Thursday, May 31, 2007
I seem to be in a meme mood lately.
Shamelessly lifted from Kaleigh at Musings From Yet Another Working Mom on her 200th post!
IF YOUR LIFE WAS A MOVIE, WHAT WOULD THE SOUNDTRACK BE?
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool ...
Samain Night -- Loreena McKennitt
French People Suck -- Meatmen
First Day at School
Token Celtic Drinking Song -- The Pogues
Falling in Love
Get Out the Map -- Indigo Girls
Synchronicity II -- The Police
Subdivisions -- Rush
E=mc2 -- Big Audio Dynamite
Life is Good
Masochism Tango -- Tom Lehrer
Harajuku Girls -- Gwen Stefani
Games without Frontiers -- Peter Gabriel
Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby -- Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss & Emmylou Harris
Getting Back Together
Girlfriend -- Matthew Sweet
Just Like You -- Keb Mo'
Paying the Dues
Under a Violet Moon -- Blackmore's Night
The Night Before the War
Mountain Dew -- Caprizzio
Sinister Minister -- Bela Fleck & the Flecktones
Moment of Triumph
Million Pieces -- Newsboys
Goody Two Shoes -- Adam Ant
Brothers and Sisters of Azania -- Manfred Mann's Earth Band
Boomin' -- tobyMac
I think this proves it. I'm sooooo not cool.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
1. Name a movie that you have seen more than 10 times. The Princess Bride
2. Name a movie that you’ve seen multiple times in the theater. National Treasure
3. Name an actor who would make you more inclined to see a movie. Rowan Atkinson
4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to see a movie. Nick Nolte
5. Name a movie that you can quote from. Star Wars
6. Name a movie musical that you know all the lyrics to all the songs. Mary Poppins
7. Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with. Music and Lyrics
8. Name a movie that you would recommend everyone see. Little Secrets
9. Name a movie that you own. Accepted
10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops. Ice Cube
11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? Yes
12. Ever made out in a movie? Not in the theatre
13. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven’t gotten around to it. Catch and Release
14. Ever walked out of a movie? Yes
15. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater. Charlotte's Web
16. Popcorn? Usually. Lately I'm partial to Dibs though.
17. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)? Pretty often. It's more difficult to watch a non-child movie at home, so I generally see them at the theatre.
18. What’s the last movie you saw in the theater? Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
19. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie? Comedy
20. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater? The Blob
21. What movie do you wish you had never seen? Nacho Libre
22. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed? Most recently, Blades of Glory
23. What is the scariest movie you’ve seen? The Blob (I was really, really little when my cousin took me, and it scared me like nothing else in my young life.)
24. What is the funniest movie you’ve seen? Real Genius
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I thumbed through it there at the store, and it didn't take me long to figure out that it was a must-buy. Definitely.
At the risk of stating the obvious, Spyder is (as my mom would say) "All Boy." He likes anything that has to do with weaponry, mess-making, building . . . . The list could go on for hours.
Spyder noticed the book in the cart, and he picked it up immediately. (I think the "dangerous" part had him intrigued.) He started reading it there in the store, and he didn't put it down for the rest of the day.
It covers a range of topics, from history lessons to how to build the perfect paper airplane to talking to girls. (At age 9, Spyder is both intrigued and disgusted by the idea of talking to girls "that way," although the list of dos and don'ts are really just common sense.)
He spent the first part of the day folding that perfect paper airplane, and I have to admit, it's a pretty good design. He was able to get it to fly almost to the end of the yard -- much, much further than he has ever done before.
Last night he told me about the Battle of Waterloo. Today he taught himself how to tie three or four different types of knots. Both subjects came from this book.
The list price is $24.95 (kind of high) but we paid $15 at Sam's, and Amazon currently has it for that price. It's well worth it. The design is perfect for my boy, a stiff cloth hardcover with no dusjacket. It's illustrated throughout, occasionally with color drawings, sometimes with simple sketches.
I almost fussed at him for taking it outside and putting it on the damp grass. But really, it's the type of book that I want him to carry around, to use enough to get fingerprints on the pages and wear the corners of the cover. So instead of fussing, I just picked it up, wiped it off, and moved it to a dry spot.
The Dangerous Book for Boys gets my highest recommendation.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Spyder and Sass have art class on Wednesdays, and the art teacher has several bird houses and bird feeders set up in various areas around her yard. While the children are in class, I've started sitting on the deck in the yard, just watching the squirrels and the birdies.
Since I've been so fascinated with their wildlife, I've bought a couple of bird feeders to set up in my own yard.
Unfortunately, I haven't gotten a really good picture with the birdies actually around the feeder. The squirrels like it just as much as the birds though. There are usually three squirrels around the base of the feeder, but they generally scatter as soon as I get close enough for a photo.
We even have a cardinal nesting in the holly bushes beside the house. While she is a beauty, having her (and egg!) that close does make me slightly uneasy, so I've been avoiding that particular path to the yard.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Skeeter and Spyder went to Huntsville, AL for the Parent/Child Space Camp! They spent the weekend building rockets, training on the moon walk simulators, going on a space shuttle mission, and learning about NASA.
The US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville hosts the Space Camp, but it also is a museum that shows the history of the US space program. We didn't realize it at the time, but Sass and I could have gone with them (staying in a hotel rather than at the camp) and toured the grounds and museum. Ah well! Perhaps another time.
Since they did the Parent/Child camp, it was only a weekend. But it was a pretty intensive weekend! They were scheduled from breakfast to bedtime, and they were exhausted by the time they got back home.
Both Skeeter and Spyder thoroughly enjoyed it though, and they're already talking about returning for the Aviation Challenge weekend in a couple of years.
The program gets highest marks from both of them, which truly says a lot about it. Considering their excitement, which continued for days after they got back, I would highly recommend the program!
A few tips for anyone considering the program:
- Spend the extra money and buy your camper the jumpsuit. It sounds a bit silly, but Skeeter said that Spyder felt more like he was really "in training" once he started wearing the jumpsuit. I didn't buy it in advance, and in retrospect, I would.
- Plan to eat at least two meals not included in your camp. Lunch is not provided on the first day or the last day. I would have packed them a lunch for the first day, at least, if we had realized that. As it was, they had to eat lunch in the snack bar, which was grossly overpriced (as in all touristy areas). If I had known to plan ahead for it, it would have saved us $35 to $40 on those two meals.
- Bring a bottle for water. Or buy one bottle and save it to refill. Water from the machines was $1.50 (pricey!), but you can refill the bottle from the water fountain.
- Pack light. The rooms are designed exactly as a space station would have them (think bunkhouse in Star Trek). The beds are actually set into the wall, so you have a very limited amount of room. I sent my campers with two bags, one large bag for clothing and one smaller bag for toiletries. Skeeter said it was crowded to have two, so he ended up repacking in the back of the car.
- Use travel sized toiletries. We have quite a collection of trial toiletries, some from hotels, some that I've gotten in the mail . . . . I sent these with my campers -- everything from mouthwash to toothpaste to shampoo. Skeeter said that these were absolutely fantastic. Between the two of them, they used a bottle of shampoo per shower, and he could just throw the container away. They used the shampoo as body wash as well, so they didn't have to bother with a bar of soap OR an extra bottle of body wash.
- With the way that the days were scheduled, it was best to shower at night. Skeeter is accustomed to taking his showers in the morning, and he didn't realize that the schedule didn't permit that until he was too late. He had to squeeze in time for a quick shower sometime mid-day on Saturday, since he didn't have time in the morning.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Originally it came from The New Basics Cookbook (which I highly recommend), but I've made a few changes to it.
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp onion powder (optional)
1 tsp lemon peel
4-5 cloves of minced garlic (fresh is best, but garlic powder can be substituted in a pinch)
Coat 4 chicken legs or thighs with the spice mixture and let them stand at least 1 hour. (I coat them when I'm making lunch and leave them in the refrigerator until time to cook.)
In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp of olive oil over medium heat. Place chicken in the skillet. Cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes on each side.
(For those of you in the south, you're essentially making spiced fried chicken in olive oil.) :)
We've also made these on the grill and in the oven, with equally yummy success. I've also used the spice combination with tofu, but Skeeter won't stand for that tofu nonsense, so I haven't done that recently. :)
Friday, May 18, 2007
The new drink-mix-to-go single serve tubes have been popular for a while, but I've never really liked them. They all had an odd aftertaste to me. I've been trying them off and on, but I've never really found one that I really enjoyed until recently.
A few weeks ago I tried the Propel Berry flavored powder packet, and it was yummy! Truly, it was the first one that I tried that I truly liked. Light flavor, and no aftertaste. I think that gave me enough courage to try the Lipton one. :)
We've also been enjoying a new snack treat, the Flat Earth brand fruit and veggie chips. The grocery store held a demo last week, and Spyder, Sass, and I all tried three different flavors available. Their favorite was the Garlic & Herb. Mine was the Apple Cinnamon Grove. Quite yummy!
(FYI: There is a coupon available through the link. Just click the "Come On In" sign in the middle of the page and the look to the left when the second page loads.)
Happy sipping and snacking!
They'll be gone for the whole weekend, and it will give Sass and me a little "Mommy and daughter" time together. We don't have anything planned, but the weekend is filled with open promises, and I'm anxious to see what it will bring.
They left this morning at 6:30, and I was both excited and sad to see them off. I can't wait to hear what their adventure brings them!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I collect and combine all of the dry ingredients as if I am making the recipe. Instead of continuing with the recipe, they are stored in a Ziploc bag in the freezer, labeled with the recipe name.
For example, one of our favorite recipes is Moroccan Chicken, which requires about 10 different spices. Preparing the spices in advance cuts the prep time tremendously. For this particular recipe, I make 4 or 5 bags at a time, using the small "snack size" Ziploc bags. When I begin making the recipe, I just take out the bag labeled "Moroccan Chicken" and my work is more than half done.
I make Amish Friendship Bread every 10 days, and bread making day doesn't always fall on a day that's convenient. I speed up the process by combining the dry ingredients at a time that is convenient for me, usually a few days in advance. Again, it cuts the prep time tremendously.
Works for me!
Check out all of the Works for me Wednesday tips at Rocks in my Dryer!
Encouragement can come in ways you never imagined.
A friend sent this to me tonight. Her son has just been diagnosed with an "autistic spectrum disorder" and she is coming to terms with that and what it means. While my children don't have those issues, I found encouragement and meaning in it anyway. I have a feeling that I'll refer back to it on those days that I feel overwhelmed by this life I've chosen.
Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Today we celebrated Mother's Day, and in usual fashion, we had a cookout at my parents' house with a house and porch full of people. Ribs on the grill, potato salad, homemade macaroni and cheese . . . the works.
My dad usually chooses the old couch for his naps. The Michael and Uncle Richard weren't at the celebration, so I expected the napping couch to be empty. It wasn't. My cousin E set up residence and didn't move for at least three hours.
The children and I shot the basketball. We played catch. Spyder shot the BB gun. Sass, Spyder, and Skeeter all rode the 4-wheeler. E slept through all of it. He even slept through Sass and Spyder's game of hide and seek/tag through the house, which required squeals, shouts, and slamming doors. He was still asleep on the couch when we left. As far as I can remember, E has never been one of the nappers, but today he outdid them all.
My family has a tendency to name everything. Just in the living room we have
The old couch
The orange chair
The poofy couch
The new rocker
Today I hereby declare that The Poofy Couch is officially renamed. Hereafter, The Poofy Couch will be referred to as The Napping Couch.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
It's an older store, in the older part of town. It has all of the conveniences of a newer store -- deli, hot bar, bakery -- but you can just tell. It's older than most around here.
There is a mosaic set into the floor in front of the seafood and meat case. It's not fancy, but it would have passed for such 30 or 40 years ago when the store was built. I usually go around it when I'm shopping, simply because it makes for a very bumpy cart. It's definitely not an easy go when I have one child hanging onto the edge of the cart and one hanging onto my leg.
Tonight when I was there, a girl of about 9 was at the mosaic, pushing the cart behind her father.
She stopped after she'd passed the edge of the mosaic. "Dad! Dad! Look! It's just beautiful, isn't it?"
Dad looked over and continued walking toward the dairy case. "Yeah, it's great."
The girl picked up her pace again and followed. She looked at me as we passed and said, "Just beautiful," in that wispy, wonder-filled voice that children often have.
I had to agree. For a moment, I could see it the way that she did. The textures are different than the rest of the store. Certainly, the oversized, generic Super WhatEver doesn't have anything like it. There is nothing utilitarian about it. It seems as if it's there simply to be noticed.
I often point out different features to my children: shapes in the clouds; colors in the sunset; interesting points or designs on a building; butterflies. I had never once considered that old, shades-of-brown mosaic on the floor to be worth my interest. And I think I was missing out.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
But with having them all centrally located, it can be quite annoying to listen to Sass playing her game, Spyder playing his game, and Skeeter listening to his music all at the same time. Now, instead of listening to everything at once, each person has his or her own set of headphones. Whenever someone is doing a "noisy" activity on the computer, it's time to plug in the headphones. The volume is set internally (by me) at a level where they hear the game just fine, but they can also hear me if I'm talking to them.
Today Spyder played a Nancy Drew game at the same time that Sass was playing a JumpStart game. I was able to listen to the radio rather than the cacophony of sounds and we were all happy. :)
Skeeter has a really nice, noise reducing pair. The children each have an inexpensive pair, so that I won't be upset if they get broken (as happened to Sass when she sat on hers).
We've been using this system for a few months now, and I wonder why it took me so long to think of doing this. Life is much more peaceful for us with headphones!
Visit Rocks in my Dryer for more Works for me Wednesday tips!
Monday, May 07, 2007
My very first pair of Birkenstocks are going away today.
I bought these shoes 18 years ago when I was in Germany. (Yes, you read that correctly. 18 years.)
At the time, Birkenstocks weren't popular in the US, and when I wore them I got loads of teasing about my "ugly shoes." I wore them anyway, almost every day in appropriate weather. They were extremely comfortable and I just plain liked them.
Just a couple of years later, they were all the rage on my college campus. I found this highly amusing, considering these were the same people who made fun of my shoes in the first place.
It was time to let them go. They just weren't as comfortable any more, and they tended to rub a little if I wore them for longer than a couple of hours. I feel a little silly for feeling so nostalgic about them, but I do anyway.
I suppose this gives me a reason to find another pair. :)
Sunday, May 06, 2007
-- Emo Phillips
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Spyder, Sass, and I made paper! Spyder got the idea and recipe from the Beakman's World DVD.
Sass and Spyder shredded two pages of a newspaper. We put it in a blender, one page + one cup of water at a time. (Unfortunately, I didn't think about taking pictures!)
We blended the paper and water into ugly gray goo, then put it into the kitchen sink with about three inches of water. Then we added two tablespoons of Elmer's glue and stirred it around. I really think I added too much water, so I'll cut that down a bit next time.
We used a wire coat hanger as the frame, and stretched pantyhose over the hanger to make the drying surface. We put the frame into the goo/water/glue mixture and captured the fibers to make our paper.
The DVD instructions said to lift it slowly, but it worked better for us to lift it quickly and turn the hanger so that the entire surface was covered. It didn't take long at all (less than a minute) for it to begin to set, and I was able to hang the paper in the shower to dry overnight.
This is what our surface looked like after it dried overnight.
We carefully pulled the paper off of the pantyhose. This was the hardest part for us, partly because I think our mixture was a little too thin. Spyder had to get his hand underneath and push it up to get it started.
Once it was started, he was able to pull the middle, thicker portion.
Here is one of the finished products! You can see some of the larger pieces of newspaper that didn't get blended well, and you can see the torn portion at the edge.
This was a fun, easy craft, and I know we'll do it again. Today we were talking about using the sale flyers that come weekly so that we can have different colors, rather than just light gray.
Fun and easy!
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
One of the ways we use to send off the party with a bang is to put the treat bags in a large box and wrap the box in wrapping paper several times (I usually do it 20 times) using different types of paper. The children sit in a circle and we play hot potato with the wrapped gift. Each time the music stops, the child holding the box gets to unwrap a layer. Just continue until the box is completely unwrapped, then let the children open the box and take a bag.
For obvious reasons, it's best to use bags that can be sealed, like patterned Ziploc bags or decorated paper bags that have been stapled shut. :)
It's a great way for the children to feel like they're also involved in the present-opening, rather than just being a spectator. We let the birthday boy or girl work the CD player (with help from mom or dad).
We've also used this for Halloween parties and Christmas parties when we're going to be distributing treats to the children.
Check out the rest of the Works for me Wednesday tips at Rocks in My Dryer.
Eventually Widge is sold to another man who charges him to transcribe Shakespeare's Hamlet while standing in the audience. Widge succeeds, but loses his transcription. Caught behind the stage, he pretends to be interested in learning to be one of the players.
Widge makes friends with the other apprentices -- the first real friends of his life -- and the players become his family in a way that he has never had before. Eventually Widge has to choose between loyalty to his purchaser and his new-found friends.
Spyder and I both really enjoyed this book, and we had an excellent discussion on it afterward.
Many of the people in the book play a role to conceal his true character, just as a player does on the stage. Widge pretends to have the acting bug so that he can steal the play, although he learns how difficult that is. The rector pretends to be an upright and honest man, but he uses Widge to steal ideas and words from others. There are other examples, but they would be spoilers, and I wouldn't do that to anyone. But at any rate, Widge finds that the people who show their true selves to him are the players themselves.
Additionally, Widge finds himself in a situation where he has to find his own morals. His world has been filled with adults who display amoral behavior in one way or another. Widge has been shown this type of behavior, but he finds that he is dissatisfied with it and decides to make his own way.
This is exactly the kind of book I hope to find when I'm browsing, one that is both exciting and thoughtful.
Very highly recommended for both boys and girls (and adults)!
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Sass, Spyder, and I all absolutely loved the story, but one of our favorite portions was when the children were dropped into Tolstoy's War and Peace. In this particular scene, the children have a war of words with someone, based on an old ballad for children.
In particular, the children were fascinated with this portion:
What is smoother than crystal glass?
What is louder than a horn?
What is sharper than a thorn?
What is brighter than the light?
What is darker than the night?
What is keener than an axe?
What is softer than melting wax?
What is rounder than a ring?"
Envy is greener than the grass,
Flattery smoother than crystal glass.
Rumour is louder than a horn,
Hunger is sharper than a thorn.
Truth is brighter than the light,
Falsehood is darker than the night.
Revenge is keener than an axe,
Love is softer than melting wax.
The world is rounder than a ring.
Sass prefers to answer the questions with her own answers rather than the traditional ones. Here are her answers to the questions.
Paper is greener than the grass,
My hands smoother than crystal glass.
Screams are louder than a horn,
A knife is sharper than a thorn.
Sunshine is brighter than the light,
Teeth are keener than an axe,
Fluffy dogs are softer than melting wax.
A circle is rounder than a ring.
We've been doing several activities with word associations lately, and I think it's one of her favorite things we've done.
Fast from self-concern - feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety - feast on eternal truth.
Fast from anger - feast on patience.
Fast from words that destroy - feast on words that build up.
Fast from discontent - feast on gratitude.
Fast from discouragement - feast on hope.
- Susan Tassone