Thursday, August 21, 2008

Last Days of Summer

I'm feeling torn in two directions this week. Or more than two. Part of me wants to play, visit with friends, and take the kids to do fun summer things because school is starting next week. The other part of me wants to lock the kids in the backyard, have everyone live on cold cereal and go without clean laundry while I whip my house into shape and get my lesson plans done through Christmas. This is because I feel like life is going to change next week. It's a lot like the way I feel when I'm about to have a baby--I'm in a frenzy to get everything ready and wish that I could just have one more week, no two more weeks until everything changes and I don't have any time for myself.

The rational side of me can remember that when school starts we will continue to have fun, I will still have time to read, see friends (not often enough), blog, and clean the house--I will just have to be a lot more organized to accomplish this than I have been during the past six weeks when we have mostly stopped doing schoolwork and just lazed around without a routine. (Could this possibly be the reason that my boys are at each other's throats?:)

Anyway, the boys asked me on Tuesday if they could have a "club" party this week. A couple of weeks ago I encouraged them to go outside and play (my usual schtick when I'm trying to get housework done and they are no longer being helpful) and suggested that they turn the "playhouse" that they never use into a "clubhouse." A new club was born which keeps them very busy. When I pay close attention, it does bother me a little bit that it resembles a communist nation with Kimball as the dictator (they say pledges about obey the president and keep lots of secrets), but I try to push that to the back of my mind because they are so happy out there and I have a few minutes to myself to clean blog.

I said yes to a club party, but limited the invitations to one family, since I wanted this to be small scale (translate: practically free and not stressful). They delightedly got busy making invitations for their friends Hayden and Brycen, planning party games and decorations, and telling me all of the food they wanted at the party. (They suggested a fondant cake shaped like a clubhouse-- they have obviously spent too much time around their talented aunt. We compromised on zebra brownies--recipe below-- which take 15 minutes for me to make and included only ingredients I had on hand.) They also served pretzels, grapes, hot dogs, and pink lemonade.

They scurried around this morning when I reminded them that a house needs to be clean when you're going to host a party. They got their bedrooms cleaned in record time and then got busy with crepe paper streamers outside. Here's how it looked when they were finished:

Lucky for me, Mandy (the guest's mom) came along, so we got to chat and catch up while the party kids played trampoline soccer (I'm very safety conscious like that), sidewalk chalk tic-tac-toe, and rode their bikes out in the cul-de-sac.

When the "party" ended, my little hosts were hot and tired and ready for some down time--but before we turned on Annie to relax they learned an important lesson about hosting parties: cleaning up.

If you are in need of some last days of summer treat (or a first days of the school year treat) and are willing to crank up the oven in spite of the heat, try out this recipe for "Zebra Brownies." My boys loved the name, but I love the taste. (Sorry that there's no picture. Mandy and I were so busy chatting that I forgot to take photos. Make them yourself to see what they look like!:)

Zebra Brownies
  • Your favorite brownie recipe or your favorite boxed mix
  • 8 oz. marscapone, cream cheese, or reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature (but know that the marscapone is the most heavenly of the three.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup granulated poison sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Make the brownies according to the directions in the recipe or on the box. Pour the mixture into the greased pan. If you want, wash out the bowl. Or just scrape the brownie batter out fairly well and use the bowl again. They are all going to be together in a few minutes anyway.

Mix the marscapone, egg, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth and creamy. Spoon large dollops onto the top of the brownie batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the chocolate and cream cheese until it is lovely and stripy or swirly as desired. Bake in 325 oven until a toothpick comes out clean (time depends on your brownie recipe.) Cool completely, then refrigerate for best flavor.


Angela said...

We all must be thinking the same and lesson plans. Those zebra treats look yummy! I will have to try them out!

Nana said...

Am I the only who knows they missed out on pizza rolls?

Michal said...

ha! nana, don't tell on me! i did try to make the pizza rolls for lunch but the dough wasn't working (it's that #%@* mixer of mine acting up again). i finally did hot dogs and tried another batch of dough later for dinner. it worked this time, although i was skeptical, since the dough still wasn't quite right until after it raised once.

scrap chair potato said...

You are amazing. You sacrifice so much to home school your children. I wish I were that unselfish. I really mean it, you are amazing and I know you will be blessed for your sacrifices.

The party sounds like a blast!!! I love the picture of the clubhouse.

The zebra brownies sound delicious. I will have to find a reason to make them. :)

MoziEsmé said...

Great job on the decorating, I must say!

Michal said...

sometimes it feels like a sacrifice, sometimes it feels like a blessing, but most of the time it just feels like reality! i know it's the right thing for our family right now, so there's no point in me feeling like a martyr over it. i really do love it, but it is a lot more work than sending them to school was. less anxiety, but more work.

Allison said...

Your description of the club as communist nation is pretty accurate. On Wed. Kimball had Ian braced against the wall questioning him about leaking information to "vandals" who would destroy the club. Ian kept insisting that he was innocent. When I stopped him and asked him why Ian would do that to the club. Kimball said that Ian wants out, and since you are you are not allowed to ever leave the club, he is trying to destroy it.
This is very serious business.

Nana said...

Oh, my gosh! What is that kid reading? Maybe poor Ian can get a diplomatic appointment to another country for a while.

Nicolette said...

Those brownies sound perfect. Yesterday I made some blondies hoping for a little twist on my typical boring brownies, and it just didn't cut it. This solution looks wonderful. Thanks!

Michal said...

i can't believe it. actually, i can believe it! scary, eh?
i think it's too much pinky and the brain. it's really gone to his head.

and then this morning, he chopped off some hair in the front to make a "more realistic mustache" with scotch tape on his upper lip. it was so adolf hitler with blond hair!

i think we'd better add animal farm to his book list this year.

Christine said...

I cannot believe they wanted a fondant cake shaped like a clubhouse. That is SOOOSOOOO funny! My girls want to join the club. I don't like homeschool- just for the record- it makes you too busy. (for me)

An Ordinary Mom said...

I can't believe summer is almost gone, we have one more week, too.

The clubhouse party sounds like it was a huge success!

Prudy said...

The club is a crack up. It sounds like practice for running a business, or a small country someday. I'll join any group that makes brownies of any kind. Count me in.

Michal said...

christine, prudy,
i've got bad news for you. the boys put their club rules down on cardboard tablets (shaped like the 10 commandments in their scripture stories book) and rule number 6 states: any boy over 3 can join the club -- boys over 11 excluded.
lol. so i guess that girls are out, at least for the time being. olivia managed to get into the clubhouse for the party, but she is obviously not a member.:)

Ashley said...

ahh... the back to school rush. that is so taking me back to my teaching days. i say send them all outside and get your planning done. you still have a few more saturdays of warm weather for swimming. although advice from me is dangerous... i can be a workaholic. good luck with the new year-- isn't it refreshing to have a clean start and new routines? i am actually kind of looking forward to fall for that very reason.

Prudy said...

I had a sneaking suspicion that this club would be one I couldn't join. It's a good thing we're hundreds of miles apart-it'll lessen the blow.:)