Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: It's About Stinkin' Time!

Have you ever noticed that it's when you are super busy and don't have much time to read, that long-awaited books finally come in? I have three I am dying to read, two of which are sitting on my desk right this second, and absolutely zero time to get to them.
The first is a long-awaited sequel to this book:
The Compound
It came out FOUR YEARS AGO, and I read it and loved it and immediately wanted to know what happened to the survivors afterward. "Immediately" finally became this month:
The Fallout
I won't include a description in case you haven't read the first (which you should go do right now), but the jacket and teasers I have seen definitely have my attention.
The next two I want to read because of the author:
Chasing Shadows
Avasthi's first book, Split, came out in 2010, when I happened to be a judge on the Young Adult Fiction panel for the Cybils Award. Out of all the books submitted, Split came out on top. It won numerous other accolades, and you would think the author would follow it up with something new within the next year...but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, she has to TEASE us for three years. This looks to be well worth the wait, including a great storyline AND parts in graphic novel form. I will probably forgive her:)
The last comes out tomorrow, so I don't have it in hand yet:
Sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for "normal." Born with a port wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It’s that—or succumb to a killer.
I've read the first chapter online, just enough to whet the appetite. Rainfield is the author of Hunted, and Scars, which has been very popular here. She is also an absolute sweetheart! It has been ordered, so I will at least be able to stare longingly at it soon.
The first two are ready to be checked out here at the library - unless it is my lunch hour, and I am hidden in the back with one of them!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ocelots and Owls and Orangutans, Oh My!

Love throwing the kids into the van and telling them we're going someplace special. Drives them up the wall, and any time you can do to them a smidgen of what they do to you daily, it's a bonus.
We got all the way to El Paso before C. finally clued in to read signs - and figured out we were headed to the ZOO about two minutes before we pulled into the parking lot. We have a great little zoo in our town, but bears are our largest animal - and Daddy sees those daily at work! C. had been to the El Paso Zoo before, but S. and L. hadn't, and they are just the right age to appreciate what they are seeing.
Plenty of "o" animals:
Blurry Owls
And camera-shy Orangutans.

I kind of identified with this guy. Bad hair day, fat belly, and moving kind of slowly.
Lots of animals for the rest of the alphabet, too.

Totally posing.
We felt sorry for the tortoises, with the javelinas running around taking the food literally right out of their mouths.

Then we discovered they had to keep them busy. leapfrog. A lot. Moving right along...

Where did he go?

There he is!
We also saw several types of primates, birds (L. is really into birds for some reason), various reptiles and amphibians, wolves, etc., and of course the elephants. The Galapagos tortoises made our sulcatas look pretty puny. We even saw the lion training, which is done through a steel mesh door just a couple feet in front of you. It was funny watching two huge lionesses jockeying for treats just like our cats! We ran into friendly zoo volunteers and workers everywhere, who several times went out of their way to show the kids something.
The highlight had to be the giraffes, though.

As in, feeding the giraffes!

C. was not about to get any closer than necessary.

S. had no such qualms.

And I wish I had sound recording of L.'s delighted little laugh! Given their propensity for puppy-dog kisses, they all found that tongue especially impressive.
After a late lunch, we headed back home, totally worn out. As we started up the hill in the bright sunshine, Daddy turned the fire department radio back on, just in time to hear something about a house getting washed away, and needing evacuations. Wha??? That woke the two of us up in a hurry, and we listened the rest of the way up, as others responded to some pretty severe flooding just north of us. By the time we got home, half our department's units were already en route, so we stayed home and battened down the hatches. It ended up skirting around us, but some other communities were hit pretty hard. 
That's supposed to be a road.
And that's a grassy field. (Pictures by Teresa Coburn)
No worries, though, the kids are skilled dam builders:
C., at this point, was unconscious on the sofa, two seconds after insisting he wasn't tired enough to go to bed.
The night sort of went downhill from there.
Between the walking, occasionally carrying L., and hours in the car, my side and leg muscles were in pretty bad shape, and I started off fighting some cramps.
Then L. woke up yelling that he had pooped. He hadn't.
Then the husky started barking her fool head off, so Daddy went out and looked around. Nothing. Must have been another bug.
Then C. woke up, about 10PM, asking what was for supper.
Then the dog started barking again. My turn. Nothing.
Then S. joined us in our bed, where she tossed and turned and talked in her sleep all night.
Then the cat hacked up a noisy hairball in the kitchen.
Then the dog started barking. Daddy's turn.
Then L. woke up and yelled that he had pooped. Just wet. Changed him.
Then C. woke up crying, but couldn't tell me why.
Then the dog started barking. My turn. I told her that unless a bear was actively climbing into the house through a window, to SHUUUUUUT UUUUUUUUUUUP!!!!
Then L. woke up and screamed. We have poop! Poor guy, I would have screamed at that one, too. Cleaned him up.
Then S. had a nightmare and woke up. And then had to go potty. With an escort.
Then the dog started barking. She got locked in the (empty) chicken house for the rest of the night.
Then C. woke up and come into our room, and I mustered my last shred of patience to ask him what he needed in a nice-Mommy voice.
He had just thrown up all over his floor.
Cleaned that up, tossed soiled clothes and toys in hamper and sink (I'll bet that never happened to GI Joe on his cartoon), tucked C. back in.
Oh, and every time I lay back down, baby-to-be started the next game in his soccer tournament, and M.'s cat tried to park herself on my sore legs.
Woke up to heavy rain.
And an upended trash barrel with garbage strewn from one end of the property to the other.
(There was also a trail of corn cobs leading up the hill)
Maybe that wasn't a bug after all.

Husky is hereby vindicated.
The plan had been to work at least half a day Monday, but by this time I couldn't even get my van out of the driveway, and was worried the highway would get shut down again with me on the wrong end of it. Plus the sick kid. And the trash needing to be picked up. And, did I mention the bathroom ceiling is leaking?
And then S. got sick. Okay, a day at home it is! At least we all had a good day yesterday, with plenty of zoo-animal-follow-up crafts to do if we start feeling better. Like, you know, ark-building. Just in case.

Monday, September 16, 2013

"O" is for "Oh my gosh do I need a nap..."

Grandma and Grandpa came to visit from Ohio this week, which worked nicely into the letter "O". Unfortunately, (and very unusually for NM), most of the days looked like this:
That cut out quite a lot of our usual activities! Fortunately, the hotel has an indoor swimming pool.
Not so sure just yet.

But, splashing is fun!

Christopher, on the other hand, is a fish! (That would be him under the water).

Sheridan did a little dog-paddling back and forth, as well as floating on her back and kicking.
Note that there will be no pictures of pregnant Mommy in her makeshift swimwear. It's amazing how tired just walking through water can make you, though! Then I had to work the next day, which included shifting shelves and going through stacks of new books. By Saturday I was ready to stay home and "do school".
In hopes of a trip to the zoo later, we started off with "o" animals from this web site. We looked at each one briefly, and watched the video that went with it. Then we did letter shapes:
Some of the "o" cereal was glued down, some ended up in bellies. It's all good:)

Then S. colored "o" animals, while C. used them with his spelling words to make sentences.
We ran out of "o" animals at the end, but as you can see, my Star Wars fan had a quick solution!

L. made his own animals with his big beads.
For lunch, we ate more O's!
With a fruit salad of Bountiful Basket leftovers.

Dessert was strips of crescent roll dough in "o" shapes, sprinkled VERY liberally with cinnamon sugar.
Hey, I just realized everyone is wearing pants AND has their hair combed. Very odd for a day at home.
While the littles napped, I printed out coloring pages for the different "o" animals. Grandma and Grandpa joined us and we painted them all with watercolors.
I firmly believe adults should have an arts and crafts time every day. That way, even if you totally botch, say, a kidney transplant, you can point out how nicely you colored in the lines, and your day won't be totally unproductive.
Coming tomorrow: the Zoo!


Friday, September 6, 2013

Our Protectress

We have a husky who stays outside at night (she prefers it that way).
She is a mountain dog, un-phased by deer or elk, giving a quick warning growl to raccoons to stay away from the chickens. (Unlike the chocolate lab, who barks hysterically at TREES). So, when she starts barking wildly in the middle of the night, we know it's a bear or mountain lion.

Or a bug.
(To be fair, a big bug. With a furry backside. I feel ever so much safer.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dancing Naked Covered in Pear Jam

See, that's where commas become really important. Those are actually three different events from the weekend - sorry for any disappointment!
Hooray for three-day weekends! I wanted to spend a lot of time with the kids, so first order of business was getting the rest of the Bountiful Baskets haul taken care of and out of the way. After Sunday's Cooking Marathon, I was only able to pick at it here and there (darn job getting in the way!), and still hadn't really touched the 38 pounds of pears.
So, I made a huge batch of Bartlett Harlequin Jam, an equally large batch of Apple Pear Cranberry Relish, and this Pear Honey.
Fortunately, they all required lots of simmering time, which gave me a chance to play with the kids in between. The Pear Honey was really good over confetti cornbread muffins - just regular cornbread with leftover corn on the cob, bell peppers, and hot peppers that hadn't already been used up. Those will both be going to the fire department meeting Tuesday (assuming there are any left).
I made this Pina Colada Jam with the pineapples, but I haven't tasted it yet due to the rum in it - I know, most alcohol may have been cooked out, but I don't take chances there. I'll have some in January:) I did have to add a lot more pectin than it said, but it looks and smells good!
Having pesto on hand is proving...well, handy, so I was happy to find this recipe for Spinach and Kale Pesto (not to mention a new blog to follow!). It even used up the half bag of slivered almonds that has been sitting in the cupboard since Christmas. I froze a bunch and used some with a medley of potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, celery and onions, which I baked for supper this weekend:
Okay, enough heating up the kitchen, time to go play outside!

Yes, I used to be one of those childless people who shook her head at other people's children's mismatched outfits. But I love her sense of style! Why NOT wear snow boots with your halter dress?

We spent a lot of time climbing around and using C.'s tools to measure things,

and making sure they were level (um...they're not.)
Saturday night there was a street dance in a small village north of here. We told the kids we were going "some place special", and they drove me NUTS all day trying to guess. Next time, I just pack them into the car and start driving! They were pretty happy with the surprise once we got there, though.
Of course, L. is not fond of loud noises (unless he is creating them), and shares my taste in music. He spent the first twenty minutes like this:

And C. pretty much concurred:

L. loosened up a bit when he discovered he could dance with pretty girls, though!

And even more so when he got some 7-Up in him.

Dang, kid, it didn't even have caffeine in it!

C. discovered places to climb and jump off of and swing around, so he was good. S., on the other hand, ran around and demanded dances most of the evening:
She even made Daddy dance with her to "Cotton-Eyed Joe", which for some reason didn't wear her out as much as it did him. All three littles fell asleep on the short drive home, and I don't think S. fully woke up until the next morning. As I was getting her out of her car seat, she stumbled to me saying, "Mommy, I want to dance with you," then collapsed into my arms.
In 'school', we are learning the letter "N", which of course is easy to confuse with "M", so this weekend we did a lot with both letters. We still haven't put the new flooring in, so I had the perfect canvas for a game:

I call out a letter or a word, and they all have to stand on the right one. You can do this with tape or chalk if you don't want red enamel paint everywhere:)
C. has started school again - second grade! - and brought home his first spelling list of the year. We came up with sentences together, trying to include words that started with "m" or "n".

We seem to be partial to the word "naked" for "n".
Getting C. to write is like pulling teeth, so I just made him write the actual spelling words:
then S. went over all the "m"s and "n"s with her own markers.
"M" is for "mailbox", so we made these to leave each other notes. I picked the kits up a week after Valentine's Day for something like 30 cents each.
I LOVE when kids do the Picasso thing.
Back outside again! The kids dug for dinosaur bones for a while (you'll want to be careful walking around our property), then S. decided she wanted to come back in and help me make dessert. We used up some leftovers and made individual brownies,

with the cans of frosting that only had an inch left each, and the malted milk balls that everyone seems to pass over.

S. is very generous with her toppings. These definitely did not lack for sweetness; holy sugar coma, Batman!
And then back out again, where we found a new friend.

Poor guy wanted to run (slither) away, but wasn't sure which direction was safe. Every time he thought he could make a break for it, C. had to go check to see if he was still there.

He finally headed downhill and away from the crazy noisy place.
Monday started with coed naked math:
Try that in public school! Over the course of half an hour we had sorting, patterning, bartering, and greater-than-less-than.
Then they suddenly remembered the mailboxes, and there was a frenzy of coloring pictures for each other.
Um...hello? Where'd everyone go? Mess on the table?
Busted! And you two, don't even try to act like you weren't standing on the bed, too, when I walked in.
Do your kids do this? When you remind them they are supposed to pick something up when they are done playing with it,
they just decide they aren't done playing with it after all? We went back and forth with the shapes all day, interspersed with play-do and books. It rained on and off ALL DAY. We did go out and play in the mud in the evening, followed by much-needed baths, then chili for supper. Kind of a lazy day after all the activity over the last two! Sometimes we need lazy days, though. Back to work tomorrow - except for poor Daddy, who has been 'back to work' all weekend:( Hope everyone else got to enjoy at least some time off!