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2012 Presidential Election – Ballot for kids

November 6, 2012

Today, the United States of America chooses its next President. At our house, it means mock elections. We’ve been studying about the electoral process these last couple of weeks, the different parties, and the Electoral College. Today is the big day. The boys will go to the ‘polls’, ‘cast their vote’ and spent the evening tracking election results on a map we’ve printed out.

While we’ve talked about all of the elections that can happen on the General Election Day (voting for Senators and Congressmen, local elections and State/County Constitutional amendments, etc.) we are focusing primarily on the Presidential  candidates today.

Somewhat Muddled Musings | Sample 2012 Presidential Ballot


(this ballot was created as a sample ballot from how the ballots were presented in our county. No favoritism is implied)

Feel free to print off this ballot for your kids and allow them to participate in one of the most fundamental rights and privileges we have as American citizens – the right to vote.

PS. For a little help on the Electoral College – here’s a very helpful video.

Go Team Alton!

July 16, 2012

We’re not big into sports (save the Olympics, Wimbeldon (which I used to watch with my Dad when I was younger, so have a fondness for it now) and soccer), but we got really behind Food Network Star’s competition this year because our favorite food cable-ebrity, Alton Brown, was one of the mentors.


While watching the show tonight, Connor had the brilliant idea of putting a big “A” on his chest like he sees from the fans at soccer matches on television. So we helped them take it one step further to help rally support for #teamalton!

We’re fans of Justin Warner, for his geek-worthy appeal, though we’d be happy if Martie Duncan made it, too.

Was it worth the wait? The 2012 Stan Lee Comicon – Dallas version

June 1, 2012

It all started so innocently. Russ and I were in bed, watching television, and he was surfing on his laptop.

Then I hear, “Honey, you need to see this.”

He showed me a website of the Stan Lee Comicon that was coming to Dallas that weekend. I was just about ready to blow him off with a “yeah, hon, that’s great, now let me get back to Food Network Star because Alton is on it!”

Then I saw what he was trying to get me to see. Patrick Stewart. No, make that Sir Patrick Stewart. He was coming to Dallas. To DALLAS. We live near Dallas. We could go, and we could meet him, and we could shake his hand and say thanks, and tell him all about how he was about to be an integral part of our children’s education (he’s a brilliant Shaksperian actor, and we’re about to delve into some of those), and how he’s just so awesome..and.and…

PATRICK STEWART! Even Russ was excited – I could tell.

We kept pausing and giggling and saying, “PATRICK STEWART” – well, I was. He was just nodding and grinning at me. He was just as excited about the prospects of John DeLancie (played Q), David Prowse (Darth Vader’s body), and other people I’ve already forgotten.

Some back story – I disliked Star Trek. I thought it was hokie, but when Star Trek The Next Generation came along and I was hooked (still not a fan of the original).  Then I moved to Austin, on my own, to begin my adult life and when I would have problems getting to sleep, I would pop in Patrick’s A Christmas Carol audio to let his voice lull me to sleep. The voice rates right up there with Sean Connery as someone who can read me the phone book and make me happy.  While in Austin, I became a part of a Star Trek club (yeah, I am that nerdy, too), and got to go to a couple of conventions where I met most of the cast from Next Gen as well as some of the original series people. But the one person whom I had never gotten to meet or hear speak was Sir Patrick.

So…the excitement of meeting him was just about too much to bear!

Then we saw the price. HOLY SMOKES! But we hoped that it would be a lot like the time we got to meet Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes and that guy who shall not be named who played Worf a couple of years go  (go here to see) – where we were able to at least walk up to them and say hi, even if we didn’t get a photo with them or get their autograph. So..the adventure began – and we made the trek.

We donned our geekiest matching outfit (just be thankful that there were no Star Trek Uniforms involved)

and took off. When we arrived at the venue, there was this REALLY long line. We kept thinking – surely it’s not a line WE will have to wait in. Maybe it’s the line for Patrick – for his autograph. yeah..that’s got to be it. We stepped off the bus, went to the first people in line who informed us that, indeed, it was for us losers who hadn’t bought the VIP tickets or come earlier in the morning. It was a VERY big line. They wanted to let us join their group since we were Whovians, but we didn’t want the wrath of the billion people behind them to come down on us for cutting. So..we made our way to the back of the line, and waited…and waited…and crept forward…and waited some more. We did see some interesting sites along the way:

Back to the Future

Jawas (mighty big ones if you ask me)

a “Ghostbuster”

Sora and other character from Disney’s Kingdom Hearts – Connor’s favorite game – he went just a little bonkers to see these guys.

We waited for about 90 min to finally get in the door, get our tickets purchased, and then I went immediately into another line  (for an hour) to wait to get drinks. The venue was so poorly planned at the convention center – I just don’t think they knew how many people would show up to see Stan Lee and Patrick Stewart. The boy went into the exhibition hall. In that line I found out that there was just no way we were going to get to meet Patrick. No way. We wouldn’t even be able to get a  glimpse. I was ready to go home.

Once we finally got something to drink, I decided I was going to brave it and head upstairs just to see what I could see. The boys continued back browsing the booths for cool stuff, and I headed upstairs. When I finally found the area where Patrick was signing, I nonchalantly walked around the area as if I was meant to be there, and walked around a door post to see….HIM! There he was – right there, signing someone’s autograph. Immediately a security guy tried to move me along, so I took a couple of steps away and got to watch a minute through a frosted window. I grabbed my camera, took a shot, then ran downstairs to show Russ and the boys only to find out I did not check the camera settings and the photo wasn’t saved properly, so there was nothing.  I headed back later to see if I could at least try again, and Patrick was already at his Q&A session (and I was dutifully told that my badge was not good enough to get me in), so took another shot of the window to have the keepsake:

Would I do it again? Nope. The wait was too long, the venue was definitely not set up for these kinds of crowds, there was no real access to anything that would make us want to go without paying HUGE sums of money (and we aren’t about to do that for any one), and it was just too much trouble. While there were moments of fun talking to other people in the crowds and seeing a few characters here and there, it was definitely a letdown.

Oh..wait..I did get to see the back of Stan Lee’s head. There – that made it all better😛

Make Your Own Resurrection Eggs for Easter or Lent Devotional Activity

March 23, 2012

Make Your Own Ressurection Egg Devotional Activity for Easter and Lent!

One of my favorite activities to do with my boys when they were younger was actually during our Church groups playtime. We’d all gather at the park for our weekly outtings, and gather the children together, pass around each one of the trinkets and one of the Mom’s would explain the Resurrection Story. It was a great way to introduce children to the story of Christ’s sacrifice for us, with something tangible that they could see, hold and feel while they were listening to the story

For us, invariably, pieces get lost over time, regardless of how diligent we are to put them away. When Jacque came out with this little Resurrection Egg printable – it made perfect sense! If one piece gets lost or torn – just print off another one!

Directions on how to use this activity – print off the egg sheet onto cardstock – you can easy have a printer/quick copy place do it for you. Then have them laminate the sheet. Cut out each of the eggs, and insert them into a set of plastic easter eggs. You can store these in an egg carton if you wish (make sure it’s clean and dry if you’re recycling one, and store a folded copy of the scripture references in the top, then have the kids paint and decorate the egg carton on the outside!

Alternatively, you can use this as a board activity for your Sunday School group.

You can begin this activity on the 2nd Sunday before Easter, or just do it in one sitting a few days before Easter. I plan on having my 12yo present it this year each day as part of our extended devotional leading up to  and through Holy Week. This will give him a chance to share his knowledge in his own words and begin to grow his faith by sharing with others.

Crafts, Tricks and Treats for St. Patrick’s Day

March 15, 2012

I’m over at the Sweet Shoppe Designs blog today sharing some ideas to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

I hope you’ll join me!

And here’s one sweet, easy craft you can do that I found this morning! It’s just darling!

From the blog: The Crafting Chicks

12th Doctor Campaign…starts right here, Doctor Who Fans…

February 24, 2012

He’s got my vote !

The Lenten Cross – A Devotional for Easter

February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten Season – a season of reflection, devotion, and for some, sacrifice, as we ponder on the sacrifice God made for those whom He loves so dearly. It is the holiest season for Christianity. I wanted to do a devotion for Lent that is much like the Jesse Tree for Christmas, and had a hard time finding more than the Resurrection Egg activity – which we will definitely do.

Then Jacque Larsen showed me a devotional piece she was working on (much like her Jesse Tree craft), and wham – this is it!  it follows the Messianic prophecies through the Old Testament and matches each with its fulfillment in the Crucifixion narrative.

Lenten Cross

click on image to purchase kit

These are small activity cards to use along with your devotion (scriptures are also found in the kit), that take you on a walk, day by day, through the Lenten season, preparing your heart for what the season really means. When you finish each day’s devotional – you then build a cross on a wall, a piece of poster board or other area that works for you.

Each day, we’ll pull the new card, read the scripture, talk about the references and symbolism, and the boys will add it to the cross. In the middle, you can put a picture or symbol or verse of special meaning for you. The image in the middle of mine is a crown of thorns from another of Jacque’s paper kits – it fit perfectly with the theme.

I really look forward to completing this activity with the boys. Today’s Ash Wednesday entry was a great way to introduce Lent to Aiden in a more meaningful way than some craft activities, and to give Connor some depth to his new faith.

And I want to encourage you – if you’re reading this 2 days into Lent,  5 days into Lent, or even 30 days into Lent, this is one of those crafts that’s easy to jump into and prepare – even if you only talk about the symbolism until the point you can catch up, and then start where you can. Or prepare it now for next year’s Lenten Season.

 Instructions: (how I completed this craft)

  • Purchase Lenten Cross – it is $3  (this is a digital file that you will receive up on purchase, that you just download to your computer) You can print it from any word processing program, photo editing program or even something like Paint.
  • Print out the 2 8.5×11 sheets of paper at an office supply store
  • Wrote the scripture references on the back of the cards
  • Have office supply store laminate the sheets
  • Cut out
  • Mount on poster board, wall or other medium. We happened to use tacky dough for mounting posters, etc.


  • Products $3
  • Supplies $6 for printing and laminating
  • And about 15 min to cut out and make our references. All-in-all a pretty easy project that has so much more meaning!
(note: I receive no financial benefit from this blog post at all.)

You might also be interested in our Ash Wednesday craft: