Monday, April 28, 2014

Sweet 16 Princess Party

My baby girl turned 16 a few weeks ago.  The girl lived in princess dresses for the first half of her life, and so she thought it would be fun to invite all her friends over and celebrate her birthday princess style.  She asked them to all wear pajamas and we found some cheap tiaras at Hobby Lobby.
For the most part, we limited the decorations to a few balloons and streamers, but we did make a draw-bridge for the front door.  I found the idea here.

 Princes Leia Rolls
I kinda made these up and mixed onion, garlic, spinach, and cream cheese and spread it on tortillas.
 Ariel's Oysters
  My 13 year old son actually pitched in and made these.  We used mini-vanilla wafers, frosting, and yogurt raisins. Idea found here.

 Mulan's Pot Stickers

Princess Testers
This may be a weird party food, but my kid goes through bags of frozen peas every week.

Jassmine's Fatayer
I based these on a recipe I found here.  However, the original dough was WAY to sticky to I added  quite a bit more flour.  I also substituted feta cheese for cheddar and added some drained frozen spinach (they were delicious).

 Rapunzel's Braids
I doubled the dough for the fatayer and made some braids. I sprinkled them w/ Parmesan cheese and garlic salt.

12:01 am Cupcakes
It is just a box of pumpkin (catch my joke) cake mix w/ the easiest and yummiest cream cheese frosting (recipe here)

 The Beast's Rose
Tutorial Here
 The Evil Queen's Apples
Fairy God-mother's Wands
(dipped pretzels)

 Since she is no longer 4, the party didn't have a lot of structure.  Pretty much, I set out the food and then stayed out of the way.  However, we thought it would be super fun to play "Kiss the Frog".  We found the brightest lipstick possible, blindfolded them and had them give it their best shot.

 I don't know if I should be horrified or proud, but my kid planted a perfect smooch, right in the middle.
As per tradition, she blew out the candles on her pink lemonade cake. (recipe) Since it is an ice cream cake, you could even tie it into Frozen, but we are the only family in America that haven't seen it yet.

It was a super fun night and I declare it a success!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Standardized Test?

UPDATE: It's testing week again here in Texas and I thought I'd re-post this from last year:

It's standardized test week at all my kid's schools (maybe even the entire state of Texas).

I just got back from the elementary school and it is full of "Shh! We're Testing" signs.  Facebook is equally full of rants and snarky comments about the general unpleasantness of all things testing.

I haven't got any good hate mail lately, so I thought I'd share a little secret with you:

I think standardized testing is a good idea. 

I don't think it's a perfect system but here are 2 main reasons I approve:

1.  Being a military family we move a lot (6 schools so far) and standardized tests are a good way for me to evaluate and compare schools in an unfamiliar area. 

2.  My child could bring home straight A's all year long, but these tests show me that they actually learned what they were supposed to learn. 

3. I do not have a problem with my kids learning how to take tests. I expect my kids to go to college. They will need to take test to gain admittance and take many more while they are there. (I don't want them spending an inordinate amount of time on this).

Of course, I think far too much time and money is wasted on these things.  Here's how I would improve things:

Expense: Normally, I am against big federal government, but I think it would make more sense to develop one standardized test each year instead of 50 different ones. 

Time: My kids will each endure 2 solid days of testing-which is simply too long.  I think there should be 30-60 minute tests in each of the following areas: reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. They could even do one a day for a week.

Fairness: I think most states have allowances for kid's with special needs or learning disabilities, but if not, they should. 

Relevance: Tests should be given the last week or so of school. There's still 2 months of school left. 

Pressure: These tests are not testing our kids.  They are testing the schools. I tell my kids to do their best, but their performance on tests will have no impact whatsoever on their future lives.  In my kid's school they are not used for promotion, and I do not believe that tests like these should ever be used as the sole reason to hold a kid back a grade.

Rant away blogland and tell me that I'm wrong.