Friday, January 31, 2014

Getting Back To Routine

Looks like things are getting back to routine now. I think (hope) we are past the below freezing temperatures and our school routine is returning. I have never written about the weather more, than I have the last couple weeks. Everything feels like a fresh start, especially with today's warmer weather, it's 29 degrees. It's the beginning of the second semester, so for Jordan that means a new schedule. Basketball is over (with the exception of one snow day makeup game) which will free up 3 nights a week.

We made a "human snowflake".
Our friends at Homeschool Camper
did this a couple weeks ago.
We are relishing in the "warm" temps, Jordan and I started up our one-on-one walks after school again today. During basketball season this time spent together was replaced with practices and games. I feel like we lose some of our connection during basketball, I love having this time to just to talk with him. This is a small window of time that he doesn't have to share mom with his brothers. Mostly we talk about his day and what's going on with him. During our walks I get to hear his views on different subjects and we discuss things that are happening in the news. I cherish this time with just Jordan, as he often feels his thoughts aren't heard when his brothers are around. I get to focus on Jordan and what's important to him, without interruptions. Our walks aren't serious mother/son talks, although sometimes that happens. We walk, talk, joke, and try edging each other off the sidewalk. It's just an hour a day that I'm more friend than Mom. Usually on our walks I learn things about Jordan I don't think he would have shared with me otherwise.


We "cheated" and looked up his new schedule on the school site last night. His team sports has been replaced with gym/health and he has a couple different teacher this time. He had a teacher last semester he really got along with, until he allowed the others kids to taint his views on the teacher. This time around he has that teacher for two classes. Personally I'm glad, I think the teacher is a fair teacher. He worked with Jordan when his grades started slipping and was good about keeping me informed when Jordan was slacking off. Jordan and I talked (during our walk) about making his own judgment of the teacher regardless of how the other kids feel. I had expressed my feeling toward the Common Core Curriculum with this teacher and he agreed that Jordan could do his lessons the way we have been doing them as long as he could explain how he came upon his answers and he would not lose points for it. It's my hope that Jordan will focus on the class and not his buddies thoughts of the teacher. I know, easier said than done for a teenager, when you're buddies opinions mean a lot to you.

Having a more freed up schedule without basketball, we have returned to our supplement math and reading after school. We had tried to keep it in place the last couple months, but with everyone's busy schedules it became too stressful for all of us and we felt very rushed. The younger boys scouting events are slowing down a bit too as we approach their "bridging over". The amount of activities to be completed has shorten drastically. We all welcomed the return of our online lessons and one-on-one work time with mom.

With so much time recently spent away from school (and maybe partly the beginning of a new semester) the younger boys are very excited to be back in school and have been working diligently to keep their assignment and grades up.



While excited to be back in school, they couldn't wait to get released today. I promised them some outside time. We had a small detour before they headed out into the snow, they didn't mind much. Both of their glasses came in today. Once home they couldn't get their snow clothes on fast enough. We're pushing dinner back a bit so they can stay out until it gets dark. We have not been outside to just play in almost 3 weeks. They really needed this time to run and play (and burn off some energy). Looks like we might get to head back outside again tomorrow too. With cabin fever almost creeping into our house, I'm very grateful for this outside time.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside

The current temperature outside,
 at the time I'm writing this post.
Brrr!!
I know that everyone has been experiencing colder than average temperatures, but it has been beyond frigid around here. So cold that we have been out of milk for two days and I refuse to bundle everyone one for a quick run to the store to get some. School has been canceled so often that it's starting to feel like an extended winter break, not that I'm complaining. Cabin fever hasn't really set in at my house yet, but I think we're getting close.

My kids miss being outside for our usual snow fun. So much so that they are even asking to go out to shovel snow, anyone's snow as long as they can get outside. I'm a bit of a fanatic about clear walkways  and I haven't even been trying to keep up with the snow, it's too cold. To help keep the boys from going stir crazy we have been trying to keep busy.

We have done some of snow themed Winter Bucket List activities while staying nice and warm inside the house. I have even loosened the reins on electronic time. While they aren't allowed to sit and stare mindlessly at any screens all day long, we have been rotating computer, video games, and TV time. To help expel some of the energy that has been building up we have been playing games that involve moving our whole bodies; like Xbox Ultimate Sports on the Kinects and hide and seek in the dark. While are new neighbors are not fully moved in the boys have been running through our house playing ninjas and the Nerf guns had come out.

We have also been spending a lot of time reading and Jordan has been helping me make some Granny Squares out of extra yarn for a blanket I have been slowly putting together. (I think getting him crocheting the other day helped spark his interest in the craft.)  Also we have been working our way through some home videos on VHS we borrowed for Papa. I'm loving going down memory lane and the boys are getting a kick out of the 80's hair and clothes styles. Watching their faces has been fun as they get to see uncles when they actually had more hair, and the "Duck Dynasty" beard Papa use to have. It has been a great opportunity to share with them parts of my childhood and how close our family was, as well as pass on knowledge of family members that had gone to Heaven before my boys were born.

I know that all the snow/cold days has some parents ready to pull out there hair, but I have been loving the "extra" time I have been getting to spend with my favorite kiddos. Yes, I love getting a break from them while they are at school, but I love having them with me even more. I can always enjoy quiet time after they are all grown and moved out of my house. To me I guess it's a matter of how you see all the snow/cold days, you can dread having your kids cooped up inside or see it as a blessing- time you would of had not otherwise had to enjoy spending together.

We have inadvertently completed some of our bucket list items just by hanging out and having fun. However we're not counting the dance parties, mom VS kids on video games, or board game day towards our list just yet. We're saving those so we can do them again later, as they happened to just be something we did.

I know Jordan is looking forward to going back to school as he still has a midterm to do and his last basketball game. Seems the semester is at an end, he can't wait to see what his new schedule will look like and which electives he'll get. While typing this I received an email that the boys will have another day off. He'll have to wait at least one more day to get back to school.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Snowmen and Penguins For This Week's Bucket List Update (and Link-up)

Our Winter Bucket List is still moving along a little bit slower pace this week, but we still marked off another two item from our list. Last week we started growing our icicle candy as they take a 5-7 day s to grow. We were off to rocky start as half of our icicles weren't growing. We tried re-saturating our solution, but it didn't seem to help much. We'll restart them this week, hopefully with more  success.

With the freezing temperatures and even more snow coming down we continued with more of our snow themed activities while staying toasty warm in the house. We completed our popcorn snowmen. Those were a lot of fun to make and more difficult than we could have thought to get them to stay standing. We used mini chocolate chips for eyes, an orange Tic Tac for the nose, pretzel sticks for the arms, and a marshmallow for a hat. Our scarves made from fruit leather did not cooperate either, Jordan used a toothpick to get his to stay. Toothpicks were also used behind some of our snowmen to help keep them from looking like they were melting. While we were playing with our food we also made some snowmen using marshmallows and used mini Reese's peanut butter cups for a hat. They enjoyed snacking on the snowmen as much as making them.

We were the most successful with our pop bottle penguins though. We used 12 ounce root beer bottles. Cutting the tops off of three and the bottle 1/4 of another three. We were going to glue hem, but they seemed to stay put rather well. First everyone painted the white bellies of their penguins and after letting them dry, painted the rest of the bottles black. We saved painting the faces for last. While we were waiting for the pain to dry Jordan and I crocheted scarves and hats for them. Joey and Jacob tried to crochet their own, but just weren't getting it. Everyone dug though my extra yarn for which color they wanted. We were even able to "attach' the hat and scarves without using any glue (except for the one hat I made a little to big). Jordan and I kept the hats really simple with making a couple rows and turning them into tubes, tying the tops closed with a rubber band. These turned out so much cuter that I had envisioned.

Also we are still very slowly working our way through our coloring book (very slowly). You'd think being cooped up in the house they'd be more willing to color a couple pages, it just doesn't seem to have the appeal that Lego do.

Menu Plan Monday

I'm trying again to link-up with Organizing Junkie for their Menu Plan Monday.

MPM-Winter

Sunday: Pizza, bread sticks, and salad

Monday: Chicken fajitas, mixed peppers, shredded cheese, corn, Spanish rice

Tuesday: Soup (tomato & veggie) and sandwiches, and block cheese slices (Jacob cooks)

Wednesday: French dip sandwiches, green beans, and carrot coins

Thursday:  Spinach pie and corn bread (Joey cooks)

Friday:  Ranch Chicken, chicken and broccoli  rice, and green beans (Jordan cooks)

Saturday:  English roast, mashed potatoes, gravy and peas.

A pretty basic menu again this week.  I aim for a rotation of poultry, beef, and meatless every week.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Family Of Four With "Four-eyes"

Today was a planned day off of school for Joey and Jacob, and Jordan was to have a half day for the end of the term. They all ended up having the day off school again due to extreme temperatures. We stayed hunkered down in the house with the exception of an eye doctor appointment for the two younger boys.

Joey has needed reading glasses for the past two years. Jacob recently has been complaining about seeing "colored dots". We weren't sure if the "dots" were a vision issue or if it was from migraines caused by his CVS. Turns out that it's kind of both, Jacob has been having migraines (thankfully without really noticing and without any to much pain). Also he needs to have readers, which will help improve his reading fluency. We'll be able to pick them up in few days.

Joey eyes are about ready to "switch" , currently he'll still need the readers, but soon will need glasses for distance instead. He hasn't been wearing his glasses as he should because he broke them and shortly after getting them fixed the arm fell off. He'll be receiving his new plastic glasses within a couple days. I think the plastic ones hold up better with children.

I went to the same doctor a week ago and was surprised to hear "You're eyes aren't too bad. They're about average for someone in their 40's.", I'm barely into my 30's! I'm suppose to wear mine for distance and when I drive. Honestly I don't wear them like I should, the glare off oncoming traffic makes it more difficult to drive. Then I got some more bad news; I'm on my way to needing bifocals. I was in need of some readers, but have to still (actually) wear my old pair for driving. I was able to pick up my glasses during the boys' appointments.

We all have almost matching glasses. We have all opted for plastic this time around. Jordan has full black , Joey ordered dark gray, Jacob is  getting black with a hint of blue, and mine are black with pink.

Jordan is the only one who didn't have his eyes rechecked, but will getting them done in the very near future.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Morning At the Museum

Yesterday was a no school day for us, with it being MLK Day. With all the extreme cold days and snow days were all starting to get cabin fever. Over the weekend Grandma came across an article for free admission to The Henry Ford Museum. Although we had a couple things we needed to get done we thought we could squeeze in some museum time also. In order to get everyone where they needed to be, we had to get an early start (no sleeping in on our day off). We managed to get  to the museum five minutes before it open. Added bonus for getting there so early is you pretty much have the whole place to yourself, you know it will get crowded when everyone can get in for free.
We have been to this museum a couple times in the past. The last time was about two years ago. I try not to visit each museum too often, as the boys grow tired of seeing the same things and we lose some of the of the excitement of learning about history.


We started at one end with looking at the presidential cars and worked our way across the building. After the presidential cars we moved on to the older cars in different style (when did a 1984 minivan become an "old car"?) After working our way through the assortment of cars we made our way to the trains. There were a couple we could walk into and a cool train set they had set up and a couple of the trains had cameras on the fronts of them so you could see things from "the engineers" point of view.









We visited the plane exhibit were the boys really like listening to the recorded stories of  a few didn't pilots. We did some hands-on paper airplane designing and took them to the "flying strip" to try them out. I was pleased that the kids were really into listening and reading all the signs to everything, instead of just walking around looking at everything.












We also looked at the different styles of bicycles, houses, and household items from different times in history. Is a VHS player really old enough to be considered history, we still use ours? We walked through a favorite house of mine when we were there, The Dymaxion House. It has to be the use of household space ever. I love walking through there; it is futuristic looking (think "The Jetsons") and yet could work as a functional house.




 Then we made our way to the main attraction, the Avatar exhibit. This was really neat! The boys were able to compare their sizes to that of an Avatar in the movie. We were able to try our hands at "graphically designing" different plants into some movie scenes. I think one of our favorites at this exhibit was actually getting to be part of the interactive video. We were giving prompts as to where to walk and what hand motions to use while in basically a green screen box. After we were done with our 30 seconds of being an actor the museum emailed us our videos. Jordan's video malfunctioned some the animation didn't match up at all with the motions he had made.

We covered just about everything we wanted to see. Considering we only had two hours to see everything and still make it to our next appointment, I think we did fairly well.

After the museum we stopped by the Grandparents to grab the last bit a laundry that hadn't been dried in time last night as well as our cat, Otis. We took Otis down to have a kitty play date with Gracie seems they became good friends within the short time she stayed with us. Went we getting ready to leave Otis took off down into the basement and hid. 30+ minutes later, we decided to leave him there. "Maybe Otis wanted his turn to stay the night at Grandma's" was Joe's thought.  I thought I would be able to scoop up the cat and the laundry and be on our way. Not what happened, Otis hears the keys in the door and tears off the basement before I could snag him. Due to being in a time crunch, I grabbed the laundry and left. (My parents were surprised to see Otis still there when they got home from work).

On the way home we grabbed a drive thru lunch and managed to pull into the parking lot at the doctors with 5 minutes to spare. I figured it was time for a follow up with Jacob's doctor since they had not requested to see us after his scope. Also I wanted to let her know that I took him off the medication the GI prescribed. I'm really glad I made the appointment, the GI hadn't sent her and information about Jacob's scope back in September. I'm not one to change my kids prescriptions without seeing their doctor first, but his really was doing more harm than good. Jacob has had some rapid weight gain from is medicine. which is one of the side effects. He went from a boys size 7 to a boys size 8 Husky and those were snug on him. His poor little belly was bloated and distended most of the time and he had gained about 20 pounds. Thankfully the doctor agreed that taking him off the medicine was a good move. He is only taking ginger root once daily and that seems to work for him. Actually we're going to take another look at his diagnoses. With or without the medication we had taken away he has t been getting sick. While he did/does have some symptoms of CVS (Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome) he is no effected as severely as most children (or adults).

After the doctors, it was a quick stop home to put the laundry away, a snack before heading across town for Jordan's basketball practice.

While we gave a an extra day to sleep in, we had a fun filled day and got a lot accomplished.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Planning A-Head, So I don't Feel Like I'm Loosing My Mind

My first time linking up with Organizing Junkie for Menu Planning Monday. We have been in the same 29 menu idea rut for a little bit (like the past 7 years). I use to be really good about preplanning our menu and somehow I slip away from it. Life is so much easier when I can at least have a game plan for what we'll be having for dinner on days when things are so hectic I can't seem to remember what day it is. Here's to a new attempt of remaining organized :)

Sunday- First time trying Shepherd's Pie (it did not go over well with the boys)

Monday- Steak sandwiches with peppers & onion and cheese slices -Jordan's day to cook

Tuesday- Marinated chicken, stuffing, zucchini and yellow squash, and applesauce -Jacob's day to cook

Wednesday- Bean (refried and black beans) and Cheese quesadillas, Mexican rice, and corn (we use to add chicken in them, but one day I was rushing and forgot to toss it in. My kiddos enjoy this version just as much) - Joey's day to cook

Thursday- (scout night, so ha to be a quick and easy meal) Breakfast for dinner. Eggs, turkey bacon, toast, and fresh fruit.

Friday- Cornflake coated chicken, homemade potato fries, broccoli florets (great Gluten free meal)

Saturday- This week we'll be Grandma's, so your guess is as good as mine :)

*To help my boys learn to cook, each of them (ages 7, 9, and 13) either makes the complete meal by themselves (supervised of coarse) or with mom guiding them.

Thank you to our dear friends at Homeschool Camper for introducing us to this page :)

Weekly Winter Bucket List Link-Up - week 3

Still Plowing Through Our Snow Themed Activities - Winter Bucket List Link-Up

I realize that the past few days I have left everyone that only follows our blog hanging (there has been a bit more activity that happened only on our Facebook page). However it is Monday so of course there will be a post, IT'S WINTER BUCKET LIST LINK-UP DAY!!!  The days we missed posting were days that I spent with my kiddos working through some of our activities (as well as some sledding and archery lessons).

So what had we been so busy doing? We marked off another three ideas and started a fourth (which we may have to restart). First we started with our ice candles. I wasn't sure if this was going to work or not. I found the basis for the idea on Pinterest, and many of my Pinterest finds don't always work how they describe them. The idea was to freeze water and food coloring in a balloon. Once it is completely ice you remove the balloon and you have a cool colorful lawn decoration. I figured why couldn't you place a tea lite (or the like) on one and have a festive candle. Tying water balloons isn't one of my strong suits, it's 50/50 if I'm going to spray half the water before I get it tied. Sadly, I'm the only one that know how to tie balloons, so we chanced it. The boys each chose a color they wanted for the balloon and a color for they'd like their candle to be. They squeezed a few drops of dye into the balloons and I hooked them to the kitchen sink. Each boy was in charge of holding onto their balloon while it filled and to let me know when their balloon was the size they wanted. Joey was our first balloon and after filling it we were left with a "nub" on both ends of the balloon, so we decided a little bigger worked better. Sorry no pictures of the filling process, my hands were full at the time, but I managed to tie every balloon without spraying food dye throughout my kitchen. YAY! After all the balloons were filled we placed them outside in the freezing cold (it was 10 degrees that evening). At first we placed them in the snow for fear of them rolling down our sidewalk. The next day half our balloons were frozen, the top halves. The snow was insulating them, so we moved them to our patio. In just less than 24 hours they were completely frozen. All the balloons went straight into the sink, where everybody took turns cutting their balloons away. While the colder temperatures were great for our balloons they were not for us so inside our house was pretty toasty. By the time the last ice ball was released the others had started to melt. It worked out well that in most of our "candles" had a weakened or shallow  spot from the air bubble, which fit a tea light well (except our little nubby blue one). After a quick couple pictures (I mean really quick, they were melting fast), we placed them in our front garden as decorations. They boys were able t get a closer look at the ice candles while the others cut their free. They noticed the looked like a balloon inside a ice balloon, as the dyed portion formed its own bubble. We loved his project and plan on repeating it in the future.

  
 



And we made snwflakes

You can see on the table in the background the drying stage of our second activity. We made our Q-tip snowflakes while we waited for our ice candles to freeze. Actually we made a version of these a few year ago and I made them with Joey's second grade class as well. (I high recommend this activity with small groups of children, helping 30 eight year olds is pushing your luck. It can be done with larger groups but request help from other parents). Again a really basic craft. All you need is 15 Q-tips per child, glue, wax paper, and whatever you chose to decorate with. Start with placing the wax paper down so it will make removing the snowflake easier. You can either dip your ends of the Q-tip into the glue or arrange your snowflake then glue the tips where they meet, I recommend the latter. Arrange 5 Q-tips in the middle, I told the boys to make it like a person a head, arms, and legs. Then you use two Q-tips making an upside down "V" to connect an arm to a leg, arm to the head, and so on. Remember it doesn't have to be "perfect" all snowflakes are different and unique. Allow time for them to dry, they ay be a bit flimsy we just flipped them over and added extra glue to the where all the tips meet. This year we used glitter to our snowflakes. In the past I had taken pictures of the boys and cut the pictures to fit within the center of the snowflake, these is also what I chose to do with the second grade class. Seems the snowflake is "empty" there are so many possibilities to creatively decorate them, thinking about using Christmas theme color tissue paper to glue on the backs for this Christmas.








And built a little fort

Sunday is a day spent with the grandparents, but also their backyard which still has a decent amount of snow. While we have a huge mound of snow in front of our home after the snowstorm that came through two weeks ago, it is too packed and mainly ice chunks. Papa and Grandma were away for a few hours at the theater so we were left to entertain ourselves. Seems we unable to produce a snowman for them to admire a few weeks ago we thought they would love a snow fort in their back yard. We started out using small buckets, then Joey started filling their recycling bin. We quickly opted for the recycling bin as we were able to make larger "bricks". Some of the snow was packable while most from the yard was too fluffy. The boys took to shoveling down  the small mounds that were created from shoveling the driveway. Once getting to the icy parts they used the wheelbarrow and tackled the ones from the front yard. We worked on our bottom layer for 45 minutes before heading in to warm up. By the time we could feel our fingers again it was time for archery lessons, so our fort had to wait. After archery (which Jacob participated in this week. Yay!) we went straight back to work as we were losing daylight. The down side of using the recycling bin was that only Jordan and I had the muscle to lift and flip it after the other boys packed it full of snow. We decided two layers was enough for it to be considered as a fort. Well that and it would have been extremely difficult to left them high enough for a third layer. By the time we finished the second layer, after another 45 minutes outside it was getting dark.

We also start growing our icicle candies, but from the looks of it two of our jars aren't forming any "ice", we may have to restart this one. As it takes a week to "grow a icicle" we'll be sharing how successful we were next Monday.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Happy To Be Dye-Free

January 20, 2013-I made a decision to go "dye-free" in our home. With our one year dye-free anniversary being tomorrow I thought I'd share some of how I came about making the change. My friend Crystal told us to just aim to be dye-free 80% of the time and leave the other 20% for when being wasn't an option (like at Grandma's house or at a friend's house). I'm very pleased to say 99.9% of the time we remained dye free. There were some occasions were we "snuck" something with dye such as a fun size pack of nerds at Halloween or Cotton Candy at the church picnic. I was much easier than I thought to stay dye-free after getting the "other junk" out of the house. There was a bit of a transition for the grandparents in the beginning, but they were on board and soon had plenty of non-artificially dye goodies on hand for when we came to visit. Most of our friends know we are dye-free and don't take offense to when we turn down a treat that's offered.

It's pretty much second nature now to look before buying something. Also we now know which brands and products we prefer to buy. I know that my boys are remaining dye-free while at school and while spending time with friends or at scouts. My kids are great advocates and have no problem explaining to other students (or even people in the store buying tie-dye cupcake mix).

Here's a guest post I wrote about what were the deciding factors for our family.

Before this past January I really never gave much thought to artificial food dyes or the effect they had on our bodies. I had heard tid bits about red 40 and yellow 5 & 6. The brighter and more colors, the more likely my kids would eat it, and they did.
  

I chose to try dye free for a week to see if it would help with some behavioral problems I was having with my son. He had been having an increasing hard time focusing in school, almost no impulse control, extreme mood swings, and was only getting 3-5 hours of restless sleep a night (which probably contributed to his mood swings). Many of his problems were possible side effects to his ADHD medication. He was diagnosed in kindergarten (4 years ago) with ADHD and promptly put on medication. The medication worked wonders, and when it didn't then his dosage or medication was switched. However it seemed the meds have stopped working and his doctor had started talking about my son having more than ADHD going on, because he was out of ideas of what other meds to try.
I had shared with Crystal some of what was going on and how I was at a lose for what to try next. I really didn't want my child diagnosed with a life altering label. She challenged me to try removing artificial food dyes for a week and to look into how food dyes effect behavior. Over the weekend, I looked into it and was first shocked then angry. There was so much research about the link between ADHD and dyes and hundreds of testimonies from parents. How could I never heard about this?! I couldn't believe there was a alternative to medication, and how could our doctor never offer this as alternative before he had me give my 6 year old pills. I decided it was worth a try, at this point I felt I had nothing to lose.
  

That Monday school was closed due to extremely cold temperatures. I told me kids we were doing an experiment and that we weren't going to have anything that had a number in the ingredients for one week. I didn't tell them what results I was hoping to see. They helped me box up all the foods that had dyes. We went shopping to restock our cupboards and they actually had fun reading labels and finding new foods to try. We were all surprised my how much stuff has dyes.
I was nervous about how they would do at school when I wasn't there to monitor what they were eating and about them feeling left out at snack time. The teachers were very supportive and had dye free alterative that I sent in. 

Three days into the challenge I saw the first sign of improvement! My insomniac child fell asleep only after and hour of being sent to bed and slept all the way to morning!! I was so excited, but still cautious that it may have been a fluke. The following days he continued to fall asleep easier and slept through the night. His teacher told me that he was more on track than he had been in a long time. At home little things that would have sent him into a tailspin didn't seem to phase him. The other boys had also calmed down, had more impulse control, and better ability to handle their emotions resulting in less arguing amongst them. My son's eczema had started clearing up. The changes weren't only with the kids; my migraines were gone, I had more energy. When I slipped up and had a Mt. Dew, I would get a killer headache and would be more irritable and short with the kids.
   

Seeing the results removing dyes has made for us, we have chosen to stick with it. It didn't turn me boys into perfect little gentlemen. They still bicker and argue, the still run through my house and are loud; but they aren't completely out of control anymore. We have been dye free for just over 3 months.

While there are many reason health wise to avoid artificial dyes getting my kids' behavior back on track was enough for us. When we've had something containing artificial dyes you can tell within minutes. When my kids "on dye" will literally be bouncing in their seats and instigating each other. I'm not a very pleasant mom when I'm on dye, very short tempered and jittery. Within the last year we have consumed dye less than 15 times and only in small amounts.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Confession Of A Charging Rhino

I have not given a Orange Rhino update since December 26th, when I had raised my voice after the boys were giggly and antsy during midnight mass. I understand their goofiness was more likely due to it being so late (early?) and my own exhaustion, however I did lose my cool and allow my voice to be raised. I only mark down when I wasn't successful and with everything had was going on with the holidays I completely forgot to count how many days I had not yelled. Things have been going swimming that I would have not thought about my commitment to the Orange Rhino, but last Friday I yelled. (Boy, did I yell!) Before I get to why I flew off the handle let me tally up how many yell free days I already had under my belt. 23 days! That's a new record for me. For 23 days I did not yell, raise my voice or even talk through my teeth. I hadn't even been concentrating on not yelling.  Not until the day I totally blew it.

Jordan doesn't get to spend much time with friends during basketball season between practices, games, and homework. After Thursday's game (which was their first home court win, YAY!) he asked to go home with a friend, things were busy for that day. He made plans to spend some time with his buddy the next day after practice with the understanding he would complete any homework over the weekend. It ended up being trying to arrange how Jordan was to get to his friend's house, as the friend was not on the basketball team, and I wouldn't allow Jordan to walk alone after practice. Most of the plotting and planning was left up to the boys. Jordan was to finalize the plans with his friend and call me after school but before practice to let me know if I'd have to double back to drop him off at his friends. I planned on taking younger boys sledding as soon as  they got out of school, making homemade pizza and playing a couple board games or watch a movie of their choice. Spending some one-on two-time isn't as good as one-on-one time, but we take what we can get (one-on-one time as a single parent is harder to come by).

Being helpful but still leaving the responsibility up to Jordan I sent him a reminder text "call mom" when school let out (at 2:50). Giving him the benefit of doubt that he'll remember, I waited for him to call. I just wanted to know what the plan was so I would know if I could head straight to the snow hill with the other boys or to hang out to give him ride. Five minutes before practice (3:15) I called him, and I after a couple rings was sent to voice mail, I wasn't happy about it ,but understandably he could already be practicing. I figured just to play it safe the boys and I will hang out and wait for Jordan in case he does need a ride (4:00). Blessedly the other boys were being exceptionally well behaved. We had a half hour to wait before practice was over. For a while we entertained each other with how our days had gone so far and  all 3 of us singing horribly off key with the radio. I finally get a text from Jordan (at 4:25) "I think his mom's coming to pick me up". I text back that I'm already there and I'll just drive so she doesn't have to come back out in the snow. Then we wait. And wait. Other kids were now leaving practice and we're still waiting (4:45). Sensing that mom was going to lose it Jake and Joe contently played with action figures and cards without any arguing. I tried calling Jordan (4:50) and every time I got sent to voicemail after fewer and fewer rings, the more irritated I get. I tried texting him (5:00) No response. I drive around the school hoping to spot the other mom so I can get my two that are being angels to the hill. I didn't see her. Thankfully she wasn't there as I was feeling really bad that my kid was making her wait for over a half hour. Finally (5:10) I get a call from Jordan!! By now my nerves are fried, I informed him in a not very pleasant tone that I have been sitting there for over an hour waiting to find out if he had a ride. My goofy kid's response to that "Cool, I'll call (friend's name) and see if his mom will come get me." That's when I lost it! I screamed at him to get his behind outside right then. He must have finally figured out that I wasn't all too pleased with him, as he came out wearing his practice clothes and only carrying his gym bag (5:15). Believe it or not talking to his friend on the phone. I not so nicely inquired about his backpack and coat and he pushed me over the end by giving me "in a minute" hand gesture. I wasn't nice about informing him he had lost his phone and send him back into he school to get his coat and book bag. By then my blood is boiling. As he returns and hands over his lifeline to his friends, the phone beeps. His friends responding message to him "just walk to my house". He is granted 30 seconds to call and let the friend know he wouldn't be coming over and the plans for the following weekend to stay the night over there are canceled. I was fuming and along with the taking away the phone I went for where it really hurt and he lost electronics until further notice.

Bless the younger two who sat very still and quiet during my exchange with Jordan, and who managed to play nicely for the 45 minutes we had to wait for Jordan, never once asking when we were going to the hill. Although I was beyond upset with Jordan, I was extremely proud of the younger two. We all proceeded to the snow hill down the street, I was not going to let Jordan's mess up, take away from what I had promised the other boys. The whole ride there Jordan tried convincing me of how unreasonable I was for requesting to know what his plan were, even blaming "no signal" for not calling (but had no explanation for how the "signal" worked for his friend to call him). I did what had been my habit and lectured (loudly) the whole way there.

Once at the hill, Jordan hops out with the rest of us and grabs a sled. I was still too upset with him to let the whole thing go. Jordan was granted the opportunity to sit in the van (wrapped in blankets) for a half hour so he could better understand how the rest of us had felt, when we were eager to go sledding. The younger boys and I took to the hill which we had mostly to ourselves. I made sure I could keep an eye on Jordan and the van the whole time. While the boys raced down the hill, I was able to distress before Jordan joined us. After exactly 30 minutes Jordan got out of the van and was walking towards us with his snow clothes on and a snowboard in hand. I apologized to him (and the other boys) for yelling, after a bit he then apologized for not calling and we let the subject drop. We had races down the hill seeing which pairing off sent us down the hill the fastest.

We actually had a fairly decent evening after that. We ended up grabbing a pizza (as it was too late to start cooking dinner) and picnicked on my bed while watching old HVS home movies.

While most of my blow up was internal, I did lash out with my words at Jordan. I had raised my voice and I had tried to make him feel just how upset he made me. That's not how I want to raise my boys. People make mistakes and people upset you, but that does give them (or you) the right to lay into them. I knew there were better ways to handle the situation, but at the time I was too irritated to look for them. While I had yelled, I can see the progress I have made. I was able to let go the frustration and disappointment in myself for yelling and move on. In the past I would have held on to the anger both with myself and with Jordan. I would have continued to lecture Jordan every time he reached the top of hill making it a very unpleasant event for both of us. Or I would have just taken everyone home, even though the other two had one nothing wrong, made soup or cereal for dinner and hole myself up in my room.

By letting go my anger of "just how irresponsible my 13can be" and seeing it for what it was, my teenager was only thinking about himself and his wants, typical teenager behavior. I know in my heart he didn't do it to be disrespectful, even if it had felt that way at the time. My not dwelling on how "I had destroyed my kids, by yelling", we were able to salvage the night.

I know  I'm not the only parent who has lost their temper with a teenager over something in hindsight doesn't seem like it called for the tongue lashing they got. This is by far not one of my proudest parenting moments, but as you can see we are all still learning and growing, myself as much so as my boys.

I'm back on "The Orange Rhino Wagon" yesterday was day 5 of yelling less, loving more.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Does Your Birth Order Really Effect Your Personality

I've been reading The Birth Order Book, and I was pleasantly surprised by how similar it is to the observations I have made about my children. I'm really intrigued by this book, I started it yesterday and should finish it today.

Jordan is my thirst for knowledge fact finder, he's into computers and science and details. He has said he feels like he's always been held to a higher standard than his brothers. We joke that he my "practice kid", I figure out what works and what doesn't with him. That's why the younger ones get to do things he was not. He's also my child who will loss it over little details and when things don't happen the way he thought they should. He thinks he likes surprises but ends up being the one to guess the surprise (no matter how big or small). Even though I don't often see him as organized he is a planner. He's my "little adult" and often prefers to be spending with adults than kids his age or heaven forbid "the little kids".

Joey is your typical "poor deprived middle child". He's my most sensitive and likes to keep the peace. He's the one who will cave when playing a game just to keep the other players in the game. While all my boys are very social beings, Joey is the one who craves hanging with his friends. He gets caught in the middle of being "too little" to do what Jordan is doing and sometimes "too big" for what Jacob is doing. Joey is my one I can't really peg for specific personality traits, a walking contradiction if you will; he is the peacemaker but also the first to instigate his brothers, easily frustrated but also pretty laid back and easy going. He prefers to keep calm seas, but is not afraid to rock the boat to if he feels he needs to.

Jacob is my entertainer. If you look back through the pictures I have posted of the boys you'll notice Jacob is always making some kind of funny face or hand gesture. He's my prankster and quick to find humor in a situation. Will do whatever he can to ensure he is the center of attention. He's quick to point out that he doesn't need help, that although younger than his brothers he's just as capable to do the same things they can (even if he can't). However he's also known to play the "I'm the youngest and can't do it, you do it for me" card. Although he is such a comedian, he wants to be taken seriously also.


According to this book, all 3 of my kiddos fall pretty close to the characteristics of their birth order. While according to the book my birth order plays a role into how I model and "mold" my kids. I learned that while I'm the "baby" I had a lot of first born traits (I'm the first born girl), and first borns tend to but head with other first borns (maybe that' why Jordan and I tend not to agree?).  I also learned a fun little tid bit mothers have often talked about -"Oh boy!, My second child was nothing like my first"- there seems to be some truth to that as (according to the book) second born usually is the exact opposite of the first. Jordan was a very content baby almost never cried, Joey was um... let's say feisty and constantly in motion.

I have had many conversations with friends about how we can better relate to a specific child of ours. I have tried to understand what makes Jordan tick, but I just don't "get him". My friend (also the oldest in her family) says she understands him, that when she was younger she was just like him. I on the other hand can relate to her daughter that baffles her. I understand her daughter because I had many of the same family make up she does. Both of us being the only girl and the youngest with two older brothers. We both have something that makes our older siblings "special"; one of my brothers was special needs and her brothers are twins. So I can totally understand why she acts the way she does and to how she says she feels.

My parents (also the oldest) relate to Jordan and can see his point of view easier than I can. I also relate to Jacob more with what he deals with being the "tag along little kid". We'll have to find someone that's a middle child so Joey has someone who understands what it's like being the kid squeezed in the middle. I have tried to explain to Joey that he is lucky to be in the middle, that's usually where the "good stuff" is. What's the best part of a sandwich? The middle, everything else is just bread. What's the best part of an Oreo cookie? Everyone knows its the white stuff in the middle.

While I try to understand all my children, some are easier to relate to. Do you notice that you better relate with one of your children more so than the rest?

I was trying to think back to when each of the boys joined our family to see if I could pick out the moments when Jordan went for an only child to "first born" and when Joey went from the baby to the middle child. The transition must have happen without my even noticing.

I have also been reflecting on the way my boys personalities change when the dynamics of the house change. When they were taking turns spending a few days with their grandparents, they filled the role of a different "birth order". Interestingly, when Jordan was away, Joey took on the more leadership. He was the one to choose the games to play and dictated the rules for games.  When Joey stayed the boys played separately often in completely different rooms, it was like the tie between them was missing. When Jacob was gone Joey to advantage of the extra attention and cuddle time with mom. At the time I noticed the a difference, but didn't pin point it until yesterday.

Regardless of the way my boys are being raised, birth order, number of siblings, or pure dumb luck, I love their different personalities and their uniqueness. We are the perfect fit for our family and balance each other. While this book I have been reading is very insightful, it will not change the way I parent them (although it has helped me see what contributes to them being who they are.) We've got something that's imperfectly perfect, I'm not going to tamper with it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Winter Bucket List Weekly Link-Up

Winter Bucket List- -More Snow Fun!!

 

We only got around to doing two things off our list this week. One didn't work out they way we have thought, live and learn. Both ended up being a great project idea, but for different reasons.


Our first one was snow art. After getting a couple feet f snow just a week before, it was melting quickly with the warmer temperatures and wet weather. We thought we better do it now, before we miss our chance (last year we have very little snow for the entire winter). After a quick stop at the dollar store to get mote spray bottles, and we lucked out and they had the same colors we were using. It's really simple, just fill spray bottle with water and a couple drops of food coloring (we don't "do dyes" in our house, but keep them on hand for crafts/projects). We just went out on the front yard and I set the boys loose. It took them a few minutes to figure out how hard of a spray to use, but once thy got he hang of it, they came up with some wonderful masterpieces. They were standing with their feet apart so they didn't step on their art work, but also so they didn't spray the dyes on their boots. Jacob was playing around and coloring in our footprints and accidently made a cool smiley face. We use really short spray bottles and I had to make several trips into he house to refill them. When I was younger my brother and I use to do this to decorate out snowman (and varies snow creatures), I don't know why I haven't of thought to so this with my boys before now. This s definitely something we'll be doing again on a snow day.

After playing in the snow making our pictures oh course we had to have hot chocolate. With the hot chocolate I put the container of mini marshmallows on the table. Joey reminded me that we were suppose to use the minis for our marshmallow igloos. I swapped them out for larger ones for our drinks and grabbed some craft paper. This turned out being another great in theory but not I practice projects. Jordan tried licking the mellows to get them to stick then opted for using glue like everyone else. (The marshmallows were going to get stale anyways may as well use glue.) The first layer worked well, but it was downhill fro there. It was too difficult to get the minis to balance and remain offset. We ended up using some of the larger marshmallows to help hold the smaller ones in place. None of them turned out the way we had envisioned them. I'm calling it a successful project though. Everyone completed theirs and there was a lot of table talk about different ways to try to get the marshmallows to cooperate. There were tons of smiles, giggles, and joking around; that makes it a successful craft. Also we got to munch on some marshmallows while during the craft :)


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Friday, January 10, 2014

Christmas Around the World-Mexico

Finally out Christmas Around the World- Mexico!! Bare with me as I've had to piece this together. We did the bulk of it back in December at our bilingual church. Father did a much better job presenting the traditions than I could have done.

Here's some of what we've learned:

Their celebration is called Las Posadas (in Spanish it means dwelling or lodging). The Posadas begins on December 16 and continues for the following 9 evenings, with the Posada on December 24 and midnight mass.
 
The Posada begins with the recitation of the Holy Rosary then the proceed from the church to the local neighborhood. The Posada con be led by a small group carrying a manger scene or pictures of Mary and Joseph. The families in the neighborhood were the procession will travel will be selected before hand. Usually there are three house selected where the Posada will not take place. The participants will stand before the door of each house and sing a song in Spanish asking to enter the house. A small group will remain inside and tell the outside group that it is not possible to enter. The group proceeds along to the Posada house. Again the y will sing from outside asking for admittance to the house, a small group will sing the response from inside the house where the Posada will take place. The host family will provide the Las Posada dinner, including Hispanic dishes like tamales, menudo and posoli. Each Posada ends will with the traditional piñata.

 
The traditional piñatas has religious significance. The Mexican Catholic interpretation of the piñata suggested the struggle of a man against temptation. The clay pot represents Satan. As the traditional style of the piñata is in a the shape of a seven point star, the cones represent the seven deadly sins-greed, gluttony, sloth, pride, envy, wrath, and lust. The seasonal treats inside the piñata symbolize the temptation of evil. The blindfolded person with a stick stands for faith. The spinning of the blindfolded person and singing by the other participants represents the disorientation caused by temptation. The person is turned thirty times, one spin for each year of Christ's life on this planet. The hitting of the piñata signifies the struggle against temptation and evil. When broken, the treats inside represent the award for keeping the faith..


 
We participated in hearing our fellow Spanish speaking parishioners sing the Posada Song followed by all the children being invited down the hallway to join in with the piñata. Those who knew the song sang it for every child when it was threir turn at the piñata. I wish I knew what they were singing. Just this past week the boys and I made our first Rosca de Reyes (3 King Cake). Traditionally the cake is had as part of celebrating the epiphany on January 6th. There is a "baby Jesus" hidden within the cake (sometimes there is more than one "baby" in the cakes; and a dried bean can also be used in place of a plastic baby).

The Rosca de Reyes was a big hit around here. The only part they didn't care for were the candied fruits (cherries and oranges). We didn't put any figs on ours because I knew the boys wouldn't eat them.   Joey was the first person to find a baby, but over the next couple of days everyone managed to have find at least one baby in a piece of their cake. The recipe we used was for a large cake or two smaller cake. We were given 6 babies to place in our cake from Father.








Mexican Christmas Posada Song (and translated into English)

In the name of heaven                                                  Well if it's queen     
I ask you for shelter,                                                     who's asking
for my beloved wife                                                     why is it that she's out at night,
can go no farther.                                                         wandering so alone

This is not an inn                                                          My wife is Mary
Get on with you,                                                           she is the Queen of Heaven,
I can not open the door,                                                she will be mother
you might be a rogue.                                                   to the Divine Word.

Do not be inhuman,                                                      Is that you Joseph?
Show some charity,                                                      Your wife is Mary?
God in heaven                                                              Enter pilgrims
will reward you.                                                           I didn't recognize you.

You may go now                                                         May the Lord reward you  
and don't bother us anymore                                       for your charity,
because if I get angry                                                  and may the sky be filled
I will beat you.                                                            with happiness.

We are worn out                                                         Happy home,
all the way from Nazareth,                                         harboring on this day
I am a carpenter                                                          the pure virgin,
named Joseph.                                                            the beautiful Mary. 

Never mind your name,                                         (The doors are opened and those outside enter as all sing)
Let me sleep,                                                             Enter holy pilgrims, pilgrims
I've already told you                                                  receive this corner
We won't open the door.                                           not this dwelling
                                                                                  but my heart.
We request lodging,                                                 Tonight is for joy,
dear innkeeper,                                                         for pleasure and rejoicing
for only one night                                                     for tonight we will give lodging
for Queen of Heaven.                                               to the Mother of God the Son.




 There are many different recipes, but this is the one we used.
Rosca de Reyes
Large bread serving 16 (2 small breads)
 Bread Ingredients

1/2 cup of warm water
2 envelopes of dry active yeast
4 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
3/4 cup of sugar
3 large whole eggs
4 egg yolks mixed with 2 Tablespoons of water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoon orange extract
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened (plus more for bowl and plastic wrap)
 Freshly grated orange zest


Ingredients for the topping

3/4 cup of all purpose flour
6 Tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
Dry fruit like figs, candied oranges or cherries
1 egg beaten for glazing the bread
1 Tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
white sugar to sprinkle on top of the bread
a couple plastic baby dolls (or a dry bean)


Directions

1. Pour warm water into a bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Stir with a fork until dissolved, then let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the flour and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile mix flour, eggs, egg yolks, sugar. orange extract, orange zest, salt, and butter in a large mixing bowl. Mix until crumbly.

3. Add yeast mixture to the bowl and mix. It will very sticky! Place onto a floured surface and start kneading until you have a smooth dough. It will take about 15 minutes to get this result. *Do not add too much flour to your work area, the texture should be soft and managevable. If you add more flour than needed your bread will be dry.

4. Once your dough is smooth and elastic, place in a buttered bowl, and cover with buttered plastic wrap. Let dough stand in a warm  doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Make sure your kitchen is warm to help your dough rise.

5. While the dough is resting, mix the following ingredients for the decoration: margarine with the confectioners sugar. Then add in the flour and egg yolk until you have a smooth paste.

6. Preheat your oven at least 20 minutes before baking at 375 degrees with rack in lower third. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead a few times, then shape into a round cushion and make a hole in the middle. Shape into a ring and baby dolls. Transfer to a greased rimmed baking sheet and cover loosely with buttered plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. Gather all your decorations and the egg wash. For the egg wash whisk remaining egg with cream.

7. Brush the dough with the egg wash. Form strips with the confectioners sugar paste and decorate the dough. Place some of the pressing gently into the dough. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 10 m bread is a nice golden brown color. Depending on your oven it may require more time.

8. Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool.

*Do not forget to let your guests know there are plastic babies inside the bread.

Rosca de Reyes can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


*I had pulled the recipe from internet. I had viewed so many different recipes and lost track of who gets credit for this recipe. If I can find it or if anyone comes across the owner of this recipe I will give credit to them.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What They Have School! How About We Have Another Snow Day (or 2)?

I know I said I would post about our last Christmas Around the World (Mexico) today, but I allowed myself to get very distracted today. I had set aside a time everyday for my to focus on things I enjoy doing and with the boys having an extra 3 days home from school, I let it slip that I needed to take that time for myself. Today I made sure to get in some time for myself and hauled out my scrapbook supplies. I started off doing very well and completed two pages and located 6-8 more pages I had finished before and just hadn't added to the book. I now have our family album for 2011 complete except for one side by side page. I dug out my 2012 pictures, not noticing how many there was until I had them all unboxed. I was literally surrounded by over 2000 photos, and they were not in order. I set about organizing them that's when I realized I was still missing prints for many outings. I spent three and a half hours re-downloading pictures so I could figure out dates and see what was missing. I ended up stacking them on a card table to rush to make it to Jordan's basketball game on time. I'm still in the process of figuring out what goes where, this may take me a couple days. The Christmas Around the World will be up soon though.

 As you probably already figured out the boys had to head back to school today. Nobody was looking forward to an early wake up after getting to sleep in for the past 20 days. Jacob asked for me to double check if it could be another cold/snow day. I know some parents were ready to drop their kiddos off after spending quality time cooped up in the house due to extreme temperatures, but I wouldn't have minded a couple more days hanging with my boys (you know just giving them the rest of this week off). Don't get me wrong I'm glad to have the house back to myself. There is a special kind of peace that comes from getting 3 boys out of the house after almost 3 weeks. Order has been restored, toys have been but back where they belong, there are no dishes piling up in the kitchen, and there is blissful silence (with the exception of the trickling water so we don't refreeze the pipes).

By the end of the day they were glad to be back and see friends and hear about how vacation time was. Today was planned as a jump back into routine with both feet day, but we were cut some slack by some other people who just weren't feeling like getting out of relaxing family mode yet.

Today was a home game for Jordan's basketball team and also a scout day for Jacob. I was prepared for it and prepped most of dinner ahead of time as time is usually tight on Thursdays. While at Jordan's game I get a email for the den leader that it is too cold and they were canceling the meeting for tonight. Which worked out because we go tout of Jordan's game later than normal and they had homework to complete. Having a more than planned relaxed evening worked out for the as they still had stiff muscles from the workout they had yesterday.


Yesterday we were able to spend some time outside it had actually been above 20 degrees. We were invited back to help out the family that allowed us to rake their leaves earlier in the fall, with moving some snow for them. We packed up 3 shovels (two of which were for the younger boys) and our broom. Jordan used a shovel they had there and we set to work. We worked for an hour and a half pushing snow this way and that. Jordan tried to pass on the wisdom he just learned about shoveling building muscle and character. The younger ones helped out a bit, but were more of characters themselves than building any character. At least they we were outside getting some exercise and fresh air. There was a lot of snow to clear, it took the four of use an hour and a half. While it wasn't as snow-free as I would have liked (I'm kind of OCD about shoveling, which is why I sweep the snow also) it was a lot better than it was before we got there Again when we were finished we were invited in for some hot cocoa. I love when I can teach my boys by example the importance of being there for others when they may need you.

When we got home after shoveling snow the boys stayed outside for an additional hour and a half playing in the mounds of snow stacked near our house. The mounds are taller than I am and about just as wide as they are tall!! They had hoped to go back to the snow hill, but your front yard was good enough as it was to get dark soon. We plan to hopefully get back out to the hill sometime this week. They received new sleds from Grandma over the weekend and can't wait to try them out.

With extended break now behind us, it is time to get back to routine. We can get back to out regularly scheduled program.



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Every Day Holds It's Own Adventures

Having everyone back home again and waking well rested we thought we'd do some fun things on yet another snow day from school. We lounged around for a good part of the morning, everyone was enjoying some screen time so I thought we'd cash in one of our Christmas presents, a gift card for the four of us to go see a movie. I go to hop into the shower and there is only a trickle of water. Uh Oh! Turns out while we were away at my parents I forgot to let the sinks run again when we returned and my pipes had froze. Blessedly with the exception of one toilet and the kitchen faucet. This is my first  ever experience with frozen pipes, and not one I wish to repeat. I turned on all the faucets and the walls began to vibrate, thinking that probably wasn't a good sign I called for back up who had more experience than I. After a call to our wonderful maintenance guy who was just across the street helping a friend of mine with a similar problem, came to our rescue. Turns out the answer to our problem was as simple as cutting a hole a little bigger than a foot squared into our downstairs bathroom. That's when we learned there is little to no insulation up there. After about an hour and a bit of help from a heat gun we were good to go. I just had to make sure to let all the sinks trickle water so they don't refreeze up.

Having some down time before the next showing of our chosen movie. We started the process of making our Rosca de Reyes (3 King Cake) to finish off our Mexico part of Christmas Around the World. Finally time to head out to see Frozen, it seemed fitting for today due to our pipes becoming Frozen and it being below freezing today. We get to the theater with just enough time to get our tickets and some snacks. I requested four tickets and went to pay...that's when I realize our gift card isn't for the same theater we were at. I had purposely left my purse at home only taking what I knew I needed; I can't stand setting my purse on the grimy, sticky floors. When I set it on the chair next to me I always seems to slip through the seat and still end up on the floor. it just works better to leave it behind (usually).  There would be no show today for us, we do plan to go to the correct theater this weekend and finally watch our movie.

To soften the blow of no surprise movie we grabbed a couple videos from the video store and a couple pizzas. Thanks to our friends at Homeschool Camper we learned from their Facebook page that this week is National Pizza Week and today turned out to be the best day to appreciate having a couple slices. We spent most of the evening watching the movies the boys had picked out and snacking on pizza. We were also able to finish our Rosca de Reyes which we had for an after dinner snack. (More about our cake tomorrow).

In the mist of the movie watching and cake baking we have been fighting to keep the house warmed up, that hole in the ceiling sure is letting in the below zero temperatures. Having the oven on while baking helped but so did all those blankets I have been crocheting. That and movie time around here is also cuddle with mom time. I think the movie watching also helped us from going bonkers from hearing the constant trickle of water all day long and hearing it in surround sound. So movie night at home ended up being an unexpected blessing.

Not exactly how we planned our snow day, but things seem to always work out. I can't wait to see what today's snow day brings us.