Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blog-us Behind-i-mus

Look it up. 

I'm pretty sure you'll see a screen shot of this blog.

At least, you would before today.  Read this post, and we'll both be blog-us caught-up-ti-mus! :)

Long story short, summer fun has definitely begun around the buffalo herd.

From the first day out on the slip 'n slide.... a trip to an antique tractor show...

... to Daddy's school to see his band in concert...

... and even on a big city adventure.  Can you guess where we are here?

Yep!  We went to see our Rangers play!

We like our fun in all shapes and sizes.  What fun do you have coming up?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

To feast, or not to feast? That is the question.

A large part of the educational focus in our homeschool is on quality literature.

I am a firm believer reading good books can increase vocabulary, strengthen awareness of grammar and structure, inspire imagination, and stir a hunger for more learning.

So many books out there tend to be thin, both in plot and language.  Just like pushing back from the table after a skillfully prepared, nutritionally balanced meal, reading a robust, hearty book leaves one satisfied and feeling healthy.  With this being the case, why would we ever spoil our appetites on lacking imitations? 

When we consistently feed ourselves these heartier books over what Charlotte Mason called 'twaddle', we begin to crave them, and lesser selections no longer satisfy.  

An excellent example of choosing between substantial literature and a dumbed-down version presented itself this week when we began our new read aloud, The Swiss Family Robinson.

Here is an excerpt from the first page of the copy we had at home:

"For six days, the wind howled and tore at the sails, while the waves pounded against our little wooden ship, tossing it high in the air.On the seventh day, the masts ripped apart and fell into the sea.  Several leaks appeared, and the ship began to fill with water.  Realizing that the storm had driven us far off course, the frightened sailors fell to their knees in prayer."

Swiss Family Robinson is classic literature, so you can't lose, right?  Wrong.

Now read this excerpt from the first page of the copy we have checked out from our library (Grosset and Dunlap, Illustrated Junior Library, 1949):

"For many days we had been-tempest tossed.  Six times had the darkness closed over a wild and terrific scene, and returning light as often brought but renewed distress, for the raging storm increased in fury until on the seventh day all hope was lost."

Hello!  What a difference!

Let's read on, shall we?

"We were driven completely out of our course; no conjecture could be formed as to our whereabouts.  The crew had lost heart and were utterly exhausted by incessant labor. The riven masts had gone by the board, leaks had been sprung in every direction, and the water, which rushed in, gained upon us rapidly.Instead of reckless oaths, the seamen now uttered frantic cries to God for mercy, mingled with strange and often ludicrous vows, to be performed should deliverance be granted."

Sure, we could read the first one and get the idea of the story of The Swiss Family Robinson.  Or we could read the second, and feed our brains a diet rich in imagery and vocabulary.  

I bet you can guess which one we have our bookmark in. :)

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. I may benefit monetarily if you make a purchase from Amazon after clicking one of these links.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Food, Recipes, and Oatmeal with Cheese

I have a new favorite-in-the-whole-wide-world website.

Pages and pages of pictures of food.  Casseroles, salads, pies, cookies, veggies, cakes... anything and everything you can imagine.  
Beautiful photos, each linking to the recipe for the item shown.  Updated several times a day.

I think I have broken the record for How Many Tabs I've Had Open in my Browser at Once thanks to this website:

Thanks to my visits to foodgawker I have more than doubled the number of recipes in my delicious account.

Thanks to foodgawker I have been inspired this week to spend more time in the kitchen.  I've made granola, salsa, tried 2 new supper recipes (with more on tap) and have made not 1, but 2 attempts at oven-baked potato chips.

A few days ago I saw a link for savory oatmeal.
I was slightly grossed out at the idea.
But something about it spoke to me, and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  

I kept wondering what oatmeal with olive oil and parmesan would taste like instead of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Finally this morning I couldn't stand it any longer.

I had to know.

Seeing as how my forte in the kitchen is making do with what I have, I went for my own homestyle southern version.

I cooked my oats, salting them a tiny bit more than the usual sweet directions would call for.  But not too much, because while they were cooking...

.... I fried bacon slices in a second pan.

While both of those were working I beat an egg really well.

When the oats were just moments from being done, I slowly drizzled in the egg.  After allowing it to set for a minute or so, I slowly stirred it in to make sure it was done through and through.

I poured up the egg and oats into a bowl, topped with crumbled bacon, a little bit of grated cheddar cheese, and fresh ground pepper.

The verdict?

Surprise, surprise.... savory oatmeal is good!

My first inclination was that I could take it or leave it.  I didn't feel like an instant convert or anything, even after polishing off the entire serving all by myself.

That should have been a clue, right there.  I can never finish a bowl of buttery sugary oats by myself.

And now, typing it all up and remembering the salty, bacony, warm, hearty goodness?

I think I just might have it again tomorrow!

Do you eat oatmeal?  Have you ever tried savory oats?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Who says Mondays are no good?

In a departure from our usual m.o. (which involves staying with Mimi & Gramps or waiting for Daddy),  I took all 3 boys with me on a double appointment/errand trip this morning.

First stop was Alan's labs.  As usual he was a pro with the needle stick today, amazing the phlebotomist with being so brave and watching the whole procedure.

From there we had 2 hours to fill before my appointment, for which I did not want the boys arriving hungry, so we did the sensible thing and drove through Burger King for a bit of refreshment.

The boys wanted to eat inside! At the playgroundA request I ignored because #1, I think fast food playgrounds are gross, and #2, I had a better plan.

We ate our second breakfast of the day in the sunshine at the park.  The following hour was spent climbing, running, swinging, sliding, and pretending.  I may need to brush up on my 'fun mom' stuff though, because Dale shouted from the top of the playground equipment, "Coming here was a great idea, Mama!  Did Daddy tell you to do this??"

With still 25 minutes to appointment time, we headed to the nearest "Everything In This Store Is Only $1" type establishment, because Dale had $2 burning a hole in his pocket.  

A situation he quickly remedied with the purchase of two waterguns.  Amazing what you can get for $1!
Uh Oh
Finally came the appointment that had me wondering if I'd lost my sanity.  Taking 3 boys to an OB visit?  Really?

I had planned the whole thing in my head: where they would sit for the pre-visit checkup stuff, how to instruct them to be quiet for the actual visit, prepped them about the doppler & heartbeat, even packed a kid magazine for them to read.

One thing I had forgotten: the continually playing OB/GYN infomercial type things on the tv in the waiting room.  Does your waiting room have those?  Oh dear.  The topics covered there are enough to make one blush in mixed company.  Or maybe smirk behind a magazine at the poor young man that keeps loosening his tie, and who must be in his first week as a pharmaceutical rep.  But it's not so funny when you arrive in the waiting room with your 7 year old son and suddenly remember that tv.

Thankfully, we grabbed a magazine, quickly getting chatty enough to drown out the tv, and ended up having a blessedly short wait.  I think it might have been the shortest ever.  We even managed to be put in a room without any embarrassing posters on the walls!  What was I thinking bringing these boys to such a place!?  I totally lucked out.  Ok, so maybe God was blessing our day left & right. ;)

Through it all, my 3 gentlemen behaved themselves like... well.. .like true gentlemen.  I am so proud of them!

We were home by lunch, and just in time to try out our new loot!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Because I Want To

For some reason, some folks find it acceptable to openly comment and criticize the way a man and wife choose to raise their family.  And when a couple makes decisions that take their family outside of the 'normal' or 'average' range, well... the commentary, it does begin to fly.  

Since we've received a few such remarks from different directions lately, I thought I would take advantage of the ol' blog platform to address them.  

#1 - To those of you concerned about our children's education and eventual preparedness for college and beyond:
I could tout all the benefits of homeschooling.  All the research and data showing how well homeschoolers do in college.  But that's not what you want to hear.  I will tell you this: we know these children better than anyone.  With the exception of their Creator, we love them more than anyone.  Their entry into adulthood is why we do what we do.  It is at the forefront of all we do.  
If, along the way, we need professional help to aid us in that preparation, we have enough sense to know when to seek it.  

#2 - To those of you concerned about potential overcrowding in our 3-bedroom home:
You can rest assured that each child has his (or her) own bed, pillow, and toothbrush.  Believe it or not, we even each get our own plate, fork, and cup at every meal.  (And what if we didn't?  I don't remember Laura Ingalls feeling deprived or resentful when she and her sister Mary shared a tin cup as they traveled across the prairie.)
While sure, a little extra storage here and there might be nice, we see no need for a larger home.  Why would we, when almost every day 3-5 of us voluntarily squeeze into spaces smaller than that of a department store dressing room, just because we like each other?  
Bigger home? Nah. Bigger chair? Maybe! ;)
#3 - To those of you concerned with our ability to provide love and guidance to more than 2.2 children:
I provide for you a visual, shared with me by my very wise father:
When you have a baby, your heart is filled with a new, unique love.
 Some people believe that with each new addition, that love must be shared.
 Heaven forbid you add 'too many' children, making your love splintered and small.
 What they don't understand is that each new addition...
... swells your heart with a greater supply of love.
Instead of anyone ending up short-changed, you find yourselves blessed with a houseful and heartful of love, care, and attention.  In other words... love doesn't divide.  Love multiplies.

Any questions?  I promise you wouldn't be the first. ;)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mystery gift, revealed

As promised...
... the oh-so-yummy, snakey-stripey treat I gave my Mom for mother's day.

Were you able to guess what it was?

Candy corn!

I found the recipe here.  I don't even like candy corn and I couldn't stop eating this stuff.

So buttery and sweet and soft.  
Not difficult at all to make.  If I can make candy turn out right, anybody can.

And they made a pretty little gift, too!
(yes, I gave her all of them... not just what you see in the box!)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Weekend

Started with a bang when my replacement camera arrived in the mail Saturday morning!

Saturday afternoon I headed over to my parents' house to give my Mom her mother's day gift.  I had decided several days before that since she always has several projects lined up to work on and can't find the time to get to them, that we would devote the afternoon to completing one together.  By the end of the afternoon she would have a finished art/decor project and we would have spent quality time creating together!  

Well... the wind interfered w/our chosen project, so we had to go to plan B.  The creating was fun, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed not to leave her with something checked off the list.  

Part of our creating involved a hot glue gun.  

We both should have known better.  I have a horrible history with pregnancy and hot things.  This unfortunate tendency ran true Saturday, upholding my pregnancy burn record.  It was one of those laugh or cry situations.  I laughed.  Mostly.

Instead of going home when all the fun was done, I got invited to stay (and my guys to come over) for a bbq dinner my dad made.  Sure was glad he was doing his own creating while we were crafting!

Sunday morning I was treated to breakfast in bed by my buffaloes.  Greg told me Dale thought of it himself  a few days before.  Tyler and I appreciated it very much!  I wish I had a picture of him sitting in the middle of our bed sharing my breakfast.  My only excuse is not thinking of it.  That and the fact that I had only been awake 10 minutes.  

On a related note, do you know how difficult it is to start eating scrambled eggs 90 seconds after waking?

After church Daddy Buffalo picked up some McDonald's for lunch.  I try to be morally opposed to McDonald's, but I am weak when it comes to cheap and the limited choices in our small town.  That and I have suddenly found myself in love with their angus burgers.  Which, by the way, are not cheap, relatively speaking..  I know this simply because my husband will not tell me what they cost.  

He thinks I wouldn't let him get any more for me if I knew.  

I have a feeling he is right.

Sunday afternoon involved a baseball game, during which I fell asleep sitting up in my rocking chair.  (Note to self: go to bed earlier.)

I was awakened suddenly from this unplanned, yet pleasant, nap by the panicked cries from Dale as he burst through the door. 

Seems he had been bee stung.  A little bleach, a little TLC and he was fine.

My dear Rangers, however, had succumbed to an unfortunate grand slam via the opposing team.  It was ugly.

Too bad I couldn't have slept through that.

Because this post is long enough, I will wait for tomorrow to share what I made for my Mom after I got home Saturday night.  I can go ahead show you a picture:
And guess what?  

It's edible!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring has ...


And we are all enjoying it.

Some of us even more than others.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My kids make me laugh.

All three of 'em.

Want in on the fun? Read on...

The boys' internal clocks have decided it is time to switch over to their summer "early rise" schedule.  This means instead of everyone peeking out of bed between 7:15 and 8:00 (after I have showered and dressed and had a little quiet time), happy, talkative faces are appearing between 6:30 and 7:00.

This week a businessman (the tow truck, if you follow me on twitter) was scheduled to come around 8.  Around 7:45 Dale asked what time it would be here.  When I told him 8, he responded:

"Oh good.  Usually I'd still be asleep then, but today I was up with the chickens!"
(For the record...?  We don't -and never had- have chickens.)

As we were heading out the door to the boys' weekly garden club at the library, they realized they needed their garden club notebooks.  Dale quickly snatched his up and marched towards the door.  In like fashion, Alan made a quick grab for his notebook and sped toward the door.

Not to be outdone, Tyler made a quick look around and saw the mornings' mail on a nearby chair.  With arms fully outstretched, he hastily gathered up two grocery store circulars, hugged them to his chest, and made his way proudly to the van.

For Easter this year, we tried something new and made resurrection rolls.  This involved dipping a marshmallow in butter, then cinnamon, and finally wrapping the whole thing in crescent roll dough.
Each step is a significant teaching moment to parallel Jesus and the crucifixion.  The highlight of the whole project is after the rolls have baked, breaking open the roll (which represents the tomb) to find the marshmallow completely gone and the 'tomb' empty.

The boys listened attentively throughout the whole dipping and wrapping process, and were duly impressed when their rolls were empty after baking.  Following through with the teaching moment like I had done all along, I asked the boys, "And what happened to Jesus on Easter morning?"

Without missing a beat, Alan gave his biggest grin and said:

"He melted!!"

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shopping with men (& boys)

The buffaloes in my life definitely have their opinions on my clothes.  Who knew?

I consider myself a poor shopper.  I much prefer to shop with someone.  Alone, I will never buy a thing.  With my mom or sister, I'll probably spend too much.  But at least I'll come home with something new to wear!  So shopping with opinionated buffaloes should work out well.  One would think.

This weekend I found myself out shopping with my guys.  At stop number one, I tried on a maternity dress.  I loved the bright print and heavy feel of the fabric, but when I saw myself in it I wasn't quite sold.  I called Daddy Buffalo over for his opinion - you know, the across the store 'come here' nod.  

His assessment?  "It doesn't have much shape.  It looks like you are wearing a curtain."


Needless to say, that dress went back on the rack and we left there without buying a thing.

Later on in the day, I was in another store, this time with Dale and my mom.  She handed me a blouse to consider.  It was about hip length and was cut in a little at the waist, I think with a tie in the back.  However, it was also a button-up and in a vibrant plaid.  

Without even being asked for his opinion, Dale pipes up, "Oh no!  That is way too manly!"

Hmph.  I couldn't quite talk myself into it after that.  

Even if he is just 7.

If I want anything new to wear, it looks like I better stick with my women buddies!