Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Love You, Lego...Now My Boys Want a Real Turtle!!!

Dear Lego Group, your April Fool's Free Turtle Delivery One Day Only! had mixed reviews in our home...
My hubby & I loved it!
Initially, my sons were absolutely thrilled, as they thought that they would actually get a real turtle to keep that would be delivering their present. Guess because our youngest one, Little Bro, still kinda believes in the Easter Bunny, it was not a stretch for him to think that a turtle would help deliver a Lego set. Our older son, Big Bro, thought it was a dream come true, as he had actually written a narrative essay today for practice for his upcoming writing test. He has been begging for a tortoise, but said that he would be just as happy to get the turtle in your photo!
When they found out that it was an April Fool's Prank, well they were not very happy, although they did say that they still love Lego!
This will surely be an April Fool's Day that they both remember!

So, without further ado, this was Big Bro's writing assignment this morning, prior to reading your April Fool's Day Offer:

Suppose you won something special.

Think about winning something special.

Now, write a story about what happened when you won something special.

A Prize Like No Other by Big Bro, Grade 4

You’ll never believe what I just won! I won a pet tortoise! Let me tell you, that makes me feel so happy and special because no one else I know has got a tortoise, let alone one they won as a prize!!!

Do you want to know how I won him?

I went to Petsmart one day and I saw this sign that said, ”Tortoise Raffle! Free tortoise for the winner! Includes the tortoise plus accessories.”

I really wanted to win that tortoise!  He was a Russian tortoise and was rather small with yellow and some grayish green stripes and a hexagon looking shell. He had little black circles around his eyes as if he had glasses. I knew he would be a great pet so I filled out ten raffle tickets and then went back home.

I felt so fantastic because I just knew in my heart that I’d win!

While I had to wait to see if I was the winner, I began to make a turtle racetrack. I built it out of cardboard and a few popsicle sticks. I had already decided that I would name him Sheldon so I put his name on the race track.

And then, I looked up what Russian tortoises needed to eat and I found out that they like to eat tomatoes and that they are very good indoor pets. Tortoises are very special to me because they are so easy going and slow paced like me, literally. They also live for a very long time.

Subsequently after that, I went to sleep and prayed and prayed that I would get him. I even had tortoise dreams! My tortoise dream was about me putting him on a racetrack and when I let go of him, he went faster than any tortoise that I have ever seen. Then, I woke up and felt even more excited to find out if I had won!

In the morning, my alarm clock went off and I woke up and got dressed quickly and had my breakfast and after that, I noticed that the phone was ringing. I picked it up and looked at who was calling and noticed that it was from Petsmart.

I answered it and found out that I won the pet tortoise! I was so pleased that I got up off my chair and began dancing and singing and playing with my toys. I then ran out the door and got my bike and pedaled rapidly to Petsmart. Half way there, I realized that I couldn’t bring him home on my bike!

So then, I called my dad to come with me to help me get the tortoise things and to help me get the tortoise himself.

When we got there, I noticed my new tortoise right away and he was just so adorable!

I picked him carefully and hugged him gently.

I said to him, “What should I call you, Little Guy? How About Sheldon?”

He seemed to agree by nodding his head slightly up and down so then it was official!

Sheldon was my newest pet and he was the most special prize I’ve ever won!

My dad helped me to load him in the car and put him carefully in a cardboard box and put him in the box with holes everywhere.

Following getting him loaded into the car, we happily went back home.

When we got home, I invited my friends to come and see my tortoise. They all loved Sheldon, but no one loved him more than me!

Ever since that, I have just loved him as much as I could and have watched him grow and grow.

He is the best prize I have ever won! Winning my pet tortoise Sheldon is the most special thing that I have ever won in my whole life!


Perfect for Peter Rabbit: Pumpkin-Carrot Soup

How about some soup for Spring, inspired by none other than Peter Rabbit? Sound interesting? Well, then read on...

Recently, I posted onto Facebook that I was on a homemade soup kick.
The soup that garnered requests for the recipe was the Pumpkin-Carrot Soup that my boys and I made.
One of the main ingredients: Peter Rabbit Organics Pumpkin-Carrot-Apple Veggie Blends Snacks, so since Easter is right around the corner, sharing a Peter Rabbit themed snack seems just about right!
Here is Our Pumpkin-Carrot Soup Recipe:
I kind of tweaked two recipes: one for butternut squash soup and one for pumpkin soup to make this soup. Big Bro & Little Bro had fun helping to make and eat this soup!

2 packages Peter Rabbit Organics Pumpkin-Carrot-Apple Veggie Blends Snacks
Approx. 1 cup cooked, puréed organic carrots*
*Our carrots were cooked in chicken stock the day before, but this is optional.
1 T. butter
1 scallion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Add thyme, cinnamon, and chopped scallions, and butter to a microwaveable cup or add to a small saucepan.
Cook until butter is melted and then stir and set aside.
Empty contents of two Peter Rabbit Organics Veggie Blends snacks as well as 1 cup cooked, puréed carrots to a blender.
Spoon in the melted butter-herb-spice mix to the veggie purées.
Pulse to blend ingredients.

To make this more of a cream based soup, add in 1 T. half and half or milk. If you don't want it to be cream based, skip this step.

Return blended ingredients to a microwaveable container or to a saucepan and cook.
Let simmer for a few minutes and then serve.

*We had leftover puréed carrots cooked in chicken stock from the chicken noodle soup I made the day before. You could just use cooked carrots and purée them without the chicken stock if you wish.

Season to taste with extra cinnamon or a bit of thyme or both.

Makes about 2 adult sized servings or two kids sized servings plus 1 adult sized serving.

The boys both loved this soup and so did I. It was pretty tasty! Mmm...

Do you have a favorite carrot soup recipe?
Or do you have another recipe made from one of the Peter Rabbit Organics Fruit Blends or Veggie Blends?
If you do, please share in the comments section of this post.
I'd love to try out your recipes and am sure that others would as well.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

End of the Year Wrap Up!

Hello Everyone!
Hope that all of your have had a wonderful holiday season! We have had a great one here!
Some of our palm trees decked out for Christmas!
Our tree at night...loved relaxing by the light of this tree!
Our family celebrates Christmas, so our fun over the last several weeks was getting ready for the festivities surrounding Christmas. We got to spend time with family and friends.
Prior to Christmas, some dear friends hosted an amazing Polar Express Party! The kids got to wear pajamas to the party. Santa came and passed out presents. We added the photos of the boys in their pj's with Santa to our Christmas card, as they really loved the party and the photos turned out cute!
At the party, there was a "hot chocolate bar" where everyone got to add their own delicious toppings to their own hot chocolate.Then, along with the hot chocolate, the children and their parents got to try out these yummy North Pole cupcakes. Mmm...
These were delicious! Thanks to our dear friends for their terrific party!

Then, our neighborhood had an old fashioned block party of sorts that we called Holiday Fun Day.
We roasted hot dogs on the grill, had big bowls of homemade chili, as well as a decorate your own cookie area. Then, the kids all got to play fun games, including a crazy holiday relay.
We invited the entire neighborhood, and we invited them to share their holiday traditions that their family celebrates, regardless of whether or not their family celebrates Christmas. Our neighborhood is rather diverse, so it was great to invite everyone and to offer that they share their traditions as well.
We spent the weeks in between making special gifts for friends and family. The boys had a great time creating stories for their little cousin! Here are a few of their creations, along with an origami Santa that Big Bro made. He made several origami things as little presents for friends and family members this year.
Written by Big Bro for Baby M

Written by Little Bro for Baby M

Made by Big Bro for many of his friends and relatives
We read all kinds of Christmas stories and made Christmas ornaments and other felt and paper crafts.

Felt candy cane ornament and Harry Potter Remember-All ornament in the background.

We always love making something to go with Rudolph as an ornament!

The mice ornaments were a throwback to long ago...loved making these again!

We made a wild gingerbread village when my brother came into town!
Little Bro working around the gingerbread village!

Big Bro working around the gingerbread village!

We had a Harry Potter themed get together right before Christmas as well.
The boys in the club got to make Remember-All ornaments, as well as two types of origami owls.

We did a bit of an owl study and the boys all took home packets about the owls in Harry Potter
We spent time at the beach, out in our town, and at church.
Lots of nice beach days right before Christmas!!! Love life in Florida!
We actually sent out Christmas photo cards showing photos of the boys and our dog.

Right before Christmas, we found out that there was an organization in need of toys and books for boys ages 4-9, which worked out perfectly, as our neighbors along with our family put together twenty packages to be given as presents to this organization. The boys helped to put these packages together and the entire time while we worked organizing the packages, we discussed how we should always help others. We also shared how grateful we are for what we have.
We talked that Christmas is to celebrate Jesus' birthday and that He is the reason for the season!

Then, on Christmas Eve, my parents and brother came back in town to spend Christmas with us and it truly was an excellent time!
The boys and their best bud, their Uncle B.

So nice to have my parents here. Thanks Papa and G for spending the holidays with us!

Happy times! Christmas 2013!
When they got to our home, my brother, my dad, and I went out to pick up the turkey and the ham from Honeybaked Ham. Then, we went out shopping for stocking stuffers.
We even made a stop to get a hot drink and some snacks from Starbucks.
Then, we came home, got changed, and we all headed to church. The service was really nice and kind of old fashioned. It is not the church we regularly attend, but one closer to where we had to be later that night.
They had a gorgeous Nativity display!
Was nice to see so many happy smiling faces at church.
Everyone truly seemed to be in the Christmas Spirit!
Following church, we went out to dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.
I even got a new hair do for the holidays, so although I felt a little puny, my hair looked better than it does on most days!

We had an awesome dinner and really enjoyed our evening!
We normally don't take the boys out to fancy restaurants, so this was a big treat for them! They loved it and had such a good time visiting with their uncle and their grandparents.
The next morning, we got up, opened presents, listened to some Christmas music as we sat and had a nice meal.
G trying to figure out how to use her new camera!
Our pup with his new bone and scarf!

Dear Pup taking in all that was going on for Christmas!
Big Bro assembling his new toy set
Big Bro got a new bike! Yay!

Little Bro got drums! Loves them!!!
The Christmas brunch was enjoyed by all!
Dining room shot before setting the table!
Our kitchen buffet all ready for Christmas Brunch

Well, this went down as one of our nicest Christmases together, despite the fact that we were all sick for much of the holiday.
What made this year different is that even though we were sick, we took care of ourselves, took it at a bit slower pace, stayed in the mode of  gratitude, giving, and grace, even when we weren't feeling 100%. Even our dogs took it easy and enjoyed the relaxed pace of our Christmas.
Little Bro playing on his Christmas present while Dear Pup takes a nap...

Papa & G brought their dog along After playing all morning, she took a nice long nap after playing for a while.

We focused on what was going so well rather than what was not going so well, as far as our health.
this really contributed to our family's happiness.

We tried hard to reach out to family to wish them a merry Christmas too, and in some cases, we did not get to connect with them for whatever reason, but we still held them in our hearts and wished them a merry Christmas.
We did not feel well but we had fun. We finally sent out Christmas cards to some, but again, we did not get everything done perfectly, so some people got to see our card on Facebook. We also did not feel up to writing personal letters to go with each and every card, and some commented on this, but we took it in stride and were just happy to accomplish what we were able to accomplish. Some people wanted to know where the photo was of Dear Hubby and Me so we made this funny one up to share! 

Some people get very down at the holidays and it seems that sometimes, there is too much pressure, too much stress to try to have the perfect holiday.
If you feel like taking a half out hour out of your day, this You Tube podcast is excellent and really puts things into perspective!!!  What this pastor has to say is so true! Love this Bay Area Fellowship podcast and highly recommend it to anyone who feels stress related to the holidays!

Yes, ours was less than perfect as far as four of the seven who were here for Christmas being sick.
But by staying focused on the fact that Christmas is meant to be the celebration of the birth and the subsequent life of Jesus, it really seemed to raise our spirits! Focusing on the happiness of spending time with family and friends who have gathered together for the purpose of celebrating life, especially the life of Jesus, is simply the best way to spend time!

Do you find it uplifting to focus on the fact that Christmas is about celebrating birth and life? About the whole idea of giving versus the getting of gifts?  About gratitude for what you are given versus gloominess for what you are perceiving that you are missing in your life?

Well, hope that all of you enjoyed your Christmas or any other holiday that you have been celebrating over the last few months.

Here's wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2014!

Friday, September 13, 2013

International Chocolate Day Fun!

Did you know that today, September 13, 2013 is International Chocolate Day***?!?

 ***Please be sure to read all the way to the end of this post, as I have a chocolate themed freebie for those who leave comments on this post!

Dear Hubby and the boys made chocolate chip cookies in honor of the day! 
Still cooling on the parchment paper covered cookie sheet...
Well, we couldn't be more excited about that here, as we all are big chocolate fans.
We enjoy baking, eating, and making chocolate and chocolate related snacks.
As a family, we also recently watched both the newer, darker version, Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp, as well as the classic older movie, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder.
Both movies were shown back to back on ABC Family, so the boys were able to watch both movies and then, they were able to compare them to Roald Dahl's original book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
We also have been studying ancient civilizations and this chocolate study tied in nicely with the study of the Mayan and Aztec people, as well as early chocolate history in Europe.
All in all, it has been an interesting study, to learn more about chocolate!

Brain Pop's featured movie is about chocolate today, so if you read this and think that you and your children would enjoy learning about chocolate, then be sure to watch the Brain Pop Chocolate movie during your studies.
We have done many chocolate themed, Montessori inspired works over the last few years, including making hot chocolate, chocolate brownies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate and strawaberry milk pops, chocolate pudding and croissants with melted chocolate.
We have also read various chocolate themed math books and social studies books, along with some fun chocolate books.
Probably one of the most enjoyable things that we have done is chocolate taste testing. Chocolate Taste testing is a great jumping point for writing, as it requires each person to relay their opinions of every chocolate tested in a very descriptive, subjective way.
It is also nice for children to see that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, as the boys have very different tastes in chocolate.

Little Bro prefers White Chocolate and in second place, he likes Milk Chocolate.
Big Bro prefers dark chocolate and is very adventurous when it comes to trying unusual add ins that companies have tried, from hot peppers to pop rocks.

I have put a Pinterest board together, aptly named Chocolate Study! 
This board has links to all kinds of lapbooks, writing journals, math and science projects related to chocolate, along with Montessori inspired hot chocolate snack work.

Homeschool Share offers a very nice, free Chocolate Unit. We love Homeschool Share and used many of their free materials when the boys were younger.
Erica from Confessions of a Homeschooler has a really neat Charlie and the Chocolate Factory lapbook.
We have used several of Erica's materials and have always been quite happy with our purchases.

Amanda Bennett has a great Chocolate Study and Pinterest board called Chocolate Challenge.
Her unit looks lovely, as do her other chocolate themed pins, including recipes and such.

Do you have a chocolate themed Pinterest board?

Would love it if you also have any special chocolate themed learning activities and  / or yummy chocolate recipes that your would like to share.

***As a bonus, if you comment about chocolate or share your link to your chocolate themed fun, I will email you some of my cute spa labels...they are for a sugar scrub and a chocolate face mask!

The spa recipes can be found here.

Have a happy weekend and can't wait to see what you share! :) 

Puppet Fun!

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