Funny Muffin Friday: Muffin + Daisy = BFF

Funny Muffin FridayJosh and I only half joke about it.  Muffin can get Daisy to mind when we have no hope.  I don’t know if it is that she is scared of Muffin (who really likes to physically show Daisy lots of love) or if she just loves him so much that she does what he says.

Or because he feeds her.

Below are some of the more adorable Muffin and Daisy images.

I’m reminded that she must really love him because she didn’t snap when he rolled around on her in the pictures above.

We Plan Wednesday: Planning for Standardized Testing

We Plan WednesdayYes.  That time of year is drawing near.  High-stakes standardized testing.  If you are not American, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.  If you are and you do, I can hear you groan out loud from here.

For the past several years, I have been making a care package for my testing group.  My motives are not completely altruistic, as you will see from some of the items.  I usually include the following:

2 wood pencils per day with pencil top erasers

1 mechanical pencil

big pink eraser

pencil sharpener (so they don’t have to get out of their seat to sharpen their pencils and it’s quieter than the actual pencil sharpener)

5 Kleenexes per day (so that they don’t have to get out of their seat to get a tissue)

2 pieces of gum daily (one for morning, and one for afternoon)

5 peppermint candies daily (to inhibit coughing)

Recently, I received in my mailbox at school a catalogue with standardized testing incentives.  Yes, people are making money on standardized testing incentives.  I’m not sure what kind of commentary that makes on our times.  I have to admit that I was hooked with some of them.  Pencils, T-shirts (yes, some schools must not have a budget to worry about), and stickers that say “Rock the test” or “You are a testing star.”  Candy packages with cute motivational and inspirational settings, like “You’re a smart cookie” on a package containing a cookie.  So, I decided to compile a list of possibilities to include for extra goodies for my testing group (as of now, I don’t know who I am testing).

I used the catalogue as inspiration but also the Pinteresting Blogosphere (you had to know that was coming).

Rock the Test (attach a package of Pop Rocks or a stick of rock candy)

I’m a Test-Taking Star! (Starburst candy)

Be a Smartie or Smarties Know How to Prepare for Tests (Attach a roll of Smarties)

To Give You the “Write” Attitude for Testing or Be Sharp for the Test (pencil)

Remember Not to Get Stuck on Hard Questions (sticker)

Keep a Grip on Test Stress (pencil grip)

Score Your Best on the Test (an incentive basketball game after the test)

Be a Motivated and Magnificient Test Taker (M&Ms)

Be a Fin-Tastic Test Taker (goldfish crackers or Swedish Fish)

For a Burst of Energy on Your Test (Starburst or Kool-Aid Bursts)

Be a Smart Cookie (cookie)

Don’t Let Tests Twist Your Mind (pretzels, licorice twists)

Relax!  Don’t Go Bananas at Test Time! (banana)

Doing My Best Is Beary Important (gummi bears, Teddy Grahams)

Pawsitive Test Taker (Paws incentive bucks)

Make a Commit-mint to Do Your Best on the Test (mints)

I Stay Cool at Test Time (mints)

I Use Good Manage-mint of My Time (mints)

Keep a Sweet Attitude at Test Time (any candy)

Have the Right Equip-mint (mints)

Aim for Achieve-mint at Test Time (mints)

I Give Myself Encourage-mint at Test Time (mints)

I Am Refreshed for the Test (a bottle of water with a drink powder packet)

Good Luck Smartie Pants (roll of smarties)

Orange You Glad Testing Is Over?  (orange slices candy or an orange)

Eraser wrapped up in paper like candy

You’re No Air-Head.  Use Your Brain and Do Your Best Today (Airheads candy)

Push Yourself to Do Your Best (Push Pop)

Kiss Those Testing Jitters Goodbye (Hershey’s kisses)

Blow That Test Away (Blow Pop/gum/bubbles to blow after the test)

It’s Cool to Be a Nerd (Nerds)–my personal favorite!

Show ’em How You Roll (Tootsie Rolls or Rollos)

I’m “Rootin'” for You! (root beer barrels or a root beer)

Toss Away Test Anxiety (paper airplane–writing down the worries on the airplane and throwing it away)

It’s Time to Show off the Mounds of Learning in Your Head! (Mounds)

Tip Tuesday: Moisturizing and Exfoliating Parched Winter Skin

Tip TuesdayWelcome to late February when moisturizing goes awry.  (I love the word awry.  It seems so ironic.  I also love the word ironic and the song “Ironic.”)

If you are like me (and don’t worry, not too many people are), you have been suffering from dry skin…forever.  If you are not a freak of nature like me, you’ve been suffering from dry skin since that first blustery wind blew in last fall.  I apologize for this post being so terribly late.  Most of my skin is not dry.  Ever since high school at least, I have had a desert for a face.  A dried, peeling desert.  You know that idea of the oily T-zone?  Imagine having an oily, parched T-zone.  My face laughed at lotion.  I’ve tried moisturizer after moisturizer.  I’ve tried natural products.  I’ve tried products that were probably tested on animals (although not intentionally).  I remember one point in my freshman year of high school, I was sitting in my typing class (and it was before Christmas because we were using electronic typewriters and not the computers we used after Christmas) and the ever-so-helpful girl sitting next to me let me know that my skin was flaking on my face.  I have actually had skin flakes mixed with blemishes.  The rest of me suffers from dry skin in the farthest reaches of winter, but my face is dry all…year…long.

In leading up to the Christmas of 2012,  I was scouring the Pinteresting Blogosphere for crafty gift ideas.  I lit immediately on two…one a hand scrub using Dawn Hand Renewal and sugar and a moisturizing body scrub made from brown sugar and coconut oil (and a few other ingredients).  So, I made up a batch of each–well, sort of.  The body scrub called for vanilla extract and vitamin E oil capsules (squeezed of oil).  The main ingredient in vanilla extract is alcohol, and alcohol is drying, and so I didn’t want any drying agents in a scrub that I was going to hand out as a gift, so I eschewed the vanilla extract.  I also left out the Vitamin E capsules because they reminded me of an injury I sustained on my chin in kindergarten.  So, I mixed brown sugar and coconut oil together and hoped for the best.

I made me some, as well.  I didn’t want to give out anything as a gift that may be harmful, after all.  I have to admit, I was a bit worried about the coconut oil.  It had proliferated the Pinteresting Blogosphere for months touted as the next miracle ingredient (and, while I had experienced the benefits of Tea Tree Oil in the past, all I could think of was another Tea Tree Oil) in food, health, and beauty products.  Call me skeptical because I was.  (Keep in mind that coconut oil in some cases resembles vegetable shortening or lard.)  So, I mixed it up, drew a bath, and massaged finger-fulls of it in circular motions into my arms and legs.  I smelled tropical, and it felt absolutely wonderful.  My skin felt smooth and not dry.  I figured I had nothing to lose by trying it on my face.  OMG Bliss!  This scrub, these two ingredients, did what no lotion, moisturizer, toner, or facial product had ever managed to do:  for three days after the first use (and I only tried it once), my skin was not flaky and my face felt not parched!  I think (and sadly, I’m not joking) that I wept with the sheer euphoria of my skin not feeling stretched and cracky over my cheekbones.  So, the lesson from Tip Tuesday is to invest in coconut oil.  Yes, it is a LOT more expensive than other fats.  But if you have ever EVER suffered from dry skin, it is worth the cost.  In the past 17 years, I have wasted a lot of money on moisturizers that didn’t work, but this stuff did (for me, at least).

I put it in a small jelly jar and place it on the rim of the tub.  Then, I simply open and apply as needed.

Tropical Scrub

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup coconut oil

Mix the two in a small bowl with a spoon, pressing the mixture together.  Scoop into a small jelly jar.  If giving a gift, you might want to give the gift with a small spoon or scoop.  I don’t use one; I just dig some out with my fingers.

To use:  Wet skin with warm water.  Massage desired amount into skin using circular strokes.  Once the sugar dissolves, rinse the remaining scrub off of the skin.

Don’t try to use any other type of oil or white sugar in place of the brown.  I cannot guarantee that the mixture will form the correct consistency or work with as much success.

Meal Plan Monday: Why Frozen Food Month Makes Meal Planning Fun

Meal Plan MondayMarch is Frozen Foods Month!  You will start to see lots of sales for items from your friendly grocer’s freezer section.  Embrace it!  Start clearing room in the freezer!

The reality is that I’m a food hoarder.  No matter how I try, the start of March rolls around, and I have a full freezer.  Albertson’s, in particular, will have a sale (at least in years past) where you fill a paper bag and receive a percentage off of the items in the bag.  Ice cream will go on sale.  Frozen veg will be cheep cheep. Frozen convenience items (step back from those–they are the road to heartache) will be attractively priced.

But on to the meal plan for the week.  Josh is on-call this week, so he’s responsible for planning out the meals on his days off (but on call) as they fall in the middle of the week (Wednesday-Thursday).  I have this odd feeling that spaghetti will occur one day and that  grilling will occur the other, but who knows.

Monday:  leftover tourtierre, green veg, gravy

Tuesday:  sandwiches/hot dogs (maybe a sandwich or hot dog bar?)

Wednesday:  Josh prep

Thursday:  Josh prep

Friday:  pizza using two-ingredient pizza dough

Saturday:  meatball subs or leftovers from the Blackberry Pie Murder party

Sunday:  baked chicken, roasted veg (if the weather is cool; otherwise canned veg), rice and gravy

(The crock-pot baked chicken will be used for other meals throughout the week)

What are you planning for the week?

I am linking up at “I’m an Organization Junkie’s” Menu Plan Monday under my other blog.

Summary Sunday: LFam’s Exploits This Week

Summary SundaySunday:  Muffin slept late this morning (thank goodness)!  For breakfast, we had sausage, eggs, and toast.  Muffin had apple and grapes, as well.  Josh began smoking the ham, as it had been decided and thawed for lunch meat this week as well as dinner tonight.  Josh and Muffin took down the Christmas tree while I worked on blog posts for the week (and posted the recipe for chicken spaghetti and chicken noodle soup).  I played Juice Cubes, my newest addiction, and organized some things on my phone and computer.  Muffin went outside to keep Josh company while Josh was smoking the ham and building the fire pit.  It looks great!  (both the ham and the firepit)  Then, they went out front to play (translation:  tire Muffin out).  For lunch, we had leftovers (chicken tacos and leftovers from last night) as well as some truly frightening combination of Muffin’s.

After lunch, Muffin and I enjoyed the fight of nap time (which for Muffin meant a three-hour nap after the fight ended).  I worked some more on the blog while he napped.  After the nap, it was time to prepare for dinner.  I made Peppery Parmesan Biscuits (looking forward to the leftovers with Sister Syrup tomorrow), and Josh prepped the ham (he had sliced it during Muffin’s nap), sweet potatoes (canned), and English peas (canned).  While he was prepping dinner, Muffin and I snuggled in the recliner with Tracker, my stuffed TY basset hound from when I was younger that Muffin has now inherited.  Josh also grilled some chicken for the fried rice (as well as for other uses in the week to come) Tuesday.

My plate at dinner

After dinner, Josh cut up the pineapple, and Muffin ate most of it (Josh and I snagged a bite or two).  Then, Josh and Muffin went to play outside again while I caught up on more blogging.  Then, they played a Bubble Game on the Wii.  Something seems to be wrong with the Wii (maybe it got dirty).

Speaking of dirty, earlier in the day when Muffin and Josh were outside playing and building, Daisy decided to roll around in Muffin’s turtle pool.  She had to be hosed down.

After supper, Muffin took a bath while Josh and I set up and started grinding a pork loin.  Then, Muffin joined us for some grinding fun, family-style.

Monday:  Today was spent prepping the week’s meals (chicken fried rice and red beans and rice–as well as two loaves of artisan bread!) and snuggling and playing with Muffin.  We played a game of toss the balloon, where, according to Muffin, the loser wouldn’t get a badge but the winner would get badges.  We watched Thomas and Friends Blue Mountain Mystery five times…I counted.  He even built a track for me.

Red beans and rice is one of his favorite things I cook.  Muffin tends to like beans (red beans, refried beans) as well as meat.  However, he licked the butter off of the bread instead of eating the bread!

Tuesday:  Switch up of the meal plan.  Again, plans are meant to be flexible.  I decided to redo red beans and rice (piggybacking off of the success with Muffin eating so much of it last night), and he ate two bowls!  Josh is going to do the final prep work of the fried rice tomorrow.  (He does a better job with the fried rice than I do)  Muffin didn’t have a nap today, so that meant a bit of a struggle for the rest of the day and a test of my patience.  I read a post by Crystal Paine at Money Saving Mom about patience and apologies in parenting, and it really hit the target today.  There are days when Muffin really tries my patience, and when he hasn’t had a nap (and I’ve been at school all day), those seem to be the most trying days.  We did a family movie viewing of Despicable Me 2, which we all love, this evening.

Wednesday:  Day three of eating red beans and rice.  Muffin fell asleep on the way home, and Josh was late getting home, so Josh and I decided we would just do leftovers again rather than make rice.  We will probably make the fried rice tomorrow night.  I worked some on the upcoming blog entries (including this one).

Muffin woke up during dinner and played with his trains for a bit (as well as the felt shapes and felt background I had made for the trip last summer).  Then, he took a bath.  I think he wanted to sleep with us because, after bedtime, he kept coming into our room.  He and Daisy must have sneaked into our room at some point last night because they are now cuddled up next to each other between Josh and me on the bed.

Thursday:  Muffin was a good boy for Granny and Granddaddy again today.  This is especially auspicious because it rained just about the time he was to get to go play outside in their backyard.  I’m very proud of him for his behavior today.  He was even good when I picked him up (something which almost never happens because he’s usually in “manic” nap time mode).  And then Josh got home.  And Muffin reverted to super-manic mode.  Josh was busy cooking supper (the fried rice rescheduled twice from Tuesday), and I was posting a blog post on tourtiere for Sunday.

Fried rice, for Muffin, was a bit of a struggle.  He did not like the fact that onions were in it.  So, Josh meticulously picked out the onion, and Muffin ate the rest.  Then, Muffin looked through the mail and found a fake car key that a local car company was using as part of a contest entry.  (Muffin likes keys.  He wanted to go try it on his Jeep to see if it worked)

Muffin’s infamous plate of fried rice.

After that, Muffin played trains while watching a Hot Wheels show on Netflix.

Friday:  The evening was a challenge to say the least.  We had planned to go to Rotolo’s, but Josh was late getting off, and there was a long wait.  In my antipathy about restaurants, I am becoming very impatient.  I can wait in lines at stores, but I don’t like having to wait for a table.  Having an active son tends to force the issue even more so.  After another false start at Santa Fe, we settled at Don Juanz, an old favorite of mine.

Saturday:  I awoke Saturday early and completed most of my shopping, returning home shortly after Muffin had awoken.  We then went to Brookshire’s and the library, and Muffin had a lot of fun.  We then went home.  Muffin saw the ducks in our neighborhood and wanted to feed them, so we decided to have a picnic at the playground and let him feed the ducks.  He had a blast, and the ducks are definitely not shy!  Then, we rested a bit before the parade.  Muffin fell asleep on the way home.

The Krewe of Centaur Parade

Muffin called it the circus until the parade started. I’m not sure if it’s because Centaur sounds like circus or because parades are supposed to be festive and so are circuses.

When the parade was over, he insisted that he had fun and liked the parade, especially the “train float.” Thank you, Krewe of Centaur for including a train float.

The day started well enough, but we had decided to wait to leave for the parade at 3 (because we left too early two years ago when we last went to the parade). Our plan was to park at WalMart, eat at the Subway there, and shop a bit before the parade. Until we got to the place we planned to turn only to discover that the streets were closed. At 3:30 (And the parade did not show up at that location, the end of the route, until 7). The parade itself didn’t start several miles away until 4:30.

So, we altered our plans a bit. We went down to the next side street and paid the Methodist church $5 for parking (to go to the youth ministry) and trekked with our bag and chair (and Muffin) to the end of the street (only to realize that we were close to Super 1. We decided to trek over there, but we ended up behind the barricade at the last turn (where there was still space). I was still surprised that the area behind the barricade was fairly empty.

Muffin played a bit while I went to track down food. Super 1 was closed! The wine and spirits part of Super 1 was open, but the grocery store itself was closed. Panic set in. Subway was out of the question (we were a mile or so from Walmart). Quizno’s in the same shopping center as Super 1 was closed.

I called Josh, and he said there was a Taco Bell down the street. At this point, I entered the “I no longer care as long as it is not alive when I eat it” mode. So, he and Muffin went to Taco Bell while I held down the fort.

We ate our Taco Bell but still had several hours to wait.

We met some very lovely people, a family from Texas and a man and his two sons who lived somewhere around the parade route. But there were some clear negatives. There were no public restrooms (portapotties or otherwise) nearby. Do you know how maddening it is to be in leaping distance of a porta-potty for hours and having to use the restroom so badly…and not be able to go?

Public drunkenness is to be expected. It is Mardi Gras, after all. While this isn’t the French Quarter, it is in the state boundary of Louisiana (barely), so raucousness is to be expected. I get that. But drunks who have to help other drunks stay on their feet? And who (in their right mind or otherwise) would risk public drunkenness with no restroom or porta-potty to use (either to relieve oneself or to be physically ill)?

Not I, said the grasshopper.

I think it’s important to be goal-oriented in many things. Including parade attendance. Our goal for the parade was to snatch up procure as many Mardi Gras cups as possible. I exaggerate only a smidgen when I say that in the first ten years of my life, I can remember NOT drinking from a Mardi Gras cup at home a handful of times. Mardi Gras cups are fine china.

Our goal was to also keep an eye on Muffin at all times. On our way home (after Muffin had passed out from exhaustion–we will call this time date night), Josh had a mini-rant (that I was in full agreement with): we saw several kids that seemed to be sans parents at the parade. Running around. Almost being run over by floats (the kid’s fault, not the parade participants’), hitting other kids with a scooter (I’m emotionally scarred by that one), and just not being supervised. Added to that, there were a few people (one guy in particular) that gave off a creepy, pedophile-vibe. Lots of people who are distracted, lots of kids left to their own devices, one pedophile is all it takes. Super scary.

Muffin was frighteningly well-behaved. Especially for having naptus interruptus after only 30 minutes or so of napping. And having to wait for the parade for hours.

Did I mention (and this is also alarming) that there were no trash cans? I almost feel sorry for the people who were set to clean up after the parade, but they didn’t put out the trash cans. And they had the porta-potty that I stared at for four hours unable to use.

Now, let me say this: I was a West Bank baby (not West Bank in the Middle East, but I was born on the West Bank of the Mississippi River in New Orleans). Yes, it’s possible. There’s a little smidge of New Orleans on that side of the river. As a result of my birthplace, it seems that I am capable of doing the following.

Keep in mind that I have no sense of balance or ability to play most sports that involve throwing or catching or walking and breathing at the same time, even. Yet, in parades my hands have superglue on them; I seem to be able to catch any throw that comes at me or passes me. I also seem to develop this ability to scream and holler and keep my hands held high. Yes, the dirt of my birthplace does that to you. You are coded at birth to capture throws from a Mardi Gras parade float. And to call it to me (if you count screaming like a banshee and waving my arms wildly above my head calling it to me).

At the end of the evening, we managed to catch/be given the following: several pounds of beads, 13 cups plus one that was split that I will use as a pencil cup in my classroom (score!), 2 stuffed animals (including a jester bear made for that particular krewe’s float), one large frisbee and several smaller frisbees.

I will be posting pictures soon from the parade. But. I. Must. Sleep. Now.