Monday, April 30, 2012

Looking Forward to Dog Days

As of today Yip and Yap have only 10 days of school left. In 10 days they will officially be 2nd graders!  I think the state of Kansas has a much shorter school year than most states. I know teachers in Indiana that still have 2-3 more weeks left.

Wow, this school year went by fast. Only 10 more days until the dog days of summer begin. Where did the phrase "dog days of summer" come from anyway? I think it's awfully misleading especially to mothers! I remember last May, after the boys finished kindergarten, I was looking forward to a slow paced relaxing summer. Ha!! Last summer was full of swim lessons, baseball games, summer basketball, 4H fair, Vacation Bible School, summer library and squeeze in a short family vacation and I felt busier than when the boys were in school! Where were my relaxing days? 

As I look at my friends with older kids I often wonder if raising kids ever gets less hectic, before they move off to college of course. A friend of mine who has teenagers was super busy with golf matches, prom and graduation preparations...and that was just one of her kids! I suppose though that raising children has advantages and disadvantages at every age. At the age of 3 Yahoo can dress herself, often with interesting combinations, whereas she couldn't six months ago. 

Despite knowing that we'll be busy this summer I'm still looking forward to school being out. Yeah, my boys drive me crazy when they are home all day but I still really enjoy them and all the things we get to do together. I've learned that having school age kids keeps me busier than I ever imagined and we'll be busy this summer too just like summer last. Swim lessons, VBS, 4H archery and projects to finish, 4H camp (a first time spending a night away from family) and a family vacation back home to Indiana. NO BASEBALL this summer!!! I was ecstatic when my boys vetoed baseball for the summer! I've never been a baseball fan but going to games last summer when it was over 100 degrees out sure didn't endear me to the sport either! 

Yeah, we'll be busy. 

But I am looking forward to wringing out as many good times with my family as I can this

What is your summer shaping up to look like?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Foody Friday - Polenta Spinach Mayo Eggs

I've been in an experimenting cooking mood lately, much to the misery of my husband and kids. I made a mushroom soup that I thought turned out fairly well that my family judged as so bad that they DR didn't even try to hide his displeasure. The fact the soup came out looking like tile grout probably didn't help matters...yeah, that's a recipe that will never see the light of day again...and I definitely won't post it here. 

However there are sometimes I can experiment with food and make just enough for me, then I don't have to worry about any complaints. This is my new go to breakfast, Polenta Spinach Mayo Egg. Yum, This is soooo creamy. 

First off, let me tell ya, I hate mayonnaise. I have NEVER liked it...BUT I have always wanted to try and make homemade mayo because I've heard it was kind of tricky. I wanted to make mayo not to eat necessarily but just to see if I could do it. I found an awesome tutorial on making homemade mayonnaise and it worked perfect the very first time! But then I tasted it, oh my, homemade mayo is NOTHING like what you buy in the stores. It's wonderfully creamy and not fluffy. I know, homemade mayo is awful because you are eating raw eggs, well I haven't died yet and I'm not eating it everyday so I think I'll chance it. 

Second, I decided to make Polenta this week, another dish my family doesn't care for. I boil cornmeal in broth and then add Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and a bit of salt. Then I pour it in a bread pan and let it sit overnight, then slice it up. 

At first I was just frying up a slice of polenta and an egg for breakfast but then I had a brain flash! (some I know call it a brain fart) When the egg and polenta was fried I threw some spinach on the polenta, put the egg on the spinach, threw on the lid just enough to wilt the spinach and then slapped it all on a plate. Finally, I topped it off with homemade mayonnaise with a bit of dill seed mixed in. 

Yum yum yum de yum yum. 

Who said playing with your food is bad?  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Week 17 - Fire

This week's photo theme was Fire. Yes! A great excuse to roast marshmallows! Though, do you really need an excuse? 

1/60sec, f6.3, ISO 200

1/60 sec., f6.3, ISO 200

1/60 sec, f7.1, ISO 200

I'm not quite sure what the ghosty white curve is in the upper part of the photo above but I thought it was a pretty cool effect. I purposely left my exposure time slow to get a blurry fire. 

Before I even started shooting the fire I noticed that most of my photos so far in this 52 week project have been shot zoomed in on the subject. Very rarely do I find myself shooting a wide angle of a scene. I TRIED this time to shoot far away but I just kept getting drawn in. (Still, overall I'm really happy with these photos.) With the remainder of this project I'm going to TRY to be more aware of shooting both close up and far away, we'll see how it goes. 

Next week - Ice!

Ha, maybe I'll have to break out my Paintsicles :) 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Mad Little Sister

I took my kids out early Saturday morning to the park with the only goal of taking pictures and HOPING to get ONE where all three of them are smiling and happy and a good individual shot of each of my kids. I know, I know...a huge expectation on my part wasn't it? But really, 4 great pictures was all I was asking for! 

I have to hand it to my boys, they were great and happy and getting photos of them was quick, easy and painless! 

Yahoo on the other hand.....

....well, I'll just let a couple of photos speak for themselves. 

Hee, hee!! Yip and Yap were trying sooo hard to get her to smile and help me out but all Yahoo wanted to do was leave to play on the swings. 

Finally, we agreed to take a photo on the swings but I had to do it quick. It's not the greatest photo and I'll have to do some editing but at least they are all smiling, toothless and all! Thank goodness!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yip's Zombie Pirate Skeleton Guy

Man, there are days when Facebook really burns me up! I tried most of the weekend to load pictures on my FB page for family to see and I couldn't get anything to happen. This is one of the reasons I started a blog in the first place, to make sure I could actually share photos!!! 

Facebook's crappy photo loading really bugged me this weekend because Yip had a great drawing that he really wanted to show our far away family, especially his Uncle Marvel Man. So, sorry I couldn't get this on FB family but here's a way to check out Yip's latest creation! 

Yip says, "The ghost pirate is rising out of the water. The one pirate has a broken vest on. He has a squid in his right eye. They shipwrecked in a jungle and the boat sunk. There's lots of trees and bushes and there is a vine hanging from a tree." 

Nicely done bud! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Marker Monday - Knockoff Paintsicles

I was thumbing through a Discount School Supply catalog the other day and came across a Paintsicle maker.
Biocolor® Paintsicle Maker- Set of 3

 Interesting idea. Supposedly this particular kind of paint, BioColor, is a better quality of paint than your average run of the mill craft paint. I've used it and it IS very good but I was wondering if how the craft paint I had would work as a Paintsicle.

I had some tempera paint and some acrylic paint that I swirled around in two separate cups and popped in some craft sticks. Who needs some fancy shmancy paintsicle maker? 

Tempera is a water based paint while Acrylic is a latex based paint so I anticipated that Acrylic would work better when frozen. 

The tempera worked but I did have to press harder and the formation of ice crystals interfered with a nice smooth painted line. 

The Acrylic was much nicer! 

Yahoo tested it out for me but, really, she didn't seem too interested in playing with it. She scribbled on one piece of paper because I asked and then just walked away. I'm glad I didn't buy anything special if that was going to be her response! But who knows, maybe she'll be more interested in it later so I popped the paintsicles back in the freezer. 

Paintsicles; fun to experiment with, use acrylic if you have it but ya don't need to put a bunch of money into a "Paintsicle" maker! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Devotions - The Ten Lepers

Luke 17:11-19

As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

This week I've been preparing for my very first lesson as a Sunday School teacher which is the story of the ten lepers and thankfulness. When Jesus heals ten lepers only one returns to say 'thank you' to Jesus. I can't imagine Jesus was too content with being brushed off by the other nine. Granted, I'm sure they were excited about the miracle that had worked in their bodies but honestly, would saying 'thank you' really have taken that much of their time? The lesson from this story seems to resounding in my own life quite a bit lately. 

As I mom I often feel taken for granted for all the things I do. Anyone else ever feel that way? One particularly stressful afternoon I had been cooking dinner, finished homework with my boys, allowed them to have a friend over to play, made a quick dash to the store for my kids and was bombarded for requests for this and that and whatnot. By the time my husband arrived home from work I was tired and upset and I just left. I left my husband to finish dishes and put the kids to bed. While I was off on my own I realized I was so upset because none of my kids had said thank you the entire afternoon or evening despite my running around doing things for them. I felt totally used and tossed aside. 

On a side note, my hubby must have laid a guilt trip on them because I awoke the next morning to homemade "I'm sorry" cards and solemn apologies from both my boys. 

Aren't I guilty of the same thing though? I have a prayer wall, a wall full of Post It Notes, of people I pray for. I don't thank God near often enough for the prayers he's answered or gifts he's provided me. Is "thank you" really that difficult to say? Does it take that long? And now that I think about it I should probably be thanking many others for things in my life as well. I need to thank my husband for covering for me and my mom duties when I get pushed to the limit and have to run off. I need to thank my kids for all the hugs/kisses/stories/pictures/laughs they provide me everyday. I need to thank a lot of people in one way or another. Who can you thank today? 

Dear Heavenly Father, The words "Thank You" don't fall out of my mouth nearly enough. Please help me cultivate a thankful heart that I may recognize all the work You do for me. Amen. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Foody Friday - Monkey Butter

I found a recipe for Monkey Butter on Pinterest and with a name like that I couldn't help but try it out. 

MONKEY BUTTER (makes 5 cups)
5 medium-size perfectly ripe bananas (no brown spots)
 2 1/2 cups or 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple (I used diced), not drained. 
1/4 cup coconut (I prefer ground coconut)
3 cups of white sugar 
3 Tbsp lemon juice (use bottled for uniform acidity)
Peel and slice bananas, then add all ingredients to a heavy saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring often, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until thick.  As the mixture thickens, stir constantly until desired thickness is achieved.
When thick, spoon mixture immediately into hot sterilized jars, apply heated lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

I probably was a bit conservative with the heat, I kept it fairly low and it took  over an hour of boiling until it was ready to put in the jars. 

But it was worth it and so very good. 
It's just like banana jelly! Yahoo enjoys licking it off the bread, Yip thought it was pretty yummy and Yap won't touch it but then again he doesn't eat jelly at all. I think it got a 3 or 4 stars. 

I have never made or canned any sort of jelly before this. Despite the hour worth of stirring atop the stove making jelly wasn't as difficult as I thought. All my cans sealed which is always a good sign. I think I'd like to try this again and add some other tropical fruits to the mix like mangoes or orange juice. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Week 16 - Clean

Week 16 theme is clean. I was doing dishes and wanted to try shooting bubbles. This first one originally was very bright and I had to do a lot of editing to get the stream of water and details of the bubbles to show up. 

f7.1, 1/13 sec, ISO 1600

f7.1, 1/10 sec., ISO 1600

The second was a bit better but I still ended up tweaking the contrast some. This one is my favorite though with the shallow depth and the blue reflected on top of the faucet. 

f7.1, 1/20 sec., ISO 1600

Next week....Fire. That could be fun. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Teenage Boys; do I have ANYTHING to look forward to?

For the last few months I have been struggling with my boys, well struggling with keeping them dressed anyway. Every couple of weeks they are growing out of their jeans, needing a new pair of shoes or all their socks decided to develop holes at the same time. I wish boys were like girls. I have lots of people giving me clothes for Yahoo and if they weren't all I'd have to do is hit up one good garage sale over the summer and she could be set on clothes for a year or more. 

I'm beginning to realize that boys are an entire different animal than girls. I thought I understand them when they were 2, 3, 4 years old. It was cars, jumping, playing guns but now that my boys are 7 I'm beginning to realize I don't know anything about boys. (My boys will be happy to fill you in on my lack of superhero knowledge.) 

On Monday I was subbing for a gym teacher and in the morning I was covering two high school weightlifting classes of about 12 kids a piece with only 1 girl per class. Man, did I feel sorry for those girls. Really my job was extremely boring; give the kids their workout, sit back and make sure no one is goofing around or getting hurt. Basically I sat on my butt for 3 hours with nothing else to do but watching boys lift weights. What an experience; it was like the boys were in their natural habitat in the weight room. 

I don't think I've ever really watched a group of teenage boys before to see them interact and communicate and relate to one another. It was bizarre. I kind of felt like Jane Goodall hiding in the jungle. Boys are so physical; it was like they communicated more by hitting one another than talking to one another. And I noticed that boys do physical acts, like jumping to touch the ceiling or lifting a huge amount of weight, not so much as an act of showing off but because they just have the need to move and to push themselves. Not the girls; the girls got their workout, did it quietly because they needed to get it done but they didn't look too excited about it. I'm sure if the girls had the choice they'd rather sit and talk. 

The more I watched these teenage boys the more they reminded me of really tall 2 and 3 year old boys. Both ages are so very physical with the need to move and do rather than sit and think like the way I notice girls playing and interacting. My experience subbing in the weight room really makes me wonder what exactly I have to look forward to in about 8 years when Yip and Yap are teenagers. Will they have matured at all? (Please someone tell me the answer is yes!!) I felt like I couldn't have related to those teenage boys at all, despite my years of athletic experience. Will I have anything in common with my own teenage sons? 

I'm not the only one worried in my house. DR told me last night he had a nightmare; Yahoo was a teenager and going to prom. I just rolled my eyes at him. At least I have DR because one of these days when I know absolutely nothing about boys he'll be there to fill me in (I hope!) or just take over. Because if I have to raise Yip and Yap through the teen years by myself I doubt I'll make it! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Look what showed up on my street.

Look what showed up on our street, right outside of my house, this weekend!

I looked out to see all these old cars but I was stirring jelly on the stove so I couldn't take too many photos or my jelly would burn. But I ran out to get a few shots from my front yard. 

I think that the owners were stopping at the museum for a meeting or something because, unfortunately, they didn't stick around too long. 

It was a nice view while it lasted though. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Devotions - Daniel's Diet

Daniel 1:8 Daniel made up his mind not to harm himself by eating the king's rich food and drinking the king's wine. So he asked the chief of staff for permission not to harm himself in this way. 12 Please test us for ten days. Give us only vegetables to eat and water to drink. 15 After ten days they looked healthier and stronger than the young men who had been eating the king's rich food. 

With the debate on "pink slime" and other food related issues, recently I've noticed a variety of "diets"  for healthier living gaining popularity on the Internet. There is the Caveman diet, Hormone diet, Gluten Free diet and even the Daniel diet which is based on the prophet Daniel in the Bible as well as Vegetarian and Vegan. Although they all differ in what is and what is not allowed on their diets for the most part all of these diets tend to emphasize eating real food. In saying real food I'm referring to unprocessed, not from a box, food. You know, food that actually requires preparation. No donuts, chips, or Kraft macaroni and cheese. Rather these diets emphasize more fruits, vegetables, nuts and other foods that are grown rather than created in a factory. 

For the last few months I've made some major changes in my diet. Not that I can get my husband convinced to make the same changes but I am starting to see the effects of my brainwashing on my kids. I've given up pop and practically all sugar and I've tried to load my meals with fruits, vegetables, nuts and less meat. It hasn't been easy, especially when it seems my generation and that of my kids seems to have been raised on nothing but processed foods. 

Since making the diet changes I've felt so much better! I've been sleeping better and have had so much more energy and haven't had that afternoon slump that before would have had me brewing a pot of coffee just to keep me going. I've gotten to the point, finally, where I barely crave sugar (candy or pop) any longer. 

A lot of people don't think there is anything wrong with the American way of eating processed and fast foods but the Bible backs up the wisdom of eating better. Daniel asked his Babylonians captors for a diet of vegetables and water and ten days longer he proved that his diet was healthier. When we are healthy we have more energy. When we have more energy we work better for God. This body and this life was a gift by God for God. We are put on Earth to work for him and to get our jobs done to the best of our ability we need to be as healthy as possible. We wouldn't put milk in the gas tank of our car. Then why would we put junk in our bodies? 

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for giving us these bodies and the right foods to fuel them for Your work that needs done. Help us make the right dietary choices today for ourselves and our families. Amen. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Week of Pinterest

A while ago I was giving a lesson on social media to my home ec club. Essentially I was trying to convince a bunch of women, the ages of my mother and grandmother, the positive aspects of sites such as Facebook and Pinterest. 

One of the ladies piped up and asked, "Yeah but aren't a lot of these sites nothing but big time wasters?" 

I kinda felt like I was kicked in the stomach because, you know it's true, Pinterest and Facebook can suck huge spans of time out of my day. But last week I decided that I was going to spend this week applying some of my Pinterest I can make myself feel better about my growing number of boards..HA! 

1. Easter we decorated eggs like Angry Birds. My boys thought this was awesome! 

Yip even made a Wolverine egg. I was rooting for a Hugh Jackman egg but I'll take what I can get. 

2. Melted Crayon Art 

If you've been anywhere on Pinterest you've seen the melted crayon art. Yap saw it and immediately decided to try it. 

We had to start with the blow dryer really close. I think a diffuser would have helped because after a while the wax started splattering off. 

So then Yap moved the heat to the top and that helped a lot. 

Look at that concentration! 

3. Baking soda and colored vinegar

 Granted, I did go through an entire box of baking soda but Yahoo enjoyed it. I just added some food coloring to vinegar and gave her a pan of baking soda and the fizzies kept her busy for 45 minutes! 

oh, yum! so much better than store bought. 

5. T-shirt to Tank

This will be sooo nice to wear when the temps soar above the 100's this summer. 

Really cool DIY tank top

6. Pallet furniture

Okay, I admit this project I started over a month or so ago when I found a pallet, chopped it to the size I wanted and then it's been sitting in the garage ever since waiting for legs. I didn't have a clue what to do about legs. 

I have wanted a coffee table for our living room but needed one that seriously would be able to stand up to my kids. See, my hobbits don't view it as a coffee table or magazine table but rather a launch pad for their Evil Knievel exploits. 

Thanks for the legs DR! 

Now I have visual proof that Pinterest is NOT a waste of time but a useful resource for all aspects of my life! 

(Man that sounds so much better than; Pinterest - a great place to look at people's fingernails!) 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Foody Friday - Pizza Braid

What kid doesn't like pizza? We LOVE making pizza...the only problem is my kids and I don't agree on toppings. I found a fun way on Pinterest for kids to make their own pizza but also make it portable, more like a calzone. 

First roll out your preferred pizza dough and pile it with toppings right down the middle. Me: sauce, mushrooms, peppers, onions and cheese. 
My boys: sauce, pepperoni, cheese 

Then use a pizza cutter to slice the dough on each side of the toppings. Tuck in the ends and then criss cross the dough ribbons across the toppings. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. 

Cool, slice, dip in the leftover pizza sauce and chow down. 

Like I said, there isn't anything special about making a pizza braid other than it just LOOKS different and if funny pizza helped get my boys excited about making dinner (they actually WANTED to help) I'll gladly do it again. It wasn't that hard and I was surprised the braid stayed together, I kind of expected it to fall apart once it came out of the oven. The best part was I sliced it with a knife and my three year old could eat and I didn't have to worry about the toppings falling off! 

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