Tuesday, July 31, 2012

a must try banana bread recipe

There are some simple foods that bring comfort to our home. Banana bread is one of the highest ranking edible treats for my guys, both big and little.

My mom passed this recipe along to me. We go classic. Sorry chocolate chip or nut fans, but this bread is sans add-ins.

Recipe for Banana Bread or Banana Bread Muffins...

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 3/4 c. flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Grease (spray pan or muffin pan)
Mix all ingredients well. Pour into pan.
Bake for 45-60 minutes.

Enjoy my friends!

Much love,

Sunday, July 29, 2012

easy peasy addition lesson

Yep, I'm the mean mom that makes my kids do academic work during the summer. We spend 15 per weekday reviewing or introducing new concepts. We also spend 15 minutes reading. I know, I know, I'll be paying for their therapy later in life!

As a former teacher, I try to keep my kids motivated to learn. That tends to depend on lessons that do not include drill and kill worksheets. I'm not bashing them altogether, but when there is an opportunity to teach a concept with manipulatives, I seize the moment.

Charlie (6) is working on addition. I bought large die at the Dollar Tree. He rolled two and counted the dots.  

Charlie would then circle the sum on the whiteboard. Our objective was to circle all numbers 2-12. Why not one? I put it on the board, but Charlie realized that because there was not a side with zero dots on one dice, that we could never get 1 as a sum. I love those higher level thinking skills at work.

You can also just use one dice and roll it to teach number identification to a younger child. Roll. Count. Write.

In addition, I used these with my 4th graders when I long-term subbed last year. They had to come up with all possible products for multiplication problems using the di. They then created a board game for the whole class to enjoy...fun!!!

Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

Much love,

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

it was THAT kind of day

It was one of those days.

We've had a lot of those kind of days this summer. I'm old enough now to know that life just happens that way sometimes.

And to prove that we are rolling with it, we invited some friends for a very last minute dinner and bonfire at the beach.

There's nothing that a golden sunset can't fix. The s'mores weren't too shabby either.

What are your go-to plans for those kind of days?

Much love,

Sunday, July 22, 2012

the winner is...party give away

Sorry for the delay, but the week went too fast and now it is already Sunday....yikes!

The winner of the party package give-away is....Erin!!!

Thank you for entering and a big thank you to The Party Works!!!

Erin, please email me your address (katie@spenceraudio.com) and I will have a rep from The Party Works send you your package!

Much love,

the iPhone thief

So yesterday was quite a day.

Kevin and I thought it would be a grand plan to get our kids outside in the fresh air at the beach.

We consider the beach our go-to place to find peace. It is our neutral territory where our kids keep busy, don't fight, and we actually get a few minutes to sit next to each other and talk instead of text to communicate.

However, we've had a heck of summer with Jack (4). More on him on a future blog. The bottom line is that his behavior is incredibly challenging and our house is becoming a prime candidate for the Super Nanny.

As we set up our umbrella, spread out the sand toys and instructed the kids to not drown, we dug our toes into the toasty sand and inhaled our anticipated relaxation.

No relaxation was to be found that day. None. Nada. Zip. Zero.

Luke (9), who has Asperger's Syndrome, has become extremely sensory to the sand.

We are beach people.

This is not good.

He refuses to wear his swim trunks because he dislikes the water since it causes sand to stick to him. Knowing this, I bring books, magazines, and drawing materials to keep him busy. But, yesterday these things were not sufficient enough to calm his sand sensitivity. We listened to him gripe about going home for 2 hours straight.

As a parent of a child with Asperger's, I struggle. I don't know if I should help him learn to cope or remain sensitive to his needs and leave him with a babysitter or grandparents. Being nuero-typical, I know I cannot understand his world and the things he experiences. It is hard.

As we were dealing with Luke, Jack thought it would be fun to pick up long strands of seaweed to whack his brothers. They were not fans of his "game" and clearly let him know.

We decided to call it a day. Sometimes you just have to put expectations aside, accept the reality, and go to plan B.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home. I left my phone, which I had my shopping list on, by the checkout. Someone swiped it and thought that they just found a easy way to make some cash.

However, my ever so techy husband immediately put a lock on my phone and identified the location of my phone using a phone finder app on his iPhone. I wanted to call the police, but he was confident that he could retrieve the phone without police assistance.

So with three beach boys sitting in the back of the minivan, one freaked out mama, and an iPhone mystery solver, we drove through a shady area and found the house. Kevin immediately recognized a car with a green surf board on it.

It was parked at the grocery store when we were there.

Kevin had 911 ready on his phone. He approached the door and knocked. A women asked who it was through the door. Kevin informed her that he used his phone to located my phone and it was at their house.

She told Kevin that they had not left the house. He quickly informed her that he recognized the surfboard.

"Let me get my husband," she replied.

Her shaggy surfer husband came to the door. Kevin repeated what he told the man's wife.

"Oh, I found it on the floor (lie!) and picked it up. I didn't want to turn it in because I thought they might lose it (lie!).

He walked to the car as my 6'2" husband tailed him.

"Yeah, I don't even have enough money to buy an iPhone (um, why are you disclosing that? Just makes you more guilty, my friend).

As he mumbled a few other things, he handed Kevin the phone.

Whew, I am glad to have my phone back and I'm glad Kevin was not met at the door by a crazy man.

Much love,

miscellany monday at lowercase letters

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

the lone vbs singer and eating insects

So I would like to introduce you to my only kid who will sing during any performance....

Thank you, Jack, for making me one happy mama. It is kinda a bummer watching your older brothers hide in the crowd of kids at the end of the week VBS performance. I'm thankful you are not embarrassed by singing yet. Your drama can have some downsides at time and you wear me out, but when you get to use it for the good, you go big my bud.

And thanks, boys, for giving your mom such a nice photo when I asked for ONE photo showing proof that you attended VBS together.

Nice effort guys. Really.

I love you regardless of your lack of photo taking affection.

Kevin and I had 4 boys for 3 days last weekend. Our nephew came to spend 2 nights with us. We treated it like a mini-vacation. We hit up Legoland, went out for lunch, went to see Ice Age, and attended the Insect Festival at the San Diego Botanical Gardens.

The biggest hit of the day was when my nephew ate a bug. Yep, he sure did. My boys wisely voted to watch him instead of joining him.
 So I learned a few things that day. One, Luke's surfer hair is starting to look like "my mom neglects me and I desperately need someone-anyone to cut my hair." Two, Charlie is a hoarder. His highlight was getting all the freebies. Three, forget paying for an insect festival, Luke prefers to hunt lizards in their natural habitat.
Hope your week is going well!

Much love,

p.s. Please don't forget about my give-away to (U.S. residents only). It is a great party package of your choice! Go HERE for deals.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

10 questions

Good morning, Friends!

Susan from Ava Grace's Closet tagged me so I thought I'd share a few randoms about myself here.
1. What is your Secret Single Behavior?  I bite my nails. Gross, I know. I know what you're thinking...anxious habit. Yep, you're right! No shame here.
2. What book are you reading right now (be honest!)? Quirky Yes, Hopeless, No (Asperger's Book). Since Luke was diagnosed 5 years ago, Autism Spectrum Disorder books have been the majority of my reading. I feel like I should have Ph.D by now!
3. What are three books on your "to read" list? Steve Jobs is next, but I'm not sure after that. Why is this font so small??? I'm rolling with it.
4. What is your most used Android/iPhone/iPad App? Pandora. It is my go-to for the gym and when I want to block out my children fighting when I'm driving.
5. If you could go on a Blogger Friend Date with any blogger, who would you pick? Karen. We live in the same town, attended MOPS together, but never get to see each other!
6. What is a favorite memory of yours that is not related to your marriage and/or child(ren)? Summer vacations to the midwest to visit relatives. 
7. What songs do you dance in the kitchen to? Rap.
8. What is something you have learned about yourself through blogging? I've learned that when my creative juices are dry and I am not motivated to write, it is because I'm not being honest with myself about my feelings about something. 
9. What are your comfort foods? Mint chocolate chip ice cream, brownies, chocolate chip cookies (do you see a theme here?).
10. What is the last song you purchased? The new Greg Laswell album. Love it!

Instead of tagging a few people, I am tagging anyone who would like to play along. Thanks Susan for including me...fun times!

Much love,

Saturday, July 14, 2012

julian gold mine

We took to the local mountains last week. Julian is well known for its apple pie. Although we had plans for apple pie, we cruised up there  mainly to see an authentic gold mine. Luke is going to be in 4th, which is California History in our state. I thought it would be fun to give him a hands-on experience before his "book" learning. 

The kids had time to explore the play areas of the property as well. It was a boys' paradise!
There was even a trading post. My kids were more than happy to trade in fools gold for licorice. 

Much love,

P.S. Don't forget about the birthday party pack give-away. Enter HERE!

Friday, July 13, 2012

It's a par-tay give-away!!!

Summer is in full swing here! Tell me, what has been your summer highlight so far?

For me,  it is the rare moments when my 3 guys are not arguing.

No, I'm just kidding.

Or not.

I'm also loving waking up after 7:00, not packing lunches, and spending more days than not in our bathing suits.

Well now, let's get to the good stuff. Anyone have a birthday coming up???

The Party Works has contacted me for a give-away. The winner will get to choose a themed party pack for 8. Here's what you have to do to enter:

-Be a follower of Minivan Diva
-Check out The Party Works site and tell me which party pack for 8 that you'd like.
-I will announce the winner this Friday!

Woo Hoo Party Peeps!!!!

Much love,

Monday, July 9, 2012

love in a box

Charlie is my go-to baking guy.

It is our way of spending time together.  We chat. We work together. We have time with just the two of us, which is hard to find sometimes when he is squished between two other brothers.

It doesn't need to be from scratch. He doesn't judge.

He's just glad for the simple time we get together.

And so am I.

What are the simple ways you connect with your little ones?

Happy Monday, Friends!

Much love,

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Sunday, July 1, 2012

a ghetto 6th birthday and he survived

Charlie turned 6 on Friday. I don't know how that happened. Stop the clock, please.

I had grand plans for a Lego themed party. I tend to lean towards the "go big or go home" philosophy with parties.

I just simply like parties and they make up for my lack of any other creative genes missing. This mama can't sew on a button, draw a stick figure, or sing a tune, but I can plan a killer party.

However, going back to teaching mid-year wiped me out and proved to be a survival of the fittest game (surviving daily life vs. planning Pinterest driven Lego party).

Real life won.

We celebrated with my family last weekend. The skateboard was a hit.

On his actual June 29th birthday, Charlie ended up having lunch at McDonald's at his instance. We like to keep it classy.

He then picked out a Lego set and headed to meet another family at Chuck E. Cheese's.

Now, I'm not slamming CC, but I generally avoid that place like the bird flu. Not saying that you can catch the bird flu there, but I'm pretty certain there's a lot of germs lingering on every surface my children touch. I practically spray them down with germ spray when they head to the car!

I skimped on the party package and used a coupon for pizza and coins instead. The biggest hit was the ticket blaster. That's all the birthday boy wanted to do. It's the little things.

Nana, Pops, and Kevin were ready to join us back at our house after work so we could celebrate with brownies-not cake as per Charlie's request. The kid knows what he wants.

And just for bonus points, I had to add Lego candles. That's a Lego theme, right???

Happy 6th Birthday, Charlie. We love you Buddy.

Much love,