Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Brotherly Love

With a husband who works shift work and most holidays we have had to adjust our Christmas a bit and so we enjoyed our gift exchange on Christmas Eve. We all gave and received thoughtful and funny gifts. The funniest gift had to be the remote controlled fart machine that our 15 yr. old received. We were all rolling for about a 1/2 hour straight and we were not able to gain control of ourselves until we had called Grandpa and Uncle Randy to share the hilarity with them as well. 

Due to the weather the boys were told that we were going to do our grocery shopping and Christmas shopping at one store. They were set loose in the local Safeway grocery store in which they had to locate the perfect gift for everyone. Mom was easy with lotions and bath salts. Dad wasn't too difficult with some goodies and motorcycle magazines but it was the gifts that the boys bought for each other that were the most thoughtful. 

The younger one fell in love immediately with the musical snow globes. He chose a reindeer one that played Jingle Bells because it just "put you in the Christmas spirit!" However, he felt that this was not enough for his older brother. He also felt compelled to get him some little finger skateboards since they were Plan B boards and it is his brother's newest hobby and favorite board. Tim shrieked with joy as he opened his gifts and Nathan was very pleased with himself.

Tim's search for the perfect gift was not as simple. He wandered aimlessly through the store unable to decide what to get Nathan when he struck upon the idea of creating a bit of a treasure hunt. He excitedly went through the store looking for items that would provide good clues. Needless to say, we were at the store for about 2 hours as Tim and Nathan wandered the aisles trying to avoid one another and agonizing over their gift choices. 

Tim's clues went something like this; it started with a Farmer's Almanac magazine with a bookmarked page with the word, distilled water circled. Nathan was instructed to go to this item in the kitchen and find the next clue. He did this and found a Symphony chocolate bar which led him to the guitar amp, which led him to a bottle of Thyme, which led him to the clock (time), which led him to where he lays his head. Nathan raced upstairs to his bed and found a felt gift box chock full of goodies that Tim carefully chose for him. 

It was difficult to get Nathan to go to bed tonight only because he wanted to keep practicing the yo-yo that his brother had given him. 

For a hilarious look at the sweetest little guys check this out! 

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket

For Nathan's art class he was asked to create a Northwest Indian button blanket. The assignment suggested that the kids use foam sheets and felt pens to create a blanket design. He did this initial assignment but then decided that he'd like to make a real blanket that he could keep. So, using the book, Northwest Native Arts Creative Colors 2 by Robert E Stanley, Sr. he chose an eagle pattern.

We then made a copy that he colored with felt pens. Using red and black he left some white space. We then scanned the colored copy and made two copies (one being a mirror image) to create the symmetrical effect. We then printed these copies onto iron-on transfer paper and used part of an old sheet to affix them as a base.

We wanted to attach the eagle pattern to a black circle which would then be sewn to a larger red circle. This decorative piece would then be sewn to the blanket. Nathan wanted the blanket to be soft so we selected a soft black fleece for the base and use red felt for the trim and background for the eagle design. We "measured" the width of the blanket by using Nathan's arm-span as the measurement.

Not having a circle pattern the exact size we wanted (we did check all the bowls in the house first ;) we fashioned a type of compass using a white oil pastel crayon tied to some dental floss. We positioned it and created a circle the size we needed. Nathan spent quite a bit of time getting everything in place just right with straight pins so that we could then sew everything.

Nathan did some initial practice runs with some scrap fleece on the sewing machine. The blanket took a lot of sewing so mom did a majority of that part for him. Once we got the blanket all put together Nathan learned how to sew a button onto fabric. This is actually a lot harder than it looks for little 11 year old fingers but he stuck with it and between the two of us we got all the buttons attached. It took about 3 days working on this in the evenings to finally complete. 

Creating an actual button blanket was a fun alternative that gave us a little more insight into all the work that is involved in making these beautiful blankets.

Ignorance on TV

There are a number of shows on TV that I simply refuse to watch. My body physically reacts when they come on.  One of them is Oprah and the other one is The View. I'm not a big fan of Barbara Walters to begin with but when you get Joy Behar going off on Elisabeth Hasselbeck it is almost more than I can bear. 

So, while taking my morning walk and listening to the news on the radio I heard a clip of a comment made by Joy Behar while on The View. I feel that her comment exemplifies the ignorance and misconceptions that many people still hold regarding homeschoolers including this educated talk show co-host who just happens to be a former teacher!

The comment takes place at about 7 minutes into the clip. 


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Best Cold and Flu Tea

For those of you looking forward to the chance of snow here's a dandy little herbal tea recipe to help combat the sniffles. This recipe was take from "Herbal Antibiotics" by Stephen Harrod Buhner.

The Best Cold and Flu Tea

2 teaspoons sage

Juice of one lemon (or 1 teaspoon lemon balm herb)
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey

Pour 1 cup boiling water over sage and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Strain out herbs, add remaining ingredients, and drink hot.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow in the Forecast

With all this talk of possible snow I thought I'd whip up some delicious butternut squash and leek soup to eat by the fire. Here's the recipe - Bon appetit!


4 1/2 lbs. butternut squash, halved lengthwise
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 lg. leeks (white and tender green), chopped
7 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
5 c. chicken stock or unsalted canned broth
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. sour cream
2 to 3 tbsp. chives, chopped
8 slices of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the squash, cut-side down, on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool slightly. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds. Scrape the squash from the skin.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add the leeks and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally until soft and lightly browned, about 40 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs.

Stir in the stock and the squash. Simmer over moderate heat for 20 minutes. In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in patches until smooth. Pour the soup back into the pan and season with the salt and pepper. (The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 2 days ahead. Reheat the soup before proceeding.) To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1 teaspoon chopped chives and a sprinkling of the bacon.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Born To Read

We've heard the statistics, reading to your baby is incredibly important for brain development and their ability to learn and read later on. The evidence is indisputable. There is the saying that in grades 1st - 4th children learn to read and that from 5th grade on they read to learn.

I loved to read as a child but I don't really recall my parents reading to me on a regular basis. This was also a time, however, when I was like thousands of other kids growing up in the 70's where exposure to second-hand smoke, no seat-belt laws, and bad fashion were the norm. In fact, as a kid I could actually walk into a corner market without a parent, a note, or anything and buy cigarettes. What were parents thinking? How did we survive? As the old adage goes, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. So, even without the ritualistic bedtime story I survived and even thrived in spite of it all.

Part of the reason I loved to read was that I discovered nursery rhymes, oh yeah, and I adored my third grade teacher, Mrs. Prange at Washington Elementary. I know this sounds kind of simple and you might question my first love but nursery rhymes were my foundation. So, if told that I could only choose one book in the entire world I know the right answer should be the Bible and it probably would be for me, the adult, but for the kid it would definitely be a big huge edition of Mother Goose nursery rhymes. In close second would be Father Fox's Penny Rhymes and Free To Be You and Me. These were staples to my reading diet as a child. I could play with the language, memorize, and share with my younger siblings at will. This was back in the day when we could get three networks on TV... sorta and a Canadian station when the weather was conducive, so being able to entertain ourselves was vital.

Siblings were mentioned and I will share that my younger sister enjoyed reading as much as I did but my two younger brothers did not. One of my brothers will even tell you, with a touch of pride in his voice, that he did not have to crack a single book in order to graduate from high school. Yeah? I guess that's another story for another time. But I do know that I always bought him a nice book for his birthdays. I would go to my favorite and only book store in town and choose a classic of some sort. One year it was Shel Silverstein's, Where the Sidewalk Ends or the next it was The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I am happy to say that although my brother may not have read in high school, he is reading now as an adult and recently I had the pleasure of listening to him read to his children and I like to think that I'm a small part of that. 

Children become readers on the laps of their parents. - Emilie Buchwald

Standing In the Way

Last night we attended a local home-schooling group potluck. They meet once a month so families can get together, eat, visit, and play board games. This was our first time so Steve and I didn't really know any of the families but we wanted to be sure to give the boys a chance to play with some of their friends from Spanish class and perhaps, we could possibly get to know some new families. We ate and had a great time playing Guesstures, especially when Steve was trying to act out "Fairy" for Tim. Well, after a while we were ready to go since we had worked all day and Nathan had an early basketball game the next morning. 
As we got up to leave there was  a woman standing in the walkway speaking to another woman. As we approached I said, "Excuse me". Nothing, so I said it a little more loudly..."Excuse me". At this point the other woman that she was speaking to tried to get out of the way a bit but the other lady remained in the walkway totally oblivious to us. The interesting part was that as we passed by her I heard her tell the other woman how serious she is in telling others about the gospel. That got me thinking about how we'd like God to use us for his glory but sometimes the very thing standing in our way is ourselves. We get so caught up in what we're are saying or doing that we don't take the time to notice what's happening around us...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Teenager is Perfect!

I want to shout it to the world - My Teenager is Perfect!!

Okay, don't shut down your computer yet because I need to explain how "perfectly normal" my teenager is...he does not always understand what we tell him even when we speak in English, he needs to be reminded repeatedly to do things and then gets annoyed and insulted that we would even think that we would have to ask him twice, he likes to stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open, he thinks there is nothing out of the ordinary about farting loudly and expecting us to ooh and aah at his latest accomplishment, he can't believe that we can't easily see and marvel over the same armpit hair that is so obvious to him, he conveniently goes into hiding when he knows that chores need to be done, he is under the impression that putting his clothes away consists of taking his folded clothes, unfolding them, and randomly arranging them throughout his room, he believes that his younger brother loves it when he picks on him, makes him upset, and then creatively makes him out to be the instigator, and then there are those times that he gets moody and likes to sulk - but not without an audience! I've been told that these behaviors are "perfectly normal" for a teenager.

I have always loved the Zits comic strip. It used to be that I related to the I relate to the parents...AAARRRGGG!!

There was the day he made the comment that he didn't think he was cut out for college. This was met with some sincere curiosity where we thought perhaps he was really thinking about what he'd like to do with his life and that perhaps it didn't involve higher education. Wow, tell us more...

But then we soon found out that there was some ill-conceived and logistical timing to it...shortly after this comment was made his mid-terms came out and we found out why he didn't think he was cut out for college...we helped him change his mind.

What's a mother to do? 

Google it! 

I know that doing "the google" is not as researched based as Proquest or what nots but I don't have time. 

So, like I said before, I google it; "teenagers, insanity, abnormal behavior" and what I keep finding over and over is that all of these behaviors are "perfectly normal". 

Basically between childhood and adulthood the brain’s “wiring diagram ” becomes more complex and more efficient, especially in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. In the meantime the body is busy focusing on physical growth.

The greatest changes to the parts of the brain that are responsible for impulse-control, judgement, decision-making, planning, organization and involved in other functions like emotion, occur in adolescence. This area of the brain (prefrontal cortex) does not reach full maturity until around age 25! 

Perhaps you have a perfect teenager too!

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket
Eagle patterned button blanket designed for beauty and warmth. To see more pictures of how he made this click on the picture above.

Rick Miller - Bohemian Rhapsody