My Happy Crazy Life

Mommy Questions – Little Guy 2012

Mommy QuestionsThe other day I was cleaning up my computer, reorganizing and deleting files, and I came across the following “Mommy Questions” that I’d asked Little Guy about two years ago when he was five. I’m going to do it again to see how his answers have changed, but here are his five-year-old answers for now – enjoy!

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?
I love you.

2. What makes Mommy happy?
I do.

3. What makes Mommy sad?
When I’m not here.

4. How does Mommy make you laugh?
By making funny faces.

5. What was Mommy like as a child?
I don’t know… ummm…? Mom, did you make a mess in your room when you were little?

6. How old is Mommy?
51 or 55.

7. How tall is Mommy?
87 feet.

8. What is Mommy’s favorite thing to do?
Play on the computer??

9. What does Mommy do when you’re not around?
Eat lunch?

10. If Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
Juggling oranges.

11. What is Mommy really good at?
Cutting oranges.

12. What is Mommy not very good at?
Losing the iPad?

13. What does Mommy do for her job?
To watch the kids when they’re here.

14. What is Mommy’s favorite food?
Chinese food from the Chinese place.

15. What makes you proud of Mommy?
When you turn on the TV.

16. If Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
A girl on the show that you don’t want me to watch. (Ziva – NCIS)

17. What do you and Mommy do together?
Sit by each other.

18. How are you and Mommy the same?
By loving each other. And our faces.

19. How are you and Mommy different?
You have a bed for you and Dad.

20. How do you know Mommy loves you?
Cuz you always hug me and kiss me!

Oh too funny! Have you ever had a conversation like this with one of your children? What did they say about you??

Make a Waldorf Hand Kite

About a year ago I made some major changes in my child care environment to give it a Reggio-Inspired feel. Throughout the process I did a LOT of research online and made a HUGE list of ideas to revisit and incorporate as time and money allowed.

One of the things I fell in love with were Waldorf Hand Kites. aka Ribbon Rings, Hand Kites, Wind Wands, Hand Streamers, you get the idea.

Etsy has a ton of Waldorf Hand Kites for sale, but being a DIY (do it yourself) sort of girl I looked at them and thought “I can make that myself!”

So I did.


Make Waldorf Hand Kite - SuppliesObviously I needed to find ribbons and wood rings, both of which I wanted to find as cheaply as possible. Our local Dollar Tree LOVE that place! had rolls of ribbon for $1 each, so I bought 2 of each color. I found wood rings on Etsy – listed as “imperfect” and priced lower because they weren’t as smooth as “first quality.” I figured I could sand them in front of the TV at night.

At first I was going to leave the wood rings unfinished, but I remembered seeing a recipe for homemade beeswax and olive oil wood finish, and since I had both ingredients I decided to whip up a batch.


Make Waldorf Hand Kite - Finishing the Wood RingsThrough trial and error I discovered that the easiest way to apply the finish was to put the ring into the paste and turn it around so the entire outside was covered. Then I spread the paste with my fingers until the whole ring was coated. After all the rings were done I set them aside to dry for one to two hours.

Easy peasy!


Make Waldorf Hand Kite - Wood RingsThe wood finish makes the wood glow, smells great, and left my hands super-smooth. I think I may use this to spruce up any and all wood toys in the playroom!


Make Waldorf Hand Kite - RibbonsWhile the rings were drying I started on the ribbon. I wanted to make six rings so I had to do some math to figure out how long to cut each piece of ribbon. Once I had that set I started cutting!

My ribbons trail about 25″ from the ring, which I think is a great length – long enough to stream dramatically but not too long for my kiddos. When you measure your ribbon be sure to include extra length for the knot!


Make Waldorf Hand Kite - Cut RibbonsAs soon as I started cutting I realized that I had a problem – grograin ribbon frays. To be honest, grograin ribbon wasn’t my first choice, but for $1 per spool I wasn’t going to complain!

I Googled “How to Keep Ribbon from Fraying” and found two suggestions: lay the end on a hot electric stove element, or melt the end with a match.


Make Waldorf Hand Kite - MatchI tried the stove trick first but it didn’t work so I pulled out the matches. I quickly learned that the ribbon ends need to be close enough to melt, but not so close that it burns. I also learned that burned grograin ribbon STINKS!


Make Waldorf Hand Kite - Melted EndsAll done!


Make Waldorf Hand Kite - Rubbing the RingsWhen an hour was up no way did I have patience to wait two hours I rubbed the rings with an old washcloth to remove excess finish.


Make Waldorf Hand Kite - Finished RingsAren’t they pretty?


Make Waldorf Hand Kite - Ribbons Tied OnI tied the ribbons on very tightly. I’d thought about sewing the ribbons close to the ring, but realized that tied ribbons would stream better and be easier to switch out if one got ruined or something.


Make Waldorf Hand Kite - All DoneHere are my six Waldorf Hand Kites. I love them!

Each Hand Kite cost me under $4.00; the rings were $1.55 each, and there’s about $2 worth of ribbon on each Hand Kite. Since I already had olive oil and beeswax I didn’t include them in the cost, but they’d only add pennies more.


Make Waldorf Hand Kite - Z-Man with Hand KiteEven at nine years old Z-Man thinks they’re pretty cool.

I can’t wait to see what the kiddos think of them tomorrow!

Amy Sue

That’s not a Toy Mouse

Kippy with Toy MouseThe night started off like any other – I was settled down in my rocking chair watching TV and nursing Z-Man to sleep. He was such a good baby at bedtime, all I had to do was nurse and cuddle him for about half an hour and by 10:00 he was just as ready for bed as Teacher and I were.


Kippy strolled into the living room with a toy mouse in his mouth.

Kippy is the second-oldest of our cats, and officially Teacher’s cat although he’s shown a distinct preference for Angel Face from the day he entered the house. His full name is Kipling – Teacher was reading “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling when we got the cat and decided to name him after the author.


“Hmm, that’s strange; that mouse still has a tail.” I thought idly as Kippy trotted past.

Unlike Murphy, who lives and breathes for sparkle balls, Kippy’s favorite toy is a grey mouse and he always – ALWAYS – chews the tails off first thing.


“Why is he growling?” I thought next, “That’s not like him at all.” I craned my head to take a closer look.

The mouse twitched.

O.M.G. It’s a REAL mouse! And it’s still ALIVE!


“Honey?? Honey!!!”

Alarmed by my cries Teacher hurried into the living room.

“Kippy has a mouse and it’s ALIVE!”

Teacher took one look at the cat, then chased him out of the living room and into the kitchen. I stayed right where I was, with my feet up on the footstool. No way was I putting my feet on the floor with a mouse in the house! Besides, Z-Man was almost asleep anyway.


After a few moments I heard Teacher’s voice, “Good boy! Good boy Kippy!” Then I heard the sound of kitty treats hitting the floor.

Teacher appeared in the doorway, “Kippy took care of it.”

“Did he kill it? Where is it now?” I hadn’t heard the toilet flushing or the outside door opening.

“Yup! He killed it, then he ate it.” Teacher replied.

“The whole thing??” I asked. “Nothing left anywhere?”

My Aunt Betty used to tell stories of how their cat would leave dead critters in their shoes as love offerings. I did NOT want to find a dead mouse – or parts of a dead mouse – in one of my shoes, and I did NOT want to clean mouse guts – or pieces and parts – off the floor.

“The whole thing, tail and all.” He replied, “It’s like kitty potato chips; crunchy.” He grinned.

“Oh, gross!!”


As much as I didn’t want to think about Kippy killing and eating the mouse I was glad he did.

I didn’t want any mice – dead or alive – in my house, and definitely didn’t want to find mouse parts anywhere. I was confident that if any other mice snuck into the house Kippy would hunt them down, kill them, and dispose of the bodies for me

“Good kitty!”

Amy Sue

A Day with Tom Copeland

If you’re in family child care for any length of time it’s inevitable that at some point you’ll discover Tom Copeland. I don’t remember exactly when I first heard of him, but it must’ve been shortly after I started doing child care.

Tom Copeland is a celebrity in family child care circles so I was super-excited to met him “in person” a couple of years ago when he was in our area for a family child care conference.

The conference was co-sponsored by our local CCRR (Child Care Resource and Referral) and CHILD (Caregivers Helping Influence Learning Development) a family child care support group. It was such a success that another family child care conference was scheduled for this spring. This time Tom Copeland was the only presenter so the conference was called “A Day with Tom Copeland.”

Tom Copeland Training - DinnerJust like last time, Tom agreed to have dinner with CHILD members the night before the conference.

This year was super-duper exciting for me because I got to ride along with my friend Gina sitting on Tom’s right when she picked him up and dropped him off at his hotel! It was surreal because Tom is famous, but he reminded me so much of my dad that it was almost like talking to a long-lost uncle – they both have the same sense of humor and make many of the same hand gestures when they’re talking.


Tom Copeland Training - Door PrizesSaturday morning I arrived early I know, hard to believe since I’m almost always late to help set up, and was asked to coordinate the door prizes.


Tom Copeland Training - Family Support Group BoardOne half of the room was set aside for organizations’ displays, like this one from area family support groups HEART, CARE, and CHILD. I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know what HEART and CARE stand for.


Tom Copeland Training - CHILD BoardCHILD also had a separate board. The photos on the left section are “my” kiddos – do you recognize Little Guy with Buddy?


Tom Copeland Training - WFCCA BoardMy friend Gina aka She Who Drives Tom Copeland is the WFCCA (Wisconsin Family Child Care Association) Area Representative for her area. WFCCA is the organization that named me Star of the Region several years ago.


Tom Copeland Training - Valley AEYC BoardI brought the Valley AEYC (Valley Association for the Education of Young Children) board to display. If you look closely you may see some familiar faces…


Tom Copeland Training - CCRR Board with Lisa and RosieLisa and Rosie represented CCRR. Everyone at CCRR works so hard for child care providers, children, and the children’s families; co-sponsoring this conference is just the tip of the iceberg!


Tom Copeland Training - Tom CopelandAnd here is The Man himself, getting ready for a whole day of training. I’ll bet he was exhausted by the end of the day – I was and I mostly just sat there!


Tom Copeland Training - Tom Looks Like Dad

Here’s a perfect example of Tom looking exactly like my Dad. Or maybe it’s vice versa and my Dad looks exactly like Tom?? I don’t have a photo to prove it, but I’ve seen my Dad standing exactly the same way and making the exact same face. Maybe my Mom or another family member will comment and back me up. Hint-hint!


Tom Copeland Training - Tom and Me

Of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get my picture taken with him! Kelly, eat your heart out! ;)

All in all it was a wonderful day! I knew most of the other attendees and enjoyed catching up with the ones I hadn’t seen for a while, I won the blue basket door prize, and Tom shared so much good information that my head was spinning when I left. Yes, I do consider that a good thing.

I hope we’ll be able to have him come back in a couple of years again. There’s always something new to learn!
Amy Sue

Virtual Make-Over Fun

The other day I decided it was time to try something new with my hair. I love being a redhead and I love short hair but it’s been pretty much the same for so long I was ready to make a change.

But what to do? When you have really short hair like mine your only options are to change the color or to let it grow out.

I hate growing out my hair. I still remember growing it out my first year teaching and being at that awkward stage where you really can’t do much with it. One of my 5th grade students patted the curled-under ends and said “It looks kind of like a mushroom.” Gee, thanks Michael; that’s SO not the look I was going for.

Extensions would be fun and instant gratification, but out of our budget. So I decided to look for ideas online and came across a really cool Virtual Makeover tool.


Free Virtual Makeover - Original PhotoFirst you upload a photo of yourself – I used one I’d taken right after my last haircut.


Free Virtual Makeover - Chelsea HobbsThen you choose celebrities’ hairstyles to try on, like Chelsea Hobbs. I didn’t recognize many of these celebrities’ names, and many of their faces; I just liked their hair.


Free Virtual Makeover - Chelsea Hobbs BlondeYou can try different hair colors too; I ended up trying shades of red and blonde so my real hair wouldn’t be as noticeable if it peeked out around the edges. Here’s “Chelsea Hobbs” in Blonde.


Free Virtual Makeover - Rachel MelvinThe “Rachel Melvin.” So cute on her…


Free Virtual Makeover - Martha StuartThe “Martha Stewart.” Ummm… Definitely not me.


Free Virtual Makeover - Mariska HardigayAnother cool thing you can do is flip the hair right to left so the part is on the right side for you, like I did for the “Mariska Hardigay.”


Free Virtual Makeover - Jackie WarnerYou can also adjust the “fit” of the hair by dragging it closer or further from your face, but obviously you can only do so much to cover your original hair. This is the “Jackie Warner” look.


Free Virtual Makeover - Jenna MaloneThe “Jenna Malone.” Very cute, but similar to what I already have.


Free Virtual Makeover - Edie FalcoThe “Edie Falco.” Finally someone I recognize! I’m not doing her hairstyle any favors though.


Free Virtual Makeover - Kylie BaxThe “Kylie Bax.” This would be a great grow-out style; it’s not mushroom-y at all!


Free Virtual Makeover - Kris KardashianThe “Kris Kardashian.” Gorgeous in brunette but it loses something in the lighter color and I’m not sure I’d want to go THAT dark.


Free Virtual Makeover - Carolyn HenneseeThe “Carolyn Hennesee.” I know my bangs would never go that way – they like to go straight down – but cute anyway.


What fun! I think next time I’ll play with virtual makeup; they have Halloween and celebrity looks, which are bound to be hilarious!

Have you every played around with a Virtual Makeover? Did it help you find a new style?

Amy Sue

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Amy Sue

Guide to Moving

As spring approaches many families start thinking about moving. Teacher and I moved 10 times in the first 11 years of our marriage and I’m in no hurry to move again, but your family is considering a move this cool infographic by the Window and Door Guys may help you out.

Guide to Moving

How about you – how many times have you moved? What are your best moving tips?

Amy Sue

Hot Dog Squid Recipe

Teacher and I have been following the Love and Logic approach to parenting – with varying degrees of dedication and success – for several years now. One of the recommendations is to have children be responsible for a family meal once a week, beginning around age 8.

We’d followed that suggestion for a while, but Teacher really likes to cook and missed it, so we let it slide for a while. But recently Teacher has started rehearsing another production with Kimberly Papermaker Players and has less time for everything else he has to do, so we decided to have the boys start helping out with dinners again.

The first thing Z-Man and Little Guy wanted to make were Hot Dog Squids. They’d made them at a Boy Pioneers meeting and were obsessed. Neither Teacher or I had any interest in having Hot Dog Squids so we planned them for a Friday night when we’d be gone on Date Night.

Hot Dog Squid Recipe in Pictures

Hot Dog Squids are super easy to make – the hardest part is putting them into the boiling water and getting them back out again!


Hot Dog Squid Recipe - Cutting the Hot DogsFirst you need to cut the hot dogs into about 1″ pieces.


Hot Dog Squid Recipe - Cutting Hot Dogs AgainHot dogs are so soft that they can be cut with butter or plastic knives.


Hot Dog Squid Recipe - Hot DogsWe used nitrate free turkey dogs, but you can use whatever type you like best. Except maybe cheese dogs – I don’t think that would end well.


Hot Dog Squid Recipe - Sticking Spaghetti InNext you stick several pieces of spaghetti through the hot dogs. Z-Man says that you’re OK with up to 8-10 pieces but more than that explode the hot dog. We used organic thin spaghetti; if you use regular spaghetti you may want to put fewer pieces in.


Hot Dog Squid Recipe - Sticking Spaghetti in AgainLittle Guy took it to another level and let his artistic side show.


Hot Dog Squid Recipe - First Two DoneTwo distinctly different styles but both get the job done.


Hot Dog Squid Recipe - Plate of Hot Dog SquidsIt’s a little time-consuming, especially if you do it Little Guy’s way, but by the time the water is boiling you should be done.


Hot Dog Squid Recipe - Squids in Boiling WaterCarefully place the hot dog squids into boiling water and cook according to the directions on the spaghetti package.


Hot Dog Squid Recipe - CookedWhen the hot dog squids are done, drain and place into a bowl. You could add butter or olive oil so the spaghetti doesn’t stick together. Whoops, we’ve got an exploded one right on top. Squid down! Squid down!


Hot Dog Squid Recipe - Little Guy Helping HimselfOur boys liked them just plain, but you could serve them with ketchup, spaghetti sauce, or swimming in tomato soup if you like.


Hot Dog Squid Recipe - Z-Man EnjoyingHot dog squids in front of Phineas and Ferb – can life get any better for a nine-year-old?


Hot Dog Squids – Official Recipe

Hot dog squids are so easy to make that I feel kind of silly typing out an official recipe, but I know some people like to have actual recipes.

Hot Dog Squid Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg hot dogs
  • 1 pkg spaghetti

Hot Dog Squid Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot with water. Add some salt, then put the pot on the stove to boil.
  2. Cut the hot dogs into piece about 1″ long.
  3. Push several pieces of uncooked spaghetti through a hot dog segment from one cut side to the other. There should be about equal amounts of spaghetti sticking out each side of the hot dog.
  4. Repeat until all of the hot dog segments have spaghetti in them.
  5. Optional: to make a face, use the point of a knife to make 2 small holes for eyes and a little slit for a smile; they will be noticeable after cooking
  6. When the water is boiling place the hot dog squids into the water carefully so they don’t splash.
  7. Boil according to the directions on the spaghetti package.
  8. When spaghetti is done as desired, drain and serve with ketchup, spaghetti sauce, or in tomato soup.


As a rule I don’t serve hot dogs in my child care, but I may make an exception and try Hot Dog Squids for a special occasion. If you make Hot Dog Squids for your kids, post a comment below and let me know what they thought!

Amy Sue

Solea Tequila Tasting Dinner February 2014

Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - AnnouncementCan you guess what time it is, boys and girls?

That’s right – time for another Solea Tequila Dinner!


The Solea tequila tasting dinner is something I look forward to like football fans look forward to that first kickoff of the season.

Sadly, I had to Google that because I am not so much a football fan. I was going to say Opening Day, but that’s baseball; I had to Google that too cuz I’m not so much a baseball fan either.


Teacher and I enjoy tequila tasting the way some people enjoy wine tasting; we sip and savor, compare and contrast, discuss the different “notes” and “bite” – or lack thereof – then file our favorites and not-so-favorites away in our memory banks for future purchasing. OK, I cannot tell a lie; Teacher files the results away in his memory bank while I end up staring blankly at the shelf of tequilas saying “I think the bottle was blue… Or maybe the label was blue… It didn’t have a rooster on it… Did it?”

The tequilas are only half of the attraction; we love Mexican cuisine, and the food has always been simply amazing. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - PrincessTeacher have been trying to get a big group of people together for the last couple of Tequila Dinners, but between the people who don’t like Mexican food, the people who don’t like tequila, and the people who don’t have time, we haven’t managed it yet. Party poopers!

That’s OK; Princess likes the Tequila Dinner as much as we do, and we enjoy spending time with her, so we’re happy to be a group of three. And this year everyone in our section ended up talking, joking and laughing together by the end of the night, so it was like we were one big group – even though we really didn’t know each other.


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Tequila TableWhen most of the guests were seated the host whose name I don’t remember because I’m terrible with names invited us all to begin the evening by tasting the featured tequilas. Most of them – Cabo Wabo, Patrón Silver, Camarena, Milagro Silver – have been in our home at one time or another, but we hadn’t bought any El Jimador yet, and had never heard of Patrón XO Cafe.

See the blue bottle on the left? That’s Milagro Silver – one of my all-time favorites!


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Patrón XO Cafe DarkSince it was brand-new to us, the Patrón XO Cafe had to be the first one we tried.

O.M.G. it was SO good! Sweet, smooth, rich, with a definite taste of chocolate, it’s hands-down my new favorite tequila. I could definitely sip this over ice. YUM!


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Empty BoothLook – there’s an empty booth just for you! Next time you’ll be there, right?


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Cabo Wabo MojitoIt wasn’t long before the first drink arrived: a Cabo Wabo Mojito. They didn’t list the drink ingredients on their menu this time so I’m guesstimating as best as I can. Obviously this had lime juice, mint and Cabo Wabo tequila. I’m a huge fan of mojitoes so this drink really started the evening off on a happy note for me.


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Tomato and Cheese SaladAccompanying the Mojito was Tomato and Oaxaca Cheese Salad: three slices of ripe, juicy tomato layered with Oaxaca say “Wah-hah-kah” cheese and fresh basil, drizzled with Balsamic vinegar and basil oil. At first I thought it was too cold out for tomato salad and Mojitoes, but they were so incredibly fresh and refreshing that it was like having a bit of summer in the middle of winter. The second-coldest winter in history, by the way.


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Chef Marco SanchezTime out!

This is Marco Sanchez, the chef for the Tequila Dinners and an all-around great guy. He always recognizes us and greets us warmly when he sees us in one of the Solea restaurants.

In case you were concerned, I wasn’t wandering around the kitchen; this photo is from Solea’s Facebook page.


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Four ShotsOne tequila, two tequila, three tequila floor!

Just kidding – none of us hit the floor.


Since the whole purpose of Tequila Tasting Dinner was to taste different tequilas, Teacher brought us samples of the other brands on the table: left to right we have Patrón XO Cafe, Cabo Wabo Blanco, Milagro Silver, and Patrón Silver.

We quickly learned that you should approach a tequila tasting like a you would a wine tasting – start with driest less sweet sample then progress step by step to the sweetest one. In other words, we should’ve started with anything except the Patrón XO Cafe. Oops!


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - The HostIn between courses the host whose name I forget because I’m so bad with names told us interesting facts about tequila in general, and the featured brands specifically. He also asked trivia questions about tequila and gave away vouchers for free drinks as prizes.

Teacher won a free drink for knowing the connection between Jack Daniels barrels and tequila. I’m not telling the answer; you’ll have to come to the next Tequila Dinner to find out!


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Patrón PalomaThe second course began with a Patrón Paloma: Patrón Silver tequila, lime juice, orange juice and grapefruit juice. I’m not a huge fan of grapefruit so I really noticed that grapefruit bitterness on the back of my tongue, but I have to admit it paired nicely with the food.


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Seafood Child RellenoSeafood Chile Relleno – YUM!. When I read the menu I’d imagined a whole stuffed pepper, but this was much more elegant: half a roasted Poblano pepper filled with shrimp, Dungeness crab not that fake Krab stuff and scallops, covered with a fire roasted tomato cream sauce. The pepper was roasted enough to bring out the flavor but not so much that it was mushy, and was spicy enough to perfectly offset the richness of the seafood and the cream sauce. Heaven on a plate!


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Five ShotsOne of the other guests pointed out that there wasn’t any El Jimador on the tasting table, and once that oversight had been remedied Teacher brought us some to try.

Teacher’s really good a picking up on the slight nuances of flavor which is why he’s such a great cook and was figuring out which tequilas would go well in our favorite Margarita recipe, and which would work better in specialty Margaritas, like a Pineapple Margarita.


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Rock, Paper, Scissors for Free DrinksAs we finished our second course the host who remains nameless because I’m awful with names picked two random people from our end of the dining area to do “Rock, Paper, Scissors” for a free drink before he asked any trivia questions. Teacher and I thought it should be “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock” but they didn’t listen to us.


Wait, you don’t know what “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock” is?

Watch and learn, my friend; watch and learn.


After the girl in the left won “Rock, Paper, Scissors” he asked some more questions and Princess won a free drink for knowing what “Plata” meant. It’s very handy to having a Spanish minor around at times like these. Just sayin’…


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Strawberry-Beer Camarena MargaritaFollowing closely on the heels of “Rock, Paper, Scissors without Lizard, Spock” was the next drink, a Strawberry-Beer Camarena Margarita. I dislike beer as passionately as I like tequila so I wasn’t sure what I’d think of this, but I could hardly taste the beer. It had a sweet, but not fake, strawberry flavor with a little fizziness from the beer, and the Camarena Reposado added a depth that silvers don’t usually have.


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Tenderloin with Arriera SauceThe third, and what I consider the “main” course was Black Angus Tenderloin with Arriera Sauce, accompanied by julienned zucchini, onions and carrots. YUM again! The steak was perfectly seared on the outside and juicy inside, while the veggies were tender-crisp and flavorful. Although Arrierta sauce has a reputation for being fiery hot probably because the main ingredient is Serrano peppers this version wasn’t bad at all; even Princess who admits to being a wimp when it comes to hot food enjoyed it.


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Patrón XO Cafe LabelSomehow the tag from the Patrón XO Cafe ended up at our table. I’m not sure how, it just appeared out of the blue. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Princess Looking at LabelPrincess was excited to see the recipe for “Espresso Cocoa Martini” on the inside of the tag:

  • 3/4 oz Patrón Silver
  • 3/4 oz Patrón XO Cafe Dark
  • 3/4 oz Espresso Shot
  • Fine Sugar
  • Powdered Chocolate for garnish

Rub the serving glass with sugar. Combine liquors with espresso in a mixing glass. Add ice; shake, then strain. Garnish with powdered chocolate.

Doesn’t it sound like the perfect drink for curling up on the couch with Teacher and watching House of Cards? I think so and can’t wait to try it this weekend!


I ended up winning a free drink too, so we had a Hat Trick of free drinks at our table. I didn’t have to Google “hat trick” – I know hockey terminology cuz Teacher’s a HUGE hockey fan.

We can’t remember if I won the drink for “Santana,” “Blue Agave,” “Jalisco,” or some other answer; between our research into tequilas and hearing the questions at previous Tequila Dinners, Teacher and I knew the answers for most of the questions so I was tossing them out indiscriminately. But we made sure that all the tables in our section won a free drink too.


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Jimador MargaritaThe fourth drink was called “Perfect Jimador Margarita,” and it was pretty darn perfect. The lime juice was obviously fresh, not a mixer like you get some places. I love trying different types of Margaritas, but my favorite go-to Margarita will always be the traditional lime.


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Red Snapper with ChimichurriAccompanying the “Perfect Jimador Margarita” was “Huachinango al Perejil” – Red snapper with a Solea-original chimichurri sauce and saffron rice. I loved this course – the tangy chimichurri was a perfect complement to the moist, tender, flaky fish, and in my opinion you can never go wrong with saffron rice. SO good!

Every time we have red snapper I remember the time I was pregnant with one of the boys and Teacher brought home a whole red snapper to make for dinner. The fish was fresh and gorgeous, but after one look at its head, tail, and open gut area I had to leave the room – quickly. I’ve heard that some women’s pregnancy aversions hang around after their babies were born, but luckily that didn’t happen to me!


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Jessica & JimTime out!

These were our next-table neighbors: my newest Facebood friend Jessica, and her husband Jim.

We didn’t know each other at the beginning of the night, but as the dinner progressed and the tequila flowed we started chatting back and forth across the aisle with each other, and by the end of the night we’d joined them at their table. OK, I cannot tell a lie: I got tired of talking across the aisle and plopped down by Jessica to chat while we waited for our designated driver, Cowboy, to pick us up.


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Nutty Mexican KissAll too soon the dessert course began. The “Nutty Mexican Kiss” was fantastic but I’ll be honest: I have no idea what was in it.

Like I mentioned before, the menu didn’t list the drink ingredients like previous menus have so I’ve had to guess and this one has me stumped. My best guess is that it’s a variation of the “Nutty Cocoa” recipe I found on the Patrón XO Cafe Dark recipe page, but I don’t remember an almond flavor so maybe they used a different nut-flavored liqueur and added strawberry juice, or maybe they used a strawberry liqueur… I sure wish I’d asked!

I didn’t care for last year’s strawberry drink that tasted like melted strawberry shake, but I loved this one! It was sweet, smooth, slightly nutty and chocolatey, and had a fresh flavor from the strawberries. I really wish they’d listed the ingredients so we could try to duplicate it! Which could be why they stopped listing drink ingredients…


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Strawberries with CheesecakeDessert was “Fresas rellenas de Crema de Queso y Raspberrie Sauce” – aka Fresh strawberries stuffed with cheesecake and drizzled with raspberry sauce. Delicious!

I’d anticipated a typically rich and heavy cheesecake, and it was rich, but light enough not to overpower the strawberries. Which I should mention were amazingly ripe for February in Wisconsin! Teacher pointed out the sprinkling of black pepper on the cheesecake – lately I’ve been putting pepper on EVERYTHING except sweets, so it was ironic to see pepper on dessert. It really enhanced the flavors too!


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Princess Drinking Nutty Mexican KissPrincess really enjoyed the Nutty Mexican Kiss; we both agreed we’d order it for dessert if it were on the menu. Actually, we all agreed that we’d order all everything we’d had tonight again if they were on the menu. It was just THAT good!


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - Silly TeacherAs we finished eating but before I visited our next-table neighbors I realized I’d taken numerous photos of Princess, photos of the food, and photos of people we’d just met, but hadn’t taken any photos of Teacher. Of course he had to “pose” as soon as he saw me point the camera at him – the fact that he can always make me laugh is just one of the reasons I love him so much!


Solea Tequila Dinner February 2014 - GuitarAs always, the evening ended with our host whose name I’m going to write down next time because I’m hopeless with names picking up his guitar to serenade us as we left. It was another night of incredible food and drink, and I can’t wait for the next one! I think it’ll be in June and it’s always on a Thursday, so pencil it in now!

Amy Sue

Teaching Responsibility

Parents often wonder “How can I get my children to take care of their things and help around the house without arguing or complaining?” That’s a great question!

It’s important for children to be responsible for certain tasks in the home aka “chores” or “contributions to the family”. In fact, children who are expected to help around the house feel a strong a sense of belonging and being important to their family.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to get children to do chores contributions without a struggle. While there are no fool-proof methods to make children WANT to work, here are some tips that may help:

Have Realistic Expectations
Perfection is not a good goal when children help out around the house. Children can’t do as good a job as adults because their fine muscle skills, perception, judgement, attention to detail and attention span are all still developing. Don’t be surprised to find towels folded crookedly, a fork in the knife compartment, or streaks on the mirror. But when your goal is to teach responsibility and a sense of pride, you can look for attitude, cooperation and effort instead of perfection.

Motivate Intrinsically
Applaud a task well-done every chance you get! If the task isn’t well-done applaud the effort instead. Specific comments work better than a ho-hum “Good job” so try saying “Wow, you worked so hard to pick up all of your blocks; now we can walk through your room without hurting our feet!” If the task didn’t meet your expectations, give your child a chance to do better next time instead of berating him. For instance, instead of “You forgot to feed the dog. Again.” try “Poor Fido was hungry all morning; can you think of a way to help you remember to feed him?” By keeping the responsibility on your child’s shoulders you send a clear message that you know he;s capable of handling the job by himself.

Make Your Match
Make sure that each job matches your child’s abilities, and try to take individual interests into consideration. Learning responsibility and feeling pride in a job well done can’t occur if the task is too much for your child to handle. Asking a five year old to clean out the garage isn’t wise, but sweeping the garage floor or moving items around in the garage isn’t too hard. Ask your pet-lover to feed the cats and the organizer to put away clean laundry. For best results, make a list of household jobs appropriate to your child’s age and ability and let her pick which ones she would like to do. You may be surprised by her choices!

Put ‘Er There, Partner
Jobs are more fun when you’re working together, so help your child with his jobs and ask your child to help you with yours. While you’re mowing the lawn your child can rescue his toys before they’re munched up or weed a corner of the flower garden. When it’s your child’s turn to set the table you can hand him the dishes. Encouraging siblings to work together will foster friendship and cooperation in addition to making the house a nicer place to live.

Be Patient
Many adults need help, reminders, and supervision when learning a new task; so why would we expect children to be any different? Handling a job independently, motivating themselves to start a job and stick with it to the end, and remembering to do their chores on time are long-range goals that may take years for children to master.

Get Expert Help
Teacher and I have been big fans of the Love & Logic approach to parenting for several years. I’ve subscribed to their weekly emailed newsletters and save every one for future reference.

Here are some Love & Logic articles pertaining to chores:

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How do you get your children to help around the house?
Amy Sue