Monday, August 30, 2010

It was an all-American birthday...

... if only we'd had apple pie!

We're all big into baseball around here these days, and none of us more than Dale.

He chose a baseball / Texas Rangers theme for his birthday party this year.  Once I talked him out of a stadium and into a baseball instead, this cake was one of the easiest birthday cakes I've made yet!  And I've made.... (counting up on my fingers...) ...9.

Weeks before the big day, Dale designed his cake himself.  After I showed him pictures of baseball cakes and the Texas Rangers emblem, he drew how he wanted his cake.  I was very happy with how it came out!  Just for grins, I also made baseball cupcakes, topping some with T's and a few with some of our favorite players' numbers.

Speaking of cupcakes, this is how Alan's cupcakes look when he is done with them:

Okay, back to the party:

Getting into the theme of things, I set the table with all the baseball stuff we had around the house: some of the boys' toys, a book we happened to have out from the library, and even some peanuts and cracker jacks sunflower seeds!

To take it one step further, we served up traditional ball-park food: nachos and hot dogs.

And the whole time, I had this song running through my head:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Morning and Evening

Every day for three weeks I headed out for an early morning bike ride with either my sister, my dad, or both.  Each day started the same way, with a sleepy case of the I-don't-want-to's that dissipated instantly when bike tires met pavement.  It's hard to stay grumpy watching the sunrise while you generate your own morning breeze.

There is something peaceful and almost secretive in being out to watch the world wake up.  Neighborhoods are mostly still and quiet, but there are exceptions at every turn: the early morning walkers, the first few drivers heading to work, and surely, the dogs.  Always the dogs.  Giving excited barks, friendly wags of the tail, some of the calmer breeds even giving a seeming nod of the head in greeting as they go about their own beginning-of-day duties.  Still, there were a few times even the most diligent and energetic watch dogs only peeped through one sleepy eye as we passed by.

Soon a later-each-day sunrise met with an earlier start to the day because of school schedules, and early morning rides were no longer feasible.

Temperatures were still a soaring 100+ in the evenings, so bicycles sat untouched for a week or more.

Finally we had a break in the weather, and highs only reached into the chilly low 90's.  The first opportunity we had, my sister and I hopped on our bikes for an evening ride.

After a morning habit, cycling through town observing the end of the day was a flip-flop.  

The air didn't have that early crisp-cool to it.  Instead it was an odd mix, still carrying the heavy heat of the day, but with a cooler breeze around the edges.  Even if that cool breeze was only generated by the speed of our ride.

Although we definitely saw more cars than on an early ride, there still weren't an awfully lot of people out.  I imagined them all back home for the day, work-day finished, errands done, time to wind down before starting over again tomorrow.  

The smells were different too.  Dinner-time smells.  Laundry smells.  Smells of home and families.

Even though there was still at least an hour of daylight left, many of our dog friends seemed to have given up and packed it in for the day.  The ride was relatively bark-free.

Was it hard to get out of bed all those mornings and force my body to get busy pedaling, balancing, keeping up?  Definitely.  But I was always glad I did, and I was surprised to find I missed those rides.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Can I exhale yet?

Approximately 26 hours ago (2pm Wednesday), I noticed our air conditioning had stopped blowing cool air.

We evacuated to my parent's house and called the repairman.

Approximately 22 hours ago, Dale threw up.

We evacuated back to our own house (where the air was blowing cool again) and left Alan with my parents.

Approximately 19 hours ago Dale perked up in a fabulous recovery and went to bed feeling just fine.

Alan still got to spend the night with Mimi & Gramps.

Approximately 12 hours ago (4am Thursday) our a/c stopped blowing cool air again.

Good thing we hadn't canceled that repairman just yet.

Approximately 7 hours ago Alan came home just in time to start school.

He never showed a sign of whatever it was that made Dale sick.

Approximately 6 hours ago the repairman came.

For no more than the cost of a service call he got us up and running again, cooler than ever.

Confused yet?  Me too!  I'm joyful over how everything has worked out (isn't God good?!) and cautiously peeping around the corner to see what's coming next!  

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dale!

7 Years
He challenges me to do more, and be more, and stretch myself a little further every single day.  I consider myself blessed to spend my days in his company.  Happy Birthday, buddy!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day in the Life

It's the final week of the Heart of the Matter Not Back to School Blog Hop, and we're sharing a sample day from our homeschool lives.  

Here is how a typical day is supposed to go:
6:00 - Mama is up, preparing for the day.
7:30 - Boys up, eat breakfast, get dressed
8:00 - Red Zone (tidy-up, clean-up)
9:00 - Dale: Bible
9:20 - Dale: Phonics / Spelling
9:30 - Dale: Handwriting
9:45 - Dale: Mon/Wed/Fri - Speech, Tue/Thur - Typing
10:00 - Both: Outside playtime
10:30 - Both: Snack
10:45 - Dale: Math
11:00 - Dale: Mon/Tue/Wed : Science, Thur - Other
11:30 - Dale: Put away school stuff, Play with Tyler if he is awake. Alan: Help Mama make lunch
12:00 - Lunch
12:30 - Red zone
1:00 - Social Studies
1:30 - Dale: Finish any leftover schoolwork, read. Alan: Nap
3:00 - Play

(I schedule Alan's activities in different orders, depending on which boy needs the most help from me with any given assignment.)

Here is how our plans played out last week, the first Thursday of our new year:

6:45 - Boys start waking up.  Why?  Why, children?  You are supposed to be sleeping for at least another half hour.  I need to shower before I see your smiling faces.  And pray.  I must pray before I see any not-smiling faces!

7:15 - Off to an early start, we have oatmeal.  Daddy is home - his day is starting unusally late because of a meeting.  He heads out the door right after breakfast.

7:45 - With things moving so quickly, Dale and Alan play outside while I give Tyler a bath.

8:00 - Morning Red Zone.  It's Alan's potty day!  Oh, the joy.  My boys love their turn to clean the potty.

9:00 - In spite of the fact that we just straightened the entire house, Alan's watercolor picture from yesterday is missing.  And I need it for him to glue some cotton balls on.  Now.  I suspect it's either been thrown away or is lost in the growing mound of things that need filing that has accumulated this our first school week.  I finally give up.  I need an attitude adjustment.  I wouldn't allow this from the boys.  Big breath, and we move along with Dale's Bible lesson.  Alan has already begun to amuse himself with other things.  We are now running behind on our schedule.  Somewhere in all this Tyler screams in his bed for several minutes, protesting naptime.  He finally gives up and goes to sleep.

9:25 - Dale begins a phonics worksheet and Alan and I play Boggle Jr.  Dale has been promised he can join us when his worksheet is done.  Worksheet finished in record time, we play Boggle together.  With slight adjustment for age level, this is beneficial to both of them.  Yay!

9:40 - Dale moves on to handwriting copywork: a letter to friends he dictated on Monday and has been copying all week.  Again, I dangle something fun to keep him moving: typing is next, and he can get to it when the letter is finished.  Meanwhile,  Alan and I sing the Months of the Year and Days of the Week songs, sing and clap this week's nursery rhyme, and read today's Bible story.

9:55 - Still running behind schedule, Dale begins typing while Alan and I head outside to gather a few things for our next activity.  1 stick, 2 leaves, and 3 blades of grass later we are inside matching up numbers to growing things.

10:15 - The boys head out for a little fresh air, and hopefully run off some energy while they're out there.  A mama can hope, anyway. ;)

10:30 - Chocolate pudding for a snack, a special treat, thanks to Alan's next activity....

10:45 - I set Alan up to fingerpaint and practice forming the number '3' with .... chocolate pudding.  Dale gets going on Singapore Math.

Tyler wakes up from his nap.

11:00 - We continue our art lesson from yesterday, lines as an element of art.  We read Mirette on the Highwire and The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses and notice all the examples of lines in the artwork.  We then make our own diagonal line pictures.

11:40 - Early lunch. Ravioli for the boys.  Odds and ends for me. 

The boys play for a while, then we do our Afternoon Red Zone.  Time to empty the can again!

1:00 - We settle in to celebrate National Aviation Day.  Dale has been reading about the Wright Brothers, so he tells us a thing or two about them, then we read about another early airplane inventor.  This one in France.  We follow this with a How Airplanes Are Made video. 

1:40 - Tyler is really really needing a nursing and a nap, but I manage to squeeze in one more book about flying before tucking Alan, and then Tyler, into bed for a nap.

1:55 - Sit down, take a big breath.  I check email.  Dale reads.  I do some planning for school.

2:55 - I enlist Dale to help me do a quick pick-up in the living room, and then I take pictures of my living room for the open house post.

4:00 - Blog post is up.  Tyler is up.  Time to wake Alan up and cook up something for supper!  Before I know it, the evening is spent, and we fall into bed for a good night's sleep before it is time to get up and do it all again!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up

Hooray!  After two practice weeks, we've successfully made it through our first official week of the new school year!  Dale has begun 2nd grade, and Alan is doing real-live preschool right along side us.
We celebrated our first day with a special breakfast (pancake-sausage sandwiches) and a small gift assortment of novelty school supplies for the boys.

I am very excited about our "Social Studies" curriculum this year.  I use the term loosely because I'm not a big fan of social studies per se, but I love our version of it.  For one thing, my mom has put together a notebook for us full of general interest articles from newspaper and magazines.  Things that make great conversation.  Things that broaden your horizons a little bit.  This week we read about an 85 year old retired pastor and Navy Vet that has a collection of over 3000 pencil sharpeners.  Our lesson involved some dictionary skills, learning about the Navy's saying to "Look Sharp", and designing our own pencil sharpener.  I'm looking forward to more articles in the weeks ahead!

Alan got started on the Bible and Rhyme curriculum at Hubbard's Cupboard.

Tuesday involved shaving cream, brought to you by the number '1.'

Tuesday was also Davy Crockett's birthday.  Which brings me to the other half of what I am calling our Social Studies.  I've marked a calendar with all those National this and that days one always hears about.

So far we have celebrated Smokey Bear's birthday, Play in the Sand Day, Davy Crockett's birthday, and National Aviation Day.  August is also American Artist Appreciation month and Inventors month.

Some combination of a library book or two, a youtube video, an online printable, or an activity from our own toy box or backyard, and we find ourselves on an adventure we wouldn't have thought up on our own.  And we usually learn something along the way.  Personally, I'm looking forward to Banana Split Day!

Wednesday will forever be known as The Day Mama Panicked and Thought the Computer Was Being Attacked by a Virus Again and Refused to Turn it On All Day Until Daddy Came Home.  We managed to muddle through school just fine without it, and -thankfully!- the virus thing was a false alarm

Thursday brought my first try at showing a 'learning' video.  I found it slightly boring and incredibly cheesy, but the boys seemed riveted and Dale made a reference to something from it today (a day later) that he thought was interesting, so... hey!  Works for me!  I would definitely try something similar again.  Do you use the tv for learning?  What are some of your favorite resources?

Friday is a really light day for us.  We mail our letters we've been working on all week, and have a Bible lesson and a math lesson.  

We won't every week, but today we went light on math and played an addition-subtraction domino game:

Friday is also Library Day!  Yay!  Here is this week's haul:
You can visit Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers for more Weekly Wrap-ups.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Our Living Room

It's time for another installment of the Four Mom's weekly home tour - living rooms this week!

First up is my spot... my own little corner of the world.  I have a glider Daddy Buffalo gave to me just before Alan was born.  It was one of the few 'wants' I had as far as all things 'new baby' were concerned.  I (heart) my chair.

Up until very recently, it was perfectly silent.  However, two buffaloes have been a wee bit hard on my chair and it now squeaks.  Buffaloes have subsequently been banned from Mama's chair.

On the bottom left is a cute little basket hidden under a tangle of cables, cords and such it is intended to hold.  Quite possibly Tyler's favorite spot in the whole room.  He digs (in) technology.  Literally!

Moving on... the view from my chair:

The arrow is our library book basket.  It (mostly) keeps library books contained and separate from our own books.

Front and center is the coffee table my mom refinished and gave to me for Christmas this past year.  For a brief time it had a nice assortment of pretty things on it, but grabby, cruising, 7 1/2 month old hands ended that.  This comes in as Tyler's second favorite spot in the living room.  Ahh, coffee table, I shall decorate you again someday!

This table is my favorite school planning workspace, close by my chair and computer.

One final note: the red bird.  Bought it at Hobby Lobby on clearance intending to spray paint it.  Black? Turquoise?  But by the time I get around to it the red may have grown on me and stay.  All 4 buffaloes love to play with the bird.  I hope he's tough.
Speaking of things my boys love...
... here we have the chair none of us could bear to part with.

Corner bookshelf.  When it was placed in this corner 6 years ago it was 4 shelves of 'purties' and one shelf of books.  The books are slowly taking over.  I am very ok with that.  Welcome to homeschooling!

Our window-box mirror, a wedding gift from my PawPaw. 
You can get a peek at our paint samples lined up on top of the mirror. We finished the kitchen a few weeks ago, and the living room is next.  Yay!

That brings us full-circle around the room, around to Papa-Bear's big ol' chair next to mine.  This poor chair... it's had a rough life.  Way rougher than my sweet little glider.  Those baby buffaloes love to pile up with Daddy in his chair, and it shows.  :)

Thanks for visiting!
See more living rooms at the Four Mom's Open House.

Monday, August 16, 2010

First Day of School, 2010

The Second Grader
Ring leader.  Instigator.

"Boy-sterous".  Energetic.

Imaginative.  Protective.

Information sponge.  Reader.

The Preschooler
Accomplice.  Imitator.

Ham.  Jokester.
Lover of Life.

Heart Melter.

The Baby
'Nuff said.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up

This was our 2nd (and last) week of practicing a detailed schedule before we start our new year next week.  We called it "Summer School."

It took all week, but we got letters written and pictures colored to send to the boys' cousin in Colorado. 

Monday  Alan and I began his first lapbook.  I picked one of his favorite books, "Goodnight Moon"
(ours is a board book like this one from CBD: Goodnight, Moon, Board Book ), and used the templates from Homeschool Share.

Dale and I continued working in his body lapbook.

We all three celebrated Smokey (the) Bear's birthday watching this vintage commercial, and the original Smokey Bear song, and coloring pages from this site.  Have you sat down to color with your kids lately?  It's fun!

Tuesday we kept going in both lapbooks and a few other schoolish things.  The boys swam and ate cake.  Alan loves cake frosting. 
Personally, I love the red clown nose.
Wednesday was Sand Day.  In addition to our usual (for this week) school stuff, I gave Alan our tub of stale (uncooked) grits to scoop and pour while Dale worked on other things.  Later they both made sand art inspired by No Time for Flash Cards.

Thursday I tried something new.  Instead of a play outside break around 10:00, we just took one right off the top.  After breakfast, but before anything else, we headed out so the boys could ride their bicycles for 30 minutes or so and burn some energy before starting our morning clean-up and school routine.  Plus the temperature goes from about 85 to 95 between 8am and 10am.  I'm not into gettin' sweaty so soon after my shower .

Friday we finished up our letters to cousin Aaron and got ready for company.  My long-time friend Sam and her daughter Lainey came to play!  Girls at our house are a rarity, and I loved Sam's choice for Lainey's dress today.  It says, "Shh... I'm hunting boys."  Lainey-girl, you found some today!
And finally, gearing up for the start of school next week, we made our first Weekly Library Visit of the new school year.  We've been going to the library regularly all summer, but "only" checking out 12-15 books at a time.  List in hand, I enjoyed every minute of my academic scavenger hunt, and filled the stroller basket full.  Dale checked out 5 of his own, and I took out a grand total of 40 books.  Ahhh... yep.  School's here!

Are you big library users or do you just stick with your own books?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A gift & a tour

The four lovely ladies of 4 Moms, 35 Kids are hosting a tour of kitchens & dining rooms this week. 

I couldn't wait to join in, as the timing couldn't be better for me.  My dear and wonderful and dedicated, hard-working husband just recently finished redoing our entire kitchen/dining area.  Because he did most of all the work, we decided we should call it an anniversary gift.  I've been waiting to reveal the finished project until our anniversary, which is today.  So, anniversary, kitchen tour, blog party... see?  Love the timing.

Now, on with the show.  Here are some before pictures.  This Christmas, when I was hugely pregnant, my beautiful sister Kristin came to make cookies with the boys.

What?  You don't see Kristin?

Here she is.. having to peek under this big wall of cabinets. 

So sweet of her to come spend some time with her nephews.  Not that Dale is getting to actually SEE much of her...

In addition to the low-hanging cabinets being an annoying problem, we also had worn out hinges, so that most of the doors were partially open all the time.  See?  And, all the hardware was old and discolored, so we had lots (and lots) of black drawer pulls and knobs, like little black eyeballs.  See?

So, Big Daddy Buffalo got to brainstorming.  He got out his ruler and his pencil....
...took off the doors, got out his saw, and got busy. 

A few weeks, lots of sawdust, and a couple of gallons of paint later.......
We can SEE!!!  

The storage that was lost from the removed cabinets was replaced by the new ones he hung just next door, in the laundry room.  It is a little further to walk, but with some rearranging we were able to put the stuff in that room that we aren't constantly reaching for.

Here's how he finished it off, with a new light and some decorative shelves:

I knew this whole remodeling thing was coming down the line, and kept saying I was going to decorate with roosters.  My mom told me about this nifty little clock for cheap at the dollar store.
A little spray paint, and....
Mom also gave me these pretty rooster pictures:

Besides being the primary wrangler caretaker for all three boys and working around the mess to keep meals on the table during all of this, my only other contribution to the whole process was the cabinet knobs.  Instead of replacing all 147 20 or so of them, which would have cost a pretty penny, I spray painted the old ones a bright satin-nickel.  They might as well be new... I love how they turned out!  Perfect match with the new hinges, which now keep the doors closed, thank-you-very-much!
It was easy to find drawer pulls to match.  We decided to replace the old ones since they looked a little dated and tended to catch in your pants pockets and rip seams.  Details, details.  While we're down here looking at drawer pulls, I want to show you this:
It's a jumbled up mess, but it is one of the best things we have done. (If I stop to think about it, I think it was my genius husband's idea.  He has been on a roll!)  Moving the plates, bowls, & cups to the lower cabinets instead of the ones up above has enabled even the shortest buffaloes to help set the table and empty the dishwasher.  It's been that way for several months now, and so far (knock on wood) not one dish has been broken. (Whaddya bet I'm back before the weekend is up with pictures of broken dishware?)

Thanks for stopping by!  I'm so happy to share our kitchen and show off my man's hard work!  You can see more of our dining / school area in this post.
*Thanks to those who asked about our paint colors in the school area post.  The walls are Kilz "Cowboy Hat".  The cabinets are Kilz "Spiced Sugar".  Both came from Walmart. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Coffee Can ... Can

My house is looking better and staying neater than it has in months.

My boys are participating in clean-up time, having fun doing it, and it's taking us less time than ever before.

I think I'm on to something.

I wrote back in December how we were dividing our time into color-coded "zones".  Yellow meant it was school time, blue for rest time, green for play time, and red for cleaning up.  

It had gotten to where all we were using was the Red Zone, and even then we never really finished the list of things to do during that time.  

Enter... The Coffee Can.

It all started one day when company was coming and I wanted the boys' help getting ready.  Instead of chasing them around handing out assignments, I decided to write all the things that needed to be done on little strips of paper and let them draw for them.

It worked so well, I reused the same strips the next day.  And the next.  And the next.

By that time I knew we had a winning system.  Pretty soon I found an empty coffee can, spray painted it -what else?- red!, fine tuned a couple of the paper strips, and made it official.  

Ideally, we empty the can three times a day (immediately following each meal).  It has 12-14 jobs in it.  Some of them only need to be done once a day (make bed), other areas desperately need to be addressed all three times.  If someone draws a job that doesn't need to be repeated, we skip it and move on to the next thing.  Even if we only get to the can once a day, it still makes a huge difference.  

I learned from experience and taped a note to the top: before we even open the can, we make sure the dishwasher has been emptied if it is clean, and everyone makes a trip to the potty.  Work time seems to bring on the urge for some folks, and if everyone is freshly pottied when we begin, then we know they can wait until we're done to go again.  We avoid potty shirkers that way. :)

Sometimes the boys take turns drawing for jobs and we all work together.  I can get more detailed work done this way (like wiping out the microwave).  Sometimes they each draw their own at the same time and I work with whoever needs to most help.  This spreads me thinner, but gets the can emptied faster. 

Another thing that has turned out to be helpful is the way I divided up the kitchen work.  Instead of "put away all dirty dishes" or "put away all food / leftovers", the kitchen is divided into sections.  We clean off one area at a time instead of like things from all over.  Does that make sense?  For whatever reason, that is working much better for us.  Less overwhelming, maybe.

And because I like to know the specifics when I read 'chore chart' type posts from others, I'm going to list the jobs in our can.  Of course, we both know your jobs would be different.  But still, here goes:

Remember, we pull these out in random order, so we end up working back and forth in different areas of the house, and the order is different every day.

To get the kitchen clean:
Clean off silverware counter
Clean off stove counter
Clean off sink counter
Clean off table
Kitchen floor job. Sweep. Quick mop on Tuesday & Friday

Pick up / put away type jobs:
Living room floor job. Vacuum Mon, Wed, Fri.
Put away 12 things living room (not floor)
Boys' rooms floor job. Vacuum Friday
Put away 12 things boys room
Hallway.  Vacuum Monday, Friday
Put away clean laundry
5 minutes laundry room

Make Beds
Clean bathroom.  Scrub potty Mon, Thur.

A few notes:
A "floor job" means to put away all the shoes, toys, etc that may be sitting out in the floor.

12 is just a random number.  Sometimes there are 24 things to be put away.  Sometimes there are 2. 

Our laundry room is also the entry from the carport and the backyard.  It is also where our trashcan resides.  A lot of traffic (plus a trashcan) means stuff needs to be tended to.

Mondays and Thursdays are The. Best. Days. if you are a boy in our house.  Some while back Greg bought some of those clorox cleaning wand things to clean the toilet with.  You know... with the disposable heads?  The boys think they are great.  They starting arguing over whose turn it was to clean the potty, so I assigned days.  Yes, even my immunosuppressed one 'gets' to clean the potty.  We just wash up good afterward.  So all week, you can hear things to the tune of: "Thursday is my potty day!"  "Tomorrow is my potty day!"  "Today is my potty day!"  I think it really must be the highlight of their week.  I'm going to ride it as long as it lasts. :)

So anyway... six chapters later, now you know how we are keeping house these days.  It takes us anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to get through the can.  It is a very consistent, yet highly flexible system, all at the same time.  I love it.  I'm hoping it works for a good, long time!

This post is linking to:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

(Yes, I know today is Tuesday. I'm ok with that.)
Once upon a time we had a 3-week rotation system.  It worked for us for a while, and then we got away from it.  

When I looked it up recently I realized our tastes, needs, and shopping habits have all changed, so I came up with a new system.  This one has 4 weeks of 6 meals.  We are two weeks in and loving it so far.

Here is week three (which, even though it is Tuesday we haven't even started yet, because I am still finishing up meals planned for last week!):

Garlic Chicken and Spinach Pasta
 - Saute onion until soft.  Add minced or crushed garlic cloves.  Add crushed or chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh.  Simmer while pasta (your choice) cooks.  Add basil, etc.  Stir in 1/2 bag or so of fresh baby spinach.  Simmer until wilted.  Mix in cooked, drained pasta.  Optional: sprinkle on parmesan cheese.

Honey Mustard Drumsticks
 - Marinate drumsticks in honey and Dijon mustard, among other things.  Grill.  Or bake.  This recipe (and several others we are enjoying) came from Saving Dinner.  Full of 4 seasons of recipes and serving suggestions.  There are quite a few recipes from each section of this book that we love!   

Chicken Under a Brick
 - I originally posted about this one here, and called it "Pressed Chicken."  It's a Rachael Ray recipe, and one of our favorites!

Curried Lentils
 - Lentils, rice,onion, garlic, celery, cilantro, curry.  Optional: top with a dollop of plain yogurt.  Cheap.  Easy.  Yummy.

Beans and Rice
- Another cheapie.  Just like it sounds: beans, rice.  Seasoning.  Maybe some sausage of some sort.  Won't be served back-to-back with lentils and rice.

Breakfast for supper
- Goodness.  We are eating cheap this week.  I had no idea until I saw it all written out here.  Oh well... my guys love breakfast for supper.  Usually either pancakes or waffles, scrambled eggs.  Maybe fried potatoes or fresh fruit.  

 How do you keep meals on the table and still keep the kitchen cool during the scorching month of August?  Have any good crockpot recipes to share?