Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ready for a new week and new month

I am so looking forward to tomorrow morning so we can get a fresh start around here. We have just been a in a funk with lots of stuff going on.

First is the cold, it just makes everything so miserable. By the end of January everyone is crabby about it. A lady at church said to me this morning, "why do we live here?" I was born here and haven't been smart enough to move away. Actually the fear of big bugs and nasty snakes keeps me here more than anything. None of those things can live through the winters. I also feel like I am going to melt when the temps get into the 80's which doesn't jive with the south. The lady validated that, she moved her because she hated the south.

I have also felt crappy all week. I have asthma which is often set off by allergies and sometimes the cold. On Tuesday we went to book club at a house that has guinea pigs. The little critters weren't out, but there must have been enough dander or something else in their house that after a half an hour I had to leave. Dad went back and picked up the kids later but they weren't ready to go so I went in to see what the book for next month was and just five minutes was enough to set me off again. Once I have a flair up is seems to take several days for my lungs to settle back down. Feeling like a big dog was sitting on my chest meant that I didn't hardly get to walk. I don't feel right when I don't get to walk.

After several months of discussion we thought we were going to make a big change in our family. After checking into it more this week we decided, which took a huge amount of emotional energy, that it isn't something we want to do now. Maybe later, or through a different avenue, but not the way we thought.

Spark has been pushing everyone of our buttons he can think of. He is a really high energy kid except when he should be. I told him as I was tucking him in that tomorrow will be a new morning and we need to start over. I pray the sun is shining in the morning because I will take that as a sign of good things to come.

The dog ate something that didn't agree with her. She has been throwing up all over the house this weekend. One word - yuck.

Our schedule has been off. This was Dad's weekend to work but he asked for a cut on Friday night so he could go to Spark's basketball tournament on Saturday. When he gets a cut, or put on call, he still doesn't leave work until 11:30 at the earliest. I always wait up for him so he doesn't come home to dark house. The trip home is about 40 minutes and then by the time he unwinds it is so late when we get to bed. He got put on call by request on Friday and then by work on Saturday night. Saturday we were up early for the tournament and then this morning for Sunday school and church. Both days I napped which throws the rest of the afternoon and evening off.

Well, enough of my pity party, tomorrow is a new day.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Just a moment

Spark has the calculator out and a serious look on his face when the asks how to figure out the times in a day. Has a pen to punch the keys of the calculator, this is what he does when he has big matters to unjumble. First is the hours into minutes. He punches that into the calculator and revels in the answer. Then the minutes into seconds. Again, he diligently pokes the keys and is amazed at the large number of seconds in a day. What comes after a second he wants to know. Not wanting to get in to a long explanation about nanoseconds etc, I say that I think that is it. 'No," he says, "there are moments." How many moments in a second? Gee, I don't know the answer to that one. Perhaps a blink of an eye is a moment? No, he decides, if you had really long blink then that would be longer than a moment. Upon further thought he deduces that a there a ten moments in a second.

I have been thinking about this now for about a day and I think he may be right. Some of the best moments in my life were that short. I thought of that first step down the wedding aisle, the first time you feel that little flutter of a baby in your tummy so quick you wonder if you really felt anything at all, the start of their first cry, the first time they give you a grin and you know they appreciate that you haven't hardly slept for the six weeks since their birth and of course I could go on and on. So yes Spark, I think you are right, there could be ten moments in a second because a lot of them seem to come and go that quickly. I am going to try and be more on guard for those moment so I don't miss them. What are some of your moments?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wolly Weather Report

Late last fall I gave a weather forecast based on the width of color bands on a Wolly Bear caterpillar. That "forecast" called for a mild winter. I promised then to give an up date. I'll give you hint about the weather--I remembered the update when I chiseled ice off the hay and saw a Wolly Bear caterpillar frozen in a chunk of ice.

Well, it's been dang cold this winter. We have had a couple of warm weekends (think 34 degrees) this winter season, we had twenty inches of snow on the first warm weekend and 1/2 inch of ice on everything on the next warm weekend. Tonight I checked the temperature before I went out to close up the barn. It's is -6 degrees with a stiff west wind.

I had originally hypothesized that the Wolly Bear gives a weather report (of fall weather) and not a prediction. Although current weather supports this, I would love to be wrong and have a mild winter and early spring.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


This was the day that Spark and I had been waiting for, reward day for our 300 mile walking challenge. Just he and I were going to go bowling since we were the only ones who did the challenge. Then Dad and Dancer were going to come with us and watch us bowl. By the time we had left home he had decided that they were going to bowl with us. I thought he would want them to bowl and go to lunch with us but let him decide on his own.

We had a great time bowling, thanks to the bumpers in the gutters, and then enjoyed lunch at Subway.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Every journey ends with just one step

Spark and I are finished with our walking goal! Three hundred miles in less than three months. When we started I had my doubts about us finishing it by February first, we started the 7th of November and we picked what seemed a daunting goal, but here we are!

We wanted to walk our last mile together and I sure wish we had gotten this far last week when the temps were in the 30's. Today was below zero and walking back was into the wind. With the melting of last week frozen on sidewalks that weren't shoveled, the walk was hazardous making Spark take a tumble on the ice. He got right up and kept on going, what a trooper. Dancer waited in the car for us and then snapped a picture of our last step. To celebrate our finish Spark and I are going bowling and out to lunch at Subway tomorrow.

Next challenge will be all of us walking 400 miles by April 1st.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sharing my urge to purge

The food shelf set up was today. Along with the food part there is also a clothing, book, toy and housewares part when people can come and just take whatever they can use free of charge. We take most of our extra stuff there when we are done with it. That means that the week before the food shelf I usually get the urge to purge at least some of what seems like a overwhelming amount of stuff we have in our closets, etc. I am not sure where all this stuff even came from, it seems to muliply on its own.

This month I decided that we would go through our bedrooms and clean out what we weren't using, wearing or in love with anymore. Along with that I told Spark that his room would be cleaned, this is a constant battle for us, and I wanted it done by Friday. I choose Friday because then if he didn't get it done I would have the weekend to get him motivated to get the job done. Friday came and it didn't look like he has done anything in there all week even though he had been in there many hours. Saturday came and he still wasn't sharing in my urge to purge excitement and Dad had to get involved. He took away any and all video games and t.v. Sunday came and there was still not much accomplished because his weekends are for "relaxing." News flash here, they are not. After he finally realized that he was going to do it, or forget what a t.v. was for, he got it picked up. The 45 minutes job was completed, it only took a seven days and two frustrated parents.

Dad, Dancer and I got on the purging band wagon and went through our closets and drawers in about half an hour. At the end of it all we ended up with two huge garbage bags full of toys and clothes. It is actually enjoyable to look in the closet now!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mongols and Genghis Khan in China

We have been studying about Genghis Khan and his take over of China. He was a horrible, horrible man. Some of the things he and his group did gave us the shivers, like toting his men along who died to throw the rotting bodies at enemies when they were fighting and drinking his horse's blood when hungry and then sewing the horse back up so they could ride them. Ewww. Just mentioning his name scared people enough that they wouldn't fight back against his armies.

To stop the Mongols from having easy access to China the Great Wall of China was built. While reading about the wall we learned about chops. Writers and illustrators use a chop to sign their work. A chop was a symbol or seal to represent themselves and it was hard for others to duplicate them because they were made out of stone (set in stone). When people were unable to write their name they would use these chops. It was a sort of rubber stamp. On a document they needed to sign they would dip the chop in bright red ink, to symbolize signing in blood, and then press it on the paper. The kids each designed what they would use for a chop.
Here is Spark's chop, he is usually the minimalist when it comes to projects and this project proved no different.
Dancer got much fancier with her chop. She designed quite a few and settled on this lady bug for the one to show on the blog.

The Mongols were nomads sealing, or I should just say taking, everything they wanted so there was no need for them to own or work land. They lived in these felt covered houses, think yurt, that they hauled around with them. The kids made a mongol camp and a back ground for it. Dancer's side has a road with a man cooking at fire. Spark brought in the big guns on his side and pulled out a dragon to make them crispy and good with ketchup.

Lastly, the kids made Chinese hanging lanterns. I have not thought of these since grade school and thought my kids can't grow up without making them at least once. They painted landscape scenes with water colors on white paper, let them dry, and cut the strips to make the lantern. These turned out quite pretty.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rain and Snow, Snow and Rain Ruining Our Day

This morning was suppose to be Spark's first basketball tournament and we were pumped. However, a strange thing has been happening here, rain showers which are unheard of in January. I should say shower because it has been non stop all day.

It started raining last night so I took the phone in the bedroom in case we got the call that the tournament was canceled. No phone call so we got up early and started getting ready. Ice was covering everything so we were surprised that it wasn't canceled. Maybe they just aren't calling us and we need to listen to the local radio for the announcement. Our local radio station plays polka music, yes they actually have a huge following just not us, so we don't know their call numbers right off the top of our heads. The phone book was of no help so I hooked up the internet, we have dial up, to find the info. Now as some of you may remember, if you don't live in the dark ages of internet like we do, that dial up is ssslllloooowwww. Finally the page loads and we get the right station. Through the crackle that is coming out of the radio, we hear that their tower is so covered in ice that the reception we are hearing is the best there is. We also tuned in just in time to hear that "those are the weather related closings." A fat lot of good that does us, we need to wait until the next time they announce them, however, being Saturday it could be a while. We decide that if the tournament is still going on that Dad will take Spark in the truck with the 4-wheel drive and if it gets less treacherous out Dancer and I would come later.

While we are figuring all this out our door bell starts dinging like someone is frantic at the door. We open it up expecting to see a traveler who has slid off the road and needs help, but instead it is our neighbor. Just about the time we unplugged the phone to get the internet up, the coach called us. Not getting an answer, he called our neighbor to say that we weren't answering and did he have the right number for us. Instead of seeing if we answered again, the neighbor drove over here on the icy roads to see why we weren't answering and to tell us the tournament was canceled. Next door neighbors to us means anyone with in a mile radius so it was a risk for him to drive over on the icy roads. Twice in two days now we have had people do wonderful nice things for us, first the letter and now this. To reward him we sent him home with a big box of blonde brownies Dad and Dancer had baked for the boys playing today.

I wish the rest of the story was that the sun started shining and the rain stopped but that wasn't the case. It rained and then snowed and then rained and then snowed the rest of the day. We were planning on going to an event at church tonight too but that was canceled as well.

The rain also froze into ice as it hit whatever it fell on so our gutters are completely filled with ice. This makes for ice dams to form on the edge of the roofs, which push up the shingles and now our porch roof is leaking. We are hopeful it will self correct in the spring when all this melts but my feeling is it is going to cost us some money. It is always something. I am just thankful that it is the porch and not the living room or any other part of the house.

Friday, January 22, 2010

There are good, honest people in the world

Spark got a letter in the mail today from Grandpa who lives 50 miles away from us. The odd thing was that the writing didn't look familiar. The post mark was from Texarkana AR-TX which must be at least 900 miles from us. Hmmm, the envelope was handwritten but maybe he sent away for something for Spark?

Spark opens it up and inside is an envelope with Grandpa's handwriting on. There is a little post-it note on the front of it that says that the envelope was delivered to someones box in Bivins, Texas, it arrived wet and torn and they live in north east Texas. These people took the time to write out a new envelope, put their own stamp on it and mailed it to Spark. The honest part, there was money in the envelope which they sent as well. Thank you who ever you are!

Blog Award!

Moo Said the Mama has given us a very nice blog award. Thanks!

When given the award you are suppose to post 10 things that make you happy and pass it on to 10 other bloggers who you enjoy reading.

10 things that make me happy

1. A clean house

2. Snuggling with my kids and listening to them really talk about what is on their hearts

3. When the kids have "aha" moments

4. Sitting down at the end of the day to relax after we have all worked hard together and accomplished much

5. Watching movies with a big bowl of popcorn and M&M's

6. A good number on the scale

7. Meeting friends and having plenty of time to chat

8. A long shower with no interruptions

9. A foot rub - which my husband is nice a enough to do several times a week

10. A letter in the mail

I could go on and on, this was fun in it's self.

I pass this on to the following blogs that we enjoy reading every day. I don't know if they all read us or accept awards (if you don't just disregard but know we like your blog).

1. The Author's Desk
2. Home Spun Juggling
3. Tales of Homeschool
4. Life Gets Messy
5. Four Squares
6. Keeping it Simple
7. Keeper of Our Home
8. Our House
9. Home Joys
10. Reagan Family Farm

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ice pelts and disappointments

This morning the news was full of school closings and late starts in the southern part of the state. I held my breath all day before we headed into town that the bad weather would hold off here until later tonight. While we were at the YMCA for Spark's swimming lessons and gym class it started to sleet. The temps are hanging right around 32 degrees so it is coming down as sleet which is horrible for driving.

We stopped for dinner and it seemed as though we were going to dodge the really bad weather. I breathed a sigh of relief and we headed for the grocery store. We were not in there more than a half an hour and by the time we got back out side little ice pelts were falling and accumulating on the pavement. They were big enough that they actually hurt when they hit your face. The car, which was warm from driving, was completely encased in ice. Why the ice scraper is hanging in the garage instead of in the car I don't know, but I am out there being pelted with ice trying to scrape the ice off the windshields with a CD case so that I can see to drive. I will take snow any day over this ice stuff.

Dancer gets into her dance class and her teacher isn't there. The owner comes in and tells the girls that her teacher wasn't working there anymore. She came out and told me that she had to fire her for some reason or another that didn't really make a lot of sense. Dancer was just saying at diner how she was excited to see her teacher at class as she really enjoyed having her for a teacher, I think all the girls did.

As we were leaving we got a note that said that all the girls should be taking gymnastics next year for new dance routines. We also got the letter and summer schedule about auditions for next years showline, that everyone has to train year around and that not everyone will be given a placement in a show line to make room for others who are in basic classes this year. Every year there have been girls that aren't asked back or even let go during the year, but to put it in writing, in capital letters no less, just seemed so harsh.

There have been a few things that Dancer has not been happy with this last year but with her teacher being fired, the extra gymnastics class and the audition letter Dancer was just livid. She got in the car, read the papers and announced that she is not dancing there next year. She was already leaning in that direction but tonight sealed the deal. I must say that I can't blame her and I support her decision. I am actually proud to see her take a stand on something she believes is unjust. It is just a little disappointing as she loves to dance and there isn't another studio that is close enough to us where it would be very convenient for her to dance. The next closest one is about 45 minutes down the road and it would be at least two trips a week.

Since we got home Dancer has been saying every few minutes that she just can't believe that her teacher was fired, especially in the middle of the season. She shared that she even wanted to cry in class when they were told the news but by not saying anything she was able to keep it together. She came out as I am typing this and said that maybe the events of tonight and her favorite teacher moving away the beginning of this year is a sign that she is suppose to try something else. She is going to be okay. I think she grew up a little bit tonight.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

50 States Project

Our homeschool group consists of about 200 families. When someone wants to do a project they just send out an email and see if anyone is interested. Thankfully other families do this because I do not think to involve others in our projects and holidays, we just sort of plod along by ourselves. Opening my home to numerous people, a Valentine Party for example, is not one of my strong points where others love to entertain. I am very grateful to those folks. There are so many activities that a homeschooler could be busy every single day and still not partake in every opportunity. Because there are so many events we need to be good stewards with our time and stay focused on our education long term goals when we choose what to get involved in.

An email came through for a 50 states project that a family was doing and it caught our eye. An added bonus is that we know a lot of the kids that also signed up so it will a social outing as well. Each student is suppose to choose a state and then make a poster about that state. We will then meet and if there are enough kids they can just go around and look at all the poster. If there isn't a lot of kids then they will present them one by one and we will do it as a group. Sounds fun either way.

Dancer chose Arkansas since that is where Grandma and Grandpa live and she has been there multiple times. Her poster is drawn out like a map with all the adjoining states on the sides and colored different colors. She listed state facts, such as the state grain is rice and Arkansas was the 25th state to join the union. Another area is random facts such as Arkansas means "South Wind" in Quapaws and there once was a law where it was unlawful to blindfold cows on public roads. She wrote about the symbolism of the flag, the University of Arkansas mascot, and large corporations that are based out of Arkansas. She also listed some famous people who hail from Arkansas, a few are Bill and Hillary Clinton, Johnny Cash, Maya Angelou and Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.

Spark chose Idaho, he has it all planned out in his head we just need to get it from his head onto a poster.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Goodbye Book of Roots!

Two books down today, The Book of Roots and a literary study on the book "Julie and the Wolves." Yea Dancer!

Frosty morning

Dad snapped this picture this morning when he was out doing chores. The world is so beautiful when covered with frost and with no sunshine we may get to enjoy it all day. Dancer says it looks like all the trees have gray hair.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Grandma saves the day at the Salvation Army

Our 4-H group served lunch at the Salvation Army. Since we needed to be there early to start cooking and set up, we ate lunch in the car on the way.

The menu kids choose was spaghetti, garlic bread, carrot and celery sticks and cookies. Each family was to bring browned ground beef and a couple of dozen of cookies and then the mom in charge of the project bought the rest of the items needed to complete the menu. When we got there we weren't sure which door to go in and so forth. No knowing if we would have to walk around to the front of the building we only grab what we needed and therefore left our water bottles in the car.

When we got inside we had to wait for them to finish their church service before we could start ramming around in the kitchen banging pots and pans. This meant we sat about 40 minutes in the front entry. Then when we did get to go into the serving part we were running around setting tables and readying everything. Finally, about 10 minutes before we were to start serving Spark wanted his water bottle that was left in the car. So out he went to get it and came back in. We served the meal, all sat down to enjoy lunch together and then had to clean up which took us about another hour.

Out we go to the car and Grandma just drove up to give Dancer her birthday gift and we were going to go to the nearest Wendy's for a soda with her. By now everyone else from our club has left. We get in and the car goes "click, click, click." Spark had left the door ajar when he went out for his water bottle. Thank God that Grandma was there because there really isn't anyone else around with a car, we aren't in the best part of town to just go up to the nearest apartment building and ask for help (which would have been quite a hike in itself) and it is Sunday where we would pay extra for a tow. She whips around, pulls out her jumper cables, Dad hooks us up, I say a quick prayer and the car starts up!

We didn't dare stop now for a soda because what if it didn't start again. Grandma graciously follows us home, and I say graciously because it is about a 40 minute drive one way for her, and we get there without incident. It was fun that she came to our house, we sat around eating peanuts in the shell playing Apples to Apples. Perfect end to an almost perfect afternoon!

Friday, January 15, 2010

My love/hate relationship with sleepovers

Walking out of the YMCA yesterday a mom calls out to us, "What are you doing tonight?" I hate that question for two reasons. If you say "nothing" what ever they suggest you are available to do. If you say "we are busy" and it is something you want to do, you already said you weren't available. It is like a trap.

So being ever so careful and only giving part of an answer, I said that Dancer had dance rehearsal tonight. That makes us busy but we had two hours until the class. The mom says that we should swap kids for a sleepover, their daughter is one of Dancer's best friends and they have a son that Spark is good friends with.

It's Dancer's birthday I said, meaning we are going to out dinner and I don't want her at someone else's house on her birthday, I want her for the whole day but the friend can come with us. Dancer and her friend are already jumping up and down excited and now the boys are looking at me. You can take both the kids she suggests. That would have been fine except that we had to eat dinner out and being at the end of the pay period we were a little low on funds so I mumbled something about four kids being too much for tonight when we had to stay in town and wouldn't be home until late.

The next suggestion was that Spark go to their house. I hate spur of the moment ideas for a sleepover. I don't mind when kids come to our house on the spur of the moment, I just don't like my kids leaving like that. I am, I will admit, over protective when it comes to my kids and when they go somewhere I need time to process it all and make sure that everything is perfect for them to go. Meaning, they have a packed bag, their stuffed animal, I have had time to tell them to behave and use manners, and kiss and hug them goodbye. Well, that is how I am with Dancer, Spark has never gone to anyone house overnight except for Grandmas and then Dancer was with him. So after quickly going over all this in my mind and looking into his pleading eyes I said, "no."

Walking to the car with Dancer, her friend, and Spark, my mind is just reeling. I need to let him go, but will he be okay, he needs to spend time with other boys and play boy things, I will miss him so much, will he be okay, he doesn't have his Jeffery with (his stuffed elephant), I am smothering him, Dad feels the same way as I do what will he think, it will be so fun for him. Oooohhhhh, I just don't know. Wait. You can go I tell him.

We yell to the other family, that is now way on the other side of the parking lot, to wait because Spark can go. He quick gets his sweatshirt out of the car and they drive over. I think the other mom knows I am torn because she says "I swear I will bring him back in one piece." I kiss him goodbye until I think he might be getting embarrassed, buckle him in their car and wave goodbye.

It all turned out fine. Dancer loved that she got to have a friend overnight on her birthday (they said they were up until 4 a.m.) and Spark had a good time too. And I was fine too. I wasn't really worried about Spark, as Dancer has stayed at the other family's house several times, it was just my internal mothering that I was having a hard time with, feeling like he was being jerked away. I guess I just like to know that all my babies are safely tucked into the nest at night.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl

Born January 14th, 1997

Time: 1:32 a.m.

Weight: 5 lb. 10 1/2 oz.

Length: 17 inches

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Presents and lunch

Dancer's birthday was celebrated today, except for the cake, because tomorrow we are super busy and Dad works.
Her presents have been wrapped for a few days and sitting out on the couch just teasing her on what might be in them. She guessed what two of them were right away but we must of have done a good job concealing it because she said "I can tell by your faces I am wrong."

This morning she finally got to unwrap them.
She was delighted with all of them.
Our birthday tradition is that we go out to dinner and movie. None of the movies that are out right now looked enticing to Dancer so she asked to go to the twin cities for lunch instead. She wanted to go to Fudrucker's to get a malt, which sounded great to the rest of us, it's our favorite restaurant.

Dad worked last night so he grabbed a couple hours of sleep and then we all piled in the car for the trek to the cities. She got her malt, we did a little shopping and headed back home. A wonderful day I hope she remembers forever.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It 's her birthday, but he's excited

Dancer's birthday is on Thursday, she will be 13 this year. Spark is just besides himself with excitement that his sister is going to be a teenager and he will be the only child in the house. He told me that you are a child until you are 13 and then you are a young lady or young gentleman until you turn 18 and then you are a young adult. He has this age thing all figured out. I told him thank you for filling me in since I didn't know there were such stringent rules about age. He puffed up a bit and gave a look that said "stick with me and I will teach you all kinds of stuff."

He has busied himself all day with decorating and birthday plans. He has been cutting, coloring and pasting. He is making a birthday cake here to hang on the wall.
He has been hanging banners and shiny papers up. This the banner from his fifth birthday when he had a bug theme. We haven't done theme birthday for a few years, I don't know why we got out of that habit.
He spent the better part of the afternoon making this Happy Birthday circle to go around her cake. He dug out a roll of yellow crepe paper from somewhere in the basement and he his wracking his brain on what he can do with it. I think he is so sweet to want to make the day special and exciting for her. If he stays so sweet he will have one lucky wife.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ice Candles

The kids made these tonight at our 4-H meeting and then brought them home to finish them after they were completely cooled. This project is a great way to use up old odd and ends of candles.

Using a single serve milk carton, spray the inside with cooking spray. Tie the wick on to a pencil and hang it over the very middle of the carton. Fill the carton with ice chips to the top. Ever so careful pour melted wax into the carton. Let this sit until the candle is cool and hard. Carefully peel the carton off the candle, do this over a sink or outside because now all the water from the ice will run out. If the candle breaks, which it may at this point, just remelt the wax and try again. The ice at the top of the carton melted with the hot wax but by the time it gets to the middle and bottom it is cool enough not to melt the ice and you get this really intricate candle. Wipe the sides of the candle with a paper towel to get rid of any cooking spray and let sit on a towel so that the rest of the ice can melt and the water can drain out.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Making Wedding Veils

Long ago, before children, when I got up every day and went to what other's call a "real job" I had spare time. In this spare time I made wedding veils. It has been so long that I actually forgot that I ever did it, that is until a letter came.

In November I went to the mailbox and took out a letter with the familiar handwriting of an old boss. Odd, I hadn't seen or talked to her for well over 12 years. Upon opening the note it became clear that she remembered that I made wedding veils even though I didn't. Her daughter was getting married and could I make one for her. Sure, why not, hopefully it is like riding a bike. With the holidays and all I finally got around to making it today. The wedding is in May so plenty of time.


So I email back and forth with her daughter who just wants a "simple" veil. Whenever people who don't sew say "simple" you know you are in trouble. She wanted a circular veil, which doesn't exist in wedding supply stores so I had to make a pattern, with a simple cord around the bottom. The only way to get that satin cord around the bottom is to painstakingly sew it on by hand which took about three hours with invisible thread that is truly invisible unless you work over a dark sheet of paper. I will say though, the girl has taste. As simple as it looks I think it will be very elegant with her dress. Here is Dancer modeling it wearing a red t-shirt and her hair down so it isn't shown as well as it could be. As I was pinning it on her head I thought, when this is the real deal I will probably be teary eyed.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sweet Potato and Potato Hash

We had something very close to this at Silver Dollar City last fall, all the food there was to die for by the way. Their hash had more veggies in it than this one does but this is what I had on hand that could be thrown together quickly. Corn, green beans or sausage would be good additions.

Sweet Potato and Potato Hash

Equal amounts of sweet potatoes and regular potatoes that it takes to feed your family. Lots if it is your main dish, less if it is a side dish.

olive oil

1 onion

green pepper - I had dehydrated and put in a couple handfuls, if I had fresh I would have used one.

1 tsp. rosemary

1/2 tsp. thyme

salt and pepper

Cut up and boil the potatoes. Saute onion in the olive oil. Add the green pepper and herbs and let them mingle a few minutes. Drain the potatoes and stir into the onion mixture. Cook until the potatoes are brown to your liking. I let everyone salt and pepper them to their taste buds at the table.

Serve it with a couple eggs on top, preferably not a store bought one if you read my post below, and there's dinner. Delicious!

Farm egg vs. store egg

It has been so cold here, rarely above zero degrees, for the last few weeks that we are not getting many eggs. The chickens are laying them, they just freeze before we find them. Other years we have had older and wiser chickens who have been broody and sat on them to keep the eggs from freezing in this cold weather. This year the young hens we have just plop them out and walk off leaving the eggs to freeze which makes them crack. We have found about three eggs before they were frozen so - gasp - I have had to buy eggs.

It has been over four years since I bought an egg and I had forgotten what they looked like. I have heard people say that the yolks are yellow but this is a big difference. All I can say is what are they feeding, or not feeding, them? The egg on the left is one of the few we have left from our cluckers eggs and the one on the right is from the store. With the snow cover, our hens can no longer do their destructive scratching all over the yard devouring every thing they see that looks tasty, be it a beautiful before they got their beaks on it green pepper plant or a weed. Now they are getting mostly laying mash and a few kitchen scraps, very few because the goats think they should get first dibs on all treats, so the yolks are paler than usual. The one on the right from the store, well, I don't have anything to say about it except I hope it warms up soon so our eggs don't freeze.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A quiver full of arrows

A tale of Robin Hood prompted this activity. The kids made his quiver and arrows to go in it.

Using a wrapping paper roll left over from Christmas they cut the quiver about six inches long and covered it with brown craft paper. For the bottom, they cut a circle and made small snips all around so that it could seamlessly glued on. Think of the cover of an ice cream Push-Up. Next was to take a piece of yarn to the inside of the quiver and then on the bottom for the strap that would go over Robin Hood's shoulder.

The arrows were made from straws and construction paper. The arrow heads that Spark made were hearts so that Cupid could shoot them. His mind usually runs at about 90 mph and so he often combines all kinds of different things into one project. It is actually quite fun to see what he comes up with. The feather ends were construction paper just fashioned into feathers.
A larger quiver, that could be played with, could be made by using the whole wrapping paper tube and joining the straws into longer arrows.

This one was pretty simple, I left the kids alone on this one and it took them about 30 - 40 minutes to have the whole thing done. I try not to direct their craft projects anymore, unless instructions really need to be followed, because otherwise they aren't as creative as I know they are capable of.

Glad the last couple of days are over

We were counting down the hours until we could go back to the vet and get our little Nikki. We were up early on Wednesday, out the door and standing at the front desk right at 9:00 am. She did really well except that she chewed her arms while she was there. This wasn't a surprise as she is usually very nervous unless we are with her. She didn't so well with Grandma when we were on vacation this fall so the vet hospital, where she spent the night surrounded by four huge dogs that were at least 10 times larger than her, was taxing on her. But now she is home and doing wonderfully.

When we got home though Dancer fell ill. I spent the better half of the day cleaning carpets and the bathroom. At the same time Dad was laying in bed with his own maladies. Next day we all had headaches, no wonder.

A trip to town was also on the agenda for dance class, the library, grocery shopping (you can't really put off buying toilet paper) and birthday shopping. The roads are just so horrible with black ice that by the time we have ventured all the way to town my knuckles are white, my neck is stiff, and I realize I have been holding my breath the whole time. It is not helped by the fact that it seems everyone with a little car is zipping in and out of traffic while talking on their cell phones. I swear some of them have no idea anyone else is on the road. Then you get a little further along and there they are in the ditch. Do you feel bad for them or smile thinking 'did you learn anything there?'

A new dawn has broken and we all seem to be back to our normal. And the sun is shining and the temp outside is actually above 10 degrees. Praise God we don't have those days very often!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Toothpaste update

We have used the homemade toothpaste for a day and half now and it looks like it is going to be a keeper. Dad, Dancer and I like it but Spark not so much. The taste is not like using straight baking soda, the lime and peppermint add a nice flavor.

Dad brushed his teeth with it and then tried regular toothpaste which he declared tasted chemically after the homemade stuff. It is odd that it doesn't "foam up," toothpaste makers must have us convinced that our toothpaste should foam to be good.

We usually buy a non-fluoride toothpaste, which is quite spendy, so even if Spark doesn't get to liking this those tubes will last longer. FYI it was a main stream brand that Dad thought tasted like chemicals.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Homemade tooth paste or powder

We are always up for trying something new so when we heard about homemade toothpaste we just had to try it. The recipe has just three ingredients - lime zest, one cup baking soda and 20 drops of peppermint oil. I think that tea tree oil would work as a substitution. Start by zesting the lime and spreading the zest out on a plate. Let the zest dry, this takes a few hours. Mix together the zest and the baking soda. Into this put 20 drops of peppermint oil. Put the cover on the container and shake, shake, shake.
Since all four of us will being using the same container, the instructions to be followed are to not stick your toothbrush into the container but to use clean, dry fingers to take a pinch and put into your palm and then rub your dampened toothbrush into the powder.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"Uh, Not Exactly"

Spark has a habit of slipping away from the family group and doing his own thing, especially if there is schoolwork or chores to be done. A few days ago we noticed that Spark had, once again, slipped away from the family unit. A quick search found him in the basement playing video games.

We told Spark that he is not going to spend his Christmas vacation alone in the basement playing video games. A quick translation of that would be "he is not going to spend his Christmas vacation alone in the basement playing video games". Spark's translation was "find a different place to hide and play video games."

Within hours of the decree Spark had set up his new video control room. He located a small TV in a storage area in the basement and some A/V cables. Voila! the "boy cave." Note the TV on the dresser, the old Game Cube console in the now empty sock drawer, a kitchen stool for his perch, a little, green, Fisher Price person and... a yak jaw? We don't bother to ask anymore.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

GO VIKINGS!!!! Nikki Style

I made Nikki this dog pants outfit today so she could cheer on the Vikings. It worked as they won!

The color is purple and yellow but the fabric just would not turn out purple in the pictures.

Scads of Slipper Socks

The cold weather, and the fact that we heat with fuel oil and keep our house a non-toasty 62 degrees, sparked a slipper sock sewing frenzy. We started because one of Dad's old pairs had gotten a huge hole in the heel, and then since the sewing machine was out, Dancer and I just kept on sewing.

The three pair on the upper right are a made from a pattern called The Green Pepper Inc. number F837. These are very, very easy to make but everyone said that the pattern I used before was more comfy.

The bottom slippers, and the flowered one on the upper left, is a pattern called Bonza Booties by Timber Lane Press. With this pattern I have to make all the soles wider because the pattern is just so narrow. These also go together quickly, about 30 minutes per pair, so not really much more work than the Green Pepper pattern. If Dancer does the sewing, and I do the pinning and unpinning at the same time, we cut it down to about 15 minutes per pair. One good afternoon and you can have slippers for the whole family.

Grandma also loves to wear these slippers so she has called dibs on three pair.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Refrigerator Art or There's a Fungus Among Us

While cleaning out the fridge we found this attractive and interesting piece of art (made by God). These are edamame beans left over from a previous meal. It is interesting to see several different types of mold present. A brown and white mold covers some beans, a thick blue coating is on others. A vibrant orange mold covers the micropyle of some beans. Apparently the composition of the seed parts decides what mold is best able to grow there. White fuzz of the hilum, blue on the seed coat as well as the afore mentioned orange. Another interesting questions is, why put a big bowl with a couple dozen beans in the fridge?

The molds provided an opportunity to discuss the useful and useless properties of molds. Useful properties include food production in things like cheeses, medicines--i.e. penicillins, some sausages, soy sauce and breads (although yeast technically isn't a mold as it doesn't form microfilaments). Useless properties include; food spoilage, disease and human allergies.

We can cross watch dog off her resume

When it gets super cold out our front door sticks. To get it open we almost have to back up, get a running start and slam into it to get it to budge. Dad was trying to get in without a lot of success, which must have sounded like a burglar to Nikki, because she was up on the back of the couch barking like a big dog. When he finally busted in looking like this - wearing his face mask with his breath frozen on the front - she did a 180, ran behind the table and hid. We know she isn't a big guard dog but you would think she could at least bite an intruders ankle to protect us!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bacon Cheese Puffs

Grandma braved the cold temps and the horrible roads to come and see us today. She brought with the ingredients for these tasty little tidbits and made them with Dancer. They are very yummy but I don't even want to guess how many calories are in each one!

Bacon Cheese Puffs

1 can 10 count Flaky Layer biscuits
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 C. real bacon pieces
2 C. finely shredded cheddar cheese

Spray mini muffin pan with non-stick spray. Separate each biscuit into flat layered thirds. Flatten each layer slightly and lay over muffin cup in pan. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Spoon a teaspoon into each biscuit. Gently press into muffin cup. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until edges are brown and center is bubbly.

Christmas vs. New Years

The temperature on Christmas was a warm 32 degrees.

The temperature on New Years is -20 degrees. That's not "20 degrees below freezing" or "twenty below with the wind chill". The wind chill, incidentally, is -38. Without the wind chill it is 54 degrees less than the temperature at which water freezes. It is so cold you can't help but speak Minnesotan.

"Cold 'nough fer ya?"

"Ya, you betcha"

Even we think that is not fit for man or beast. Dad spent a lot of the day bringing water out to the animals because it was freezing so fast. He also kept feeding them all day because it takes so many calories for them to stay warm.

It can be much worse here, unfortunately. The day Dancer was born we set a new record with a -45 degree air temperature. The Governor closed all the schools in the state that day. The weather forecast is for these temps to stick around for the next few weeks. Brrrrr. If it gets much colder I'll need to hang up the windbreaker, search for the parka, and buy some gloves.

The New Year Eve Bash

Crab legs are the traditional meal we have on New Year's Eve on the years that Dad doesn't work and this year was no different. Except for Dancer, who decided this year out of the blue that she doesn't like crab. Whatever. She had leftover chicken and mashed potatoes.

Then we move on to the movie watching. First up was The Princess and Goblins. We had not watched that one for years and it brought back sweet memories of when Dancer was little and watched it so many time we could all recite it.

Movie watching was paused to watch the ball drop. Since we are in the central time zone we can watch it at 11:00 and again at 12:00.

Dad popped the cork on some bubbly apple and cherry cider

I missed the initial gush of cider.

but Spark took care of the over flow. We found out that none of us are really fans of carbonated juice. I think I will try and make jello or something out of it.
Next movie, The Master of Disguise. That movie has so many good lines in it. By then, I was done for and went to bed, but the rest of them stayed up until 4:00 a.m. watching Hercules.