Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where in Alamogordo is This?

Last week's photos were unexpectedly tricky. Oh, most people got the one of Sonic, but the second one got puzzled looks and wild guesses. It is the front entrance of probably the most visited place in town: Walmart!

Here are this week's, let's see if people have better luck:


Monday, June 27, 2011

Video of the Day

It Gets Better

Awesome video from some very cool artists and authors. Bruce Coville! Jordan Sonnenblick! Ellen Hopkins! Laurie Halse Andersen! Not to mention a message everyone can stand to hear once in a while.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reason #8

S. points to a bottle of oil: "Juice!"

Grandma: "Oil."

S.: "O-yal."

Grandma: "Corn oil."

S: "Cone o-yal."

Grandma points to pan: "Fish."

S. points: "Fish."

Grandma: "Fry fish."

S.: "Fie fish."

Grandma points to self: "Grandma!"

S.: "Ha ha ha ha ha!" and walks away.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dinner Time and Garden Update


Going out to your garden to pick your supper is totally cool. For some size perespective, note that some of these leaves go from one side of the sink to the other! (C., though, was less than impressed - he complained that "this tastes like leaves!" Um...well...)

My garden as a whole is looking pretty good:

But, you all remember the problem I've been complaining about, right? In the forefront we have greens, more or less where I planted them. Sharing that bed, towards the back, we should have strawberries. Instead, we have onions. Slightly different flavor.

In the back bed, I planted onions, which you can see growing like crazy. Along with the potatoes (that gigantic bush thing at the back).

And then there are the cages where I planted beans.


This would be another potato.

(I bought L brackets today to shore up that frame)
These...are not beans either. They look suspiciously like the plants growing in the next bed over, where I planted cucumbers:


Yep, same leaves and everything. That's okay, though, we all like cucumbers. Oh, and look, this one has some growing!


Waaaaaaaaaait a minute. No way. No. No! I DID NOT PLANT SQUASH! ANYWHERE!

Come on, you have got to be kidding me! There wasn't even squash in the mulch pile! I mean, here is the packet from the seeds I planted, the packet I bought at Walmart, ripped open right there next to the garden, and then tucked into the side:


Does that not clearly say and show beans??? Where are my beans??? I would accuse a certain husband of playing tricks on me, but he loves beans and won't touch squash. Ideas, anyone? Suggestions? Strange, outlandish theories? 'Cause I'm all out. Next year I'm not going to plant a thing, I'm just going to start watering and see what comes up. Elephants, maybe.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fathers and Daughters

This afternoon we had our second annual Father Daughter Tea Party at the Library. As I said to the participants, Daddies often get the shaft. Mother's Day is at the end of the school year, when everyone is looking for crafts to keep the kids' attention, so they get all the cute little handprint poems and tissue paper flowers. Mother's Day at church is all about how great Moms are. Father's Day, however, is after school is out, when it's too hot to think, and the Sunday sermon tends to be about how dads need to step it up and get more involved.

None of these Dads need any such sermons.


Couldn't you just melt at the cuteness?


We had a little over 40 Daddies and daughters, which is about all our room can hold.


Many came dressed to the nines - you should have seen the sparkly parasol unfurled! I want it!


There were tasty snacks, and sparkling pink lemonade to be sipped through swirly straws.

We started off with excerpts from Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, by Gregory Lang.
Why a Daughter Needs a Dad

This was a Christmas gift from S. to Daddy last year. Personally, I think a Daddy's primary purpose is to answer the door when boys come knocking, but this has a few additional thoughts - some thought-provoking, some funny, some sobering, all good. A great gift for any time.

Then we read Reading with Dad, by Dick Jorgensen.
Reading with Dad
I just ran across it this week, and it was perfect. A young woman is looking at a photograph of one of her earliest memories, reading with her father, and goes through a whole lifetime of sharing books and thoughts together. There is a sense of a very warm and close relationship (without being too saccharine-sweet). Another great gift for any father!


After the book, we did a few projects relating to that idea. For one, fathers wrote down some of their special memories of times shared with their daughters, and attached them to long-stemmed roses.


For another project, we had picture frames to decorate.


Sequins and colored stones, of course, make everything better! We also had pink and red boxes to decorate, with paper hearts to write down more memories, or to leave each other notes.

Then we took pictures to go in the frames.



Love those smiles!



Way too much cuteness going on, here.

Yup, four daughters, all cute as a button. If ever a Daddy needed a shotgun...


Did I mention the awesome dresses?


My favorite father-daughter combo:)


And for our big finish!

Thank-you to all the Daddies and daughters who came out. Here's wishing everyone a very happy Father's Day tomorrow, with lots of relaxing time spent with your families!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Teen Cafe - Iron Chef Contest

Teenagers + chocolate syrup + knives + my new cookie sheets + competition = what could possibly go wrong?

Nothing, actually (although Alex M's mother may disagree, after he consumed the high-sugar-content creation he made and dubbed "the volcano"). The teens were really looking forward to our first Iron Chef Contest, and I don't think anyone was disappointed - including the judge, thank goodness.

We made it pretty simple. After making everyone wash their hands (I was the judge, and we have enough sickness in the house, thank-you very much),  teens picked one of four stations and the secret ingredient was revealed: flour tortillas. I picked those because they are a pretty versatile base, and because they are cheap:) Each team got 15 tortillas. The rule was that they had to include tortillas in their recipe, but did not have to use all 15.

Teams had five minutes to look over the additional ingredients and confer with their teammates, then they took turns taking one additional ingredient at a time before starting on their creations. Additional rules were:
- only Miss Ami operates the stove
- don't scratch up my cookie sheets
- don't make the pregnant lady throw up

These two girls dove right in, starting by mixing melted chocolate into the cream cheese. Their teammates chose to ponder their options for a bit longer.


This team began, not surprisingly if you know them, with an argument. Is the white rubber utensil called a spatula, or a spreader thingy?

Click here, guys.


Whatever it was, they put it to use, assembly-line style. There were actually several thing going on here, but they all worked together in the end, as you will see later.


I took this picture early on, thinking it looked rather intriguing, but it didn't show up in a final product. I have the feeling Mr. Happy Face and Friends were consumed by their creator shortly after this.



In the meantime, the girls who had started out so strong ran into a snag when they discovered melted marshmallows don't always spread very well. They also don't come off very well. A little time was lost here (and no, health department folks, this was not eaten.)

Sissy appears to be assuring me everything is going just fine on her team. No need to worry. Or to look too closely just yet.

At last it was time for the judging, which consisted of me cutting off a piece of each creation and forking it into my mouth while people took pictures with their cell phones. Gee, can't wait to get on Facebook tonight.

Multi-colored marshmallows and chocolate syrup proved to be favorite ingredients, with or without peanuts. Not bad, actually.

This was the only group that asked to bake theirs - about 5 minutes to warm everything up. Looks pretty!

And here's one as it was presented to me for tasting. The peaches, while still sweet, helped balance out the sugary ingredients.


I didn't say I would be looking at presentation, so I was pleased with how many groups took extra time on it. Remember the group I said had several things going on?  This is how they put them all together. The grape jelly, I was told, was mainly there for color contrast. The size and spacing were so artistic I hated to cut into it. On the right we have pears and coconut in a sauce made of pear juice, honey and melted chocolate chips. The crepe with the lovely garnish had melted butterscotch, and I'm afraid I forgot what else - the butterscotch kind of overwhelmed any other flavors.


Another nice presentation - more marshmallows and chocolate syrup, with the addition of Heath bits, which gave a nice crunch. Very sweet, though.


This, though, was the winner - for presentation, texture, flavor, and originality. Tortillas layered with peanut butter, mini chocolate chips, sour cream (I think) and two kinds of cereal, drizzled in chocolate syrup. The peanut butter kept it from being too sweet, and the cereal gave it a crunch that kept it from being too heavy.  

We had a runner-up I did not get a picture up, prepared by one lone girl: sort of an open-face quesadilla, with lots of cheddar cheese and black olives. A very welcome change from all the sweetness, perfect proportions! The winners and runner-up all got raffle tickets for some of our big SRP prizes.

Thanks to everyone who helped clean up afterward, especially since we have a performer first thing tomorrow morning in that same room. Apologies to the parents of the teens now on sugar highs - if it's any consolation, the bits I sampled seem to have hit Baby L's system, so I don't expect to be falling asleep any time soon, either!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SRP Upda--- Oh, Who am I Kidding?

The beauty of combining two blogs is that you can neglect them both more efficiently.

I know I owe a lot of book reviews, and haven't posted any pictures or anecdotes for summer reading, but:

We have 42% more kids registered than at this time last year.

The Children's Clerk was in England for the last two weeks, and one of our pages resigned.

I am 11 months pregnant with a hyperactive future member of Cirque de Soleil.

It is 800 degrees outside.

The two youngest are sick. After a squeezed-in doctor's appointment (thank-you, Dr. B.!), we went to Walmart for prescrptions. Went to the McD's there to eat while we waited. Where C. got a nosebleed and S. got ketchup. Everywhere. (I have video, but it won't download).

Then when we went to get the prescription, for some reason one child's insurance went through and the other didn't. So I got to pay full price, and tomorrow I can call and chat with the insurance company. Before I run sick kids to Grandma and M. to school. And hopefully get to work before we open, so I can work until close. And do the same both Friday and Saturday, programs all three days. Plus the Cherry Festival. Plus Father's Day.

So. We may not get any posts up in the next couple days - but when we do, we'll have lots to talk about!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Where in Alamogordo are These?


In our second edition of "Where in Alamogordo" - can you identify these spots you probably see on a regular basis?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Had to Do It

It's a parental requirement, written down somewhere, I'm sure. You must at some point give the child a lemon or lime wedge, and record the results.

video

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

video

Especially since the actual presence of a human is not as worrisome as, say, that itch you just can't reach..

Summer Reading Update

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAa









AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!



More details when I have time.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Those Scary, Scary YA Books

Okay, most of what I read (for myself) is Young Adult fiction, and I'm the person who orders it for our library, so I think I have a pretty fair idea of what is out there. When I read the Wall Street Journal article stating all YA novels are dark and horrible and that publishers are trying to turn our kids into depressed drug addicts who cut themselves (okay, I'm paraphrasing - but only slightly) I just rolled my eyes and went back to rereading I Now Pronounce You Someone Else.

Unfortunately, there are those parents who trust the Wall Street Journal (um, why?) to tell them what to think about literature. Even more unfortunately, as some bloggers have pointed out, budget cuts everywhere mean that parents may not have someone around with some actual KNOWLEDGE of young adult literature to help them find books appropriate for (and of interest to) their child.

That's why I love this post from The YA5. She has links to some of the best responses to the WSJ article, but even better, a list of suggested titles for the mother in question. What's funny is, my teen is currently sitting ten feet away from me (re)reading one of the books in her first series suggestion.

This same teen will happily read a vampire novel, or a book about anorexia, or The Hunger Games, or just about anything else you put in her hands - and she, to date, has not gone out and burned down any buildings, experimented with drugs, or sold her soul to the devil. The condition of her room is a whole 'nother story, but I don't think I can blame that on the publishing industry.

Off the top of my head, I would add to that list:

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald
After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick (yes, the kid had cancer, but this book is HYSTERICAL)
As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins
Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

What about you, readers? What YA books would you recommend for the mom of a young teen, who doesn't want too much darkness in her reading?

Missed Picture

From now on, I am driving to work with the camera on and in one hand.

Twin. Baby. Mountain lions. OHmigosh were they cute! And of course that meant mama was around somewhere, watching...at 9:30AM...within sight of several houses...which, of course, is not a good thing, but...they were so CUTE!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Neighbors

There's a barn in the middle of a nice, big field around the corner from us that we always have to stop at in the morning. They have some beautiful horses that the kids always have to say "Good morning" to. Used to be a llama named Fred, but he got in trouble for escaping one too many times and had to move on. You can usually see cats strolling through the weeds, looking for a rodent snack. Occasionally the deer hang out, quietly grazing beside the horses.

Today we spotted a puppy dog, enjoying the sun by the corral.

He was pretty relaxed, looked up at me each time I spoke to him, but didn't mind us admiring him.


 Let's zoom in for a closer look, shall we?


 Mmm-hmm. Puppy dog. If Daddy asks, that's exactly what we saw.


Yep, that's a plain old, domesticated puppy dog. Out in broad daylight. Near houses. Not afraid of people. Looking rather well-fed for an area in a drought. Not a problem.



(Where are those cats, anyway?)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Baby L. Update

Had our midwife appointment today, and didn't get to see our midwife. It seems she was needed in labor and delivery - what, there are other expecting mothers besides me in the world? Hmph. We saw the 'new' midwife, who is very nice and I'm sure knows what she's doing, but it's just not the same.

At any rate, it seems I am still pregnant:

Ya think?

And, just as I suspected, last night's bout of insomnia was due to Junior 'getting into position' (which also explains the lack of feeling in my legs, and the increased difficulty in climbing into the van.) Nothing to get excited about, S. did this about 7 weeks before her due date too - and in the middle of her cousin's wedding ceremony! Wasn't THAT fun! He is also, news flash, carrying very low. And a very active little boy - enough so that the seasoned midwife commented on it more than once. Everything looks good, though - still planning a C-section, but not scheduling it. Daddy and M. were with me, and we filled her in on details of S.'s birth, including important things like the skinning knife used to cut the umbilical cord, and key characteristics of hers and C's personalities.

One thing did puzzle me - as we left, she commented that she always enjoyed starting the day with a good stand-up comedy routine. Whatever could she have meant?

Arizona Wildfires


View from the front deck - pretty picture if you don't realize what it is.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Solving School Funding Problems

Brilliant! As many of you know, my husband is on the local school board, and they are always trying to find ways to think outside the box and keep things going. I am so going to recommend they Turn Schools Into Prisons.

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