Friday, February 28, 2014

Slippery When Wet

Here at the Gatchel house we are big proponents of "When you are good, good things happen."  Grant and I have worked really hard to reinforce that when we see the kiddos behaving or doing something positive they are praised and rewarded in a similar fashion.  I don't want them to think that they get what they want just because they're good, but we do like to reward them when we see good consistent behavior out of either of them.

So I've got to take a few minutes to brag up both of my kiddos because they have both been VERY good as of late.  First, as you'll see below I had quite the helper this morning.  At the last minute my plans fell through for this morning so I decided to tackle some of the housework that I hadn't managed to get to yet this week.  I was so fortunate to have quite the helper!  Mikayla got out her vacuum this morning, we cranked up the tunes and had quite the vacuuming dance party!  She also helped clean the bathrooms, fold the laundry, put it all away - I was one fortunate Mama to have her.  So not only did she get to go to storytime this morning, at the library we picked up a copy of The Little Mermaid II and her reward for being good was lunch and a movie today.  Proud of my Bean!

Noah has been doing AWESOME at school this week.  There is a school wide reward of "Caught Being Good" cards.  Any authority figure in the school can 'catch' a student doing something good, give them one of these cards and they are entered in a raffle for a prize at the end of the week and they get a certificate.  Noah got one on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week!  Then in his classroom for doing something well they get a 'bee in the bucket.'  After they get a certain number of bees they are eligible for a prize of some sort.  Yesterday Noah came home and announced he had received a bee in the bucket.  Four days in a row someone at school had felt that he was behaving so well it needed to be acknowledged!  I am SO proud of him.  So tonight I took him to Target with me and let him pick a really cool monster truck that works with his one track as a treat.  Go Noah Go!

Alright, enough kiddo bragging.  How about some bragging about how awesome the smells wafting from my kitchen today were?  Tonight I made Delaware Farm-Style Chicken and Slippery Dumplings.  Across the country there is apparently a big debate about what is the 'correct' type of dumpling.  These are the slick (more like a noodle in my opinion) version as opposed to the puffy style. I can't say which I prefer (it's a dumpling - can it really be a bad thing?) but these were pretty amazing.  My family devoured the stick to your ribs meal that was perfect for the bitter temperatures we're having here.  We ended dinner with a super easy peach cobbler that will defintely be sticking around my recipe book.  I had really hoped to make Peach Pie Knots but I had no luck tracking down any fresh peaches.  It was like shades of rhubarb all over again, I swear.  OK, perhaps not that extreme...

We're heading to the Toledo Zoo tomorrow for the Spring Alive event.  As a bonus, we're going to FINALLY catch up with my parents.  The kids have been asking for weeks when they're going to see Grandma and Papa but with schedules and the weather it's been tough.  Looking forward to hanging out with them there for the morning and then grabbing some lunch.  Then it's back here for dinner and then I'm off to see Assassin's with Tess.  So excited!  She asked me weeks ago to go with her on closing night to support Keith and I can't wait!  Do I have awesome friends to include me in things like that or what?  So I will try to get a post up of our zoo adventure mid-afternoon when we get back.  So until then...

Delaware Fun Fact of the Day:  The Du Pont Laboratories first produced nylon at its plant in Seaford. This earned the town the distinction of being the Nylon Capital of the World.
A blur with the vacuum

My mini me

It was P day (pink and purple, the Bean was in heaven) at storytime

Noah's light bright creation this afternoon

Makin' dumplings

Delaware Farm-style Chicken and Slippery Dumplings

The easiest and tastiest peach cobbler ever

Noah's treat

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pie Eyed

When I first put the Bean in school this year I was looking forward to all the 'free' time I was going to have.  Or at least that's what I thought.  I mean, two days a week, 2 and a half hours of no kiddos - wow!  Then reality set in - I'm a mom I get no free time!  Okay, just kidding.  But it does seem like I quickly fill up those two 'free' mornings every week between MOPS, friends needing help, volunteering in the kiddos classes, etc.  Since Christmas break I don't think I've had one 'free' day.  And it's all good - I wouldn't change a minute of it.

Today was no different.  I got Thing 1 and Thing 2 off to their respective classrooms and then had the adorable Miss A while Tess was in D's class today.  Last night some of the moms from my MOPS group were mentioning they were having a hard time getting out and finding things to do with the cold, so I decided to invite them all over here for an impromptu playdate this morning!  I mean, who cares that my kids were at school, their toys were still here :-p  So my Thursday morning was full of coffee, great convo and some adorable kiddos running around.  They were all a delight and a credit to their Mama's as I am fairly certain they left my playroom cleaner and better organized than it was when they got here.  My friends rock.  Seriously.

I did finally get my twosome back today and after we made a trek through the frigid cold to get Noah from the bus (seriously, polar vortex GO AWAY!), they came home to work on their state coloring map.  I'm going to let them do the showing/explaining in pictures.  Delaware has apparently made quite the impression on my duo...

As for dinner tonight, Dad, it totally made me think of you!  I made a Chicken and Oyster Pie, combining two of the biggest culinary treats from Delaware into one dish.  As I was mixing it up I had second thoughts about the whole thing, especially dealing with Noah and the peas.  It went over better than I expected though (seafood + Mikayla = never any problems).  In all honestly, like yesterday's scrapple it's not probably something that will be gracing my table on a regular basis but it was fun to try!

We headed to the library for Musical Storytime this evening (it's been going on all month and tonight was the first time we've actually been able to catch it!) and now the kiddos are snuggled in bed and I am looking forward to the return of Grey's Anatomy tonight.  Catching up with Jen for a bit in the morning, storytime, Delaware Farm Chicken and slippery dumplings and some Peach Pie Knots tomorrow - should be a good one!  So until then...

Delaware Fun Fact of the Day: In total area Delaware ranks 49th in the nation. It contains 1,982 square miles. It is 96 miles long and varies from 9 to 35 miles in width.

My very pretty pie ready for the oven

Noah says "This is a picture of the first United States flag being flown in battle."

Mikayla says "This is the blue chickens fighting."


Chicken and Oyster Pie

Marching at musical storytime

Jim Gill's updated version of "I'm a little teapot" includes "I'm a little toaster" - this is them 'popping'

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Scraped Together

Alright - show of hands?  Who knew what the mystery item on yesterday's blog was?  Anyone?  Beuhler?

It was tonight's dinner, of course!  And if you've followed along with us before you might remember when I made something similar here.  That's right, scrapple returns!  But not just any scrapple - apple scrapple!  In Delaware Apple Scrapple is such a big deal they even have a festival in its honor.  Well we couldn't pass up trying out a recipe that was so important to Delaware so Apple Scrapple it was!  This was one much moister (and everyone seemed to enjoy a bit more) than the scrapple we made before.  Needless to say, I don't think it's going to be an often repeated recipe at the Gatchel's, we'll leave it to the people of Delaware to enjoy.

But we did enjoy their Delaware Applesauce Cookies.  Mikayla helped me whip up a batch of these this morning.  The recipe says that "According to "legend," this recipe originally came from a box of Bisquick and was handed down through a Delaware family."  The thing I loved about them that using baking mix in a cookie made for one poofy cookie.  They reminded me a lot of an oatmeal cookie without the oats.  Unlike the apple scrapple, I don't think we'll have a hard time making these disappear.

This morning I had the chance to hang out with my friend, Tess, while Kayla and Alexis played.  It was a great reminder of how truly blessed I am when it comes to friendship.  Coffee, reminiscing, just hanging - what a great morning!  I'm thinking I need to find a way to work some more of these laid back mornings into my very hectic routine.

Speaking of hectic, I'm cutting this short tonight as I just made it back from this month's PTA meeting and I have a couple other things to tackle yet.  While I was gone Grant and the kiddos did do our VERY TINY "We've Been There" state.  No Gatchel's have been to Delaware, how sad!  I told the kiddos last night that we needed to go and make sand castles some day, they are totally on board.

Lots of odds and ends tomorrow.  Still hoping for some Delaware mail at some point.  So until then...

Delaware Fun Fact of the DayTradition holds the first time Betsy Ross's famous flag was flown was at the Battle of Cooch's Bridge. This historic site is located on route 4 in Newark.

Ariel came to help me make cookies

She added each of the raisins one by one

The face of determination (She had her tongue sticking out half a second before I snapped this)

Ready for the oven


Grant said he would describe them like a cinnamon pancake in cookie form

Fryin' up some apple scrapple

The duo shows off Delaware

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Sands of Time

Delayed start days are just weird.  It feels like half the day should already be over by the time I drop off Noah to get on the bus even though it's really just starting. Today we got the Bean off to school, Noah and I walked to the bus stop and then 20 minutes later I headed over to Beechview to spend the rest of my morning helping out in Noah's class.  I felt so discombobulated by the time the Bean and I made it home by noon, but I wouldn't have changed a second of it.  I so enjoyed going in to Noah's class today. His teacher had let me know last night that we would be working in the computer lab.  So I got there only to find out that the computer instructor was out and that it would be his teacher and I with 26 computer using 5 and 6 year olds trying to learn and write a report on an animal.  What could (probably should) have been pure chaos was actually a lot of fun and I think the kids are really warming up to me being around.  There was plenty of "Mrs. Gatchel!  Mrs. Gatchel! I need.." going around which made me smile.  I don't think I even spent any time helping Noah who breezed through the computer exercises, thanks to his Daddy who has been working with him on logging on to the school educational sites!  It also reaffirmed my appreciation for teachers and what they do.  Just dealing with that many kids who have such a different operating level on something as simple as turning on and logging into a computer is a feat!  I'm back again next Tuesday and can't wait!

I made it home in time to prep tomorrow's dinner (that's a hint to the bonus point question below so pay attention!) and make up tonight's Delaware Crab Cakes.  The Bean sat eating her lunch while I made them practically drooling.  The girl and her seafood, I tell ya!  She was right, though, they were awesome.  (And super easy if you happen to like crab cakes.  I would definitely recommend this recipe, they held together really well which is always my issue with crab cakes. I didn't get the 16 cakes the recipe stated (think my batch was 9) but otherwise these were great)

Yesterday I teased at a sand connection for today.  Delaware has approximately 117 miles of coastline which sure does make for a lot of beaches!  And lots of beaches means lots of sand.  And what do you do with all that sand?  Well in Delaware they are known for their sand castle building competitions!  We talked about this last night putting up the wall and I promised the kiddos a Delaware project that tied into this.  (Grant was really lobbying for making punkin' chunkin' cannons but I nixed this idea)  And since we couldn't actually make sand castles, I came up with a fun alternative to make sand art in jars.  You know what I mean, we've all been to a festival where they have the booths set up with the different types of sand that you can layer in containers and make really cool patterns.  After a lot of hunting (though I knew I'd seen them around here before) we tracked down a kit, complete with sand and jars and went to town tonight!

The kids LOVED this - especially Noah.  He is so crafty and particular about what he wants and how he wants it.  You'll have to see the marvelous pieces they created.

I have a PTA meeting tomorrow night, so the troops are going to do the "We've Been There" state without me which means we may be a little late on a post tomorrow night.  Plus the answer to my 'bonus' question below!  Ooh, and Delaware applesauce cookies.  Plenty of reasons to tackle Hump Day tomorrow!  So until then...

Delaware Fun Fact of the Day: The log cabin originated in Finland. Finnish settlers arrived in Delaware in the mid-1600s and brought with them plans for the log cabin, one of the enduring symbols of the American pioneer. One of the cabins has been preserved and is on display at the Delaware Agricultural Museum in Dover.

We finally found it :)

I don't think they probably have sand in all these colors in Delaware...

Crab cakes all ready to go

Bonus: Who knows 1) What this is and 2) What is has to do with Delaware (Answers tomorrow!)

We have curtains!  We need a new light fixture and the mirror hung and I think we're there :)

My poor friend Beth had a major accident with a mandolin a few weeks ago that led to her having to have a skin graft.  The kids have been super worried about her and her hand.  Well today she got her cast off and took some pictures of the graft healing after about two weeks that the kids begged to see.  This was their reaction.  (Which was much tamer than mine I think.  Feel better, dear friend!)

Kristi's Delaware inspired creation - frozen peach 'smores

Crab cakes - yum!

Noah ready to try him hand at the sand

His first finished project

I'd say he was pretty proud

He also did a small one on a necklace

The Bean gives it a go

Her first finished project

Her necklace piece

Yep, that about sums up today!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Doin' It Up Delaware Style

As I explained to the kiddos tonight as we put up our fact wall, "You could drive from end to end of Delaware in less time than it takes to drive to here from Grandma and Papa's house."  The second smallest state in the nation, at my first perusal, didn't seem to have many other claims to fame, other than the obvious that it was "The First State" (it's nickname) to officially ratify the US Constitution (on December 7, 1787, by the way).

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned my research to my boss, Ketra (hi Ketra! *waves*), who reminded me that one of the most prominent things about Delaware is its business law.  In 1899, Delaware passed very relaxed business laws making it easy (and enticing!) for corporations to establish themselves in the state. In fact, more Fortune 500 states establish themselves in Delaware (even if they are headquartered elsewhere) than any other state in the nation.  While interesting, I was a by stymied on how to share this with Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Then I saw that one of the corporations, DuPont, was actually founded and still claims its headquarters in Wilmington, DE.  DuPont has a huge global impact and Wilmington is actually considered to be "The Chemical Capital of the World"  Now we were getting somewhere!  I decided to push on and was soon overwhelmed with things that made Delaware special.  The glorious beaches and sand castle building (more on this tomorrow!), the first log cabin , the first battle the original stars and stripes was flown at, the International Punkin' Chunkin' competition (Noah and Kayla are really really excited about this one and want to know if we can try it out) and Barratt's Chapel, considered to be the "Cradle of Methodism", just to name a few.

Needless to say, when I combined this with information on the state bird (Blue Hen Chicken - known for its fighting skills), the state tree (American Holly) and all the rest, we easily sailed through getting the Delaware wall up.  And best of all, the kids are excited about it and ready to learn more.  So so far, my feelings on Delaware are that (like me!) it's small but mighty!

(Kristi's really funny side note:  When trying to explain the blue hen chicken tonight, I told them about soldiers during the war using the chickens to fight each other so they could bet on them.  They both agreed that was pretty ridiculous as I went on to lightly gloss over animal fighting/betting in general.  Never one to miss a moment, the Bean pipes up with "Oh my gosh, Mom, it would have been so cool - they should have used giraffes!  They could fight with their little horns!"  Grant and I both (after we recovered) told her that we didn't think there were ever going to be any giraffe fights....)

I dove right in to some of the cuisine tonight, as well.  Delaware is known for its production of boiler chickens, and some of the oldest recipes in the state prominently feature chicken.  (And don't worry, Bean, lots of seafood, too!) So I tried my hand at a recipe for Delaware Chicken Salad.  According to local legend, ladies perfected their own original chicken salad recipes and kept them a closely guarded secret.  This one went over well with my crew, for sure.  I paired it with some authentic Vinegar Fries which can be found along many of the boardwalks at the plethora of beaches Delaware claims.  For dessert I made a Peach Pie (the official state dessert of Delaware) with a secret crust!  This disappeared in the blink of an eye.  Seriously.

As I hinted, we may be doing something sand related tomorrow ;-)  You'll want to check back with us then.  Plus I get to go help at Noah's class tomorrow - woo hoo!  So until then...

Delaware Fun Fact of the Day:  Delaware is the only state without any National Park System units such as national parks, seashores, historic sites, battlefields, memorials, and monuments. (And you thought I was kidding about it being difficult to find Delaware info!)

Cinderella came for lunch today (She ate mac & Cheese and blueberry yogurt)

This is the crust for the pie about 10 mins after it came out of the oven, wish I would have grabbed my camera to show you the original poof!

Top secret recipes just for chicken salad!

Delaware Chicken Salad (everyone here loved this recipe, by the way)

Boardwalk Vinegar Fries - it's official we're a crispy/crunchy fry family.  Other than Mikayla, everyone would pass at a second go on these

Peach Pie!

The crust was a HUGE hit on this.  I can honestly say it is the most unique pie crust I have ever made.  (I mean, egg whites and Saltines - really?!?!?)  Everyone agreed that it tasted a whole lot like the meringue cookies I made with the leftovers from Baked Alaska but even better

Our Delaware Wall up and running!