Sunday, December 06, 2009

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For Obvious Reasons

See, we've picked our family photo for our photo cards this year, and now I get to blog about the ones we aren't using. It's fun to find the images that truly capture the unique personalities of our children.
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Big Family Photo

This one turned out so well that I know I'll be getting a copy of it to hang on the wall. We usually just do the four of us, but I couldn't resist getting in a good family photo with Eric's parents while they were here. Thanks for being such great sports, Dan and Joyce!
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Not sure why this one was one of the rejects, I actually kind of like it. So here's what isn't on our Christmas Card this year. Maybe in the newsletter? This was taken on one of the turrets of the Lincoln Bridge at Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
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Christmas wish lists, old thyme recipes, and Sam

So I've been really busy lately. Truly. I started a full-time job at the beginning of November. It's been interesting to get the entire family used to the new routine.

Given that this is my first post in December, I thought I'd tell you what my wish list is, beyond the generic 'World Peace' and 'manners!' responses we give the kids. I'd love some knitting needles - specifically some really awesome sets of double pointed needles I've seen on for about $25 for a multi-sized set in various types of wood. Sam wants anything Star Wars or Star Trek, especially books or legos. Awyn is still into ultra-girly mode and would love dolls, clothes, dress-up stuff, Barbies, etc. If it's really Pink or purple, glitters or is frilly, she'll love it. She's also learning to read, so beginner readers are a good idea too. Both kids would say they want Mario Cart for the Wii. We don't have a lot of games, but we do have a few. Eric wants all sorts of things, like another hardcover book for his collection of Lewis and Clark journals. He's got 1, 2, 3, and 5. We also recently had to replace our DVD player, and took advantage of the sales on Blu-Ray devices. We own 1 bluray movie. Appropriately, it's the latest Star Trek movie.

Sam and Awyn still love school. Sam's struggling a bit more this year. His grades are fantastic - mostly A's with a couple of B's. His Aspergers is most apparent when he's at school, as he has a very difficult time with social rules.

Now for a recipe, as promised. Eric's parents were here for the Thanksgiving holidays, and brought with them a couple of old recipe boxes. Eric says they were his grandmothers. They contain some true treasures, and what better place to share them than on a blog? The hardest part is deciding which gem to share first. I mean, Hot Dogs in Hot Pants sounds so very, um, Hot. But I think in honor of friend David's facebook post this weekend concerning jello (and possibly jello shots) I will go with this wonderful recipe. And Eric nicely pointed out that tomorrow is December 7th. Please go pick up a history book if the reference eludes you.

From 'New Wartime Recipes for Minute Gelatin' - packed by Minute Tapioca Co., Inc.

Delicious, thrifty recipes for entrees, salads, aspics, fruit jellies, milk and cream molds. Recipes to help you make wartime meals exciting and nourishing - in spite of shortages.

Easy to S-T-R-E-T-C-H Butter
with Minute Gelatin

*Minute Spread
1/2 Pound butter or margarine
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons (1/2 envelope) Minute Gelatin
1/2 teaspoon salt

Let butter (or margarine) stand in warm place. Work with spoon until very soft, but not melted or oily.

Add 1/4 mild gradually to Minute Gelatin and salt in small bowl or top of double boiler. Heat over boiling water until gelatin is completely dissolved, stirring constantly. Add remaining milk and heat until just lukewarm. (if mixture is hot, cool to lukewarm.) Add to softened butter, a small amount at a time, beating with rotary egg beater after each addition until blended. Store in covered dish in refrigerator. Makes 2 to 2 1/4 cups.

1/4 cup water and 3/4 cup evaporated milk may be substituted for fresh milk, using water to dissolve gelatin.

Stay tuned for more Minute Gelatin Gems like Peppermint Cream Mold, Jellied Ham Timbales, and of course, Jellied Vegetable Loaf.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Fun


Yes, I had to dress up too. Eric's in his Captain Kirk costume too, but he's behind the camera. Our battery kept dying, so there weren't very many pictures taken this year. Still, a good time was had by all, much candy gathered and some eaten. We'll be 'sharing' some of the haul, I suspect.
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Happy Halloween!


Sam is a jedi, and Awyn is a Purple Bat. Her cape is even designed so she can flap away. Too bad she wouldn't pose with her arms out. They had much fun. We just went to church, where they played with the other kids and won some candy. They both brought cakes home from the cakewalk. Sam was so kind as to choose the cake I made. Now I'm glad I made a pumpkin log from scratch. Everything else was from Walmart. One of the other kids chose the purple cake, so Awyn chose a green one instead.
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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Tiger Cub Sam


It's that time of year again, when little boys are selling popcorn from door-to-door. I've never been a fan of door-to-door sales, especially sending little kids out as salesmen. Maybe I'm biased - could you resist this adorable little guy? This picture hardly does him justice. I think he might be more irresistible than the triple-chocolate mega-ultra popcorn & pretzel mix that he's selling.

Because we live way out in the country, and away from family, he's going to have a limited audience. I admit to being lazy and not taking him into town to sell with the other boys today. Having little sister to compete with for cuteness isn't fair, and we're busy getting ready to celebrate Eric's birthday today anyway. I have lasagna sauce to prepare, and a carrot cake to bake. I had to buy two packages of candles to have enough to go on the old man's cake. You should be able to see the glow over the horizon.
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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ah, Harvest


So this year wasn't my year for gardening. I tried, really! I was too cheap to rent a rototiller, so I turned my garden by shovel and spade. I planted corn, carrots, peas, beans, pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and kohlrabi. I watered and weeded, sweated and cursed. I even bought a soaker hose. I planted flowers, and late summer squash.
The grand total produce produced? This ear of corn - with three kernels. Actually, I can't even claim it - it's popcorn from my compost. I had a few grape tomatoes, from the compost volunteers. I had a canteloup, another volunteer that one of the kids planted in my flower box. I planted summer squash over the top of my septic tank - lots of blooms, no squash.

Mowing. I mow sporadically. Like when the grass is taller than the kids, it's time to hitch up Georgia and ride her all around the yard. It's been raining when I have time to mow, and sunny when I don't. Well, yesterday was a mowing day, and I was faced with the quandry; do I mow over the top of the summer squash, or do I grant clemency so that it can die a natural death by neglect. (yes, I've given up on it.)

Mowing creates a moral dilema. I'll attempt to spell it out for you. Georgia is a Husqvarna riding lawnmower with a 46" mowing deck, and a nifty trailer I can pull things around in if I'm so moved. She's orange and very pretty. Georgia is a little thirsty. It take Georgia about 2 gallons of gas for our 2 acres of grass. It takes me about 2 to 2.5 hours to mow said 2 acres. Our Northeast half-acre doesn't grow very tall, and grows very pretty wildflowers, so I don't mow it every single time I mow. I think, "Gee, it's environmentally friendly!" to let it grow wild. I'm not sure the neighbors think I'm so nobly minded, but hey, we're out in the country and there aren't any ordinences.

Yesterday I decided I'd give the lawn it's Fall shearing and scalp it as short as I can without killing it, so I don't have to mow again until Spring. I got a late start, and I forgot to wear a mask, forgot to wear gloves (Georgia vibrates a bit, and it takes a little while for my hands to regain sensation). So the kids got off the bus before I could finish behind the house and that NorthEast corner. Sam kept running out to me to get me to look at his math homework. I mean, he ran out after every single math problem. Awyn kept running into the Northeast to pick wildflowers before I could mow them down. Mojo kept trying to hop onto the mower with me. He did ride for a few laps at my feet before I was forced to concede defeat and stop mowing. So now I wonder, do I hop on Georgia the next time it's sunny and the grass has dried out (maybe Saturday) and finish the project, or do I just let those flowers and little grass stalks along?

I don't know if I'll attempt the same size garden next year. I'm not certain it's worth it. The grasshoppers first ate the beans, then the peas, then the squash plants. I can't even grow zucchini! What gardener can't grow zucchini? Now, my flowers did grow (a few of them, just enough for a little color in my flower boxes), and I still have a few cherry tomatoes on the porch that are green and trying to grow. But I spent a lot of money on my garden, and for what I spent on watering alone I could have bought fresh produce at the market all summer long. I planted 20 pumpking plants. No pumpkins ever formed. Lots of blooms, no squash.

Sam and Awyn did enjoy gardening with me, even when it was too hot to be outside. They even helped plant things. So I'll probably try to grow stuff next year, but maybe I'll stick to patio gardening.
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See how Tall my Grass Grows?

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Cantelope


I grew this! And ate it!
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Thursday, September 03, 2009

First Day pictures


Now that our internet is back, here's one more first day picture. They still love school, and it's nice to sit on the porch, sipping coffee while waiting for the bus. This last week or so it's been cool enough that a jacket is warranted, and the sun is only just coming up, so we get to watch the sun rise, if we go out just early enough. Mojo will try to board the bus, so we have to pick him up when he makes that sudden dash down the driveway after the kids. He's just not quite big enough to manage that bottom step, luckily.

Awyn loves school, even all-day school. She's a bit grumpy when she gets home though, and early bedtimes are a must around here - pajamas around 7, in bed around 7:30 if they want stories, and usually asleep by 8. This might seem early to some people, but they get up at 6 am to start their day. 'Studies have shown' that kids who get less sleep get grades below what they are capable of making. Also, mine throw mega-tantrums and meltdowns if they don't get enough sleep. For that matter, so do I.
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More Waiting For the Bus


The kids like to sit with the dog on the porch, waiting for the bus.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First Day of School


Sam and Awyn board the bus while holding hands. They had a good day at school, and were very excited to tell me about their day when they got home. Both are already in bed and I think Awyn will fall asleep quickly. She was nodding off right after supper, although she perked up after having a bath. Eric is still reading "Voyage of 'The Dawn Treader'" to Sam, but I think he's finishing the chapter now.

I sure hope this posts. I have more wonderful pictures, but we're currently being throttled for exceeding our monthly bandwidth allowance.
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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Teaching Myself to Tat

While cleaning out my 'project bag', I came across a 'learn to tat' kit that I think I bought as part of a trip to Colonial Williamsburg many years ago. Certainly I bought it at a National Park with an Eastern National bookstore. However, like many little cozy projects I've come up with, that one has come to nothing. I stuffed it into my work bag as yet another little distraction from the Summer dolldrums in the entrance stations when I worked in Big Bend National Park. I kept all sorts of projects on hand - quilt blocks, baby-blocks, books to read, etc. I thought maybe I'd finally open up that package and learn to make tatted lace. I have some friends in Kansas who learned - a nice living history pastime that would be slightly more historically correct than crossword puzzles.

The Learn-to-Tat kit had never been opened. I opened it last night, and realized why I'd never learned. The written instructions were terrible, and the blurry miniscule illustrations incomprehensible. So I did what I advise anyone learning a new hobby without a mentor to teach them - I looked it up on YouTube.

My fellow crafty people, I now issue the Tatting Challenge. It's wonderfully mindless, and there are endless variations. You'll wind up with yard of lace for whatever project you have in mind. For those of you with young daughters, if you start now, you just might have enough for a wedding dress someday. Or you can edge a pillowcase, curtain, dog or cat bed - the uses are many!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Awyn's Mess - the lite version

Yes, her room does look a bit like Barney and Barbie mated, and spewed their love children about my daughter's room with lavender and pinkness that cannot be ignored. And folks, this is AFTER I helped her do some serious picking up. The view is from her walk-in closet. What you are missing are the pastel butterflies on her curtains, and the purple sponging on one wall. She has tri-toned walls, in shades of pinky-purple. Yes, to those who know me, this is my nightmare bedroom scenario. All it needs are a few more bits of lace, and I swear, I'll lose it. But I can't deny my Princess anything, especially a bedroom that was already purple when we moved in.
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Messy Bedrooms

You know, I can get Sam to clean his room now, but when he was 4, there wasn't any chance of it. Sometimes I could trick him into making a game of it, but usually I had to go clean it myself. I don't know why I'm expecting Awyn to suddenly turn into a clean-room girl. I just love it when she flops down on the floor, couch, or her bed and declares herself so so sleepy, she can't possibly help clean right now. Then she takes her master disaster skills into her brothers room and destroys it too.

I need to weed out more of her toys. She has too many, that's part of the problem. I just have such guilt when I put toys up - because I know I'll forget about them, and typically she'll outgrow them before I pull them out again. It happened with Sam so very often. And then I'll have guilt. Guilt that I put a beloved toy away to be forgotten. Guilt that I'll now probably have to throw it away because it's not quite nice enough to find a new home for.

I have toy guilt. I can't stand the idea that a poor toy won't be loved, or was loved and then abandoned. I still try to tuck Awyn's kitty in with her at night, and she's soooo moved on from beloved kitty. Kitty became a fast favorite. Daddy found Kitty at Alco, in Alpine Texas. He selected this lovely brown kitty for our little girl, and she loved it so much it was hard to pry it away from her to pay for it. A couple months later when we realized the depth of her obsession, we hastened back to Alco and bought their entire stock out - so we would have back-ups. I did NOT want to be that mother on my favorite mommy bulletin board posting a "have you seen any of these - desperate!" search for my baby's lovey. The stash of kitties remained for a couple years, untapped. Until the move. I left Kitty in a motel room on our way back from our house-hunting trip. When we got home, I broke into the stash, took the tags off New Kitty, and had it in her hot little hands before she could squeal for it. Suddenly, she quit dragging that cat with her. Inseparable no longer. Mama Kitty, as she had become known by then, now tends to occupy the bottom of her stuffed animal stash. I do admit, when she misplaced her little bear the other night, to tricking her into accepting Mama Kitty instead, and I smiled.

My little girl is growing up so fast, I can't hardly stand it. Except that I'm really looking forward to her cleaning her own room.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wichita Mountains

Last Monday we went to the Wichita Mountains. This included a trip to Meers for lunch, and a stop in the Holy City. We've done this before, but this time we were showing it to the SCA who is currently at Chickasaw NRA. Yes, the Holy City is inside and on federal land. It was built by the WPA. They produce a passion play. It's something you have to see to believe. I'll post more pictures of it later. Meers has Meers burgers, giant hamburgers with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and mustard. They are so big that they are cut into quarters. They make them out of longhorn beef that they raise themselves, and it's 97% lean. It's wonderful. They serve fantastic cobbler and vanilla ice cream.

It was a fun trip, and good company.
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Sam sticks out his tongue; Awyn walks on Dad

I like how Awyn is walking on Eric's shoulder here, and Sam is sticking out his tongue at me.
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Awyn and Daddy

On top of Mt. Scott. Sam was too grumpy to get out of the van once we got to the top of the mountain. He was tired, and wanted to play video games. Eventually he stopped pouting and realized we were having far too much fun without him.
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A hard cross to bear

I fully admit that there is a more controversial version of this picture. I stood up there too, thinking maybe I could use it for a facebook profile pic. I decided against it so as not to offend friends and family. Awyn wanted up there as well, and this is how she hammed it up. It does rather sum up some of her experience. She had a bee in her bonnet for the first half of the trip. I figured out what was wrong after watching her wriggle in her seat at Meers, complaining that something non-specific hurt or was ouchie. One forced trip to the bathroom, and she not only quit asking to go home frequently, but instead became a happy, chipper little girl. You do owe it to yourself to click on this picture to enlarge it. The expression on her face is priceless. I'd blow it up, but it doesn't hold up to that very well.
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Furry Mojo

The other day one of my sisters asked me if Mojo finally grew out all of his fur. When we first got Mojo last Fall, he had been shaved so as to better treat all of the lesions on his skin, and the serious flea and tick problems as well. As you can see here, he's very fluffy now. In fact, I've had him professionally trimmed once, and I've trimmed him up twice. I'm not that good at it, but I try to keep his beard from dragging the ground, and with the heat of summer and all of the burrs in our yard, I try to keep the rest of his coat a few inches off the ground as well. I'm just sorry I hadn't brushed him before taking this picture. He's a gorgeous Pom when I've properly groomed him. He's finally becoming park of the family - and developing an actual personality and some playfulness. He's becoming more socialized all the time. Maybe someday he'll be a real dog...
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Butterfly release

You know, I posted that picture of the butterfly release, and never explained it. Hmmmm. Rather a long time ago now, Sam received a butterfly cage with a coupon for caterpillars from his grandmother. I can't remember why we couldn't send off for them right away, but then we were moving, and then we'd just moved, and so on and so forth. Well, we finally sent off for the caterpillars. We got them, but they'd already entered chrysalid stage, and the two that actually emerged were, um, not normal. So thanks to a guarantee from the company for "three perfect painted lady butterflies", we got five new caterpillars, still in larval stage. They did what they were supposed to, and we had five perfect butterflies. After about a week of enjoying them, we released them into the wild. The kids adored the butterflies, and I think we'll get some more another time. Awyn wanted to keep them forever and ever, but I was afraid I'd forget to feed them and kill them early, so I pushed for an early release. She was adamant that she wanted to keep them until they died, right up until I casually mentioned that they couldn't get married and have babies if we kept them in their cage. She was trying to take them outside right then and there. Awyn takes weddings and babies very seriously. Now whenever we see any butterfly that even remotely resembles a Painted Lady, she points to it and exlaims, "Look, she's got married, she's a mama! She loves me!" Ah the eternal life of the butterfly that isn't killed by a girl's mother.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Butterfly release time!

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Daddy's turn with a sparkler

These were wooden instead of that ultra-hot wire kind I remember as a kid. Fireworks didn't seem to last as long, but it's been a good 15 years since I bought any or set any off.
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Swimming Pool!

Awyn loves Purple Hoople. It's a nonsense word Eric made up, and Awyn decided she liked it and has applied it to a floating turtle thing. Sam likes the snow/water pulling thing. I can't remember where it came from; it was new when I blew it up. Debbie, I'm thinking maybe it came from you guys?
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Awyn and my afghan

I finally finished this afghan. Mom says she gave it over to me in 1993. I'm not certain how long she'd been working on it, but nevertheless, it's taken me far too long to take it up again. It was actually a fairly nice sit-in-front-of-tv project, and I listened to my ipod a lot. Mom, do you remember why pink? This is how you know I didn't choose the colors. I like the white, the teal/blue, and the dark red, but I'm not sold on the rose/pink. I used up all of the pink, almost all of the white, but still have a couple skeins of the blue and red left.
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Trips to the Creek

We do love a trip to the park to cool off. The water's free and cool. The mud supposedly has healing powers. The kids get to splash to their hearts content. We haven't been swimming in the deep water yet, or out to the lake. The lake water is usually warmer than the creek.
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Carry your own chair!

Awyn and Sam still love their portable chairs. They'll even put things in the pockets, like a towel.
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