Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Nikki Scores It Big

At the Goodwill today, we looking through the stuffed toys and found this cute slice of pizza plushie.  It was only 99 cents so we got to give to Nikki for a new toy.  When we got up the check out I saw the back of the original tag and the price was $24.95.  I said to the check out lady, "Look at that, the original price was $24.95."  Her and I both agreed, if that was the original price, that that was crazy, especially after I told her we were going to give it our dog.  When we got home I looked up the company and sure enough, it really was $24.95.  Nothing is too good for our Nikki!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Best Dad Ever

Goes to town and buys his daughter the new One Direction CD and delivers it to her at co-op.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christmas Pine Swags

Duo Thirteens

Spark and a girl in our homeschool co-op both turned 13 this year so they hatched a plan to have a duo birthday.  The date was half way in between their birthdays and it just happen to work out perfectly on a Saturday.

Our families got together to have supper and gift opening.  Dancer got her a One Direction t-shirt, her and Dancer can spend hours talking about "the boys". 

Spark got a Duck Dynasty trivia game, which after we played it, realized we haven't been paying very close attention when we watch the show.

Ice cream cake.

Between the two of them they left one candle but, they were so fast to blow it out I missed the photo op.  The rest of the night was playing games and a sleep over.  The birthday girls uncle, they have a big family, is a good friend of Spark's from co-op so he was here too.

We blew up a few balloon to add to the festivities and found out that in the static electricity producing month of November, they stick to the cats.  The cats would walk by one and it would latch right on.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


After a lunch at Pizza Ranch, the Helmets Required took a couple hour stroll through an old granite quarry which is now a park.  My dad tells stories of when he was young of him and his friends going to out to scout girls at the quarry swimming hole. 
It looks like that and a lot more is going on out there these days.

♫One way, or another♫ - in this case another.

Potential danger?  Dancer laughs in the face of potential danger.  Ha ha ha!

It was beautiful day and could possibly be our last above 40 degree day until spring. 

PSEO Here She Comes!

Ready or not, here she comes.  Dancer was accepted into the PSEO program at a technical college and will start in January.  It isn't the closest one to our house but, it is one that allows the student to do all on-line work instead of attending traditional classes.  The one closest to us only allows one on-line class because they say that most high school students don't have the discipline to complete the work.  That may be so for regular schooled kids but homeschool kids use to doing it on their own so I really don't see that as a concern for her. 
So is Dancer ready?  Yes and no.  She knows this saves a ton of money when paying for college (PSEO is free to high school students and they get full college credit) and she would be doing the work anyway so why not have it count for high school and college credit. 
In the no category she is nervous, something new always causes a bit of trepidation.  She is more relaxed that she won't have to attend classes where she doesn't know anyone.  She is worried about not having the answers to whatever class she is taking right here, a upside to homeschooling is in the house answer keys.  Being taught by someone other than Dad or I, she knows our style and exactly what we expect, is also a concern. 
Am I ready?  Yes and no.  Yes, I know she is ready for something new.  Yes, I like that it will save her college costs.  Yes, that she is doing her classes on-line, she won't be driving on the freeway 120 miles round trip and we won't have to get another car and insure it.  Yes, that she will be stepping out a little bit but, just a baby step, not a leap.  I so can't imagine her not here, it is odd when she is just gone for a few hours, day after day would take some getting use to.   Yes, that she will have some focus.  She doesn't have a clear idea in what she wants to do so this may spark a new interest that we haven't done at home.  The goal is for her to get a AA degree and reevaluate after that.  Having this goal gives her something to work towards and takes off the pressure of the question everyone seems to be asking lately, "So Dancer, what do you want to do?"  I think that question ranks right up there for high school kids like, "when are you getting married, when are you having a baby and, after your first kid, so when are you having another one," does for adults.
I am not ready in that my homeschooling days with her are mostly over, she does still have a few classes to finish up here to round out her transcript but, otherwise, my work here is done.  I love homeschooling, it's not like a job that you decide to quit, you lose your job when your kids get big.  Downsizing at the most personal level.  Thankfully, I still have Spark for a few more years :)  I also worry about class content, will she be able to keep her convictions, or will she be subtlety swayed over to a view that differs from what we sought to instill in her.  And no to about a hundred other little concerns that run through my head when I think about my kids moving on and my parenting grip getting looser and looser as they take on the world for themselves.
Mostly, though, we are excited!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Misty Llama Morning

It has been here what I imagine Ireland to be, drizzly and dreary.  When it drizzles, the fine, misty, moisture covers the llamas in the most beautiful haze of little droplets on their hair and they get a slivery hue to them.

It was a good day, they were enjoying one of the last zucchinis from the garden.

Llamas don't have top teeth so they have to mash everything in their powerful jaws.  You will know just how powerful their jaws are if you don't pull your finger away fast enough from an eager to get a snack llama.

And then there is little Jamal,

as far as he can tell, he is just a short llama.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Paul Bunyan Ice Cube

We are a long way from Texas but, we make our ice cubes Paul Bunyan sized!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Such a dazzling coat of many colors

One of Dancer's favorite musicals is Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat, so her sweet grandma made us dinner and took us to the play when it was being performed at the local high school in her town.  Dad saw someone he knew there and they asked who we knew in the show - no one, we just love the play!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day

I don't think in my life I have ever celebrated or done anything for Veteran's Day but, this year we finally did and hope to make it a tradition.  Our co-op made a dinner for a veteran at their church, (lasagna, garlic bread and cookies) so they could come home from work and have dinner done for them.  Yes, the veteran had to work today.  It would be nice if all veterans got the day off, and everyone else worked, not just those who happen to work at one of the places who give the day off. 

One of the families in our group know a military person who is being deployed and we made him a box or goodies.  He asked for bible verses on cards that he can slip in his pocket to be included in the box.  The kids picked out their favorites and in just a short time we made a pretty sizable pack of them. 

Happy Veteran's Day to my Dad who is a WWII Marine veteran.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Crochet V-Sticth Baby Blanket

This worked up quick (I did a good portion of it on our trips back and forth to the state fair this summer), but with the large hook it is important to keep the tension constant.  The pattern is pretty much no fail so there is no going back and ripping up rows because you'll know right away if you are off.  Now I just need a baby to gift it to! 
The pattern comes from Lion Brand.
I made this larger than the instructions below.  I believe I chained 118 to make it receiving blanket size for the yarn and hook size I used.  Whatever size you want just increase the chain in sets of 3.

Ch 88.
Row 1: (Dc, ch 1, dc) in 5th ch from hook (V-st made), [sk 2 ch, V-st in next ch] across to last 2 ch, sk 1 ch, dc in last ch – 28 V-st.
Rows 2-34: Ch 3, turn, V-st in each ch-1 sp across, dc in top of turning ch.
Do not fasten off.  
Rnd 1:
Ch 1, turn, work sc evenly spaced around blanket, working 3 sc in each corner; join with sl st in first sc.
Rnd 2 (Picot Edging): (Ch 2, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, sk 1 sc, sl st in next 2 sc) around, working more or fewer sl st as needed at corners to work a picot in each corner and to end rnd evenly. Fasten off.
Weave in ends.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lego Day

Helmets Required had a Lego day and what better way to start than with a plate of Lego brownies.  We used the M&Ms from the Halloween stash so we had a few different sizes.  Spark said the peanut ones could be Duplos. 

They made these Lego heads out of baby food jars. 

The kids had four quests and all the ideas came from here.  The ones we chose were:
 Two cup challenge - scoop two cup of Legos out of the bin and build something with just those bricks.
How tall can you build a tower until it tips over - this idea may have come from somewhere else. 

Natural disaster - Squidward in a tidal wave.
Self portrait - Spark made himself shoveling poo and he even has the plaid shirt just like his.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

If you love wild rice and mushrooms you will love this.  This made a lot of servings but, I usually cook for five so that I have a lunch to send with Dad to work, at least one day of left overs so that I don't have to think of lunch the next day, and it is a bonus if we get another supper out of a dish.  For one meal just cut the ingredients down but, cooking big does cut down on the dishes.
Cook a one pound bag of wild rice according to directions in chicken broth.
Chop up and cook in butter or olive oil until soft:
1 onion
5-6 carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms
Add 1/4 cup of corn starch and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add a cup or so of chicken broth, stir well and cook until thick and then add more chicken broth (just like to make white sauce).  Add a pinch of thyme and the cooked wild rice.  Add more chicken broth until it is as soupy as you like and let simmer until you are ready to eat. 
Before serving, put a dollop of sour cream and some parsley and stir the sour cream into the soup. 
If you have leftovers of this, the rice keeps soaking up the liquid so you will have to add more when reheating. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Homemade Lava Lamp

Years ago, when lava lamps were all the rage, we had a red one.  Then we dropped it on the stairs and that was that.  I don't know if you can even get them any more but you can make your own.
In a large vase put a couple of inches of colored water.  Pour vegetable oil up until about an inch from the top.  Plop a couple broken Alka Seltzer tablets (the more pieces the better) in the vase and watch your lava lamp come to life.

For the real lava lamp experience, turn out the lights and shine a flash light up from the bottom of the vase. This is good for about three minutes of excitement but, it does work over and over.  Pretty cool. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Barn Cleaning

Barn cleaning is the necessary evil of owning animals. We should have done this last spring but it isn't hard to find a reason not to.  This kids are smiling here, not because they love to shovel poo but, because we are done for the day.
Spark stood next to the pile to show just how much work we did and we aren't done yet.  Goats are great hay wasters and then they can really pack it down in their pens.  While this looks huge, in a year there won't be any pile left, it will compost down into a small mound.

Our beautiful llama girls, Marceline, Nora and Honey Bear. 
Finished the night with glorious skies. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Bacon Bean

I was so delighted when I opened a bag of 15 Bean soup to find a bacon bean.  I showed it to Dad and exclaimed, "Look, a bacon bean!"  He wanted to know what kind it really was, like there really isn't a bacon bean.  Pfffft.  Alright, it's a cranberry bean.  I am still going to call it a bacon bean.