Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Treat Tuesday: Smoothies!

It's Treat Tuesday!  Make sure to visit Daydream Reader's blog for more great treats and books!


Today's Treat: Smoothies!

The Boys and I are taking Treat Tuesday and putting our own spin on it.  In the traditional sense of Treat Tuesday, cooking is not typically involved.  The Boys and I love to cook, though, so we will be making our treats together this summer.  I figure that the time spent cooking could lead to some great book conversations.

The Boys are Smoothie connoisseurs.   C.J. would drink them every day, and I love that I can get something healthy in them in the form of a treat.  Our recipes vary depending on what fruit we have, but this is what we made today:


 Ingredients:
2 bananas, quartered
1 cup strawberries, halved
a handful of blueberries
1 peach, skin removed and quartered
1 1/2 cup coconut milk (or orange juice)
4 ounces silken tofu (we've also used firm tofu, which works, or if you aren't a tofu fan, you could use vanilla yogurt)
2 tablespoons agave nectar (or honey- adjust amount to taste)
1 or 2 cups ice, or until the blender is almost full

The Great Blendinis

Steps:
Throw everything in a blender.  Blend it!  Enjoy.

Yum.

 Easy peasy.

The Aftermath

P.J. is psyched to start his next Cherub series book.  
What are you eating and reading today?

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading (And Making)?




Today the Boys and I are linking up to a meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey as well as Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.  It's called: It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Check out both of their blogs for many, many, more wonderful book recommendations and links to others who are doing the same.

In case you missed last week's post, here is our Summer Schedule:
  • Make-it Monday- We will do our IMWAYR post and show you what we have crafted ourselves on this artsy-fartsy day.
  • Treat Tuesday- Join us as we cook up something good and talk about our favorite books.  Also check out Daydream Reader and Maria's Melange, because they participate in Treat Tuesday, which is why we want to participate, too!
  • Wet Wednesday- We will splish-splash in something wet, and take a day off from blogging.
  • Thinking Thursday-  Our focus will be on non-fiction this day, and we'll share what we have learned.
  • Freaky Friday- Who knows what will happen??  But it sure will be FUN!!!

Today has been an especially fun Make-It Monday, because the Boys had their first day of music camp.  They have been making Rock & Roll!  Here are the Boys' audioboos that explain it all:


Our rating system as penned by P.J.:  

  • For every "rock" it means something different, like 1 rock is not very good, 2 rocks is OK, 3 rocks is good, 4 rocks is great, and 5 rocks is amazing! Well now that I got you up to speed, let's get into these book reviews.

Hey this is C.J. Drummers are freaking AWESOME! and this... is book report time.

Lately I have been reading the Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien. I already read the first book so now I am reading the second, The Two Towers. So far, Gimli, Aragorn, and Legolas are searching for Pippin and Merry because after a battle, they lost the two Hobbits. So now they are searching for them, but they fear they might be dead.





Hey this is P.J. and I have read the books Maximum Security and The Killing by Robert Muchamore in literally two days. I read both of these books in a day because those are the kinds of books that you can't put down. The books are about John Adams who, after his mother dies, goes into a top secret branch of the British Secret Service called CHERUB. CHERUB uses kids to infiltrate and take down criminal organizations, but there is one thing, all of the agents are under 17. These books are the third and fourth in the series and if you are interested I would definitely start at number one called The Recruit by Robert Muchamore. This has been P.J. with you reading update, and I hope you read this series.


Mom has finished reading The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, which is a lovely summer read set in the fictional beach town of Colby.
Next, I am reading Hide and Seek by the wonderful Kate Messer.  Today also begins Teachers Write!, a virtual summer writing camp for educators, which is hosted by Kate, Gae Polisner (author of The Pull of Gravity), Jo Knowles, and Jen Vincent (Teach Mentor Texts).  Check out my other blog- http://createwriteteach.blogspot.com/ which I began during last summer's Teachers Write! adventure, and follow me as I play around with fiction over the summer.





What are You Reading (or Writing??)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thinking Thursday: Wonderopolis.org

Today is Thinking Thursday!  


Every Thursday, we will be learning something new.  Today we explored wonderopolis.org which is a place to ask questions and get answers to everything that you may be wondering.
This week marked the beginning of Camp What-A-Wonder, which runs through July 26th.  This summer's theme is Uncover the Wonder Around You.  Wonderopolis also has a cool app that you can install on your mobile device through iTunes, so you can Wonder about anything, anywhere!  It's a fantastic, free resource for families to explore and learn together.  We even added the Wonderopolis widget to our blog (on the right).  Check it out!

Today the Boys were allowed to explore any Wonder they wanted from the website, and here are the ones they chose.

Hey this is C.J.  I tried to mow the lawn but failed.  And this is... Thinking Thursday.  Today for Thinking Thursday, we went on Wonderopolis and we chose a wonder of the day.  I chose the one with donuts (of course).  I learned that there are different kinds of donuts like the long John and the ring donut, and the cake donut.  I watched a video about donuts and saw all kinds of different glazes like peach and chocolate, and I also learned how they make donuts by putting dough in a ring shape and putting it into boiling oil.  Then they flip it over after a minute, then they wait a minute, take it out and put the glaze on it.  They strive for having the best donut that is light and delicious.  Now I am extremely hungry for donuts.  I think for Treat Tuesday, we will make donuts.  (Hint, hint.)

This is P.J. and on Wonderopolis.org I decided to learn about zodiac signs and I found out that I am a cancer, and that means that I am fun loving, I will stay a child at heart, and I will be a model father. I also learned that Bruce Willis and Gorge W. Bush are also cancers. I also found out something interesting.  My brother C.J. is an Aries.  He shares a zodiac sign with Chuck Norris, his hero, and I think that's cool.  That is what I learned on Thinking Thursday.

What are you wondering?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Treat Tuesday: Chocolate-Banana Refrigerator "Cake"

It's Treat Tuesday!  Make sure to visit Daydream Reader's blog for more great treats and books!


Today's Treat: Chocolate-Banana Refrigerator "Cake"

The Boys and I are taking Treat Tuesday and putting our own spin on it.  In the traditional sense of Treat Tuesday, cooking is not typically involved.  The Boys and I love to cook, though, so we will be making our treats together this summer.  I figure that the time spent cooking could lead to some great book conversations.  Here's how today's recipe went (from the back of the Nabisco Honey Maid Grahams box):



Ingredients:  1 pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix, 1pkg. chocolate instant pudding mix, 3 cups cold milk (divided), 2 cups thawed frozen whipped topping (divided), 18 Honey Maid Honey Grahams, broken in half, 1 banana (cut into slices)

  1. Line a 13x9 inch pan with foil.  Beat vanilla pudding mix and 1 1/2 cups milk with whisk for 2 minutes.  C.J.:  Can I use the electric mixer? Mom:  Sure.  C.J.:  This is awesome!  Mom:  Ack!  Keep it inside the bowl.
  2. Stir in 1 cup whipped topping.  Mom: Ack!  The Cool Whip is still frozen.  C.J.:  It's ok.  Just smash it up.
  3. Repeat in separate bowl with chocolate pudding mix, remaining milk and remaining (frozen solid) whipped topping.
  4. Break 1 graham square in half; coarsely crush 7 of the remaining graham squares.  Mom:  Huh?  That doesn't make sense.  C.J.: Can I smash them?  Mom:  Sure.  C.J.:  This is awesome!  (Smashes an unknown number of grahams with meat mallet.)
  5. Arrange 14 graham squares and 1 graham rectangle on bottom of prepared pan.  Mom: Huh?  C.J.:  Just stick them on the bottom so they fit.  Mom:  Whoops, I broke one.  C.J.:  I'll eat it.
  6. Cover with vanilla pudding, remaining graham pieces, and chocolate pudding.  
  7. Refrigerate 4 hours.  C.J.:  Or maybe 3... or 2?  
Mom:  So, C.J. this will be the perfect cool summer dessert! What is your favorite summer book?

C.J.:  Um... I don't know.

Mom:  Well, how about the book you're reading now- Nerd Camp takes place during the summer, right?

C.J.:  Yes it does.

Mom:  The book I'm reading takes place during the summer, too.

C.J.:  Cool!  Call me when the dessert's ready!

And with that, we stuck the refrigerator cake in the fridge.  We think it will be tasty.



Here is the trailer for my current summer read.  
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen




What is your favorite summer book?

Monday, June 17, 2013

It's Monday! It's our Blog-Birthday! What Are You Reading?




Today the Boys and I are linking up to a meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey as well as Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.  It's called: It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Check out both of their blogs for many, many, more wonderful book recommendations and links to others who are doing the same.

It is also our 

(Belated) Blog Birthday!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

On June 11, 2012, we began our quest to re-ignite and fuel our reading, as the Boys had sizzled and sputtered in their reading fire when they hit their tween and teen years.  Mom is happy to report that they both achieved their reading goals in 2012, and they are well on their way to meeting their new and more lofty goals for 2013!  Please follow our blog this summer, as we will be posting more frequently (3 times a week) as we adventure along.

Here is our Summer Schedule:
  • Make-it Monday- We will do our IMWAYR post and show you what we have crafted ourselves on this artsy-fartsy day.
  • Treat Tuesday- Join us as we cook up something good and talk about our favorite books.  Also check out Daydream Reader and Maria's Melange, because they participate in Treat Tuesday, which is why we want to participate, too!
  • Wet Wednesday- We will splish-splash in something wet, and take a day off from blogging.
  • Thinking Thursday-  Our focus will be on non-fiction this day, and we'll share what we have learned.
  • Freaky Friday- Who knows what will happen??  But it sure will be FUN!!!

On to our current reading fun!  Here are our updates...


Our rating system as penned by P.J.:  
  • For every "rock" it means something different, like 1 rock is not very good, 2 rocks is OK, 3 rocks is good, 4 rocks is great, and 5 rocks is amazing! Well now that I got you up to speed, let's get into these book reviews.



Hey its C.J, rockin it with rock ratings! (alliteration time!) and this is book report time!

I know I haven't posted in awhile, and I am sorry about that. But now I'm back and ready to rock and roll! (see what I did there?)  So now I've been into the Lord of the Rings series and I am about to start reading The Fellowship of the Ring.  I already read The Hobbit. (I posted a blog on it awhile back.)  I watched all the movies these past few days so now I am going to read the books! While I was away, I read a bunch of other books like the Island series by Gordon Korman, and Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson.  I haven't posted about them yet (Note: yet(: ) So I am going to leave it off there, I will see you guys later. 



One last thing, I checked out a book called Nerd Camp by Elissa Brent Weisman.  So I will post on that next week! See ya!


Hey this is P.J. and today I finished Class A (Cherub #2) by Robert Muchamore.  I told my Mom that she should just get the whole series for me, because I'm really into it.  I'm reading Maximum Security (Cherub #3) next. 



Mom has read many books lately, but today I'll mention Nerd Camp (which C.J. is reading next) as well as See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles.  Nerd Camp is sweet and funny, Harry's will make you cry.  Both are excellent summer reads.



I am now reading:

For today's Make-It Monday, we made:

Summer Reading Goals!!

Yes, that is 

BORING!!!

Next week will be better... we promise!

What are you reading??







Monday, May 6, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/6/13




Today the Boys and I are linking up to a meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey as well as Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.  It's called: It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  Check out both of their blogs for many, many, more wonderful book recommendations and links to others who are doing the same.


Here is our rating system as penned by P.J.:  
  • For every "rock" it means something different, like 1 rock is not very good, 2 rocks is OK, 3 rocks is good, 4 rocks is great, and 5 rocks is amazing! Well now that I got you up to speed, let's get into these book reviews.








Hey this is C.J. I HAVE A FLYING TRAIN! And this... is book report time.

Author:  The Harvard Lampoon

Goodreads summary:  WINNING MEANS WEALTH, FAME, AND A LIFE OF THERAPY LOSING MEANS DEATH, BUT ALSO FAME! THIS IS THE HUNGER PAINS When Kantkiss Neverclean replaces her sister as a contestant on the Hunger Games—the second-highest-rated reality TV show in Peaceland, behind Extreme Home Makeover—she has no idea what to expect. Having lived her entire life in the telemarketing district’s worst neighborhood, the Crack, Kantkiss feels unprepared to fight to the death while simultaneously winking and looking adorable for the cameras. But when her survival rests on choosing between the dreamy hunk from home, Carol Handsomestein, or the doughy klutz, Pita Malarkey, Kantkiss discovers that the toughest conflicts may not be found on the battlefield but in her own heart . . . which is unfortunately on a battlefield.

What I think:  I remember seeing my friend Matt reading this book. Hes the one who let me borrow this amazing book. I read all of the real Hunger Games series books before, and I thought this book would be a funny version of it.  Katniss Everdeen is Kantkiss Neverclean in this spoof. When she gets volunteered to enter the Hunger Games she has to fight her way to survive in this battlefield. The games are starting, will Kantkiss go for the cornucrapia? Or run away? You find out by reading this book.

Recommended for:ages 12-16, if you liked the Hunger Games and funny books, too.

Rock rating: 5/5 - Amazing!


What I am reading now (two books by James Patterson!):

Middle School: Get Me Out of Here!  by James Patterson.


and

 Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson.


P.J. is reading:


and


Class A (Cherub #2) by Robert Muchamore

Mom has read:

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
(click link above to read my review on Goodreads- this one is not for those with weak stomachs...)


Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement by Calkins, Ehrenworth, and Lehman
(click link above to read my review on Goodreads- a must read for all educators)

Mom is now reading:


Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I must be on a fairy-tale-ish kick...  This one is good so far.  It's like a science-fiction adaptation of Cinderella.  She's a cyborg who works as a mechanic.  She still has too much work to do to go to the ball, though...

What are You reading?  


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Screen Free? Nope.


Shocking but true, our family is not Screen Free this week. This fact may seem counterintuitive coming from a blog written by a Mom who is encouraging her Boys to read more and X-box (You-Tube, Minecraft, etc.) less. You may think that I, as the Mom, am upset or ashamed of this fact, but I was an active participant in this decision and I whole-heartedly support it.

Screen Free Week is hosted by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, a non-profit organization that seeks to "support parents' efforts to raise healthy families by limiting commercial access to children and ending the exploitative practice of child-targeted marketing."*   To be clear, I agree with most of CCFC's ideals, and I work daily with my Boys to reduce their screen time.

I know that when they are watching mindless TV that they are bombarded by stimuli and view a relentless amount of marketing on a daily basis.  They can get sucked in and lose track of time, and can become sloth-like, lounging loads on the couch.  There are way too many ridiculous YouTube videos that are inappropriate for teens and loaded with ads.  Video games can be very violent, and the blood and gore in some make me sick.  I am fully aware of the effects of too much screen time.  However, this is not something we work on for one week, and we do not go cold-turkey- are you nuts?  If we are going to make a more permanent, mindful change, then we need to be SMART.

Set time limits.
This may seem pretty straightforward, but it is very important that kids know how much time they have per day of "screen time."  Whether it is half an hour or an hour and a half, set the time limit and then stick to it.  You may want to differentiate between TV time and game time, or you can lump it together and let your kids decide.  But be firm.  Set the limit and when it's done, it's done.  You can even set a timer with an alarm if you need to.  (We do.)
Make informed choices when watching TV or videos on the internet.
Yes, there is a lot of crap on the tube.  But there is also a ton of quality programming that is educational and worthwhile, too.  We seek interesting shows on channels like Discovery and National Geographic.  We recently discovered Brain Games on NatGeo, and it is amazing!  We watched the first two episodes, "Focus Pocus" and "It's About Time," and we were hooked.  The Boys even learned some "tricks" that they could perform with their friends the next day at school.  We make informed choices about what we watch, and make the most of our screen time with our good choices.  Then we turn it off.  The TV, computer, iPod, etc. itself is not evil.  We can (and must) use its powers for good.
Activate bodies and minds.
We also make it a goal to be active and outside as much as we can.  The Boys play baseball together in the back yard, spend time in the woods, and individually pursue their favorite activities of soccer and Tang Soo Do.   We recently cleared an area of woods in our back yard that we have named the "Majestigrove" for the purpose of enjoying nature and family.  My husband brings out his guitar or his wireless speakers and we play music, talk, read, and have picnics together.  It is relaxing, and we look forward to spending time there every weekend in the fresh air and sunshine.
Read!
You didn't think I'd let that one go, did you?  Set aside time each day to read (whatever medium- Kindle, or Nook, or iPad, or a "real-live" paper copy).  Set reading goals, and stick to them.  Be vigilant about finding books that your kids will enjoy, and always bring them along, wherever you go.  Most important, always have "the next book" lined up and ready to go when your child finishes their current one faster than you expected. (:
Teach media literacy and digital citizenship.
Like it or not, screens are here to stay.  Technology is evolving, and kids need to be able to access it and use it effectively.  As adults, they will be doing jobs that haven't been invented yet, and they must have a foundation of digital knowledge from which to grow.  Learning the right way to interact with others safely on the internet- and how to behave and "speak" as digital citizens is critical.  We need to teach our children media literacy so that they are able to identify propaganda when they see it and determine reliable sources of information.  These important lessons are not learned by just taking the screens away.  Further, I think we are doing a disservice to children and their futures if we do not teach them these skills.

Being SMART about screen time is all about balance.  Life cannot be all or nothing, and of course we are by no means perfect.  We are not participating in Screen-Free week.  

I'm ok with that.


So what do you do with your kids to promote healthy balance and a SMART life?

*"About CCFC." Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2013. <http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/about-ccfc>.