Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween happenings

We started the night at a friends house eating pizza. The kids went downstairs to do whatever kids do and us adults pulled out the apple crisp and ice cream. That was our pre trick or treat! Here is the group of kids that trick or treated. There was a rabbit, Dancer had to be a snow princess since it was so cold and she wore her coat over her costume, a knight, a cow girl and a witch. I wore the pedometer to know how far we went and we walked about three miles by winding through their neighborhood and surrounding area. The kids would have gone even further because they ran up to the front doors for treats. We were out pandering about an hour and half.
. The kids got lots of good treats, the traditional candy and then cans of pop, lots of microwave popcorn, juice boxes, stickers, Valentine and Christmas candy (odd I know), Halloween drinking cups and one house gave out a bag of school supplies to each child with things such as full sized notebooks, packs of colored pencils, pens, highlighters, pencils, glue sticks and a bottle of water. I never got a notebook trick or treating but what a good idea.

Dad telling Dancer how much he is going to enjoy eating all of her candy tonight after she goes to bed.
Dad, with his floating hat, is dismayed that she really isn't going to give him any candy!

After taking out all the extras from the candy, and enjoying some of their favorites, the kids each had three pounds to sell the dentist. I told them they got three dollars for the candy instead of twenty hours on the treadmill to wear all the calories off. They both thought this was an awesome deal.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The hot dog roast that wasn't

The plan for today was to get together with friends for an outside, cooked over a fire, hot dog roast. The weather did not cooperate with that plan, it was rain mixed with snow all day. As of yesterday evening the host knew that wasn't going to work so the plans changed to an indoor lunch and they called me while I was in town to let us know. Now that it was going to be inside we should really bring with something that would add to the lunch. My standby is Mandarin oranges which we always have cans and cans of because it is one of Spark's favorite foods.

Spark and I needed to go to the craft store while Dancer was at dance class to get more paint and brushes for upcoming projects. While there, we saw these Halloween goblets for just fifty cents each. They are a purple glass with spiders on them. The spiders have diamonds in their middles so to a kid they seemed quite spectacular. In each glass we put chocolate pudding, let it set and put a layer of vanilla pudding. It turned out to be the perfect dessert, easy to make, they kids were excited to keep their glass and everyone, it seems, loves pudding.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween eats - Moldy Maggots

Moldy Maggots - if this name is too gross, call it cheesy rice with spinach.

1 C. onion
1 lb. spinach
3 C. cooked rice
1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
1 C. cottage cheese
1 egg beaten

Saute onion, fresh mushrooms are a good addition and can be sauteed with the onions. We call the mushrooms "slugs" since they have the same look and texture! Add spinach to onion and cook until all the water from the spinach has evaporated. Mix together all ingredients and put in baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. This is very, very good reheated.

We did it our way....Bayeux Tapestry

Reading about the Battle of Hastings brought us to learn of the Bayeux Tapestry that we had never encountered before. The Bayeux Tapestry tells the tale of the battle on a linen over 230 feet long and 20 inches high. The entire tapestry is a hand embroidered depiction of the battle. It is amazing, just amazing.

The kids, using three sheets of paper taped together, told their own stories in Bayeux Tapestry style. Dancer's tapestry tells of the day in Branson we went on the Ride The Ducks tour. These pictures are small and hard to see detail, but she drew the duck going into the water, driving on the water and coming back out onto the road.

Spark's tapestry is of him carving his Halloween pumpkin. Again, it is hard to see his work, but besides his main pictures he also put a boarder on the bottom of gargoyles. He got out the paint and mixed up some red/orange to embellishing his background. He really gets into the painting so much of his is background is just one solid finger painted color. He always cleans up after himself when painting so I let him have free reign with the paints.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Alfred the Great Cakes

One of the first kings of England was Alfred the Great. While he was waiting for the Vikings to come and attack he hid out with some peasants in the countryside of Wessex. One day the woman of the hut told him to watch the cakes she had baking to be sure that they didn't burn while she went to get some firewood. As Alfred sat wondering how he was going to defeat the Vikings when they came to attack, the cakes burned. To help us remember the story we made Alfred Cakes.

Alfred Cakes

1 C. flour
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 T. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 T. cooking oil
1/4 C. raisins
1/4 C. chopped dates
1 egg
1/8 c. heavy cream
1/8 C. lemon juice
Mix together dry ingredients including dates and raisins. Mix together wet ingredients. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour in wet ingredients and mix until moist. With floured hands knead the dough ever so gently and divide into four parts and shape into cakes. Bake on a cookie sheet, we used a baking stone, for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned at 425 degrees.
We enjoyed these with diner, but they would do equally as well at breakfast by themselves or with a dollop of jam.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The book club girls

The book this month was The Borrowers. It is about tiny people who live in the walls and floors of the house and borrow things from the owners. The girls put on a play from one of the scenes of the book, thought up questions to ask the moms and had us pick out little things to borrow and tell them why we choose those things. I really liked how the girls had to lead the whole study, they were given an hour to get it all together and they did a wonderful job. These four girls work very well together. For snack they served mint tea with cream and sugar in tea cups, crumbs (super delicious scones) and a cookie (an extremely large chocolate chipper).

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Great Candy Buy Back

I went to the dentist today for my twice decade cleaning, where they found no cavities, and there was a sign on the wall. The sign was an ad promoting that on Sunday afternoon the dentists at our clinic would be buying trick or treat candy for a dollar a pound and then sending it over to the troops in Iraq. Well, this got Spark's attention in a big way. He has plans to trick or treat at enough houses that he can sell it for the price of a Webkinz. Now if he could just find someone giving out chocolate covered rocks!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spark's Birthday

Nothin' could be finer than the day that you turn niner. It is Sparks ninth birthday today, and it was an all day fiesta:

9:00 Loafing in bed for your birthday.

11:00 Dancer makes you a pancake brunch.

11:30 You open your birthday gifts.

12:00 Dad and Dancer doing your chores for you on your birthday while you play Webkins with your new birthday Google Webkin.

2:00 Grandma comes over for marble cake and cookies and cream ice cream.

4:50 Going to a movie (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs--3D).

7:00 Dinner and arcade games at the theme restaurant Space Aliens.

8:34 You officially turn 9 years old.

9:00 Watch some TV and play some Wii with your new controller before retiring for the evening.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flaming Pumpkin

Taking the pumpkin to the next level.

Dad and Spark took a soup can and filled it with rolled up napkins. Paper napkins, not your cloth ones. Then they filled the can part way with kerosene and let the napkins soak in it all afternoon. They put the can in the pumpkin, lit it and stood back and watched the flames shoot up. As we told Spark, you have to be using your common sense when you do something like this.

Here is how it looked in the dark. Pretty cool. It burned for about two hours.

No idle hands here

The weather was nice enough today that we could get out and get some outside work done. Lately the forecast has been rain and cold so we are way behind on getting things ready for fall. Spark and I cut down the huge tree branch that blew down last month, Dancer got a good portion of the yard mowed, Spark got some of the onions picked and Dad covered the strawberry plants and did the fun job of cleaning out a goat stall. Dad cleaned out the buck stall and whoa did it smell. Male goats do not smell endearing when they are in rut in the fall. We burned all the brush from the tree branch, it was whole pick up load full, in the fire pit and made some apple pies in the pie irons. Sitting around the fire eating warm apple pie made the all the work worthwhile.

The to do list is still long but this next week is suppose to bring more rain. Our gardens are in terrible disarray and the barn needs more cleaning so we need a few more nice days before the snow starts to fly.

Two innocent pumpkins.....

looked like this when they were plucked from the vine.

After the kids hacked at them with sharp objects for an hour they looked like this. The one the left is Spark's. He brought this to the pumpkin carving contest at the 4-H Halloween party tonight and won first place, I think because it is barfing. On the right is Dancer's, we think it looks great too. It is a pumpkin that is mad and crying. This year we were a little bit smarter about this pumpkin carving thing. First the kids drew out the designs they wanted on their pumpkins, and then we went looking for a pumpkin that would best fit that design.

This is the costume Dancer is wearing this year because she can't find the top to the scarecrow costume and we didn't know that until yesterday afternoon. I actually made it a few years ago, probably three, and last year she didn't want to wear it. She wore it for two Halloweens and for a role in a Christmas play at church so it has gotten a lot of use. When I made it, it was big enough to for her to wear a coat under it and it came down to the tips of her toes and just skimmed the ground. Now you can see that it is more tea length, about six inches off the ground, and she is only wearing a t-shirt and pants under it. The sleeves are a lot shorter too. She has really grown in three years! The thing about Halloween costumes where we live is that if they aren't really big there is about a 98% chance that you will be wearing your winter coat over them because it will be in the 30's or low 40's when trick or treating. Tonight we were in a garage so a pair of sweat pants and t-shirt was warm enough. If she chooses to trick or treat she will have to find a long sleeve something or another to wear under it or be a snow princess in a winter coat. A really cute thing about her costume tonight is that a little kindergarten girl was also a princess. When we got there she ran out to Dancer and said that her and Dancer were the same thing like that was the coolest thing ever. Then she wanted to sit next to Dancer because they were the same. Dancer said the little girl kept reaching out and touching her skirt all night. I still think of Dancer as being little and here little kids are looking up to her as a big kid.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Meet Creamy and Creamy

This is Creamy, one of Spark's beloved rabbits.

And this is our other Creamy. After months of debating what he was going to be for Halloween, Spark decided to be his rabbit Creamy. He started out wanting to be Caesar, then a spider web, a hay bale, and I can't remember what all. In the eleventh hour, as I was getting ready to put together the Caesar costume, he quickly changed his mind to a rabbit. So on Sunday we went off to town to find a rabbit costume. Thankfully a rabbit costume pattern isn't hard to find. We went to pick out the fleece and there were about 10 different shades of brown and tan, who knew there would be such a selection, and he found the perfect shade for Creamy. This Creamy is made out of McCall's pattern 8953 and it went together like a charm. I didn't get a picture of it but it has a huge, puffy tail. Tomorrow night is the 4-H Halloween party and he is excited to wear it. Snow is in the forecast so he should be nice and toasty in his fleece bunny suit.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happiness is......

the kids finishing some of their school books!

Dancer finished one of her language arts studies. The first one she did was Julie and the Wolves and used the study guide from Total Language Plus. She, and I, both enjoyed this study. There were a lot of good discussion questions, things that we probably wouldn't have talked about if not for the questions coming up in the study. The vocabulary words were words that could be added to our everyday speech. Often times vocabulary studies have words that are not usable in everyday conversation. We have also perked up our ears when listening to or reading other books. One of the words I didn't notice so often was carrion, which is rotting flesh, and now it seems I am hearing that word everywhere. Another word was Quonset hut and now it seems there is a Quonset hut around every turn in the road. The other part that was good about the study were the dictation exercises. This is something that Dancer has never done before and she really excelled at it. By the end of this first study she had much improvement. This is will be good practice for her if she goes to college and has to take notes in a lecture. I would have never thought to have her work on this skill if it hadn't been introduced in this study.

Spark is also moving right along. He finished his book about dictionary skills. He so didn't like this book when he started it but by the end he looked forward to working in it. It covered alphabetizing, nouns, adjectives and verbs, and of course, looking up words.
He is also coming right along on his inferencing book. This book is just plain fun. The stories and activities are short, and often funny, so it makes a nice transition activity from one of his other subjects to another.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The birds of the field

This was on our way home from town. A farmer was plowing his field and all these seagulls were following him around the field eating something, probably worms since the ground is so wet, from where he had just tilled. It was an awsome sight to see.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A time to weep and a time to laugh

Today brought both of those things. We headed down to the cities for the burial of Great Grandma Pat and Aunt Rosemary. These are both on Dad's side of the family.

We weren't sure where we were going so we left early in the morning be sure that if there was any traffic, or we had trouble finding the place, we would be there on time. That plan actually made us an hour early. Since we had the dog with we stopped at a park for her to get a bit of exercise. This park had the longest slide we had ever seen that wasn't a water slide. Spark and Dancer had so much fun sliding down this long slide.

Soon it was time to switch gears and head over to the cemetery. Aunt Rosemary died a couple of years ago and one of her sisters had been keeping her but now the family decided to bury her. Great Grandma Pat passed away in July but because of the cremation the family waited until this fall to bury her. We were unable to attend the funeral so we were thankful there were two different dates.

On the way home we stopped and did a little shopping at stores that we don't have near us and went out for lunch.

It was a bittersweet day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This is normal

Spark has been wearing this outfit for the last couple of days. He has never said anything about it, just been wearing it around conducting business as usual.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"We sure had a lot of company today"

This is what Spark said tonight and he was right. This morning, before the butt crack of dawn, a couple men came over to put in a new bathroom window and sliding door in our dining room. This is what the door old door looked like. It has never opened since we have lived here. It was so drafty that we caulked and taped the two sides of the door together a few winters ago because the blinds would blow back and forth when it was windy out. In the winter I am sure the heat just poured out of it. The glass so dirty between the panes that we never had a clear look into the backyard from that vantage point. But now all that has changed and we have a beautiful new sliding door! The other sliding door in the dining room had been replaced before we moved into the house. I said to the Dad, "How bad do you think that one was that they choose to replace it over this one?" I shutter to think.

Later in the morning a man came to buy some ducks. Before he could buy them we had to catch them. Last night we went out to try and catch them in the dark. The hope was that we could just walk up to them and pick them up like you can a chicken in the dark. We quickly learned that this isn't true for ducks, they are just as hard to catch in the dark as they are in the light. He brought a net with and we chased them into a building where we were able to "net" ten of them for him. We put on quite the show for the men putting in the new door and window!

This afternoon a family came to look at the goats we have for sale. They didn't buy any but it was fun to meet them and show off our "girls".

So yes, we had a lot of company for us. We can go weeks without anyone stopping by so to have so many in one day is probably a record.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Back to square one

Our family is scheduled to serve snack at church on Sunday. To get a head start on the snacks, Dancer and I made a loaf of lemon poppy seed bread. It baked up beautifully and I took it out of the pan and had it cooling on the board ready to put the glaze on. I guess I should have been more clear about the bread being for church because when I came back to glaze it this is all that was left. Since I didn't want to test that Jesus would feed the masses with this partial loaf, I revised my plan and made some no bake and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Swiming at the pool

Any time we weren't out and about the kids were in the pool. When it was time to go we had a hard time getting them out. Here is what they did:
Floated on the water

Swam under the water

Jumped in ....

over and .....
over and ....

What to do, what to do

It is Tuesday and we have two more days in Branson. It's great we have two more days left, but we are in a country music capital and we are not country music fans. This was made very clear to us when we watched the GAC show at Silver Dollar City. The singers would come out and sing a song and it seemed that every other person was clapping and singing along to songs we had never heard before. If a country music star knocked on my door I would probably think they were there to buy eggs unless it was Kenny Rogers. I do know who he is. Oh, or Randy Travis, I just love Randy Travis' singing voice and songs.

We decided to go to the Titanic museum. This picture is of the outside of the museum. It was raining, as it did just about everyday we were there, so that is the white dots on the photo. The tour is self paced and is suppose to take 90 minutes. It took us over two and a half hours. There is just so much to see and learn in there. When you first go in, through an iceberg, you are handed a passport. In the passport is a bio of one one of the people who were on the Titanic. As you go through the museum you can look for clues about if your person survived or not. Dancer and I survived and Dad and Spark perished.

Ride the Ducks was another activity we did. This is beyond fun. They drive you around town in this military DUKW vehicle that goes on land and in the water. The driver we had couldn't have been better at his job. He took us up this mountain and showed us all these military vehicles, drove down to the dam and fish hatchery and the main event is going out on Table Rock Lake. When we were out on the lake he let all the kids drive. So, so cool! We also got these duck bills to quack at other Duck vehicles that passed us on the road.
The last thing we did was the Dixie Stampede. The opening show in the carriage room was a juggler. He was so entertaining that he would have been almost worth the cost of the tickets. After the opening show you move into the arena area where you have dinner and they put on the show with the horses. The meal is a four course dinner which they serve you with no silverware. The food was fabulous. The only bad part about the whole thing is that the show is so good that it is hard to eat and watch at the same time!
There are a lot of other things to do there that are not country music related but we were out of time and money so it was time to make the long trek back home.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Eureka Springs peril

Last year when we were at Eureka Springs we bought some scrumptious candy and ate it in a mall in the center of the downtown. Spark loved that day so much that he wanted to go back again this year since we were going to be so close.

To get to Eureka Springs from Grandma Pat's house in Bella Vista we come in from the west where the road snakes through the mountains and we feel like we are going to fly off the road and tumble down the mountain at every curve because Dad is such a crazy driver. From Branson we came in from the east. The two sides couldn't be more different. The east side is flat with a safe four lane road. Coming from this way was unfamiliar to us and so we had to stop at a gas station and ask for directions. It was simple, go left at the first Y in the road and then at every stop sign or light take a right.

Mondays in Eureka Springs is not tourist day as there are very few people inhabiting the streets. Spark got his desired candy and we ate it in the square, again on the same bench as last year. The kids each got a new Webkinz to commemorate the trip, we walked the whole historic district and then got in the car to head back.

The trip would be easy because we would take a left now at every stop sign and light and at the Y we would go right. All was well, we got to a Y and took a right. About ten minutes went by and Dad and I both commented that none of the sights along the road looked one iota familiar to us. At this point, we realized that we had taken a wrong Y but this road had to lead to somewhere. Since we are quite a ways along, lets just follow this road until we come to the next town and then head north to Branson. Great plan, except that about 15 more minutes went by and we never came to a town. The Dad, who has a good sense of direction where as I have none, says that we have been heading south not east. It was getting dusky so Dad turned the car around and headed back because we were a bit nervous. No offense if you happen to live in that part of the country, but having gates across your driveways and guard dogs laying in your drive if you don't have a gate really doesn't make a traveler feel safe to stop and ask for directions. When we got back to where we made the wrong turn we were but half a block from the right Y in the road. I had never been so happy in my life to see street lights at the next town. To celebrate our victorious return to civilization we ate greasy burgers loaded high with all the extras at Fudruckers.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Silver Dollar City

Silver Dollar City was the main thing that we wanted to do while in Branson. The tickets were worth every cent we spent on them including the crazy, high pressure time share presentation we sat through to get them at half price. It was Harvest Festival and they had a lot of great demonstrations of barrel making, broom making, blacksmithing, glass blowing, sorghum making, and others but these are the ones I can remember right off the top of my head. There was a big homestead barnyard set up and of course, the kids first thing, ran over to the goats to pet them. We have goats 50 feet out our back door but yet we drive over 700 miles and they have to pet the goats. They also checked out all the chickens and ducks.
Dancer tried her hand at milking the cow. Not quite the same as a goat, the cow has double the equipment down there! This was fun. They sat in this big old rocking chair. It reminded me of when they were little and they would want to share the same chair.

The spot we ate lunch at looked out at this waterfall. It is so perfect I think it almost looks fake in this picture.

The kids went to this attraction where there was a building that had water guns positioned along it facing a ship which also had water guns on it so that people on each of the structures could shoot water at each other. The sign said:
And they did! They met some other kids there (I think the only other kids in the park who's parents would let them get wet) and had a water fight. All of them were drenched to the skin. This was the end of the first day when it was still warm out. They spent the rest of the day wet, which they didn't seem to mind, and were still damp when we got back to where we were staying.

The next morning we arrived bright and early because we knew we would need the whole day to cover everything we wanted to do. The kids rode all the rides, some of them a couple of times. The temps were in the 50's, which everyone there thought was cold, but to us it was business as usual. There wasn't hardly anyone at the rides when we were there so for most part there was no waiting and they got ride on them several times.
Even I tried out a ride, which is a big deal for me since I can't read for a minute in the car without feeling woozy. The only ride I would even come close to getting on was this huge ship that lazily rocked back and forth. It didn't seem to terrifying but most of the ride I had my eyes closed and by the time it was over I was more than ready to get off. I was fine going backward but coming forward made me oh so sick. Plus I made sure I sat right in the middle of it, I can't imagine how it would have been at the ends!

We saw several wonderful shows, Cajun Connection, Bradford Trio, Pure Heart, Headin' West, GAC Nights and Wings Over Missouri. The Wings Over Missouri show featured 11 birds, that were native to Missouri, in an outdoor theatre where the birds flew just inches over our heads. It was amazing!
The kids sitting in a huge Horn of Plenty

We also enjoyed lots of great food, a fudge covered funnel cake was probably the best thing we ate. The kids toured the cave, we rode the train twice, tasted sorghum, played in this gigantic ball pit/climbing structure, checked out a lot of the shops and numerous other things. We could have easily spent another day there, but sadly, we only had a two day pass. It will give them something to look forward to if we ever go again. Grandma only lives an hour and half from here in the winter so it is possible that we could.