Friday, April 29, 2011

Runnin', Jumpin' & Throwin'!

That's what we did today. We went to the homeschool track meet. It was a great day. We belong to a loosely organized homeschool support group. Basically, we exist for that thing that homeschoolers so desperately need - socialization. Because we all know that in spite of the fact that we go to church, participate in sports and generally do things like go to the grocery store and the library and just get out there.... our children need socialization. And I need socialization. So, that's what we do in our homeschool support group. We get socialization. It's a great group of people, actually, and I love to socialize with them. And today we had a track meet. I have no idea how many kids participated, but by looking at the pictures, you may get an idea.They divided the kids into age groups and did fun events like.... the javelin throw and the standing broad jump! Look at that little tongue hanging out. I love it when kids concentrate with their tongues out. So cute.
They did shot put!
And ran races. Incidentally, none of my kids are in this shot of the foot race. I'm still not very good at taking action shots. But, these are boys in my boys' age group and they are racing. I think my boys are behind them. We had a yummy lunch of hotdogs.... And then... we just played. One of the things I love about our homeschool group is that yes, the kids do tend to gravitate to their general age group, that's only natural, they also all play together. There was a soccer game going on with the 15 year old boys and the 8 year old boys. All mixed up. Here's a group of girls from Missy Lou's age of 5 to probably 9 or 10 years old just playing around. I love that. We had a great day. And I feel very socialized.

Just Because it's Soooooo Good!

You know, when you are a frugal family, most of what you do has to with economics. You know, ya buy the store brands of cereal because it doesn't really matter anyway. We have pay-as-you-go cell phones because we don't use them very much anyway and it's cheap. But, there are some things that you do, not because it's economical, or cheaper or it saves you money, but because it is good. And homemade strawberry jam is one of those things. Making strawberry jam is not cheap. Fresh strawberries are not cheap, you have the buy the sugar, and the pectin. But, strawberry freezer jam is unbelievably good. And then when you put it on hot-out-of-the-oven zwiebachs.... oh my word. There are no words to describe. When I used to babysit this little girl a couple months ago, we'd pick her up from school and then I'd always make her a snack and her preferred snack was zwiebach with jam. She'd always eat two. One day, I'd just made the bread and she was eating and she looked up at me and said, "These are so good. I can't understand how these can be so good!" That'll stay with me forever.

So, strawberry freezer jam. Well, it's incredibly easy to make. You just chop up fresh strawberries in the food processor. Only for a couple seconds, you don't want strawberry puree. It needs chunks. Then, you add the sugar. And in case you had any misconceptions that strawberry jam was in any way good for you or healthy, this picture should get rid of those for you. See that huge pile of sugar? And then that tiny little mound of strawberries? Not healthy in any way!

So, you mix that up, let it set for 10 minutes. Boil the pectin in water for a minute. Mix it all together and....

Voila'. You have jam. Easy peasy. It needs to sit at room temperature for 24 hours and then you put it in the freezer and eat it all winter. I made three batches last night. Took me an hour and a half, but a lot of that was waiting time, too. I'll probably make some more before strawberry season is over. Strawberry and boysenberry jam is what my family eats. Not huge fans of peach jam or even apricot. But that berry jam..... wow. It's incredible.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Strawberry Heaven!

Yumm! Doesn't this look good? This is a whole flat of strawberries, fresh picked today. This is the time of year those little roadside shacks open their windows and sell these beauties.
Isn't it perfect? It's delicious. Believe me. Beats the ones you buy in the store hands down. Someone told me once that the strawberries they sell in the stands are a different variety than the ones they sell commercially. I guess the ones they sell commercially have to be a little more durable - able to be packed in little plastic boxes and transported. The ones you get at the roadside stands don't have so far to travel, so they can be a little more fragile. So, what do we do with these little sweeties? Besides eat them fresh with a little sugar (not that they need sweetening, but a little sugar brings out the juice) and vanilla yogurt? Well, I do freeze them. See below.

I just stem them and put them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. Then, when they're frozen I put them in gallon sized freezer bags and they're great for smoothies in the winter. I also make jam. Which will be the subject of my next post! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Honestly, they really aren't that bad. You ought to try them!

We all know the importance of reading good literature. We've all read (or pretended we read) the Classics in high school - I remember reading "Jane Eyre" in English class as a junior and reading lots of Steinbeck when I was a senior and when I was a sophomore we did some Shakespeare. And then I also remember a lot of other books that I really should have read. They were assigned, but I picked them up, hated them and then read the summary, and because I was a good student, and had a knack for writing somehow passed the test without reading them. I did that with "Siddhartha." Remember that novel by Herman Hesse? I don't. But I was supposed to read it. Yikes. You know, I think this is part of the reason I am homeschooling my kids. Really. There is so much out there to learn, but I feel like the school system really did me an injustice by not instilling in me a love of learning, so I just goofed off most of the time (and still got good grades, go figure!) and now, finally, as an adult I am figuring out all the great stuff there is to learn. I don't want my kids to go through that. I want them to know there is good stuff to learn now, as kids, and learn it. Now, I know I shouldn't be too hard on the schools I went to, and I think there are several reasons that I never really got "in" to good literature. One of them is that good literature is hard to read. Often times it's long, written in a style of English we are not used to and as a teenager, I remember getting so caught up in the language (that I didn't understand) that the plot was lost on me. Enter - abridgements. To the purist - an abridgement is, at best, a weak copy of a great work. Like a cartoon version of a Monet. However, I am finding that abridgements are wonderful ways to introduce a child to a classic, get him to understand the story, and when the time comes to read the real thing it won't be so difficult for him. For example, we are studying the Middle Ages right now, just starting the Crusades. It's a wonderful time in history for little boys to study and in addition to our texts, I'm reading them classic novels set in the time period. We finished "King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table" last week and yesterday we started "Ivanhoe" by Sir Walter Scott. Listen to the exerpt from the back cover of "Ivanhoe".... "King Richard the Lion-Hearted.... Robin Hood... the fair princess Rowena... the bewitching Rebecca... and the most gallant, fearless knight of all, Ivanhoe... these are a few of the unforgettable characters you will meet in these pages! It is a dangerous time in England when a power-hungry king and cruel, ruthless lords battle and bring bloodshed and suffering to the land. No one knows who to trust, least of all the young knight, Ivanhoe, returning home disowned, and dishonored. He must fight for his name, his rights, his people, and the woman he loves." Wow! What a book, huh? It's part of the series of Great Illustrated Classics and the boys, especially Bubba, love it. He won't let me put it down. Sure, it's not the real thing. The real thing is 521 pages long and, while I have read and enjoyed it, it is work to read - nothing that 7 & 8 year old boys would enjoy. So, we will read our abridgements and enjoy them. I will introduce my kids to great literary plots and heroes when they are young, and then when they are older I think they will actually read and enjoy the real thing, since they have already developed a taste for it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May....

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying! And this same flower that smiles today, Tomorrow will be dying."
Robert Herrick

Now is the time to enjoy roses, my friends. The first bloom of the year is the best. Huge blooms, long stems. It's absolutely outrageous what the roses do this time of year.

Isn't this rose just gorgeous? I know, I know.... I keep harping on my roses, but they are just so beautiful, I can't help it. This one here is usually not quite so apricot colored. It's more pink, but this one just stood out to me today. The name of the rose is Elle, which is one of my favorite derivatives of one of my favorite names - Eleanor.

The other day my mom came by to get some roses for her Easter bouquet and she said, "These are so beautiful. You should pick just one bloom a day!" I kind of laughed and said, "One bloom a day? I can't pick just one bloom. I pick huge bouquets!"

It's all in her head!

That's what we found out at the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor today. It's all in her head. You knew from our latest episode of "The Medical Issues of Missy Lou" that her ears were completely filled up with fluid. So, the doctor looks at the audiologist's report, looks in her ears and says to me, "Well... there are several ways we can address this problem. One of the ways is to put ear tubes in...." and he kind of hesitates and I speak right up and say, "Oh yeah! We know all about tubes. My youngest son had them when he was 14 months old. We're good with tubes." The doctor looks relieved. But, then... I asked him to just look up her nose. I really just wanted to know if the inflammation was being taken care of by the Nasonex. But, he got out his hand-dandy little nose camera thing and stuck it up there and.... Holy Adenoids, Batman! He said on a scale of 1-4, with 4 being completely obstructing her nasal passages, she was a 3. And so we start talking about her snoring and the fact that she's not night-time potty trained, and he says that's because she's not getting restful sleep and then I say, "Oh, so that's probably why she'll lay down on the couch and take a nap for an hour or two in the afternoons without anyone making her do so!" Yeah, I guess she's not getting restful sleep. So, he's kind of looking at me, and I know what he's thinking, so I just say, "Just take 'em out! She'll be under anyway. Just take 'em out." The doctor looks relieved. And then he says, "Well, her tonsils look pretty swollen, too. Not bad enough to take them out if that's all we're going to do, but since we'll be in there anyway...." and I say, "Sure! Take those out, too!" And the doctor looks relieved.

Friday, April 22, 2011

How convenient is that?

"I love it when a plan comes together!" (quick, what 80's tv show is that from?) Well, plans have come together, but it had nothing to do with me. It's all been very strange. See, around January we'd been noticing that something was wrong with Missy Lou. As in, we'd say something and she'd completely ignore us. At first we thought she was just concentrating on her play and then we thought she was just being disobedient. And then one day Hubby and I looked at each other and said, "Hey, I don't think she hears us!" And then we started noticing she was talking really loud all the time. Hmm, things are starting to add up! So, she had her 5 year old check-up in early March and I mentioned this to the pediatrician and they gave her a hearing test, which she flunked. The doctor also said she had a lot of fluid in her ears. So, they said they were going to refer us to an ENT and an audiologist. OK, fine. I get the letter from the ENT a couple weeks ago saying we have an appointment on Monday, April 25. So, that's scheduled and then all the sudden yesterday I get this call from the audiologist and they want to schedule Missy Lou an appointment, but they don't have anything until August, but, "Oh wait! We have a cancellation for tomorrow (meaning today) at 10:00. Can you make that?" I grabbed it. I knew that Hubby would be home and could watch the boys. So, we go to the appointment this morning and the doctor is really good and tells us that, yes, she's got so much fluid in her ears that her ear drum isn't moving at all and he gives her a hearing test, which she doesn't do well on. She can hear, yes, but the lower decibels she can't hear at all. So, basically, if you're looking at her she can hear you, but if you're trying to say something to her and she's not paying attention she can't hear you. So, after all that, the doctor says, "If you can wait a bit, I'll write up my report and you can take it to her doctor and decide what the best course of treatment will be because it is a middle ear problem. She'll probably want to refer you to an ENT." and I said, "Oh, well, we have an appointment with an ENT on Monday." At that the doctor gave me the funniest look and I'm thinking, "How convenient is that?" So, I imagine we'll get more answers from the ENT. My guess is that it'll be ear tubes and allergy treatments. Woohoo! Stay tuned for further developments!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Do you have CADD?

Have you ever walked into the bathroom at home and discovered an open can of tomato paste sitting on the countertop and not know how it got there? Do you fall asleep while reading a book in the afternoon (that is, if you ever get the chance to read a book in the afternoon!)? Do you find that if it's not written down on a list it either doesn't get done or doesn't get bought? Do you find yourself standing in front of the calendar, but you still can't figure out what day it is? Well, if you've answered yes to any or all of these questions, you just might have CADD (Child-induced Attention Deficit Disorder). This disorder is brought on by the simple act of having children. It is characterized by the utter inability to complete a task without being interrupted, distracted, or annoyed. Unfortunately, these interruptions have an anmesiac effect on the victim of CADD, so they have no idea what they were doing previous to the interruption and will continue on to the next task, at times leaving destruction in their wake. Just yesterday, in fact, I turned on the sprinkler to the garden (generally it's on timer, but yesterday I decided to do it manually. Bad idea) and went in to the house to turn on a couple of kitchen timers so I'd remember to turn the sprinklers off. Well, I have no idea what happened in the interim, but four hours later I was eating dinner with my family at my parents' house and I remembered what I'd done. And that I hadn't set the timer, ergo the sprinklers had not been shut off. So, I jumped up, sprinted to the car and flew home to be greeted by water running down the gutter. I ran to the backyard and witnessed a flood that would have made Noah proud. There is no known cure for CADD. Research is not conclusive as to whether or not the symptoms diminish once the children are grown up. The best the poor victim can do is develop some coping techniques like making lots and lots of lists and drinking lots and lots of coffee and making sure all your sprinklers are on timers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

May I have a word with you?

Yesterday we were reading about knights. This has been one of the most interesting things we have studied so far in history. But, what is there about knights that's not to like? We have horses and battles and castles and very cool weapons. The boys love it. Anyhow, we were talking about tournaments that the knights would have to hone their skills and show off a bit. There were jousts, which were one on one contests, but then.... there was the melee. In a tournament a melee was, "Where large groups of knights fought in teams, much like a real battle... The melee was good practice for a real war. But sometimes tempers got too hot. Soon it was not just for sport anymore- it was for real." (This quote is from "The Making of a Knight" by Patrick O'Brien) So, we're reading this and come across this word "melee", which is describing something they did 900 years ago and the word means today exactly what it did 900 years ago. I mean, when you read the word "melee", this is exactly what you picture. This huge kind of free-for-all battle. I actually heard the word yesterday on the radio when they were describing an attempt that was made to make the Guiness Book of World's Records for the world's largest water balloon fight, and the thing was described as a melee. You know, all words are not like that. I did a little research and found the following information about a few words that "are not what you think they mean!" (quick, which movie is that from?):

artificial - orginally meant full of artistic or technical skill
nice - originally described someone who is ignorant or unaware
brave- originally meant a cowardice

I know those aren't all the words, by far, that have changed meaning over time. As I said, I did a little research, not exhaustive research, but I do find it interesting that over 900 years, the term "melee" hasn't seemed to change a bit.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"A single rose can be my garden, a single friend my world."
Leo Buscaglia
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
William Shakespeare

" I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds round my neck."
Emma Goldman

" My lady's presence makes the roses red, because to see her lips they blush for shame."

Henry Constable

Monday, April 18, 2011

What??! Seriously?!!

I was out picking roses this afternoon. It's the first bloom of the season and I must say it is heaven. Absolute heaven. Yes, I did take pictures, but that is not what this post is about. See, right next to our rose garden is this extraordinary wash of poppies. ("Poppies... poppies... Poppies will put them to sleep!" Quick, what movie is that from?) Several years ago our next door neighbor planted poppy seeds, and every year they just spread and spread. It is beautiful, to be sure. However, technically poppies are wildflowers, our state flower to be exact. The California Poppy. Now, here is a funny story for you. Not funny "ha-ha", but rather funny as in, "What a bunch of idiots we have making laws for us and enforcing them." Several years ago I was teaching 7th grade science in a Christian school here in town. I loved my job. Most of the time. Except when a certain irate parent would come after me because I put her extremely chatty son on detention. Yes, this woman was so horrible that once, when I knew she was going to come see me, I actually hid in the library. I know, I'm a coward. One day, she was chewing me out and she said, "Why are you just standing there? Why don't you say something?" and I'm thinking, "A) because you're the one doing all the talking, and B) if I said what I really thought, I'd lose my job!" So, I hid. But I digress. So, I'm teaching 7th grade science and I get the idea (it's not original, but that's ok, it was a good idea) for a second semester project. I'll have the kids do a wildflower collection. They'd have to collect a certain number of wildflowers, press them, identify them and then sketch them. Now, I realize that we have a law that says it is illegal to pick wildflowers. And that looks nice on the surface, but when you really start thinking about it.... what does that law mean? And I'm not being a smart alek here. The definition of a wildflower is, "A flower of an uncultivated variety (read: weed) or a flower growing freely without human intervention (read: weed)". What if said wildflower was growing in your yard? You can't pick it? How about stopping alongside a country road? There's lots of wildflowers there. And ya know what? Farmers often come along with their big mowers and just mow them all down. So, you can mow down a swath of wildflowers, but you can't pick just one or two? So, I'm thinking that this law applies more in the government protected land - state and federal parks. Obviously I told my students not to get their flowers there, but I figured most of them knew a farmer who wouldn't mind them collecting flowers out in their field. And they shouldn't get in trouble collecting by the side of a country road somewhere. Well, I was mistaken. The first couple years of the project were great, but my last year of teaching one of my students was out with her mother in the country and the sheriff came by and busted them. Fortunately, they didn't get a ticket, just a warning, but I couldn't believe it. I felt horrible. But then I got a little mad at how stupid this law really is. I mean, I can see that people shouldn't pick on government land, but by the side of the road? Just another example of the myriad of laws that look good on the surface, but once you get past that, it's like.... really? seriously? how do you get to that?

PS: I had to add, though, that the finished wildflower collections were just beautiful. Some of the kids just put in a lot of effort and some of the sketches could have been framed. For a couple of years we had a project display after school so parents and kids could come by and see them. It really was an excellent project.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday Fun!

Our church has a Palm Sunday tradition. Well, actually it has a couple. The first is, the kids march in to the worship service waving palm branches and singing, "Hosanna Loud Hosanna!" I don't think that's such an unusual tradition, as Palm Sunday is a day of rememberance when the children of Jerusalem did the same thing when Christ rode into the city in triumph 2000 years ago. After they marched in, the kids sang, "Fairest Lord Jesus" as a special number. They did a great job. They'd sung it once a couple of years ago, so it was only a matter of reviewing the words so they knew them. It's kind of funny, I got the arrangement for that song from a Veggie Tales CD. Yes, we practiced to Jr. Asparagus singing "Fairest Lord Jesus", which was a little distracting, but the kids learned the song and then the second half of the CD was just the accompaniment, so it worked out really well. And the kids sounded nothing like Jr. Asparagus. After church was the second of out traditions - shared meal and games for the kids. This is the second year we've had a potluck and like all of our potlucks the food was delicious and there was lots of it. After the kids were done eating we went out to the grassy area in the back of the church and played games. We did some of your typical Easter relay races... and we had an egg toss. Bubba and one of the helpers won the egg toss. Then we had an Easter egg hunt. Since there was not really any place to hide the eggs, we just threw the eggs all over the lawn and the kids gathered them up. It was a "hunt" in the loosest sense of the word. But, the kids had a great time, the weather was perfect and they all came home with lots of loot!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hangin' out with my Homegirl!

I've always said that Missy Lou is 5 years old going on 16. I don't know if it's because she's the youngest, and usually the youngest child in a family tries to keep up with the older kids and so they act a little older, or what. Maybe it's just her personality. But, I sure do enjoy hanging out with her. The boys had a baseball clinic this morning, and I had some errands to run, so she and I ran around together. The best part was shoe shopping for Easter. I love going clothes shopping with her because she loves to shop. I always hated to shop and really have no innate sense of style, but Missy Lou.... "Oh Mommy, this is just fabulous! You need to get this!" This is what she said as she grabbed a blouse the other day at Target and was looking at it with expert eyes. Yeah, it was fabulous. I bought it! Anyhow, today we were at Payless. I love the embellished sandals and flip-flops they have these days, so my philosophy toward shoe buying is - buy cheap and buy lots. We each got two pairs. These are Missy Lou's Easter sandals. Had to have white, ones of course.

These are the ones she picked out just for fun! They are fabulous! Sometimes I think we read too many "Fancy Nancy" books. These are mine. I got them to go with my Easter dress. I actually bought an Easter dress this year and I really like it. I think these shoes will go quite well. It's the first time in a long time I've bought anything with a heel on it.

And then, there's these. Missy Lou picked them out, too. You know, sometimes I feel a little funny letting my 5 year old daughter pick out my wardrobe, but my goodness, if she's got good taste, then who cares how old she is!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Oh the Misery!

You know, I hate spring. I know I'm not the only one with allergies, but it is so frustrating that within hours of picking this gorgeous bouquet from my yard (I just love purple flowers, don't you?) I am an absolute mess. (I purposely left the Kleenex box in front of the bouquet as a symbol of how miserable it makes us all) I have severe post-nasal drip, my throat is very sore, I am completely congested and I feel like I've been run over by a Mack truck. And that's after 3 medications and a saline rinse this morning. Now, I know you're all wondering, "Why on earth doesn't she just throw the dumb bouquet out and give herself a little relief? It's not like they're priceless orchids or something." Because, that would just be giving in. Admitting defeat. Telling my allergies, "You won! I will not have any beauty in my life because it makes me miserable." So, there you have it. The bouquet stays, as a matter of principle. Doesn't matter that now my eyes are starting to get red and itchy. I will not be defeated by my allergies. Now, where's the Benadryl?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Look, let me go back in there and face the peril." "No, it's too perilous!"

We are having a great time in history these days. We're studying the Middle Ages. You know, knights in shining armor, damsels in distress, dragons... all that fun stuff. Besides our spine (a spine is the "backbone" of your content area, where you get most of your hard information from) which is The Story of the World, book 2, I've been able to get some wonderful books to supplement and the boys are fascinated. We've loved hearing the tales of Alfred the Great being chewed out by a peasant woman for letting her biscuits burn. (He was wintering with them incognito and was told to take care not to let the biscuits burn while the lady of the house was milking her cows. He was so overcome by the cares of being King and fighting the Vikings that he didn't pay attention to the biscuits!) Oh, and then there's William the Conqueror who exacted a promise from Harold II of England that Harold would give the kingdom to William, by making him swear on what Harold thought was a table. But, after the oath was taken, hah! Tricked you! The "table" was really a box of Holy Relics and at that time in history, swearing on Holy Relics was serious. However, Harold didn't keep his promise (at his peril) and so William had to go over to England and conquer the country the old fashioned way by fighting for it! That's how he got his name "William the Conqueror" and poor Harold had written on his tomb, "Harold the Unfortunate". I should think so.

This book, "The Medieval World" is a Kingfisher book and has amazing illustrations of castles and village life. It's one of those I checked out from the library, exausted my renewals and had to buy it. Did you know that a garderobe is a potty in a castle. It's really just a hole with a seat on it and all stuff goes down a chute and into the moat. Just don't go swimmin' in the moat.
This Usborne book also has fantastic pictures and a lot of useful information about being a knight and living life in the Middle Ages.
And of course, no study of Medieval times would be complete without a reading of this great and glorious tome. Bubba wants me to keep reading and reading and reading. Actually, I don't need that much persuading because I'm really enjoying it myself.
Of course I can't help but remember a certain farcical cinematic endeavor about this story, and today, as we read the story of King Arthur's battle with the Black Knight, this scene came to my mind:

King Arthur: Now stand aside worthy adversary.

Black Knight: 'Tis but a scratch.

King Arthur: A scratch? Your arm's off.

Black Knight: No it isn't!

King Arthur: What's that then?

Black Knight: (after a pause) I've had worse!

King Arthur: You liar!

Black Knight: Come on ya pansy!

(King Arthur has just cut off the Black Knight's last leg)

Black Knight: All right, we'll call it a draw!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why I like baking bread: A philosophical/psycho/social Treatise

I like to cook. I also like to bake. I love to bake bread. I don't love to bake cookies. Or even pie so much. Although I will bake pie for Hubby. Berry pie. He loves my berry pie. There are other people who love my berry pie, too! But, I was talking about bread. And there is a reason why I prefer bread baking over baking other things. Bread baking is an activity that is good for non-perfectionists because bread dough is very forgiving. Yeah, you do have to have yeast that is living, and you have to keep it alive, and there's the whole flour to liquid ratio that's good to keep in mind, but that's nothing compared to pie dough. Talk about high maintainance. Pie dough is high maintainance. The water has to be cold. Don't handle it too much or it'll toughen up. Cut the fat up into small pieces. Good grief. Let me tell you a story about how low maintainance bread dough is. Once upon a time, at a mother's group I used to attend, I did a break-out group on making batter bread. Batter bread is great if you're in a time crunch, because you don't have to knead it and it takes only one rise. So, I demonstrated how to do this, made the dough and then gave samples of the finished product. Well, I did three of these demonstrations and then when Mother's Group was over I packed my stuff up, including the three bowls of rising and rising and rising bread dough. When I got home the stuff was almost overflowing the bowls and taking over the back of the mini-van. So, I'm thinkin', hmm, what do I do? I could throw it away, or I could add some flour, knead it and proceed. So, I threw it all together, tossed in some flour, kneaded it and it turned out great. Now that, my friends, is low maintainance. And this is why I like making bread. It is stress free. I can't make cookies to save my life. Everything has to be just right. But bread..... bread.... I don't even measure. Well, I measure the liquid, but the flour I just go by how it feels. And if you mess up, generally, it's pretty easy to fix. This is why I like to bake bread.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Down by the station, early in the mornin'!

Field trips. Don't ya love 'em? I remember when I was a kid, I loved field trips. We'd always crowd on a bus and go someplace. The zoo maybe. I really don't remember any of the places we went, but I do remember that when we had a field trip I always got a soda in my lunch and a Twinkie. Very special. We rarely had soda at home and we never got anything like Twinkies. And you always had to wrap the soda up very carefully so it stayed cold. First, you wrapped it in foil, and then a layer of newspaper and you taped it closed. Hopefully you didn't shake it too much on the way otherwise you popped the top and got an explosion in your face. I saw that happen many times. Fortunately, not to me. I was careful. Our homeschool group took a field trip yesterday. We all got on the Amtrak and headed on up the Valley to Sacramento. There were enough of us in our group to warrant a whole car to ourselves, which was great. The parents visited and the kids played and we had a wonderful time. The kids were actually very well behaved, too. Unlike another field trip I took once with a bunch of junior highers. It was a week long field trip - the 8th Grade Washington DC Trip. I promised myself I'd never do that again. Have you ever chased a group of giddy 8th grade girls through the National Art Gallery? They didn't care too much about the paintings. They were too busy admiring the docents and other cute young studs who happened to drift by. I was a little irritated. However, our group was very well behaved. They acted like kids, of course. But, nothing went airborne, I could hear myself think and there was no path of destruction left in our wake.
So, when we got to Sac, we all kind of split up. A good sized group of us went to the Train Museum. I'd never been there and I was fascinated. The most interesting thing I learned about was the mail car. It was a post office on the train and, believe it or not, until 1977 98% of our mail was transported on these mail cars. Fascinating.
Then we went to lunch with another family. Had a yummy hamburger and fries at Fat City and tried deep fried green beans. Delicious. And they had this Red Pepper Ranch dipping sauce. Outstanding.
After lunch we just goofed around Old Town. There were a bunch of engines and train cars just sitting on the tracks, so the kids (and their parents) disgregarded the signs that said, "Do not climb, for your own safety" and climbed around on them. I promised the city of Sacramento that I wouldn't sue if my kid fell off and cracked his head open. Then, late afternoon we rounded 'em all up and headed out. You'd think after such a long day, the kids would be tired, but they were all pretty wired, still. All I had left in my bag was some salt-water taffy, chips and chocolate pudding, so that's what we had for dinner. Yes, that's me - health conscious as always. We pulled into the station a little after 8:00 and made it home by 8:30. It was a great day.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Learning Lessons

"The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom and humility comes before honor."

Proverbs 15:31-33

reprove - to scold or correct, usually gently or with kindly intent

admonish - to urge a duty, remind.

I was reproved and admonished today in church. The reason doesn't really matter. But it really hurt. Nobody likes to be reproved. For one thing, it's hard on the ego; that old pride that just gets hold of us. We try to think we have it all together and then when someone points out that we don't, then it's tough to take. When she said what she said, I immediately had an excuse on my tongue. I wanted to say, "But you just don't understand what I go through every day." and "It is just so frustrating dealing with this all the time." But, I didn't say that because I knew it wouldn't become me to make excuses, either to myself or to her. Another reason it hurt was that what this woman pointed out to me was something I already knew. It was something I struggle with on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, and her words, as gentle, kind and loving as they were (and they were indeed gentle and loving) were a reminder of my failure to conquer the anger and frustration and impatience that I battle every day. I knew what she was saying was exactly right, and yet I just don't know how to get to where I should be. Well, I know how to get there, (the Bible is pretty clear about that - Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.) it's just not an easy path. Although, the writer of Proverbs knew that, too, by looking at this verse. Proverbs 16:32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. So, I will continue to think and ponder and pray about these things and be thankful for people in our church who care enough to speak up and lovingly give a word where it is needed.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What we do in the Valley for fun!

This video showed up on Facebook this morning, and in light of yesterday's blog post, I had to share it. It is hilarious! If you didn't know what a hail cannon was before, you'll know now.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hail Cannons and Swing Sets, All in One Day!

"Hail Cannon - A hail cannon is a pseudoscientific device that acts as a shock wave generator alleged to disrupt the formation of hailstones in the atmosphere in their growing phase." I got this information from Wikipedia, the source of all my knowledge these days. Yeah, we heard these going off this morning. Lots of loud booms. We got rain this morning. And I guess we would have gotten hail, except for the hail cannons. However, the rest of the Wikipedia article is pretty skeptical about the effectiveness of the thing. You could probably tell that by how they describe it as "pseudoscientific". Well, they must do some good or the farmers around here wouldn't set them off. So, yeah, while we were doing school it was pouring down rain. Which is fine. We can always use the rain. But now, mid-afternoon, the sun is out and when the sun comes out.... everyone comes out Socks makes her way out of the warmth and comfort of the garage and takes a little walk. The kids jump on the swing set. I'm not sure if you can see it, but they tied a rope across the front of it, and they swing really hard into it and it jerks them back. I don't really see the fun in that. Seems like it would hurt, but they find great joy and pleasure in a lot of things I really just.... don't. Like spinning round and round on the tire swing until they are so dizzy they can't stand up. But, I guess that's a kid thing. When you become an adult and have the weight of the world on your shoulders, things change and you don't seem to be able to have fun anymore. Hmm, maybe I should go out and try that swing thing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why I like going to the doctor!

I really don't like going to the doctor. For one thing, I just don't really trust them. No offense to all you doctors out there who may read my blog, but it seems like they just don't spend enough time with me to really check me out or think about what may be wrong with me. And there was that "we thought it was pink-eye, but it was really some horrible mystery inflammation that ate away at your retina" thing. I have to say I always have a great deal of skepticism when I see my GP now. Generally, I tell her what's wrong with me and what I need, she agrees and I go my merry way. But, the problem is... I'm not a doctor. So unless it's a sinus infection or a major head wound, I could be wrong with my diagnosis. I do like my allergist, though, and my opthamologist and my dermatologist. I saw my dermatologist yesterday. She cut off another piece of me. I'm not as scared as I was last time waiting for the biopsy results. See, the first visit I had with her following the surgery she took off 3 moles and for 2 weeks I was just a mess. "Is it cancer?" But, they weren't. They were nothing, really. So, now that I know that not EVERY mole on my body is cancer, I can rest a little easier. But, aside from the fact that I just really like my specialists, I like sitting in their waiting rooms because they have my favorite smut magazines. It's horrible. It really is. I just gather up every "People" and "Entertainment Weekly" I can find and sit and pour over the lives of these celebrities, gawking at all the gore and drama, like someone watching a train wreck. I don't know why I like it. I'd never subscribe to these magazines. Not in a million years. But somehow I just find it fascinating that these people are all so famous and filthy rich and just can't seem to manage having a real life. They screw up their marriages, they screw up their kids and some of them really just screw up their own lives. It's sad, really. But, it makes for good waiting room reading!

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Mama, look at me! I'm a rock star!"

Yeah, that's what I was thinking, baby!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

It finally happened. After months of practice and two rainy weekends in a row - we had Little League Opening Day. It was a gorgeous day for a ball game. Sunny and a little warm, but still nice. The Opening Ceremony was..... er.... long. It was nice, the teams were so cute in their uniforms. They looked so spiffy. But, everyone had to be thanked and introduced and it just took a while. But, it was good. Here's the whole mob of them. I wasn't able to get a good picture of Bubba's team. The way they were standing.... just wasn't a good shot, and I wasn't going to be one of those insane Mamas who run out on to the field, "Wait a minute, wait a minute, I gotta get a shot of my baby!" Here's the best shot I got of their team. The announcer said each kid's name and they stepped forward and tipped their hat. Bubba is one of the kids in the black shirts and red hats with his back toward the camera. Sorry!
Here's Bubba up to bat. Doesn't he look tough? He's on the Astros. Which is ok. I mean, at least it's a National League team. Although if he were on the Giants I'd have to put up a fuss. The Giants are anathema to Dodger fans.

One of my girlfriends told me that Little Leage, especially in the minors, is all about walks and steals. And she was right. Here's Bubba on base. He got walked. Here he is getting directions from one of his coaches. He's about to steal second base. Then he stole third and I think he did make it home on a hit.
That game went on forever. We only played 4 innings and it took 2 hours. It was a heart breaker. The Astros were ahead most of the game. Then, the score was 9-8 and the bases were loaded (all on walks, of course) and the last batter for the Phillies got a Grand Slam. It was a really good hit. So, they won. But, that's ok. It was a good game. Though it was looooooonnnnnng!