Saturday, March 18, 2017

Isaak's Third Grade Conferences

I forgot to do a recap of conferences. I started this blog as a way to jot things down for the kids. If you're not interested...move on to a different post.

My kids do really well in school, so this will be more of a positive post.

We let the kids play on their Kindles in the hallway, while we venture in to talk to each of their teachers.

Isaak's conferences were second.

Isaak does well in school. He got all O's and S's, which stands for outstanding and satisfactory. 

He has had some unfortunate events happen with bully like behavior from other kids. His teacher doesn't think this has anything to do with how Isaak acts. It's just punks being punks. Isaak just so happened to be in the way.

Isaak is like me - a slow test taker. Other kids fly through their test in 45 min. Isaak on the other hand will be in the room for 2 hours. :( If you know of any websites that have tips on test taking I'll be happy to check them out! I have art students that struggle with test taking as well. I'd like to just know about tips for them too. Apparently ultra creative minds are slow test takers. At least that's my experience. Is it because their minds wander? Is it because they can't focus on the boring thing they just read? I don't know the answer exactly. I do know that they should up the interesting articles on standardized tests. Seriously! 

Isaak tested high for math, but only 77% for reading twice this year. The tests did get harder the 2nd time. That's way below what his teacher thinks he's at in the classroom. He's one of her higher students. 

At home we're going to push reading different types of books. He got stuck on Boxcar Children, and never wanted to move to different books. I'm actually going to read to him more. I kind of stopped that when he could read on his own well. 

His teacher was really excited to talk about Benjamin. J is pronounced like like an h, min is pronounced like mean. His teacher now says Benjamin's name right. She loves watching the 2 play together. She says Isaak uses a lot of hand gestures to communicate when it's quiet time. Benjamin will go up in line when Isaak points. Then he'll start to tap and poke at Isaak to play. Isaak laughs, but puts his hands down, stands up really tall, and faces forward to show Benjamin it's time to be quiet. We learned that Benjamin is from Argentina from his teacher. At his Banister Leadership Camp Isaak picked Argentina as the place to research this week. He was so excited because he's never picked the place - someone else always has. One day Isaak really researched Argentina! He had 2 pages of stuff written down. Mica snapped at him for copywriting. I said, "Mica he hasn't learned about that yet. Let him be!" Isaak wants to have Benjamin over, but it's hard because he and his parents don't speak very good English. I'm so proud of him for taking this little boy under his wing!

Mica's Fifth Grade Conferences

I forgot to do a recap of conferences. I started this blog as a way to jot things down for the kids. If you're not interested...move on to a different post.

My kids do really well in school, so this will be more of a positive post.

We let the kids play on their Kindles in the hallway, while we venture in to talk to each of their teachers.

Mica's conference was first. 

Mica has all O's and S's, which stands for, "Outstanding" and "Satisfactory". His teacher gives all the kids S's for things like problem solving. Not very many kids in 5th grade are very good problem solvers. At home Mica still asks for his clothes to be handed to him in the morning, yet he and Isaak can make us coffee. I basically grab his clothes, and throw them in his face. Then he gets told, "Don't forget your deodorant!" He's book smart, but can be a male ditz. 

This is the first teacher that was super tuned in to Mica's flaws. We all have them. Because Mica does well in school, and has gotten medals for different things, he's great in most of teacher's minds. 

His teacher last year and I had a conversation about how he needed to try extra things. Well this year he has. He's done well with that. 

This years teacher said, "Mica doesn't do all the work. Ok he does the work, but only answers things part of the way. He needs to work on backing himself up. He rushes to get things done." 

I asked, "Does he have a book in his desk that he can't wait to get back to?" 

She said, "Exactly." 

If it were me I'd take the book away. I'm not her.

Every teacher has told us, "It's wonderful that Mica loves to read!" 

When we say, "He reads too much, and doesn't get other things done." they look at us like we're crazy parents. 

This one gets it.

Mica even reads junk mail sitting on our table. 

He also takes things to literally. I'm not saying he doesn't have a personality. He doesn't answer things with detail because he feels like in his mind he answered it. Yes is an answer to him. When it should be, Yes because... I have college students that do this too. It's not unheard of.

Mica's also all about fairness. Something like a kid throwing down their safety patrol vest on the floor, and not picking it up really stresses him out. Especially when he asks them to pick it up and they refuse to. With middle school there's going to be many more punks like that. 

These are things we need to work on with him. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy Saint Patricks Day Everyone

I hope you have a very happy green day!

We're not drinkers. I'd love to have a beer, but it doesn't agree with my allergies, beer for me.

Travis is making corn beef and cabbage. I also have some homemade beer bread made.

This morning I woke up super early, and made: Matcha Buttermilk Pancakes.

They were super easy to make!!!

  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg, Lightly Beaten
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • 2 Teaspoons Matcha Green Tea Powder
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk: 
Note: If you don't have Buttermilk around I have a trick - Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice for each 1 cup of milk. I hardly buy buttermilk.  

Other things my family devoured: 

  • Green Spinach 
  • An Egg
  • Apple Sauce
  • Pumpkin Seeds AKA Pepita Seeds
  • Dark Chocolate Chips

Mica said, "We're missing a green smoothie." Yours truly AKA ME broke the glass on the blender this week. I dropped a glass into it. I managed to grab the glass, but chipped the blender in the process. :( I get the dropsies from time to time. 

Do you have a brand of a blender that you like? I don't want to go super high end because I know they can be super expensive. We do use it daily. I'd like a nice one. I have a 30% card to Khol's, so I'm thinking of checking blenders out there. 

Random Tid Bits

Once a doctor asked if my Dad if he was malnourished at some point in his life. He quickly said, "No...I ate a lot as a kid."

Then he started thinking. His Mom - my Grandma was told to never have kids after my Uncle was born. She had some kind of kidney infection. She had my Dad, and got really sick and went blind.

My Grandpa had a mail job where he was gone delivering mail on trains. I guess a neighbor of theirs stepped in because my Dad and Uncle weren't getting proper care from my Grandma. My Grandma died so early on in my Dad's life that he doesn't remember her.

How could this doctor know my Dad was malnourished? Under his knees is really hallow.

When my Grandma, who my Dad never really got to know died my Grandpa had to pay his respects privately. The same neighbor that cared for my Dad and Uncle called the police to come to the funeral home. She was afraid a fight would break out between my Grandpa and my Grandma's family. The fear was justified because I had a Great Uncle on my Grandma's side that was in the Navy Seal. That same Uncle walked right through Hitler's camp in WWII; he saw Hitler's dog.

My Grandpa was a Christian Scientist. He didn't believe in doctors having any kind of power. Healing came only through prayer.
My First Oil Wash of My Grandma Margret - Not the best photo. The real image looks better.

My Dad was a sinner according to my Grandpa. My Dad had allergies like me. My Mom was a nurse. That didn't sit well with Grandpa. Later my parent's had their first child, a Trisomy 18 baby like Emerson. My oldest sister Lisa only lived for a few months. My Dad didn't pray enough according to Grandpa.

My Grandpa got married 3 times:
  1. First to the girl known as my Grandma (Margret), who my Dad never really knew. 

  2. Then to the a lady (Lottie) that claimed to never be good with kids, but had to raise my Dad and Uncle. Lottie, which my Dad called, "Mom" died from a stroke shortly after my Mom and Dad got married. 

  3. Lastly my Grandpa married the only Grandma I knew (Magdalena also known as Nita) through mail. She was from the Philippines. Could you imagine a Catholic married to a Christian Scientist? Most Christians think of Christian Scientists as being in a cult.

My Dad used to tell my older sister and I to hide when my Grandpa would start preaching. Grandpa would tell us that God is in the plant in front of us, and that we should worship the plant. Maybe he was right. He lived to be in his 90s. Towards the end of his life he did go to see doctors.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

UpNature The Best Citronella Essential Oil Review

I recently got: UpNature The Best Citronella Essential Oil to review.

What is it Used For:

  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Candle Making
  • Torches
  • Skin Use - Perfume
  • To Freshen Up a Room

Unfortunately we don't have any mosquitoes just yet. ;) There's snow on the ground right now. I have used it in a spray to freshen up my office.

Room Spray - Cleaner:

1. I steeped in different mason jars lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange peels in white vinegar. I did this for a few weeks.

2. Then I put in 1/2 of the steeped vinegar, and 1/2 water in a spray bottle. It's not best to put essential oils in plastic, but it's much better than the 409 they always use. My nose didn't hate me!

3. Next I used drops of lemon oil in all, but the lime. I used Citronella in the lime cleaner. Guess what? No one complained about the smell. I just had different students fighting over what scent they wanted. I was expecting my boss to come in, and complain that it didn't smell CLEAN, but he didn't. Instead I heard, "It smells really good in here!" His wife that also works there said, "I think your cleaners are a hit!

Everyone was happy!

I can't wait to use Citronella for a bug spray. I seem to be a mosquito magnet. Seriously I get bug bites when Travis gets none.

A Little More About Citronella:
  • It comes in a 4 ounce jar, which lasts a long time.
  • A little goes a long way!
  • It has a lid, and a glass dropper. I have to be honest, I usually throw the lid away, and keep the dropper in it.
  • Cost: $19.95, but on sale for $14.97. That's with Prime.
  • All natural ingredients.
Have you tried essential oils? What is your favorite one?

I received Up Nature Citronella mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sewing Kit Review

I've been incorporating sewing into my artwork. It just adds another media that one would usually see in a painting/mixed media piece.

Recently I got a 100 Piece Sewing Kit by Ebeauty to review: I love all the new fun colors in it.

What Does it Include:
  • 32 Small Reel of Threads
  • 32 Bigger Reel of Threads
  • A Small Scissors - This is the one thing I wish wasn't in the kit. They were hard to use, and made poorly. They bent up after the first time I used them.
  • A Plastic Measuring Tape 
  • 2 Plastic Thimbles
  • Needles
  • 2 Threaders
  • A Storage Box - To me this isn't the high area of the set. There isn't a lid for the "box". I think it's more like a tray.

Thread material: 
  • Polyester
  • It's Both Durable and Strong
  • Suitable for a Sewing Machine
  • Suitable for Hand Stitching
What I Used the Thread For:
I'm working on a mixed media piece about captivity. I sewed the Mocking Bird and the Girl's hair. I still need to do the cuckoo clock. That too will have sewing in it.


Only $9.99 with Prime, which is such a great deal!

The Biggest Thing I'm Excited About:

Is all the colors!

Do you like to sew?

Disclaimer: I received this Sewing Kit to assist with this review. I wrote this post, and was not influenced at all with an opinion. I only review things that I find interesting, or that would benefit my readers or family. 

Folders - Round 2

This story just cracks me up, or annoys me! We'll go with cracks me up.

A long time ago, which was 2 years ago a co-worker who I will call Mrs. Clean Freak had me walk across the school to tell her who's stack of folders were sitting in the classroom.

They were mine. I use them in class I'm in that room. I collect the students sketches and papers. Then they get their folder to take home, or do whatever they wish with it at the end of the year. Many love looking through it. Mrs. Clean Freak wanted them gone. Poof! Out of there! I put them in my office. 

Then when she wasn't looking, I tip toed my ass back into the classroom to hide the big stack of folders better. 

They went from here: 

Which is in the back of the room, to here:

Oh you can't see them can you! Now can you see them?

They stayed hidden there for 2 years. I changed the folders, because we had new students come in. In the same spot they stayed.

An Open House is coming up, so Mrs. Clean Freak is cleaning. Apparently very well too well.

Mrs. Clean Freak came hauling the folders back into my office. They are probably all out of my alphabetical order. I actually alphabetize them by first name because that's what I call them. My mind works better that way.

Mrs. Clean Freak: Are these yours? They look like they've been there for awhile. 

Me: I use them every time I'm in there. I thought they were hidden pretty well. 

Mrs. Clean Freak: Can you put them in your office? At least until the Open House is over? 

Me: Sure. 

Me Thinking, but Not Saying: Sure Mrs. Clean Freak. You must not of cleaned hard enough last year because you didn't see the folders then. People walking through for the Open House surely can't see office folders. Things like folders, tape dispensers, pencils, pens, paperclips, recycle bins don't belong in a classroom. God forbid people think we work here. - By the way that is all stuff I have to hide before an Open House. How silly! Recycle bins have to be hidden, but trash cans can be sitting out. 

Mrs. Clean Freak complains about her brother being a clean freak. He's the owner. I think they both are clean freaks. They both come from the same gene pool. 

My Mom told me a bit of advice once...Let the little stuff go. Ever since then the little stuff doesn't bother me. People that get annoyed about the little things I find humorous. There's a part of me that likes to push buttons to get them going. 

As for what they'd call me... 

I'm an organized slob. Ha! I'm not really bashing the clean freaks, ok maybe I am. In their minds they are calling me Mrs. Slob, so we're even.



She came in to ask me if I'd go hide the pencils, pens, tissue boxes in the classroom. Maybe I'll sneak my folders in the room. I could hide them on a student's desk. Ha!

My Tiffin Lunch Box

Have you ever heard of a Tiffin Lunch Box? 

I have, but only because I've had one for awhile. Prior to having it, I had never heard of one.

What is it?

It's a lunch box that is all different sections, that goes into 1 piece.

Like This:

I wanted to take a picture as soon as I popped it open. I haven't used my Tiffin in awhile. Usually I have one hot dish to warm up. There was one guy eating with me at work. He's not a social media guy at all. He wouldn't understand me taking a picture of my lunch. It is kind of strange when you think about it. 

I waited to photograph my lunch when the anti social media guy left. 

Here's My Partly Eaten Lunch:

What I Had:

Homemade Beer Bread- I've been making it a lot since my allergies don't like when I drink. Travis has done stupid things while drinking, so he doesn't drink anymore. We had so much alcohol left over from New Years. It's good beer too. I wish I could drink it!

Fruit and Veggies- A clementine, which is such a great proportion of fruit for one person, 3 radishes, and 3 celery strips. 

Quinoa Salad- That section of Tiffin was full of that when I started my meal. I don't usually like Quinoa that much, but I do in this salad. - Recipe here. I made the salad for this weekends birthdays: My Dad and Nephew Elijah. The recipe is great for a lot of people. We were missing 5 of our usual people. Lots left over. I like that Quinoa is a protein. It tastes like a grain, but it isn't one. 

I always like eating out of my Tiffin Lunch Box. 

The Tiffin Lunch Box does remind me of an art supply. The art supply is a Metal Brush Washer. 


It took me forever to find that online! I had an instructor call it a Water Well. It's not that! I searched, "Water Well, Art Supply" - only actual water wells came up. I searched, "Tiffin, Art Supply" - only lunch boxes came up. I thought for sure it would have an actual name. Nope! Metal Brush Washer it is. 

That cup looking thing with the holes goes into the washer upside down. Then you can get your brush clean, and the paint yuck water sinks to the bottom. The lid clips on to make it easy to travel with. It is super handy. 

Do you think the Metal Brush Washer looks like the Tiffin?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

WW: Paper Mache

The boys are on Spring Break. Travis had them do some research on Ancient Mesoamerican History. They are making Alebrije, which are brightly colored Mexican Folk Art Sculptures of fantastical creatures. They started out with writing about their character, then drawing it, and now they are building it out of paper mache.

Yep our living room is a mess for awhile...

Two Board Books By Ripley's Believe It or Not! Review

I've always loved reading to my kids. Right now I'm reading, Wonder to Isaak. Yes he knows how to read, but he gets intimidated by bigger books. No child is too old to read to.

Recently Ripley's Believe It or Not! introduced two board books to the market. My kids are passed board books, but I have two nephews Edison and Emerson that will love them!

I like Ripley's Believe It or Not! is adding this new line of books.

Both books use the illustrations of Ripley cartoonist John Graziano. He also illustrates for the Ripley's Believe It or Not! cartoon. Illustration is my background. I happen to really like his style!

About Both Books:
  • They should be in the stores now. The publication date was March 7, 17
  • There are 26 pages in each book.
  • The books are small enough to fit in a purse, or diaper bag. They are 6"x6"
  • Text is simple, easy to read, and there's a good amount of contrast from the pages to the text. That's what I found difficult when my kids were little - some text is hard to read at night because there's little to no contrast from the text to the background. These books are easy to read!
  • I found when my children were at the age where they were beginning to read many books had different fonts used, which my kids didn't know because that's not how they were trained in school how to write. These books will not be a problem with early readers. 
The first one is Ripley's Believe It or Not! ODDphabet

About the Book:

  • If you are looking to buy it the ISBN: 978-1-60991-170-6
  • Funny images! There's a singing donkey, a parrot has on skates, a turtle has a mohawk and brush, vipers that sips on lemonade, and more. 
  • This book goes through the whole alphabet.

The second one is Ripley's Believe It or Not! Wacky123

About the Book:
  • If you are looking to buy it the ISBN: 978-1-60991-170-6
  • There are funny images in this book as well. Two joined cows, a tiger on a skateboard that has four wheels, a frog with six muddy prints, seven goats in a tree, an elephant that paints on a canvas with it's trunk, and more.
  • This book counts up to twelve. 

Do you like to read? Do you like non fiction, or fiction books?

Disclaimer: I received two board books from Ripley's Believe It or Not! to assist with this review. I wrote this post, and was not influenced at all with an opinion. I only review things that I find interesting, or that would benefit my readers or family. 

White Chili #Recipe

I love Chili! It's just one of those comfort foods to me. Usually I make the usual: Red Tomato Chili. This weekend I decided to make a White Chili that I haven't made in awhile.

It's super easy to make, and it's so good!


Scroll down for instructions.

Travis and I love spice! 

If you're not a big fan of spicy things, then you may want to use less Cayenne Pepper. I think the Green Chilies add to the spicy flavor.

The boys aren't spice lovers. They used to even say that regular toothpaste, and soda were all spicy! They used natural toothpaste for years, and rarely had soda. Soda was only consumed when we went out to eat, which wasn't often. Maybe it was the fizz in the soda, and strong mint taste in the toothpaste that they had trouble getting used to. They like those things now.

I've been making the boys try spicy dishes since they were itty bitty. They still haven't acquired that love for spice that I've been waiting for. It will probably happen when they are out of the Apel house, and into their own Apel houses.

I think this recipe is the bomb! It's fairly healthy too!

What foods do you like on a cold, dreary day?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ebeauty Fidget Toys 10 Pack Stress Relieve toy Review

Do you like to fidget with things? Like that one person that won't stop putting their knee up and down, or that other person that bites their fingernails.

Mica's a fidgeter. He always has a small Lego toy, or something in his hands. I found the perfect fidget toy for him made by e-Beauty. It's a Stress Marble Hand Toy.

A small bag comes stuffed with 10 of these toys.


Colors vary. On Amazon the pink is purple.

My favorite is the red one.




Somehow I missed pink that can be more of a purple.


$8.99 in a pack of 10. 

Great for people with ADD, ADHD, OCD, and Autism. Really for anyone that fidgets.

I have a box of fidget type things full of puddy, squishy ball things, puzzle cubes, and this will now go in the box as well.

What do you like to fidget with? In the art world there is a kneadable eraser. I always found myself playing with it. 

Disclaimer: I received Ebeauty Fidget Toys to assist with this review. I wrote this post, and was not influenced at all with an opinion. I only review things that I find interesting, or that would benefit my readers or family. 

Bigelow Tea

Recently I've been participating in Nature Savvy's facebook talks and twitter parties. They happen to land on my lunch break because I'm in Central Time Zone, and they are Pacific. I don't mind eating, and following along. I learn something every single time! They had a speaker that talked all about oils to cook with. I learned a lot. In fact I went to the store, and bought some of the oils they talked about. 

Recently Nature Savvy had a twitter party with Bigelow Tea! I won a set! They've been making tea since 1945. It's so good.

Give the Gift of Tea

Midterms were last week. I gave a few bags of tea from each box to the Education Director to put in a basket. She passed the basket around for students to take some tea. They loved it! College students need tender care at time all the time.

What the Set Came With

Looking to Stay Well Every Day - Lemon and Echinacea Herbal Tea. I've been having this because I don't want to get sick on top of my other health problems with nasal polyps, allergies and asthma. I kind of can't wait to have surgery at this point.

Refresh - Turmeric Chili Matcha Green Tea. This one was popular among the students. It's great to drink this right at the low point in the day. For me that's about 3:30.

Sleep - Chamomile and Lavender Herbal Tea. I don't know that the Education Director passed this one out to the students. We didn't need extra sleepers in class. This is a great one before bed. I've had trouble sleeping for months on end.

Calm Stomach - Ginger and Peach Herbal Tea. I haven't had stomach issues in a really long time. It used to be that I did. I contribute it to the fact that we eat steamed greens most mornings. I do know that ginger does reduce inflammation, so I drink it for that.

Balance - Cinnamon and Blackberry Herbal Tea. This one is my favorite. I like the cinnamon taste. I don't know that I'm totally in balance after I drink it, but I find that tea in general puts me at ease.

Radiate Beauty - Blueberry and Aloe Herbal Tea. I'm certainly the prettiest woman in the room when I drink this. ;) It's my second favorite. I must love berries.


I love all the variety that each box had! On their website they have all kinds of recipes you can use the tea in.

What would be the tea that you would go for right now? If you're not a tea drinker, what tea would fit what you need right now: Sleep would be the one for me right now. 

Disclaimer: I received Bigelow Teas. I was not asked to review this product. I wrote this post, and was not influenced at all with an opinion. I only review things that I find interesting, or that would benefit my readers or family.


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