Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Community Education: Truffles

I have to admit that I haven't taken a community education class since I was a little kid. There was a least one summer during elementary school that some friends and I took a few art classes at the middle school across town.

This week, I took a trip down memory lane and took my first community education class in ages. My girlfriends and I have a weekly girls' night. Usually, we spend our girls' night at someone's house enjoying dinner, dessert, and wine. We switched things up a little bit this week and headed to a community ed cooking class: Truffle Making.

I have to admit that community education classes are hit or miss. I truly believe it all depends on the instructor. Unfortunately, we had an instructor that talked at us for an hour and fifteen minutes. Out of a three hour class. She would ask us questions, but that answer them before we were even given a chance!

While I thought the instructor was less than par (and I may be a little picky as I am a teacher), the class was still a hit.

And I got to bring home a box of 20 truffles!

First things first, we mixed chocolate and butter to create the base of our truffles. We then were given the opportunity to add some different flavors: tangerine, caramel, peanut butter. The list goes on.

Then, we learned all about "dressing" the truffles. We rolled our truffles in powdered chocolate, and crushed shortbread cookies. There were toffee pieces and chocolate sprinkles. Toasted coconut flakes and chopped almonds. The possibilities were endless.

And then! We got to dip our undressed truffles in melted chocolate and add some toppings after the fact. I got a little crazy and made a flower.

We laughed, and we created some delicious treats (that I don't plan on sharing). We took a risk and changed our normal routine. While some people struggle with changing their typical routines (me, too), I'm glad we did something different. The change of pace brought up conversations we may not have had sitting in someone's living room.

Go out on a limb, try something new. You just may have some fun.

And if you don't you might end up with yummy treats, and who doesn't like that!?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tips & Tricks :: Camping with a Toddler

We are a camping family, through and through. We left this summer for just over a month of camping, and have a few more camping trips on the calendar.

I have to admit, though, that I am not currently the type that we pop a tent and sleep on the ground. Not with Kid around. When he's a little older, we will think about it. We have a pop-up camper at our disposal, so we use that instead. We only ever "tented it" when we were backpacking and hiking into far off campsites. Now, we drive up to campgrounds and camp that way. Kid loves it ... he really is a nature boy.

Be Prepared!
Anything can happen when you're camping. Add a toddler into the mix, and there is a whole new definition to "anything can happen." Be sure to be prepared as possible. Before camping with a child, we always brought along a first aid kit that included Band-Aids, instant cold packs, ointment, your typical first aid kit materials. Since Kid has joined us, we have added Tylenol, a thermometer, a nose aspirator, kid-friendly bug spray and sunscreen, and children's Benadryl.

We are not only prepared with a first aid kit, though. We bring favorite toys, loads of extra clothing, Kid's favorite Little Tykes rocking horse, and plenty of diapers. And food. Food, food, food. Think of everything that could happen at home, and be prepared for it.

Be Flexible!
Toddlers throw timing and schedules out the window. Especially when they are taken out of their "normal" environment. While we try to keep nap time at the same time, it just doesn't always happen. Being outside is exciting! It may take an extra hour for the kiddo to tire out and fall asleep. Or, they may need to nap an hour or two earlier. Go with it. It will make your camping trip much more enjoyable!

Do What You Have To!
A lot of parents are concerned about creating bad habits. Me, too. But when you're camping? You just have to do what you can to make it work. Kid thinks our camper is pretty awesome. In fact, he has woken up on various nights at three in the morning thinking it's play time. So we did what we had to do to get him back to sleep. Co-sleeping worked in the past, but not this time. So we strapped him into his car seat and drove to town and back. Is this something that we would do while at home? No. Kid loves the car too much as of late. I think he'd want a car ride before bed every night. But to keep our sanity on the campground (and not disturb the other campers, peacefully sleeping)? Drive the car around. Lull him back to sleep. Don't be afraid to "ruin" the child's behavior. Just do what you have to do to keep everyone content, including yourself!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Apple Orchard

We have most definitely been filling our days with Autumn Activities. We made our way to a local apple orchard last weekend with my sister and her family. It was a beautiful day, and the kids were all in a good mood.

**I started this post a few days ago, before reading this article. And now I have something else to say.**

I'm so saddened to hear of the hayride accident in Maine, leaving one person dead and plenty injured. I cannot even begin to imagine how those families are feeling days after the accident. I'm positive that the family of the deceased is wishing for one more hug from their seventeen-year-old. I'm sure they're wishing for one more eye-roll, a typical response to parents from any teenager. My heart breaks for them.

And, I find myself holding my boy more tightly. Giving him extra snuggles and extra love.

We had a similar experience during our own adventure at the apple orchard. We, too, were on a flatbed trailer, sitting on hay bales having a great time. As we made our way down the hill, through the spooky Halloween decor, the trailer and the tractor picked up speed. My first thought was that we were going down hill, this is normal. But then we were flying, and people were screaming.

Our tractor driver, bless her heart, did everything she could to keep us safe. And a fabulous job she did. Our trailer did not jack-knife. Nobody was thrown from the hayride.

We were all safe.

And how lucky we are.

Immediately following the incident, we laughed it off. "It wasn't that bad," we echoed as we walked back to the beginning of the ride.

But it could have been. Instead of being whisked away to the hospital, we got to continue our afternoon at the orchard. The kids went on a few rides, they climbed hay bales. We left with smiles on our faces.

How lucky we are.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Making Motherhood Work

First and foremost, I am mama to the sweetest little boy I know. His smile lights up a room, and fills me and his daddy with joy. His thirst for knowledge is incredible, and his humor cracks me up.

I am also teacher to the sweet babies of 21 other families. I teach kindergarten, and am blessed.

While my family is most important to me, but I know that I spend 6 hours and 40 minutes with someone else's pride and joy. Their heart, their babies. I do what I can to make sure that each child in my classroom is cared for and has their needs met at school. It's what I hope Kid's caregivers are doing while I'm away. 

Truthfully, I feel as though I have the best of both worlds. I work outside of the home late August through early June. I am a stay at home mom June through August, and during the breaks we have throughout the year. I am able to fulfill the need I have to contribute financially to my family, but also for my want to be a stay at home mama.

The school year is challenging, without a doubt. We wake Kid up at 6:30; he normally sleeps until 8. We cart him off to daycare for at least 9 hours a day. It's a long day for him, to say the least. It makes Monday evening less than ideal, as he is often crabby (who knew littles could get a case of the Mondays?).

But it's what we have to do. We make it work because it is our reality. And we know that we are lucky to have great  care for Kid, who spends four out of five week days with grandparents.

And then summer rolls around, and we enjoy the more relaxed schedule of being at home with a toddler.

Linking up with Brittany, Christine, and Ashley :: Mamas Tell All.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin' Pickin'

A few days ago, my sister and I ventured to our local (and super awesome) pumpkin patch. The patch doesn't pop up too early, and it isn't around for too long. You have to go at just the right time, or you'll miss it.

Kid was overjoyed to be out picking pumpkins -- he ran up and down the rows, tripping every so often, and banging on the pumpkins as if they were bongo drums.

This pumpkin patch reminds me that there are still good people in the world. There is no attendant at the pumpkin patch. We arrived and were the only people on site. It made searching for our pumpkins that much more fun. We had the whole place to search by ourselves! Wheelbarrows line the parking lot for easy pumpkin transportation and signs instruct you where and how much to pay.

I can only hope that this pumpkin patch stays the way it is for years to come. Sure, it's bordered by a few busy roads. They're far enough away to not be a bother or a worry. The thing that does worry me, though, is the location. The pumpkin patch is in an area that has exploded with development. unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before the owners sell off their land to developers...

Until that time comes, we will continue to be patrons at the ever-trusting pumpkin patch.