Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pop Goes the Windshield

This evening we were behind the house, getting ready to do chores, when we heard a loud bang and "popping" noise from the road. We walked down towards the road and could see a car had abruptly stopped on the side of the road. By the time we came around the corner of the garage the car had backed up, made a U-turn and headed back from where it came. In the ditch we could see a deer. The deer was moving it's leg up and down a bit but was dead by the time the dad got over by it. The deer had an udder so it had been nursing it's young but it is late enough in the season they should be OK.

We all went to the see the accident scene, except Spark who took a digger on the patio in his haste to get out there. Right now he is in the house hoping he won't bleed to death. I think it's pretty unlikely since he's not bleeding at all.

A minute or two later a truck pulled up by the deer to assess the situation. The driver was a neighbor from a couple places down the road. His wife had collided the deer while bringing the kids to church. The deer had bolted out of the ditch and slammed into the side of the car, then flew onto the hood and smashed the windshield (hence the loud pop). There are a lot of deer in our area and I hear this is the third deer she has hit. Her husband said the first thing on his to-do list tomorrow morning will be to call the insurance company, again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Death by Guinea Pig

This afternoon was our mother/daughter book club. The family that hosted this month have two guinea pigs, Gilligan and Skipper. They are cute little fellows and I just had to hold Skipper. I held him, gave him a few quick pets and handed him back to his owner.

Then I started sneezing. Then my nose started running. Then my eyes started itching. Then my face started to itch. Then my eyes started to swell. Then my throat started to swell shut. Then I started having trouble talking. I have never ever had anything happen like this before. I have no reaction to any of our animals. I asked for an allergy tablet, which they had thankfully, and I still kept getting worse. Another mom there says where do you go to the clinic if we need to rush you there or should we just go straight to the hospital? Let's give the tablets 20 minutes and see how I am. I am sure if I go in they will just give an allergy pill and charge me an arm and leg.

So I am sitting there thinking what if my throat completely closes and I die at book club while discussing Jane Eyre? What would they put on my death certificate, Death by Guinea Pig? Would it take about a 100 years until no one in the family would remember that Grandma or Great Grandma died from touching a guinea pig? Not the legacy I was hoping to leave.

My throat stopped swelling and actually got a little better but my eye just kept getting bigger. By the time we left, my face had swollen around it, I had a huge bag under my eye and the white on my eye ball looked like a water balloon with a dark spot sunken in the middle. Both of my eyes were what Spark would call Devil Red.

It is now been nine hours , six allergy tablets and an ice pack since I touched Skipper and my eye is still swollen and very painful but I think the danger has passed.

I am swearing off guinea pigs forever.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cell division a.k.a. Mitosis

By Dancer

I made a poster for science today that shows how a cell divides into two cells. Cell division is also called mitosis. My dad says that mitosis is found on the end of his feetsis but that is just not true, it is found in cells. For this poster I used a cell that had four pairs of chromosomes.

Here is what happens at each step when the cell is dividing.

Step 1. Each cell has four pairs of chromosomes. When a cell begins to divided into two cells, each chromosome doubles.

Step 2. The nucleus prepares to divide. The chromosome pairs are connected at the middle and make an X shape.

Step 3. The chromosomes line up across in the middle of the cell.

Step 4. The chromosomes pairs separate into two individual, identical chromosomes and move to each a side of the cell.

Step 5. The cell splits in two. Tada!!! Each new cell has a full set of chromosomes.

A reason for a party

Spark and Dad were out doing the chores and I heard a loud noise that I thought was a truck drive in the yard. A few moments later Spark comes running on the deck yelling for Dancer and I to come and see the tree branch he just saw fall off a tree. We get out there and he is dancing around chattering about how great this is, can we believe it happened, it is so cool, and other utterance of sheer wonder that such a thing had happened in our yard! Dad worked last night so his thoughts are on getting to bed. He says that after he gets up he will get out the chain saw and cut it up. "SAW IT UP!!!" exclaims Spark. He went on to explain that people need to see this. We should have a party and company over so they can see it. He made it sound like Dad was going to cut up the eighth wonder of the world! For this afternoon though it will be laying in our yard, pretty close to the road, where people passing by in their cars can look over with vast amazement at how lucky we are to have a huge tree branch laying in our yard.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Humble yourself buddy

Yesterday I was playing Mario Kart with Spark, a game where he usually always wins, and he was just awful. I don't know where this came from, but he was going on about how great he was at the game and how horrible I was. When he would win a game he would get up and dance around doing this obnoxious victory dance. We often have some good natured ribbing during our games but nothing like he was doing. In fact, if we had had company over I would have had one of those 'earth swallow me now' moments because I would have been so embarrassed. After a few times of telling him to dial it back, and him ignoring me, I told him to turn it off, I was done playing. Right away he knew he had step over the line. Later we had a talk about how it isn't fun to play with someone who acts like he did and how people who do act like that usually don't have friends to play with. We also spent sometime talking about good sportsmanship and why it is important. This afternoon we played again and he was the poster boy of a good adversary. Actually, I am glad he acted like that with me instead of a friend, who probably wouldn't have wanted to be after they played with him, so he could learn the lesson with someone who loves him. Now, let's just hope it sticks.

Ground Turkey and Peppers recipe

We have so many green peppers that I am making an attempt at using them, hence all the recipes calling for green peppers the past two days. I really, really wish there were some way to keep all this fall produce fresh the entire year. This dinner was so good that I think it will show up often on our table.

Ground Turkey and Peppers

olive oil
1 cup onions - chopped
1 green pepper - chopped
3 cloves garlic - chopped
1 pound ground turkey
chili powder, parsley and cilantro to taste. You know how much you like.
Saute the onion, peppers and garlic in oil. Push to one side of the pan, add more oil and add turkey and spices. When turkey is cooked mix together with onions. Add more spices if you like. Serve with rice or noodles.
How simple is that! Plus only one pan and one pot for the whole meal!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Black Bean Tortilla Lasagna

Oh my gosh this is good and so easy to put together. Above is the first scoop we took out of the pan so it doesn't show well the layers and the cheese on top. Everyone had seconds and Dad even took a container full to work.
Black Bean Tortilla Lasagna
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 C salsa
5-6 C black beans
2 C tomatoes - chopped or use canned tomatoes
12 tortillas
1 C cheese
sour cream
Saute onion and garlic. Add green pepper and saute until tender. Add salsa, black beans and tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes. Coat 9X13 pan with oil. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of bean mixture into baking pan. Cover with tortillas. Sprinkle cheese on top. Spoon in 2 1/2 cups of beans mixture, then tortillas and then rest of bean mixture. Cover and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover, top with cheese and bake until cheese melts. Let stand 5 minutes and serve with lettuce, tomato and sour cream.

Friday, September 25, 2009

First baby vs. second baby

At dance last night a mom was all excited because her niece had just had a baby at 5:00 p.m. and she was going to see it. This was 6:00 p.m. And she wants company already I asked. Yep, says she feels great and can't wait for us to see him. I just had to ask the next question. This is her first baby isn't it? Yep again.

When I had Dancer it was the middle of the night. I could hardly wait for morning so I could call people and tell them she was here and hope that someone would come and see her right away. It was a week day so everyone I knew would be at work until that evening and it was so cold that the governor closed all the schools in the state. I remember the pastor's wife stopped that morning and I was so thrilled that someone, anyone, came so I could show her off. It seemed everyone we knew came to see her and we enjoyed all the company that we had over the next few days and also the first couple of weeks after we got home.

Then it came time to have Spark. Dancer was almost four years old and I had been running a child care for the past 3 and half years. My life was loud and busy. Every time I sat down someone needed something and I would have to jump up. I had forgotten what hot food and silence was like.

Spark was born in the evening. My parents were there because they were going to be taking Dancer back to their house for a few days. They saw him that first night and then that was the end of our company for the evening. I waited to tell others he was born until the next day. I just wanted to sit and hold him with nothing else to do and no one else to share him with. I knew these days of quiet and no one demanding anything of me would quickly pass and I would be into the thick of life again. The nurses would even come in and say "Don't you want the t.v. on?" No, I just want to sit and hold him. And it got better. They brought me hot meals, that I got to eat sitting down, and they came to pick up the dishes afterwards. They brought a snack in the evening, that I didn't have to share. I could take a bath without having to jump out quick to take care of Dancer. Oh, and the luxuries just went on and on. Dad and I got to have whole conversations. It was pure bliss.

The other dance mom came back at 8:00 p.m. with a whole bunch of pictures on her cell phone and talk of their hour and half visit with the new mom and baby. I smiled remembering those exciting, wonderful days of motherhood no matter if you share the baby with the world right away or keep the news under wraps for the first few hours.

It's 2380

That is how many steps there are in a mile. We all just got pedometers to work on getting 10,000 steps per day in. Dancer walked a mile on the treadmill and her total was 2380 steps but the pedometer said .61 miles. We were able to program in her stride so either the pedometer is way off, which it could be it wasn't an over expensive fancy one, or we need to reevaluate how long her stride is. Either way the amount of steps should be right. We have also become painfully aware that we come up way short on an average day at home by about 3 - 5 thousand steps. Time to get a wiggle on!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

You say tomato I say tomato

However you say it, we have been truly blessed with out tomato crop this year. Each of these flats weighted about 22 pounds and we picked eight yesterday for 176 pounds or about 524 tomatoes. Before yesterday we had picked seven flats of tomatoes and have already made them into ketchup and tomato sauce. Four plants still remain in the garden to be picked. The other wonderful thing that our plants have done this year is to have all the tomatoes get ripe at once. Every tomato on every plant is ripe. Usually we are out there the night before the first freeze in late September or early October frantically picking green tomatoes and covering plants to protect them from the cold. In twenty years of gardening we have never ever had such a successful crop and we are giddy about it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall bird migration

There have been thousands and thousands of birds in our yard today. To the left of the tree and right under the clouds in this picture, the black dots is what they came out looking like, it shows just a very, very small amount of the birds that were here. When they weren't in our yard they flew across the road to perch in the trees or out in the corn field behind our house. In the trees there were so many of them they looked like black apples on a very heavy laden apple tree. The birds came in these swarms like waves across the sky and then it seemed as though they would all fall into the trees. When they were flying and landing they sounded like a sparkler firework that you swirl around on the 4th of July. When they were in the trees their cackling sounded like a waterfall of broken glass and it was so loud. It was just the most magnificent thing to see and stand under. I hope more come through again tomorrow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Wizard of Oz series

Yes, series! Did you know it was a series? We had no idea. Our round trip to town usually takes an hour to drive. So as to not waste the precious time just sitting there, we listen to a lot books on tape. While perusing the book on tape section of the library we saw Ozma of Oz. Hmmm, that is interesting, there is another Oz book?! Now that we have listened to it, and deemed it excellent, we are going to look for the rest of them and recommend them to everyone we know.
This maybe the best keep literary secret out there. There are 15 books in the series by L. Frank Baum written from 1900 to 1920. They are:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Marvelous Land of Oz
Ozma of Oz
Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz
The Road of Oz
The Emerald City of Oz
The Patchwork Girl of Oz
Little Wizard Stories of Oz
Tik-Tok of Oz
The Scarecrow of Oz
Rinkitink of Oz
The Lost Princess of Oz
The Tin Woodman of Oz
The Magic of Oz
Glinda of Oz
We use to consider ourselves quite Oz savvy but now we see we have a ways to go.
I remember watching the Wizard of Oz on t.v. as a kid. It was on once a year and it was a pretty big event at our house. My mom would make popcorn and malts. I would throw a blanket over the coffee table and lay under there in my self made cave munching the popcorn and slurping the malt while watching the show in black and white. It could have been in color back then but I would have never known because we only had a black and white t.v.
When Dancer was little we got her the video so she could start enjoying the movie which is now in color. She loved it so much we even had a board game and a trivia game that we played. We still have the trivia game we should get it back out now that winter will be coming before we know it. When she was four years old she dressed up as Dorothy for Halloween. Spark had just turned one year old and we dressed him as the Cowardly Lion. It was a little fuzzy suit with a hood that was a big mane. It even had a tail with a furry poof at the end. Since he had only been walking for a couple of weeks at that point she pulled him in the wagon. Oh, it was so cute. We lived in a neighborhood that had almost all retired people in it and they would get so excited about the kids coming, they would invite them in to admire their costumes and give them a treat. We didn't have a digital camera then so I can't get a picture on here, darn.
Anyway, if you have kids check out these books, and if you don't have kids, check them as out well. If nothing else, the books will probably expand your vocabulary.

Beans beans beans

Green beans that is. We were doing a little garage cleaning yesterday afternoon, and when we got done I went out to the back yard to have a can of pop and sit for a few minutes. While we were sitting there out of the corner of my eye I saw the bean patch and told the kids to go see if they were ready to be picked. Boy were they ready!

The kids and Dad pulled all the plants and I picked the beans off. We don't bend over to pick beans, we find that it only results in poor spirits and sore backs. We just pull the plants and pick the beans sitting in a lawn chair even though we loose some of the production of the plants.

Part way through the picking of the beans Grandma came to visit. She is always such a trooper when she comes and just jumps right into whatever we are doing. She asked if this was the end of our beans but it was the beginning of beans for us. We planted many, many rows starting early this spring but they just didn't do very well. A good majority of them didn't even germinate. The first beans we got in early July we sold and then we haven't had any more. Dad put in another patch the end of July and these did very well. Must not have been the right weather for them the beginning of the summer.

We sat for about three hours picking beans off the plants and then snapping the ends off. Dancer and Spark cut them into pieces. The plants all go to the goats who are more than willing to eat up the leftovers. Before throwing them in the corral, Dancer got out Scott the rabbit to enjoy a few morsels and she snapped this cute picture. After we were done, our living lawn vacuum, Millie, came out to clean up the leaves and beans that were left behind.

Last night after dark I started freezing them. The total was 28 pints before running out of freezer bags. I picked up more bags today in town and will finish the huge bowl that is still left tonight. It looks like it will be about eight or so more pints. We are going to have the taste of summer even when it is below zero this winter!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The key word here would be FLAG

Spark is trying football this fall through community ed. The 3rd and 4th graders, he is 3rd, play flag football and then when they are older they play the real deal. Well, these boys are so not interested in mamby pamby flag football. Here is their definition of flag football. They tackle who ever has the ball. Once he goes down, four other boys will jump on the pile just for good measure. A few moments later a hand will jut up out of the middle of the heap holding a flag. All the while the coaches, high school varsity players, are yelling "NO TACKLING - NO TACKLING." Well, good luck with getting 8 - 10 year old boys not to rough house, especially while playing football. They are cute out there though, running around like they are in the pros and dancing when they get a touch down.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I amaze myself...

at how good I am at math! Math and I were like oil and water when I was in school, even collage. But now that I have been homeschooled, er I guess I am the one homeschooling, going on eight years I actually get math! Who knew it logical and made sense? Perhaps I was the victim of a flawed teaching method all those years. I hope that as we make our way through algebra and beyond that I am still singing this song.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Viking Bread recipe

Learning about how the Vikings invaded France and other islands, including Canada, spurred us to make Viking Bread. Since the Vikings would have had to have ground their own barley, oats and rye by hand this is a rather heavy, coarse bread.
Viking Bread
3 cups whole wheat flour or use another coarse flour
2 cups white flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups warm water
1 cup oats
Mix all dry ingredients saving out a 1/4 of cup of oats for the top. Stir in the 2 cups of water until it become hard to stir. At that point start to knead it to incorporate the rest of the flour until it become stiff. Make it into a circle and place on a baking stone. If using a cookie sheet it needs to be greased. Sprinkle the rest of the oats on top. Put the bread into a cold oven and turn on to 375 degrees. Bake for one hour.

We enjoyed it with butter and raw honey. It was very, very filling since it is such a dense bread. We thought it would also be good with a chili or stew and plan on making it again. I also pointed out to the kids that when you read books and someone had a hunk of brown bread and water to eat that this was probably the kind of bread they would have been given.

Charlemagne X 2

The last couple of weeks we have been learning about Charlemagne. He was a very fascinating person by the way. We finished up with him yesterday and ended by making a royal crown like he might have worn. I got all the materials out for Spark and then Dancer said that she wanted to make one too. She was busy with some of her other work and I didn't know if she would want to make one or not but she did :o)
They cut poster board a bit larger around than their heads and painted them gold.
Garnish the crown with jewels and glitter glue.

Dancer put jewels all the way around hers although here you can only see the moon and a couple black onyx gems. The back was much more royal looking.

Spark crowned on the throne. He only wanted one jewel on his crown but it had to be sticking up on the front.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cell membrane experiment

To show how water and other materials pass through a cell membrane using osmosis Dancer used a chicken egg to represent the cell.
It is day one of her experiment and this is just an ordinary chicken egg right from the chicken. The egg circumference measures 5 6/16 inches. Dancer put the egg in a glass of vinegar, covered it with saran and slid it on a shelf in the fridge.
Day 2. She take the egg out and the vinegar has spent the last 24 hours bubbling away at the shell of the egg. The shell is getting soft and has a layer of goo on it. The layer of goo is the dark layer that made the egg brown. The eggs circumference measures 5 5/16 inches so it is getting a bit smaller. Back in the glass it goes with new vinegar and it waits in the the fridge for another 24 hours.

Day 3. The egg's circumference measures 5 12/16 inches so it is getting a bit larger. The shell is now translucent with just one icky end. It gets new vinegar and one more night in the fridge.

Day 4. Much better, the egg is completely translucent and has lost all of it's ick factor. The yolk is also visible in the center of the egg. It's circumference is 6 1/16 inches so it has really grown in size. The vinegar is able to enter the egg once the shell is completely gone. For the next 24 hours it gets covered with corn syrup and goes back into the fridge.

Day 5. It has turned into a sad, saggy, little egg. It's circumference measures a mire 4 4/16 inches because the syrups molecules are too big to pass into the membrane and the egg is trying to make itself match it's environment. For the next 24 hours it will bathe in a glass of plain water.

Wow, what a difference a day makes. The egg is huge, boasting a circumference of 6 4/16 inches! It feels like a balloon and is really quite fun to play with. The membrane is amazingly strong considering we think of eggs as being quite fragile.
Although this was Dancer's experiment, we all really looked forward to seeing what the egg was going to do every day and even Spark gleaned some scientific information from it. Perhaps I should add though that it doesn't take much to entertain us!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

We are out of the egg business

We need to sell some animals because we have too many to fit comfortably in the barn this winter. As Dad was listing them on Craig's List he decided at the last minute to list the 24 chickens we had in the outside coop. We had talked about butchering them but that would be so much work as we have no plucker, they are still laying and we would have to do some fancy rearranging to get them all in the freezer. He put the ad on late yesterday afternoon and by 8:30 this morning they had all been spoken for. By 2:00 this afternoon they had all been picked up. All but one that is. As we were putting her in the pet carrier that the people had brought to bring them to their home in, she jumped out and ran into the fir trees. We had another one in the barn that was sitting on eggs so we got her to replace the one that got away and put one of our favorites, Carmel, in the barn coop to sit on the eggs. Hopefully Carmel will stay sitting on them. It is a good deal for her, I think they only have a week or so left until they hatch. As the last ones were leaving the drive way we went out and brought in the egg sign. What am I going to do without dozens and dozens of eggs taking up half the fridge? We might actually have room for our food!

NOTE: Today we get home from church and Dancer is still outside so she saw this. A truck comes zooming by and slams on the breaks right at the end of our driveway. This guy get out, runs up to the house and says "Don't you have eggs anymore?!!" We sold him one dozen and said that we sold our chickens so that would be it for this year. Now we hadn't sold any about a week and half and all of a sudden we take the sign down and someone is clamoring for eggs. That was only the second time he had stopped in the three years we had the sign out. Reminds of 'never want to drink the water till the well runs dry' - 'never want to buy the egg till the chickens are gone'.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hot Pepper Jelly

By Dad

Hot pepper jelly is fun to make, tastes great and is a cool homemade gift to give for the holidays, as it is a festive red and green. It is more convenient to make than some fruit jellies as peppers are in season for much longer, so you can make it at your leisure. This jelly is really fast so you can slip it in when canning other stuff like tomatoes. Might as well since the kitchen is hot and all the canning stuff is out. You will need finely chopped green and red bell peppers, a finely chopped jalapeno (recipe with exact amounts to follow).
The chopped peppers are boiled with vinegar, sugar and pectin. If you are new to making jelly, the pectin (Sure-Jell is shown here) makes the end product jelly like instead of liquid, it is available in any grocery store. Be ready by having the jars and lids clean and in hot (not boiling water). I don't worry about sterilizing the jars and lids before hand as the are processed after being filled. Fill the jars to 1/4" from the rim, wipe off the jar rim, set the flat lid on the jar and put the ring on finger tight.

The jars in this picture are processes for 10 minute in a steam canner. Remove from the canner and set on the counter. One of the best parts is listening for the lids to "pop" as they seal. It may take up to a week to set. Store in a cool, dark place and wait for the holiday season. It is especially good with goat cream cheese on crackers.

Hot Pepper Jelly
2 1/2 cups finely chopped red bell peppers
1 1/4 cups finely chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno peppers
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 package powdered pectin (1.75 oz.)
5 cups white sugar
Ready the jars, wash them and get them really hot. Heat water in canner.
Put peppers in large sauce pan over high heat. Mix in vinegar and pectin. Stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil. Quickly stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly one minute, keep stirring constantly.
Quickly ladle into jars, leaving 1/4 inch heat room. Wipe off rim. Cover with lids and screw on bands.
Can according to your canners directions.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Marzipan sculptures

We have been reading about the Islamic invasion in Spain and how the Moors shaped Spain's culture. One of the things that they did was to introduce and plant almonds in Spain. Out of the almonds they created marzipan in the 11th century. None of us had tried marizpan before so we got a can at the store and the kids had a great time making little sculptures with it. What they made shows how very different our kids are. Dancer made a cute little penguin couple and some flowers. No surprises there, those are things I would expect her to think of and make. Spark on the other hand made in the front left a canister vacuum. I don't know where he has even seen a canister vacuum, are they even made anymore? On the front right he made his elephant Jeffery. No surprise there, he has Jeffery with him all the time. In the back left I told him I really liked his ghost. Nope, that is a woman with a hoop skirt. And on the right a smiling ball with a hat. Well, he is an out of the box thinker, I will give him that!


I noticed when Dancer had here hair up in a ponytail that the ends are blonde. We whipped it over her head and swept it to the side to see what she would look like as a blonde with bangs. Way, way different and older. Don't care for the older part, let's leave it in a pony.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Reaching new heights

We measured the kids today because Dancer needed her height for a math problem and she was sure she had grown and was not going to figure out the problem with her old height. She was right, she is 5 feet 1 1/4 inches. Come here Spark, let's see how tall you are - 4 feet 10 inches - Ack!!! I knew he was getting tall but another 8 inches and he passes me! By the time he is 5th grade I will probably be looking up to see him. I am not ready for one of my kids to be taller than me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The midnight ride of ....

Dad and Dancer. It is getting dark here around 8 p.m. but we are not ready to come inside yet at that time, so we don't. Tonight they hooked the cart up to the back of the lawn mower and took turns driving each other around the yard.

The bus drove by

School officially started for all the kids in the state today so there were no kids out and about. Dancer had an orthodontist appointment so we went to town, we can school anytime. We went to Pizza Ranch for buffet lunch and shopping before her appointment. One of the biggest things I hate about homeschool is when we are out and someone will say "oh, isn't there school today" and we explain that the kids are homeschool blah, blah, blah. Well today Dad was ready to say "Was that today?! We knew we were forgetting something." but no one asked. That's okay though, maybe it has become common place enough that we won't get bothered anymore. I did hear the lady that did Dancer's teeth ask if she started school and she said yes. I asked her about her answer later and she said she is weary of the whole 'I'm homeschooled' thing too. And it wasn't a lie, she did read and we started a science experiment - it was probably more that the kids in school did.

Monday, September 7, 2009

They worked hard, they played hard

I went out this afternoon to give the goats some water and on the way back to the house looked at the patio. We have a large patio, 24X32 feet, on the side of the house made out of brick pavers. We never sit on it or use it other than to walk from the front of the house to the back. Because of this it has become rather run down looking. The grass, we found out, had grown two blocks in and it seemed it had weeds growing out of every crack. So looking at the eye sore I got the wild hair to clean it up. Out came the hose with the driveway washer on it, a broom and a rake. The kids came out and we spent three hours spraying, sweeping, raking the grass that had grown along the edges, throwing the rocks back along the house where they belonged and pulling lots and lots of weeds. When we got done it looked like a new patio because of the kids hard work. They worked the whole time without one complaint.

When we were done we sat down on lawn chairs, not even on the patio perhaps we still won't use it, and had a snack. The kids asked if we could go to Grandma's and swim in her pool. We hadn't been there to swim in over two years because we just never seem to have the time to go and just swim. We live by a lake and it doesn't seem to be much of a priority to swim in the pool. Well after they had worked so hard we really couldn't say no. We got in the car and headed to their house. The kids swam for over an hour and half and between the two of them must have jumped in about 75 times. Grandma got home from work just as they were getting out and so we had a nice visit to boot!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Nothing - that is what we have to write about because we haven't done anything. Dad is working this weekend and the kids and I have taken the weekend off. Our days have been filled with reading, Dancer read a whole book just today, playing video games, writing a couple 4-H progress reports, a little laundry, cleaning (house and barn), Dancer started a quilt and we tried to take a walk the last two nights but the mosquitoes drove us back home before we got very far. Saturday night we even had apple walnut oatmeal for supper because we didn't feel like making anything more complicated. Tonight was chili mac, another minimal effort meal. Tomorrow is the day before we start our fall schedule so I am really planning on doing more nothing.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A blue ribbon day

The day finally arrived! We left just after the crack of dawn and made the trip to the cities for the State Fair. After a couple hours of driving the State Fair water tower was a welcomed sight. You would have thought that this was us getting to the fair but no, it took about 20 minutes from here to get to the part where you buy a parking pass and the tickets to get in. Then another five for them to direct us to the parking lot and finally to a spot. Whew!
The first order of business was to find the 4-H building and where Dancer would have her judging, the second was to get something to eat. We were all hungry by now but not this hungry. Not knowing what we were getting, Dad ordered this deep fried curly potato extravaganza. He counted the potatoes as they were cutting and plopping them in a deep frier, this basket is five, large potatoes. The four us managed to eat not quite half of it. It was good though!

We stopped by the horticulture building and the kids tried out the bee display.

While Dancer was in her judging meeting, Spark worked on filling his science, engineering and technology passport. He flew a plane using a flight simulator.
He used pedal power to run a fan on the bike, light bulbs and a few other gadgets.

He also completed activities in the areas of gardening (telling by smell what an herb was), robotics, try science (computer programs to build windmills and forensics were the ones he tried - find the activities at,, and, and film making studio. After Spark finished all the activities and got his passport stamped, he was given an orange ribbon to take home and remember the day.

Dancer got a first place blue ribbon for her project. She is only five feet tall and they put her project on the very top row. She had to stretch to get the ribbon up there! The judging is different at the State Fair than at the County Fair. At the state level they are judged in groups of three or four. Each one gives a presentation of their project and then they ask each other questions along with the judge. Dancer had to give her presentation first, and since this was her first time and didn't know what to expect, she found it a little daunting. She did a great job even with her nerves!

The kids climbed up to the top of a fire watch tower. It looked like way to many steps for the Dad and I to hoof up with our tired feet so we watched from the bottom and waved. We are the people at the end of the red arrows. We aren't standing by each other because Dad watched to see that Spark would be able to go all the way up to the top with out getting scared and stopping part way. He has a phobia of walking on those metal grated stairs that you can see through. He made it up and back down without Dad having to go up and coax him down to good old terra firma.
.Spark and Jay Leno.

Dancer and Jay Leno. This was cut out display where you could take your picture with Leno, send it in to his show and someone would be chosen to be a guest on his show. They are probably looking for something a bit more dramatic in the picture to be chosen for the show so this is the only place to see them!

We watched some horse barrel racing in this huge arena. Dancer was hoping the picture could capture how big it was but while it looks big it was so much bigger. The Dad and I both went to the Shrine Circus in this arena when we were young. In grade school we lived over two hours apart from each other. It was fun to think that we could have been at the same circus show, could have even sat by each other.

The biggest boar (not bore, we all know one of those) in the state 1,300 + pounds. Spark is in behind the fence behind and you can see just how big he was. He was an unreal kind of big, not just fat. Think of all the bacon laying there!

Other highlights were lobster on a stick, Nirto ice cream, a deep fried Snickers bar, a huge display of butterflies coming out of hundreds of cocoons, playing Wii fit, riding the Sky Ride (little pods that go on wires over the fair), picking out souvenirs, eating a super yummy cinnamon roll that we saw being made, all the 4-H projects, walking amongst to many people, the DNR fish pond, and stopping for supper on the way home so we wouldn't have to drive into the sun and be stuck in Labor Day traffic trying to get out of the cities. We got home, did chores, fell into bed and fell asleep instantly. It was such a great day we are already looking forward to next year if Dancer wins a trip!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

H1N1 will not damper our plans

The kids have been counting down the weeks, then the days and now the hours until we leave for the state fair. Then on the news tonight there was a story about how a 100 4-H's were sent home because of the H1N1 flu. After checking the computer, because we missed the first half of the report, we found a letter from 4-H telling us about the kids already there and how they are protecting everyone who comes for the rest of the judging. Their precautions are stringent enough for this over protective, germ phobic mom to consider that we might still go.

After some discussion, we assume this is going to become an on going dilemma as winter approaches and we decide that we will go. We will be armed with hand sanitizer and the kids have strict instructions not to touch their faces so we hope we will stave off the flu.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Banana Nut and Banana Oatmeal Cookies

We had over ripe bananas, or B-nanas as Dancer use to call them, and didn't feel like banana bread so we whipped up a couple of batches of yummy banana cookies. I like the banana nut ones best and the kids like the banana oatmeal best. Make both kinds and be your own judge.

Banana Nut Cookies

1/2 cup butter, room temp.
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup mashed bananas
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup nuts - we like pecans

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and beat. Mix mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. Mix banana mixture into butter mixture. Combine rest of ingredients and stir into butter banana mixture just until combined. Bake 11 -13 minutes until golden brown at 350 degrees.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup banana mashed
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 cup oatmeal
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup nuts
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nuts and oatmeal together. Cream butter and sugar add egg. Stir in vanilla, lemon juice and banana. Add dry ingredients and stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes until they are golden brown.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bathroom talk

I have become embarrassingly aware of how my term for bathroom use has changed over the years. Of course as a young adult it was a simple 'use the bathroom', nothing embarrassing about that.

Move on to having children and terminology changes. We were at a restaurant, with friends no less, when Dancer was little and it was one of those places where you stand in line to place your order, they seat you and then bring the food out later. We are standing in line and Dancer needs to use the bathroom. But being a mommy who's main companion during the day was a two year old, I ask, which seemed very loud after I said it "Where is your potty?" Our friends, the people behind us and the person I asked all laughed.

Move on a few more years and I no longer say potty. However, the dog has brought new vocabulary to our home. Now I have caught myself saying to the kids "do you need to piddle before we leave?"

I hope, somewhere in my future, there will be a time when I get back to regular 'bathroom talk'.