Things to Make - The Rubber Egg Experiment

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Did you know that soaking an egg in vinegar for two days causes the shell to dissolve, leaving behind a rubbery (yet still breakable) egg? My kids find this the most fascinating thing ever, even when the yolk breaks on them. For two weeks we went through egg after egg as F kept repeating this experiment.

Oh well, it is sort of fascinating, especially since you can peak in and watch the shell dissolve over time.

What about everyone else? Try any EASY science experiments lately?


1. Place egg in a bowl and cover the entire egg with clear vinegar. Cover the bowl with a plate.

2. After 24 hours, rinse the egg and replace with fresh vinegar. Cover the bowl.

3. After about 12 more hours, check your egg. Is it rubbery yet?


Things to Do - Cherish This Day, The Stories We Tell, & Random Links

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This week was full of soccer practice and homework. How was your week?

Don't forget to check out the group posts today on Cherish This Day & The Stories We Tell


* Julie Blackmon continues to amaze and amuse me.

* I really want to visit this local "secret".

* NPR's SXSW playlist.

* It's amazing how creative this guy can be with a pen cap. And a fortune cookie. And pieces of popcorn.

* This book sounds good. And I really want to see this movie.

* Have you seen these wedding photos? I now dream of visiting Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats (link via A Cup of Jo).

* This Washington Post travel article is making me dream of Rio - secluded beaches, mountain hikes = wonderfulness. And after I check out Rio, I really want to see these hanging flower garden art displays in Japan. And then I'll stop by Kansas because this roadtrip of randomness looks awesome (who doesn't love really big rocks and crazy statues)?

* I read an article describing Enchanted Forest as a coloring book for adults. I think I might buy myself a copy (serenity now). Maybe I can convince all three kids to work on it with me.


Things to Watch - Netflixing (March 2015)


The arrival of spring has caused our TV consumption to decrease somewhat, but we all fell in love with How the States Got Their Shapes. Have you seen it? The show is basically a quirky history lesson full of random facts. We all learned a ton. And laughed a lot. Even T kept asking to watching more and more episodes.

Dan also watched the original True Grit with T, who is super into old westerns lately. And a friend recommended Earth to Echo, which we plan on watching soon.


All three kids are obsessed with the movie Holes, watching it over and over. T also really likes Slugterra, which involves hundreds of animated slugs (why?). And the girls could lose whole days watching Good Luck Charlie episodes.


Dan and I are mid-way through Bloodline, which is completely and totally addictive. I CAN'T STOP WATCHING.

We also just finished The Honorable Woman - tons of intense drama involving Israel and Palestine and intrigue, plus the ending took me completely off guard. And for laughs, I can't believe nobody ever told me about Better Off Ted, a show that's all sorts of funny. Portia de Rossi is amazing as Ted's self-obsessed boss. And of course, The Adventures of Kimmy Schmidt made me laugh and laugh (have I mentioned I love her?).

What about everyone else? What are you watching lately?



Things to Do - At Home Photo Booth (Sort of)


I usually shoot all photos with natural light, but over the past few weeks I've taken Michelle Turner's EXCELLENT off camera flash class through Clickin Moms. So I decided to set up a "photo booth" in the corner (yes, I need more blank walls) so the kids could pose with their friends and I could practice working with flash.

These images make me happy. And every Wednesday needs some happiness.


Of course, once you GIF one friend, you have to GIF another . . .


Things to Do - Mornings & This Untamed Life (Messy)

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The theme for this week's post on This Untamed Life is "messy". And when I think about messy, I picture weekend mornings. I'm usually the last one to wake up, so by the time I arrive downstairs the kitchen is full of cereal boxes and dirty dishes, with newspaper pages scattered on every surface. And, most importantly, everyone I love. So over the past few weeks, I decided to document our laziest hours - before plans are made and our days take shape.

HAPPY MONDAY EVERYONE!!! Don't forget to click on over to This Untamed Life to see how everyone else photographed messy.

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Things to Do - Grateful List (February 2015)

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(okay, so these photos are actually from March 5th, which seemed like February, with the blizzard and day off school).

* Watching How the States Got Their Shapes as a family (best family show ever!!)
* Watching Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day for family movie night
* Reading Freedom
* Reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist
* Listening to Taylor Swift cover Riptide
* Listening to the Wes Anderson playlist on Spotify

* The dog park with F on weekends
* Foot baths and tea at House of Steep (my new favorite guilty pleasure)
* A snow day at the sledding hill
* A moms' night out to Jaleo and Cherokee at Wooly Mammoth
* Our whole neighborhood gathering together for a snow day happy hour/dinner at P Brennans
* Our state capitol tour with Alfonso Lopez
* Peak Experiences climbing gym outside Richmond, VA

* Making apple crumb pie (via Apple Cookbook )
* Making apple cider chicken (via The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time)
* Dan's pork shoulder with braised cabbage
* Kapnos Taverna for date night

* Our new living room (though we're still waiting on the couch)
* My new fit charge HR

VACATIONS (Disney World)
* "Fun takes effort" - me
* Everyone in their baseball hats (and mouse ears)
* Thunder Mountain after dark (with no lines)
* T's fearlessness with roller coasters

* Dan, listening in on the kids' conversation - "Are you guys trying to figure out how you'd all beat each other during the Hunger Games?" (note, yes, this is what they were doing and my children have never actually seen or read the Hunger Games)
* Straight A's for F and great report cards for P and T (kids younger than third grade don't receive grades)
* F always asking Siri the meaning of life (her answer changes every few days)
* Waking up in the morning to F making lunches and watching the "mountain stream" channel on youtube ("it's just so peaceful mom")
* When T plays with toys for hours, lost in a world of his own making
* Two nights of dinner parties with the neighbors (when temps dropped below 20 degrees)
* A constant kitchen dance party
* T - "Mom, I had a tantrum this morning. P had one this afternoon. Seriously, what's with all the tantrums lately?"
* P and T playing (No Stress) Chess together and P (allegedly) "letting" T win
* T explaining the plot of Food Inc. to his grandmother and asking before every meal if they were nice to the chickens
* Friday night at Dan's parent's house in Richmond - spades, wine, and knitting
* P giving T piggy back rides all day


F - Minion Rush, Disney World, Garfield comics, Big Nate comics, Ethiopian food, a really great life, a nice house to live in and food to eat, my family, that everything is so great.

P - a really great day at school, Disney World, snowdays, sledding, a lot of stuff, my family

T - Disney World, our dogs, a nice house to live in and food to eat, my family


Things to Read - On the Bookshelf (2nd/3rd Grade Edition)

Painted in Waterlogue

I'm feeling lazy, so I asked the girls to write about their recent reads. Don't these books sound awesome?

1. A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story

P's review - I love this book because it tells you about the lost boys of Sudan. Salva, the main character, was from the Dinka tribe. His story all started when he heard gun shots at school. The war had come to his town. He had to run for miles to get away from the fighting - all the way from Sudan to Ethiopa, which takes a very long time. On the way, he loses his uncle, who is his only remaining family. When he got to Ethiopia he lived in a refugee camp. After about six years in the refugee camp, everyone was kicked out and had to walk hundreds of miles again. This time to Kenya. Months later Salva was at a refugee camp in Kenya when someone taught him how to read. They picked some boys to go to America and he was one of them. In America,he started a family . He also started a charity to build wells for Sudan. When Salva built a school and well for his enemy tribe, the Nuer, everyone was surprised. And that is the story of Salva.

2. The Fourteenth Goldfish

P's review - I really like this book so far. The book is about a girl with a cranky old grandpa, who is a scientist. The grandpa is looking for a cure to make people young again. And then he actually turns young again. So when a thirteen year old boy comes to the girl's house, she doesn't believe he is her grandpa. Though eventually she believes him because he is so cranky. So far I like the book.

3. Under the Egg

F's review - Under the Egg is incredible so far. It is a mystery about a 13 year old girl who lives in Manhattan on her Grandfather's legacy of 375 dollars. Her grandfather has recently died, leaving her basically on her own. She still lives with her mother, but her mother stopped living in the real world a long time ago. As Jack, her grandfather, would say, "As the years passed, your mother started to prefer the world inside her head instead of the world outside, until she didn't even think the real world existed." Then the girl finds a painting that she thinks could change her life forever. I've only read this far in the book, so I don't know the end yet. I highly recommend it to kids 9-13.

4. Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

F's review - This book is hard to explain. Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes is a book with complex words and an intense plot. It is about a blind 11 year old thief, who only steals to survive. He has an incredible sense of smell, and astounding hearing. He lives in a small port town, but even when he sees a giant fish, he is shocked. Would you not be shocked if you came across a giant dogfish the size of your boat when traveling to rescue a kingdom who's children are locked up and enslaved? I'm pretty sure you would be shocked. His loyal companion, Sir Tode, part cat, part horse, part man, is a knight... by default. A local dragon happened to come into Sir Tode's farm yard, eat some sheep, and choke. The next morning, when the local neighbors saw the dead dragon and Sir Tode sitting next to it, they assumed he had killed him and demanded he be knighted. And one day, while on a mission, he was fighting with a local cat while riding his noble horse in front of a old witch's home. Anyway, long story short, they woke up the witch, she cast a spell on the cat, the horse, and Sir Tode, combining them all into one odd creature, and preventing the weird creature from dying forever. So, when he meets Peter, he is hundreds of years old. Yet he looks shockingly young for his age. I recommend this book to kids 8-11.


Things to Do - 12 in 12 (March 2015)

This month I ended up with 17 photos. Culling is hard. And March 12th felt like spring, which necessitated a few extra pics.

After reading about our day, don't forget to click on over to Not-So-SAHM to see how her day went.

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8 am - Role out of bed and wake up to F writing an ipad book about Marie Curie. I feel lazy already.

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8:15 am - T lives on yogurt and Dan lives on eggs.

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8:30 am - T on the couch "reading" History Safari. As I eat breakfast he yells out, "Mom, all the people in this book are men and they all have mustaches. Why is that?" I have no answer, so I continue eating breakfast.

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8:45 am - P, as always, is late.

[Insert morning of errands not worth photographing - kickboxing (Jessie = best instructor ever), Target, the vet (for Coco's prozac), and an eyebrow wax.

Spend afternoon watching Kirsten Lewis's modern storytelling photography lecture on Creative Live (pre-recorded) and editing a client session.]

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4:00 pm - Pick kids up from school and head straight to the playground. The weather is too amazing to stay inside.

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4:30 pm - Still at the playground.

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4:45 pm - T drilling for oil.

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5:15 pm - F does homework.

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5:30 pm - P and T greet our neighbors while playing outside.

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6:00 pm - Walk back to school for the book exchange (and free pizza). It makes me really sad that all three kids are now too old for Ladybug Girl.

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6:30 pm - Texting from the book exchange, so goes parenting in 2015.

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6:45 pm - Playground, round II.

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7:00 pm - Walk home.

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8:45 pm - An exhausted T falls asleep before 9 pm.


Things to Eat - Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle & Coriander (and Weekly Meal Plans)

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As the kids become older, I sometimes struggle with what to write about on this blog (any suggestions?). Now that all three kids attend grade school from 9 to 3:40, we go less places together. Plus, the kids now realize I have a blog and sometimes the stories that I find funny, they don't find funny. Nor do they want to share them with the world. And I get that. I feel like I've read similar sentiments on many blogs, so nothing I'm saying is new - but I'm/we're still figuring out where their privacy ends and my need to share begins (both in and out of blogland).

With all of this in mind, I thought I'd try something new-for-me (though not "new" by any other means) and blog our weekly meals plans on a monthly or bimonthly basis. With everyone doing more and more of their own thing (school, activities, playdates, etc.) meals have become a big deal for me. Or maybe the big deal is that except for T - my incredible picky eater - everyone eats most of the food I make. And the girls will at least try anything. ANYTHING. Granted, they don't like a lot of it. But they will try. And, when hungry enough, they will tolerate. THIS IS A BIG DEAL!!

Further, now that when my kids eat they all eat large portions, Dan HATES taking the family out to dinner, as the cost of such meals really adds up. Plus, Dan sees himself as a weekend gourmet chef in training (he's actually become quite good). And I can be a little bit of a stickler for ingredients, esp. farm raised meat (everyone has a "thing" and this is mine), so I like knowing where we buy from.

So here is our meal plan from the last few weeks, along with a relatively new to-us recipe. I never make dinner on Fridays because we usually have a happy hour event or eat leftovers. And Dan takes over the kitchen most weekends, so for the most part I'm a Monday - Thursday cook.

SWEET POTATO SOUP WITH CHIPOTLE & CORIANDER (slightly modified from Gwyneth Paltrow's IT'S ALL GOOD: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great)

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 large red onion, diced
* 2 garlic cloves
* 5 sprigs of cilantro
* 3/4 teaspoon of cumin
* salt
* 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of chipotle in adobo
* 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
* 6 cups chicken broth (or vegetable stock)

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, cilantro sprigs, cumin, and a large pinch of salt. Cook for about 10 minutes (until softened but not browned).
2. Add the chipotle and sweet potatoes. Stir.
3. Add the chicken broth and turn up the heat.
4. Once the soup boils, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes (until the sweet potatoes are soft).
5. Puree the soup in a powerful blender. To serve, garnish with cilantro.


MONDAY - Grilled flank steak with chimichuri sauce (the kids won't eat the sauce, but love the steak).

TUESDAY - Taco Tuesday (ground beef with toppings). My kids LOVE taco tuesday.

WEDNESDAY - Sausage and kale saute with polenta (via Cooking Light). The sausage and polenta are always big hits; kale is hit or miss (unless we make kale chips, which all three kids could pretty much live on)

THURSDAY - Sweet potato chili via Gwyneth Paltrow's IT'S ALL GOOD: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great. Absolutely no leftovers, this is a family fave.

MONDAY - Chickpeas with spinach via (Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites: Flavorful Recipes for Healthful Meals). This is my favorite meal. Neither the kids nor Dan like it much, so they usually eat the orzo with butter and cheese. And kale chips on the side (to keep the kids happy).

TUESDAY - Taco Tuesday. I tried to shake it up by cooking Gwyneth's zucchini tacos (with corn tortillas instead of socca). Everyone complained, but I thought it was delicious.

WEDNESDAY - Veggie night - roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Even T loves this meal.

THURSDAY - Apple cider chicken (via The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time). The recipe was a little tricky and didn't include nearly enough chicken for us all, but the flavors were good, so with a little tweaking this might be a keeper.

MONDAY - Sausage with cabbage and potatoes (via Three Many Cooks). Complete success.

TUESDAY - Sweet potato soup with chipotle and coriander (okay, so I knew I was taking a chance here, thus I also made a huge pot of brown rice with cheese for the kids and we had edaname for an "appetizer" and my kids ate enough to alleviate all hunger).

WEDNESDAY - Spaghetti with meat sauce and zoodles (usually only I eat the zoodles).

THURSDAY - Roasted veggies (tomato, eggplant, red onion) and chickpeas with quinoa and feta (I loved this meal, despite overcooking the veggies; but everyone else hated it).


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