Friday, November 20, 2009

My Little Native Americans

My boys' Kindergarten teacher is one of the best! She goes to such lengths to make her students' Kindergarten experience a pleasant and memorable one. I am thrilled that my buddies get to have Mrs. Weber for a teacher. They love going to school, and are thriving in that context. Today, Mrs. Weber, with the help of her whopping four students, put on a Thanksgiving feast for her class, their parents and grandparents. Here's a video of the kids singing, something they do each day with Mrs. Weber as a part of their Bible class:

video

Mrs. Weber does many special projects with the kids to make their Thanksgiving feast a lot of fun. One thing she does is to deck the kids out in Native American gear complete with vests, necklaces, headbands with feathers, and drums. This year, Mrs. Weber also made mocassin-like booties for each of the kids to wear, and I went crazy with the face painting. She also gives them individual Native American-types of names. Judah was "Bear Claw" and Tucker was "Grey Fox".

We are so grateful for the boys' Kindergarten class and especially their teacher, Mrs. Weber. Thank you, Kathleen, for making our kids' experience of Kindergarten so memorable. We love you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bri's new "do"

Because I only go to a salon to get my hair done once, maybe twice a year (I wish I were kidding), the cut and/or color is usually on the more dramatic side. If I'm going to spend that much money on my hair, I want the whole world to know I got my hair done.

I had it done on a Thursday night after the kids were in bed. So, Friday morning when the boys woke up for school I asked if they noticed anything different about mommy. *They always noticed my haircuts/colorings in the past; I was surprised they didn't say anything right away.

Tucker's response: "You took a shower?"

nice.

Mommy: "Well, yes, I did, but what about my hair?"

Tucker: "You combed it!"

So, I'm thinking either 1.I need to work on my hygeine habits or 2. my boys really are becoming little men. :)

For all my friends and family at a distance, here's a little video of my new "do". It's a video b/c that's the only digital capability we have in our house. Nevermind the concentrated look on my face or the flyaway piece of hair in the back.

video

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some Ideas for Christmas

Yet again, my friend, Laurie, inspires this post. She asked some of her twitter friends to blog some ideas for Christmas gifts. Here are my top three.

1. Something sentimental
Marketing got me this year, which is unusual for me. But, it's Hallmark and that may have something to do with it. Probably my favorite gift idea this year comes from them. It's a recordable story book. I am buying it for my parents to give to my children. I think this gift is especially great if grandparents live at a distance and can't be seen on a weekly basis. Find their selection here: http://www.hallmark.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/article%7C10001%7C10051%7C/HallmarkSite/GoldCrownStores/GCS_HOLIDAY_GIFTS_STORYBOOKS

2. Support someone
I like to multi-task. What woman doesn't? I think I found a way to "multi-task" of sorts in my gift giving this year, too. I have friends and family who have their own business from a handyman to jewelry to makeup, home decor and of course, my own business of the Pampered Chef. If you have friends and family who are in business for themselves, why not seek to support their efforts by purchasing something from them for your loved ones. It could be an item, a gift certificate/card or so many hours worth of someone's needed service. (**We'd love for any of our family to purchase some "handyman" hours from our friend, Ed Griger, to give to us for many needed home improvements.)

I'd much rather give my money to someone I know who will benefit directly from it than to Walmart. But, that's just me. :)

3. Experiences
We're not into "stuff" here at the Almengor's...well, mostly. I like experiences and/or consumable gifts. Why not bake or cook someone's favorite dish for them for Christmas? Or buy their favorite candy?
I like the idea of giving my children and family experiences rather than more things.
So, for my boys this Christmas, I'm asking for money for them to go to summer camp in 2010. And, I may ask for money for Bella to take some dance classes.
I may give our kids swimming lessons for Christmas (not sure they're going to be thrilled about this one, so it's still being discussed).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Fall Favorite and a little secret

This is for you, Laurie, and anyone else who LOVES all things apple.
The absolutely best apple cake on the planet (mind you, not necessarily the healthiest)...

Beat 3 eggs
Gradually add 2 cups sugar
Blend in 1 1/2 cups of oil (I use canola)
and 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the following dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

Stir in 3 cups peeled, chopped apples and
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Pour into greased and floured 10" tube pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hr. 15 minutes

Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes before tunring upside down on plate.

Topping (which is the best part of the cake, so don't skip it):
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup packed brown sugar
pinch of salt

Boil this for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over warm cake.
Try not to eat the whole thing by yourself. But if you can't manage that, just don't eat it all in one sitting. :)

And, here's a little secret from my kitchen. I'm sure I got this tip from somewhere, but I can't remember.

I love to make quick breads: zucchini, banana and pumpkin among my favorite to make. But, for any quick bread, this little tip makes the bread extra special.

**Instead of using cooking spray on your pans, try buttering the pan and then "flouring" it w/ sugar rather than flour. This creates a sugary, crunchy outer edge to the quick bread while the inside is soft, squishy goodness.