E says try these “delecioso” pumpkin chocolate chip muffins!

We know a recipe is a winner when Mr. Picky will eat it.  E loved these muffins tonight.  I loved that Amy at Angry Chicken had done all the hard work of making it pretty healthy for me!  (Thanks Amy!)

The only thing that I modified at all was I put the flour mix from The Sneaky Chef instead of the other flour.  That mix is here.  I also added walnuts and extra chocolate chips (OK I had to make certain E would try them.  🙂 )

It was such a crisp cool day and with pumpkin muffins baking in my oven—mmmmmm!!!!!  I love fall!

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Just one more ride Mom!

We took the boys to our local amusement park yesterday for one final time this season.  First we had to peel them off of the swingset/treehouse that they have begun building a roof on top.  (Thank you Dangerous Book for Boys the inspiration in this project.  I would like to rename the book, Ways to Give Your Mom Gray Hair and a Heart Attack in One Day!  Of course my darling husband would rename it, Ways to Annoy Your Father By Not Putting His Tools Away.  You can take your pick!  🙂 )

The other children in this picture are our wonderful neighbors that we love!  They moved away for 8 months and we are happy to have them home!

Anyway on to the rest of our day.  We had planned all summer to take this picture, but didn’t actually find time to do it until the last day the park was open. 

Silly, but we have a couple other family photos like this from other years that we all just love.  Can’t tell we are a theatre family can you?

Of course we rode many rides.  We really they rode many rides.  I only rode the teacups and the train.  To be honest, I was wishing I hadn’t ridden the teacups either.  I was so nauseous!  Check picture below to see us while actually spinning!

One last hurrah for summer, and a great day for us!

Yeah! Teen Improv Night is a Success!

I was pretty worried when at 7 we only had 2 kids.  Joe (our fabulous, amazing, wonderful, incredible, astounding–OK can you tell I REALLY like this guy) instructor was also a bit nervous.  He said it didn’t matter if 2 or 45 showed up, he could make it work.  Since I have worked on stage with him (he was Jack, my son, in Jack and the Beanstalk) I was pretty sure he could.

However to make it a worthwhile venture to our board of directors, we probably needed more than 2.  By 7:15 we had 11.  What was wonderful about this group is there were 6 of “our” kids.  Kids that have been in our mainstage shows.  Some of these kids in fact are becoming so busy with high school that they didn’t audition for our current mainstage show, and some that have grown so much in talent they have begun looking at another larger theatre in town for opportunities.  I was glad that we had something new to offer these veterans of our stage.  We could stretch their skills and make them work hard while having fun.

But there was another group there last night.  The group that I was actually more focused on.  They were the 5 children that had never been inside our doors before.  I wanted them to feel included.  I wanted them to learn and feel comfortable in our space.  I was a little worried since we had such a tight group of vets, that the newbies would feel left out.  I think it takes incredible bravery to come to an unfamiliar place to do of all things…IMPROV!   Improv is hard when you know everyone.

Needless to say, I didn’t need to worry.  Joe broke up the clique and joined them with the new kids.  He gently tried to pull the shy ones out of their shells, and was extremely aware all night each child.  (Another bonus of only having 11). 

Did we make a lot of money?  No.  We only charged $5 to get in and a little bit for popcorn and pop.  Did we teach the children.  Absolutely!  They left saying they can’t wait until next month.

Starting Something New at the Theatre Tonight

Our little children’s theatre is starting a new venture tonight!  I am so excited about this and hoping that we have a good turnout!.  We are beginning a Teen Improv Night from 7-10.  I have absolutely NO idea of how many kids are coming.  This could be wonderful or could completely backfire on us. 

The fun thing is that everyone (adult volunteers) is really excited about this event.  Now if only the kids share our enthusiasm…

Challenging myself

I work in a low economic, culturally diverse, inner-city school.  Many people don’t believe they exist in Iowa, but I show up there every day.  This year is incredibly challenging.  The entire 2nd grade is scoring extremely low on their entrance testing.  As a group lower than I have ever seen them. 

My teaching partners and I are in a bit of a panic.  It is obvious that this groups needs something drastic and DIFFERENT.  I know that the first grade teachers worked like crazy with these children last year.  Yet nothing seems to have stuck with half of these children. 

Yesterday we took a basic math test- addition and subtraction facts to 12.  Almost half my class failed.  Many of my children couldn’t tell me the difference between an addition or a subtraction sign.  We have worked on this for a month and it is review.  Reading is equally concerning.  Many don’t know all of there consonant sounds.  The other second grade is equally low.

I went to my principal yesterday and just laid it all on the table.  I told her that we need to think outside of the box about how to use this time with these children.  Thankfully she listened to me.  We are evaluating our schools resources and developing a second grade intervention.  She has freed up four teachers at the end of the day for a focused phonics/word work/ reading group and is trying to find another person to help with math.

Currently I have a student teacher for the next two weeks.  I will use this time to develop some long term plans and specific goals for these children. 

My goals for these children are simply stated, but complicated in application.  I want these children to read on grade level and master 2nd grade math skills.  It sounds easy. 

Personally I am going to start each morning with prayer.

Ok, I’m thinking that maybe I need to cut down on caffeine

New dreams, but not quite as strange.  I’m really only remembering snippets though.  Todd and I were walking down the street and there were two lions and a jaguar.  We inched slowly back to our van.  Next dream: I’m on a cruise ship with a friend from church and her mom.  I however am huddled  in a corner really upset that I left my phone charger at home.  Last dream:  I’m knitting something with really cool purple yellow yarn. 

Explanations: Judy was talking about the lions at the zoo to me.  I was talking about church before I went to sleep.  My phone really does need charged and I forgot to do it.  I read a knitting magazine before bed.  🙂  But the last two nights have been really active dreamwise.  I’m waking up tired.

Weird Dream–really, really weird!

My friend Julie and I were in a pool, but a table that floated on top of the water.  Then people that we knew would walk by, but not just any people, dead people.  They would jump into the pool and then come sit with us at the table.  Because they jumped into the pool first they could then drink and we had beer or wine coolers waiting for them.  Then we would interview them.

For so many reasons this is just …. odd.

My Dog

Lilo is one of our family pets.  She is an English Cocker Spaniel and beautiful.  Currently she is driving me crazy.  We have had for five years.  She has never been a particularly good dog.  She is hyperactive, bossy, and hard-headed. 

She has always had this fetish about rain.  If it is raining outside she will not go out.  Which then means she will want to go to the bathroom in the house.  Thankfully that is only a couple of times a year that becomes a problem. 

However we have a new problem.  We had two new dogs move in next door.  They live outside in their backyard.  Lilo is afraid of them.  She won’t go into the backyard anymore.  She has went to the bathroom twice inside this week.  It’s disgusting. 

I think I need a dog whisperer…and a carpet cleaner.

Blessings can come from anywhere including Facebook

I have been blessed today.  I know that I have.  Many years ago (18 to be exact), I lived in New Jersey.  I was a nanny out there during college.  I was blessed at the time to have three amazing friends.  I could always count on Frank, Chuck, and Becky.  I spent so much time with them when I lived out there and they truly made it a magical time in my life.

Frank and Becky got married, and we keep in contact every now and again.  I have probably talked with them every five years or so.  But I lost Chuck.  I knew he got married and then POOF! he vanished.

A few months ago I found Frank on Facebook.  We haven’t chatted too much, but I wasn’t worried.  I knew we would eventually.  Today however Chuck found me.  I was was so excited!  I don’t think I have stopped smiling all day!  The three of us have been messaging back and forth, looking at pictures, and just basically updating each other.

These are such fabulous people and I know God put them in my life when I needed them.  It is nice to have them back again!

This really got to me

Yesterday I was at a meeting.  There was a person attending that I did not know.  He was new to our congregation, but someone that our pastor has known for many years.  He is young, unmarried, and has no children (I think this is important later.)  I instantly liked him.  He fit in very well with our group and I thought what an asset to our church.

I found out that he had worked as a teacher’s assistant with autistic children.  Of course my immediate thought was, “WONDERFUL!”  Our pastor asked what is autism.  (Remember  I lead a parent support group at my church for parents of children on the autism spectrum and ADHD.  I had no idea he didn’t know specifics.)  I was going to go into my explanation, but my new friend did it for me.

His answer,  “They are socially retarded.”

My mouth dropped open.  My day changed.  My brain couldn’t wrap itself around this at all.  Maybe I am just  politically correct or naive. 

My friend Beth quickly spoke up that my son has autism and that maybe that isn’t the best way to explain it.  I believe he apologized.  I know he said that was how a teacher explained it to him (remember I said he is young, very young.)  I believe at this point the feel of the meeting changed, but maybe just for me.

I have to be honest I don’t know what I said.  I know my brain seemed to go fuzzy for the rest of the meeting.  Then I find myself apologizing to him for getting worked up about this after the meeting. 

It took me three years to be able to say that my son has autism.  I can’t accept that definition.  It is way more complex than that.   I hate those words. 

My son is brilliant, sweet, kind, loving, and hilarious.  I also know that he is not a text book case of autism.  He has baffled all the doctors both in Iowa City and Des Moines.  They say over and over that he is a contradiction.

I can’t process this.  It’s haunting me.  I am going to have to do some serious praying about this.