Friday, July 31, 2009

Living La Vida Loca in the RV

So if you flunked Spanish that's the "crazy life" in the rv.
We rented the vacation home on wheels and it far exceeded our expectations. If the thought has ever crossed your mind to rent it. If you have ever considered buying it! [and while your on your shopping spree could you buy us one too?]

Here is our driver I mean Pete..comfy cozy in his captains chair. [Cant you just hear Holiday Road from National Lampoon's Vacation playing in the background?]

Ah, the kids. Look how f--a--r apart they are. Notice there is no fighting or arguing. Let me sit back in my recliner and enjoy a lemonade while we drive......
Michael proclaimed this upper bed area [complete with flat screen tv, and curtains to close off the area] "Boys Club"--no sisters allowed. He did this as the rental agent was still showing us around the rv. If the kid coulda' planted a flag up there -- he would have.

You haven't lived until you have enjoyed a pancake breakfast with the wind whipping through your hair while doing 70 miles per hour I mean 65 whatever the proper speed limit is in the state you are driving in.

The best though, is to decide only an hour after waking up that you really just must have a nap and curl up on a cozy warm bed in the sunshine.
This is how I'd like to travel from now on--napping my way to Target and the grocery store. Now if I can just teach the kids to drive.....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Family Reunion Vacation

We gathered in the Poconos at my aunt's house on the lake for our family reunion.

Our first night there we spent down on their dock while my uncle set off fireworks for the family. We climbed the rocks, sipped on cold beer, and settled in for a warm evening on the lake.

Day 2 was all about the boats, the fish, and the sun.

My grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday and got to have all of her great-grandchildren in the room with her for the first time.

Here are the original 6 cousins in the top row with spouses and children below. My how we have multiplied!

The kids all made fast friends with their second cousins, many of whom met for the first time at this event.

The kids were sad to leave, as were we having had a fantastic weekend with all!

Works For Me Wednesday: Fruit Simple GIVEAWAY

By now if you are a frequent reader (which I really hope you are!), you know we are all about natural foods, nothing artifical, and good nutrition. But even we have our good eating "challenges". Michael, my picky eater, has recently eliminated most fruits and vegetables from his diet--with the lone exception of applesauce. Most of it stems from his front teeth either being loose or missing and biting into fruit has become uncomfortable.

Fruit Simple contacted me and sent me some samples of their new fruit smoothies to try. I figured this would be a great opportunity to get Michael to eat more fruit --that is IF he like them.

Well, he did. He loved them in fact! (and so did Meagan and me too!) In addition to drinking them, we made ice pops out of them which is great--another super easy way to get them eating fruit. Plus they now think I am super cool when they ask for a second ice pop and I say "sure!"

Here's the key information about FruitSimple:

Fruit Simple is a 100% all fruit smoothie with no added sugar!!
An 8-ounce serving of Fruit Simple contains two servings of fruit
Fruit Simple is available in a convenient on-the-go 12 oz bottle or in multi-serve family size options in 32 oz and 40 oz bottles
Fruit Simple is available in a variety of healthy, delicious flavors -- Orange Mango, Strawberry Banana, Mixed Berry and Pomegranate Blueberry

Now for the giveaway! FruitSimple has been kind enough to offer one of my readers a chance to win a CASE of FruitSimple!
How do you win? Leave me a comment below about how you try to get your kids to eat more fruit--funny stories are the BEST!!! For additional entries, leave a seperate comment for each of the following you do: Subscribe to this blog, Tweet this giveaway on Twitter, add my button to your site, and blog about this contest.

Good luck! Winner will be picked using a random number generator and the contest ends August 15th at 12:00 midnight!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesdays Unwrapped: Evidence of a Good Vacation

How do you know you have been having fun on vacation?

Here's a few clues:

-- you are wearing a bathing suit and nothing else,

--you mouth has chocolate around it (when did we have chocolate?),

--your upper lip is coated in blue stickiness from a 2 foot tall lollipop, and

--you have some unidentified rash (poison oak? poison sumac?) all over your face.

THAT is when you know-- you are having a GREAT time :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Extended Weekend Getaway

This weekend is a big party fest for us. We will be traveling to the Poconos to attend a family reunion (the first of its kind) to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday. This will be a chance for many of the great-grandkids to meet each other for the first time. There will be BBQ, fishing, floating on the lake, glowsticks, and a whole lot of fun. Additionally, Saturday is my 11th wedding anniversery. Wow, 11 years married...who'd a-thunk it?

We decided inorder to make the trip super comfortable and ease the guest overload at my aunt's lakehouse, to rent an RV--plus we have really just been waiting for an excuse to do so. Since we planned this I have not been able to get the song from National Lampoons Vacation, "Holiday Road" out of my head or stop thinking of good old Cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation and his RV. I promise to be a bit more high-brow than he was.

After the reunion we decided to add on a day at Sesame Place- the first time we have been there in three years. Meg has no memory of being there and Michael should be ready to do many of the slides himself! Should be great and so far (fingers crossed) the weather looks good!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday Unwrapped: Hair Raising Fun

I beg Meagan every morning to please put in clips or pony holders into her thick lush hair. Many people would do many things to have hair like hers and it makes me crazy that she would rather it just hang than "do" it up all pretty.

After a typical morning of my begging and pleading with butterfly clips in hand, she went on the trampoline and charged herself full of static electricity. She quickly decided that this is how she wants her hair to be everyday. And informed me that clips and pony holders would not let her hair be....crazy. Well I guess her hair should match her personality.
So rather than argue, I am unwrapping it and knowing that one day she wont see this as a fashion statement.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I ♥ Faces: Photo Challenge

This week's theme on I ♥ Faces is Feet (yeah, ironic I know.) . I had so many great ideas of my kids dirty grimey summer feet. But then I chose this picture instead.

Especially if you know my mom. This is my mom many moons ago, before I was born. The reason I find this picture especially fitting for the Feet challenge is my mom is NEVER ever without her shoes on--Never. Really....NEVER.

When my sister and I found this picture we went hysterical because my mom was actually barefoot at some point in her life and without a picture we would never have believed it.

So I took the orignal and worked on it ...cropping, contrasting, recoloring etc. Here you have the finished product.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

How To: Making Mozzarella Cheese

Last night we watched the History Channel's show Modern Marvels: Cheese. Quite a way to party on a Saturday night-- I know. But it was not nearly as boring as it sounds! So I promised the kids today we would make our own mozzarella cheese.

Making mozzarella cheese was much easier than I expected. Start to finish ( and by finish I mean in my mouth) it took us 40 minutes including clean up. Not bad.

You will need:
1 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra pasturized, rennet tablets, citric acid, salt, a large stainless steel pot, slotted spoon, microwavable bowl, and a thermometer.

Disolve 1/4 rennet tablet in 1/4 cup water and set aside. Also disolve 1 1/2 tsp citric acid in 1 cup of water and set aside.

Combine milk and citric acid in pot over medium heat while stirring until it reaches 95 degrees.

Remove from heat and add rennet mixture while stirring up and down. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

Using a knife, cut through the thick custard, and you should see a yellowish clear whey seperate from the thick white curd.

Put back on heat and stir until it reches 105 degrees.

Drain off whey and ladel curds into a microwavable bowl. Put in the microwave for one minute. Again drain off excess whey. Cheese curds need to reach 135 degrees. After one minute, combine curds into one large curd and then microwave for 30 seconds. Once it comes out, add one teaspoon of salt.

Begin to pull and knead the curds.

The more you work the cheese, the firmer it will be. Once it is smooth and shiny, it is ready to be formed.

Form into small balls and immerse into ice water.

The finished product. Our mozzerella balls were roughly the size of golf balls. This receipe made 12 balls of this size.

Eat and enjoy your homemade mozzarella cheese. Can be stored in the fridge in water for up to 2 weeks.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Losing Grace

I can't get this image out of my mind. It was a provocative photo essay entitled “Fallen Princesses” featuring a gritty look at the Disney Princesses facing current day problems.

This one is Rupunzel. She is apparently suffering from the effects of chemotherapy. I saw it a few days ago and have not been able to shake the image or stop thinking about our own "Rapunzel", Grace.

Here she is, literally days before a cancer diagnosis.

[Grace holding Meagan]

It was two years ago now, August 1st. The morning bright and sunny as I moved into my new house and almost immediately found out that Grace had lost her battle with cancer at 17 early in the morning. Unfortuantly, it was not a quiet peaceful end, but more of a shockingly real event that was her last.

To say she was my husband’s goddaughter and my daughter’s godmother, doesn’t seem to do justice to the bond we all had with her.

[Grace holding Meagan]

She was always a vibrant part of the family. She was lively and energetic, silly and funny, smart and determined. She fought a hard battle against cancer, encompassing all of her teen years in a different kind of teen-angst than her friends were experiencing.

We miss her terribly but see her everywhere. She is present in my garden as the mint we used to joke about in her garden takes over the entire north side of mine. She is visible in the polka dots that keep decorating parts of my house, almost by accident.

She is everywhere and nowhere all at once.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Friday Frugal Fixes: No Sew Window Drapes

It all about solving a problem and doing it cheap. Home Decor? Daily Life? Anything. If you had a problem and you solved it with a frugal fix then this is the place to share it.
A few days ago I shared my frugal fix: a repurposed wine rack-towel holder. It worked like a charm and cost me nothing to do.

Today I am sharing with you my fantastic and frugal curtains. A little back story first. We had our house built two years ago and I was confused with what to do with these large floor to ceiling windows in every room. I liked the tailored drape look from Pottery Barn but with the sheer number of windows in this house, could not afford to do it.

I found a great fabric at Walmart that was perfect style wise for my house and it cost only $7.97 per yard. I bought some muslin to line them and envisioned my new drapes.

Now may be a good time to mention though that I do not really sew---not well enough to sew drapes for my livingroom at least. So my window treatment --or window mistreatment as called by the Nester--was created using my hot glue gun: from attaching the muslin lining to hemming the hems.

In total the 4 drapes in this room cost me a little under $21 and I love them. They are perfect for this room.

What is your frugal fix this Friday? If you have a post with your fix use Mr. Linky to link up. If not use the comments to tell us about your frugal fix. Either way I am looking so forward to hearing your ideas this and every Friday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Homeschool Recipe

I never fit neatly into any one category. The same is so true of homeschooling. I am not a “traditionalist”, not a “classicalist”, and not an “unschooler”. I find myself drifting though the categories and settling down wherever it feels right for the day. Some days I may be all three and some days I invent a new category. Either way, we all have our recipe; the ingredients which are vital to our successful homeschooling experience. The proportions may change from day to day, but the key ingredients remain and fluctuate depending on that day’s taste.

Nature: We try to experience all different ways of observing, participating, and studying nature. Be it through our garden, exploring the creek, hiking, or camping, we are always involved in nature. Always.

Critical Problem Solving: I love inventing problems and finding answers. The kids look at things critically and develop rational solutions and sometimes inventions to solve problems. In addition to probems within everyday situations, they get to play some video games and computer games that involve solving mysteries and problem solving.

Exercise: We are big on physical activity. Bike riding, trampoline playing, karate, gymnastics free play, hiking—we do it all. It balances our lives by rounding out the day. Our philosophy: if you aren’t tired by bed time—you did something wrong today!

Math: No, I’m not going to start discussing curriculum. We “live” math just as we do the other key ingredients above. I do not look at it really as a subject. It is as fluent in our day as any of the other topics. As we go about our day we speak math, calculate, and study numbers. My kids have learned multiplication—as a logical expression of addition, and division as a way to part out a whole. My kids are 4 and 6. Math is critical to daily living and we learn it and live it that way. No textbooks required on a daily basis.

Language: I read to them daily. This may be SpongeBob on one day and Greek Mythology on another—whatever we are in the mood for. Sometimes it’s a combination—we think of literature as a buffet or salad bar—take what you are in the mood for. The kids also read to me practicing both their fluency and decoding. We discuss all of the key components and comprehension skills as well as reflective reading practices. To me language also means our ability to speak and interact with one another, as well as expanding our language horizons. We are working on learning French and try to incorporate it through out the day when ever we can.

Socialization: Yes the good old “s” word. For us, it almost isn’t even something worth mentioning like breathing—of course you do it! We are part of homeschooling groups and co-ops in our area, we do park days and field trips with our homeschooling friends, we play in the neighborhood with the school kids, we belong to teams and other clubs, we interact with society everyday: the young, the old, those of differing socio-economic status, different cultures, and so on.

Free Play: How else will you learn who you are and what you like?

So that’s it—find your proportions to taste and enjoy.
My recipe was featured on:

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