Fudgey Oatmeal Bars

I found this recipe via Pinterest.  We tried it a few weeks ago for the first time and loved it!  This time it didn’t work out as well, but I think I solved the problem.  The first time I was a bit distracted and cooked the fudge part longer.  This time I did exactly what the recipe said and it was undercooked and gooey.  I know, usually a good thing, but the beauty of this recipe (when it is done the right way) is that it’s a nice bar with a smooth, fudgy center.  (Spell check doesn’t like fudgey or fudgy, so I’m rebelling and using it both ways!)  When done the “wrong” way, it comes out as a mushy too gooey pudding you have to eat with a spoon.

So, here is the recipe with my changes (including a name change because it’s easier for me to remember and putting the ingredients in order because I like that sort of thing.  Either way, TRY it!  You will not regret this decision like you did Aqua Net on mile-high bangs.  I promise.

Deep Dish Oatmeal Chocolate Bars


2 sticks butter or margarine
2 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup milk
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup butter or margarine (5 1/3 Tbsp.)
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 13×9 pan.

Mix butter, eggs and brown sugar.  Add vanilla and milk.  Slowly incorporate flour, soda, salt and oats.

In a saucepan (nonstick is preferable), melt together sweetened condensed milk, butter and chocolate chips.  Cook on low for 2 minutes.

Spread 3/4 of cookie mixture on the bottom of the pan.  Pour chocolate mixture on top.  Dot top with remaining cookie mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes.  Cover with foil for the last 10 minutes.  Let cool before cutting.


First Day of Kindergarten

Today’s the big day!  We started Kindergarten today.  Yes, in March.  Here’s the sitch (does it make me cool or lame that I just said that?  Nevermind.  Don’t answer.)  We had been doing preschool since September.  It was going well . . . until about November.  After that, if we were honest with ourselves, we were getting kind of bored of it.  By January, we ended each day in tears (mostly No. 1, but also Mommy at times).  Since she already knew all the letters and their sounds, it was just a lot of repetition, and my girl started to HATE school.  I put on the brakes when that happened.  I don’t want her to hate school . . . at least not until about 6th grade – that’s when I started counting down the years!  And then I became a teacher and spent even more time in school.  (It’s more fun on my side of the desk!)

So, we haven’t “done school” for almost two months.  Shame.  I wanted time to regroup and decide what we were going to do.  I researched and thought and researched and thought.  We decided on our curriculum a few weeks later, then we (okay, it was 100% me) spent many hours planning and preparing and making spreadsheets because that’s how I accomplish things.  I like spreadsheets *almost* as much as I like the smell of pencils (and all things office product)!!

We are using Sonlight for Reading, History and Bible; Horizons for Math; Explode the Code for Phonics; A Reason for Handwriting for . . . wait for it . . . Handwriting; and Mama’s Brain for Science and Journaling.

I will post updates pictures later of our room since I changed a few things (including a workbox system)  Yippee!

 For now, this is our schedule:

Morning Board (weather, time, date, etc.)
Snack (a complete joke since the entire “day” took just over an hour!  But she was happy!)
Phonics M/W, Handwriting T/Th
Journaling M/W, Science T/Th

It went really well.  I think No. 1 will take some time to get used to all the “being read to without many pictures thing,” but so far we loved it!

Our plan is to work from March until the end of May, then take a summer vacation with everyone else (with some stuff in there so we don’t forget everything!)  Then we’ll start back up in September and finish next May with everyone else.  To spread it out, I have 3 months that are dedicated to author studies.  I think that will make it a lot of fun for both of us!Image

Spookin’ it Up!

I saw this post by Thrifty Decor Chick and thought to myself, “How cute, but I will NEVER do that.  Too much time and effort involved.”

Two days later and my front door looks like this:
(with a little girl doing her “spooky face.”)
It all started when I went in my craft closet (aka craft mess that desperately needs a professional organizer) to find fabric to make an eye patch for No. 1 (I’ll blog about that later).   I was digging around and found a huge roll of crepe paper that I got at a yard sale a few years ago for 25cents.  It was a little off-white instead of the pure white that TDC used.  Mr. Pencil helped (have I mentioned how patient he is?!) by tearing bits of masking tape for me.  It was so much fun to do . . . for the first 3 minutes.  After that, it was kind of tedious and annoying, but I didn’t want Mr. P’s “why are you doing this” face to last much longer, so I persevered.

I just taped strips of the crepe paper (my package was 500ft and I used about half of it) in a criss-cross fashion and then free-handed the eyeballs.  TDC made a mouth, but I decided that one mouthy mummy was enough for this house, so he’s mute!  (and all God’s people my family said, “Amen!”)

I’m wishing I had done more strips, but I will probably wait until after Mr. Pencil goes to work so he won’t have to roll his eyes one more time it sags like TDC’s did!  =)

And lest you think I’m super Halloween Decor Woman (that wouldn’t make for a very good superhero movie, I’m afraid), I’ll assure you that this is the one and only Halloween decor thing I’ve ever done.  In my entire life.  I tend to stick to Fall and Thanksgiving, so this was definitely going outside of the box for me!  But I think he’s kind of cute and festive and gives our Fall wreath a break for a few weeks!  =)


Letter O

Three cheers for letter O!  Or more like: three cheers for Friday!

We are done four weeks of school and it feels like we just started . . . four weeks ago!  ha! It really HAS been great and we’re both still loving it.  This week was just a difficult one for a lot of reasons.  We took the day off yesterday because of MOPS and because the teacher needed a break.

Today, however, we were back on track and worked double time to make up for yesterday.

Here are some pictures of our week:
(don’t forget that our worksheets come from Confessions of a Homeschooler, and if you don’t believe me yet, I’ll tell you again:  they’re wonderful, Erica is wonderful, her website is  wonderful, and you really need to check it out!)

Library books for the week:Coloring Page:
Number Tracing:Letter O joined the other vowels on our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree:O is for Ostrich craft (she named her Olivia):
Cut and Paste:Octopus Size Sort:
How Many Game:Graphing (for Letter I we colored in the squares, but today we decided to use Unifix Cubes instead):

Rainbow Party

No. 1 turned four in April and requested a Rainbow Party.  I happily obliged because it was such a fun theme to get carried away with plan!  I started by pinning a zillion ideas and then pared it down to what was manageable for even my OCD OZMEMCTINTB (Over Zealous Make Everything More Complicated Than It Needs To Be Disease)  But, let me tell you, it was F-U-N to plan this party and make all the decorations, etc.  And it was a really fun party for the kids, as far as they have told me, anyway!  No. 1 LOVED it and still talks about it like it was yesterday!

I thought I would post some pictures since this little old blog didn’t exist way back in April.

I had a little table and chairs set up with books all about rainbows (from the library).  I didn’t get a picture of that, unfortunately, but here’s No. 1 and two of her friends sitting and reading books calmly.  What you don’t see are the boy party goers running amuck in the background!  Boys!  They add such LIFE to a party!

I made this bean bag toss out of a cardboard box.  I cut it and used duct tape to make it triangular.  I traced three different size bowls and cut them out with an X-acto knife.  Then I painted it (spray paint would be easy, but I just used a can of what I had).  Then I used puff paint to make little dots so it would fit the rainbow color theme.  The bean bags are balloons filled with rice.  I assure you that I DID NOT do this in my bed and make a big mess and call downstairs to my husband to bring up the vacuum.  That would just be ridiculous!This is the only shot that almost shows the decorations out in the yard.  A friend gave me some lollipops she made for her daughter’s birthday party.  They were six styrofoam circles covered in tissue paper shoved onto a dowel and covered with cellophane.  I took off the cellophane and tissue paper and traced them onto red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple construction paper.  I hot glued a construction paper circle on both sides and then a strip to go around the outside.  Then, I freehand cut a black number 4 and glued that on the front.  I bought new cellophane and covered each one and tied them with a coordinating colored ribbon and placed them in the garden.One of the craft tables.  I dyed penne pasta in rainbow colors and had the kids make necklaces by stringing them onto yarn.  They had fun after Captain America flew in to show them how it was done.  (Does Captain America even fly?  I have no idea.  I have girls in my house!)

We also did another craft with Froot Loops, but I don’t have a picture of that table.  Each child had a sheet of blue card stock and they glued Froot Loops on in the shape of a rainbow and then glued cotton balls to the ends to make clouds.One shot of the food table.  Jello cups were time-consuming, for sure, but totally worth it and YUMMY!Lollipops!  Yes, I made a ridiculous amount of lollipops.  It seemed easier to do an entire batch of each color than to figure out how to split it into six colors.  And being a sufferer of the aforementioned OZMEMCTINTB, I wanted each child to be able to pick the color they wanted without them running out!  The glass jars that they are in are actually from candles.  I melted down a few that I didn’t care for/were almost gone and my mother-in-law sacrificed a few of her’s that matched!  She also worked so hard at cutting each little paper confetti by hand to fill each jar.  Okay, okay, she used a paper shredder, but still she worked very hard to make them all look so nice!  (there’s a piece of florist foam in the middle that the lollipops are shoved into and the paper shreds cover that up)Fruit Platter!  I bought a clear plastic tray from the $1 store since I don’t really have serving platters.  Then, I chopped had my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law chop the fruit and layered them in a rainbow pattern – strawberries, oranges, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries, and purple grapes.This is the dress I made for No. 1.  I used this post as a guideline.  It’s a really easy-to-follow tutorial!  I bought T-shirts in each color at the craft store, but the smallest size they had for the red was way too big and it would have looked like a striped tent.  So, I found a tank top in No. 1’s drawer that fit and cut that.  The top of it had three patriotic appliqués, so I made T-shirt roses to cover them up and sewed them on by hand.  The rest of the dress was SUPER simple!  The best part?  Because of the material, you don’t have to hem the bottom (purple layer).  Just leave it as is, and it won’t fray!  Happy!

Please note the huge bandages on my poor girl’s knees!  After the party, she was just exhausted, but I realized that I hadn’t taken any pictures of her dress.  So, I asked her to come outside really quickly so I could snap a few.  She ran out there right away and immediately tripped and skinned both knees on the driveway!  Poor sweetie!  After we put the bandages on and wiped her tears, she was more than happy to walkverycarefully outside to get her picture taken.  Don’t ask why her hand is up in the air because I will just say, “I have no idea, but I wasn’t about to make her stay longer for a better picture!”Cake!  I had visions of a beautiful ruffled rainbow frosting cake like this one or a checkered one like this one, but when it came right down to it, I just didn’t have the time or desire to go nuts with the frosting.  Instead, I decided that sprinkles were a fan favorite, so the entire cake got the royal sprinkle treatment!  (and now it turns out that sprinkles are all the rage.  Let’s pretend I started that with this cake, mmkay?)

No. 1’s second birthday cake was also a rainbow layered cake just like this one, but she didn’t remember it, so this one was like magic when we cut into it!  Win!

Party favors!  I made these with my Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Tool, otherwise known as my third and favorite child! *wink wink*  The tag says, “Thanks for being the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow!”  Inside are some of these tasty little treats.  They’re so easy to make and they’re pretty addictive!Another view of the Treat Table with the balloons Mr. Pencil hung!  We had tons of balloons, but they just kept popping on the deck and we decided it was better to not sacrifice our marriage trying to come up with ways to hang them, so we hung these and called it done!The water bottle labels were made by printing them in my Silhouette software and having the Silhouette cut them out, then taped on the bottles.  The rainbow cookies were a basic butter cookie recipe and were really easy.  The not-so-easy part was making them all exactly the same size (maybe I was just rushing), but it didn’t matter!  They were pretty and tasted really good too!  I also made rainbow chocolate covered Oreos because I can’t leave well enough alone!
The green container is from the $1 store.  It had clear plastic silverware wrapped in rainbow striped napkins and tied with rainbow-colored ribbons.  I wanted to have solid colored plates and napkins in every color of the rainbow, but I couldn’t justify the expense of buying 6 packages of each when we only needed one for how many guests we had.  It was, honestly, a hard thing for me to let go because I thought it just wasn’t going to look good to have only one color, but I let No. 1 pick and she chose blue plates and purple cups.  And it was just fine!  It was a good lesson for Mom in Letting It Go!  It doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be fun!!  The same goes for the straws.  I found some adorable ones on Etsy and other party sites, but $12 plus shipping for straws?  I don’t think so!

Another view of the OHMYGOODNESSALLTHESUGAR Table!
Top left: rainbow popcorn (my heavens, we threw out an entire kitchen size trash bag of uneaten rainbow popcorn after the party!  I made WAAAAY too much!), sprinkle cake with candles from the party store, rainbow Rice Krispie Treats (using Fruity Pebbles instead of Rice Krispies), layered Jello (I ran out of whipped cream, but don’t you know, there were kids there that wanted the ones without!), ice cream dishes with jelly beans and M&M’s ) (because we had them left over from Easter and they kind of went with the theme, which at this point you’re thinking was Sugar Party.  I assure you, it wasn’t my intention to send the guests home with a sugar buzz to last the rest of the week.  But, sometimes the best laid plans . . . )

I don’t have a picture of the ice cream.  That was another one of those things that would have been a whole lot easier to just serve vanilla ice cream.  But when you’ve already gone so far over the top with everything else, who wants just plain old vanilla ice cream when you can have layered rainbow ice cream?!  It was insanely sweet, and I actually didn’t like it at all!  *gasp*  It was just too much sweet!  But here’s the recipe anyway, in case you‘re a glutton for punishment have a mouth full of sweet teeth.  I ended up using 1 1/2 of those big buckets of ice cream and layering them in a disposable lasagna pan.

So, that’s Rainbow Party of the Century (well, until No. 2 requests one because I just might want be talked into planning another one!)

Letter I

I’m a little late posting about last week, and I apologize to those of you (hi, Mom!) who have been sitting on their edge of their seats just waiting for a new post. Last week we learned the letter I.  The worksheets are from Confessions of  a Homeschooler.  The Iguana craft idea was from Totally Tots. Here are a few pictures from this week.  This is, obviously, not all we did.  Just a sample. This is a tracing page.  I put it inside a clear page protector and No. 1 uses a dry erase marker.  When she’s done (and while she isn’t looking!), I wipe it clean and put in back in my Letter of the Week binder to save for No. 2! This is a page for learning to write numbers.  I should have done the page protector thing for this also, but I forgot and took it out and gave it to her with a pencil!  Oh well.

This is No. 1’s Iguana craft.  She decided that all of her letter animals need to have a name!  And this one is a rainbow because that’s a theme she repeats often!  =)No. 1 also watched the LeapFrog: Letter Factory DVD and played on Starfall.  And meanwhile, this is what No. 2 was doing to occupy her time!   Yup, filling her shirt with crayons and Little People animals!  She’s a trip!