Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's Good To Be Loved

The kids took this picture today while I was out for a walk.  They are always telling me how Nikki stands at the window for the entire time I am gone.  Lucky for her I was only on walk today so that she only had to wait 45 minutes for me to get back home.  I usually walk down to the end of the side road to the stop sign and back.  The time that she can see me on the way back is about 7 minutes, during this time she run back and forth to the door barking.  If I am gone for a few hours she still stands and waits.  When we are all gone she has to stay in the kennel so I don't know what she does then. 

She does other possessive things too.  If we are out walking her around the yard she will only walk if I am holding her leash.  If she is sitting on another persons lap and I come and sit down, she gets up and comes over to my lap.   During dinner she sits at my leg and begs.  If someone else has a tidbit for her she will run over to get it and run back to my spot.  Dad always says that I am her alpha dog.  It is good to be loved even if it is by the dog.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Igneous Rock Experiment

Spark did an experiment to see how Igneous rocks are formed.  Igneous rocks are formed when magma cools and changes into solid rock.  There are two kinds of Igneous rocks, extrusive and intrusive.  Extrusive rocks are formed when a volcano erupts and the lava hardens on the surface of the earth.  Intrusive rocks are formed on the inside of the earth.  Intrusive rocks move to the top of the earth through erosion or when the earth shifts.  

To do the experiment Spark used a cup of hot water, a spoon, a square of milk chocolate, a cup of cold water and a saucer.

First the spoon needed to be heated up so he put it in the cup of hot water for about a minute.

The milk chocolate represents the rock because it melts at a rather low temperature.

He put the "rock" on the spoon and pushed it around until it got good and melty.  This was to show how the rock would have melted from either a volcano or from the temperature of the earth at 25-37  miles below ground.

Next he put the chocolate in a cup of cold water.  This didn't make his rock hard enough so he put it in the freezer for a few minutes to get the rock like it would be if it was hardened either by flowing out of a volcano or rising higher than the intense heat in the earth.  Lastly, he scraped the rock off the spoon to show how the rocks would have looked.  A little non stick spray may have made this part easier because it wouldn't come off in one piece.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pisistratus the Tyrant

This is who Dancer is studying in her Greek book.  She was writting the summary of the chapter and having a hard time with his name.  Finally she blurts out, "I am never going to remember how to spell this guys name, why aren't any of them just named Bob or Jim!"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sewing a Snuggly Pillowcase

Spark got to pick a door prize at sewing camp yesterday and he chose a kit to make a troll pillowcase.  The dimensions of the fabric are 28" X 41" for the case and 9" X 41" for the contrasting band.  

First he folded to band piece in half and pinned it to the larger piece of fabric. 

Then he sewed the band on the pillowcase fabric and sewed around the sides.

Turned it inside out.

Put his pillow in it and he is really to go to bed.

4-H Sewing Camp Day 2

Our second day of Sewing Camp.  We started out good, making steady progress.  I helped Dancer and one of her friends cut out their project, a messenger bag.  We had a break for breakfast and  a safety meeting on being careful with the machines and the rotary cutters.  Right after that I was helping Spark cut some quilt squares and he some how put his finger on the top the cutter while he was cutting and sliced his finger.  Oh, for the blood, and the crying, and people coming to see what had happened.  Thankfully they had a huge first aid kit there so was able to get it bandaged well.  He said that it was stinging and it did bleed for quite some time.  Not a good start to his morning but we were still doing okay.  I cut the rest of his squares and he did a great job sewing the pieces together. 

Spark's cute little pillow.


He was done about three hours before the end of camp and went on to make the hat he is wearing in this picture.

Dancer made this cuter than cute messenger bag.

It is lined with bring pink fabric with an inside pocket.

This is another pocket on the back. 

Spark sewing, he is really good at this.  I think I will see if he is interested in doing any other projects.

Later in the afternoon he started saying he didn't feel well and could he go sit in the car.  He has been coughing but they didn't sleep as long as usual with the friend over so I thought he was just tired and bored so didn't let him go out.  We got all done, packed up and went out to the car, even stopping to chat with our club's leader.  I put the car in gear and drive a little ways around the building and he starts to cough and throw up.  I don't do well with throw up, that is Dad's department.  I always did the poop and Dad did the throw up.  Our leader runs over and asks if everything is alright, her day job is a nurse thankfully, because she says I was making a bad face.  She has a bag with her and Spark doesn't get sick all over the car.  Poor kid, he said except for all the fun parts he wished he hadn't gone.  When we got home he lay down on the couch and slept for a few hours and now he asleep again so hopefully he is better for tomorrow.  We just can not get rid of this sickness at our house.  Hurry Spring.

Friday, March 25, 2011

From Rooster to Sleep Overs

We woke up this morning thanks to one of the roosters crowing.  He wasn't willing to back in the barn yesterday so he spent the night outside. Now I know some might think it is all country and romantic to be awoken by a rooster but it's not.  It is so not.  I just want to go out there and throw something at him.  You know what the most annoying part about it is?  He seems to be able to sense when we are up and then he stops, wanders to another part of the yard not to crow again for hours. 

We spent the morning cleaning because Grandma Shirley and Grandpa Bob were coming for a visit.  Not that it needs to be spotless when they come but we do like to have a place for them to sit down.  By Friday that can be iffy at our  house.  We hadn't seen them for over a month so I was looking forward to today.  They were here for lunch and little chit chat and then they like to head home before the school buses are out so they don't get stuck behind one. 

This evening was the start of 4-H clothing camp.  It runs tonight and then all day tomorrow.   The Friday night segment is always a community service project.  This  year the kids made potato bags for the microwave.  It is a quilted little pouch that seniors in assisted living can put a potato in, pop it in the microwave and have a superb baked potato.  Never used one myself but have heard they work really well. 

Here is Dancer ripping out a seam on the top the back that got sewed on the wrong direction.  Spark went too but by this time he was out with another boy playing with a DS.  He did a really good job on his, he may be a natural at sewing.  He runs the sewing machine like it is a power tool, full speed ahead.

Home with us we brought one of Dancer's homeschool friends who is in another 4-H club and lives quite a ways away.  It was a good time to do a sleep over since we can just bring her back again tomorrow and she can go home with her family.  They didn't have a lot of time as we didn't get home until about 8:30 and then chores still had to be done.  They did get to have a snack, watch a movie and play a little Wii before I sent them off to bed.  I hear a lot of laughter coming out of Dancer's room so I suppose they will still be up half the night.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

So Long Spring

They were sitting outside a store watching the cars go by, which were only about six feet from them.  I bet they are wondering where spring went.

There are piles of snow like this everywhere.  About 8 inches of new snow fell on Wednesday.  All the schools in the area were closed but not for our kids.  That is what happens when you live at "school."

Red dogwoods against the snow.  Last week they were in a big puddle that had formed in the ditch, not this week.  This is only about a mile from our house.

Below freezing temps are expected all week so who know when, or if, spring will come again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Handle it like it is talc"

Spark has been studing about rocks and how to identify them using a couple different scales.  One of those scales is the Mohs Scale of Hardness.   Frederich Mohs, a German mineralogist, devised the scale in 1812 by selecting the ten minerals because they were common or readily available.

By determining how hard your rock is by scratching it you can get one step closer to figuring out what kind of rock it is.

So for the last week my Wii Fit Plus disc hasn't been working very well and the last couple of days hasn't worked at all.  A closer look told me that we haven't been putting it gingerly back in it's case everytime it is taken out of the Wii.   It was full of scratches and smudges.  Today, when I was in town, I bought a new one.  It was hard to find just the disc not the whole new game with the board so I don't want anything to happen to this one.  

Spark was taking it out of the Wii to put another disc in and I told him, "Handle it like it is a diamond."  Then on second thought I said, "No, handle it like it is talc.  Do you know what that means?"  And he did!  Woo hoo, he does listen to our science lessons! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quick Sausage Dinner

Some times the weekends are really busy and it's hard to make a meal that is quick, easy and ready  when ever you need it.  This past Sunday we were having some company over, but not for dinner, and they were coming at no particular time.   We were looking to make a quick meal while we tidied up the house and did our other week end routine items.  A quick look in the fridge provided a smoked sausage, and some peppers that were nearing the end of their useful life.  We always  have onions. 

The sausage was put in a 9x13 pan first and placed in the oven at 350 degrees (who has time to preheat?).  The pan is lined with aluminium foil for easier clean up.  The sausage went in first, uncovered, because we like the sausage to have a little color and flavor (note the darkened and cracked areas).  after 1/2 an hour the sausage was turned over and sliced onion and peppers were added.  We also put in a small amount of butter so the vegetable wouldn't burn as they heated up.  The whole pan was then covered with tin foil (old habits) and put back in the oven for about another 30 minutes.

The dish was served with some fresh bread that was conveniently baked earlier in the day.  The food looked good on a serving plate as well.  No one is claiming this a super balanced meal, unless you are eating low carb, but it was tasty and allowed us to accomplish some things while it cooked on it's own.

I suppose a pack of frozen burritos would do the same thing.  Try to have foods on hand that can be made into a meal with a little creativity.  The sausage cost $2.05 and the vegetables around $0.50, it fed 4 people with left overs.    

Monday, March 21, 2011

Goat Hair Bird Nest

The fine yellow part of the nest is totally goat hair.  It must be a nest left from last year as birds aren't building nest here yet.  I am always amazed at how intricate a bird can make a nest with a beak and no hands.

Math Class

I looked over and thought it was cute how Spark had his chin resting on the arm of the chair.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Fashion in Minnesota

Foot wear is very important.  We recommend these attractive rubbers that slip on over your shoes.  More comfortable than heavy boots once it starts to get muddy out.  Sometimes these aren't tall enough and then you need to wear tall rubber barn boots.  They aren't as comfortable though because you can't put your shoes in them so the support of the tennis shoes is lost.  Makes for sore feet and back if you are out doing a lot of work for a long time. 

Also by March we are more than ready to shed the long pants and start donning shorts.  We have thick blood, a little bare leg skin doesn't phase us.  We will pull the pants out again in November.

Layers, layers, layers.  Four is usually a good number.  Here Dad is wearing a t-shirt, sweatshirt, wind shirt and quilted shirt jacket.

Lastly is head wear.  It's getting nice out so it is time for the baseball cap.  Pair it with a set of ear warmers and pull up your hood.  The hood is important because it covers the back of your neck.  Ear warmers really important because everyone here knows someone who has frozen their ears at least once.

Then when it starts getting a little warmer out you can do the look that Dancer is modeling here, country girl spring fashion is what we call it.  Boots, snow pants and work gloves.  If you are busy in the barn, a coat when temps are in the high 30's or 40's is too much. 

Signs of Spring

The chickens are a willing to come out of the barn.  Snow is not their thing.

The mommas to be.  Calliope, Millie and Desdemona.

Calliope wondering why I am out there and she isn't getting a treat.  I usually carry candy in my pockets or have veggie peels to give them.

A pheasant that was laying in the yard.  Ewww.  It must have been eaten by a hawk or eagle because it isn't torn apart, just the flesh picked neatly off the bones.

The garden by the house is going to need a lot of work.  We didn't have time to till it in the fall so there will be more to do now in the spring.

Every where I looked there was work to be done.  There are tons of branches down all over the yard.

See the hole on the side of the hay in the cart?

This chicken decided it would be a good place to make a nest.  Tonight though she decided to go back in the barn.

One of the rabbits, Extreme Fur Ball,  that has been out all winter.  We will have to catch them before too long so they don't eat all the new flowers and garden when we get it planted.

The gardens behind the barn.  It will still be awhile before we see them.

The cats, Vidalia here, leave the chickens alone or they give them a good peck.

She turned to look at me and looked like she was saying "Cats fear me."

Mud, mud, mud, mud, bring on the mud.

The snow use to be up to their chins so we have lost a lot of snow already.

The creek that runs through our yard.  Perhaps we should rename it to a river.

Friday, March 18, 2011


  • We are all still battling the cold or crud that has infested our house.  I joined the ranks of the ill last Friday and it has been terrible.  When Mom is sick not much gets done.  Coughing all night isn't conducive to productive days. 
  • I felt bad that I made the kids use toilet paper for tissues when they had the worst of it, telling them they would be fine their noses were just a little red.  I made it one day with the toilet paper and ran to the store to get soft facial tissues.  I went through three boxes this week so far.
  • We are still exercising and have lost 56 pounds as a family so far.  Coughing is a good abdominal workout.
  • I started physical therapy a few weeks ago for migraine headaches that I have suffered from since college.  I was dubious but it really is working and I have been headache free for two weeks. 
  • The kids played BINGO at the nursing home on Monday night.  It was a service project for 4-H.  Our club does this twice a year as the kids really enjoy this project, probably more than the residents.
  • Spark bowled a 122 this week!  His highest game ever.
  • The warmer temps have made a lot of our snow melt and we can see the majority of the yard.
  • The warmer temps have meant that there is water everywhere.  There is lots talk about how much flooding the Mississippi River will have. 
  • The warmer temps have meant that we can walk outside.  We have been walking down to the end the block which is two miles. 
  • One day the neighbor came running out of her house and walked with us.  It is nice to see people again and catch up on how they have been.  She also has all the good gossip for the area. 
  • The dog, Nikki, was able to go for a walk in the yard yesterday.  She has been inside all winter because the snow was deeper than she is tall.  She has gotten quite tubby over the winter so we need to get her running a bit.  There was so much to smell out there she was in scent heaven.
  • Spark got five discoveries done in AWANA this week.  He wants to have a least half of his new book done before the end of the year.
  • Our mailman "Mike the mailman" is retiring in 11 days.  It just isn't going to seem right that his car doesn't come to deliver the mail anymore.
  • Spark finished another math book.
  • Dancer did the next test in Greek history and got a 100 percent.  It is amazing how studying helps even though she hates to do it and doesn't want to admit that is why she does well.
  • The kids cleaned out our garbage can on wheels, aka the car, after threatening to not take them anywhere in it until it was.  It makes me crazy that they can't take their junk out of there every time we get home.
  • Dancer is bummed that one of her friends wants to go to school next year.  Not sure why anyone would want to go to school but whatever.  Our kids are always being told by school kids that they are so lucky to be homeschooled.
  • Spark says "Put that we got a double box of Raisin Bran."  This is his favorite cereal and they don't get cereal very often so it has been a good week of breakfast for him.  Nice when you can buy Raisin Bran for your kids and they think it is a treat.
  • A new beta fish is in the bowl to replace that one that died a few weeks ago.  This one is a Crown Beta, a very handsome guy.
  • The goats are finally able to go outside.  They are fussy, crabby things that don't like the snow so we don't usually make them go out in the winter.  If we do put them out, one stands by the barn door as if keeping watch and the other look at the house and baa.  When they are out I always wonder if someone will stop by to see if they are alright because they sound so pathetic.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

55 Years!

Grandma Shirley and Grandpa Bob celebrate 55 years of marriage today.  They said that only one other person that was at their wedding is still alive.  I feel very fortunate to still have both of them.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rise and Shine Valentine

Dancer had a lock in last night for 4-H Jr. Leaders.  It went from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., however, they did not take note of the day light savings time set back and we still needed to pick her up at 6 a.m. new time which sure felt like 5 a.m. old time.   I only had to wake Dad to go get her and he went and picked her up.  I went picked her up last year so I didn't fell one bit guilty about snuggling back under the covers after he drove out of the driveway. 

The lock-in was in a tiny, tiny town about 25 miles away where they didn't seem to plow the roads after our snow the other night.  As people we leaving they were getting stuck in the road, which gave Dad a little extra aerobic exercise early in the morning when he helped push them out. 

Dad also picked up one of Dancer's friends and brought her back to our house.  Her parents were late picking her up so Dad didn't get back to bed until about 7 a.m. and Dancer didn't get into bed for the first time until then. 

At noon, we started to wonder if we should start waking Dancer so she isn't completely off track for the week but didn't want to wake her too early that she would be a complete crab all day.  There is a fine line there.  At 1:00 I started the wake up process and she was up by 1:15. 

I remember my mom use to come in banging a pot with a spoon.  That was all I needed to be in an instant bad mood and completely irritated.  She didn't save this wake up call for only days when I would sleep too late, she employed this tactic, I guess whenever the mood struck her.  I always vowed that I would never bang a pot and spoon to wake my kids. 

To wake our kids I usually go in and wiggle their foot and say "Rise and shine Valentine."  This can still irritate them but then they don't know the alternative.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

AWANA Grand Prix

Adding a little more lubricant to the wheels to make it fly down the track.

Registering his car, it had to weight under 5 oz., that is why it is in that dish.  I was way on the side of the race and none the pictures turned out well but he won two heats.  Not bad for his first time racing.

Spark with his car and ribbon. 

Mentos Diet Pop Explosion

A large diet pop, it needs to be diet but I don't know why, and seven mentos.

Do this outside only or you will be repainting your ceilings.  Drop the seven mentos into the pop.

Start running so you don't get hit.  The kids and I watched from the deck.  Call us wimps if you want but that was close enough for us.  My excuse was I wanted to take pictures so I guess you could call the kids wimps.

About two and a half seconds later the whole thing is over.

This is how much was left in the bottle.  Impressive.  The thought is that the mints release something that changes the nature of the pop and accelerates the formation of carbon-dioxide bubbles.  Also, thousands of tiny pits are exposed on the surface of the mints making the perfect places for bubbles to form.  The mints sink to the bottom of the bottle and the bubbles blast the pop out at a high velocity.  This is just a guess, supposedly no one knows why this works.  Why did someone try it in the first place?