The m&m without the m . . .

It was a dark and stormy night.  The m&m’s were sitting quietly on the counter in their bag, never suspecting what was about to happen.

2013-11-11 13.03.29 (960x1280)

Suddenly, out of nowhere a mom and three children appeared.  They were homeschoolers, the m&m’s were doomed.  The Mom savagely ripped open the bag of m&m’s and shouted, “Watch this kids!”.  Oh, the horror, having been made from chocolate, covered with a candy shell and gently stamped with a lowercase m (made from sugar), the poor m&m’s never knew what was coming . . .

Want to know more?  Want to know how to take the m off of an m&m?  The preceding story is true (well, mostly — ok, I admit it, it was daytime, but the rest of it is true!).

Head on over to the HEAV blog for all of the assorted details . . . look for the post titled or just click on this link – - - M&M’s Minus the m

Christmas Shopping with my Boy

I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to do this before, but suddenly this year it did.  You see, in years past, I have done the Christmas shopping and then picked out one or two things for each of the kids to give to their siblings.  I just realized something – this doesn’t teach them anything.

* GASP *

Yes, I know – we are supposed to be a homeschooling family, which means that we are always learning, yet by doing the shopping and the choosing all I was teaching the kids was how to use tape (I would usually have them wrap the present).

This year I am doing it differently!

The Plan

My oldest one, who likes to be referred to on my blog as SixHands, went first.  Tonight he and I headed out to go shopping.  Originally he has wanted to go because he had some money to spend and he wanted to shop for himself, but then I realized this brilliant plan so he was dragged into it as a guinea pig.  Anyway, he and I headed out to go shopping for his brother and sister.

Um – you can get excited now – that was the big idea.  

I know most of you are thinking “Yeah, and . . . ” – well, that’s it really.  It just didn’t occur to me to take them to shop for the other ones.  It must be all those brain cells I gave to the children while I was pregnant and breastfeeding, because it took me until know to think about it.

To make it more special, he and I had plans to go to dinner together first.  First though, we had an expected bit of learning tonight.  We learned to be flexible and willing to help a friend.  We have a friend who was watching our pets (Honey, the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach and Hoppy the Toad) while we were traveling.  I called my friend when SixHands and I left the house intending to stop over and get the pets.  I had seen on Facebook that my friend had hurt herself while doing yard work, but when I called she said she was still in pain.  As her husband was out with their daughter, she had no way to get to the doctor and her pain was getting worse.  This meant that for a little while rather than eating and shopping we spent some time in the local ER.  I am happy to report that my friend was not broken, just badly bruised and that she has learned that she needs to find a new tool for pruning.

2013-12-01 18.28.58 (853x1069)


After the ER visit, we picked up the pets, dropped them at home and then headed out again.  This time we went straight to California Tortilla and had dinner.  This was a great chance for just he and I to sit and chat, as well as to work on his gentlemanly skills.  (We went to California Tortilla and when our order was ready I had him to and get it, as it was a nice thing for a gentleman to do.)  After dinner, we headed to Target.

2013-12-01 21.12.02 (1280x932)


Here he is adding a few items to his Christmas List.  The idea of taking pictures for the list is something I actually started doing a while ago, but I figured it was still worth sharing.  Starting in September / October (or whenever the kids ask for things) if one of the kids says “Can I have . . .? ” I will respond with, “We can put it on your list!”  The list starts off on my phone in picture form.  I have the child choose whatever item it is and either hold it or pose next to it – then I take a picture with my phone.  This means that I can look back through my pictures and not only do I have cute candid shots of the kids year round, but I have ideas when it is time for Birthdays and Christmas.

Our real purpose of the trip was so that SixHands could find something for Princess and Bug so we continued to look, with only the occasional distraction of looking for something for ourselves.

I really like how this turned out.  Not only, did I get to hang out with my boy, but he got to have the experience of shopping for someone else and he will have the joy of giving it to them.  Knowing that he picked it out will make it that much more exciting when they are opening the gifts from him.

2013-12-01 21.46.13 (937x1280)For Princess, he found a Lego Friends Bakery and for Bug he got him an I spy game and a Lego Motorcycle.  Bug is constant wanting SixHands to play a game with him, this was SixHands was able to pick out a game that he thought they would both like.  Oh – and he had a budget that he had to shop within so that a big ‘ole check mark for math today – homeschooling at it’s finest (it’s ok, it’s Sunday – we don’t have to do hard math on Sunday)

Over the next little bit, I plan to do this with both of the other two as well.  I will not however be posting those stories unless I wait until after Christmas.  After all – SixHands can read and he has access to my blog posts!  Sorry boy – you will have to wait.  Hee Hee Hee

Do your kids shop for each other?  Do they make things at home?  What do you think of my new found idea?

Mark Your Calendars Now for the 2014 HEAV Convention! This is something I am Thankful for!!

HEAV Virginia Homeschool Convention

June 5-7, 2014

Richmond, Virginia

Homeschooling…or considering it? Don’t miss the 31st Annual Virginia Homeschool Convention for three days of encouragement, support, and resources!

Attend three, FREE how-to-begin workshops on Thursday, June 5, and afterward, tour the Exhibit Hall (340+ booths last year) as our special guest! First-time parents of just preschoolers and non-homeschooling grandparents can attend the ENTIRE convention for free.

The convention offers inspiring keynotes by Voddie Baucham and lots of incredible workshops with speakers including Rick & Marilyn Boyer,  Phil Downer, Andrew Adams, and Terry Mortenson; a Used Curriculum Sale; Young Entrepreneurs’ Display; hands-on demos in the Exhibit Hall; a Children’s Program; and lots more!

View more details at

Free How-to-Begin-Homeschooling Workshops

Are you curious about home education? Have you wondered how homeschooling moms juggle parenting and teaching their children? What did they do to get started anyway? What subjects are required and study habits necessary to excel in education? How does one meet the legal requirements to homeschool?

If you have asked these or similar questions, then take the opportunity to learn more at the three, FREE workshops sponsored by the Home Educators Association of Virginia on Thursday, June 5, 2014. After the workshops, browse the mega Exhibit Hall, which offers hundreds of booths filled with educational materials and resources from across the country.

View more details at

Curious about home education? Searching for great educational materials?  Homeschooling…or considering it?

The 31st Annual Virginia Homeschool Convention, held June 5-7, 2014, at the Richmond Convention Center and offered by Home Educators Association of Virginia, includes FREE how-to-begin sessions on Thursday, FREE full-convention admittance for first-time parents of just preschoolers, keynote by Voddie Baucham, hundreds of workshops on a wide variety of topics, an extensive Exhibit Hall (340+ booths last year), a Used Curriculum Sale, a Children’s Program, Teen Track, and much, much more.

Visit or call 804-278-9200 for details.

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate

Who doesn’t like Chocolate?  Ok, well, my oldest, SixHands doesn’t, but that is because he is allergic to milk.

This week I wrote a post for the HEAV blog about the Chocolate class that a friend has been teaching for our co-op.  This was my day to teach – we did science – with chocolate!

Head on over and check it out – It Melts in Your Mouth, and Your Hands, and . . . –  it’s worthwhile – the end result of the experiment is a fondue pot of chocolate!

See you soon!

MCrooker – Homeschooler On the Edge

The Lititz Chocolate Walk

Three guesses as to where I just went!  That’s right, it’s The Lititz Chocolate Walk.  It’s a walk for charity AND you get chocolate. This was the 12th year for the Lititz Chocolate Walk, held in the beautiful town of Lititz, PA, and the proceeds from the Chocolate Walk are distributed to local organizations that assist children. The first thing was at the train station to pick up tickets and a button. 2013-10-12 10.33.11 (1280x960)Once we (my friend Chris was with me) had our tickets and button, we headed to our first stop.

  • Stop #1Wilbur Chocolate Company
  • Treat #1 — Wilbur Buds and a raspberry chocolate creation (Note: many places had several options, I am putting in the ones that I chose as there were too many to remember for all of the places).

2013-10-12 10.33.36 (1280x960)2013-10-12 10.33.16 (1280x960) 2013-10-12 10.33.40 (1280x960)Wilbur Chocolate Company!  If you have never heard of the Wilbur Chocolate company, that’s ok, but did you know that Wilbur made the Wilbur Bud, before Hershey made the Hershey Kiss?  At our first stop we got a cup with a couple of Wilbur Buds and a piece of a chocolate raspberry bar. 1394367_10200821442718735_569307524_n Quite tasty!  Then we were able to tour the Wilbur Chocolate Store and Museum.

The Artists at the Wilbur Chocolate Company

The Artists at the Wilbur Chocolate Company

2013-10-12 10.39.20 (1280x960)

A little taste of the craftsmanship

While there we also met Kathy Blankenbiller, who regardless of saying she is not a professional chocolatier, created an absolutely gorgeous, not to mention edible, scene containing 13 nursery rhymes.  The pictures don’t do it justice, but here are a few – from what I hear the scene will be part of the Christmas display at Wilbur Chocolate.  If you have a chance to see it, I definitely recommend it.

2013-10-12 10.41.03 (1280x1005)

A fun addition – can you see what Humpty Dumpty has next to him? It’s Super Glue!

2013-10-12 10.41.07 (1280x960)

Even the note on the Nursery Rhymes book is edible!

2013-10-12 10.40.02 (1280x960) 2013-10-12 10.40.07 (1280x960) 2013-10-12 10.40.56 (1280x1008) 2013-10-12 10.41.13 (1280x960)

The Old Woman in the Shoe - She knows what to do now - she has a satellite dish on the side of her shoe!

The Old Woman in the Shoe  knows what to do now – she has a satellite dish on the side of her shoe!


1382123_10200821443438753_445478570_n Who would have guessed chocolate is good in chili?

2013-10-12 10.54.40 (1280x960) 2013-10-12 10.54.43 (1280x960) 2013-10-12 10.55.16 (960x1280)2013-10-14 00.08.39 (806x1280)

2013-10-12 11.06.06 (1280x960)2013-10-14 00.08.19 (1167x1280)

  • Stop #5 – Greco’s Italian Ices and Homemade Ice Cream
  • Treat #5 – A sample of Italian Ice or Homemade Ice Cream – the options range from Chocolate Italian Ice, chocolate marshmallow ice cream, chocolate peanut butter ice cream and their newest ice cream flavor “Taste of Lititz”.

2013-10-12 11.14.09 (858x1280)

  • Stop #6 – Freeze and Frizz
  • Treat #6 — a mini-Lititz Chocolate Sundae, featuring Sturgis pretzels and a Wilbur Bud, drizzled with amazing hot fudge and topped with whipped cream.

2013-10-12 11.41.21 (882x842) 2013-10-12 11.41.26 (1280x686) 2013-10-12 11.42.43 (960x1280) 1379875_10200821444158771_606526255_n At this point, my friend Chris and I took a short break and looked at the map and decided to cross Main Street and head up past Juniper Lane to reach #31 – from here we worked our way backwards.

2013-10-12 12.24.48 (1280x960)

My friend Chris

  • Stop #31 – Dosie Dough
  • Treat #31 – Scrumptious triple chocolate brownie – a bar with a brownie bottom, a chocolate chip center and chocolate fudge topping.

While at Olio’s I was able to try quite a few olive oils and basalmics, they have a wonderful “try before you buy” setup which was awesome.  If I hadn’t known that I had a lot more walking to do I would have purchased several different kinds.  As it is, I have plans to go back or order online – go online and you too can get Bittersweet Chocolate Orange Balsamic.

2013-10-12 12.05.26 (1280x960)

  • Stop #27 – Main Street Peddler
  • Treat #27 – A dark chocolate treat from Lily’s Sweets

2013-10-14 00.07.20 (1280x934)

  • Stop #25 – Cafe Chocolate
  • Treat #25 – Dark Chocolate brownie bite featuring dark chocolate chunks, drizzled in dark chocolate
2013-10-12 12.25.44 (960x1280)

Almost 1/2 way – my feet are happy – my taste buds are sad.

2013-10-12 12.24.06 (1280x960)2013-10-12 12.24.57 (756x1280) 2013-10-12 12.25.00 (960x1280)   One thing was a bit confusing about the Moravian House Antiques though.  While they claim to be pet friendly – there was a sign restricting one type of animal . . .

See - claims to be "pet friendly"

See – claims to be “pet friendly”

But apparently has something against Puffins - I wonder if they allow Penguins?

But apparently has something against Puffins – I wonder if they allow Penguins?

Of course, I am kidding about that.  I think it is nice and saw signs at several of the local businesses in Lititz that allow animals.

  • Stop #23 – Lititz Moravian Church Fellowship Hall
  • Treat #23 – An amazing demonstration by Chef Frederic Loraschi who was creating a Chocolate Show Piece

2013-10-12 12.33.05 (1280x960) 2013-10-12 12.33.11 (1258x1264) 2013-10-12 12.37.08 (1280x812)

  • Stop #22 – Linden Hall School for Girls
  • Treat #22 – Cupcake from Lancaster Cupcake – Lancaster Cupcake was a finalist on “Cupcake Wars” and has the only Cupcake Truck in town making stops around Lancaster County.  How cool is that?

2013-10-12 12.44.39 (1280x779)2013-10-12 12.48.21 (960x1280)

  • Stop #21 – Pots by de Perrot Studio and Gallery
  • Treat #21 – Stroopies from Lancaster County Stroopies — what is a Stroopie?  Chris and I were wondering as well.  Well, let me tell you, they are good.  Stroopies are a Dutch tradition that originated in the Netherlands, but are now made locally with all natural ingredients.  Stroopies are cinnamon wafers with a chewy homemade caramel on the inside.  Made to be a companion to a favorite hot beverage as you can set your Stroopie on top of your cup to help keep your beverage warm and to heat up the caramel in the Stroopie.

2013-10-12 12.53.17 (1280x960) 1374218_10200821446438828_1657970770_n 1374798_10200821446478829_1027365937_n (1)

  • Stop #20Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery
  • Treat #20 — Tom Sturgis Little Ones Pretzels layered in Peanut butter or vanilla caramel and dipped in Wilbur milk or dark chocolate
  • Stop #19Whiff Roasters & Lititz Coffee Company
  • Treat #19 — Chocolate Coffee and a piece of Mocha Java Crunch Bar – While I don’t personally like coffee, Chris said it was really good and even though I don’t like coffee I did enjoy the Mocha Java Crunch Bar.

2013-10-14 00.05.50 (1280x605)

2013-10-12 13.27.40 (1200x1280) 2013-10-12 13.28.00 (1280x1024)

Morton Fine Furniture has some beautiful pieces.  I would love to go back sometime and spend some time looking at all of the fine woodwork.  As for Achenbach’s Long Johns – quite yummy.

  • Stop #13EcoLoco
  • Treat #13 — Chocolate from Divine Chocolate

Stop #11 originally was The Curiosity Shop, but was moved to the Teddy Bear Emporium.  The Teddy Bear Emporium has way more than just Teddy Bears, it was hard to focus on the goal of the tour — the Chocolate Chip cookie from Sandy’s!

2013-10-14 00.05.38 (1280x792) (1280x792)


And with that last stop, we reached the end of the 2013 Lititz Chocolate Walk.  I am pleased to say that we reached ever stop and that we walked over 3 miles in all and collected all sorts of chocolate goodies to eat along the way, or to bring home and share and saw all sorts of great shops.1393806_10200821442798737_1058988666_n



2013-10-12 13.36.05 (564x1280) 2013-10-12 13.36.11 (1216x1280)


So – who wants to come next year?  Start making plans now!  What kinds of fun ways can you think of to raise money for charity?

Mark your calendar for the 13th Annual Chocolate Walk on October 11, 2014!!!