished lamenting how the summer was over and we hadn't made it to the beach once, we came upon a particularly warm (sweltering) weekend. After melting all day last Saturday at the kids' soccer games, we decided seize the opportunity to make Sunday a beach day. We packed a picnic, some buckets and other essentials and headed to Sandbridge Beach, a perfect secluded local spot in southern Virginia Beach. It turned out to be a glorious day and was well worth the 40 minute drive. The breeze was perfect and the water cool and refreshing.
It was Jackson's first experience in the sand and surf and he absolutely had a blast(as is evident in the photos). By the end of the day he had sand in every crevice, of course, but he didn't eat it by the handfuls like many kids, so that was a plus.
We spotted a couple of ghost crabs, found lots of seashells, a skate egg case and a partial horseshoe crab (Did you know these guys have been around for 540 million years?!). We were even treated to a helicopter flyover courtesy of the United States Military. So, even though we made the trip late in the season, we made it with a bang. And I now feel ready to welcome a crisp colorful Autumn.

By the way, if you love exploring nature like we do, check out this awesome site to help you discover and research wildlife local to your area. Way cool, huh?

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Lion, A Robot and a Pooping Deer...

Monday, September 15, 2008

My oldest isn't much for drawing. He loves crafts and will paint just about anything, but he has never really enjoyed drawing or coloring. He will happily cut and paste, or better yet, fashion a tool of some sort out of just about any supplies you give him, but has only on a few rare occasions actually drawn a picture. So, I was quite surprised when today, he sat down and did just that. He had been playing office for a while this morning and has been "writing" notes, checklists and signatures lately. A sign that perhaps his aversion to handwriting is subsiding??? I don't push him in this area as he's shown some resistance and I want him to come to it when he's ready. At any rate, his younger sister had grown tired of posing as his secretary and having to redo all her work as he deemed it unfit (Aiden, bossy? never.)
So I asked her if she'd like to draw a picture. She replied with an emphatic, "yes!" and big brother chimed in that he was game as well. I set out the crayons and paper and here is what they came up with:

Aiden drew a deer first, for papaw who likes to go deer hunting. And yes, this deer is pooping. The brown pile in front of him is leaves he's been eating. The brown pile in back...well, you get the picture.

And here's a lion he drew that's, well, pooping too. Yeah, he's six and he's a boy. Actually, I'm not sure the age matters much; boys seem to enjoy bathroom humor throughout their lives. I grew up in a house of girls... cutting the cheese or "plooping" were our only options for communicating about such things, anything beyond that was forbidden. Life's a little different around here.

And finally, here's a robot who is, appropriately, poopless.

Since there was no prompting, no looking at pictures of animals, and no scratching them out and starting over, I was quite impressed that he just sat down and drew these three things he had never drawn before.

Brynie drew a portrait of Aiden:
Sorry it is so faint, I enhanced it as much as I could. I hope you can make it out.

I just love it!

So How Do I Look?

Aren't I simply fabulous?! I've had a makeover compliments of Lena at Simply Fabulous Blogger Designs. My old look just didn't feel quite right, and I'm not above a face lift (at least a digital one) so I went out in search of one. I'm diggin' my new skin. How about you?

Hooray, I won!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I actually won something. I enter contests and sweepstakes online whenever I come across one that interests me. I entered many during the last Bloggy Giveaway Carnival, yet won nothing, as usual. But now, finally I've won something! Yea, me :D And not just something, I won a cool set of DVD's from Megret over at Muses of Megret, who has a great blog and review site by the way. The DVD's are from Little Leaders and are geared toward toddlers and preschoolers (okay, so technically I won something for the kids...who cares I won!) and I can't wait to check them out. I'll let you know how we like them. Now I'm off to wait by the mailbox...

UPDATE: September 18th, we got our DVD's and there are 4 in all. They are well done. They remind me a little of the Baby Einstein videos, but they have more songs and more of a plot. My three year old is really enjoying them. My 12 month old is not interested, but that I expected as he is not at all interested in TV yet. (Okay by me) They are a little slow for my 6 year old who watched for a few minutes before moving on to something else. The concepts are really geared toward the toddler and preschool set (the box says 9 mos and up). I really like that you can play them in different languages, including American Sign Language. I give them a big thumbs up and would recommend them to anyone with a young child, especially 15 months to 4 years old.

Aloha Friday

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ok, another meme...they are fun though! In Hawaii Fridays are relaxed, part of the weekend, a time to unwind. And in that spirit Aloha Friday asks just one simple question. Here's mine:

It's beginning to feel a lot like Fall around here, which I have mixed feelings about. Love the cooler weather and beautiful leaves, still a little sad summer is over and I never made it to the beach. So...What's your favorite season? [If you want to add why, great! But I'm only allowed one question...wouldn't want you to strain your brain on a Friday :D]

What Does Homeschooling Look Like?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I am often asked about what we do for "homeschool" or what our days are like. Since we are unschoolers, it varies. We don't follow a set schedule with a set curriculum. We do have a typical daily routine as far as dressing, eating, cleaning, errands, etc., but our learning is spread throughout the days, weeks, months and doesn't have a particular beginning or end. We're basically learning all the time, 7 days a week, all year long. Our version of homeschooling is more of a lifestyle than a scheduled school calendar.
Some things we typically do each day include reading, exploring outdoors, researching, counting/adding/measuring, cooking, crafting, imaginative play, building, playing games/puzzles, playing music and sports activities. We take lots of field trips too. We try to just have fun exploring new things and documenting our experiences.
Here are some recent photos of our busy days...

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

See more Wordlessness here and here.

Note to Self:

Be thankful for the sticky fingerprints on everything, for it means your child is able to explore his world.
Be thankful for the poopy diapers, for it means your child is healthy and nourished.
Be thankful for the toys strewn from room to room, for it means your child is playful and active.
Be thankful for the sibling arguments, for it means your children can stand up for themselves.
Be thankful for the whiny pleas for attention, for it means you are wanted.
Be thankful for the wilted dandelions in your pocket, for it means you are appreciated.
Be thankful for the dirty laundry, for it means you have been blessed with another day together.
Be thankful for the noise, noise, noise, for it means you are not alone.
Be thankful for the hundredth time you've heard "MOM!" today, for it means you are needed.
Be thankful for the sloppy sticky kisses, for it means you are loved.
For all the worries, arguments, cleaning, grooming, reprimanding, reminding, mending, preparing, purchasing, tutoring, chauffeuring, challenging, chasing, crying and sleeplessness, be thankful. For it means that you are a mother, and there is no greater gift than that.

The Daily Dog Bone

Monday, September 8, 2008

Update: Max is still hanging in. He seems happy and perky, but is starting to limp a little again, even on the meds. I dread what the future holds for him, for us. But, I am thankful each day that I can rub his nose, scratch his ears and water him from the kitchen sink. He is enjoying the sunny weather and loves to lounge in any spot of sunlight he can find.

Thought I'd share a couple of our favorite books for readers and dog lovers:
Amazing Gracie is one of my all time favorites. It is a true story of a Dane named Gracie and how her special needs led to the creation and huge success of the Three Dog Bakery. An easy and inspiring read that will tug at your heart strings.
Eco Dog is a great resource for greening your grooming and healthifying your pooch's diet. Loaded with tips and pics it's lot of fun and very useful for the eco-minded puppy parent.

Hope you enjoy these pics and take pleasure in each day with your pet.
Big sloppy wet kisses,

PS: Show your Great Dane Pride :P

Please take a moment to pray for this family...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I do not know the Drews, that is, I have never been acquainted with them. But they are not strangers. In fact, their lives seem very similar to my own. I came to know their story as I stumbled upon this blog tonight while hopping around the blogosphere checking out what other homeschoolers are up to. I read the top post, then scrolled down and watched the video entitled "Christian." I was moved to tears, my heart broken, and I can not begin to fathom what this family is experiencing now. What touched me most was what a loving family they seem to be, and how this little boy in the photos is doing so many of the things my kids do every day. Their photos could be my photos. I am reminded never to take life for granted. To be thankful for and to cherish every moment. And to love my children a little more loudly, with more patience and a deeply grateful heart.
If you have a moment, please pray for this family.

The Savvy Quiz by Savvy Source

Friday, September 5, 2008

You might have noticed the Savvy Quiz widget in my sidebar. Clicking on it will start you through a quiz about your preschooler's development. You'll answer questions about your child's abilities, number recognition, language acquisition, musical recognition, gross and fine motor skills, etc. The quiz is divided into several sections, and is conveniently set up so that if you find you can't finish it in one sitting you can log out and continue it in another session.

Once you finish the Savvy Quiz, you will receive a customized report showing you your child's progress compared to other preschoolers. Each section also contains a link to Savvy Picks, where you will receive a personalized learning guide featuring activities recommended for your child's level of development. These picks include recommended books and toys that can be purchased, as well as free activities created by experts and by parents like you.

It is a helpful tool for assessing your child's progress and a great way to generate ideas for activities that will enrich your child's education. The quiz is very user-friendly, and the feedback is provided free of charge. So, when you have a few minutes be sure to check it out.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Last weekend we took the kids to the Dinomania exhibit at the Virginia Living Museum. They had an absolute blast, and mom and dad loved it too. We enjoyed exploring the dino habitats and watching the giant animated creatures...it really seemed they were looking at us at times. The kids got to excavate bones in a mini-dig and see the inside mechanics of a robotic dino and practice making it move various body parts.

We also spent a couple of hours wandering around the permanent museum exhibits and watching all the animals in their native habitats. They have everything from beavers to jellyfish to alligators and sharks and more. The Living Museum is by far one of my local favorites. It has lots of hands on learning experiences for kids...they loved petting the spider crab...as well as a planetarium and observation deck.

We ended up purchasing a family membership which offers reciprocal admission to many museums around the country. It's a great deal and I'm sure we'll get our money's worth. If you ever have to opportunity to visit, this museum is a don't miss!

Here's A Great Freebie

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

If you haven't heard, Smithsonian Magazine is sponsoring a Free Museum Day on Saturday, September 27th, 2008. Check out their website for participating museums in your area and to print out a pass for free admission for you and a guest. What a great opportunity for a family field trip. I think we may venture off the beaten path to take advantage of this one. We love to do day trips and pack a picnic lunch. It makes for some fun family memories. I hope many of you get a chance to take advantage of this opportunity. I'll create a post about our museum day to share our discoveries. Please come back and leave a comment about where you went. I'd love exploring new places, even vicariously :D

Wordless Wednesday

At Dinomania

The Daily Dog Bone

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Last week I reported the news that Max has been diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. It was a devastating revelation. I want to thank every one for their kind words, for sharing their personal experiences and advice and for their prayers. I am happy to say that Max has been feeling much better since starting his medication. He perked up almost immediately and has even been playful and sassy...he can be very persistent when he wants something, like a treat or more love. Though we don't know how long we have with him, we are doing our best to make every day count.
Here are some photos of Max enjoying his new baby. He has been quite spoiled lately ;P and is eating it up.

Cicada Killer Wasp

This is something I had never heard of, but we found it in our front yard. We have often found the cicada shells on our tree after they molt and we've seen and heard cicadas in the yard, but this cicada killer wasp was new to me. In doing some research we've found all kids of cool info on cicadas and cicada killer wasps.

More links:
Cicada Page
National Geographic
Cicada Killer Thriller Page

Very interesting stuff!


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