"Anyone can have one kid. But going from one kid to two is like going from owning a dog to running a zoo." - P. J. O'Rourke

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Well, That Was Frightening

Being that it's Halloween and all, I thought I would undertake a truly frightening chore. 

I decided to clean out my refrigerator.  As you will recall from my previous post, my refrigerator is a bit....full, shall we say?

Let me remind you what it looked like...

I will say that I got rid of some truly frightening items, the worst of which was something with a "use by" date of 2005!  That means it's been in our fridge almost as long as we've lived in this house!  Ewwww!

I also cleaned up some nameless, red, sticky stuff all over the back of the shelves, consolidated four bottles of taco sauce, four jars of maraschino cherries, two jars of kalamata olives, two jars of capers and threw away the fuzziest cucumber I've ever seen.   

Behold the new, clean refrigerator...
While the hour I spent emptying and cleaning the fridge may not have given it a noticeable appearance difference, it is now safe to eat anything in there!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Day Everything Changed

Twenty years ago today, this happened...

and nothing has been the same since.  It was my first experience of wearing my heart outside my body, and all the joys and pains that that involves.

Happy birthday, Evan!  We are so thankful that God gave us the gift of you.  You are a blessing to us, and I am sure you will be a blessing to your soon-to-be bride.

So long to your teenagerhood!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

In Case of Emergency

If worldwide famine or nuclear holocaust strike the land, I am telling you right now that you are welcome to come over to my house.  I am sure I have enough food here to feed my entire blog readership for a good month or more. 

In case you don't believe me, I have the pictures to prove it...

My refrigerator

The kitchen freezer

The pantry

But wait, there's more in the pantry

The other random food cupboard

The garage freezer

More of the garage freezer

The garage refrigerator....okay this is getting embarrassing

The basement freezer

Did I not tell the truth??  You have to admit, I could feed a small army for a month with all this food! 

To my defense, we just got half a cow worth of beef today, thus all the packages of ground beef.   Even still, I think I have a hording problem!  Actually, it's genetic.  You should see my mother's and sister's cupboards!

Laugh all you want, in the event of a massive disaster, you'll thank me!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's Almost Friday

Which means it's time for some good music!

I'm in a Bastille mood, so I'll share two of my favorite Bastille songs.  The first one is Poet, which I find thought provoking...

Then we have the Weight of Living, Part 2.

"Do you like the person you've become?"  There's a thought to think about :-)

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Game of Life

Last weekend was football tournament weekend - three football games in three days.  That's a lot of football.  Aidan's team won two and lost one.  Not too shabby, although it would have been nice to make a clean sweep of it.  I like football.  I enjoy watching it, and I get rather excited about cheering on my boys' teams, but I do keep in mind "it's only a game."  A fun way to spend a few hours, and then it's over.  Then there's life - everything that goes on apart from the moving of the ball down the gridiron.

Now the game of life goes on concurrently with the game of football, and winning at one does not necessarily mean winning at the other.  We had the unfortunate experience of witnessing a team win on the field and lose the larger game of life.  On Saturday morning Aidan's team took a pounding by a team from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  The Iowa team dominated on the field.  They were disciplined and executed their plays with precision.  They knew how to play football.

That said, these boys, and more specifically their coaches, lost the bigger game of life Saturday morning.  You see, while the teams were warming up and while they were on the field some of the Cedar Rapids players were uttering racial slurs and insults towards our players.  THAT is not cool!  Worse still, far worse in my opinion, when it was brought to the attention of the Cedar Rapids coaches, they dismissed it as their players just getting revved up for the game.

So, while the CR coaches may have taught their players how to win a game of football, they failed to teach them how to win the game of life.

Fast forward to Saturday night.  Different game, different team.  Now we were playing a team from Minneapolis.  Lo and behold, more racial insults, this time directed toward the referees.  Now I have no problem criticizing a bad call by a ref, but whether a call is good or not has nothing to do the color of the ref's skin (or the color of his mother's skin). 

Lest you think this racism thing cuts only one way, the offenders at the morning game were white.  The offenders at the evening game were black (as were two of the refs whom they were insulting).  It was disgusting coming from both parties.

I was just so frustrated by the whole day!  I just wanted to enjoy a day of football (as much as I could while freezing my footsies off).

Now we could have a long discourse about racism in sports or white privilege or many other topics related to this whole thing.  I'd be happy to have that conversation with anyone, but can't we just spend a day watching 14 year olds play football and teach them how to enjoy the game and each other? Can't the adults present in the lives of these kids teach them more than how to pass, block, and tackle?

Seriously, folks, there's a bigger game going on.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

More Science Geekiness

I know I have mentioned them once before in my blog, but it's been over a year since I've said anything about Zooniverse.  Seriously, folks, if you lean at all towards science geekiness, you really should go check out their website.

What is Zooniverse?  Glad you asked.  It's a website that enlists normal people (I use that term loosely, btw) to assist in science research.  Here's how they describe their purpose -

The Zooniverse is home to the internet's largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects. Our current projects are here but plenty more are on the way. If you're new to the Zooniverse, we suggest picking a project and diving in - the same account will get you into all of our projects, and you can keep track of what you've contributed by watching 'My Zooniverse'.

They have projects relating to space, climate, biology, nature, and humanities.  My personal favorite is Snapshot Serengeti, where you view photos taken by motion-activated cameras on the Serengeti.  You then identify what animals you see and what they are doing.  I've seen such cool things out there, like lions eating dead zebras and things like that.  How cool is that?  I actually find it strangely addicting!

Anyway, if your looking for a way to kill a little time and see some really cool stuff....and assist in science research, you should head over to zooniverse.org right now!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Couple More Chances

If you've been kicking yourself for the last week or more because you didn't get to see Aidan play football this season, you can stop your self-abuse right now.  You have two more opportunities to watch the boy play!

He will be playing THIS Thursday evening in (get this) the Metrodome!  How fun is that?  It will be his first time playing in the Dome, and he is super excited about it!  They will also be playing on Saturday morning at Minnetonka High School - not quite as impressive as the dome, but they do have artificial turf.

Let me know if you are interested in going to either game, and I will get the details to you.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Stop Already!

I find it quite disturbing that Christmas items are already in the stores.  Actually, I think they made their appearance in some stores as soon as the back-to-school stuff left.  This is just not right!  It was bad enough when Thanksgiving got the shaft, but now, apparently, Halloween is getting swallowed up by Christmas as well.

Just as I refuse to listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, I will refuse to buy any Christmas items until after Thanksgiving, as well.


I am rather excited to see a few holiday related food items back on the shelves.  Like this....

And this....

I will begin stockpiling these items immediately to hold me over for the rest of the year!

Btw, since when did salted caramel become associated with the holiday season?!  What does salt and caramel have to do with Christmas, anyway?  Why can I not buy these items year round??!  We could get rid of Hazelnut creamer to make room on the shelf for Salted Caramel creamer....

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Let's Talk PSEO

Here's a post for my fellow Minnesotans with high school aged kids.

If you live in Minnesota, you probably already know that PSEO stands for Post-Secondary Enrollment Option, where your high school junior or senior can take classes at college for FREE, completing their high school requirements while gaining college credits at the same time.  Did I mention that it's FREE?

Evan did this and, when he graduated from high school, he entered the University of Minnesota as a junior.  Two years later, he received his BA degree from the U of M - debt free.  Not a bad deal, if I do say so myself.

I am very pro-PSEO, but I do want to bring up a few things to think about before you enroll your child in the program - things that no one mentioned to me.

  1. When a child does PSEO and goes immediately to college following high school, they will be entering their upper division classes at 18 years old (17 in Evan's case) and will need to know what their major is going to be.  They don't get the "luxury" of "trying to figure out what they want to do with their life" while taking their generals.  They actually have that luxury, it's just while they are 16 and 17 years old.  My point being, they have to make greater decisions at a younger age.

  2. If they go right to college after high school, and assuming they complete their college in a timely manner, they will be graduating and entering "real" life at a younger age than their peers.  For Evan that meant he had a college degree at 19.   He then went out and found a job in his chosen field and has now entered the "real" work force.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just a thing to think about.

  3. Because these PSEO kids have begun "real" life at a younger age than their peers, they may do things like get married at 20 years old (ahem, like my dear son is going to be doing).  Here again, not a bad thing, just a thing to think about.  Now, I'm not saying that Evan is marrying young because he was a PSEO student (that would be silly of me), but if he still had a year or two of school left he probably wouldn't be getting married this young.  ****In NO way am I expressing ANY disappointment or dismay over Evan's impending marriage.  I am THRILLED and HAPPY for both of them.  I'm just pointing out that some decisions we make affect the future in ways we can't always see ahead of time.
There you have it.  Some things to consider if you're considering PSEO for your child.

Okay, I'm done with my thoughts on education for the night :-)

Something To Think About

As you may have noticed, we have a LOT of fall birthdays in this house.  Aside from making our fall very busy, this also presented us with a quandary every time a child's fifth birthday was approaching. The "official" cut-off date for starting kindergarten in Minnesota is Sept. 1, but since we homeschool we could start them whenever we wanted.

"Do we start schooling them early because their birthday is a few days/weeks late, or do we wait until they are almost six before starting 'official' school?"

Well, Child #1 was reading at four years old, so although his birthday wasn't until the end of October, we decided to go ahead and start him with school.

Child #2's birthday is Sept. 2,  just one day after the "official" cut-of.  Might as well go ahead and start her a wee bit early as well.

By Child #3 the pattern had been set, so we followed suit with her, #4, and #5.

All seemed to be going along fine for awhile, but as time wore on several of my children were lagging behind their stated grade level.  Their school work fell somewhere between the grade they said they were in and the grade they "should" have been in.  After several years like this, we made an executive decision to change their stated grade level to the "should be" level.  Essentially, it looked like holding them back a year, but really is was adjusting it to what would have been, had they been sent to the public school.  The reality of it was that they just kept doing their same old school work.  Nothing changed - except a grade number.

It has worked out much better this way.  They are performing at grade level or above.  It's all good.

My point in all of this is: if you are thinking of starting your child early in kindergarten, I would, under most circumstances,  advise against it.  As I've said many, MANY times,  I know a lot of people who wish they hadn't started their child early, but I have NEVER run across a parent who regrets holding their child back.

I have a September birthday myself.  My parents considered starting me early in kindergarten, but decided against it.  I am so glad they made that decision!  Although I was almost a year older than my classmates, I feel like I benefited greatly from their decision.  I think it helped me academically and socially.  Speaking of the social aspect, because we started the kids early they are a whole year younger than most of their friends.  Overall, this hasn't been a bad thing, but it does cause our kids to "expect" certain privileges at a younger age because their friends have those privileges. 

Just some things to think about....

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Something to Make You Smile

Wednesday is the perfect day to watch a new Castlecomer video, methinks.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

We're Infested

I came home from camping last week to discover that my house was infested with fruit flies!  We had recently eradicated some pesky moths from our kitchen, and now this! My long-time readers know that these are not our first infestation problems.

Now we've had fruit flies before...mostly around fruit.  Not this time!  They're everywhere!  And don't even think about leaving a partially drunk cup of coffee on the counter!  It will be a swimming pool for little fruit flies before too long.  Yuck!

Well, my dear sweet husband has decided that today is the day we wage war on the fruit flies.  How does one wage war on fruit flies you ask?  Good question.  That's the same question we were asking ourselves this morning.  Thanks to the handy-dandy internet, we discovered that the first thing to do is put bleach down your drain. Apparently, fruit flies like kitchen drains.  Then there's the obvious stuff like wiping off countertops and keeping fruit in paper bags.

Finally, we built a fruit fly trap.

Already, our nifty little trap has caught many friendly, fruity flies. Can't wait to see it tomorrow morning.  While there were some catch-and-release traps on-line, we chose the catch-and-watch-them-die sort!  It's much more satisfying!

Hopefully, we will be fly-free REALLY soon.  Stay tuned to find out what our next infestation will be!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Just What I Needed

I was wandering around Wal-mart last weekend with my sister, mostly trying to stay warm and dry since we were camping and it was raining.  Lo and behold, something caught my eye that I knew I just HAD to have!

I didn't realize it until that very moment that THESE are what I had been missing all my life! Now I know.  No table is complete without adorable squirrel salt and pepper shakers.  

If you hurry, you too, can have squirrels gracing your table!  Just $3 at Wal-mart, folks!