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Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Path to Motherhood

The path we take to motherhood can come in all shapes and sizes. On this Mother’s Day I reflect and embrace the journey that led me down the most rewarding path I have ever taken in my life…

From an early age I knew I wanted children. From living in a home that doubled as a daycare to eventually having my own makeshift daycare as a teenager, I did all I could to prepare myself to be a mother. I idolized my mom and took notes from all of the positive mom role models I had in my life. I even remember making fake grocery lists from sale ads as if I was preparing to buy groceries for my own family. (I know, a little crazy!) However, I thought I had my life all figured out and my path to motherhood was going to be an easy one to travel.

Then, life happens, and in the words of Robert Frost, “I took the one (path) less traveled”. After meeting the man I knew I would spend the rest of my life, I not only became a wife, but also a stepmom to a two-year-old little boy. Being a stepmom is something no one can prepare you for. But I embraced this opportunity like no other opportunity I ever had before. I loved that little boy like he was my own. I knew I would never replace his mom, but I would work so hard to be the best second mom this child could ever imagine. The path of a stepparent can be full of twists and turns and uncertainty, but “has made all the difference”.

Walking down this particular path of motherhood made me ache that much more for more children. This is where my path met many road blocks. No one can prepare you for the loss of three babies and the heartache that comes with trying over and over again to be a biological mom. The tests, the emotions, the results leading to essentially no answers. But, if we all stopped in our tracks the moment things got tough, we would never make it back to the main road.

My path finally provided hope. Eleven ultrasounds, countless stress tests, and a baby aspirin a day, eventually led me to my little miracle baby. While motherhood itself if never easy, holding the little person and hearing the words “mommy” are enough to make you forget about all the struggles and sleepless nights.

Three years later, my path got even more joyous when my second miracle entered the world. She is making our path through life so fun and interesting! It’s amazing how children with the same parents can be so different!

Now, I will never forget about those babies lost, but I know that everything happens for a reason. My path to motherhood has led me to the three most precious children I could ever have imagined. And maybe taking this long, testing path is what makes me take this job so seriously, but whatever the reason, I am so proud to be a mom and do everything I can to take advantage of every moment.

There are so many different paths to motherhood, some easier than others, but regardless the path it takes to get there, the outcome makes all the difference. Embrace your path and keep traveling.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Earth Day Scavenger Hunt

For Earth Day we decided it would be fun to do another Scavenger Hunt. I just love the excitement and emotion that comes out of them when they search for clues (and Steve writes the clues, so it is pretty easy on my end). For added excitement, the final prize of this hunt is Detroit Pistons' Playoff tickets. (David and Matt have been dreaming of going to a play off game for years.) I am so excited to see their faces on the final clue!

Here are the clues: 

It’s Finally Earth Day!

It’s time to go looking.
The first clue is found
Where we do the cooking.

The clues will continue
Until they suddenly stop.
You’ll find the next one
Where we keep our pop.

Pop is so sweet
And is always so fizzy.
Moving to the freezer
Will keep you all busy.

The food here is frozen
And it’s oh-so-cold.
The last clue is warmer,
At least that’s what I’m told.

The Oven’s the finish line,
The Hunt didn’t bore us.
It’s time to see...Jackson,
Drummond and Morris!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Detroit Tiger Opening Day Cake 2016

We have made an Opening Day cake every year for three years now. The Detroit Tigers open tomorrow, so we thought we would celebrate with our annual family party. This is the cake we came up with...

Here is a link to last year's cake and our Paws refrigerator

Friday, March 25, 2016

Mini Easter Cakes

We saw some pictures on Pinterest of mini bunny cakes, so we tried to make some of our own. 

I mixed up two boxes of white cake mix and divided it into four equal parts. Then I colored them pink, blue, purple, and green. I just used a large sheet cake pan for two of the colors. 

I baked the cakes for about 10 minutes. 

Then I cut each color of cake into circles. I piped the outside of each circle with frosting and then stacked them up. 

Using a star tip, I piped frosting on the top. 
For the ears, I cut a large marshmallow in half. Then I shaped the marshmallow to look kind of like an ear and dipped the sticky side in pink sprinkles. I added a pink chocolate candy for the nose. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Easter Handprint Picture

This simple craft doesn't take a lot of supplies and is very quick. 

We started by making a yellow handprint. Then we glued down scrapbook paper for a hill. We cut out a cross and glued that down. 

Rachel wanted to add animal stickers to hers as well. 

Peep Experiments

We decided to do some experiments with Peeps tonight. We started by placing Peeps into various liquids for observation. (I will update the post in the next few days with our results. For liquids, the kids chose, vinegar, laundry detergent, water, Coke, and Gatorade.

The next experiment involved the microwave. We cut the top off of a Gatorade bottle and stuffed some Peeps inside. Then we set the microwave for 1 minute. We watched the Peeps expand before our eyes. We did an observation at one minute and then started it for about 20 more seconds. 

The overflow actually pulled off of the microwave very easily. We let it sit for about half an hour on the counter. It became very hard on the bottle. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt #4

We had our 4th Annual St. Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt today. The kids just love this activity. Steve writes all of the clues for these hunts, so definitely have to give him credit for his rhyming skills. 

Clue #1:
With green in your hearts
You look for new clues.
Get this party started
By looking in shoes.

Clue #2
Shoes can be stinky,
Especially Matt’s.
Find some relief
Where David takes baths.

Clue #3
Bath time is fun
Until you get out.
But grab a new towel,
Get dry and don’t pout!

Clue #4
Towels need cleaning
And then they need drying.
Find the next clue in that room,
And there’s no need for crying.

Clue #5
Your journey’s nearly over.
The puzzle’s almost done.
If you locate jumper cables
The party’s begun!

For more clues, here is a link to our first three hunts:

Monday, March 14, 2016

Annual Pi Day Celebration

Today we had our annual Pi Day celebration, complete with Pi cheese bread, mini pies, and pi-inspired activities.

We started with our pies on a stick. I just used refrigerated dough to make these mini pies. I used homemade apple pie filling to fill the circles, crimped them together with a fork, brushed egg white over the top, sprinkled on cinnamon and sugar, poked some holes in the top, and baked them for about 12 minutes at 375 degrees. 

Then I made our regular cheese bread dough and shaped that into a pi sign. (  

Next, I had the kids graph the number pi on some graph paper. (I just used scrapbook paper that had a set of lines on it. I added another set of lines to make it look like traditional graph paper.)
Then we did some patterns on pictures of circle-shaped objects. 

The last thing we did was make whole "pies" out of our fraction paper plates. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Leprechaun Trap Stem Activity

The kids wanted to do an activity together this weekend, so I tried to come up with something that would interest all of them. (Ages 13, 7, and 4)

To build on their different abilities, I gave them piles of popsicle sticks of different sizes, scrapbook paper, a box, some colored paper straws, thread, rubber bands, paper clips, pipe cleaners, plastic cups of all sizes, and a mini pot of gold and coins. Then I showed them some different examples of traps and told them to construct a leprechaun trap with the materials they had. 

They all had different roles. The 4-year-old started by painting popsicle sticks. The 7-year-old started by constructing a ladder. The 13-year-old worked the glue gun and started covering the box. (We only had two sheets of grass paper, so he had to find a way to cover the box without wasting supplies. 

Then they worked together to build the straw/popsicle stick structure. The only part I had to help them with was poking a small hole through the cup so they could put the thread through the cup. 
The trap works very well. They have had fun trapping their little figures! 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

National Grammar Day Treats

March 4th is National Grammar Day, so I decided to celebrate with my freshmen and sophomore English classes. After making double batches of everything, I had 45 cupcakes, 30 brownies, 90 cookies, and a number of chocolate-covered pretzels, I had enough treats for all of my students. 

The students broke up into teams and took a grammar quiz and then we played Grammar Jeopardy. The winning team got first pick of the treats each hour. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Dr. Seuss Birthday Activities

We had a snow day today so we celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday with reading, treats, and crafts. 

Marshmallow, strawberry, and banana Cat in the Hat (I  used a food marker for the face.)
Cat in the hat paper plates. We used black tissue paper for the fur. The kids painted a red and white pattern on white cardstock for the hat. 

We also made fish bowls for One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. 
These two titles are definitely favorites of my kids. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Leap Day Cupcakes

David's class will be learning about Leap Year tomorrow, so we decided to send in a Leap Day treat.

To start, I colored white cake green to make these frog cupcakes. We colored the frosting green as well and sprinkled on green sugar.  I added mini marshmallows for eyes and used black and red frosting to add some final touches.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Banana Oatmeal Yogurt Muffins

While looking for some healthy banana recipes, I came across this one that is mixed entirely in a blender. The kids love these and so do I. 

2 cups quick oats
3 bananas, smashed
2 eggs
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Place all the ingredients (except the chocolate chips) in a blender or food processor. Fold in chocolate chips and pour in a greased muffin pan. 

Bake at 375 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. Place on a cooling rack. We like these warm, right out of the oven. They don't last long! 

Chia Banana Bread

This bread was delicious! I found it on Pinterest.

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup chia seeds
3 bananas, smashed
1/2 cup almond milk

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. 
In a separate bowl, whip the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and banana. Slowly add the flour and almond milk, alternating between the two. 
Fold in the chia seeds. 
Place the batter in a greased bread pan and bake for about 40 minutes at 375 degrees. 

Let cool on a cooling rack.

Fuller House Party

Full House was one of my favorite shows growing up. So, about five years ago when I saw it playing on tv, I introduced it to my kids. They liked it just as much as I did. When we heard Fuller House was being made, I loved that the boys and I could share so much excitement over this show. 

Here are some of the treats we come up with...

I baked a chocolate cake in two small square pans and placed them together so they made a long rectangle. Then I covered it with frosting and made some window accents with fondant. I also put some red frosting on a piece of fondant for the door. 

We used some of our favorite quotes and images and placed them on cupcakes with frosting. 
Our favorite one was Mr. Woodchuck. 

Here is a bee for the girls Honey Bee group.

And these cupcakes are all a tribute to Uncle Jesse.

The pink bunny and "Bullet" the car episodes are some of our favorites. 

And these chocolate roses on a stick are perfect for our "Pin a Rose on Your Nose" quote. 

One of my friends and her girls love Full House as much as we do, so they are joining our celebration. These are the sticks they made for our "Who Said It" game. 

Here are the quotes: 
“Have Mercy”-Jesse
“Pin a Rose on your nose”-Stephanie
“How Rude”-Stephanie
“You got it dude”-Michelle
“Cut it out” -Joey
“Oh, Mylanta”-DJ
“Aw, Nuts”-Michelle
“Oh, Please”-Michelle
“Watch the hair”-Jesse
“You’re in big trouble, mister”-Michelle
“Hey, squirt”-Kimmy
“Talk to me”-Jesse
“Nerd Bomber”-DJ
“Hola, Tanneritos”-Kimmy
“Hot Dog”-Stephanie
“There’s a car in the kitchen”-Michelle
“Don’t be silly. I’m just cleaning my rubber gloves.”-Danny
“No way Jose”- Michelle
“Duh”- Michelle
“You little chicken wing”- DJ
“Ahh the smell of chloride in the morning”- Danny
“I’m not a tattletale, but I’m telling you said that”- Stephanie
“I know you are, but what am I”- Joey
“Whoa, baby”- Michelle
“What’s up munchkin”- Jesse
“Don’t hate me cuz I’m beautiful”- Kimmy

We also have some trivia questions done up for intermission games:

  1. Who do Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen play on Full House?
  2. What are the names of the three men in the house?
  3. What do Jesse and Rebecca find out they are having at their ultrasound?
  4. What is the name of Danny Tanner’s oldest daughter?
  5. Who likes to say, “You got it, Dude.”?
  6. What show does Joey get his comedy break on?
  7. What is Uncle Jesse’s favorite expression?
  8. Who is Uncle Jesse’s favorite singer?
  9. What character always wants food?
  10. Who is DJ’s best friend?

We also plan on having pizza (for Steve), lemonade to drink (for Danny's lemon cleaner obsession), and some other foods that come from specific episodes.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Daily Chore/Activity Charts

To help the kids feel more productive around the house and to limit their use of electronics so they can become more active, we decided to make these chore/activity charts. Each kid has to earn a set amount of points each day in order to gain access to their ipod/ipad/xbox/etc. If they earn a certain number of points each week they can also earn $5 to be put in a bank/college account. I laminated these so they are dry erase. We can wipe it off at the end of each week and start over. On the back of each card I have a running total of points the kids earn each week. (See the picture at the bottom.) 

If you would like access to this file, you can click on the link below and make your own copy. Go to File and Make a Copy in order to edit your own. 

4-year-old's chart
7-year-old's chart

13-year-old's chart

The back of each card
We decorated the papers with stickers before we laminated them. They turned out pretty well. 

Update: These charts are working so well. The kids rarely even use their device when they complete their points. They are finding that playing board games and doing things together as a family are even more fun. Such a huge win for our family! 

Star Wars Photo Board

For "March is Reading Month" our elementary school is taking on a Star Wars Theme. David thought we should create a photo board to share with the other kids for the month. This is what we came up with...
I started by sketching, Han Solo, Luke, Obi Won, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Yoda, and C3P0. I did four characters per display board. 
Then I outlined with a black Sharpie. I used acrylic paint to fill in the details.