Sunday, November 30, 2008

Egg sign and Christmas tree

We made a new egg sign for the road. The last one was made over a year ago on tag board covered with packing tape so it held up pretty good until this spring. Since then it has been this eye sore, oh we did try to fix it once by making letters out of electrical tape, but that only lasted a few weeks. I am amazed at how much business we did with this awful sign. But today we put up a new wooden sign! The Dad is attaching it with wire - fancy! We can put this one up and down easily so if we are going to be gone for an extended period of time, or we don't have eggs, we can take it down.

The Christmas tree went up today. Normally, we wouldn't have it up this early but Grandma has been with us this weekend and the kids wanted to decorate it with her.

This is a new tree for us this year. We have always had a little four footer before but last year the kids were taller than the tree so we got a new prelit one on clearance last year. We spent half the afternoon looking for the ornaments and, of course, they were in a box right in front of us all along.

I was asked last week to teach a group of ladies how to make old fashioned fudge. The class was this evening so Dad was in charge of getting dinner. The kids had hot dogs and granola. How is that for a dad dinner? I left them a hotdish to have but the stories I got when I got home from the kids was Dad didn't make it. And from Dad that the kids didn't want it. Hmmm, I wonder what really transpired!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A look back

This last spring we had this little owl in our barn, he was about 8 inches tall. Cute, isn't he? Our chicks were pretty good sized but we didn't want them to be the main course on the owl buffet. Dad went out to do the chores that night and runs back in the house to tell us to come out and see him before he flys off because, of course, he is going to be scared of us and want to make a quick escape. So we opened the front barn doors and he should have flown right out. Not. We chased this owl from one side of the barn to the other for at least an hour and he would not fly out the big doors. I think he was toying with us just to see us jumping up and down waving shovels and pitch forks that weren't even close to him. We finally told ourselves that he was too small to eat one of our chickens and retired for the night. The next day we went out, opened up the barn and he flew right out. He and his owl friends probably had a good laugh on us. He did leave our chickens alone thankfully.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Scenes from Thanksgiving

This was just the beginning
of Dancer laughing all night.

Grandma Cooking

We skipped the turkey and grilled. Only Dancer likes the white meat so it is lots of hotdishes to eat if we make a big turkey.

Our hibiscus bloomed for Thanksgiving.

Here is one of the Dad's favorite recipes. We make this on holidays and special occasions as it is not low calorie by any means.

Carrot Casserole

1 lb. carrots
1 onion
2 sticks butter
1 scoop flour
1 C. milk
1 tube Ritz crackers

Boil carrots until tender - mash. Cook onion in 1 stick of butter until softened, not browned. Add flour and milk until thickened. Add carrots. Put in 8X8 buttered pan. Crush crackers, mix with melted butter and sprinkle on top. Bake 350 20-30 minutes. If refrigerated add 10 minutes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Careful what you say

We dry a lot of our own seeds for the next growing season. Either so that we get exactly what we want the next year from a good plant, or we get new produce we are impressed with from somewhere else and dry those seeds. To dry them we lay them out on pieces of paper, let them just sit about for a few weeks, then pick them off the papers, put them into envelopes and label them. Sounds simple doesn't it? This afternoon Spark was doing some squash seeds that were already dry. I told him to get out an envelope, put the seeds in it, and put squash on the envelope. He does the first two steps and comes to me and says, "you want me to step on this?" No, I want you to put squash on the envelope. He asks again, "you want me to step on this?" His quizzical look by now was one that could say I have grown another nose. At this point, I finally realize that somehow we aren't communicating like we should be. This time I say "write" squash on the envelope. He looks relieve that his mother is sane and goes off to finish his task. See how simple that was?!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gonna Take a Sentimental Journey

I don't think is what Les Brown and Doris Day had in mind when they recorded this song.
This morning we were playing Word Coach on the Wii. This is a really good game for kids, and adults, to work on vocabulary and spelling without the drudgery of just memorizing list of words. The games are also timed so the player really has to be a quick thinker or the games can also be played with a friend so you can tout your word knowledge. We use it for a change of pace once in a while to keep things fun. Anyway, we are playing this morning and the controller goes dead so we need to put in new batteries. We pull out the pack of batteries, pop the old ones out of the controller and put the new ones in. I get up to dispose of old ones and Spark says "wait these are the batteries I won Mario Galaxy with, I want to keep them." Now, if you knew what a mess his room constantly in you would know why I said no faster than Nikki can eat a table scrap. There are somethings I will just never understand. Sigh. I hope not being able to keep them doesn't send him into therapy some day. Here are his beloved batteries. I also found this picture on the camera when down loading it tonight. It is of Nikki lounging on the back of the couch where she doesn't belong. Since someone is taking pictures of her on the couch I am going to go out on a limb and guess that they are not up holding the rule about the dog staying off the back of the couch. She is smashing the cushions but I think they are already beyond hope. Good thing she is so cute!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Food shelf

For the past several years, once a month we help at a food shelf. Today was that day. I use to go alone before, it was my one day out, but now I always take Dancer with me. She helps enough to equal an adult and now we think it is beneficial for her to do some local mission work. The food shelf day is a day we always look forward to. What we do there is set up for the actual food shelf, when the people come to get food, which will take place tomorrow.
Several of the helpers are friends from our old church. With a heavy heart we switched to a church closer to our home when the price of gas got so high. Going to the food shelf keeps us connected at least once a month. This is a good thing for me because I always have good intentions of getting together with, or at least calling, friends and before I know it month, or some times several months, can have gone by. After we are done working we go out to lunch to talk and laugh. It is always a fancy, high class place too, like Wendy's or McDonald's! Well, maybe not fancy or high class, but the focus is the company not the food anyway.
Spark sometimes goes with but today he was home spending some time with Dad. He always wants to go with and help, but then after we have been there a few hours he starts asking, "when we are leaving?" It reminds me of "are we there yet? are we there yet? are we there yet? are we there yet?" They passed the day doing a few chores around the house and in the barn, and school work. Both of them were smiling when we got home so they must have had fun.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's a bird, it's a plane......

No, it's those dang lady bug beetles. In one of our sheds today the Dad moved a plastic kiddie pool and he found all these creepy little beetles. They are all alive, several layers thick and crawling like this big mass that had taken on a life form of it's own. It was so gross, I just hate those things. In the fall we can vacuum them off the ceiling in the house several times a day, and this year we didn't have near as many as we have other years. We have never found so many in one spot before that weren't dead in the spring piled in the corners.Here is a picture of just how big a pile they were. They covered an area of about three feet by three feet. The shed is an old single car garage so those two doors in the back are 2/3 of a regular garage door. This is right outside the building. They must have been stragglers still going in there for the winter. We have had some really cold weather already so I don't know what it takes to kill these things. How did it end for these creepy crawlies? We built a little bon fire in the pit, swept them up and threw them in.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

QUACK, who goes there!

Every morning the ducks come up and sit on the driveway in front of the garage. The have a little nap and then leave their calling cards (poo) all over the drive. Last night we had a light snow so this morning they left something else - hundreds of duck prints. It was chilly in the house too, Spark needed to snuggle under the blankets to watch t.v. in comfort.

Friday, November 21, 2008

MAN versus ICE

With the onset of winter and frigid weather, another season of animal winter watering begins. Here in the frozen north a nice, sunny winter day has high temps in the teens or twenties. In this weather the animals water won't thaw, infact it gets thicker! Every morning, sometimes two or three additional times the water needs to be knocked out and refilled. Only a few are practical to heat. Any chores are more work and much less fun when the weather is really cold. Because of the low temps you can't use the hose, so it's hauling 5 gallon (40 pound) pails of water. Here is a picture of the ducks water, being low and flat it always freezes. The ducks need water (or at least snow) every day, in fact if they don't have any they'll fly away. Well, the weather should be nicer in about 4 months.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Turkey of the year

Every year the kids make one cut out hand turkey together. I leave these turkeys up all year hanging in the hallway to the bedrooms.

They also spent a good part of the afternoon making bookmarks. Here is where they got their insperation and

Hard at work

Little pipe cleaner, pom pom critter bookmarks


It could be years before we are in need of another bookmark!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Your homeschooled?!

It is always interesting to see and hear other kids reactions to our kids being homeschooled. It happened tonight at dance class with a girl that Dancer has known for a couple years. The questions they ask are usually the same.
Do you get to sleep in? yes
Do you get to stay up late? yes
Do you get to do school in your jammies? yes, most of the time
Do you have a reading book? no
Doesn't your mom have a job? no
What do you study? Latin, science, history, biographies and math. We cover more than that but if they aren't sitting at the table they don't think of it as school.
Is your mom a hard teacher? no - we better work on changing that!!
Do you like to be homeschooled? oh yeah
After these questions the kids usually go on to say they wish they were homeschooled and how lucky our kids are. Some even will go over to their parents and ask to be homeschooled. So the moral of the story is that our kids must be "socialized" enough that other kids can be amazed after knowing ours for a couple years that they are homeschooled. Now on the other hand, we have gone to things and the kids will say "it was fun but you sure can tell those kids aren't homeschoolers". They don't say it in a condesending way just that the kids act different than a group of homeschool kids together.
We got home from dance tonight and the kids wanted a snack so we made Puppy Chow. This is one of our favorite treats, the only problem with it is that it is highly addictive!
Puppy Chow
9 cups rice chex cereal
1 cup choc. chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
powdered sugar
Melt the choc. chips, peanut butter, and butter on the stove in a heavy pot. Pour over the cereal. Stir until cereal is coated. Dump the cereal in a paper bag and pour in some powdered sugar. Shake bag to cover cereal with sugar. Pour out onto wax paper and separtate pieces until cool.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thanksgiving poem

Thanksgiving Acrostic Poem
by Dancer

Turkeys are fat and plump, ready to eat
Happy people eat the turkey for dinner
After they are full, they tell stories
Napkins are folded, chairs pushed back
Kind eyes and pies are around the table
Sisters giggle at the table
Grass is gone, the first snow is here today
I love all the people that came today
Visitors are leaving to go home
I say goodbye with lots of hugs and kisses
Nothing makes me so happy than
Giving on Thanksgiving Day!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wii had no idea

Yesterday when Spark and I were in the mall we were looking at the Wii games and systems. That is the area he runs to first at the store. We were looking at this display that showed all the things you can do on the Wii. One of the things was to display your pictures from your digital camera on the t.v. Now we have had the Wii system since not this last summer but the summer before and we never knew that! I guess it would have been in the instructions if we had read them lol. Anyway, if you have a SD card in your camera you can put it in the Wii and do all kinds of things with the pictures. We spent the afternoon putting sunglasses, big lips, hearts, etc. on all our pictures. Another cool thing you can do with them is turn them into puzzles from 6 to 48 pieces. You can also make a really nice slide show with music. I will have to dig up the instruction book and see what else we are missing out on!

Spark also made another turkey today to add to our ever growing turkey collection. We will have to move them off the t.v. soon because they won't all fit up there. This was one of those $1 ones that are in crafts stores. He put it together with glue dots because we have tried using regular gule on the fun foam before and have not had much success.

And our rabbit saga continues. This rabbit, Razor, had babies today. We moved them into the garage and put the heat lamp over them and now it seems she isn't feeding them. We came home tonight from open gym at the school and they were all crawling to the front of the box and were skinny. If she is feeding them they should have nice round tummys and these didn't. We pulled her out and put the babies on her. Three of them nursed but one was too weak to latch on. Oh, I hope she feeds them. She is also a first time mom and they sometimes need a litter or two to get the hang of it.

Dance show

Today was a busy, busy day. Dancer started basketball this morning. She had to be there at 10 a.m. for a two hour practice and then had to be at a dance show by 1:00 which was 45 minutes away. We were like that car ad, zoom, zoom, zoom. We get to the school and not only is there the dance show but a swim meet as well. We were one of the fortunate ones who got to park in the school parking lot but we had to walk at least a block across the tundra to the front doors. Well, it felt like the tundra anyway, the wind was howling and it was 25 degrees. They need to be at these things early to mark their spots on the floor which takes about 15 minutes and then we wait. The first show wasn't until 3:30 so it was a long time to sit but it gave us time to have a bite to eat and get Dancer ready with make up, hair and costume.

She was in two shows today so Spark and I didn't stay for the first one, we went shopping instead. We ended up at the mall and it was insanely packed, I thought the economy was suppose to be bad this year! Everyone and their dog was in the check out lines at Target or walking the halls at the mall. It was hard to even move around.
Between the shows we went out to eat with another family. It was really a treat as we don't usually go to sit down resturants. Our norm is to bring food with us if we are going to be gone over a meal time so we rarely eat out and if we do, it is the dollar menu at McDonalds were we get burger and have our own drinks with so we don't even go inside.
Spark and I went to the second show at 7:30 and it was good, we had front row seats. There are usually a few rows of folding chairs set up so we went in early to sit in those. Sitting in bleachers makes my back just scream out in pain after an hour or so and we were going to be sitting there for about three. Spark sat so wonderful during the whole show and was so patient all day! I thanked him over and over because if makes the day so much more enjoyable if he isn't jumping around and figiting. Here is Dancer before the show.
They had this cool picture frame set up that the dancers ran threw when they came out on to the floor. Spark also dances at the same studio, not in one of the groups that dances in these shows, and so I wanted a picture of him in the frame. It was pretty cool, it must have been about eight feet high. We left the show after Dancer's studio finished their last dance, which was before the show was over, and we still didn't get home until after 10 pm. That doesn't sound to bad but when we get home we still have chores to do. We can move pretty fast through them though when it is cold out!
Our bunny update is that none of them made it. Yesterday morning the four where still alive and well and then during the day they crawled away from each other and got too cold. One was still alive and we brought it and the mother in the house last night but it still didn't make it. I think that being brought back from the brink twice and being by itself was too much for it. We had them in the basement and it just wasn't warm enough for one alone. Next time we have a batch, which we hope is in the next day or so, we are going to put them in the garage and put the heat lamp we use for chicks over them.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Splish splash he was taking a bath

Ever hear of a boy who likes to take a bath? We have one. Spark would take a couple baths a day if we let him. He will be in there singing at the top of his lungs and making up all these elaborate games with his bath toys until the water is stone cold.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Snail races

Spark came out today with a camping fan and some snails, and a slug, that he had made out of pipe cleaners. He put leashes on them, made from pipe cleaners as well, and hooked them around the fan blades. Then he would turn on the fan so they could race. The slug's name is Raisin and the snail's names are Cupcake and Killer. When the fan was flat on the table they were racing and when it was standing up they were on a ferris wheel. The kids also made these paper 3-D turkeys today. We found them at . For having to glue tabs together they went together quite nicely. Another project today was to get a couple pillow cases made. I make them for all the holidays/seasons for the kids to make their rooms a little cozier. I will make a few more to send to the kids cousin and a little friend who is going through some serious health problems.

One of our rabbits had babies today and we found them on the floor and crawling out of her cage. She is a first time mom and the mothering instinct doesn't always kick in for them. She had seven, three were dead when we found them and four were in pretty good shape, still moving and squeeking. The four we brought in the house, cleaned them off and laid them on the heating pad to get their body temp back up. Then we made a nest for her since she didn't and pulled out some of her hair to cover the bunnies and keep them warm. Hopefully it will be enough to jump start her into putting more hair in the nest and take care of them. When we closed the barn tonight she was in the nesting box with them, but it could mean she is going to take care of them or she is just in there checking them out and won't nurse them. I guess we will know in the morning. I am apprehensive to go out there now. I hate finding them cold, it is just so sad.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pomander ball

We have traveled off on a tangent of Shakespeare. Dancer loves anything from this period of history so we have gotten quite deep into our study. Spark isn't as interested but he is being a good sport about it and I think he is starting to really get into it. Today we were learning about how the houses where made during this time and how they were perfect havens for rats. Well, with the rats came fleas and with the fleas came the bubonic plauge. Many Elizabethans thought that this plauge was caused by foule stinkyng aire (bad smelling air). To combat this bad smelling air one of their defenses was to make the air smell sweet with pomander balls. They would carry these balls in their hands, in boxes or in their pockets to protect themselves. They would also put them on a chain and hang them around their necks or waists. Of course, today we know that the plauge came from the bacteria Yersinia pestis and it is treatable not the death sentence it was back in Shakespeares time. You know for a good unit study that you need a hands on project and we want a good study so we made pomander balls. We made ours with an orange and whole cloves. Any thick skinned fruit would work, a lime, lemon or grapefruit. First we stuck the orange with a fork and then filled the holes with the cloves. When the whole fruit was covered, it took a couple jars of cloves each to get ours this covered, we put them in bowls. In the bowls we sprinkled on ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and all spice. For the next two weeks we need to keep rolling them in the spices until they start to dry and shrink and then will tie a ribbon around them and hang them up. The pomander balls sitting in the spices have made our kitchen smell sooooo good.

This picture came up when I was down loading the pictures to the computer tonight. This is Spark's rendition of a melted snowman.
It is two buttons and a little carrot in a bit of water. Poor little snowman, he should have stayed outside.

Veteran's Day?

We had a birthday present to mail this week and I remembered that it would need to be mailed on Monday because on Tuesday the post office would be closed. Yeah for remembering the holiday! Today we didn't go out and check the mail, wonder why it wasn't there, go out and check the mail, wonder why it wasn't there, go out and check the mail and so on.... Yeah for remembering the holiday! It's Tuesday when we go to town for dance, errands and the library. We left an hour early so we would have plenty of time at the library. We always seem to need a least and hour to an hour and half there. We come around the corner to the library and the parking lot is.......completely empty. No yeah for remembering the holiday. I did feel better when we got to dance and one of the other kids said that they too had just come from that empty parking lot. Another parent confessed that she checked her mail box twice, and she is a county employee and had the day off!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pumpkin pie in a bag

The activity tonight at our 4-H meeting was pumpkin pie in a bag. The kids lined up on one side of the table and the parents on the other. Each of the kids got one ingredient and the parents each had a bag. I think there were four bags that were used. The parents went down the line with their bag open and each of the kids put in whatever their ingredient was. When everything was in except the graham crackers and whipped topping, the bags were smooshed for a few minutes. The graham crackers were spooned into each cup, the pumpkin filling squeezed into the cups and then garnished with whipped topping. They were very good, as one parent put it "they taste a lot better than they look". Here is the recipe.

Pumpkin Pie in a Bag

quart size zipper type freezer bag

2/3 cup cold milk

1/2 package (4 serving size) instant vanilla pudding mix

1/2 cup (about 1/4 of 15 ounce can of solid pack pumpkin)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

graham cracker crumbs or Vanilla Wafers

whipped topping

Add milk and vanilla pudding mix to the bag; close bag and squeeze and knead with hands for 1 minute until blended. Add pumpkin, cinnamon and ginger; close bag and squeeze and knead with hands for 2 minutes until blended. Fill the bottoms of cups with crumbs. Cut a corner of the freezer bag and squeeze contents equally into each container. Garnish with whipped topping.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Veteran's Parade

There was a Veteran's Day parade today at the VA hospital and our dance studio was one of the floats in it. The VA here has such a beautiful campus and the parade route was no exception. The temperatures, however, were not as wonderful as the campus. It was in the 20's with a blowing wind. Before the parade we were able to wait inside a building. Many, many people were handing out flags and the kids got a couple to carry in the parade. A lot of kids marched in the parade holding signs with the names of people who are over fighting now. Several of them said a name and then AKA Daddy. Many veterans were in the parade, some from the nursing home on campus were being pushed in wheelchairs. This man, who had lost a leg, was in the parade on a bike. There was a lot of clapping and cheering! This beautiful float said "Until they all come home keep a candle burning". We will start saying extra prayers for every family who is still missing a loved one. May God with his awsome power give them peace.This troop was made up of some very young men and women. I thought, what a big decision at such a young age since they would have made it knowing very well their troop could be called to go over seas to serve our country. As a mother it gives an extra pull at my heart. Here is the kids float coming down the route. Right after this the batteries in the camera were low and I couldn't turn it on and off fast enough to get a picture of them dancing. Bummer! Here they are at the end of the route. Not in action but at least a rememberance of them in the parade by the float. Afterward there was a huge reception with warm drinks, cake, a band, lots of guest speakers and best of all, a heated building.