Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Woohoo! It's Finally Cooling Off!

Tomorrow the high will be around 80 degrees. And why am I rejoicing?
Because it's been about 97 for the past several days. Today was 90. Looks like we'll get a short break before temps head back up into the 90's over the weekend.

I miss my central AC.

But I'd settle for some rain.

Splits for a Cause

Between 6/29/10 - 9/7/10, Electrolux will donate $1 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund for each virtual banana split made at Kelly Confidential, with a minimum of $35K and a maximum of $40K donated. You can make a split every day...and for each split you make, you'll also be entered for a chance to WIN your very own standalone freezer and fridge from Electrolux!

I could really use an extra fridge and freezer to feed my brood (just think what it'll be like the the boys are teenagers, they already eat as much as their dad...and then some).

One winner each day will receive $50 to spend on summer treats. Pretty cool.

Disclosure: I will receive a chance to win a standalone freezer and fridge from Electrolux for posting this info. I received no compensation.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dial-Up Internet...It's Pretty Ugly

After a few days of dial-up I was thinking, "Hey, this ain't so bad."

A little slower, but that keep me from mindlessly wandering over endless mounds of information. That's probably a plus.

And if I turn off graphics, pages load much more quickly, perfect for getting through pages of emails and skimming over forum and blog posts.

Then I spent about an hour designing a new blog header.

And uploaded it to my blog.

And previewed it.

And immediately deleted it.

It was a huge blur!

Thought there was something wrong with my file. So I uploaded my old header and took a look at that. And started looking at the other pics on my blog. And they were all pixelly bloboids (yes, that's a technical term).

Logos on commercial sites are pixelated and filled with artifacts...nope, it ain't pretty. It's actually pretty ugly.

This is liable to really change the way I look at the internet.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Attention ALL Dishwasher Manufacturers!

Why is it that my dishwasher has fancy doodads to accommodate about a dozen wine glasses without breaking them...but I'm still struggling to get sippies in there and get them actually clean?!

GE, Whirlpool, Kenmore...please please invent a device that will keep all those fiddly valves and lids at the proper angle so they
  1. won't fall through the holes of the rack
  2. will get clean
I actually have little baskets that fit in the dishwasher. They're designed for bottles and work pretty well for bottle rings and nipples and all...not so much for sippies.

Suggestions, anyone?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

We Moved and I'm Still Alive!

Woohoo...98% of our stuff is officially moved!

Details will have to wait...I am still without internet.

Pray I can find my 4-year-old's underwear in the labyrinth of boxes (oops!).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Not Me Monday: Not My Floor!

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When I arrived at the new (to us) house to confirm the finish color for the upstairs floors we were having refinished, my jaw did not drop to my knees as I tiptoed over the rough sanded 1st floor. The floor that was in good shape. The floor that was not perfect but had a nice aged patina to it. The floor the Antiques Roadshow people would probably shoot you for sanding down.

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One of the 1st floor rooms, before the sanders arrived.

Nope, did not happen.

I called up to the workers on the 2nd floor and moseyed on up to see my well sanded upstairs floors. They were beautiful. Truly. We went through each room, the guy (I’m naming no names!) showed me the imperfections (who wants perfection in a 100+ year-old house?).

houseandkids 018 One of the upstairs rooms, before the sanders arrived.

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And another. Something tells me they didn’t go upstairs before they started sanding, what do you think?

Note: I don’t have pics, yet, but will get them up…promise!

I did not spend a full 15 minutes going over the rooms without saying a word about the 1st floor. We did not go downstairs and compare stain samples that had been brushed onto the rough-sanded 1st floor, without saying a word about the fact that it was a rough-sanded floor. And the guy (no names, remember?!), did not turn to me and ask if we were planning to carpet the first floor. Nope. Did not happen.

He did not tell me the story of how they arrived at the house, compared the notes on the job, and realized that they needed a coarser grit. The foreman did not leave to get the coarse grit. One of the workmen did not get done tightening loose boards, decide to stop wasting time and get started sanding while the foreman was gone…only to find that when he got back the square footage didn’t match and it was the wrong floor. Glad they had the right house.

So, we are a week behind schedule due to the hiccup, ahem.

There is a silver lining…we get the the floors in the whole house (except the laminate kitchen) refinished for the price of doing the 2nd floor.

Only problem with that is, can I let the boys run their little cars over my new floors?

Or whack them with light sabers?

You might also like:

My Independent Contractor

A Tale About a Rolling Pin

Not Me Monday by MckMama at My Charming Kids…head over there to see what others are not doing.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Sooo Do Not Heart Verizon...

We've had to push back our move date, so hubby called Verizon on Wednesday to get our work order changed to switch over the phone next Wednesday (instead of today).

They assured him it would be taken care of.

They turned my phone off today.

And they are not even giving the new phone number message when someone dials the old number.

For some reason my DSL is still working...???

Since I am not moving for 4 more days, I probably won't have internet access for the next several days.

Maybe I'll hang out at the library?

See, I'm a junkie.

I'll let you know how the move goes when I get back.

Mama Bear?

4-year-old is his hands and knees. 10-year-old is poised with one foot over his brother’s back…ready to step on him!

Mama (with her mouth full of water), threateningly waving her arms: “Hmmph huh Hummmph Hrrumph!”

Mama Bear?

More like Mama Gorilla.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Please Pardon My Moving Pains

I'm busily working to revamp my blog and make it more friendly, so please bear with me.

I'm also busily packing up my life to move...so postings will be a bit sporadic over the next week or so as we find a new norm...did I mention I'm going to dial-up? No, that wasn't a joke! We'll see how that little experiment works out. I'm doing it for y'all, because I know you're dying to know (wink).

Blessings!

What, No DSL?!? You're Killin' Me!

I talked awhile back about how our new home has no mailbox. Would you believe…no DSL!? It seems the DSL ports in this little town are all taken. Gulp!

OK, I admit it. I’m an internet junkie. But I also refuse to pay exorbitant rates for access. There is exactly 1 cable provider available locally. And 1 satellite provider. And since we don’t watch television, we can’t get some killer bundle deal…I simply cannot will not pay $60/month +monthly equipment fee+installation+modem+?

And then there’s the fact that it just burns me to deal with companies that can’t just come out and tell you the bottom line…

What to do?

We are going to conduct a little experiment…and go back to dial-up for awhile.

Yeah, I know, I’m crazy.

But as much as I’m chained to my computer…I hate my computer…I hate the internet…because it has seriously sucked me in and totally changed how I view the world.

I need a change.

And going to dial-up will give me the impetus I need to make that change.

The other day my 10-year-old was begging me to get out the camera and snap something Emma was doing.

“You’re missin’ a great blog post!” he said.

He needs a change.

My 4-year-old demands coloring pages of any little thing that pops into his head. Do you know how hard it is to Google a coloring page of a giant…all you get are giant coloring pages.

He needs a change.

I need to drag my hubby away from Facebook and Backyard Monsters.

He needs a change.

We all need a change.

We’ll see if it’s possible to survive in the information age without always being on.

I’ll keep ya posted.

Do you have a computer problem? What do you do to keep your family’s electronic consumption under control?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mary’s First Dance Recital!

These are from the dress rehearsal…pics from the recital to come:-)

june16 034 Backstage---I can’t believe how grown-up she looks.

june16 036 Practicing the big bow.

Her class had 2 numbers. They tapped to Sea Cruise and jazzed to Welcome to Rio. Here’s the rehearsal for Sea Cruise (Mary is in the back row, far right---notice she’s about a head taller than most of the girls in her class, but just as skinny. They are all ages 6-7. Now you know why it’s so hard to shop for clothes for her):

A Force to be Reckoned With:

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WFMW: Bake Sourdough Bread in Your Crockpot

Putting Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day on hold at my library paid off! I finally got my sweaty palms on it. And My Bread and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day…all at the same time (I just might post a comparison of these books later). So I’ve been baking a lot of bread.

If you are at all familiar with the 5 Minutes a Day idea, you can keep a big batch of bread dough in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and have fresh-baked bread every day, if you want. No kneading and minimal hands-on time---the easy way to make a crispy, thin-crusted artisan loaf with that yummy, chewy crumb you usually only get from a good bakery. Sigh…I love bread!

But I don’t love running my oven in the summer heat. This rental house is the pits as far as energy conservation…leaky windows, no attic for rising heat, plus it’s a split foyer so we essentially live in the upstairs. You can run the air all day and it still hits 80 degrees inside. Really. Now, add 450-500 degree construction grade electric oven to that. Maybe I should build a brick oven outside?

I’m also not digging the wasted energy. The loaves are small, so they bake in about 30 minutes. But add the preheat time…this is just not at all sitting well with my frugal mindset.

So, being a-think-outside-of-the-box sorta gal, I had a minor brainstorm…why not bake in the crockpot? It would certainly trap the steam that you have to go to so much trouble to create/save in a conventional oven. And it has been done before. I’ve already got the dough made…let’s give it a try (or two).

Not having to make a fresh batch of bread dough and go through the kneading gauntlet makes it easier to experiment---there’s a lot less to lose if it doesn’t work out.

Sourdough Bread in the Crockpot (Take 1)

I used the master recipe from Artisan Bread, but you could probably use any yeast-risen bread dough.

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I have a 6-quart oval-shaped crockpot. I found a metal bowl that’s rim fit right over the inner rim of the crock.

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About a pound of dough (this dough has been in the fridge for 4 or 5 days, and already has a decided sourdough flavor to it). I did not allow it to warm up before putting it in the crockpot (I figured it would warm up in there---I think this was a mistake).

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I found varying advice on the internet…to cover the dough or not to cover? In the end I decided to cover it with foil and then the lid (this was definitely a mistake).

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After about 2 hours, I peeked. The bread was firm, but steam had condensed on the foil and dripped back onto it (it was under water!). So, I removed it, patted it dry and put it in the toaster oven to dry it out---so much for not using the oven!

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The end result was not bad. A chewy, moist bread, fairly dense (it did not rise as much as I would have liked). The kids yummed it up with dinner.

Sourdough Bread in the Crockpot (Take 2)

Don’t let it be said that I don’t learn from my mistakes. First, I found a smaller pyrex bowl that would fit fully inside the crock. I created some foil “feet” for it.

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I let it sit at room temp for about 40 minutes before putting in the crockpot.

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No foil this time. Baked in crock for about 3 hours.

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After cooling on the rack. You’ll notice this is not a golden brown loaf.

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And it won’t be, using this method. It does get crisp on the bottom.

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And the verdict. A chewy, moist (but not soggy), slightly dense loaf with a light, crisp crust on the bottom. Definitely worth eating. Probably not for company, though. I just might keep experimenting with this…or maybe I’ll build a solar oven next.

What have you been experimenting with in your kitchen?

You might also like:

Lighthouse Cake Tutorial

The Family Bakery

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday over at We are that Family. Head over there for more tips and ideas to make your life easier.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kid Logic

Kid throws a stretchy dino straight up. It hits the spinning ceiling fan (thunk) and flies off.
Mama: "Don't DO that!"
Kid turns off the ceiling fan.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I Need Help!

We’re so excited about our move in the next couple of weeks! I’ve been puttering on-line looking for the little things we’ll need. CSN Stores has just about everything…kids’ furniture, rugs, snazzy cookware, and even LED lighting…to help make your house a home. They were so happy with the response from the Uberstix giveaway I did awhile back…they’ve asked me to choose a product from one of their 200+ stores to review. Sweet! What an awesome housewarming gift. But I can’t make up my mind…

Maybe something from Cookware.com for my new kitchen…

Two Cup Espresso_Cappuccino Maker

Tea-Beyond-Fairy-Tea-Set

Or from CSNBaby.com to make our home toddler safe…

Easy Close Metal Gate with Extensions

Or maybe a cool game from AllChildrensFurniture.com

The Laser GameSo hard to decide. Maybe you can help?

What type of product would you like me to review?

Are you wondering if silicone utensils will really stand up to the heat?

Are you pondering if it might be worth it to try baking your artisan bread in a cast iron Dutch oven?

Do you wish you knew if your rambunctious climber could get over that baby gate?

What product do you want the skinny on?


Disclosure: I will be reviewing a product provided by CSN Stores in an upcoming post. I have received no other compensation.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

FREE DVD from NASA for Educators

Journey to the Stars, check it out!

What Makes Toddlers Tick?

Emma's newest pastime?

Sticking stuff in her ear.

Her fingers.

A piece of cracker off the floor.

A Lincoln log.

Is this the new sensory sensation?

I'm not sure which is better (or worse):

sticking it in her ear....or her mouth.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What? No Mailbox?!

mailboxWho’da thunk it. The house we bought has no mailbox. There is no mail delivery in that part of town.

Nope, it’s not a new development with a bank of mailboxes off in a corner somewhere.

Nope, it’s not down a narrow country lane.

Once upon a time this town only had a post office and no door-to-door delivery.

The town grew up around it, and as each new neighborhood was added, so was mail delivery for that area.

But the folks in the center of town didn’t want it.

They wanted to mosey on over to the post office.

Collect the mail.

Say howdy to the postal workers.

And shoot the breeze with their neighbors.

So things haven’t changed.

In principal, I kinda like it.

I might feel differently when I’ve got an armload of packages and 4 kiddos to herd back home.

But, I kinda like it.

Book Review: Captivating

captivating

Newly revised and edited, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul (co-written by John & Stasi Eldredge) almost brought out the mad underliner in me…there are some people who underline, fold down corners and generally make a mess of their books. I was one of them, once upon a time. Underlining was my way of rereading a passage and imprinting it in my brain. Trouble is, I would have to underline nearly every sentence of Captivating, because nearly every one resonated with some deep hurt or desire from my life.

They should sell this in a gift pack with a box of tissues…or perhaps a dozen lace-edged hankies would be more appropriate.

The question on the lips of every girl or woman is “Am I captivating?” Am I pretty? Am I beautiful? Do you want me?

It’s the reason little girls (and even full-grown women) twirl their skirts.

It’s the reason there are whole aisles of “beauty” products at the corner drugstore.

It’s the reason for face-lifts.

For eating disorders.

And breast augmentations.

It’s the reason a battered woman will go back.

But it’s a question that often is never answered, never even really heard, here on earth.

So many women are in a world of hurt, broken by their lack of self worth.

But God hears the question.

And answers, if we only open our hearts to the sound of His voice.

Lest you think this book is about exterior “beauty,” it’s not. It’s about how we tend to look for love in all the wrong places. And how to repair the holes left by our past hurts by turning to God.

It’s a powerful book. And I recommend it.

Captivating is available as a hardcover from Thomas Nelson Publishing. Sold at online and brick-and-mortar booksellers near you.

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing through BookSneeze.com. This review reflects my honest opinion and I received no compensation.

Therapeutic Crafting Guest Giveaway

Therapeutic Crafting Guest Giveaway over at Grosgrain!

Fabulous, fluffy cuties for your cutie, go check it out!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

And more coloring pages…

He’s demanded a mummy, a ghost, and now a skeleton.

Noticing a theme here?

I guess I shouldn’t complain…he’s earning me oodles of SwagBucks. If you’d like check it out, please use my referral link and help me earn some more swag.

My 4-year-old Asked Me For...

A zombie coloring page.

?

(A minute before, he was coloring an Eeyore coloring page.)

They grow up so fast.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A House of Ninjas

The house we bought was built around the turn of the last century. Hardwood floors (yes!). But, the floors upstairs were hidden under 25-year-old carpet. 540 pounds worth, according to the scales at the dump.

The carpet is gone, we are having the floors upstairs refinished.

houseandkids 018I told our 10-year-old boy that we need to mark the creaky boards for the floor man so he can tighten them down.

What does that have to do with ninjas, you ask?

You don’t have boys, do you?

David: “Ooooh, we can have a NINJA HOUSE!”

Mama: ?????

David: “Yeah, if there’s no creaks, we can be ninjas and no one will hear us coming!”

Mama: “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. Hmmm…”

David: “Maybe he could leave a creaky board in front of my room that just I know where it is…so I can step over it but the bad guys will make it creak…yeah! Cool!”

Not to mention little brother and sisters. Ahem.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Daring to Be Different

Ever get a scab, and it starts to itch…so you scratch it, tearing off the hard, crusty plates of skin, exposing the pink, tender, not-quite-ready flesh beneath?

Now, imagine that about 50% of your body is covered with these stiff, itchy scales. Your neck. Your scalp. Your chest. Under your arms. In fact, it’s so thick under your arms that you can’t sweat. Any temp over 70 degrees sends you sprawling with heat exhaustion. Your face is red. You’re cranky. You can’t hear Mama calling you in out of the heat because your ear canals are lined with the same scales.

This is a condition called Lamellar Ichthyosis. It afflicts approximately 1 in 200,000…and our youngest son, Peter, was born with it. Each year, fewer than 50 children are born in the United States with Lamellar Ichthyosis. They have a high risk of developing sepsis, which can lead to death, and many spend the first several days of their lives in Neonatal Intensive Care. Some are permanently disabled, the thick scale affecting the soles of their feet, palms of their hands and fingers, restricting fine motor skills and even walking.

All are subject to stares, pointing and unkind remarks. It’s not an invisible condition.

I’ve mentioned Peter’s condition here on occasion, mainly in an effort to raise awareness. But as he gets older, and struggles with the challenges of day-to-day living and finding acceptance in society, making friends, you know, all the things “normal” kids do, it seems somehow dishonest to not share some of those challenges.

You might be thinking, “What does this have to do with me? It’s so rare, there’s no way this will ever effect me.”

Possibly. Lamellar Ichthyosis can be caused by a dominant gene mutation or a recessive gene. What that means is that a child with no family history of this genetic disorder can be born with it. Or that anyone, even you, could be a carrier of the recessive gene. So, yes, it could affect you or someone you love.

My point is this: we are not in control of our destinies. We do not choose the traits we are born with. We are all different. We all have weaknesses. And yet our society ridicules and ostracizes those who already have more than their share of challenges.

Some of those challenges are visible…and some are not. Some situations we can understand…and some are beyond understanding.

But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could reach out to each other with love and kindness, celebrating our similarities, rather than building up walls with the mortar of our differences?

1peter

This post is linked to:

Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family

and

Wordful Wednesday at

What We Use In Our Homeschool