Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Capital Idea

We're back!  Actually we got back last night (Friday) from a lovely few days in Fremont.  We've spent today putting up Christmas and wallowing in Wolverine defeat.  (Actually there wasn't much wallowing.  The game was on but we were all much more involved in pretzel crust pizzacake batter soft pretzels, putting out the correct smelling soaps and scentsy and of course arguing about who was going to put the angel on top of the tree - the Bean won that one.)  It was a good day at the Gatchel's.

Tomorrow I hear there's rumor of two kiddos getting to go see Big Hero Six and then being taken to do some Christmas shopping, but in between all of that, we have two states (kind of) to tackle this week!  So without further ado...

I don’t think that the nation’s capital of Washington D.C. deserves its own week during the state project, but I couldn’t let it just slide by without a mention.  I also don’t want to do a whole huge usual Monday blog (they take quite a while to write as you might imagine) but I do want to share a few of the choice items that I’m going to bring up with the kiddos over the next few days.  So Washington D.C. – you’re up!

To me, the most important thing to impart to Thing 1 and Thing 2 was that this city was literally designed to serve as the capital of the nation.  French architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s self-named plan specified that most streets would be laid out in a grid. To form the grid, some streets would travel in an east-west direction, while others would travel in a north-south direction. Diagonal avenues later named after the states of the union crossed the grid. The diagonal avenues intersected with the north-south and east-west streets at circles and rectangular plazas that would later honor notable Americans and provide open space. There were early disputes between the Northern and Southern states about where the capital was to be located, which was eventually resolved by the passing of the Residence Act in 1790.  George Washington selected the final location (by right of the Constitution) and the government was set to begin operations from the new city in 1800.

There are obviously no shortage of landmarks in D.C. and I’ve had quite the time narrowing it down.  But when all was said and done, I went with:

The last thing I wanted to share with the kiddos was something that is on my personal ‘bucket list’ – a trip to see the cherry trees bloom at the National Cherry Blossom Festival!  The first 3,000 trees, located on the National Mall, were originally given to the nation as a gift from Japan in 1912 as a symbol of friendship. (By the way, we gave Japan flowering dogwoods in return in 1915.)  The festival officially began in 1935 and is held annually to coincide with the flowering of the trees. If you, like me, have an interest, make sure to keep an eye on the Bloom Watch which helps predict the Peak Bloom Date which is defined as the day when 70% of the Yoshino Cherry blossoms are open.

Since we’re already tackling Missouri this week (and because Washington D.C. is technically not a state) I decided to keep it at that with the Dynamic Duo.  I think that’s plenty.  But just in case you’re interested, you can find all kinds of fun Washington D.C facts here or here or here.  I’ll probably throw in the oddity about DC this week, but now we’re onward to Missouri!  So until then…

Washington DC Fun Fact of the Day:  DC residents pay taxes to the federal government like all citizens of the US. But, they do not have a voting representative in Congress. So that is why you will see DC license plates on cars that say “Taxation without Representation.”

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Hairy Sunday

Ever since I took her to Princesses on Ice a few weeks ago I've been keeping an eye out for more live entertainment opportunities to take the Bean to.  She had so much fun (and is still talking about it) and I'm all about fostering a love off music, theater, dance, etc - especially since it's something we can really both enjoy together.  So when I spotted a sign outside the Fire Station saying that city's Youth Theater was going to be putting on a fractured fairy tale version of Rapunzel I knew we'd have to go.

We made it to Mass this morning to celebrate the Feast of Christ the King (near and dear as it's the name of the Church where my parents were married and I was baptized!) which was full of giggles from Noah mixing up the word dominion and minion (this happened a few weeks ago as well, but he spent 10 minutes of Church giggling over the thought of God having minions today.  Shell, I totally blame you for this ;-) ) and then came home for some lunch, a chance for Mikayla to do her homework and both of them to spend some more time finishing their art projects for Thursday.  (Total side note rant - I am convinced that Mikayla has more homework than Noah.  And it's always due in a shorter amount of time.  Grrr....) Then Kayla and I turned on the Lions game for a bit while the boys headed to Royal Oak for a parade.  Rumor has it Grant has pictures (and I saw a video of this contraption he supposedly wants on Facebook.  Ain't gonna happen...) and I will try to get him to post some later.  

Kayla and I headed out a short time later to meet up with Colleen and R for a viewin of "Rapunzel: A Very Hairy Fairy Tale."  It was so cute!  Children's theater is always so much fun and I have to say the kiddos were really good.  We were especially impressed by the girl who played Lady Zaza.  Of course, the Bean is now asking when SHE can be in a show...  It was a great way to spend our afternoon (and made me glad to be out so I didn't have to witness the Lions get crushed) and I'm going to hopefully continue to find these kind of experiences for my Bean.

We came home, the table decorations are all officially finished and Noah got the chance to skype with Aunt Sarah for a bit before dinner.  We had one last Virginia inspired meal of Country Hand and Red Eye Gravy and Virginia Spoon Bread.  (I'm all about the side notes today, so here's another.  I went to make this and realized I only had flavored coffee in the house.  I didn't really think mint coffee infused red-eye gravy would be that appetizing, so had to make a quick stop after Church this morning...)  Wrapped up the night with a bit of fun and video games.  It's going to be a weird week so we were taking advantage of our time as a foursome.

So just a reminder, no state this week.  The usual Monday hubbub tomorrow - Kayla has her Thanksgiving celebration at school (which means I'm making stuffing at 8am) and Noah has school and then religious ed - which we all know how I feel about the timing on that one...  Then Tuesday NJ has a half day and then we're off to Toledo!  I'll try to get a post up tomorrow and over the next few days, but it'll probably be spotty.  So until then...

Virginia Fun Fact of the Day:  The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is the world's largest bridge-tunnel complex. It is 18 miles long and has two bridges and two mile-long tunnels. It extends over the mouth of Chesapeake Bay and connects the cities of Cape Charles and Norfolk.

Ready for the show

Kayla and R

Noah finished his corn

And his turkeys

Kayla's corn is done too

Skyping with Aunt Sar (and Mr. Matt and Porter, too!)

Cooking up the ham

Virginia Spoon Bread

One last dinner from Virginia

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Talkin' Turkey

It's dreary and wet and overcast here today.  The PERFECT day to hang out with friends, work on some art projects, read some books, watch the game and eat yummy food.  So that's exactly what we've done!  We spent our morning trying out those awesome cinnamon roll turkeys I mentioned last night (Mine didn't come out super cute like the pictures, but we had a blast) with Missy and her boys.  The kids each decorated their own and everyone was having such a good time hanging out they spent the morning.  It was SO nice to just be able to hang out and not to have to rush off to school or another errand or anything.  I purposely didn't jam our weekend as I know the next month will be CRAZY enough as it is.  This afternoon we worked on some table decorations for Thursday, watched the game and played around in the kitchen.  I made this super yummy Virginia Apple Butter Bread for breakfast tomorrow (though we of course had to cut into it and taste test) and a Chocolate Ice Box Pie from the Recipes from Old Virginia cookbook.  I had intended to make this Cream of Peanut Soup for dinner tonight, but it didn't seem like good game food.  So I instead made these Pizza Waffles that I have been wanting to try out for awhile now.  I have to admit I was a bit skeptical but they WORKED!  And my crew loved them.  Noah is requesting them for his lunch.

Looking forward to tomorrow - Church in the morning and then the Bean and I are headed to Rapunzel in the afternoon.  The boys are talking about going to the parade in Royal Oak but it will probably depend on the weather.  Regardless it'll be a great day!  So until then...

Virginia Fun Fact of the Day:  The American Revolution ended with the surrender of General Cornwallis in Yorktown.

Cinnamon Roll Turkeys in the works

I adore cute food

Noah's first turkey

Rolland's awesome turkey

Breakfast time

Getting ready to craft

Lots of craft

Virginia Apple Butter Bread

Hmmm, any thoughts what this will be?

Pizza waflles!

Full of cheesy pepperoni goodness

Chocolate Ice Box Pie

Our first decoration complete!

Friday, November 21, 2014

To Boot!

Boots.  That was my mission for today - boot all around.  Thing 1 and Thing 2 have been decked out in rain boots the past few days.  Sure, they have dry feet, but there is a strong possibility that their toes may fall off in this polar vortex influenced weather we're having...  Ah, the problems of living in Michigan.

I'm delighted to share, then, that all Gatchel toes should stay affixed this Winter.  Not only did I manage to track down boots for each of the kiddos (pink for the Bean, spiderman for NJ), I found a pair of heavy duty boots for me as well.  Because we don't have a snowblower for our ridiculously long driveway - we have a Kristi.

I'd like to tel you I've got loads of other fun things to report, but honestly it's been a fairly chill Friday.  I did manage to get the Virginia scrapbook page done today between hunting for boots.  And I got to catch up with my lucky duck sister, Shell, who is in Florida this week for awhile.  She said if it made me feel better they've been in the 50's most of the week.  Told her no, that didn't make me feel better, that if she was fortunate enough to be away from the chill up here I at least wanted her to be able to soak up some rays!  Really looking forward to seeing her and the rest of the fam next week.

Speaking of next week - just a reminder for all you state project junkies that we're on hiatus next week.  And the blog will probably be spotty as well.  Noah has a 1/2 day on Tuesday and when he gets off I'm taking him and the Bean to Toledo and handing them off to Shell!  They're going to spend a couple of days in the 'Mont with my parents, Shell, Dudley, Scott and Miss Ali while Grant and I get some shopping done (I hope...)  Then we'll head to Fremont ourselves on Thursday and be there Thursday night and all day Friday.  Friday night we're making our annual trip to the Lights at the zoo.  So mark your calendars right now all you people in Ohio, because I GUARANTEE that next Friday will be the COLDEST day of the whole damn year.  (hehehe)  It always is!  And it'll probably be sleeting.  With 40 mph winds   But we're going and it's going to be fabulous! But that's next week...

Grant's not feeling too hot and wasn't quite up for tackling the dynamic duo tonight so I wasn't able to make it to dinner with the girls.  But I am hoping to go and catch up with them in a bit after I get everyone here safely tucked in for the evening.  Instead we had a really easy meal with these Ham and Cheese Biscuits (I made them tiny, they're so dang cute!).  Noah said he was more than content finishing off the rest of the peanut butter cookies for dessert, so decided to keep life simple tonight and let that one go.

Really looking forward to tomorrow morning!  I came across this last night and you know me and cute food...  So Missy and her gang are coming over to join us for breakfast in the morning!  Michigan plays in the afternoon, maybe Church tomorrow depending on how the day goes and not really sure what else.  Oh, except soup from a peanut.  And a really 'cool' pie.  So until then...

Virginia Fun Fact of the Day:  Arlington County was originally part of the ten-mile square parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be part of Washington, DC. The U.S. Congress returned that portion of the land to the "Commonwealth of Virginia" following a referendum among its citizens.

Scrap book page is done

And we have boots!

Ham and Cheese Biscuits

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Stuck At Home Kinda Day

Mikayla's cough continues to be quite persistent which meant switching up the plans for the day.  As much as I wanted to be at MOPS this morning (missed all you ladies!) I didn't think it was the best idea to expose all the fabulous kiddos to her germs.  And since Tess said that A & D were also a bit under the weather (and since OLS did not have school today) I offered to keep them here with the Bean and I so at least one of us could make it this morning :)  (She's the leader, she totally trumps my need to be there!)  

So after trekking through about the two inches of snow we got overnight (oh boy!) we settled in for a morning of books, skyping with Aunt Sarah, Mr. Matt and the new puppy Porter (who we get to meet next week!), and a movie.  Tess stopped by shortly after the meeting but her twosome chose staying with the Bean for lunch than heading out to lunch.  Wow do we rank!  The kids were excellent this morning.  We kept it low key since no one was feeling 100% and even though I would have much rather been with my friends, I did get the house cleaned, dinner prepped and I got to skype with Sarah, too!  

Noah made it home (oh, side note - he passed his uniform inspection last night AND earned his Bobcat badge!) and the Dynamic Duo set out to color Virginia!  I wasn't surprised by what they chose, but you'll have to check it out below.

It's no secret the Bean loves seafood (we have discovered she is most fond of crab) and since the Chesapeake Bay and its harvest is so important to Virginia, I picked a recipe for Crab Imperial to make for dinner tonight.  This specific recipe is a specialty of a restaurant in Cape Charles.  It kind of reminded me of the calico clam recipe from Rhode Isalnd, but with crab and creamier.  It paired up with some Hot Mama Cheese Bread (nope, nothing to do with Virginia but this stuff is AWESOME!), pineapple and mixed veggies.  I had planned on making Virginia Apple Pudding for dessert, but opened the crisper drawer in the fridge only to remember that I had put the apple I was intending to use for this in Noah's lunch.  Whoops...  But I remembered that I had also tagged this recipe for Marble Cake.  I can't validate the claim other than here which says that Marble cake originated in Rockingham County, Virginia from a Mennonite community.  Could be true, but it's wikipedia, so who knows  It was an easy thing to put together tonight though, so it's all good!

I'm cutting this a little short tonight as I have to hurry out the door to November's PTA meeting.  Duty calls, you know ;-)  Hoping the Bean makes it to school tomorrow and I am looking forward to (hopefully) a Mom's dinner out with some of my favorite ladies tomorrow evening.  Not sure about this weekend yet, other than that on Sunday Bean and I are going to Rapunzel with Colleen and R at the Costick Center.  Can't wait!  But first, Friday and Saturday are on tap!  So until then...

Virginia Fun Fact of the Day:  On March 9, 1862 at Hampton Roads, Virginia, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimac) met in one of the most famous naval engagements in US history. Their battle, the first of its kind between metal armored vessels, changed for all time the nature of naval warfare.

And this is how we roll on a morning in Michigan

Elsa and Ariel

Doesn't get much cuter

Skyping with Aunt Sarah

Kayla's Virginia had peanuts and Presidents!

Noah's Virginia has peanuts, a Cardinal (bird) and a Flowering Dogwood (tree)

Crab Imperial

Mmmm, hot Mama bread....

Marble Cake

Pretty :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baby it's cold outside!

Brrrrr!!!!  I promise I'm going to try really hard not to complain all winter about the cold (I mean, we do live in Michigan for crying out loud) so this isn't a complaint, it's a statement.  So I'll say it again - BRRRRR!!!  It's gotten a bit chilly around here the past few days and today marked our first foray into some actual decently accumulating snow.  I suppose it *is* about that time of the year, just doesn't seem possible that we're only a week out from Thanksgiving.  Don't even give me a panic attack and tell me how many days left 'til Christmas...

But one day at a time - and today was a pretty good one!  I got the kiddos off to school and then headed back here for a little bit to whip up a batch of  All American Peanut Butter Cookies (from the Virginia Peanut Council!) with A and Tess.  Was super proud of A for her roll-out and criss-cross skills.  (BTW, in case you want to know WHY peanut butter cookies have a criss-cross pattern, check this out)  It was then off to read in Noah's class for a bit, grab Kayla at school (where I got stuck in a "Lockdown and Hide Drill" which I really don't want to talk about.  I understand the why behind this, but it makes me so sad.) and then we headed off to Colleen's for some lunch, playtime with R, D and E (well, mostly just R!) and a little piano playing.  (Colleen and I were totally rocking a Heart and Soul duet.  I totally don't believe she's never played before!)  I came home for work, we grabbed Noah from the bus and then the kids settled in to work on the "We've Been There" state.  Grant and I are pretty sure we can both claim Virginia, but don't think that the kids can.  This seems odd to me given the location - I'm sure we've driven through at least a piece of it! - but I guess not.

We had to eat a little early tonight since Noah and Grant had to be at a Pack meeting (my adorable Cub Scout was dressed to the nines and ready for his uniform inspection!)  So a relatively easy dinner of Virginia Brunswick Stew.  I mentioned yesterday that the dish has debatable origins (Virginia or Georgia - you decide!) but I prepped it up yesterday and then threw it in my crock pot when we got home this afternoon to finish cooking.  I also tired my hand at Virginia Box Bread because I was intrigued by the baking of biscuits this way.  No complaints from the gang (other than the Bean who is still not feeling very well.  As of 7:15 the tired, reusing to eat, sobbing little girl had worn me (and herself out) and went to bed.  It's currently 7:34 and she's out cold)  who was to feast on the peanut butter cookies when they finished.  

MOPS tomorrow morning, PTA tomorrow night, the kiddos state maps, another seafood recipe for my Bean - tomorrow's another busy one!  So until then...

Virginia Fun Fact of the Day:  Virginia is the home base for the United States Navy's Atlantic Fleet.

Working on assembling Virginia

Ready for the wall

But first a shot with two cute kids

Virginia Box Bread


Virginia Brunswick Stew 

Noah ate 6 cookies - I'm not joking.  He said they are the best peanut butter cookies he's ever had.

I love a man in uniform!

Ready for inspection