Friday, August 27, 2010

silly bands

     Fads seem to  come and go in our household.  I figured that since we homeschooled our children, a lot of the peer pressure to conform to what everyone else is doing or buying would be diminished.  And for the most part it has, however, Mr. Ninja seems to have been suckered into the newest fad (that isn't so new anymore) of collecting silly bands.  This reminds me of the '80s craze in which pubescent girls rushed to bargain, trade and fight over rubber bracelets that would be simultaneously worn in order to reach the elbows (Madonna started that one).   Silly bands are basically a knock-off of Madonna's rubber bracelets, except that they come in all kinds of fun shapes like mermaids, genie lamps, dolphins and dinosaurs.

     Mr. Ninja informed me today that he 30 silly bands.  Most of which were recently acquired from a good friend of ours.  And do you know what?  I don't really mind that this little guy is collecting these.  He is starting kindergarten this year and for all the time he spends counting his bands, he's just sharpening his math skills.

And what mom wouldn't be happy about that?

PS.  If you catch the spelling error of "silly bands", don't worry, my two oldest already informed me.


School is starting up for the fall this week at HACC.  I'm taking a Chemistry 100 class and all I can say is AAAAAH!  I have had a head ache from concentrating too hard on problems such as these:

A runner wants to run 10.0 km.  She knows that her running pace is 7.5 mi/h.  How many minutes must she run?  Hint:  Use 7.5 mi/h as a conversion factor between distance and time.

Or this one:

A recipe calls for 5.0 qt of milk.  What is this quantity in cubic centimeters?

These are unit conversion problems and I spent a good three hours trying to figure out how to work them.  I was always really bad at word problems when I was younger, now I have no choice but to learn them because Chemistry is chalk full of these little buggers.

Thank goodness for good teachers, tutors, and tylenol.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

super dog's food

Ok.  You can call me nuts.  I've heard it before, anyways.  When I was a member of the LDS church, everyone thought that our family was really weird because we didn't eat sugar.  For a time, I was so fanatical about it that when my next door neighbor brought over a loaf of homemade bread, I refused it because I knew that it had that 1 Tbsp of sugar in it (and I refused it because not only were we banning white sugar, we were banning, meat, white flour and white rice).  Needless to say, we have certainly relaxed on our food preferences over the years.  The changes were actually a necessity.  When you are trying to raise four very active ninjas, cries of child abuse start ringing through the ears if you deny them those popsicles and birthday cakes that everyone else in the neighborhood is having.  Then I learned some pretty scary things about soy and how it could turn boys sterile if they have too much of it.  I heard this from an honest dairy farmer.  I think I can say there is "justifiable reliance" here (like the business law term?  I really did learn something over the summer).

So anyways,  after moving to PA and having to go through the cold winters, and having humanely raised, grass fed, organic meat available for purchase, we are no longer vegetarians and we let the kids have sugar pretty much whenever they want- although I still try really hard not to buy it. ( Did I cave into the Basic American Diet?  Yes.  Essentially.  But a mom's got to do what a mom's got to do.)

Which brings me to our Super Dog.  We adopted her last year from a rescue.  She is a mutt and was advertised as half german pincher, half greyhound although when the vet took a look at her, he really had no idea what she was.  She likes to run and is my walking buddy most days of the week.  I like having her around because she is a very sweet dog.  And because I want to keep her around for a while longer,  I MAKE HER DOG FOOD.

I told you I was weird.  But here is my reasoning- which is quite simple.  If I feed her good food now, she won't get sick later and come down with human diseases like diabetes, seizures, and cancer.  This in turn, will save me some costs in vet bills (because hopefully, I won't have to take her in for being sick.)  So far, she has been really well, has a healthy coat, and NO FLEAS.  I didn't even have to buy a flea collar or flea medicine because I put brewers yeast (available in your health food store) in her food.

And she loves this food.

It is made of all human ingredients and makes up a big batch which lasts for about two to three weeks (I freeze all but one container of it and transfer it to the fridge when I need it).  Here is the recipe if you want it.  Super Dog's foster mom gave it to me before we adopted her.

3 lbs Ground meat (turkey, chicken, beef or 2 lbs liver)
1 lb Brown rice
1 huge can Northern beans or green beans
1 large can pinto beans or green beans or peas
1 lb carrots
1/2 lb dried split peas or lentils
1 32 oz chicken or beef broth
2 32 oz water or more broth
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp brewer's yeast
1/4 cup flaxseed (whole or ground)
1/4 cup vinegar
1 Tbsp worchestershire or soy sauce
2 Tbsp sea salt (do NOT use iodized salt)
3 eggs
8 oz cottage cheese (optional)

*You can substitute or swap vegetables, but do NOT use broccoli, cauliflower, beets, onions.  Dogs cannot digest some of these, and others are toxic to them.  Likewise, dogs cannot digest grapes, chocolate, and many other human foods.  Please stick to the basic recipe ingredients and the proportions so that the diet is balanced.

Brown ground meat in the canola oil, breaking up clumps as you go.  Add broth, water and other fluid ingredients to the mix and bring to a boil.  Add rice and bring back to a boil and turn down the heat to medium.  Add all other ingredients and simmer (low to medium heat) for at least an hour.  Stir occasionally and more often as the fluid is absorbed. Add eggs and cottage cheese, stir thoroughly and then turn off stove.  Allow to cool and place into freezer containers.  You can freeze this stuff about a month.  You can refrigerate portions and use it up to 7- 10 days.

Go ahead, be brave and give it a shot.  If any of you dog lovers do try this recipe, I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

feng shui and the craft room

Ever hear of Feng Shui?  About ten years ago, my father- in -love introduced Mr. Hero and I to the concept.  He gave us this book called, The Western Guide to Feng Shui by Terah Kathryn Collins which is adapted towards us Westerners who like our square cornered homes (apparently, most Eastern homes do not have corners?).  The theory behind Feng Shui is that there is an energy in your home and how you decorate it determines the energy that will felt there.  Each room in your home represents a certain aspect of your life like Love and Marriage, Career, Wealth and Prosperity, etc. and if a person wants to have further success in a particular area of their life, they need to look at how the energy flows in the rooms of their home.
With that being said, we have had this bedroom in our home that we turned into a "craft" room back in March.  The boys all thought that it would be fun to bunk together in the same room and then have the other bedroom set up as a space for their creative endeavors.  Currently, the older two ninjas are really getting into sewing.  So they wanted a more permanent place to set up their serger and sewing machine and all the scrap fabric that goes with it.  Before we could do this, however, we had to put in some work.

To begin,  Mr. Tailor and I spent a few hours sanding and waxing an old farm table we had to hold the sewing machine and serger.

 After it was finished, we then headed off to the bedroom where the rest of the ninjas jumped to the task of scraping the astronomy themed border off of the plastered walls.   This took more time than the table and since I didn't want to wear the guys out (or completely lose their interest with a long drawn out project) we limited our scraping time to only one hour a day.

After three days, the task was done.

 Next, we made the trek down to a Baltimore one Sunday morning, for a shopping spree "with a purpose" where we purchased shelves, lights, and other fun gadgets to keep this room organized.

 And finally, after spending some time in the paint shop, we decided on three colors- Seal Skin, Kestrel White, and Taupe Tone to put on the walls.   The end result was this:

The futon cover that was supposed to be "yellow" (one of the joys that come with online buying- you never know just what you'll get).

These are pop cap magnets that our dear Craft Queen showed us how to make for this magnet board.

So back to the whole Feng Shui thought... this craft room just so happens to be located in the Wealth and Prosperity location of our home.  I don't know, it seems a little unnerving that our future prosperity might depend on whether or not our four ninjas can keep this room clean.   It is a "craft" room after all.   I guess we could do a little experiment to see.  Dang, I really hope we don't end up moving back into our parents' house.

 Either way, I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"getting" to go to school

This summer I decided to go back to college and work towards my bachelors degree after a seventeen year sabbatical.  The class I decided to take to begin this new adventure was Business Law 201.  What I loved most about this class was it's practical application in my life.  I was able to learn about the laws of this country in relation to business, I learned about fun stuff like torts and how the judicial system handles civil and criminal cases.  I learned about contracts, product liabilities, lemon laws, and the passing of title among buyers and sellers.  I memorized the 10 Amendments.

We watched three movies in class.
Separate But Equal
The Insider

Great stuff.

I had to give my first Power Point presentation. (Power Point didn't even exist when I first started my college career back in 1991).  Luckily I am married to Mr. Hero who as I have mentioned before, can tackle any computer issue with flying colors.  He saved my group presentation by enlightening me with his expertise.

I had the chance to do a research paper on the big multi-billion dollar company Monsanto and was able to discover how several states are fighting back to protect the farmers this company unmercifully sues for patent infringement. Before this paper, I had watched the movie Food Inc. and had learned about Monsanto.  I didn't know that this big company could be stopped.  I was happy to see that there really is power found in "the one".  And even better yet, when two or more people come together to fight injustice, they succeed.

Tomorrow will be my last day and I'll take my final.  I'll get an eleven day vacation before I begin again for the fall semester which will entail Chemistry and my PE requirement of Self Defense (I've wanted to learn self defense for over twenty years).  Am I nervous? Yep.  But the challenge should be fun.

My mom- in- law once told me that when she returned to school at the age of 56, she kept in her mind the fact that there is a big difference between "getting" to go to school and "having" to go.
She finished her bachelors degree when she was 60 - a time when most people are finishing up their careers and looking towards retirement.  I admire her courage, dedication and example.

In a few weeks, we'll be starting up our homeschool again for another year.  Mr. Tailor will be in his second year of high school,  Mr. Reporter will be finishing up junior high, and Mr. Cook and Mr. Ninja will be learning their 3 R's.  We have some new changes that we'll be working with this year and I am hopeful that this year will be better than our last.  And if the kids can learn Grandma's lesson, then there's no telling what they'll be able to do.

Should be a fun ride and I'll be holding on- Tight.

Monday, August 9, 2010

time with Emily

Some keep the Sabbath going to church;
I keep it staying at home,
With a bobolink for a chorister,
And an orchard for a dome.

Some keep the Sabbath in surplice;
I just wear my wings,
And instead of tolling the bell for church,
Our little sexton sings.

God preaches, - a noted clergyman-,
And the sermon is never long;
So instead of getting to heaven at last,
I'm going all along!
                                    - Emily Dickinson

Thanks, Emily.