Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's coming to an end

Our Christmas/New Year's break that is.  Spark was sitting at the table this afternoon and said that he loves these days and could get use to them.  I could too but slowly, ever so slowly, we are getting back to reality.  It has been a nice run but today I had to do a couple of loads of laundry and how long can you live in a house with out vacuuming or doing other chores.  The answer is about five days tops and then it starts to take on an eww factor.

Dad and I cleaned our bedroom.  Doesn't sound like a vacation kind of thing but I really don't get around to it during a regular week.  Dad working nights also makes it difficult.  On average he sleeps fives days a week.  On those days I crawl out of the bed in the morning and he crawls in and then we swap again in the evening.  Because of this schedule we can go weeks without opening the curtains.  Not opening your curtains can hide a lot of dust.  We gave the room a good going over today, washed walls, curtains, and closet doors.  We have the most stupid closet doors ever.  They are bi-fold and have those slats in the front instead of being solid.  Those things are  the worse dust catchers and the hardest darn things to clean.  Dad also put up a couple of shelves that I had bought on clearance for just pennies and stained.  I have tons of little knick knacks the kids have given me over the years with no where to put them so they have just been sort of piled on the dresser and the t.v.  Now they are up where I can see and admire them.

We got two science lessons in this morning.  The kids love science and we have a fun curriculum so doesn't seem much like learning.  Dad does most of the science teaching.  He has a BS degree in biology and nursing so I don't try to do to much.  He can just look at the book and explain it where as I would have to do some research and then still wouldn't do as good a job as him.  Actually, I usually listen along in science and learn with the kids.  I never found science interesting in school, but now I think that is because you can't really make science interesting to 25 kids at one time with little to no discussion or hands on things to do.  And if we did get to do something we would be in groups of five or six.  Well, how much fun is it to a sixth of an experiment, and that was if it even had six steps. 

We also spent the whole day waiting for the storm to come and checking the radar over and over.  A winter storm didn't come but the rain did.  We lost a lot of snow but the ground is frozen so there is no where to for the water to go except in to the ditches and every low spot in the yard.  Spark had a basketball practice tonight because otherwise they would go two weeks without practice since the practice on Saturday the week before Christmas it was cancelled because of bad weather.  We assumed it would be cancelled again tonight for bad weather as well, but instead we drove there and back in the rain.  We got back home about 8:00 p.m. and just little bit after that the temps dropped down into the teens and everything got slippery.  If it had snowed today instead of rain we probably would have had about four to five feet of snow.  They say an inch of rain is equal to about ten inches of snow.

To finish off the night we watched Napoleon Dynamite.  We love that movie, it is full of classic lines that we often incorporate into our daily life.  Sometimes I think that we spend so much time together and have so many inside jokes, lines, etc. that someone just coming into our house and watching us would have a hard time figuring us out.  I would guess all homeschool families are like that.  At  least I will tell myself that that so I feel better!

Only three more vacation days and then reality will really slap us in the face.  That is if Dancer's new books get here.  Conveniently, she finished up most of her books before Christmas and I needed to order more.  I kept putting it off thinking I would wait one more pay period and here it was this week already.  I got them ordered on Sunday, 1. so she can start back to school work next week and 2. so we can have the tax deduction for this years taxes.  I am sure she won't be too broken hearted if she has to wait a couple more days.

Winter Storm Preparedness

A storm is heading our way tonight and through the weekend.  It will start as rain, odd in December, and end in subzero temps and snow.  Like any family facing a few days of being snowed/stormed in we went out to get a few supplies.

We had Dancer's new camera with on the way to town and snapped a couple pictures.

This load of hay was turning the corner by our house.  I didn't take the picture until the truck had gone by because it would freak me out a little bit if someone took my picture from another car.  Wish he was bringing it to our house for a late Christmas present.  Each round bale weights between 600 to 1,500 pounds and equals ten to twenty small square bales, the size we buy.  This truck probably has the equivalent of about 280 small square bales which would last our goats over a year. 

This is a field we often see herds of deer or turkey in.

The bottom of this picture has snowmobile tracks.  It has been a great year for the snowmobile riders, lots of snow and warm temps.  I even heard one go by the house other night at 2:00 a.m.

Clear roads.  Hopefully it won't be too long before we see these again.  However, if it rains and then snows it could be months before they look this clear.

See the little trail down the middle of the picture smashed in to the snow?  That would be where the deer run.  Deer don't just run willy nilly through the woods, they have a sort of a road system.  In the summer the tall grass is parted where they run.  Where we see these along the road we watch closer for them to run out in front of us.

Snow capped hay bales sitting out in a field.  Makes me sick when they leave them until they rot.  I have never seen rotted ones in this field so they will probably bring them in in the spring.

I love this view winter and summer because you can see for miles and miles.

This is the first town we come to and the traffic starts picking up.  The actual population isn't too large, but it is a college town right off the interstate so it marks the end of our serene drive to town,

Spark along for the ride.

Once in town we started getting what we needed to weather the storm.  First important stop was the craft store.  I got a punch needle for Christmas and almost have the first project done so I needed more supplies to get me through the weekend.  Second important stop was to find a Wii remote.  Spark got Wii Party for Christmas and we only have three controllers so one person has to watch.  The storm will be a lot more fun if we can all play at the same time.  We got a pretty pink one much to Dancer's delight.  So that was it.  No trip to the grocery store or the anywhere else, just the important stuff to keep us entertained.  Bring on the snow!  Actually this is Dad's weekend to work so we don't want too much snow.  Just enough so he can still get through with his 4-wheel drive.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Turns out Bert has a few secrets up his wing

When we took pictures of Bert the other night for his photo shoot, some of the photos showed a covering over part of his eye on quite a few of the pictures.  We had never noticed this before.  A little research found that this is an extra eye lid that lubricates and cleans the eye.  Now Bert does blink his whole eye lid, not as often as a person does, but quite regularly.  I have since stood looking at his eye, watching him like a hawk (bet he doesn't like that word), and cannot, with my bare eye, see this extra eye lid so it must be lightening fast.  The camera takes pictures at a fraction of a second so this is the only way we knew he had this secret eye lid.  It showed up in several of the pictures so he must blink it often. 

Here is one where it is covering almost his whole eye.  Makes him look quite snarly doesn't it.  I think I am glad we can't see it.

His second secret is his leg band.  This little band tells a lot of information.  Bert's leg band is closed, meaning it was slipped on his foot when he was two to three weeks old and then as he grew it got stuck on his leg.  This tells us that he was a domestic bird from a bird breeder.  In it's prime the band was a dark pink.  From what we can find out, that only tells us that his breeder liked pink, it has no other significance. The band has four initials on it that tells us his breeder was DH, we don't know who this is, but MN tells us he was born and breed right here in good old Minnesota.  His band also has the numbers 96 and 8 on it.  The 96 is his birth year so he is at least 14 years old as of the 31st of this month.  The 8 tells us that he was the 8th bird hatched from a set of parrots or the 8th bird hatched at the breeders depending on how they counted their birds.   He did say "Happy Birthday" a couple of days ago, could he have been trying to tell us something?  He wanted a special birthday peanut perhaps?   We will never know, that he is still keeping a secret.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bert's Photo Shoot

It may be my imagination, but I think he poses.  Snap a picture and he moves and waits for the next picture, then turns and waits, and turns and waits.  He is not camera shy!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Mighty Hunter Gets Her Prey

We made a trip into town to see if there were any great after Christmas bargains.  We did spy a good deal on a Christmas stocking full of dog toys.  We brought it home and showed all the pieces to Nikki who eagerly took each one.  These toys have squeakers in them.  Nikki hates squeakers in her toys.

This is what happens to toys that have squeakers.  She rips the squeaker out, along with all the stuffing, and then she bites a hole in the squeaker so that it never squeaks again.

We also put her Vikings outfit on her only to find that the game was canceled and rescheduled for Tuesday night when Dad works.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve and Christmas

Christmas Eve day we had lots of sunshine.  Kacheekers is taking advantage of it's warmth.

Lots of snow too!  The neighbor comes and plows for us.  He can get done in about four minutes what it would take us all afternoon to do with a snow blower.

There was still plenty of snow to shovel.

We made more Christmas cookies.  Grandma gave us little tiny cookie cutters which we used to cut out the middle of Kris Kringle cookies.  The recipe for these cookies that just crumble and melt in your mouth so deliciously are here.  Kris Kringle Cookies

Spark made a few Christmas decorations that Grandma had given us kits for.

Christmas Eve or not, Ramen noodle still are a favorite.  Spark eats these almost every day.  I hope he doesn't tire of these before it is time for him to go off to college.

We spent the night at church and then came home and watched "The Christmas Story."  Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

Santa's snack was prepared.  Cookies and egg nog for Santa chow and carrots for the reindeer chow.

We stared the morning playing Mario Kart while waiting for Dancer to get up.  Then we came to our senses and realized that she could possibly sleep until 10:00 or later  so at 8:30 we woke her up.

Santa brought both of the kids a container of gum.  Gum is a rarity in our house so this was a pretty big deal.  So far I haven't found any stuck where it shouldn't be.

There was lots of new slippers this year. 

We had lots of gifts to open.  I love the tree before the gifts are opened and then afterwards it looks so bare and looses some of it's magic.

Jesus' birthday cake.  We had fellowship after church tonight so we took this with.  The pastor brought a Wii and the kids played games on the big projector screen.  Pretty cool. 

At home, the Spark got Wii Party.  Lots of smiles and laughs as we played it most of the day, only taking a break to watch Dancer's new movie Charlie St. Cloud.

Dad spent a good part of the day looking at the seed catalogs that are already arriving in the mail, and dreaming of the spring garden.  You can never start planning too soon!

We snacked on meatballs.  These were so good and simple.  The recipe was two pounds of meatballs, one jar of Heinz chili sauce and a can of cranberry sauce.  I would have never thought to put those to ingredients together on meatballs but I have now been convinced otherwise.

Lego sets were put together.  Spark got five new sets.  He spends hours upon hours playing Legos.

The Chia elephant was put to soak.

Dancer tried an avocado and oatmeal facial clay mask.  She makes homemade masks with egg white, oatmeal and honey which are much messier.  Having a real one seems much more refined.  

Dancer put a pretty good dent in her new puzzle book, one of her gifts she seemed most excited about. 

The Christmas of 2010 can go down in our history as a very fun year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Where is Santa?

We have seen Santa twice this month, both times took he us by surprise. 

The first time we saw him we were sitting at a stop light.  Dancer looked across the street and there was a car with a big red nose and antlers sticking out of the top of each door.  That's cute we thought.  The light changed, the car crossed the intersection and who should be driving but Santa!  We honked and waved and he waved back at us!  He wasn't wearing his hat and wow, does he have a big head of hair.  He could give Troy Polamalu a run for his money in the hair department.

The second time we saw him was tonight.  We were going through an intersection and on the cross street was a big truck like the electric company uses when they go out to work on lines.  In the bucket stood Santa waving at all the passing cars.  We honked but didn't have time to wave because the traffic was moving along at a good clip.  It was dark out so he probably wouldn't have seen us anyway.

Another thing we saw today was rather disturbing.  We passed a car that had a mounted deer head in the front seat.  It didn't have a red nose so it must have been one of the other reindeer, not Rudolph.  I think those folks will be lucky if they get coal in their stockings.

Our big question tonight was, why is Santa down here when he should be up in the North Pole packing up his sleigh?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tissue Paper Balls

We made these with a Christmas theme but of course they would also look great for Halloween, Valentine's Day, 4th of July, birthdays or really any occasion.  These balls can also be used for wrapping presents.  Cut around the top very carefully, put the gift inside the ball and ever so carefully patch the top back on.  Everyone will wonder how you got the gift inside.  Of course, to get the gift out they will have to rip the ball apart.

These are a lot like paper mache only you use liquid laundry starch and tissue paper.  First blow up a balloon and paint it with a layer of starch.  On this add a layer of tissue paper squares, more starch, more tissue paper and so on until you have at least four layers of tissue paper.  Any less and it doesn't hold up. 

Hang by a string to dry.  Since it is winter and our house is quite dry they dried quickly.  In the summer I would guess they would take longer.

After it is dry, take it down and hold it firmly by the end of balloon.  If you don't hold on to the balloon it gets sucked into the orb.

The next part is, I think, by far the coolest part of the whole project.  Snip a little hole in the end of the balloon and wait.  Slowly the balloon will pull away from the sides of the tissue paper.  This is a sound that reminds me of a sound effect in a cartoon.  Pull out the balloon and it's done. 

Here was our end results.  Dad sprayed a few with adhesive spray and sprinkled them with glitter.  He also took some cotton crochet string, saturated it with starch and wrapped it around a balloon for a cool string ball.

Two down,one to go

We had our second Christmas celebration tonight with Dad's parents.  We changed things up a little bit this year.  For the last 27 Christmases, this is how many we have spent together, and many more before then, Dad's family has had Aebelskiver and sausages for their meal.  This year Dad wanted to make his homemade pizza and everyone thought it was a grand idea.

After our pizza supper we opened gifts, going from youngest to oldest.  The best gift for Spark was a coin-sorting bank.  One where you put the coins in and they sort themselves out according to what type of coin they are.  When you want to get them back out you flip a little level sort of like a gum ball machine and they come back out in a tray.  We had to keep calling him to back to the present opening because once he got that gift he just couldn't stop playing with it.  I would have never in a million years thought to buy one of those as a gift for him.  The best thing Dancer got was Scrabble Flash.  Oh my is it hard to put down.  Start playing it and before you know it an hour has gone by, well if you can play it that long with someone standing over your shoulder wanting their turn.

The last Christmas for us will be just the four of us on Christmas day.  If Grandma Pat, who is a labor and delivery nurse, gets put on call that could change.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Up to my nose

At the beginning of the school year, this is the last I remember anyway, Spark could stand in front of me and my chin was just above his head.  Today he stood in front of me and he was up to my nose.  Sigh.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Knitted Key Chain Scarf

This was on the Lion Brand web site and we thought it was just the cutest thing.  If you think so too, leave us a message and we will draw for one of you to have your very own.  Leave us a message telling us you were here and tomorrow night, Sunday, we will pick the winner.  I'll let you know right away if you are the lucky recipient and hopefully have it out in the mail to you on Monday morning.

If you knit you can make your own with these instruction lifted right off the Lion Brand web page:


Cast on 3 stitches in Paprika yarn.

Knit each row until entire piece measures 7 inches.

Bind off.


With green yarn, make two pom poms leaving a 6 inch tail. Thread tail through the large eye blunt needle and securely attach one pom pom to each end of the item. Weave in loose ends.

It worked out perfectly and we got through it

I am not good at last minute and rushing.  That was what the last week has been.  I know some people thrive on hustle and bustle, but it just makes me tense.

We started on Monday by having bowling in the afternoon after a busier than usual weekend.  The kids and I drove into town separate from Dad because he had a meeting at work and we didn't know if we could get from the bowling alley to the hospital in enough time for his meeting.  The kids and I also needed to get to the library to pick up books on hold and to the grocery store before we had to leave for 4-H.  By the time we got home we had just enough time to grab a bowl of cereal for supper and get in the car again.  4-H was at a nursing home where we sang carols for the residents (I really love this part of Christmas so I am not complaining) and then we had our meeting afterward.  Not a big deal but we didn't get home until almost 10:00 p.m. and then we have to go out and do chores.  Yuck to chores in cold weather and the dark.

Tuesday Dad and I went shopping and out to dinner with Grandma.  We went to a resturant that the kids don't like so that part was a huge treat.  What we thought was going to be an afternoon in town turned into the afternoon and evening.   We just couldn't find what we were looking for but by changing a few of the things we wanted to get we did finish shopping for the kids.  We got home late,  watched the end of Biggest Looser, did chores and wrapped a few presents for the kids who were still up and excited to see the gifts being brought out of the bedroom.  I looked at the clock and it was 1:30 a.m!  Time sure goes fast.  We quickly scurried the kids off to bed, who of course never mentioned the time.

Wednesday I started on making 15 dozen cookies I needed for a cookie exchange.  I didn't have enough eggs so a trip to our little town was needed and pushed things back.  Then, in between the baking, I needed to run the kids to AWANA which is a 40 minutes round trip.  Usually I just stay there but by coming home I was able to bake two more dozen cookies and do some much needed Christmas wrapping.  After I got home from getting the kids, I finished up the cookies while Dancer looked at her email.  She had a note from the 4-H office that at the Awards Banquet on Friday girls should wear a dress or skirt.  Great, we had already bought her a new sweater for the banquet and thought we had it all taken care of.  At present time Dancer does not have a dress or a skirt. 

To remedy the skirt/dress problem, we went into town early for YMCA gym to look for an outfit.  I was a little nervous because I haven't seen skirts or dresses in the stores this season.  I did think, lets try the Fashion Bug because I often have luck finding something there when I don't else where.  We went in and they had one rack of skirts and one rack of dresses, see they are not in style this season.  The second outfit she tried on she liked, a blue skirt with a cream top.  Score!  We grabbed a blue necklace to go with it and were out the door.  Two hours at the YMCA and we were off to buy nylons, which are also hard to find, but they did have a teeny tiny display at the first place we stopped.  This may date me, but when I was a working woman nylons were everywhere, you could probably have found then at the gas station.  Remember how they use to come in eggs?  On the way out of the store I remarked to the kids that this was just too easy to find all the parts of this outfit, nothing usually ever works out this well.  Next we were off to find Dad a pair of pants to wear to the banquet as his were all getting pretty ratty looking, not fit for a banquet.  We went to the store where he buy them and they have a whole wall devoted to the brand of jeans he likes, except the cubby hole for his size was empty.  Every other stinking cubby was chalked full of pants.  I went to find someone to see if they might have more that just weren't out on the shelf.  The lady comes over with her little scanning gun and scans the cubby.  Yep, they have four pair that just came in, she will go and look through all the boxes from that order and we should come by the clothes counter in about 15 minutes.  We do a little looking around and 15 minutes later promptly show up at the clothing counter.  No luck, they have not been able to find them but she can call me when the do if I want to come back and get them.  No thanks, Dad will have to go tomorrow and look for a pair somewhere else.  On the way out of the store we were looking around at a few other things and over the loud speaker the say that the lady who wanted the jeans should come back to the clothes counter.  They found them.  Score!   I thanked the woman over and over for finding them and left happy because Dad was working over night and would need to sleep tomorrow, not go looking for pants.  We did miss seeing Dad before he left for work but at least we got everything we needed.

Today Spark had is last day of a Phy. Ed. class he has been going to and they were having a Christmas party.  They are changing the day and the time of the class after the new year to a day that doesn't work for us so it was important to him that he go one last time, especially since it was the Christmas party.  That was from 10 till noon and then we needed to leave right away and zoom home because Grandpa Bob and Grandma Shirley were coming for a little Christmas get together.  They were here for a few hours and then I needed to get Dancer ready for the banquet tonight.   We got hair curled, nails painted, a little makeup on and outfit ironed in time for her, Dad and Spark to get out the door in time to not be to terribly late.  I gathered up my cookies and headed out to the homeschool mom cookie exchange party. 

Finally, we are all home, the cookie party was really fun and Dancer did a great job presenting her part of the awards at the banquet.  Even Dad and Spark got a job when they got there so Spark was pretty stoaked that he got do something.  Whew, I am going to sleep good tonight. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Second Hand Parrots

Turns out ours can perfectly screech MEEP-MEEP-MEEP like an electric alarm clock.   Nice.

The Round Barn Still Stands

This is a round barn that is being closed in on by "progress."  Developers want to tear it down and expand their shopping center that you can see on the left in the back ground.  Others are trying to save the unique barn and make it a historical site.  If the housing market hadn't bottomed out I am sure the barn would be gone, but now there is extra time to try and save the round barn.  Are we going to leave any history to future generations besides strip malls?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Cold Wind Blows

Through this little corner of the garage door, where there is about an 1/8th of and inch crack between the floor and  bottom of the door,

blew this this snow drift. 

On the other side of the garage there was a drift that was long and low and extended from the door to the back of the garage.   Brrrr.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy St. Lucia Day

Pretty Bert

Dancer has been wanting a parrot.   Well, that is nice honey but we are not getting a parrot.  Then, lo and behold, we were asked if we wanted a parrot.   The people we got him from had him for six years and think he is not too much older than that, probably under ten years old.  Dancer knows that he will most likely live another 30 years and says she is willing to haul him around until she is about my age.  We will see, I think he will probably be here until she is married and living in her own permanent home.  

So here he is, he is living in Spark's room since that is where we have space for him right now.  Maybe after Christmas we will move him out to the living room.  He will be more used to us by then too.  

Bert is quite the bird already.  He whistles, says pretty Bert, good night, makes kiss noises, screeches, squawks, coughs if someone in the room coughs, dances, bangs his little ankle tag on his perch when he wants attention and likes to have his head scratched. 

Bert is a Senegal parrot the size of 20 oz. pop bottle.

It is thought that he is boy, but that is purely speculation.  He could be a Roberta instead of Bert.

His cage is about four feet tall and at least two feet square, his accommodations are the Hilton of the bird world. 

It seems he has every bird toy ever made that we are suppose to switch out every couple of months so he doesn't get bored.