Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chewy Chocolate Mint Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Mint Cookies

2 ¼ cup flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup butter
¾ cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
Andes Mints

Combine: flour, cocoa, baking soda & salt in small bowl. Beat: butter, sugar, brown sugar & vanilla. Add eggs. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by well-rounded TB onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake @ 350* for 9-11 min. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, place mint pieces on tops of cookies, and let stand for 2 minutes until melted. Use the back of a spoon to spread the mint. Makes 3 dozen. (I used 1/2 butter and 1/2 margarine for this recipe) These are really chewy!

One of my boys does not like mint, so I dropped a little bit of peanut butter on top of a few cookies for him. It melted well, and I just spread it around like frosting.

This recipe also works well for adding white chocolate, peanut butter, or butterscotch chips instead of melting mints on top.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Soccer Saturday

J's game on Saturday was a tough one! The teams tied 1-1. The refs seemed to favor the other team, and kids on the other team were name-calling (I later found out), but we just had to move past it. It was nice to have a 9am game -- to beat the heat. J had TWO near hits on the goal AND a couple of really awesome defensive moves at our goal today. He played his little heart out.

Here is his teams' new banner. We decided not to put the player's names on it so that this banner can be easily used from year to year. Our coach had this made and we think it's awesome!

Later, B had his game @ 1pm. Despite the heat, we were grateful that his game was close to home, just 3 minutes away.

Here is B's team banner. It was nice that when he joined this team this year, we didn't have to pay for a new banner! The coach already had this from the past couple of years.

So, despite some great effort, B's team lost. B had an amazing opportunity to attack at the goal, however, a team mate stepped in front of B, miss-kicked the ball and it went off to the side. B was literally taking that last step before he planned on kicking it with all of his might! He had a clear shot of the goal. B was pretty upset about it. He's usually played mid-field or defense, but he was playing forward and had this golden opportunity. When we talked to him about it, we reminded him that it's okay to be frustrated, but that he still needs to be kind to his team mate.

Later Saturday, we went to a friend's house for a yummy BBQ. One of the missionaries in our ward recently had his 21st birthday, and our friends invited them over to celebrate. The kids were having fun playing out back. Then they started hucking ice around the yard and T took some right to the face and got a nose bleed. Later, when I took T to the potty, he needed to sit on the potty and let's just say that 'things' weren't positioned correctly and he pee-ed ALL over the front of MY pants (I was standing right in front of him). I had to act quick and try to 'adjust' things before he took down the entire bathroom! As much as this bothered me, I was relieved that he didn't pee all over my friend's bathroom. It just looked like I pee-ed my pants. Oh, parenthood. Despite this, we had a very nice time visiting, and we appreciated their invitation.

Oh, and yes, some chores DID get done. I actually was able to get major shopping done early Saturday morning. I was @ Sam's Club by 7:15am. I was able to get through Sam's and Walmart in almost 1/2 the time it usually takes me with a kid or two in tow. It was worth getting out of bed early for just that!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Week Updates

Okay, this is a little long, but I just wanted to give mention to all my boys and what's been happenin' around here these past couple of days.

This morning, G&I, with T in tow, went down to the elementary school for the morning assembly because J's teacher told us that J was going to receive an award. He was 1 of 3 students that received the "Character Counts" award. This is what his teacher said about him: This student walks into the class with a smile on his face and ready to learn. He makes good choices throughout the day. He follows directions and always tries his best to complete his work correctly. He is very helpful to others. I am very proud of J" We are too! Way to go J!!

Shortly after the assembly, T & I walked back home to put away J's certificate and then were on our way for his preschool field trip to the annual safety fair. We rode over with our good friends Raimi, Garrett & Brody.

T added all the fun foam stickers to the visor and beads to the string that is tied to his glasses. Too funny!!

T, with two of his friends, got to ride in a cherry-picker on a PG&E truck. It went WAY up high, did a 360, and then came back down. They LOVED it!

This is the ONLY time we want to see him in the back of a patrol car!!!

I added this picture so I could tell you something kind of funny that happened. T and I BOTH were having fun with the bubbles. We were swinging the bubble wands high and fast. Our bubbles were mixing and sailing away. One particular bubble, a pretty big one I might add, landed with a big plop right on top of this lady's camera as she was aiming it to take a picture. I felt so bad! I'm not sure if she knew it was one of us, but she didn't say anything.

Last night at pack meeting, B received his Scientist and Outdoorsman pins. We are so proud of his accomplishments in Cub Scouts. B also came home with an outstanding progress report today. He is great about getting his homework done -- which is always appreciated. He is really enjoying 5th grade and he has a great teacher.

N has always had a big heart! Throughout this school year and most of last, he has mentioned this particular boy at school who drives him nuts. Apparently, this boy bothers a lot of people. He has said some mean things to N, and even pushed him to the ground during PE class this year. Well, last night he told us that many kids were throwing rocks at this particular boy at school. N said that he vacillated in his mind about what he should do. Then he yelled at the kids throwing the rocks and told them to stop. He picked up stray rocks and tossed them away, over the construction site fence (some of the school is still under construction). I have to admit that I was a little surprised that he did this because N is NOT one for confrontation. He said that he just KNEW what he had to do. We are very proud of him. It would have been easy to justify what he saw, maybe even feeling a tinge of revenge ... but he didn't. We just love him and are grateful for his example.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Motherhood & Hot Potatoes ...

Does anyone else feel like they are left holding the "hot potato" in the mornings after most of the family has left for work or school? This particular potato is the huge mess left behind when the dust settles: breakfast dishes, pj's, school papers, blankets, dirty-balled-up-smelly socks, ... the list goes on. I just LOVE finding underwear that has been tossed onto the back of the couch. Nice touch, eh?! I'm not saying that I don't feel appreciated. What I AM saying is that there are lots of days filled with digging out the house. Saturday chores have not been going as well due to the 2 soccer games each Saturday. My husband DOES tell me that he appreciates all that I do, and I am so grateful for that. My boys DO say 'thank you" when I am magically able to produce some clean socks for them. This thing called 'Motherhood' is tough, and it absolutely wears me out, but it comes with the best rewards. I lifted these quotes from my friend's blog (I LOVE quotes) : "Being a full time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs ... since the payment is pure love" & "God could not be everywhere and therefore He made mothers." Despite the pile of dishes, the trail of laundry, and messed-up beds, I'm glad my boys know that HOME is a safe place where they KNOW they are loved no matter what. Home should always be a soft place to fall (just kick the toys out of the way). I like knowing that my boys can really exhale when they come home and just be at peace. A quote from Jaynann Payne: "There isn't any other career that will raise you to such dizzying heights as that of motherhood." I agree. It can be quite dizzying: in the craziness of life and that of dizzying joy. The loves, hugs, kisses, smiles make it all worth it in my book ... I just need naps!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Very Messy, But FUN Art Docent

I had the opportunity to present the Art Docent lesson for J's 2nd grade class this morning. We had to squeeze it all into 1 hour because the bell-schedule changed this week. We talked about Folk Artists and how they didn't have cameras back in the early 1800's. Many of these artists would spend all winter making canvases with blank faces and bodies to later fill in with detail when people would want their portrait painted. They were called 'limners'. They actually made a great living doing this! Today, the kids were going to do a project like the 'limners'. Even before I could give the portfolio lesson, the kids did a potato stamp with light brown paint. This became the blank face of their portrait. I gave the lesson while the paint dried. Now, the frustrating thing about this portfolio is that it only had 2 of the 8 pictures!!! Can you believe that!?? I mean, we didn't have that much time to go over them anyway, but it's the principle. Our school paid a lot of money for these kits and to be missing that many is just wrong. After our potato stamp heads dried, the kids colored in the people with oil pastels, then filled everything else in with watercolor washes. Yes, I put a few Starbursts in J's desk for him! I just can't resist. It's SO much easier to work with 20 students vs. 32 students. I just love seeing my boys' smiles when I arrive in their classrooms. It makes my day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Soccer Updates

B's friend, A, gives him a 'high-five" after B does a critical save near the goal for his team. B had two outstanding defensive moves on Saturday. One was a really cool slide-kick against a hard, fast kick, and the other save was unique because he ran in front of the other team's player and deflected the ball off of his upper back. The ball went flying away from the goal. It was really cool! Unfortunately, his team lost 0-2. They all kind of lacked energy that day. Regardless, they held the other team to only 2 goals even though they had a lot of attempts at the goal.

J scored another goal at this game. He was so happy! His team was down for the first half of the game 1-0, but by the second half, they pulled themselves together and scored 4 goals and won the game!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

San Francisco

The boys didn't have school yesterday (okay, T did, but we didn't send him) due to a teacher work day. G took the day off from work and we headed to San Francisco for the day. It was gorgeous! It was a very clear day.

We hiked around one of our absolute favorite spots, which gave us a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We had to take a detour because of construction of a parking lot. No matter. We hiked near the famous Cliffhouse Restaurant and the ruins of an old bath house (or so I'm told)

After having sandwiches at the car, we headed down to the beach and enjoyed the sand and waves. It started to get overcast by then. Here, you can see B trying to out-run the tide. The boys LOVE doing this.
Despite hitting Friday commute traffic on the way back home, we really enjoyed our family time. We love going on hikes and enjoying the outdoors. The boys get to climb, throw rocks, dig in the sand, get dirty and just love it. I bet there's probably a few pounds worth of sand in our car. Oh well. It was worth it. We topped the evening off with a movie projected on our living room wall.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Time to share another family-favorite recipe. If you love peanut butter & chocolate, you'll LOVE these cookies!!

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup peanut butter
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla
1 ¼ cup flour
½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. baking soda

Cream together butter, sugars & peanut butter. Beat in egg & vanilla. Add salt, baking soda & flour. Roll into 1 inch balls into small, greased muffin tins. [A melon-baller scoop works great for this.] Cook @ 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Press Reese’s in the center of cookie as soon as it is removed from oven. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Makes 48.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Flyin' Airplanes & FHE

Last night, our FHE activity was to make paper airplanes and fly them off of the landing. We were aiming for distance, not speed. G helped the boys all make great paper airplanes, and they took turns competing by twos to see who's airplane would go the farthest. Sometimes the simplest things are the most fun. We all had so much fun! Then G made an airplane that did lots of twists and turns. That was sure fun to watch.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

More Games

J and B's soccer games were at the same time on Saturday. SO, G & I had to divide and conquer. I took N & T to J's game. J seemed to be a little under the weather and didn't mind sitting out over half of the game. There are 13 boys on the team and only 9 players are on the field. Kinda stinks if you ask me. J's team won 5-0. They did an amazing job of passing the ball. His coach has really worked with the team on passing and it is really paying off .... big time! Our team's Goal Jar was quickly filled. T even got a turn to walk around with the jar after a goal in the game. That sure made HIS day.

G captured this great picture of B attacking the ball. It can be quite advantageous to have a lefty on the team! B's team won 3-0. He has a great coach, too. She works these boys really hard during practices and teaches them a lot. He played defense part of the time and forward for the rest. He's great at staying in his zone.

The rest of our day was spent doing chores (yes, I know ... what a blast!) and G worked more on our shed. He finished the roof! Yeah!! We just hung out the rest of the afternoon, and then enjoyed another movie before bed. We watched "The Fugitive" with our ClearPlay. The boys were on the edge of their seats! They loved it. T spent most of the movie-time playing solo with the legos upstairs. It was a win-win situation: he was happily playing upstairs and we could hear the movie downstairs. Can't believe that another week is behind us. Wow!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

B's Art Docent

Yesterday, I presented the first Art Docent lesson for B's 5th grade class. The theme was "Artists Paint Cities". We had the class paint their own city. We penciled in the city, went over it with a black sharpie, then filled it in with color using watercolor washes. It was a fun lesson, and a little messy. I'm glad that I can come into his classroom once a month. Of course, I sneaked him a few starbursts. When I was leaving, he came over to me and gave me a couple of hugs. SO worth it!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Clink, Clink, Clink

To commemorate National Grandparent's Day on September 9th, J had some writing homework. He was asked to write about something important he learned from a grandparent, or share a special memory. I thought it was really cute and wanted to share.

A story by J:

"Clink, Clink, Clink"

My grampa loves to travel all over the world. He has collected many different coins from lots of countries. When he comes to visit, he brings bags of shiny coins. As he shows us the coins, he tells us the stories of his travels. He is going to China this week and I can't wait any longer to see the Chinese coins. I can't wait to add them to my collection as they clink in my special box.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More Random Tidbits ...

The other night, J soaked in my big bathtub. He called to me saying he had to show me something. I ran upstairs and saw THIS! I THINK there is a boy in there somewhere ...
On Sunday morning, we told the boys to get ready for church by getting their "Sunday Clothes" on. T ran upstairs and came down in this 'get-up'. He's wearing his cowboy hat, handkerchief, and underwear. In case you are wondering, YES, we got the 'blackmail' shot. He has been dragging around this huge, but lanky, bunny around. The bunny had to ride to church with us, seat belt and all. The bunny 'watched' T's cowboy hat and handkerchief during church. It was the only way that T relinquished the hat and scarf. Phew!

So, T has taken to hauling ALL of his loot everywhere. It's getting a little out of hand, in my opinion. As we were trying to get ready for our Sunday "Quiet Time", he spent 10 or so minutes dragging the contents of his room (we're talking everything off of his shelves or in his drawers, etc.) into MY room. I was getting more and more frustrated. Above, you can see what he managed to bring into my room before I just lost it. I told him that it would be difficult to walk into and out of my room, but he just retorted by saying "No, Mommy, you just do this and this" as he quickly maneuvered in and out of open spots. G just laughed, and I had a hard time keeping a straight face despite being so frustrated.
Beware of the backpack explosion!!! When N gets his stuff out to do his homework, there is a paper explosion wherever he is. Yes, we are trying to help him with organization. It's a process, I keep telling myself ... We keep going over the intended use of the dividers.

I'm keeping really busy with getting ready to do Art Docent (among other things) again this year for B and J's classes. Tomorrow will be the first lesson for B's 5th grade class. I'm glad that I have 3 years of Art Docent under my belt because things have been lagging with the head Art Docent @ the school. No communication from her yet. Frustrating. I fortunately already have a packet for both grades this year because I've done them before, so I can get started on my own. I really like doing the Art Docent because (1st) it's a lot of fun, and (2nd) it's only once a month for each class. This will be my last year that I will be able to work in B's class since he will move on to Middle School next year.

How's YOUR week going??

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Soccer Games Begin!!

B is in white, in the center of this picture. His game was @ 3pm and it was SO STINKIN' hot. His team lost 0-3, but they did put up a good fight!

Love the expression on his face. Wonder what he was thinking??
This is SO typical B. Glad that G captured this moment.

Once again, B is working with a new team this year. He knows several of the boys from school, and has been on previous teams with 2 of them. He has a great coach. She is very no-nonsense and is very structured. B has been thriving with this coach. It was a tough year last year for B. He seriously thought about hanging up his cleats. He's so glad that he stuck with it. Even though his team didn't win today, he felt good about his efforts. His coach gave great feedback after the game. She pointed out many of the great things they did, and talked about what they will be working on during practice. Many of the boys just tuckered out. The field is MUCH bigger than practice, and it was triple digits today.

J had his 1st game @ 10am today. He said he was very nervous. He's been fortunate to have been with this team for the past 2 years, and to have the same awesome coach.

Here, J is taking advantage of a 'fast-break'
Below is a sequence of pictures capturing J's FIRST goal in a game. I almost missed it. J is in the center of the picture, right in front of the ball wearing green.
He closes in on the ball and ...
... does a slide kick ... (he's sitting down now ... waiting ... hoping ...)
.... and it goes IN!! J's team scored on the very first play of the game. Many of the parents didn't even realize that the game even started!! His team won 9-0, and this is with rotating the boys to all different positions. It wasn't just ONE player. Isn't that awesome?!! J played goalie for part of the game and saw NO action. He just stood there sweating to death in the goalie jersey. The team did a great job defending the goal and basically keeping the ball on the other side. They did great at passing the ball. Amazing. Our goal jar was pretty heavy after the game. Each time our team scores a goal, family and friends each put in a quarter. This money goes towards trophies etc. I know a few parents mentioned that they owe some quarters because they didn't bring enough!
So, even though these games take up a chunk of our Saturdays, it's sure fun to watch our boys play. T wants to play next year. I'm not sure how that's going to work out with 3 boys in soccer. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.