Saturday, March 29, 2008

Childhood Dreams

Randy Pausch's last lecture.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

We had a lovely Easter. We had cousins visit, a delicious feast, and several fun egg hunts. We're all on sugar highs too. Aren't holidays wonderful?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Forts and more

Trainboy has been a puppy quite a bit of the time for the past few weeks. So he has moved on from building nests for baby birds to building "cages" for puppies. (Sarge sleeps in a kennel, which Trainboy calls a cage.) Dinoguy needed his own fort after it was discovered that Trainboy's was just right for one little puppy and no more, so Fixitman came to the rescue and helped them create a wall of fort fun. I think its great that he's putting all his building knowledge to good use.

Later, a tired little Trainboy puppy crawled into his "cage" for a nice afternoon nap.

Friday, March 21, 2008

AEROS show

We got to go to an AEROS show with a homeschool group in the area. AEROS is a Romanian Acrobatic troup. We had a great time, though it was about as long as we could handle, the kids were dashing for the door afterward.

It was a fun show, their was quite a bit of humor involved in it. Dinoguy requested we buy a glow in the dark jump rope after one number. Trainboy liked it when they made shapes he knew, or used blue, his favorite color.

Here is a link to a youtube video of one of their numbers. Link to video

Afterward, we played in the fountain for a bit before heading home.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rain Rain Rain

Our yard temporarily became a lake this week during a heavy rainstorm.

The first picture is the birds eating all our worms I guess, during a brief stop in the morning rain.

The second picture is later on, as the water threatened to cover all of the grass up.

Luckily we live in a "heights" area, so there wasn't danger of a river taking out our house, as there was in other areas of town.

We had a lovely day inside, making blueberry pie and playing pie samurai's. (Thanks to the Backyardigans for inspiration. :D)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In Defense of Food

Michael Pollan's new book came out. Did you notice? Or are you not big into food books? It may not be as awesome as his previous book, but it has many interesting and important points to make. Here are my top 3 for now:

1. Most of the stuff at the grocery store is not food. It is food-like stuff. It has very little relation to any of the stuff that grows in a garden or on a farm. Can you see the berries in a nutrition bar? Really? Look at the ingredients. Are there any real berries even in them? Do you know what most of the listed ingredients are? Where the come from?

2. Most of us have no idea when we are full or hungry. We pay attention to external cues to determine how much to eat and when. And we're eating all the time now, which is how the food industry is making more money off of us, since the average number of calories we each eat has increased by 600 in the past 40-50 years.

3. The health of the soil affects the health of the produce. The health of the cow affects how healthy a steak is for you. If you are just buying conventional produce and mass market meat, you aren't getting very much nutrition for your $$'s. Did you know there have been oranges tested that had NO vitamin C in them? Liebig's PDK hypothesis about fertilizer and plants is FALSE. Plain and simple. More over, cow's are ruminants. That means they are made to eat grass. Not grain. When they are grain finished on feedlots, they are also pumped full of hormones and drugs to keep them from getting sick. Do you really think that stuff isn't in the meat that comes from them?

While I had a harder time reading this book and didn't find it as well done as The Omnivore's Dilemma, it is a great read still. I am inspired to be more diligent in going to the farmer's market, to the pick your own farms, to buying everything meat from pastured sources.

We joined an organic food co-op and after our first week, I love it. I hope that continues!

Other great food book to read: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

Interesting link on What the World Eats. Full of pictures that you'll find fascinating!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Gentle Quiz

Life's Mishaps Pop quiz time:

1. When your dog decides to eat/kill your plant starts you've been coaxing to grow for a month, how do you react?
A. Laugh and say "Oh well, we'll start again! Silly dog, don't eat the plants!" Then play catch with the dog and decide to buy some of that spray that makes dogs avoid certain plants.
B. Calmly tell the dog, "No, that's a leave-it. Leave it." Then proceed to distract the dog with a ball for catch while salvaging the plants that look like they'll live.
C. Yell at the dog at the top of your lungs, scream for it to go to its kennel, while yelling "Bad dog!" and then storm back outside to clean up but instead put your hand thru the storm door window. Start bleeding and screaming for DH to rescue you.
D. Tell the dog "bad dog, kennel up" and put him in his kennel. Locate someone else who should have been distracting the dog from eating your plants and blame them for everything. Force them to clean it all up while you sulk.

2. When your DH is making pizza for dinner, and spills some on the oven, he decides to burn it off by turning the oven up to 500. The entire house fills with smoke. How do you react?
A. Laugh and say "Look kids, we have indoor fog!" Then vent the windows and show DH where the oven cleaner is for next time.
B. Calmly turn off the oven, vent the windows, get the oven cleaner out and ready for when it cools down some and thank DH for making the yummy pizza, but tell him you'll do the clean-up.
C. Irritably ask DH what he did and ask in a grumpy voice"Why didn't you just use the oven cleaner?" Tell him you don't like the windows open at night and grumpily proceed to start cleaning up "his" mess. Make him help though.
D. Tell DH he should have been more careful and he can't cook in YOUR kitchen if he's going to make such a mess. He really should be more responsible. Verbally berate him for at least 5 minutes about his error and tell him to clean it up.

3. You are going to a museum as a family outing. When you get there it is insanely crazy full of people. Your young son has a habit of running off to see what he wants to see, leaving you behind. When you catch up to him for the 20th time, after dodging thru the crowds, what do you do?
A. Smile and ask him if he's playing hide and seek with you. Ask him nicely (again!) to tell you where he wants to go before running away. Remind him that we need to take turns choosing what to look at and stay together.
B. Calmly hug him and tell him in your soft and calm voice how worried you were because you couldn't see him in the crowd. Explain that we need to stay together for safety reasons and we will see everything he wants before we leave.
C. Grab his arm, pull him to you and yell in your best restrained 'We're in public voice' about the dangers of running off in crowds. Tell him he has to hold your hand the rest of the time.
D. In your short irritated voice, say "You have to stay with me and not run away or we're leaving." Follow thru and take everyone home the next time he even runs a few feet in front of you.

4. It is a beautiful perfect weather day and would be great weather for playing outside. But some cleaning in the house needs to happen first. You wonderful children have settled in to the computer play time/TV watching and don't want to help clean or play outside right now. How do you react?
A. Put on radio with your favorite inspiring music, dance as you do the cleaning and practice thinking loving thoughts of how you are blessing your family by keeping it clean and inviting. Then tell them you are going to be outside and go play in the garden. Break out the blower/lawn mower to see if it attracts them.
B. Sit down and do your spiritual rejuvenation first, knowing you are going to need it to keep your patience and happiness up today. Then decide to alternate inside chores with outside fun and work. Offer for the kids to help each time you start something new, possibly eventually finding something that interests them more than the electronics.
C. Demand that they help by cleaning their room. Turn off the TV even though there are only 5 more minutes left in their show and tell them they have to help NOW. Grumble and clean and tell them it is their job to help. Then force them to play outside with you.
D. Blame them for the mess and tell them you don't like cleaning up after them. Supervise while they clean. Then tell them it is time for outdoor play. Make them play outside with you.

I hope you've enjoyed today's quiz! Time to tally your answers.

If you answered all or mostly all A's: You like to laugh in life and find the funny side to things. There isn't any situation where a little humor won't help. Love for your family, pets and friends is evident by your gentle teasing that is never sharp or pointed. You take responsibility for your own choices and mistakes and let other's do the same.

If you answered all or mostly all B's: You are calm, centered and gentle in your approach to life's mishaps. Sometimes things don't work out the way you want, but you know how to accept that. You are helpful and unconditionally loving to all. You let people make their own choices but try to be a guide by providing a great example and gently explaining why some things are better choices than others.

If you answered all or mostly all C's: You tend to overreact and lose your temper when things don't go your way (usually exacerbating the situation). If you can, you force things to go your way, since you are always or almost always right. "My way or the highway" makes sense to you as a philosophy. People in your family are slightly afraid of you, never knowing when you are going to "lose it". That's alright though, because in your view, if they do what you want, you have their respect (even if it's fear based.)

If you answered all or mostly all D's: It's usually someone else's fault that things don't go perfectly in life and you can usually pinpoint the person who was the problem and you will tell them about it! "The blame game" is one you play on a regular basis. You use threats and withholding to get the behavior you want from people. You don't yell that much, but you know what to say to hurt a person and keep tally of the wrongs people have committed against you for use later.

(The previous quiz was inspired partially by the cheesy magazine quizzes. It may have also been inspired by events in the writer's life. The actual events as they took place may or may not be represented above. This quiz is for amusement purposes only and is not scientific in nature.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

Here's hoping 3/14 is full of tasty pies for you! Dinoguy and Trainboy helped me make an orange meringue pie that was delicious!

Dinoguy chose the recipe based on what we had in the fridge - Trainboy added imaginary trains to the batter. Both took turns helping stir and cook the curd filling, and rolling out the crust.

Then we went to a park day pi party and had pie, cookies, circular brownies and played with other round and circular objects. I love Pi Day! :) (Even more so when its just a fun excuse to eat pie!)

(Pi is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of any circle for those who may have forgetten.) Pi = Circumference / Diameter. It is an irrational, never ending, never repeating number and is actually pronounced "pee" in Greek, or so I've been told. But we'll keep calling it pi(e) so we can eat pie on pi day! (And of course, pizza pie for dinner!)

Visit my food blog for the pie recipe!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Go to the Aquarium!

We went to the aquarium again this week. We've gone once every month on average now, making our membership more than worth it. Ironically, the fish part of the aquarium is not where we spend most of our time, but the animal jungle part. The hardest part of the aquarium is dealing with field trips that are there too. If we manage to go when it is mostly empty, we have an awesome time.

This past time there were way too many field trip classes at the aquarium and it was overcrowded in spots. We managed to have fun anyway, as you can see from their smiling faces? Umm...right. They both would prefer a turn with the camera over having their picture taken.

Okay, here's your turn with the camera Dinoguy:
What a nice picture of the fish!

I like that one too! Okay, let's give your brother a turn.

Hey that is a great photo of a penguin Trainboy! And it is even in focus! Woohoo, you're getting better!

They took many more pictures than that, I honestly never know what pictures I am going to get when they take their turn, but hey, as much as they get their picture taken, the desire to learn how to take pictures makes sense and it is kind of fun to watch the skills develop.

We ended up playing in the gift shop for about a half hour at the end. Dinoguy didn't find anything worthy of his spending money surprisingly and Trainboy became attached to a very pricey stuffed shark that I was sorely tempted to buy. But I stuck to the budget, gave him a big hug and we got to see something we've never gotten to see before - the Mayan dancers!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Let's Bounce!

We went to a bounce house with friends last week. It was a blast. It was also planned for the best driving weather ever. (That is sarcasm, for those of you who are sweet and nice and miss those type of things.)

We started driving to the bounce house, which was about 45 minutes away. After passing 3 accidents on the freeway (I love the HOV lane!), I should have gotten the message that we should go home, and drink hot chocolate all day. It started snowing once we were half way there and then it got really icky. Snow and hail and sleet, building up on my car while I'm driving. I was having flashbacks of Utah really. We haven't missed the snow at all, so this was not a good thing.

We arrive at the bounce house, after a little over an hour and go in. I'm feeling frazzled, but the kids are very excited and run off and start playing. I sit down for a bit and try to regather my frazzled nerves when Trainboy insisted I go with him in an obstacle course. These things are not designed for adults. There was also no way around several of the more "fun" obstacles - trust me, I tried. Luckily I had my camera with me and chose to make the most of the staticky hair I was developing by taking photos of the kids having a blast.

Lessons I learned: Take a ton of water, you get very thirsty. Wear long sleeves and pants or you'll have rug burn. Do not leave your shoes on the floor or someone may dump water in them. Recharge the camera battery before leaving home or while driving at least!

I wisely chose to leave early to start the trek back home, since I now teach piano lessons to a few girls from church in the late afternoon. I also chose a mostly non-highway route home, which was a good choice. Still, it took 1 hour and 40 minutes to get home, driving in slush, with alternating hail & thick white fluffy snow falling. Dinoguy was very excited to build a snowman when we got home, and then we did and there was absolutely NO snow at our house. Just a giant lake where our yard was supposed to be.

I did make it with 5 minutes to spare before piano lessons were supposed to start. :)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Snowy Week

The past week has flown by and been full of fun and excitement. I was too lazy to download pictures or blog, so now I will post a few things quickly to try and catch up.

Weather wise -we had warm weather and we cleaned the car, and then it snowed overnight. (First snow in TX for us!) Then it was warm, then it got cold and snowed again. The daffodils have all bloomed here and a few trees are covered in blossoms, so it is an early spring snow, that mostly turned our yard into a large puddle.

Sorry that the picture is just of a car with snow on it. It only snowed in the middle of the night, and I took a picture of it then, because the snow was mostly gone in the morning.

The kids were super excited about the snow. The kids looked out the window when I pointed out the remaining snow and then returned to TV watching. When they asked about it a little later, it was all melted.

We have cut down more sucker trees in the back yard and its starting to look a lot nicer. Hopefully the big ones that are left aren't all dead! If so, oh well. The yard is a big pile of mud mostly, though grass is starting to grow in some of the brown spots and we hope to get a decent yard, and some gardening spots as well. Lots of work, especially when you are doing the cutting old school with a bow saw, clippers & a hatchet. I just keep thinking its good for building muscles, and Dinoguy thinks it is just plain old fun. Sarge also enjoys gnawing on the branches.

Sarge graduated from Beginner obedience class. He can crawl, spin, shake, sit, lie down, come, stay and go up on command. He is doing well, and is almost a year old. I have hopes to take him thru more obedience classes to get his Canine Good Citizen and become a Therapy dog. He is such a sweet loving dog, I think it would be a great way for us to give service and also give him more purpose.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Things around the house

I think we have really reached a good mostly moved-in state now. I say that because we would rather be here much of the time than go out anywhere. Our home is comfy and warm and full of love. There is nothing to escape, our home is a haven. I love it. More so when it is mostly clean instead of mostly dirty.

Things I better write down before they are lost to my memory:

Trainboy now carries an invisible train named Thomas in his pocket. Thomas is spelled of letters, much like the show "WordWorld". Thomas makes steam, which Trainboy will gladly demonstrate to you.

Trainboy also like to make nests, usually on the couch, but the photo is one of the more creative ones. Thank you Ikea for designing these nice organizing bins just the right size to hold little boys. Now I'll never misplace him!

Dinoguy loves Zooboomafoo right now. He has mastered the basic principles of DVR - namely that you can pause & rewind your favorite parts over and over, to learn from them. He plays the song at the beginning over and over and dances to it while singing. It's pretty awesome. The only other song that gets such treatment is the "I'm not an egg anymore" song from Backyardigans Mighty Knights. He asks many questions about animals and plants, some of which I know the answers to, some of which I don't. He watches Bindi the Jungle girl occasionally too, but I don't think he gets as much from it as he does from the commercials playing during its breaks. (And fast forwarding during commercials is a no-no!)

Dinoguy had his first ingrown toenail this past week, (put that in your baby book!) which led to a discussion of "good white cell guys" and "bad bacteria guys" in our bodies, as part of why Mommy had to release the pus from his toe. Thanks to google images, we looked at many leucocyte and bacterial images, as well as the various parts of the cell - flagellae, mitochondria, and the like! His toe is fine - its just a sign to us that he is past due for new shoes - to the store!

I have found my cooking experiment bug again and have been having fun in the kitchen. I post about that on my food blog though. :) However, I mention it here because of the fun thing that happened today with my chocolate berry tart. Dinoguy wanted to help put on the berries at the end and instead fell hand first into the tart, coming out with a hand full of chocolate. I cried out in pain (my tart!) but suppressed the yells. However I still scared him a bit with my reaction and had to reassure him that it was just fine, would taste fine, I wasn't upset, it was an accident, its just a tart...Fixitman helped me to stay mostly calm and deal with what really was a minor accident, though it felt major for a bit. So maybe I'm a bit neurotic about my food experiments?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Gentle is as gentle does

What does a gentle person do? They keep their mouth shut when people say inflammatory things. They smile politely and think friendly thoughts. They drive courteously. They forgive. They have plenty of patience. They use a soft voice.

That's not me I'm talking about, but it can be how I try to be, how I try to think of myself. The gentle thoughts tell me that meeting basic needs of sleep, food, exercise, spirituality, socializing, cleanliness are what my focus should be. They tell me to find inner peace, to feel balanced and quiet, so I can hear and listen to the promptings from my inner self, that is trying to help me be who I really am.

I've sat down a few times in park outings when I am starting to feel unraveled and closed my eyes and breathed and emptied out the negative thoughts and searched for calm and happy thoughts to replace them. Even if I only partially succeed, it really helps. I don't know why it is easier to do at a park than at home, but it is. I have a hard time sitting still at home sometimes, after I get going in the morning. I need to make time more. Even 30 seconds of calm breathing and gentle thoughts can help bring clarity and peace back to me.

"What are we going to do tomorrow?" I asked. "The same thing we do every day, Mom!" Dinoguy replied. "What is that?" I asked. "Try to do good things of course!" He said.
Wise words, Son. Wise words.


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