Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pachelbel Canon in D

like you never heard it before.
This is so great....and right ON!

Friday, August 24, 2007

1 in 4 American adults.....

didn't read even ONE book last YEAR. This is pitiful. Sad.

>>One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.<<

Now I understand that not everyone has the luxury of staying at home with their children and homeschooling them, a lifestyle which lends itself to reading. Although I do not read for pleasure nearly as much during the school year as I do during the summer. Sept-June I'm lucky to get a non-school related book finished every couple weeks. During the summer? I'd say I average 2 books a week. While on vacation, I can polish off a book a day while Chris drives. :-P Even Chris who works 60+ hours a week, drives 40 minutes each way to work and works on cars and yard stuff every weeekend, manages to find time to read and he certainly isn't wasting his precious reading time with fluff.

Still 25% of American adults didn't read a SINGLE book. In 365 days? How many hours of TV did those same people watch I wonder in that same amount of time? Hmmm???

Thank heavens I'm raising readers. Even my boys who would rather chew glass than read fiction, devour non-fiction books, Ian memorizes them, I dare any of you to ask him a question about Naval aircraft...dare you :-)
Keeping Katie supplied with books has always been hard and it's just getting harder now that she can finish off novels in a day or two, and not brain candy but literature like Jane Austen. Grace is rapidly following in her footsteps (finished 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (abrdiged) and is starting and loving The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (abridged) with some fluff reading added in ) and Emma is hot on their heels-rising first grader, plowing her way through chapter books like Little House and Magic Tree House.

So please read to your children, teach them to read and more importantly stop reading my blog and pick up a book yourself!

Link to entire article:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Last hurrah...

We went to Sea World yesterday. My mom generously purchased season passes for us for a year so we are able to go fairly regularly although it still is a treat. This week is the last week the water park portion will be open during the week. I decided we'd go as a 'not back to school' treat before we start school (homeschool) next week. We'll be back to SeaWorld during the fall but doubtfully on the weekend while the water park is still open.
I can hear y'all now. "But wait, Karen, you have 7 children! How do you take them to Sea World and a WATER PARK by yourself?"

This is how it goes. First, I stuff them like foie gras geese all morning so the begging for $42 ice cream and $25 buckets of popcorn is minimalized because you are lucky to get a water bottle past the kind gentlemen searching your bags at the gate-I did manage to sneak a pack of graham crackers, bottle of water and bottle of apple juice in yesterday. HAH! Diapers and underwear make great contraband camoflauge.
Pile everyone in the BIG WHITE VAN and take off for the 45 minute drive to Sea World. Left with 7 children, determined to return with 7 children. Spend the next 45 minutes reassuring Ben (always interested in which direction we are going and what we will find), "yes this is the way to Sea World" which is then followed up by "I see ShamPu?!!" For some reason Ben cannot drop that 'P' and the big famous killer whale is known as Shampu in our house.
Head to the water park. The boys, as usual, are released to take on the world (watch out world), Katie chooses to go ride slides with Grace and I take Emma, Ben and Lucy to the little kids area which consists of a 3 story structure in a 9"-18" deep pool. Splashing, squirting fun! and I get to sit off on the side in 9" of water and watch Lucy splash while Ben and Emma run around and play. Then Ben and Emma and I (toting Lucy) head to let them do the little kiddy water slide (with life vests). Ben was less than thrilled with it but Emma loves it. Run into Katie and Grace there. Eventually end up with all the girls and Ben in the wave pool where we run into the boys (well before set meet time) everyone plays together while I watch Lucy splash in about 4" of water. Boys are done and want to go ride coasters. Leave Emma, Grace and Katie in wave pool. Take boys and Lucy to locker. Send big boys off to meet at 5PM outside Shampu stadium. Back to wave pool. Emma wants to ride big slides. Send Katie, Grace and Emma off. I watch Ben and Lucy play. Little boy comes up to me looking for his parents. I get him situated with a life guard and then spend the next 15 minutes watching the lifeguards try and help this little boy (5-6 years old) find his parents. Now, I admit it, I HAVE been unintentionally separated from my children, sometimes in crowded, scary situations but I can't fathom that this little guys parents (he gave a good description) were not also frantically looking for him. He was little and it was a WATER park. Anyway...on with our adventures.
We got to watch some F-15's (fighter jets) zip around the sky (Sea World is very close to an AFB)-Ben loved that. then BA-BOOM and it wasn't a sonic boom. Thunder.
They close all the pools and water rides (obviously). Good timing. I head to the locker, and like smart kids, the girls were already there. Emma, in tears, because it turns out she was too short (WAY) for the big slides. Go to the locker room, get everyone dry and dressed, hair brushed the time we are done the rain is gone. Out to the park.

Do some kiddy rides, go to the Shampu show. Meet the big boys there. Shampu was having an off day. We've all seen this show at least 5 times. We know how it goes down and we have seen quite a few mistakes/delays, including a new trainer getting so choked up during her "I always wanted to work with whales..." speech that she had to stop. This time right after the initial dramatic intro the whales had a sit down or would it be swim down strike. For about 5 minutes the trainers ran around like little ants trying to get the whales back out in the tank to do ANYTHING. The weather may have had something to do with it. Eventually all was well, enough fish was plied and the show moved on they're animals, not robots, this kind of thing is normal and expected.

Then the three big kids go off to ride the big rides that have been closed on and off due to the weather. I take the littles to ride the kiddy rides some more and what I believe was our 4th bathroom break of the day. Emma finds a new best friend and now we are moving from ride to ride with Grace, Emma, Ben and ???? all holding hands. Finally at about 5:30 (park closes at 6) the big kids show up again and we head out of the park. We go through the turnstiles and I am leaving with 7 kids, just like I came in with. See YOU thought I meant that I was concerned I would LOSE one, no I'm concerned that I'll ADD one. :-)

Just as we hit the parking Jack says "Hey, look the eye of Sauron", now if you have never seen Return of the King the reference is lost on you but suffice to say there was a BIG BLACK cloud over Sea World and heading towards the parking lot. We pick up the pace. Just as we get to the van the sky opens up. Everyone leaps in the van and I toss Lucy in, literally, good thing she bounces.... and shut the doors and run around to my side. I'm drenched by the time I get there, might have well as sat in the 'splash zone' :-). Someone gets Lucy in her seat and Ben in his and we are headed home.

All in all a smashing success. Everyone had fun, no one lost, no one gained. Minimal $$ spent and the park was EMPTY. We've been there when it is at capacity and 3/4 empty is much MUCH better.

We've got a party here Saturday and I'm supposed to start school Monday (and watch a neighbor child for a week..what am I THINKING). I am so not ready for ANY of it!!


I have a stat tracker on this blog. It shows me all kinds of nifty things like who has been here, how many times, where they linked from, if they used a search engine to find me, what keyword they used etc....... (I'm watching you!!)
So I'm checking my stats and see someone landed here after searching "how to eat refried beans" . So I google "how to eat refried beans" and my blog comes up first. Not a recipe, not a Mexican culinary site. Nope. A picture of Lucy covered in refried beans. How appetitizing for someone so unfamiliar with refried beans that they google how to eat it.
The wonderful world of the internet!

That Mom's blog!

The blog of the lady who wrote the ebay auction below. Hysterical. Very Erma...Bombeck that is.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Laugh for the day

This is the text from an active Ebay auction. For the most part I have my kids pretty well trained for the grocery store jazz BUT I rarely take all of them. I 100% know how this mom feels and she is so funny about the whole thing:

******I'm selling a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn't notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.

You havenít lived until youíve gone grocery shopping with six kids in tow. I would rather swim, covered in bait, through the English Channel, be a contestant on Fear Factor when theyíre having pig brains for lunch, or do fourth grade math than to take my six kids to the grocery store. Because I absolutely detest grocery shopping, I tend to put it off as long as possible. There comes a time, however, when youíre peering into your fridge and thinking, ëHmmm, what can I make with ketchup, Italian dressing, and half an onion,í that you decide you cannot avoid going to the grocery store any longer. Before beginning this most treacherous mission, I gather all the kids together and give them ìThe Lectureì.

ìThe Lectureì goes like thisÖ

MOM: ìWe have to go to the grocery store.î

KIDS: ìWhine whine whine whine whine.ì

MOM: ìHey, I donít want to go either, but itís either that or weíre eating cream of onion-ketchup soup and drinking Italian dressing for dinner tonight.î

KIDS: ìWhine whine whine whine whine.ì

MOM: ìNow here are the rules: do not ask me for anything, do not poke the packages of meat in the butcher section, do not test the laws of physics and try to take out the bottom can in the pyramid shaped display, do not play baseball with oranges in the produce section, and most importantly, do not try to leave your brother at the store. Again.î

OK, the kids have been briefed. Time to go.

Once at the store, we grab not one, but two shopping carts. I wear the baby in a sling and the two little children sit in the carts while I push one cart and my oldest son pushes the other one. My oldest daughter is not allowed to push a cart. Ever. Why? Because the last time I let her push the cart, she smashed into my ankles so many times, my feet had to be amputated by the end of our shopping trip. This is not a good thing. You try running after a toddler with no feet sometime.

At this point, a woman looks at our two carts and asks me, ìAre they all yours?î I answer good naturedly, ìYep!

ìOh my, you have your hands full.î

ìYes, I do, but itës fun!î I say smiling. Iíve heard all this before. In fact, I hear it every time I go anywhere with my brood.

We begin in the produce section where all these wonderfully, artistically arranged pyramids of fruit stand. There is something so irresistibly appealing about the apple on the bottom of the pile, that a child cannot help but try to touch it. Much like a bug to a zapper, the child is drawn to this piece of fruit. I turn around to the sounds of apples cascading down the display and onto the floor. Like Indiana Jones, there stands my son holding the all-consuming treasure that he just HAD to get and gazing at me with this dumbfounded look as if to say, ìDid you see that??? Wow! I never thought that would happen!î

I give the offending child an exasperated sigh and say, ìDidnít I tell you, before we left, that I didnít want you taking stuff from the bottom of the pile???î

ìNo. You said that you didnít want us to take a can from the bottom of the pile. You didnít say anything about apples.î

With superhuman effort, I resist the urge to send my child to the moon and instead focus on the positive - my child actually listened to me and remembered what I said!!! I make a mental note to be a little more specific the next time I give the kids The Grocery Store Lecture.

A little old man looks at all of us and says, ìAre all of those your kids?î

Thinking about the apple incident, I reply, ìNope. They just started following me. Iíve never seen them before in my life.î

OK, now onto the bakery section where everything smells so good, Iím tempted to fill my cart with cookies and call it a day. Being on a perpetual diet, I try to hurry past the assortment of pies, cakes, breads, and pastries that have my children drooling. At this point the chorus of ìCan we getsî begins.

ìCan we get donuts?î


ìCan we get cupcakes?î


ìCan we get muffins?î


ìCan we get pie?î


Youíd think theyíd catch on by this point, but no, theyíre just getting started.

In the bakery, theyíre giving away free samples of coffee cake and of course, my kids all take one. The toddler decides he doesnít like it and proceeds to spit it out in my hand. (Thatís what moms do. We put our hands in front of our childrenís mouths so they can spit stuff into them. Weíd rather carry around a handful of chewed up coffee cake, than to have the child spit it out onto the floor. Iím not sure why this is, but ask any mom and sheíll tell you the same.) Of course, thereís no garbage can around, so I continue shopping one-handed while searching for someplace to dispose of the regurgitated mess in my hand.

In the meat department, a mother with one small baby asks me, ìWow! Are all six yours?î

I answer her, ìYes, but Iím thinking of selling a couple of them.î

(Still searching for a garbage can at this point.)

Ok, after the meat department, my kidsí attention spans are spent. Theyíre done shopping at this point, but we arenít even halfway through the store. This is about the time they like to start having shopping cart races. And who may I thank for teaching them this fun pastime? My seventh ìchildî, also known as my husband. While Iím picking out loaves of bread, the kids are running down the aisle behind the carts in an effort to get us kicked out of the store. I put to stop to that just as my son is about to crash head on into a giant cardboard cut-out of a Keebler elf stacked with packages of cookies.

Ah! Yes! I find a small trash can by the coffee machine in the cereal aisle and finally dump out the squishy contents of my hand. After standing in the cereal aisle for an hour and a half while the kids perused the various cereals, comparing the marshmallow and cheap, plastic toy content of each box, I broke down and let them each pick out a box. At any given time, we have twenty open boxes of cereal in my house.

As this is going on, my toddler is playing Houdini and maneuvering his little body out of the seat belt in an attempt to stand up in the cart. Iím amazed the kid made it to his second birthday without suffering a brain damaging head injury. In between trying to flip himself out of the cart, he sucks on the metal bars of the shopping cart. Mmmm, can you say ìinfluenzaî?

The shopping trip continues much like this. I break up fights between the kids now and then and stoop down to pick up items that the toddler has flung out of the cart. I desperately try to get everything on my list without adding too many other goodies to the carts.

Somehow I manage to complete my shopping in under four hours and head for the check-outs where my kids start in on a chorus of, ìCan we have candy?î What evil minded person decided it would be a good idea to put a display of candy in the check-out lanes, right at a childís eye level? Obviously someone who has never been shopping with children.

As I unload the carts, I notice many extra items that my kids have sneaked in the carts unbeknownst to me. I remove a box of Twinkies, a package of cupcakes, a bag of candy, and a can of cat food (we donít even have a cat!). I somehow missed the box of Pokemon cards however and ended up purchasing them unbeknownst to me. As I pay for my purchases, the clerk looks at me, indicates my kids, and asks, ìAre they all yours?î

Frustrated, exhausted from my trip, sick to my stomach from writing out a check for $289.53, dreading unloading all the groceries and putting them away and tired of hearing that question, I look at the clerk and answer her in my most sarcastic voice, ìNo. Theyíre not mine. I just go around the neighborhood gathering up kids to take to the grocery store because itís so much more fun that way.î

So, up for auction is an opened (they ripped open the box on the way home from the store) package of Pokemon cards. There are 44 cards total. They're in perfect condition, as I took them away from the kiddos as soon as we got home from the store. Many of them say "Energy". I tried carrying them around with me, but they didn't work. I definitely didn't have any more energy than usual. One of them is shiny. There are a few creature-like things on many of them. One is called Pupitar. Hee hee hee Pupitar! (Oh no! My kids' sense of humor is rubbing off on me!) Anyway, I don't there's anything special about any of these cards, but I'm very much not an authority on Pokemon cards. I just know that I'm not letting my kids keep these as a reward for their sneakiness.

Shipping is FREE on this item. Insurance is optional, but once I drop the package at the post office, it is no longer my responsibility. For example, if my son decides to pour a bottle of glue into the envelope, or my daughter spills a glass of juice on the package, thatís my responsibility and I will fully refund your money. If, however, I take the envelope to the post office and a disgruntled mail carrier sets fire to it, a pack of wild dogs rip into it, or a mail sorting machine shreds it, itís out of my hands, so you may want to add insurance. I will leave feedback for you as soon as Iíve received your payment. I will be happy to combine shipping on multiple items won within three days. This comes from a smoke-free, pet-free, child-filled home. Please ask me any questions before placing your bid. Happy bidding! *********

I am incessantly asked if 'they are all mine' and often 'do you run a daycare' and then of course the oh so clever folk who ask "don't you know what causes that? and "don't you own a TV?" and the ever snooty and appreciated "Are you done yet?"
Guess what folks. You aren't being original or funny every mother of many has heard it ALL before. I don't ask you personal questions, why do you think you can ask me? Once I got so fed up I looked at the person and asked "So what color is your underwear?" in response to a incredibly personal question. They just stared at me so I added "well, since you're asking me a very personal question I thought fair was fair."

I hope this mom sells her Pokemon cards for lots and lots of money and doesn't buy a TV :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Neat find!
Chris and I want to get new living room furniture. There simply isn't enough room for our family to sit all at once without more than half the family sitting on the floor. Complication: we have a cat. He doesn't scratch very much compared to many cats but he IS a cat and he does LOVE to climb. We haven't even addressed what happens when you are holding him and happen to walk past a sink. The usual solution? Declawing. Well, declawing is extremely painful for the cat-it is not just a pulling of the claw out of the nailbed like I thought-and which is bad enough-it is the amputation of the last digit of their toe- and can even cause them not to use the litter box....permenently. Ok, so now I have cat who may not be scratching my furniture but is now pooping and peeing all over the house. What to do? Soft Paws!! I found these nifty little vinyl covers that go over your cats claws. They go on with a type of super glue and stay on 4-6 weeks. It works out to around $5/month for these. I think it is a win-win situation. No painful, costly surgery for Pumpkin and my furniture and all of our skin, stays intact!!
Side benefit? They come in cool colors so you can make your cat the laughing stock of the neighborhood!
Doesn't he look cute!

Thursday, August 9, 2007


No, I'm not going to talk about homeschoolers and socialization. That's been done to death.
This post is about women. Yes, women. In today's world women have stopped connecting. In addition to the busy lives we lead we have continued the cliquish ways of high school. First, we become Mom and often lose Karen or Maggie or Sharon....somewhere along the way. Then we kind of tool along in the tide of dance mom's or soccer mom's or homeschool mom's or scouting mom's or Little League mom's....almost everything we do is tied to our children's interests or husband's work, our work or our hobby. When was the last time any of you, my 4 readers, got together with a group of women and just had a nice time. Not a meeting, not a birthday party for a child, not a husband or child in sight? Just a few hours of eating and talking. Even better, got together with some women that may lead a slightly different life than you do?
I do this every month. I've mentioned it earlier in my blog. There is a game called Bunco, it's a simple dice game. It's a TX tradition to have Bunco clubs. This is a group of women who get together and play. Sometimes it is done through a church or other organization, often it is 12 women who come together in their homes and play. I was fortunate enough to be invited to sub in a local club within weeks of moving here, and in a few months was invited to join. Some of us are tied in one way or another, there are a couple sisters, a couple homeschoolers, a few neighbors etc....but we don't ALL have anything in common except we all live in the same county and are women. Once a month we all gather at one member's house. She provides dinner. Then we all sit and play Bunco for a couple hours. Bunco requires 4 people to sit around a table and after every game, there is rotation so you are constantly changing who you are talking to. Bunco is a very simple game so you are able to talk and enjoy yourself while playing the game. It's amazing what 3-4 hours once a month just having fun and conversation can do for your morale.
I challenge my readers to think about this. Think about how they can get out and just be Karen or Joanne or Therese every now and then. Have a little fun. Talk. SOCIALIZE. There are lots of games that can be played to encourage socialization. Bunco, bridge, pinochle, any game with more than 2 people at a table that is quick and you can rotate.
Bunco rules are slightly different in every club. If you are interested in Bunco and how it's usually played:

Monday, August 6, 2007

Be not afraid!!

I love to bake. Always have. Ever since I was a little girl standing on the chair next to my grandmother making cakes.
Even as a teen I would experiment with recipes out of cookbooks instead of using a boxed cake mix.
I collect cake, cookie and goodie recipes like little girls collect stuffed animals. I still haven't mentioned that one item so many otherwise avid cooks and bakers avoid. That one ingredient that strikes fear deep in the heart of homemakers everywhere....
:::cue scary music::::

It's amazing how many people will deep fry a turkey ( ACK!! ), attempt Baked Alaska, bone a salmon....or any other manner of difficult cooking tasks but won't touch yeast breads.

It is NOT that hard and I find to be one of the most rewarding and appreciated items one can make, not to mention the $$ you save. A few tips. Use fresh yeast. If it is too old it won't activate well and your baked goods will be dense and doughy. Use good flour. Some people doesn't think it matters but I can taste the difference. I prefer King Arthur products. And when making breads a good high protein (bread) flour does help but all purpose will work.

Here is a good simple recipe to start:

Ciabatta Bread/Pizza Crust

I'm linking directly to my friend, Joanne's blog, as she has nice pictures of this recipe!

I enjoy making a sweet egg bread that I often turn into cinnamon swirl bread. I'd give the recipe but I don't have one. I eyeball it.
There are tons of great breadmaking websites on the net.

This is a friend of mine: has lots of wonderful recipes. It's my go-to place when I'm looking for most anything.

Happy baking!!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Power of One....

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week ( )

The Power of One...

...drop of colostrum
...pumping call
...LLL meeting
...Leader working with a Leader Applicant
...feeding at the breast
...hour, the first hour of bonding

...hour, your baby's first hour
...milky smile
...answered email
...WBW Celebration
...event promoting breastfeeding
...look from your newborn as he or she is nursing for the first time
...mother told "You can do it"
...supportive Father

...Gold Standard, breastfeeding.
...Leader helping one baby at a time
...pebble of accurate information and its ripples in the community
...mother supported, encouraged, listened to, informed, enlightened

Thursday, August 2, 2007

More kitty pics

TEMPORARY additions
My Pumpkin-boy!