Thursday, December 23, 2010
"Daddy, I didn't always have a race car bed, right?"
"No, mommy and I bought this big boy bed for you."
"Right, we got a new bed because my old bed looked like a cage, and you didn't want me to sleep in a cage."
Yes, son, a crib does resemble a cage, doesn't it?
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Several of my friends have made homemade marshmallows this Christmas season. I decided to give it whirl. I decided to use Alton Brown's recipe.
Alton Brown's Homemade Marshmallows
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup ice cold water, divided
- 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- Nonstick spray
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
For regular marshmallows:
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.--------
Smoothing the marshmallows into the pan was surprisingly difficult because I'd prepped the pan so well. It wouldn't stick at all. I finally had to sprinkle some of the cornstarch/sugar mixture on top and pat into place.
Here's S & Z, ready and anxious to help me cut them out.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Imagine my excitement a month later, when it started blooming! It smelled heavenly and looked gorgeous.
A couple weeks later, I looked at the faded blooms, and could see tiny little oranges forming. I was now practically incoherent with joy.
Then, a few days ago, my little kids decided to play with the tree. 3/4 of the leaves are gone, and all of my bitty oranges have been plucked off as well. While I didn't cry, I was pretty disappointed.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
A couple days ago, J and I watched a show about pies. The history of, different kinds, etc. It was a total geek show. They had a bit about the old meat pies, and we were both drooling.
Since today was a lazy, snowy day, I decided to experiment and come up with a meat pie recipe. We just got done eating, and I have to admit that it was AMAZING.
So, here's the recipe.
1 lb stew meat, diced into small pieces
packet of onion soup mix (I think it was a packet? I buy it in bulk, and just sprinkled a couple tablespoons into the crock pot)
1 cube beef bouillon
2 c. water
Combine the above and place in a slow cooker. Let cook for 3-4 hours.
3/4 c. diced carrots
3-4 potatoes, cut into small cubes
a bit of cornstarch mixed with cold water
Let that cook a couple more hours.
Prepare pie crust:
1 c. shortening
1 tsp. salt
2 2/3 c. flour
7-8 tbl. ice cold water
Combine shortening, flour, and salt with a fork til it resembles pea sized balls. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until the proper consistency. Divide the dough in thirds. Roll out each third til it's big enough to fit in a single sized ramekin with enough to spare to fold over the top.
Put the dough in the ramekins, and scoop enough meat mixture to fill the ramekin. Fold the dough over the top. Repeat until you have 6 ramekins filled (I had a bit of leftover filling).
Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned.
Here's how it looked once we broke it open to let it cool before serving it to the kids. Yes, my husband insisted on serving corn with it.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
S has been Supergirl (recognize the costume from Z's halloween costume?)
Z has been Thing from Fantastic 4. He started out wearing the costume properly, but since he couldn't zip and unzip himself for bathroom breaks, has taken to wearing it backwards, creating an odd hunchback appearance.
Winds are at 40 mph here right now. Hope my pine trees don't blow over and ruin my beautiful new roof. I made J drive his big truck to work this morning, in case the snow started before he was able to get home from work. He rolled his eyes, but must have decided it wasn't worth the fight and did as I asked. I love that guy.
Now, you can laugh at me here, but now that J is in a big safe truck, and will probably leave work early, what has me most worried is my chickens. I normally wouldn't fret too much, since we've insulated their hen house, and with the light, it stays pretty warm in there. Unfortunately, the hens got in a fight last night. Injured worst was Clover, the white chicken. J was out there putting heat tape on the water dish, and things were great. He went out a half hour later, and she was bleeding pretty badly from her comb, and a spot in back of her wings. She kept shaking her head, so there was droplets of blood on her feathers, making it look much worse.
I checked on them at bedtime, and they all seemed to be getting along again.
This morning, as soon as it was light, I went out again. Clover's comb was scabbed over, but the spot in back was bleeding again, and a new spot towards the front was also looking a bit plucked and bloody. She looked pretty bad. She's never been a friendly bird, and has never let me pick her up. I was able to catch her a bit easier than expected (though she still put up a pretty good fight, which gave me hope).
I'm not sure if this is true or not, but I've been told in commercial chicken farms, they have red lights so that the chickens don't see the red of blood, and that they debeak the chickens so they can't peck each other to death. I've heard that if they see any blood/injury on a chicken, often they will peck at it until they've pecked the poor chicken to death.
Just in case this is true, I moved Clover to our small chicken tractor that we originally built for our chickens before chicken math/multiplication took over. However, it hasn't been used since we got rid of the roosters, and I haven't insulated or prepared it for winter at all. This morning, I added a ton of bedding to the box area to help insulate.
Clover was NOT happy to be moved away from her sisters. She did lay a nice, large egg for me today, but stuck on her nest for several hours. She's been out pecking and scratching for a good hour now, so I am hoping she's feeling a bit better.
When J gets home from work, he'll help me move the tractor to our now dormant garden, so she'll be right next to our chicken run. That way, she can see her sisters, but they can't hurt her. We can also run power to her little run and put a light out there to keep her warm and hopefully protect her if this storm turns out to be as big as they say.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
"If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today?"
This sort of thing gives me a mixed reaction. Part fury, part thoughtfulness. The message implies that we need to make sure that we don't leave anything unsaid or undone, or wasting our time on things that don't really matter. If I knew I would be dying by morning, I would try to say goodbye to all of my loved ones. I'd want to spend the evening cuddled up with my kids and husband, creating a few last minute good memories. I wouldn't bother doing the dishes, paying the bills, cooking dinner.
However, I'm reasonably sure I won't be dying by morning. So, I will cook dinner (marinated turkey breast in the slow cooker). I'll do the dishes. I'll straighten up a bit. I'll put a kid in time out for hitting. I'll support my husband in his job so that he can continue to pay the mortgage, utilities and food.
It's one thing to live in the moment, but you also have to live for the future. To live fully in the moment means to not plan for the future, and that can make the future uncertain, or unbearable.
I feel like status messages like his imply that we should only be living for the moment, and not living for the future. Instead of ranting on about responsibility, I simply replied with the following:
Last Wednesday, I got a phone call from a friend, sobbing. Someone had turned her into the state for having a dirty house. DCFS investigated, and determined that she couldn't let her kids back into the house until it was cleaned up. I offered to let her have a couple of her kids stay with me and to help clean up. Unfortunately, that evening, CPS decided that it was in the childrens' best interest to be taken into state custody. I was there for the removal, and it was one of the saddest things I've ever witnessed. I don't envy anyone who was directly involved in the situation. Even now, I get a bit teary eyed thinking about it.
Since then, I've done what I could to help them out. I've worried a bit though. Sometimes I can insert myself deeper into someone's business than they feel comfortable. I don't like to think that I do that, but I know that it's been known to happen. I also can be too bossy and too blunt. I've worried that I would alienate friends by showing those characteristics in this particular crisis.
I was invited to, and attended, the family team meeting. I was not invited to court, so I didn't go. Given a facebook status post, I suspect she's angry that I didn't go. I've submitted to (and passed, Yippee!!) a background check to help the family.
I was approached today by the case worker. I may be supervising the daily visits between the mom and her youngest (still breastfeeding) baby. They also asked if I would be willing to have a couple of the kids stay with us, after getting licensed, of course. I told them I was willing, but concerned that we wouldn't qualify, since our house is pretty full. It sounds like I may not qualify to take more than one, and they want to keep the kids from being completely separated.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Lucy, my Black Copper Marans, laid her last egg on Sept. 3. I suspected she was molting, although she didn't look nearly as ragged as other molting chickens are reported as being.
This afternoon, I went to collect eggs (wahoo! 3 were waiting- a light brown, a white, and an olive), I caught Lucy in her favorite nesting box. Interesting. She hasn't even bothered peeking in there since she went on strike.
I went out an hour and a half later, and look what I found?
I also found a lovely sea green egg, but I didn't take a picture of it. Yay!
Before, she was laying every other day like clockwork. After a molt, chickens often are less productive layers, so it'll be interesting (to me) to see if she keeps up her prior pace or eases off.
Then, in girl scouts, they decided to do those duct tape dresses. I went along with buying the tape for that (which, admittedly, was only about $15, and it also helped repair M's costume, and we have leftovers for other ducting emergencies).
She also was invited to another party before we finished the duct tape dress, so she wore the devil costume my MIL (mother in law) gave her. I took the following picture of the kids on their way out the door to my parents' ward halloween party:Z loves being superman so much that it's impossible to keep him still when he's wearing the costume, which is why he's the only part of the photo that's blurry. He's worn the costume almost daily since.
Trick or treating was fun. We spent some of the time with J's sister and her family. They went more for looks than function, so, not wearing coats, they tired of trick or treating much sooner than us. Maybe it was the poor economy, or maybe it was the fact that we weren't out on REAL Halloween, but the candy seemed a little less ample this year. It was actually into the "reasonable" category, as opposed to last year's "Are you *&^^$% kidding me?!!!"
Saturday, October 30, 2010
As a girl scout activity, K's troop decided to make duct tape dresses. It's been a long and arduous task, but we finished it tonight. K was invited to a halloween party tonight, and she wanted to wear the duct tape dress.
We followed the instructions based on THIS website. I think it turned out pretty cute! As much as I dislike sewing, I've gotta say that I prefer sewing to duct taping dresses.
Friday, October 29, 2010
My mom and I looked at each other, befuddled. We weren't sure what I'd said that was so funny. Then S said, "So your head floats up to heaven, and you leave your body behind without a head?!"
My mom and I couldn't help it. We collapsed into fits of laughter, understanding why S was so confused and amused by what I said. I tried to do the sock/foot hand/glove analogy and said that the head stayed with the body.
I think at this point, she must have remembered her Grandma Jorgensen's funeral, and said, "Oh, so your whole body goes in a box for people to look at and then they bury it, right?"
Yep. That's right.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I took clients out to look at homes last week, and we saw some of the most unusual features I have ever seen in homes. After the fourth home with amazing quirks, I started bringing my camera so that I could capture it. Unfortunately, some of the best was not captured on film (memory card?).
House #1: pretty typical multi level, except that the master had bright pink carpet and pink walls. Then, we walked down to look at the garage. When walking from the garage into the house, the first room we encountered was a room with nothing in it except for an enormous jetted tub. Not a hot tub, a bathtub.
House #3 was mostly vacant. They hadn't quite finished moving everything out yet, but what was left was unusual. There was everything from VHS tapes to a CB radio to MREs to a false leg.
House #4 was almost immediately dubbed "Frankenhouse". It started as a tiny bungalow, and slowly has had more and more added on. It also had a very large, very unusually shaped lot. Horse and goat negotiable in the sale. Some inventive owner had seen the toilets they have in Japan where there's a sink on the back of the toilet, so that the gray water from washing your hands drains into the toilet tank, thereby reducing water usage. A very clever idea, and difficult, if not impossible to find in the US. The owner didn't let that stop him. He used an American sink and toilet and plumbing supplies, and made it work for himself. Another bathroom was painted blood red. They also had a pet cemetery in the back yard, complete with headstones. It was by far the most unusual house I've ever seen. Having said that, my clients and I really loved it. It was very different, but a LOT of fun.
Houses #5-6 were normal, more or less. One had painted the entire interior of the house an unfortunate seafoam green.
At this point, we stopped for lunch. We saw a BBQ restaurant that looked interesting, and started to go in. We saw a sign that said their bathrooms weren't functioning. Well, that wouldn't work. Next door was a bar, and the bartender was outside smoking. She offered their bathrooms for our use, so we took advantage. It was right around noon, and there was only one patron in the bar. We walk back to the bathroom and realized that it was a strip bar! There was a poor girl halfheartedly dancing for no audience (single patron had his back to the stage). Awkward!
After lunch we went to house #7. They had tried to maximize the space as best they could. They added a bar to their minuscule kitchen so that there was room for a dishwasher. Unfortunately, it made it impossible to open the fridge all the way, and difficult to access one of the drawers. I didn't try to open the dishwasher, but I wouldn't have been surprised if there had been issues there. They created a master sweet in the basement. Normally, I think it'd be a suite, but to be a suite, shouldn't there be more than one room? They put a bathroom in the corner of the master bedroom, but there was NO separation between the two. Not even a room divider. The one spouse could easily watch the other do all bedtime routine, including restroom, brushing teeth, shower, etc. The house was really nicely staged, so I was a little surprised that hadn't thought to use one of those cute room dividers to at least give the illusion of privacy.
House #8 was yet another house where the owners didn't seem to demand the same bathroom privacy issues that I've come to expect:You hear stories all the time about people leaving pets behind when they move. I'd assumed that was primarily cats and dogs. Add fish to that list:The last house we went to was another amazing old bungalow with some great history. They actually had an old boiler in their basement, which was pretty amazing to see.
They also had the largest water collection I have ever seen. Insert "Signs" movie joke here.Not enough water? How about more?Still not convinced? How about this:
Monday, October 25, 2010
I quickly caught on, and absolutely adored the job. It kept my inner 10 year old very happy.
The last six months or so have been very difficult though. Our group only had 1-2 cub scouts, and neither were really great about coming. My co-leader had a lot of things going on in her life that made attendance difficult for her.
I really wanted S to join girl scouts as a Daisy, but there were no openings in existing troops, and they were forming a new troop. A couple of the would-be leaders flaked out, so I decided to make a change.
I told the ward that I wanted to be released from cub scouts, and I filled out all of the paperwork to be co-leader of S's Daisy Troop. The ward officially released me yesterday.
It's kind of a bittersweet moment. I loved my cubs, I really did. I was ready to move on and do something different. Now that I'm officially out though, I'm mourning the loss.
I have to admit I'm a little overwhelmed at just how much work there is to start a new troop. I'm sitting here staring a pile of money that needs to be deposited in the bank, but first I have to select a bank and set up an account. We were assigned our troop number, which is good. My co-leader is an amazingly motivated and creative person, and I think she's going to make it a lot of fun. We have a mentor leader who meets at the same time who is willing to help, as well as have her Cadettes help. Our service unit leader is also helping out, both with set up AND being willing to be our cookie mom this year. Amazing.
Our next meeting is going to be a birthday party. We're celebrating the birth of our troop, as well as the birth of Juliette Low, the founder of Girl Scouts. We've asked the girls to each bring a small gift (like crayons, glue sticks, tapes, etc) to give to the troop.
I figure once I get organized, the whole thing will go well. I'm not worried about meetings, it's just the administrative side of things. I've agreed to be in charge of money, and need to find a good spreadsheet to keep track. I may have to give in and buy Excel; I've been using OpenOffice and/or Google Documents.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
So, here's what my $15 basket was for this week:
I still have tomatoes and pears coming out my ears, so those parts were less than enthusiastically received, but I'm really happy with the rest. I've never cooked parsnips before, so that'll be a fun new thing to try.
In other news, I have confirmation that two of my Easter Egger chickens have begun to lay. I got both of these eggs today:
The interesting thing about the speckled egg is that when it's dry, the brown spots are more beige, and almost unnoticeable. The egg was a little dirty, so I washed it off, and it went speckled. Too cool!
Friday, October 22, 2010
My younger sister J bought a kitten this past spring to be a "cold blooded killer". She found a litter of rats in her back yard. She loves rodents almost as much as my mom, which is to say that she has a full blooded phobia. She scoured KSL ads until she found the perfect cat. Mom and dad were barn cats in the country somewhere in Wyoming. She actually drove several hours to get one of their free kittens.
She then paid big bucks to get the cat spayed, vaccinated and microchipped. She bought her fancy toys. Installed a cat door in the garage. Named her Oren Ishii. Things went well until about a month ago.
Oren didn't come home for a few days. Oren loves to wander, so it is normal for my sister to not see her for a day or two. But, she realized she hadn't seen the cat for a while, so she started watching. No sign of her anywhere. She started calling and visiting various animal shelters. Posted an ad on KSL. Nothing. After 3-4 weeks, she accepted that Oren was probably gone.
This morning, she was surprised by a phone call from a vet's office. Oren had been found! As it turns out, a neighbor who lived behind her and down a few houses had been seeing Oren around for quite a while. She'd turn up all the time and beg for food. She assumed Oren was a stray when she started spending the night. She eventually adopted the cat, and kept her indoors at night. Bought her a kitty condo, food, and toys. Apparently there's quite the facebook following on this cat's adventures. Today, Christine (the OTHER WOMAN) decided to bite the bullet and officially claim the cat as hers. She took her to a vet to get her spayed and vaccinated. The vet decided to scan the cat for a chip, and Christine was surprised to discover that Oren did have a chip.
Christine nicely offered the cat and all of her goodies back. Within a couple hours, Oren was back at her house. I suggested that maybe Christine had better food, which insulted my sister. Jill bought this super expensive food and Christine had Meow Mix. I remember that my old cat growing up hated fancy stuff, and loved the cheapest, driest stuff you could find.
I told Jill that at least the "Other Woman" is a nice person, and happy to accept that she's not the real owner. I said it may end up being a shared custody situation.
The egg from yesterday is in the middle, the egg from today is on the left.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
This afternoon, I went out to collect Clover's egg. I noticed that she and Mabel weren't with the other chickens, and figured they were probably in the hen house. I opened up the left door, and sure enough, Clover is sitting in her favorite nest box. I can see she's already laid her egg, so I was a little surprised she was still there. Mabel was standing up, but watching her pretty intently. After a minute or two, Clover began singing the egg song, stood up, and left the hen house. I grabbed my egg and went inside.
I decided to go back outside to see if *maybe*, just MAYBE one of the other chickens had laid. In the last week or so, four of the five younger chickens have been willing to "squat", and they've all recently become much friendlier, even allowing me to pet them. I'm told those are signs that a pullet is about ready to start laying eggs.
I was disappointed to see the favored box empty, but decided to check the other side, just in case. I found the most beautiful olive green egg there. I am so tickled!
Here it is:
I am thrilled to get an olive egger- you don't find them too often, and it's the next hot thing. People are cross breeding blue laying hens with dark brown laying hens to get them. To get one from my EE is very exciting for me. J just rolled his eyes when I came up looking like Christmas had come early. M is the only one who has even a fraction of my enthusiasm for the eggs (well, maybe S can muster some, sometimes). When he got home, I showed him. He thought it looked like the same color as Lucy's eggs, but smaller. -sigh- Being color blind just is no fun.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Here's the back of the coop with our brand new roof.Across the back, you'll notice some doors, which latch shut for safety, but open up for easy access to the nesting boxes, where the chickens would hypothetically lay.
Here's the inside of one side of the nesting boxes. We have a total of 6, though only one is used. You can see that Clover has laid an egg for me here. I am using a fairly fine hardware cloth to keep the bedding in the boxes when I open the door to collect eggs.This is the back side of the coop, the side the chickens have access to. You'll see that there's a large door so that I can access the inside, as well as provide good ventilation during the summer months. There's a smaller hole for me to stick a light in so that as the weather cools off, I can supplement their light so that they continue (START?!) to lay all winter. I close the door at night and latch it shut. This coop is not really designed to keep out a determined predator, but I figure latching that door shut will help protect the chickens from large dogs, which would be the most likely culprit.This is the access for the chickens to access the coop.
Here is the back side of the coop with the enclosed run. There's chicken wire on top and all sides. It's held in place by boards. A determined critter could burrow beneath the boards, so the coop isn't particularly ideal if you have skunks, raccoons, dogs, wolves, coyotes around. We generally don't, so I haven't worried about it too much.
Now we have the inside of the coop. You can see the nest boxes below. Paula is in the popular box, showing us what it would look like if she were to ever lay an egg. The chickens generally either roost on top of the boxes or on the branches I've put in place. The floor also has hardware cloth. In the summer, we leave it exposed, but as it's gotten colder, we put OSB board in, and covered it with shavings. I've also bought some 1/2" styrofoam insulation that I've cut to fit the back and side walls of the chicken coop. However, I put it out there, and the next morning found they'd been pecking at it. I'm going to have J cut some very thin boards to the same shape and sandwich the insulation between the boards so the chickens will leave it alone.
Why the golf balls, you ask? Supposedly, they show the chickens that it's acceptable to lay eggs in nesting boxes other than the popular one. Clover is the only one laying, and thus far, she's only laid in that second box in.
This is how we shut the door to the run.
Here's a close up of our chicken feeder. It's nice to be able to put a large amount of food out at a time so that if we go out overnight, we don't have to worry about feeding and watering our flock. The water is set up the same, except that we had to seal the lid on, and cut a small hole in the top and plug with a drain plug to create a suction situation.
The chickens do get to go foraging around outside of the run/coop, but I only let them do that when they can be supervised, so it's usually only for an hour or so at a time.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
We got the same spot as last time. The kids were like little mountain goats the entire time, climbing around the big rock.We spent several hours looking for Topaz near the south slopes. We split into two groups- one group was up on the hill, chiseling topaz out of stones. I was with the other group, looking for loose stones in the wash. I found quite a bit, but I gave almost all of them to my kids or my nieces.
Here's most of the topaz the kids collected:Some detail on M's topaz:
On Friday, J's brother and his family family joined us for the day. We had talked to EVEN MORE people, and had gotten EVEN MORE instructions on finding the geode beds, which I had started to privately refer to as "El Dorado" (the city of gold that spanish explorers looked in vain for). We loaded into 3 side by sides and two vehicles. I think I surprised my husband by opting to drive the rhino instead of the truck. I knew it would be dusty, but it would be a smoother ride, and it was going to be around 25 miles each way. On the way, we saw a herd of antelope, which was pretty neat. We found the turn off for the geode beds. Instead of stopping within five minutes, as we have in the past, we actually drove for a good 15 minutes past where the sign was.It was as described. You couldn't walk more than a couple steps without tripping over geodes or fragments of geodes. We collected about a 5 gallon bucket's worth. Some need to be cracked open; some are just fragments.
M found a tarantula around camp on Friday evening, which we thought was amazing. We knew they were out there in the desert in Utah, but had never seen one before.
We ended up finding another one on Saturday morning and it was even bigger than the one pictured. We are fairly certain that this is a male Aphonopelma iodius.The first spider we found was in the evening. The second spider was in the morning. We also caught and released many lizards. M really wanted to keep that tarantula, but I'm not a fan of taking healthy wildlife home as pets, so I told him NO.
All in all, we had a wonderful time. Tentative plans are being made to go next spring. We're hoping that winter runoff will expose some more topaz for us.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
He is really great with kids, and wants to share his gift. He's appeared at a few schools, doing assemblies with the whole school, and workshops with individual classes. He recently did a workshop at Roy Elementary that sounded so interesting. He talked about it on HIS BLOG.
He is looking to do more workshops. Can you believe it? It seems like a really amazing opportunity for kids to learn about what goes into writing a book and how to write effectively.
If you think your school (or your kids' school) would be interested in having him, and you are within 60 or so miles of Salt Lake City, UT, you should contact him to set something up. Michael's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, October 11, 2010
I really, really hate them. Passionately.
I hate how they have an assembly getting the kids all excited about the crap they can "earn" if they sell enough stuff. I hate how the stuff is overpriced, and only a small percentage actually goes to the school. I hate how the kids are desperate to sell stuff, utterly convinced that the success of the school, indeed, the very FUTURE of the school relies on them selling a bunch of wrapping paper. Or greeting cards. Or overpriced candy.
I've become spoiled because M's elementary school does the "no one comes a knockin'" fundraiser. Basically, they've figured out that if every child brings in $10, they make as much or more money than if they were to hold several traditional fundraisers. I've donated $20 per kid in the past, just to be safe, and so far, this is the third year I haven't heard from M's school.
S's school, on the other hand, LOVES fundraisers. We've already had two. The first one was Happenings Books (which, admittedly, M's school does too). Today, she came home with a new folder with order forms and booklet. I think they must've had a big assembly about it too, because she knew about allllll the wonderful prizes she could earn. Fabulous.
There's also a big decal on the folder telling me not to throw it away.S may be 5, but she knows what that says. It doesn't say to not burn it though....
Oh, and before you accuse me of not supporting S's school, I've donated more than $20 to them. I've joined their PTA. I bought a tshirt for S. I made sure to contribute enough that I can be righteously indignant and refuse to participate and not feel an ounce of guilt.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I've put her eggs in my egg carton. I noticed that her eggs aren't the bright white that my store bought eggs were.
As you can see, it's not a dramatic difference, but it's a definite difference.
I got thinking about it, and looking at Clover. I knew she wasn't a purebred bird because her lines aren't quite right, plus, she has a few black feathers. Not a lot, but a few. I conferred with my chicken bulletin board, and they all agreed that she must be some mix that makes the slight variation in color.
The eggs are almost pink. The last egg she laid was a definite pale pink, and had white speckles. Unfortunately S was so excited when she saw it that she grabbed it and dropped it on the tile floor, shattering it. I was very sad.
The Easter Eggers and the Silver Laced Wyandotte are still not laying. My Black Copper Marans is still molting. I think that can last a couple months. We're at one month since last egg.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
As you know, today was the day that S was assigned to bring a show and tell. We chose to have her bring in a hand painted handkerchief from Japan. She and I talked about how it was handpainted, came from Japan, and how my friend gave it to me while we were living there.
I want to clear up a couple of misunderstandings. Yes, we did live there. It was, however, for more than a couple days. Yes, it was when S was a baby, and before she was born. However, when we moved back to the US, we did NOT row the canoe from Japan to Mexico, and then carry the canoe from Mexico into the United States. We flew commercially.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I showed up at the school today with my crockpot of soup. There was a bunch of moms busily setting up the teacher luncheon. I quickly notice that it's not set up for people with crockpots. I also notice immediately that there's no bowls, no spoons. Hmmm. That's odd.
I talk to the lady in charge, who looked completely confused. She said that she'd planned a meal with just salads and bread (i.e green salad, fruit salad, chicken salad). She'd also never heard of someone by the name that my caller on Monday told me. This soup thing was news to her.
I immediately start wondering how I could've possibly messed up this badly. I can be scatterbrained, but not THAT crazy. I distinctly remember it being Wednesday, because I figured it'd be no big deal since I was already planning on being there to volunteer. I also distinctly remember talking to her about her 7th and 9th grade sons. I was also 100% certain that neither of the elementary schools my kids attend were having parent teacher conferences today.
If it WAS Thursday, wouldn't the PTA lady in charge have said, "oooooh, no, you were supposed to bring the soup tomorrow. THURSDAY is soup day, not Wednesday."
Someone, somewhere is going to be angry that they're down one big vat of soup. Or, someone, somewhere is laughing their guts out.
Or, I have completely cracked. If I was going to go crazy, why couldn't I be deluded into thinking that I'm in the Caribbean somewhere, or that I live in a massive house with a huge kitchen, and a garage. Or that I was skinny? I could quite happily live with that kind of delusion or misunderstanding. But no. Instead, I'm bringing soup to a bunch of (pleasantly surprised) people.
The teachers who had started arriving were not going to let me take the soup home. They managed to scare up bowls and spoons eerily fast. That was flattering, anyway.
Monday, September 27, 2010
So today, I get a phone call from the PTA, asking if I'd be willing to bring in a crockpot of soup Wednesday afternoon. I said that would be fine, and volunteered to bring in a tortilla soup.
About 10 minutes later, the lady calls me back.
Her: "Um, you DO have a student who attends XX Jr High, right?"
Me (sounding very confused): "Yes"
Her: "Oh, good. See, I'm also in the PTA for YYY Elementary, and somehow I got my volunteer lists mixed up. I was most of the way through the list making food assignments. One lady was really nice and said she'd bring an item, and then said it was really weird she was being called because she didn't even have a kid attending XX Jr High."
Her: "So, I wanted to call all the volunteers and make sure they're all parents of students at XX Jr High"
Me: (still not able to talk I'm laughing so hard)
Some people really are incapable of saying no, aren't they?
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
A couple months ago, my MIL (mother in law) called me on a Saturday afternoon. She and my FIL (father in law) were at the shelter, trying to pick out a new dog. They'd brought Hershey, their chocolate lab, and the two seemed to get along ok. They'd pretty much decided on a miniature pinscher and wanted to give him the final test. They wanted to see how he did with children. I brought my kids, and we met the dog. He seemed cautious about kids, but somewhat tolerant. We spent a good 30 minutes at the shelter playing with the dog. While he didn't want to actually interact with the kids, he tolerated them ok, and was not at all aggressive. They decided to bring him home.
They quickly discovered that he had kennel cough, and he wasn't able to be around other dogs much. As he started to recover, they were taking him on walks around the neighborhood. They realized that Snickers had what I like to call "Little Dog Syndrome". He was completely unaware that he was much smaller than the other dogs, and some of them could eat him for lunch. He would bark and try to start fights. He established dominance over Hershey, his roommate, but was constantly trying to fight with the other dogs in the family.
As time has gone on, he's gotten aggressive with the kids too. I know he's bitten K and M, both unprovoked. I have to admit I've gotten a bit nervous to have him around the kids as he's gotten more and more aggressive and less tolerant of kids.
On Saturday, my ILs had nicely volunteered to babysit our kids while we attended a wedding. When we arrived, Snickers was barking and barking and freaking out. My MIL picked him up to make sure everything stayed safe. J went to pet the dog. After a couple seconds, he turned and bit J's arm as hard as he could. It was a pretty nasty dog bite, and broke the skin and bled quite a bit.
My MIL was horrified over how bad the bite was.
At this point, she is contemplating getting rid of the dog. I feel really awful about the situation because it sounds like when it's just my MIL and FIL around, he's not a bad dog. He's crazy about them. They also are animal lovers, and not people to take getting rid of a dog lightly. In fact, I'm not sure they've ever gotten rid of a dog while it was still alive. I think it's awfully risky to keep him around if he's a biter.
I have to admit that I don't feel comfortable having the dog around my kids anymore. If that bite had been to one of my kids, particularly their face, it could've done some really serious damage. I support my inlaws in whatever choice they make. I will say that when we come over from now on, I'll want the dog to be kept locked in another room.
My brother in law's niece had her face practically destroyed by a dog bite, and I just don't want to take that risk with my babies.
POSTSCRIPT: The day after J was bitten, my BIL and SIL went to the inlaws' house for dinner. Snickers attempted to bite BIL, even though he wasn't even interacting with the dog. Snickers got put in time out for the rest of the visit. MIL and FIL consulted their vet a few days later. They asked about behavioral therapy and doggie prozac. The vet actually recommended that they rehome the dog, that he was just too big of a risk to have. They ended up taking him back to the Humane Society a couple days ago. I know they are really sad about it, and I am sorry for their loss. I think that they are averting a much bigger tragedy by doing this though.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I took her to the doctor, that evening (LOVE that Layton IHC kids care!) and they did xrays. Said everything looked fine. They gave her a soft brace to wear and sent us on our way.
It's been 5 days now, and she's complaining that it still hurts a lot, and is having to take motrin around the clock. Her arm is still quite swollen, with visible bruising. She has such a high pain tolerance, that I was worried. In addition, her gym teacher was insisting on a doctor's note to excuse her any more from arm-related exercises from here on out.
This evening, I gathered up all four kids and took her back in. The doctor we saw decided we should get some more xrays. The nurse walked her over to radiology, and the tech immediately recognized K. She said, "The xrays aren't going to show anything different, it's been less than 7 days. I'm not going to xray her again."
The nurse took her back anyway. The tech stayed out front and got on the phone. The tech then got K and walked her back to the doctor's side, and told me xrays weren't taken because they wouldn't show anything different, and they were worried about radiation.
We waited in the exam room for a good 20-25 minutes, and the doctor came back and essentially told us the same thing, and that the radiologist suggested we not do more xrays.
She gave us a better, more supportive brace for dd's wrist (at my request), and an Rx to come back in a week from today for xrays if her arm still really hurts. I also had her write a note excusing her from any arm related exercise in gym class for a couple weeks. The receptionist wrote the note. Did you know crab walks/pushups ect (sic) can axacerbate (sic) her arm?
I shouldn't be mean though, the receptionist was really nice, and admitted she'd been there almost twelve hours and was dead on her feet.
I'm frustrated that I spent another copay and an entire evening there, and weren't able to check her arm again. Hopefully, this new brace will make her wrist feel better. The nice thing about that Rx we got is that we can go get an xray in a week if it's still feeling awful and NOT pay (yet another) copay.
Monday, September 13, 2010
I am so excited! I sent M out to check for eggs today, and he found one! And, even more exciting, it's a white egg, so it's not Lucy's. I am 99.9% sure that it's Clover's, since she's supposed to lay white eggs. I guess it's theoretically possible it's one of the easter eggers, but since they're barely 20 weeks and Clover is 24, I think it's unlikely.
This photo shows the egg along with store bought "large" eggs. It's the slightly smaller one in the middle. It's actually quite big, especially for a first egg.
Close up of the egg.I wish I could show you a picture of it next to Lucy's egg, but Lucy went on strike, and hasn't laid an egg in 8 days. She was laying every other day like clockwork, and now, NOTHING.
Our chicken coop has 6 nesting spots. Lucy always used the same spot. M found Clover's egg in the same nesting box. I thought that was kind of funny.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
On Saturday, I went to visit someone in jail. It was a very interesting experience for me.
The jail is a very dismal and depressing place, but oh my, the people watching is PRIME!
We made the appointment to visit our prisoner at 5:30 pm. We were expected to be to the jail and checked in by 4:45. To check in, I had to show picture ID, and they took down my address and phone number. I guess they also do a mini background check on you, and later on, if they find a warrant, they'll arrest you. Our check in guard was nice. She kind of rolled her eyes at a couple kids doing a shrieking banshee act.
Next to the check in desk, there's a cashier's station. That's where you go to post bail, or deposit money into your prisoner's account for commissary. Almost nothing comes free in jail, but you can put in orders for things like top ramen, stamps, soap, shampoo, conditioner, colored pencils, etc. If you don't know anyone on the outside to put money into that account, I think you're out of luck. Maybe you could manage to have an attorney do that for you?
After you check in, you sit down in the main waiting area and people watch for about 30 minutes. I was highly entertained by this, so the time flew by. They then call everyone up, and you exchange your photo ID for a key to a locker. You put all belongings in the locker. No keys (other than the locker key), papers, coins, phones, gang attire, or anything else is allowed back in the visiting area.
After putting our stuff in the lockers, we were herded to waiting room #2. We had to go through a metal detector that was super, super sensitive. The locker key and the button on my jeans set it off, so I had to have the wand swiped. They were extremely suspicious that I'd taken off my watch and set it on a table. The metal detector guards were the same ones who did the keys. A new guard came in, who initially came off as very, very dry, but she redeemed herself totally in my eyes. She spoke to us like we were three (and as I soon learned, this was necessary, given some of the people in the room). She insisted that we all be silent while she gave instructions, and that kids (yep, there were quite a few there to see mommy or daddy) not play with the noisy toys while they talked. Screaming banshee children ran around yelling and playing with toys while grandma looked on obliviously. Guard was really irritated (as was I), but surprisingly enough, screaming banshees weren't escorted out.
We were given rules, which included such gems as "no talking to any prisoner but your own", "No gang signs", and "no flashing". A couple people looked baffled at that last one. She asked if everyone understood, and a couple people expressed confusion on the last one. So, she pantomimed lifting up her shirt and actually said, "Wheeeeeee!!!". I had a great laugh and decided I really liked that guard.
She then read off the name of each prisoner. The visitors were supposed to raise their hands and say "here" when they heard their prisoner, and she would announce the visitation room. One guy obviously had a HUGE chip on his shoulder, and gave her this weird look and said, "Present". Whatever. However, he did capture Screaming Banshee Child #1, so I can't totally hate him.
We were then let go to walk down to the visiting areas. The hallway was painted very drab, no windows, all concrete. It was very depressing and somewhat claustrophobic. As we were walking down, my companions were muttering, "Please don't let us be in the same room as the kids, please please please please..." Well, the gods have a sense of humor, because guess who was in our room?
The visiting rooms are small, concrete rooms. There's a stool in the middle of each cubicle, and glass in the concrete so you can see your prisoner. There's metal mesh on the sides so you can theoretically hear them. Sound quality isn't that great under the best of circumstances, and you have to be within about 8" of the grates to hear anything. Add in banshees #1 and #2, and it was tough to hear much of anything. I tried to be patient, since they were there to see Mommy, but ARGH!!!!!
We actually got to the room right about 5:30 on the nose, and we got to visit til 6. At 6, a voice on the loudspeaker announced that visitation was over. On the prisoner side of the room, a metal door slid open, and they were expected to get up and leave.
It was very interesting, but I can imagine how horrific it is to be on the other side. It reaffirmed my decision to obey the laws, or at least make sure that if I ever do decide to do anything to put me in jail, to never get caught.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Imagine my delight when I realized that the orchestra was performing right next to the playground! K sat on the grass and listened/watched the orchestra, and I watched the younger three play on the playground while enjoying the music. It sounded absolutely amazing.
My attention was soon drawn to a man and his horse. The horse was decked out in beautiful hand tooled saddle and bags, etc. His handler was wearing an old west sheriff's outfit, and having him dance to the music- stomping his feet, turning in circles, etc. Sundance was also kicking balls around to the delight of the children around him. Ron Gardiner also had trading cards that he gave out to the children that featured a photo of him and his horse.
S wanted to come meet the horse, and Mr Gardiner wiggled Sundance's lips so that he seemed to be "speaking" to her. He asked if S wanted to brush the horse's teeth. Well, of COURSE she did!
I don't think I've seen her smile that big in a long time, and S is a very smilie child.
I have to admit I was really intrigued by the duo, and decided to look them up when I got home. I have to admit I was somewhat horrified by the article I found (linked HERE). To sum up, Mr. Gardiner retired just over a year ago after 37 years of service to the Ogden Police Department (seriously? He doesn't look old enough, does he?). He almost died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a call he went on in 2006. In 2007, he suffered a head injury in a training exercise. He's since had three brain surgeries. Going through all that has left him unable to work, and so he had a medical retirement last year.
Ogden city has offered him $90,000 as a settlement, which equals out to about 15k a year, assuming he lives another 20 years. They figure since they see him at the farmer's market, he should be plenty capable of working full time.
I really hope that Mr. Gardiner can get the settlement he's asking for. It seems to me that his injuries are from trying to protect and serve the people. I think it's the people's turn to protect and serve him!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I recently took the child safety lock off of our kitchen sink because I had to get to something in the back. I simply didn't bother reattaching it because I wasn't concerned that the kids would get into the chemicals there.
Today Z noticed the lock was off when I had him put away the bottle of window cleaner. (I've been letting him spray it on the walls and wiping it off with a rag, much to his joy). He was very concerned that the lock wasn't on there, and got it put back on there himself. I guess this is why I never bothered childproofing with him much- he always figured out how the locks worked almost immediately, thereby rendering them useless.I had another moment of realization this morning. I still tend to follow automotive trends and new cars that are coming out. This morning, I read an article about the 2011 Honda Odyssey, which will hit showroom floors at the end of the month. They had two new features that interested me: First, they have redesigned their minivan so that three carseats can be in the middle row, and all three can be attached with LATCH and a tether strap. Two more carseats can be latched in the back row. Now, I'm still way too vain to drive a minivan, but I was really impressed for a minute.
Then it hit me:
My time to worry about tethering multiple carseats is almost behind me (no pun intended).
Z is still in a five point harness. S was until about a month ago, when we cleaned out the car and never reinstalled her carseat, and just tossed a booster seat in when we realized we'd forgotten. Her seat will go back into our car. Z's carseat will expire in December, and I think at that point, I'll have S's bigger seat go to him, and let her use a belt positioning booster seat.
I gleefully donated my maternity clothes and threw away the nursing bras.
I find myself getting worked up about junior high school policies, not the latest and greatest in baby gear.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Here's our harvest after pulling them out of the ground:
And, after cutting the tops off and scrubbing them a bit:
Isn't that just amazing? They taste just like the regular carrots. A couple of interesting notes: The purple on the carrots is just on the surface. Once you take the skin off, they just look like a slightly darker orange color.
The white carrots have a stronger flavor than average carrots, but still are very tasty.
Monday, September 6, 2010
J's younger brother has expressed an interest in joining "the boys" for their favorite pastime- going out on the ATVs to the wilderness, and then shooting stuff. They don't hunt, they just set up targets or annihilate dead trees and rocks. J, our BIL, J's brother, and his dad all made arrangements to go on a ride and go shooting today. J really, really wanted me to go, and was trying to talk me into it all weekend. I fell prey to the typical "mommy guilt" and felt bad about leaving the kids so long. Finally, we decided that I'd go, and then we'd go do something fun after J and I got back.
We had a nice ride, and then went shooting. The boys were were sweet and anxious to have me try out each gun that they had. I tell you what, between the bunch of them, I think we could've had a pretty good chance of taking over Idaho, militias and all! I don't remember all that I shot, though I know I shot a 22 pistol, as well as a 22 rifle. I shot a Mouser, and I also shot an AK 74 (? I KNOW it wasn't a 47, and I'm pretty sure they said it was a 74). I thought I did rather well, if I do say so myself. I managed to not get a black eye or bruised shoulder from the kickbacks, and had pretty good aim. I even managed to blow the top off of a flower. Before I could get too cocky (ha ha), I had to remind myself that the AK (my favorite gun, and the one I shot the most rounds on), had both a scope and a rifle rest. And we weren't that far from the targets. But, considering I've only shot guns once or twice in my life, and both times were BEFORE I got married, I'll say that I wasn't too bad.
We got home, and J brought his gun (in its' case) into the house. Z saw the case and asked what it was. J told him it was a gun.
"Ohhhhhhh. For shooting bears?"
"Um, sure. I guess."
That was the end of it for a while. We aren't a hunting family. J has never gone hunting to my knowledge, and he's never got the gun out in front of the kids. We don't shoot animals.
We got everything safely put away and cleaned up, then took the kids to the Iceburg and to see Despicable Me. As we were getting into the car to go home, Z pipes up from the back seat, "So we can go shoot bears now?"
I have no idea where the kid gets it, but he sure cracks me up.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I'll write out a typical day on Friday (my busiest day) and Tuesday (my least busy day).
7:20 AM: Leave the house to drive middle school carpool. Pick up 5 kids. Drop one off about halfway (he goes to a different junior high), and then continue on to the junior high where the other kids go.
8:10: Arrive back home, hoping that the younger kids are ready to go. Rush around helping with final day preparatons.
8:20: Drive spectrum school carpool, which involves picking up two kids. Take them to their spectrum school.
8:35: Drive back towards home so that I can drop S off at the neighborhood school.
8:45: Drop S off, have a minor scuffle over whether or not she needs me to walk her to her class or not (she will be winning this battle starting next week, and I'll stay in the car).
9-10am: Go to the gym
10:50: Pick S up from school
12:15: Take Z to school
1:25: pick up the boys from the spectrum school
3:15: Pick Z up from school
The nice thing is that with the junior high carpool, I don't have to pick up after school.
8:20- Leave to drive spectrum carpool
8:45- Drop S at school
9:00- Drop Z off at neighborhood preschool
9:00- go to the gym
11:00- Pick up Z from neighborhood preschool
11:30- pick up S
And then I'm done for the day. I am in a carpool for spectrum school, but the other mother told me yesterday that they're moving to california in October, so I'll have to start picking the boys up after school starting then. I'm disappointed because it's been really nice. In addition, her son seems to be getting along really well with M, so I'm sad he'll be losing a friend.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I normally buy the "large" size eggs at the grocery store.
Here's a picture of 11 "large" eggs, along with one of Lucy's eggs.
I'm not sure if the angle is right, but try and compare Lucy's egg with the one next to it. Yep. There's a size difference.
The carton won't even CLOSE with one of Lucy's eggs in it. Not sure how much of a bigger wreck it would be if the entire dozen was that big.
I have to admit I hadn't even thought about that when I started hoarding egg cartons. Oops.