Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lookee what I can do now!!

I bought a memory stick for our camcorder. I can upload video now.
This is my test with Lucy.

Lucy. 9 1/2 months

Thursday, February 22, 2007

One more

Isn't he just TOO CUTE!


Our happy Ben.
Emma lost her first tooth this week. Yes, I know, she needs a haircut.
Ben's original ensemble.
Here you can see Lucy's new teeth. She is flushed because she was sick but a sibling managed to make her smile anyway.
Ben fell asleep with Lucy.

Odyssey of the Mind

Next week is the regional competition for Odyssey of the Mind, last weekend in March is the state tournament and last week in May is the world tournament (in Michigan). Christopher is taking Katie to regionals and I'll be accompanying her to state. We'll cross the issue of Worlds if it comes to that.
For those not familiar with Odyssey of the Mind:

From the OM website http://www.odysseyofthemind.org

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Kids apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and World level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.

What makes Odyssey different?
Odyssey of the Mind is a competitive program, but it's nothing like your typical sporting event. The competitive element encourages kids to be the best that they can be, but it's a friendly competition. Kids learn from and even cheer on their competitors. Odyssey of the Mind is not a college bowl or a competition about knowledge. It's all about creativity, an often overlooked element in the growth and development of many students. Kids are rewarded more for how they apply their knowledge, skills and talents, and not for coming up with the right answer. In fact, in Odyssey of the Mind problems, there isn't one right answer. Ever.

How do students benefit from participation?
In Odyssey of the Mind, students learn at a young age skills that will last a lifetime. They work in teams so they learn cooperation and respect for the ideas of others. They evaluate ideas and make decisions on their own, gaining greater self-confidence and increased self-esteem along the way. They work within a budget, so they learn to manage their money. They see that there�s often more than one way to solve a problem, and that sometimes the process is more important than the end result.

How does it work?
Schools or community groups purchase a membership and form teams of up to seven students. Each team chooses one of five competitive problems to solve. The problems appeal to a wide range of interests; some are technical in nature, while others are artistic or performance-oriented. Under the guidance of an adult coach, teams work on their solutions throughout the school year and, if they choose, present them in organized competitions in the spring. The "friendly" competitive aspect encourages students to be the best that they can be.

What are the competition levels?
In the U.S., the first level of competition is usually within a region of a state. Teams who place are invited to compete at the state level. These championship teams are then invited to participate in the annual Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, where they compete with teams from countries around the world, including Canada, China, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Poland, Singapore, and Uzbekistan. New countries join the program each year.

How are teams judged in competition?
Thousands of volunteers from around the world judge the competitions and serve in various positions to help make the tournaments a success. Teams are scored for their long-term problem solution, how well they solve a "spontaneous" problem on the spot, and "style" -- the elaboration of their long-term problem solution.

Who runs the Odyssey of the Mind?
Not-for-profit organizations administer the Odyssey of the Mind program in each participating U.S. state and country. Each organization is run by a local Association Director. The organizations are licensed by Creative Competitions, Inc. (CCI), which provides all of the problems and materials necessary to run training sessions and tournaments.

How did Odyssey of the Mind get its start?
Odyssey of the Mind was created by Dr. C. Samuel Micklus, Professor Emeritus at Rowan University in New Jersey. In 1978, 28 New Jersey schools participated in the very first creative problem-solving competition ever. "Dr. Sam" still develops all problems for the program, along with his son, Sammy, President of CCI.

Katie is on a high school team (the division is determined by the age of the oldest member-there are high school seniors on Katie's team so even though she and a couple other members are only in 8th grade they are compete on the high school level). It is sponsored through SA-HERO which is a homeschool resource organization here in San Antonio. The homeschool OM groups take anyone who wants to participate. Most brick and mortar schools only let their gifted and talented students participate in OM. It's a real shame, one doesn't need to be G&T to benefit from and contribute to an OM team.

Katie's team chose to do the long term problem, The Large and Small of It.

The synopses:This problem requires teams to create and present an original performance that integrates team-created Small Pages and Large Versions that change appearance. The method used to make the Large Versions change appearance will simulate the methods used to change the Small Pages. One of these methods must be technical. The Large Versions will serve as stage sets for the performance. During the performance a character will also appear to dramatically change in size. This effect will be created using technical means.

Sounds confusing. Well, it is ;-) In the end Katie's team came up with a story about a mad scientist boy with hamsters. A Rube Goldberg machine triggers some potion to fall onto and to change the hamsters. We end up with three hamsters-Hippie Hamster, Future Hamster and Medieval Hamster(Katie). Their food bowl also changes size. It's funny and wild. The team also decided to use two main mediums for their backgrounds- mosaic and tie-dye. Katie had to make her own costume and it turned out really well. Amazing what a 13 yr old can do with a little Stitch Witchery and three pieces of clothing from the Good Will.

They are ensured a trip to state because there are no other high school teams doing their problem and they send the top three teams to state. Now the competition at state is much tougher. The top team in each age group, in each problem goes to Worlds. If they DO make it to Worlds (very very slim) they will need to raise about $10,000 by mid-May to go. If that happens look for a Paypal button for donations on this page :-)
I'll post pictures and maybe video when I have it and definitely keep y'all posted on how they do.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fulfilling a request

Katie and her best friend, Katie F. this summer on the Riverwalk. Texas Katie in the blue hat, Katie F. in the pink hat.
Howdy to all you Truegirls out there. ;-)

Lent and George and Emma

Lent is upon us. As usual we have all kinds of big plans but I'm resisting my usual trap of using Lent as a time to revamp our entire life :-) We have some very specific goals we are going to work towards. I actually look forward to Lent. Yes, it's a penitential time and we make sacrifices but it is usually a fairly peaceful time here at home and we tend to get a lot done, spiritually and temporally.

We have another lizard. George. Our lizard collection sounds like a Brit boy band. Jimmy, George and Michael. I love green anoles (they change color and will let you handle them) and being they are only $6.99 and that we already have a 10gal lizard tank I figured, "What's one more?"
This is a green anole.

My cord for my camera should be here soon and I can start uploading recent pics of the crew.

Oh, and Emma lost her first tooth. She is quite excited. With 5 children of tooth-losing age the excitement has worn off-we have a tooth fall out of someone's mouth at least once a month. When Katie lost her first tooth it was like she had started to walk. Poor Emma. She's lucky I managed to find an envelope for her to put her tooth in :-)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

\o/ Free books!!!

I'm happily burning audiobooks!!!


First three chapters of 'Emma' for Katie and some Chesterton for me and I'll do Huck Finn for the boys....oh I love technology!!

Chocolate Bread Pudding

My friend, Julie, made this for dessert at Bunco a couple weeks ago. It was phenomenal. What is Bunco, you may ask?
That is another post.

1 teaspoon unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
2 cups half-and-half
8 slices day-old white bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Spiced Cream (see below)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Grease a 6-cup (9 1/4 x 5 1/4 x 2 3/4-inch) loaf pan with butter.

3. Whisk the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, melted chocolate and Grand Marnier together in a large mixing bowl until very smooth. Add the half-and-half and mix well. Add the bread and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Pour half of the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with the unmelted chocolate chips. Pour the remaining bread mixture over the chocolate chips. Bake until the pudding is set in the center, about 55 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

5. To serve, cut the pudding into 1-inch-thick slices. Top with the spiced cream.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Spiced Cream

1 quart heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


Beat the cream with an electric mixer on high speed in a large mixing bowl for about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and beat again until the mixture thickens and forms stiff peaks, another 1 to 2 minutes.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ben speak.

Ben is such a hoot. Something like 'Yay, yay two dogs in the house' is what we expect to hear from him.
"Mom! Can you make me a sam-itch?" I just love hearing him say sam-itch. It's so cute!

"Ben, do you need to go to the bathroom?"
His usual response?
"Hmmm........No thank you." :-)
He makes me smile.

"Yay! Yay! Two dogs in the house!!"

This is what Ben had to say this morning.Our neighbors are going to a wedding this weekend and we are watching their dog, Cocoa. Cocoa is a rather rotund chocolate Lab.
He is a very sweet boy and is good friends with our yellow lab, Murphy.

Murphy is about half the size of Cocoa and literally runs circles around him and even jumps over him :-)
It's nice having dogs around again. We made the decision not to bring our dog, Bridget, to Texas. It was hard but made much easier by the fact our friends, Diane and Joe and their children Teresa and Andy agreed to open their home to her. Bridget is very happy with them and the feeling seems to be mutual. Bridget would have been miserable here. There are SO MANY dogs, they generally aren't leashed and I'm afraid her tendency to go after wildlife would have had her in deep trouble. Snakes, raccoons, possums, scorpions, cats, coyotes, deer, wild pigs....something would have gotten her sooner or later.
We had no intention of getting a dog. We (re: Chris) had enough pets with the three guinea pigs, two lizards and wild cats I insist on feeding. One day, right before Christmas, Ian was out riding his bike. This pitiful little dog followed him home. We tried to find his owners, we tried to find him a home. Finally the Saturday after Christmas Chris took him to a no-kill shelter/adoption location. It didn't last long. The kids (really, the kids) missed him so much that only after a few hours Daddy caved and for the KIDS, went back and got the dog. He was here to stay. The debate about a name was interesting. We finally settled on Murphy...after Audie Murphy.

The two buds:

Friday, February 16, 2007

Starting a blog

Ok, let's see how this goes. I'm not known for my follow through on projects.Hopefully, this blog will keep friends and family (and anyone else who wanders in ) updated on the goings on around the Circle K Ranch. Please check back for news regarding the children, Chris and Karen and our ever increasing (much to Chris' chagrin) pet population.
I'm ordering a new cord for my digital camera now. I know that pictures are all anyone is really interested in anyway. Here and there I (and maybe Chris or the children) may add our philosophical musings too.