Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Dessert Night--Caramel Apples

We have dessert night every Wednesday. By starting a dessert night we have cut back on the amount sweets eaten, I have lost a bit of weight ('cause I'm not sneaking sweets, I can usually hold out until Wednesday, thank you very much) and, maybe most importantly, the whining about dessert has almost entirely stopped! Anyone who dares to ask "Can I have dessert?" on any night but Wednesday will almost surely be answered with a, "It's not Wednesday, stupid!" from one of his brothers before Mom or Dad can say anything. Sure it's not exactly polite, but that's a different battle entirely. One thing at a time.

Wednesday this week we had caramel apples in celebration of Halloween. Colin has been asking me to make caramel apples for a while now. I was very proud of myself when I found the recipe online and followed it to make some lovely looking apples. Colin was very upset because he couldn't eat a crunchy chewy caramel apple with a loose tooth wriggling around in his head. Dad came to the rescue and pulled the loose tooth ensuring a happy ending for all.

If you want to try making caramel apples you can do a google search for recipes like I did, or you can click here for the recipe I used. It wasn't nearly so hard as I thought it would be. The only special equipment you will need is a candy thermometer. I think I bought mine at Target years ago, but you can buy them at most grocery stores. The other thing to know is this recipe makes a LOT of caramel so have a buttered dish ready to pour the extra into. After it cools you can cut it into pieces and wrap it up in wax paper, or if you are waayyy more coordinated than me you could use the extra to make chocolate turtles. As I ate my caramel apple I kept thinking how good this caramel would be in a turtle. Ummmm Yummy! I will have to remember to buy pecans next time we have this for dessert.

Oh, you don't know what a chocolate turtle is? You need caramel, pecan halves, chocolate, and some buttered tinfoil. Arrange four pecan halves on the buttered tin foil to form an X. These are the turtles feet, then spoon a big blob of melted caramel onto to the middle of the X. This is the turtles body. Then pour melted chocolate over everything. Chocolate turtles. Ummm Yummmm! Maybe I will make them for Christmas, then I can eat 1 (dozen) and give the rest away while I can still button my pants.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Always Be Prepared

Colin lost his second tooth yesterday. At bed time he told Dad, "I want to put the tooth under my pillow for the tooth fairy."

Dave looked at him sadly and said, "We can't do that today, remember you need to write a letter for the tooth fairy before she will take your tooth.?"

Colin grinned and ran straight to his desk, open the drawer, and handed Dad a letter for the tooth fairy.  Short sweet and to the point.

David told him how proud of him he was and agreed to go the special box for the tooth fairy.  When he came down stairs he told me about the letter and how he wasn't sure when Colin had written the letter because we had been busy all evening.  "He wrote that letter the day he realized he had a loose tooth.  He showed it to me but I forgot to tell you about it." I told Dave. 

Guess he is learning something from Cub Scouts, always be prepared!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - 'Shrooms!

Driving Solo

I did it! I finally drove solo in Germany. I had to pick up Alonzo at school, he stayed late for chess club. I know driving to pick up the kids doesn't sound all that impressive, but I really haven't driven much in the last couple of years. For the two years we lived in Jakarta we had a driver (Hi Haryono! We miss you!). I was really nervous driving. The road signs here are different from the states. The streets are made for teeny tiny Euro cars not big American mini-vans. Some things that would be completely illegal in the states are normal here, l like parking on the sidewalks. Other things that are fine back home are illegal here, like turning right on red. Don't try that here!

David has been coming home at lunch and driving to the school with me so that I could get used to driving again before the kids are in the car yelling and fighting. I feel for all those teens out there just learning to drive. Dave has been doing a great impression of my dad. You know, "Watch out....turn you blinker on...the light is changing....there is a woman in the crosswalk...", actually David has been very patient with me and I do appreciate that he hasn't screamed in terror, at least not out loud.

I made it to the school and back with out incident but it will probably be a while before I feel totally comfortable driving in Germany.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Peace and Quiet!

David is home, the fall break is finally over and all children are at school.  I have THREE HOURS of quiet time ahead of me this morning.  Yahoo!    I am off to eat bonbons and read romance novels while taking a bubble bath.  Bliss!  Well nooooo....actually I am off to do the laundry, wash the breakfast dishes, make the bed, vacuum, pick up toys, set bread to rise for dinner (seriously honey wheat bread, jealous aren't ya?!) oh and try to find a home for all the arts and crafts the kids did over the last 2 weeks.  Sigh!  Hey, I get to listen to my ipod while I am working and I will actually be able to hear it because there will be nobody screaming.  Bliss! 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Overheard Conversations

Conversation between Alonzo and Colin:

"I speak Germanese!"

"Eins, zwei, drei, vier, funf, sechs! I speak Germanese too!"

Hmm...Germanese, I'm so proud!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recycled Art Paper

This month's PSBN is an easy one. Give your kids used paper to draw on. My kids could happily go through an entire ream of paper in no time flat drawing, painting, folding, and cutting. Instead of crisp blank new paper and coloring books I give the kids junk mail, all those notices from school, old magazines, and any old paper I find laying around. A lot of these pieces of paper have only one printed side leaving a blank side to color and draw on. Even if both sides are used the paper can still be used for origami, and paper air planes. Some of the junk mail and magazines have bright colors that can be cut and glued to make a fun collage. Kid level recycling!

Monday, October 13, 2008


This morning is Cody's first day back to school after fall break.   None of the little ones have to go back yet, they are on a different schedule.  Makes things interesting.

Last night I reminded Cody to set his alarm and make sure everything was packed.  Sometime early  this morning I heard his alarm go off.  I lay there listening until I was sure he was up and moving, then rolled over and went back to sleep.  What a good mommy I am. A little while later I heard the front door close.  I sat up and checked my clock.  He shouldn't leave for an hour yet. Hmmm, must have been his bedroom door.  Back to sleep.  My alarm goes off at 7. I get up and head to the kitchen to make coffee.  As I cross the living room the front door opens and in comes Cody.  He looks both happy and irritated at the same time.

"What are you doing?"  I ask.

"I don't think school starts until tomorrow, there wasn't anyone at the bus stop, I could have slept in."

"Uh, the bus comes at 7:30 and it's only 7."  Cody just stared at me in disbelief.  

"No the bus comes at 6:30."

"The bus in Jakarta comes at 6:30, the bus in Frankfurt comes at 7:30." He looked so sad.

"Oh,  guess that explains why it was so dark."  Yes, yes it does.  The next few minutes were punctuated by my laughing hysterically at the expression on his face and him bursting out with a whispered  "It's not that funny!" He was whispering because as far as he was concerned the only thing that could make it worse would be having his brothers awake and pestering him.

Sorry Cody but I had to blog this, it is too funny not to share.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Warm Play-do

What to do with the kiddos when the weather isn't looking good for playtime outdoors?  Make play-do! My kids prefer the homemade play-do to the store bought because it is softer.  I prefer it because I make a big batch all one color.  No more tears over mixed up colors.  As an added bonus I know exactly what is in it, so if they eat it no big deal. I keep their play-do toys in a cheap plastic tool box so they are always ready to go.  If you don't have play-do toys don't worry garlic presses, rolling pins, plastic cutlery, tortilla presses, and cookie cutters work perfectly.  Kinda makes you wonder why we have so many play-do toys. 

The preferred play-do around our house is Kool Aid play-do. It comes in bright colors and smells good too.  The color pictured above is Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade.  Try the old fashioned flavors (cherry, lime, grape) for the brightest colors.

Kool Aid Play-Do

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 package unsweetened Kool Aid
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 cup water

Mix flour. Kool Aid, salt and cream of tartar in a pot. Stir in water and vegetable oil until smooth. Cook over low heat stirring constantly until it forms a ball. It will get pretty hard to stir.  Remove from heat and knead until smooth. Give the warm play-do to bored kids and watch the fun.

You can find this recipe and a whole bunch of others at

For some reason cooking the play-do seems to keep the Kool Aid from staining hands and clothes.  When it gets on the floor it sweeps up pretty easily.  If it gets in your carpets, don't panic, or get it wet.  Just pick up what you can and let the rest dry.  When it is totally dry use a butter knife or spoon to scrape at it until it crumbles then vacuum it up!  Have Fun!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Poor David

David in in Munich for the next week.  He is a bit sad to be missing the kids fall break but he is even more sad about the internet and TV situation.  You see he was told there were English language channels on the TV at the hotel.  There are!  Three channels, all news, all the time.  Guess he won't have to worry about missing out on the election news or the state of the economy. As for the wireless internet it is only available in the lounge downstairs and it costs 2.50 euro for 15 minutes.  Guess he won't be spending much time web surfing.  Poor David!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

News Flash!

Attention Tooth Fairy: Colin just lost his first tooth!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Market Day

The kids have no school for two weeks because of fall break. Keeping them busy is a bit of a challenge. This morning's entertainment consisted of a trip to the Tuesday Dornbush Farmer's Market to pick up some fruit and flowers. I gave each of the kids two euro and reminded them to use their German and to mind their manners. They ran up and down looking at every thing and talking very loudly. I drew a few disapproving glances from some older people but most just seemed amused, or maybe they were glad they weren't me. Could be both. Eventually Alonzo bought a purple carrot and a small pumpkin while Colin bought a tomato and a small pumpkin. They each have a little change left and are looking forward to going to the market next Tuesday.

*Alonzo won't let me peel and slice the carrot until Dad gets home. I try to post some pictures of the purple carrot.
**Grayson DOES have school, and Cody is still off hiking in Spain, so I only took Alonzo and Colin.

UPDATE: Purple carrots are purple and orange. They stain your fingers purple when you slice them. They taste just like carrots, David thinks they are sweeter than regular carrots. We will be buying more 'cause they are cool!

Cody made it home safe and sound late this afternoon. He can no longer say he has never seen snow. Apparently snow was cool for about 10 minutes, then it was just plain cold and wet.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Castles Castles and MORE Castles!

We decided to finish off a busy weekend with a relaxing drive up the Rhine River. The Upper Middle Rhine Valley has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This section of the Rhine is home to bunches of castles. Alonzo swears he counted 19 today, and he probably did, although I think he is counting some of the more ornate churches as castles. We didn't actually visit any of the castles but instead went to several scenic spots and overlooks just to enjoyed the view. One of the very nice things about living overseas is knowing we can always come back later. We aren't compelled to fit everything into one long exhausting day.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tiny Train

We had to go to the base at Wiesbaden today, so we decided to see what else we could do while we were there.  A quick web search turned up the 1888 Neroberg Funicular Railway. I liked the name funicular, it seemed...well, FUN.   Just the thing for the boys.  The actual ride is very short but the views at the top were spectacular!  We were low on camera batteries but we did capture this view of the Russian Church.  The 1888 Funicular only runs until the end of October then is closed for the winter.  If we don't make it back this fall we will definitely make it back next year.  There is a ropes course at the top I know Cody would enjoy, a cute cafe, a swimming pool open in the summer, and if I read the signs right (serious doubt here) there are a number of hiking trails that continue up the hill. 

Friday, October 3, 2008

Celtic Hiking

Today was a German holiday so there was no school and David had off from work. The sun was shining this morning so we rounded up the kids and headed out. Last weekend we found out that there is a ancient Celtic settlement in the hills above Cody's school. Turns out that after more than 2000 years there isn't much left of the settlement. Even the most visible signs are easily missed if you don't know what you are looking at. See that long remarkably straight rise behind Grayson, on the left side of the picture? That is really the remains of the town wall.

Good thing there are signs in that help you identify the visible remains.

It is a bit awe inspiring to realize that you are standing in what was a city before even the time of Christ and all that is left is a few almost unrecognizable walls in the middle of a forest.

At one time I was fascinated by archeology and thought I might become an archeologist when I grew up but somehow that didn't happen. Today I remembered that dream. I would love to have the knowledge to be able to look at an ancient site and read the clues to the past. Even though I had to rely on the signs to understand what I was seeing I had a fabulous time.

As we followed the trail signs through the woods we happened upon lots of lovely surprises, a patch of moss, a tiny mushroom or an unexpected purple flower. The kids made it something of a game to spot something new and different. This was good because it kept them running ahead on the path and cut WAY down on the whining. At one point someone (I forget who) spotted a bench on a steep slope above the path. We thought it was a weird place for a bench but a good place for lunch since the bench was in a puddle of sunlight, we could defrost a bit while we ate (I know the cold thing again, sorry! That's it for today's whining, promise!) David used a near by stump to prepare our lunch. He is such a good hubby! No the camera isn't tilted the slope was really that steep.

It wasn't until I had my sandwich and sat down to eat it that I realized why there was a bench in such a weird spot. From the bench we had a perfect view of Frankfurt. OK not a perfect view, it was a bit hazy today, but you see the tower? Look closely. You might need to click on the picture to blow it up. That's the same tower that I see out my living room window. We thought it was cool we see home from the hike.
I will leave you with a picture of the path we followed. It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful everywhere we looked.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

View From My Window Today

We are THAT family posted today about fall in Texas and how we revel in it even though it is still warm enough to wear shorts well into November most years. It may still be warm but it isn't so hot that you can't breathe like late July and August. That post got me to thinking about how different fall is depending on where you live.

The last two years we didn't have fall. We were in Jakarta which is tropical. There was only wet season and dry season. No fall, ever. Although I have to say about twice a year the tree in my yard would abruptly lose all it's leaves in one day. When you looked out the window you could see leaves raining down each time the wind blew. If you are me you could turn down the A/C, put on a sweater, make some hot tea, and pretend it was fall for a little while. Of course the second you open the door you realized it was 90+ degrees like every other day of the year.

This year we are in Germany which is colder than anyplace I have ever lived. My husband is finding my reaction to the cold quite amusing. Don't worry I am not going to whine some more about the cold, not today anyway. There is an upside to the cold weather, the leaves have all turned the most amazing color. This is the first time I have really experienced trees changing colors. Sure we made a trip every year to Lost Maples State Park to see the colors and it was lovely. The trees really do change color even though they are in Texas and the hill country landscape is always beautiful. I have great memories of making that trip each year and when I look back at the pictures I can see the kids and our family growing year by year. I wouldn't trade those times for anything. This year however, everywhere I look I see a kaleidoscope of colors. Look at these pictures I took out my living room window this morning.

The pictures don't really do the colors justice. The colors, especially the yellows just seem to glow. I love it. There is one more thing about fall in Germany that is fun. NUTS. Lots of nuts. The boys have collected buckets of nuts. Hazelnuts, walnuts and chestnuts. they are having a blast and I can't wait to use some of those nuts in a batch of walnut chocolate chip cookies. Now if I could just get the kids to wash and shell the nuts too.