Reading List Summaries Continue - September

I have to be honest that since the summer weekly wrap-ups have ended, I'm really missing the book lists. It's nice to have a record of what we've read and also it's an easy way to make sure we're staying on track with reading goals. So...I've decided to keep it up, but I'll post it just once a month (and try to jazz it up a bit with some cover pics too)!

Family List
To the Beach (Linda Ashman)
Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs? (Carmela LaVigna Coyle)

I'm Getting a Checkup (Marilyn Singer)
Sisters (Judith Caseley)

Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy (Denise Fleming)
Trouble on the T-Ball Team (Eve Bunting)
It's My School (Sally Grindley)

Fred Stays with Me! (Nancy Coffelt)
A Day with Paramedics (Jan Kottke)
A Day with a Mail Carrier (Jan Kottke)
Let's Talk About Feeling Embarrassed (Melanie Ann Apel)

Jack's List
Gym Shorts: Swimming with Sharks (Betty Hicks)
How Did That Get to my House? Internet (Gary T. Chmielewski)

Tacky in Trouble (Helen Lester)
McDuff's Wild Romp (Rosemary Wells)

Some Frog! (Eve Bunting)
Gym Shorts: Basketball Bats (Betty Hicks)
Ramona and Her Mother (Beverly Cleary)

Mom's List
You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation (Susannah Gora)

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (Aimee Bender)

Kitchen Radio

The kiddos and I need some music in our kitchen...big time! If we're going to make dinner, do homework, wash dishes and hang out/have impromptu dance parties, then we're going to need some tunes to do it! Last year we went through two options. The first was a cheap speaker that eventually locked up my ipod for good (not good). And the second is a nicer (but older) ipod speaker that warns me every time I use it that it is not made to work with my iphone. After about 30 minutes of streaming our favorite radio station, my phone is too hot too touch!

So now we're music-less and hating it, matter how much I stroll the aisles of my favorite mega-store, I'm just not finding the right thing! Do you have something you love in your house? Recommendations?

What I would like:
AM/FM Radio
ipod/iphone compatibility
CD player (optional)

What I would prefer it not to resemble:
1) anything in the "boombox" variety

2)anything that looks as if it should be my alarm clock

3) anything that looks like it would come in handy on a deserted island

4) anything that makes my kids think it might be theirs!

{all images from amazon}

Please help...We need to get the dance party started again!!

Kickball Party

A 7th birthday party should focus on fun, right? That was my plan this time around, so I kept it simple using the color red throughout as well as a circle logo modeled after the red playground ball synonymous with kickball!

We had about 20 kids attend, so the party table was a long rectangle. Two bouquets of 7 balloons sat at the ends of the table with a centerpiece of red licorice. I could have done some really fun things with flowers, but I figured that the guests would appreciate candy much more. I also had two small glass bowls filled with swedish fish on the table. Well, until the majority of the fish made their way to the plates of the guests (such a rookie mistake)!

A few large buckets of playground balls sat on the floor in the corner of our large party room. I had thought they would look really cute and bring the theme into the party room. I forgot how differently wired the 7-year-old mind is though, as their first instinct was to pick up a ball and begin some impromptu dodgeball. Let's just say we moved them quickly to the field to start the fun...a great game of kickball (of course) followed by some free time to practice their soccer skills.

When we got back to the party room, Matt read the book New Old Shoes to the kids. The story is written from the perspective of a pair of red sneakers telling the story of how they traveled between different owners, beginning as a brand new pair with a boy in America and ending with a girl in Africa. Our party guests brought donations to Soles4Souls in lieu of birthday gifts, so we thought this was the perfect way to explain how their donations might be used and how they are needed. In fact the endnote of the book was written by Wayne Elsey, the founder of Soles4Souls. I am proud to say that over 300 pairs of shoes will be donated as Jack's birthday gift!

With shoes being our secondary party theme, I knew we needed a sneaker pinata. But let's just say shoe pinatas are not easy to come by! Enter the amazing Auntie Sandy who whipped up the coolest retro Chuck Taylor styled pinata evah!!!

Let's just say that if you have a ginormous sneaker pinata hanging out at your house, you are going to take a couple fun photos with it! I loved that it was almost EJ-sized!

And I say "was" because it met it's demise via hockey stick and 20 very eager kiddos!

And that was the end...they played, ate lunch, listened to a story, enjoyed an ice cream sundae and filled treat bags with candy! So we said goodbye and handed out favors. Each child received a red playground ball and their own sneaker design book. I took this book (which is filled with pages & pages of amazing retro sneakers) apart and created coloring books (consisting of 4 interior shoe design pages with red paper cover).

In the end, I think the party was a great success! I love each and every one of these crazy smiles (especially the semi-hidden birthday boy there in the middle)!!!

Snapshots from an Awesome Birthday Weekend

So Jack turned 7 this weekend and we did our best to celebrate every way we could think of!

With balloons...

...and presents!!!

Some presents were ones that only MY son would love...oh and did he ever love this book!

This pretty much says it all for the 7-year-old boy mind...what can I do that will either disgust someone or create some junk food for myself? Hopefully the actual science experience will shine through??

And we certainly couldn't celebrate without awesome sisters! (and seriously, when did my kids get so big?)

And then there was the junk food portion of the weekend...the traditional birthday plate of oreos (cake was ordered for the wrong day because of a schedule rearrange).

Uncle D knows the way to Jack's heart for sure!

Jack's Harley cake (still surprised at that choice)...

...shared with some crazy cousins!

A new kid discovers the wonder of balloons!

Jack got to play goalie (which he's been dying to do) and stopped this shot by his friend Sam. (I found it's really hard to root for our team when I know kids on both of the teams! I ended up cheering for everybody.)

He also got some field time and scored a goal to help his team get the win!

Lucy & EJ made their own fun (See their mouths? That's screaming as they run down the hill...repeatedly!).

Then Jack spent the afternoon at a very special park watching the last game of the season. And is that card the coolest or what? Aunties Wendy & Elizabeth made Jack's day with this one!!!

There was much more (like a kickball party and lots of play time with the Grandmas), but seeing as everyone is all snuggled up we'll leave it for another day! Night, night!

Birthday Treats

This year I've tried to take a low-key approach to Jack's birthday. It's gone pretty well (even with a major scheduling snafu) but one thing I completely blanked on was Jack's school birthday treat. Oops! I think it was because Jack's actual birthday falls on a weekend, but the school celebration is way too important for the 7-year-old set to skip!

Jack's kid/friend party has a kickball theme, so we decided to make "ball pops"...the easy way! Sure I could have gone all Bakerella on you and made fancy cake pops, but that doesn't sound very low-key right? To make our easy, peasy pops all you need are: lollipop sticks, double-stuf oreos (very important that they are double-stuf or it won't work), candy melts & colored sugar. Push the lollipop stick into the filling of the oreo about halfway (it helps to re-smush the sides of the oreo together before you dip so it stays together). Melt your candy melts in the microwave and dip the oreo on both sides and the edge. Place on wax paper to cool and harden for a few hours. I wanted to give each kid two cookies, so I sprinkled half of them with red sugar to make them a little different from each other.

It's a really simple project but plan for more or everything (especially oreos) as you will have some breakage, falling apart in the dipping process, etc. And with the extras, you can forgo the stick and do quick half-dipped oreos for a little birthday treat at home too!

Happy Birthday Grandma!

{image courtesy of my recipes}

Happy Birthday Grandma! We miss you!


I've been on a cleaning binge lately (an extremely late Spring cleaning if you will). The kind of cleaning that has me donating tons of our things and clearing out the dining room so I can wash the wood floors on my hands and knees. Not fun, but overdue in every respect. Last week as I was washing the floor, complaining in my head about my sore knees, I realized how truly lucky I am to have the opportunity to clean in this way.

I saw this on Facebook the next day:
"Would it shock you to know that the water we have in our toilets is better than nearly 1 billion people in our world have to drink?" source -

I've written about this problem before and how easy it is to make a difference, but it seems as if we all forget how "easy" being a mother in the US is. As I continued my cleaning, I thought about the mothers who walk for miles just to retrieve "clean" (very dirty & often contaminated) water for their children to drink each day.

In Guatemala it is rainy season, but this year the weather has gone beyond rainy...floods, sinkholes and the latest Tropical Storm Fiona. Many people lost their homes and in the trek to find shelter, through mud-filled streets, lost their only pair of shoes. Can you imagine losing everything? Literally not even having protection for your feet as you attempt to rebuild your life or seek shelter? It happens more than we know and it seems like another one of those mega-problems too big for us to do anything about...far away and with limited resources.

I am very proud to say that Jack has chosen to try to do something to help! His birthday is this weekend and he again chose to collect donations instead of gifts at his party with his friends. We found an amazing organization called Soles4Souls and I am so excited by the work they are doing around the world!

Can you believe that? For a $1 donation, a pair of shoes is purchased for someone in need! They also accept donations of new and used shoes if you're interested in conducting a shoe drive. They have distributed more than 11 million pairs of shoes and have recently helped victims in the Gulf Coast, survivors of the Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods, and answered countless requests from Americans in need. But Soles4Souls needs help to keep up their amazing work. Please consider helping if you dollar would make a huge difference to one of the 300 million children in the world who are without shoes. We can make a difference...even with limited resources!

Crafting with Jack

So yesterday Jack was home sick, but he felt fine (still contagious so home on doctor's orders) so we did some work on his birthday party stuff. One of the ideas I had was to take this lovely pumpkin craft...

and turn them into red balls that we could make into a garland to hang at the party. We loved how the first one came out!

And then Jack decided to hold it as if it was hanging...

{disclaimer: we used text-weight paper for this project. i think using cardstock & maybe making a smaller size would make this perfect for use in a garland}

Not quite cute & ball-shaped anymore! Craft fail for us...but I have to be honest that I'm secretly happy it didn't work as that's one less thing to prep for the party. Trying to keep it simple!

Hard Habit to Break

The 80s are following me you guys. I try to embrace the present, but then I have a weekend like this last one and it's just hard to say goodbye to my favorite decade! First, last Friday I watched a little Pretty in Pink during the "naptime Olivia decided was not going to happen." She stopped a full-out fit during Duckie's dance in the record store (and promptly returned to her fit after too). Then there was an "I love the 80s" weekend on the radio and I spent a lot of time in the car...awesome stuff!

Let's face it...I'm just drawn to the 80s. A couple weekends ago I went to Renegade with these lovely ladies...

{me and my fabulous girlfriends - Cyndi, Tracie & Leslie}

and look what I came home with? Sure there was more purchased than this, but I cannot pass up a mixtape icon my friends! (full disclosure: the Say Anything notebook was already in my possession & I bought the new one to replace it as it's almost full)

{journals from La Familia Green, mix tape card from La Familia Green, Rubik's Cube card from Dude and Chick}

And have you seen this amazing 80s-themed 30th birthday party? So many great details (including a mix tape iphone case)...yeah, I'm in love!

{images courtesy of Hostess with the Mostess} did I wrap up my 80's themed weekend? Matt introduced me to his newest addiction...

I almost hate to bring it think you aren't going to be sucked think it looks like any other quiz site. Next thing you know, you've been doing quizzes for a solid hour! It's fun though for sure!

Bet you can't beat me on this quiz though...I'll even give you a hint! Don't let sampling throw you off. I did have to leave one blank...maybe I should keep trying to find my perfect quiz???