Monday, August 31, 2009

I Could Blog About my Little Guy Every Day of the Week

Driving 6 plus hours with 5 of our 6 kids in the van could try the patience of a saint, but our trip to and from Williamsburg went unusually well. That is with one little exception. About one hour into our three hour trip home, Lil' Wingnut's evil twin reared his ugly head and for about half an hour we listened to a continual chorus of, "Mom, JP is having fun of me" in the most whiney voice the little guy is capable of. Thankfully narcolepsy took over, and this is what we had the rest of the drive:
Yes, that is a baby doll cradled in his little arms. Her name is Pinky. We'll just leave it at that.
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Men. . .

Why is it I can make a meal, keep the house in order, paint a room, plunge a toilet, and a plethora of other menial tasks without calling for my husband's aid a single time, yet if he has a task to do, I need to be right there handing him tools and giving him moral support? My mother-in-law has this predicament in her house, as well. The woman is amazing and can do just about anything without help from a soul, but if my father-in-law tackles a project the sound of him calling her name to come to his rescue is absolutely inevitable.

To tell the truth, I had never thought about this trait until our dear son, Stat Boy, began doing this very thing to his sisters. Last summer I taught Oleander how to stir up a batch of muffin mix from which she could create limitless recipes for different types of muffins. She became quite good at it. Several months ago, Stat Boy began trying his hand at making muffins and he also became quite adept, unless the muffin mix bin were empty. Then he would be at a complete loss until waking his younger sister and demanding that she, once again, fill the bin for him. His sister acquiesced quite easily. Stat Boy, realizing his success at getting females to do his bidding, has now given up on making muffins himself. On those mornings he feels he needs a muffin fix, he now just wakes his sister up and demands that she make muffins to order. Why does she go ahead and cater to him? It truly escapes me.

I had begun to believe this was just a peculiar familial quirk until visiting my family of origin in Spokane earlier this summer. I noticed my brother's son has also learned to get his sisters to do his bidding. The boy can't/won't even make his own bowl of cereal. For goodness sake, he's 13! One of his younger sisters does it for him. My nephew isn't even related to my husband and father-in-law by blood, and yet he also possesses this bizarre habit. How are they (males) able to do this? Why is it they are completely helpless when it comes to daily tasks and unabashed in commanding help from their mothers, wives, sisters, and yet they absolutely refuse to ask for directions if they are lost? I'm baffled.
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Badges? We Don't Need No Stinking Badges!

Whew what a weekend/week we have had. Saturday on into Sunday we hosted a fiesta for
Skoshi A in honor of her 10th birthday. She had a wonderful time and really enjoyed celebrating with her friends.

Monday we made our annual pilgrimage to Williamsburg, more notably, Busch Gardens, in Williamsburg, for some amusement park mayhem. We did attempt a walk around Colonial Williamsburg, but the kids weren't too into it, and it was just too hot and humid so we headed to the hotel to rest up for day two of the trip. Wingnut spent the day with the four brave souls who wanted to ride the monster roller coasters. I took the two youngest and headed to kiddie land. It was hot, humid, and exhausting, but everyone had a blast. I think Lil' Wingnut and Skoshi A would have very happily stayed until the park closed at 8 p.m., but we made a break for it just past 6. Lil' Wingnut became pretty indignant as we approached the parking lot, exclaiming, "Hey, why are we leaving? I'm not done!"

The kids look forward to this trip every summer, and as long as Busch Gardens continues to offer free admission to military personnel and their families, we'll continue to make the pilgrimage. The folks at the park are wonderful. Every year the paper work reads that the free admission is good for one active duty member and three dependents. We, of course, have seven dependents, all told, and yet every year they extend the free admission to all of us. I'm telling you, larger families do not often get treated this well and so consistently.

The party girl: She really is a queen monkey.

The whole crew, looking all too excited to be in Colonial Williamsburg.

Special K and I enjoyed seeing the "Riverdance" type performance together at Busch Gardens.

Around and around and around, they did this all day long and still wanted to go around some more.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Job Well Done

Ok, faithful readers, I lied. I am not posting photos today of our busy weekend. Instead I'm sticking to the Thursday-catholic-blogging-mom tradition of posting my small successes for the week. Check out the fun at Faith and Family Live.

1) We hosted a rip-roaring, old fashioned fiesta for our new ten year old this weekend. We decorated with bright festive colors, donned our best fiesta attire, created a delectable menu filled with mexican fare, played music with a latin flare, and whacked away at a traditional pinata.

2) I tried my hand at making homemade breakfast sausage and donuts on Sunday morning. They were both delicious and well received, for a first attempt.

3) We headed out on our annual trip to Williamsburg/Busch Gardens on Monday. As much as I didn't want to, I submitted to our oldest daughter's desire to drive the nearly 7 hours(round-trip). She's really working hard to put a dent in the 60 hours behind the wheel requirement, and is now over 35 hours. We took two vehicles so that she could drive one with Wingnut supervising, and I drove the twelve passenger van with the rest of the crew. I was worried I'd be stressed out about letting her drive, and that the stress would ruin the trip for me, but it all worked out well and I had a wonderfully entertaining time with Stat Boy riding shot gun next to me. That kid is a real card and had me laughing nearly the entire drive.
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Catching Up

My posts for the last couple days were auto-posts. Don't you just love those? I bet you didn't even know I was gone.

We've had several incredibly busy days, including a fiesta, youth group scavenger hunt, and our annual trip to Williamsburg and Busch Gardens. Today I have piles and piles of laundry, two orthodontic appointments, and I need to find a roofer to replace the flashing on the bathroom skylight that began leaking water during all the rain over the weekend. Whew, I'm beat. I'll be back tomorrow with some pictures of all the fun.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Video Review--Islam: What the West Needs to Know

Wingnut and I watched an incredibly interesting video about the Islamic religion/culture. The aim of the video is to dispel the myth that Islam is a religion of peace and that those that commit violence in Islam's name are fundamentalist fanatics that have distorted the tenets of the Koran. Several clips of world and national leaders alluding to Islam as the religion of peace, open the documentary. I was immediately struck with the idea that these leaders have really no other recourse than to appease Moslem fundamentalists because we are afraid of inciting their anger. We are afraid, and maybe rightfully so.

Several experts and scholars of Islamic culture and religion give interviews during the documentary, explaining the roots of this idea that Islam is a religion of peace and then go on to dispel and discredit that idea. The testimony of Walid Shoebat was particularly compelling as he is an admitted former PLO terrorist now a Christian convert and advocate for Israel. These interviews are interspersed with citations from the Koran, clips of foreign leaders' speeches and interviews, Islamic artwork, and footage from Islamic television broadcasts.

While I may not have learned anything new about Islam, I was reminded of the absolute lack of any concept of love for God or one's fellow man in the religion. Islam, by it's very nature is devoid of joy. It is unfathomable, to me, that such a religion would have any attraction, what so ever, and yet it is arguably the fastest growing demographic/religion in the world.

This documentary is a must see for Christians and Americans, especially after seeing the reaction of Libyan muslims to the release and homecoming of the Lockerbie bomber. The man is a national and Islamic hero for murdering 270 people. I would recommend this documentary for older teens due to isolated content of an adult nature.
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Summer Fare: Chili Dogs

I've had a hankering for chili dogs lately. Before anyone asks, "Are you pregnant?" I am not, and chili dogs would be the absolute last thing I would crave, if I were pregnant. Chili dog yearning began after seeing an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives hosted by Guy Fieri, on the Food Network. Wingnut and I love that show, and on this particular episode Guy highlighted a drive-in, in some far off place, that was serving up the most fantastic looking chili dogs. I just had to have one, so I decided I'd try to create a chili recipe myself. I did just that, and the result was just what the doctor ordered. We served the chili over Hebrew National All Beef Franks and topped them with chipotle chili cheese and chopped red onions. Wingnut and Karate Kid had to add sliced pickled jalapenos to theirs, of course. As we sat around the table, happily chowing down on our dogs, the family came up with several other uses for the chili recipe.

Chili for Chili Dogs

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (optional)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons water
1 pound lean ground beef, preferably the thicker ground often labeled for chili
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
14 ounces water

In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, pepper, garlic and 3 tablespoons of water to make a spice paste, set aside. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large saute pan. Add onion when oil begins to shimmer and sprinkle with salt. Saute onions until they are soft and begin to brown. Clear a small space in pan and saute tomato paste and chipotle peppers in that hot spot until they begin to caramelize and become fragrant. Add spice paste and saute for about 30 seconds until spices become fragrant. Stir tomato paste, chipotle peppers, and spice paste into sautéed onions until the onions are evenly coated. Add ground beef to the pan and break up with a wooden spoon, stirring constantly to coat meat in onions and spices. Saute until beef is browned. Add crushed tomatoes and water and stir. Bring chili to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow chili to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about one hour.

Serve chili mixture over hot dogs, nachos, french fries, grilled burgers, or baked potatoes. Add a can or two of drained black beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans and serve chili in bowls topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, onions, etc.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

What's in a Bumper Sticker?

When you drive a 12 passenger van, it is inherently obvious that what you treasure is the cargo it carries, and not the glamour of the vehicle. That being said, we've gone ahead and put bumper stickers on the back of our van. I believe we have 8 or 9 stickers, making our vehicle a rolling advertisement for the pro-life, pro-family, pro-church, pro-homeschool, and pro-motherhood causes. I'm not sure many folks pay any attention to our bumper stickers, but we enjoy putting it out there.

Last week I was transporting my teens to a youth event, when my oldest daughter and I caught sight of the driver of a small car gesturing to us angrily. She was pumping her thumb up and down and mouthing "Boo" at us. She must have read something she didn't like on the back of our van. Which bumper sticker was the offender? It could have been: "Vote Pro-Life", "UNC Basketball", "Motherhood is a Proud Profession", "No Homeschooled Child is Left Behind", "I can't go to School, I'm Autodidatic", "Pope Benedict XVI says Defend Life". Most likely it was our newest addition: "Where's the Birth Certificate."

Being in DC, it can be a bit gutsy to sport a anti-Obama bumper sticker. Ours is fairly obscure, so I thought we could throw it on the van without most folks getting the meaning. I find the idea pretty funny, myself. I don't know if Obama was born in Hawaii or Kenya and I'm sure we'll not see his actual certified birth certificate released anytime soon. I just think, if he's got nothing to hide, and he is all about transparency, why is he so bent on not releasing it? Anyhoo, I think the campaign and the bumper sticker are funny, and as long as all I get are "thumbs down" and a few "boos", it will be staying on the back of the van.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer's Last Hurrah: Berry Pie

I'm not much of a pie maker, but I needed little else than the motivation to win a $25 gift certificate from King Arthur's Flour by posting the picture of the prettiest homemade summer fruit pie. The contest is being sponsored by Faith and Family Live, go check it out and see if I have any stiff competition!

Mixed Berry Pie with Graham Cracker Crust

Recipe courtesy of Cook's Illustrated
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Baby Steps

It's Thursday, time to list our little accomplishments for the week.

1) Skoshi A had her 10th birthday on Tuesday. As part of her celebration I took her shopping, just the two of us. She chose Toys R Us and we had a grand time browsing the aisles. The kids often surprise me with the choices they make, and Skoshi A did not disappoint. Her first choice was a super cool crystal growing kit. This is a very nice kit and fits in very nicely with our plan for science this year: earth science. Anyhoo, the small success here is Wednesday morning we actually broke open the kit and did one of the VERY messy experiments from it. Skoshi A was so excited and I can't wait to see how well the crystals grow!

2) Wingnut has been traveling a lot lately. Most of his travel is short, only a day or two, but he is taking at least two of these short trips a week. We've been trying to coordinate our workout schedule so that we are able to do our workouts together, but too often this just doesn't work out. I really depend on Wingnut for motivation and I really have to talk myself into doing the workouts on my own, but I did every last one this week. I'm pretty proud of myself for that small success.

3) If you fly with the FlyLady, we are in the bathroom and one extra room this week. We have a huge master bath, so I only focus on that, unless the laundry room really needs a cleaning. Along with all the traditional bathroom duties, I vacuumed up the cobwebs and began washing down the walls. I gave up on washing all the walls, as this is the original paint job in the house, and I began to realize it would actually be less work to paint the bathroom. Hopefully we'll see a freshly painted bathroom as a small success sometime in September.

Come join your fellow moms and leave your list of small successes at Faith and Family Live.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip Times Two

I made this appetizer for a party a couple of weeks ago. It is very easy and has just a few ingredients. I served it with Triskets and Wheat Thins, but it would be delicious spread on any cracker or nice toasted slices of bruschetta. I'm using fresh herbs from our garden. If you aren't growing your own, it is well worth the cost to purchase fresh herbs, but dried will work nicely in a pinch.

Salmon and Dill Cream Cheese Dip

4 0z smoked salmon, roughly chopped
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
3 TBSP finely minced fresh dill ( or two teaspoons of dried dill weed)
freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Stir all ingredients together until homogenous. Chill for at least one hour, but longer allows the flavors to meld.

Chipotle Salmon Cream Cheese Dip

4 oz smoked salmon, roughly chopped
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
3 TBSP minced cilantro
2 chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce along with 2 tsp of the sauce(found with the gourmet mexican and spanish goods)
freshly squeezed juice of half a lime

Stir all ingredients together until homogenous and refrigerate for at least one hour.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Queen Monkey

Happy 10th Birthday, Skoshi A, Queen Monkey! Thank you for keeping us smiling and laughing. You have truly been a gift from God, may he continue to bless and protect you now, and forever. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, August 17, 2009

All Boy, All the Time

I suppose I should be happy he isn't spitting on his sisters.
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Book Review: The Death of a Pope

Several weeks ago, I saw an interview with Piers Paul Read on EWTN's World Over and I was fascinated. He is a British, Roman Catholic, author best known for his work of nonfiction, Alive: The Story of the Andes Surviors and his authorized biography on Alec Guiness. Read was appearing on EWTN to promote his latest novel, The Death of a Pope.

The Death of a Pope is a fictional thriller set against the backdrop of the death of John Paul II and the elevation of Cardinal Ratzinger to Pope Benedict XVI. The plot is heavily reliant upon the division between traditionalists and progressives within the Church, which I found quite intriguing and thought provoking. While I understand and agree wholeheartedly with Church teaching regarding contraception, how best to address the AIDS epidemic, female ordination, etc, Read's book gave me a glimpse into the thinking of those who disagree with those particular teachings. Read does a wonderful job showing how misplaced compassion and poor spiritual formation lead progressives down the road to embracing dissident ideologies, most notably Liberation Theology.

I am not usually a fan of contemporary literature or authors. I much prefer writers in the mold of Jane Austen or Elizabeth Gaskell, but his interview with Raymond Arroyo compelled me to give Read a try. As far as literature goes, The Death of a Pope is a quick and easy read. It is a decent thriller and the style is interesting. I have do a couple little quibbles. For one, I could not understand why one particular character in the story gives away most of the entire end game to a character he has just met. The plot involves a terrorist type use of poisonous gas, and political intrigue and it made absolutely no sense to me that he would just expose the entire scheme to a woman he did not even know. My second quibble has to do with how much adult content is contained in the novel. While it was integral to the plot, it is just a personal wish of mine to not read that kind of stuff. I do understand that without that particular story element it would have been unrealistic and a main character's ensnaring into the scheme would have been a huge stretch, but this is exactly why I stay away from contemporary lit. I'd rather read about relationships and characters that remain proper, pure, and platonic.

For a quick, summer, thriller pick up a copy of The Death of a Pope, but due to the adult content I would recommend this particular novel for adults only.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

No Longer Family Friendly

**Warning for my young readers: Please have your parents read this post before you read it so they might decide on it's appropriateness for you.

A couple of my favorite blogs have recently posted stories on the vulgarity they've seen on television lately. While I did not see it myself, I had heard of Miley Cyrus' performance at the Teen Choice Awards. Sardonic Dad blogged and gave his insightful opinion about it here. The boys at Creative Minority Report blogged about a racy television ad that had aired during prime time. You can read the post and view the ads here.

Our children watch very little television. Occasionally we'll watch a little Spongebob, or Food Network, or important sporting events. A vast majority of the time, Wingnut and I are standing by, with remote in hand, ready to switch the channel when commercials begin airing. Really it would be easier to forgo television all together.

9 years ago, I appeared on the original run of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". Our children watched the show with us and it was, at that time, family friendly. On Tuesday evening I discovered the series has returned, temporarily, and I switched the program on to have a look. The very first question of the evening had me in shock, mouth agape: "Which of the following Hollywood couples is a same-sex couple." Are you kidding me? That was it for me and off went the T.V. I am so disappointed that the world has come to embrace this garbage so completely, especially during what had been considered "family friendly viewing time". I'm just thankful I chose to preview the show before calling the kids. Nothing really should shock me anymore.
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting the Job Done

Small Successes for this week:

1) I usually do pretty well getting the laundry done, but this week I also folded and put it all away in a much more timely manner.

2) We're in the kitchen this week if you fly with the FlyLady. Who doesn't have an easy time finding something that really needs a good cleaning in the kitchen? This month I've decided to take on the walls and appliances. The greasy grime and dust clinging to the walls was really beginning to get on my nerves. Now the kitchen looks so nice and clean. Hooray!

3) Wingnut and I are finishing up our second week with P90X and I'm really enjoying it. I can already see some improvement--I'm making it further into the workouts before pooping out and I was able to use slightly heavier weights in the weight training workouts. I think the weight training routines are my favorites with Yoga X and Ab Ripper being my absolute least favorites. I know, you'd think the former ballerina would love Yoga, but it is a really, really tough workout!

Do you have any small successes to share? Come on over to Faith and Family Live and post your link.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Neurosis or Cleanliness?

It's funny how little off-hand comments can create the compulsion to clean certain things in a certain way or make you think of cleaning something you might otherwise overlook.

When I was a little girl, my grandfather died after having a massive heart attack. He was in his mid 50s. I'll never forget what my mother said about cleaning out his house after he died. He favored fried food and she said the walls in his kitchen were coated in thick, sticky, yellow grease that took hours to scrape away. We don't eat much fried food around here, but when I begin to see even the smallest build up of grease on the vent or above the stove, I cringe and think of my poor granddad.

I also have a thing about the bathrooms. My mother always said you can tell a lot about how clean someone's kitchen is, by how clean the bathroom is. Since my heart is really in the kitchen, I feel like my bathrooms need to be spick and span. Otherwise it is a poor reflection on my kitchen and my cooking. Now, I'm not saying it all has to be perfect, but our bathrooms get the once over EVERY day and when company comes, they get the once over by someone that can really give them the once over, namely Karate Kid or myself.

My mother-in-law has a couple cleaning habits that she picked up from her mother. Her mother taught her that if the mixer is dirty, the entire kitchen may as well be filthy. After hearing that story, my standing mixer is now always cleaned thoroughly after I use it and once a month it gets the toothpick/Q-tip treatment. My mother-in-law showed me how much goo can get in the cracks and crevasses of the appliances and nothing cleans those cracks and crevasses better than toothpicks and Q-tips.

The funny thing is, I never notice these things when I am in someone else's home. So, if you ever have me over, please don't run around and clean your mixer, stove, or bathroom. I really won't see it. I only notice them in my own home and when I see it, it drives me batty until I can get around to cleaning it.

So, what little nit-picky cleaning neurosis do you have? Any great tips you can share for keeping grit and grime at bay?
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Who Said It?

Today we're playing a little game called, "Who Said It".

"If I could be any creature in the world, it would be a starfish in a dentist's office. That way I could watch as much T.V. as I want."

Can you guess which one of our kids said this? If you're a regular reader of this blog, or actually know our children, you might be able to get this one. Then again, the answer may surprise you. We were laughing about it for weeks, and still are, on occasion.

Leave your guess in the combox and I'll leave the answer and the context there later today :-)
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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Plan: Science

This year we will be using three different science curricula. Karate Kid will be studying Physics using Kinetic Textbooks. This is a new program for us, but Wingnut looked it over and seemed pleased with the Principles of Physics program offered by Kinetic Textbooks. As the year progresses I will post a review of this curriculum.

Stat Boy will be taking his first high school courses this year. He is not going to be on the same track as Karate Kid, as he is not a self starter and is more likely to give up when frustrated. We have been using Kolbe Academy for high school science with Karate Kid and we will do the same for Stat Boy but instead of beginning with biology, we will be using the introductory physical sciences materials. Kolbe uses Prentice Hall textbooks for physical science, biology, and chemistry. We love the syllabus and detailed lesson plans that Kolbe provides for their science program, so although the texts are secular, the syllabus provides plenty of extra reading and study from a Catholic perspective. This curriculum will give Stat Boy a good foundation for studying the sciences throughout his high school career.

The three girls will be studying geology and earth sciences using Great Science Adventures. We've used this series in the past: The World of Insects and Arachnids and The World of Space. I love this program. It is fun, simple, and hands-on, but can be utilized by several grade levels at the same time (from K-8th). Oleander is not too keen on the idea of studying with her little sisters, so she may return to using Concepts and Challenges, unless I can convince her that what she will be doing will NOT be second grade work. We shall see.
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Friday, August 7, 2009

She Made Their Day

Special K has the gift of gab, and when you are trapped in the van with her sometimes it actually pays to listen to what is running around in her little brain. She had this sweet little gem yesterday while we were on our way to the dentist.

"Going to the dentist is my second favorite thing to do in the whole world, " she proclaimed, "Going to Target is my first favorite."

As she said this I was thinking, "This is the kid that has had all the dental work--x-rays, sedation, drilling, crowns."

A few minutes later she made a bit of a correction. "Going to the dentist is actually my third favorite. Going to Heaven is my first, then Target."

I told the receptionist and dental hygienist about Special K's little one sided conversation and they chuckled about it our entire visit. Special K got the extra special treatment in the office for being so cute.
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fishy Americans, Report Yourself!

H/T Barbara Boxer ;-) for the information on how to identify "fishy Americans", those well dressed bearers of misinformation!

Updated fish picture is brought to you by the very funny, creative, and politically savvy folks from Creative Minority Report. They are calling it the "Hope Fish".
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Bringing It

Do I ever have a list of small successes this week ;-)

1) Wingnut and I began our ambitious journey with P90X. If you are unfamiliar with the program, it is a 90 day workout regime that employs the concept of muscle confusion as a method toward better physical fitness. The program has core workouts, cardio, plyometrics, yoga, kempo, resistance training, stretching, and a complete ab workout. We've already completed one week and it is incredibly hard, but also very fun. If I weren't doing this with my hubby I hardly doubt I would have endeavored to even try this, but I am really glad we are. I have no desire to get "ripped", but I would like to slim down and tone up, and this will do the job quite nicely. By the way, yoga is by far the toughest of all the workouts and that is coming from a former dancer!

2) If you fly with the FlyLady we are working on the dining room and entrance areas of the house. This week I tackled our hall closet. Things were beginning to fall out of it every time we opened the doors so it needed a good clearing out. Here are before and after photos:

3) I made delicious "Maui" burgers for dinner this week and low and behold, the kids loved them! I grilled turkey burgers and pineapple. I then melted cheese on the burgers for those that wanted it (Karate Kid and I had habanero chile cheese on ours). The burgers were then topped with grilled pineapple and homemade honey mustard sauce. They were really yummy! While I don't think turkey will ever completely replace ground beef around here, it will offer a change of pace and taste.

So what are your small successes this week? Join the rest of us gals and post yours at Faith and Family Live.
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Plan: History

We are not planning on beginning school work this year until the Tuesday after Labor Day, but of course I've been researching, planning and purchasing our materials. I can tell the plan for history is already a hit, as this is what I discovered when I came down this morning:

Karate Kid and Stat Boy are going to use the high school Ancient History syllabus from Mother of Divine Grace. Karate Kid has used the MODG syllabus for history for the last couple of years and she really has enjoyed it. It is very literature and writing intensive (her forte) but also has t students making maps, timelines, etc.

Since our older two are taking Ancient History, we've decided everyone shall take Ancient History, which is why the little ones have dug out all the Greek mythology books we own. Oleander has also already read our copy of Plutarch's Lives (the less racy version). I'll be pulling together my own program beginning with Creation and moving on through Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. We'll be making timelines and maps (using materials from Knowledge Quest) and maybe we'll try our hand at making a lap book or two. This will also be a literature intensive course with Biblical reading, ancient mythology, historical fiction, and the appropriate Learning Through History magazines (many of which the children have already perused, just for the fun of it). By the time Labor Day rolls around, they should be able to teach me Ancient History.

Now if I could generate as much excitement over math or english, I'd be golden.
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Day Out With the Lil' Guy

Friday our five tennis players had a tennis party all together and all morning. This left me with what could I do with Lil' Wingnut? I don't think I've ever had a day where I could spend time just with him. All week I thought about what we might do and I really looked forward to having a little fun with him.

After dropping the fab five off for their fiesta, Lil' Wingnut and I headed to one of my favorite tike spots, Watkin's Park. This park is fantastic and has so much to offer: hiking trails, tennis courts, a working farm, full sized antique carousel, a miniature steam train that loops through the farm, a playground, and a nature center.

We had all morning and we could take our time and do as much or as little as we liked. Lil' Wingnut loved the nature center and spent a good deal of time asking questions about the turtles, snakes, cockroaches, tarantulas, frogs, owls, and other wildlife found there. We meandered around the farm and talked to the farmers and fed the turkeys. We then were treated to a nice, long, private carousel ride, courtesy of the nice man that works the ride. I swear he is the same man that gave rides to all of our children over the years. He has got to have an incredibly high tolerance for spinning in circles and carnival music! Of course we rode the train to round out our morning.

McDonald's is not one of my favorite lunch spots, but special for Lil' Wingnut, we headed there for a Happy Meal, his very first Happy Meal, I might add. I even let him climb in the indoor play structure, another first for him.

It's funny to think he had so many firsts in one day and at the age of three. We had a wonderful time. He was such a little gentleman and made me feel like the only gal in the world. I hope he'll remember our little morning out together. I know I will.

Lil' Wingnut has become quite the photographer and took most of the photos I'm posting today. Can you find the two little frogs sitting on the rock? One was making little croaking noises, so we were able to see it's little vocal sac fill like a balloon.

I love this picture of the peacocks, one facing forward and the other facing back. Lil' Wingnut really has a good eye.

Lil' Wingnut found this "broken carrot" hilarious and had to take a picture of it.

He had that expression of glee on his face the entire ride.

The little guy took at least a dozen photos of the train engineer's backside. He needs to work on his "eye" a bit when it comes to portraits of people.
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Monday, August 3, 2009

And the Winner is. . .

Michelle, from Rosetta Stone! Congratulations! Email your mailing address to mamamayerle(at)mac(dot)com and I'll get your pristine copy of Cook's Country out to you this week. Hope you enjoy reading and creating the recipes from this magazine as much as we do!

To answer a couple of the questions that were posted in the comments: I never did find a recipe that called for vinegar in pie dough, so I was not able to find why one would want vinegar in pie dough. I did find a "fool-proof" recipe from the folks at Cook's Illustrated that called for vodka in the pie dough. Their final version of the recipe called for equal parts water and vodka (two tablespoons of each) and they did note you would need more flour while rolling out your crust. Happy cooking!
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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Give Away Reminder

Remember to enter for the Cook's Country magazine give away (the current issue containing the recipes I mentioned). Entries are open until 8 p.m. tonight and the randomly drawn winner will be announced tomorrow right here. You can leave your comment here or on the post from Wednesday. Good luck! Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, August 1, 2009

In Case You Were in the Dark over Who this was Really About

Found this photo on Giovanni's World. What a travesty this whole "let's have a beer" business was. It wasn't about race until it was made about race. It wasn't about apologies. It wasn't about making nice over a couple of beers. It was all about Obama.

There is lesson I remember from pilot training, when Wingnut went through it 18 years ago. They call it situational awareness. I remember it because it was lesson that should be applied to so many things in life. Obama clearly lacks situational awareness. If he had any he would have been the man helping his close friend down the stairs. It is apparent Sgt. Crowley has not only situational awareness, but class.
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