Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin

I'm happy with McCain's choice for VP... we heard of his choice in a McDonalds of all places! We had just walked in and the news was being broadcast on a large screen t.v. by the tables.

Somewhere I heard Sarah referred to as "Sarah Palin Tall" as in the book/movie "Sarah Plain and Tall"...well I just realized the anagram of Palin is Plain :) I love to play Scrabble - so I see words within words...

As I remember from "Sarah Plain and Tall" - the Sarah character was pretty sensible.

Some say she has little experience...I'd say she has more than Obama....a first term senator who has done nothing but spend his term running for president!

Lounging Lizard

While we were looking at the elephants - dd spotted a lizard on a rock. "You won't catch him" I said, knowing how fast they move.

She nabbed it on her first try!

"What should I call him?" she asked. "How about Firstgo" said her brother - Firstgo since she nabbed him on her first try.

The lizard, probably in shock, just sat still on her arm for quite a long time as we walked along. Then he lay still on her chest - probably blinded by the psychedelic-ness of her shirt.

The lizard was let go.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Elephant Rocks Adventure

My dh took the day off work today. Around 6:45 AM we were thinking of going to the zoo after breakfast. Around 7:00 AM I suggested heading out somewhere more adventure-full and thought of Elephant Rocks State Park (a park I have wanted to visit ever since I heard about it).

Within an hour a lunch was packed and we were out the door!

The drive was about 2.5 hrs - we took the "scenic route", plus we stopped to check out another state park on the way.

"One of the most curious geologic formations in Missouri is found at Elephant Rocks State Park. Giant boulders of …granite stand end-to-end like a train of circus elephants. Many of the elephant rocks lie within the seven-acre Elephant Rocks Natural Area…

Since no official census of the herd has ever been taken, the exact number of "elephants" inhabiting the park is unknown. Although the elephant rocks are continually eroding away, new elephants are constantly being exposed. Information collected on Dumbo, the patriarch of Elephant Rocks State Park, shows that he is 27 feet tall, 35 feet long and 17 feet wide. At a weight of 162 pounds per cubic foot, Dumbo tips the scales at a hefty 680 tons.”

The kids LOVED climbing on the rocks...for the sake of family harmony (and to keep from having a heart attack) the mother sometimes wandered off and just left the dad and kids to do their dangerous antics. Sure they might just break two arms or split open their skulls when falling off one of the large rocks (which would be bad enough) - but I didn't want to witness them falling off one of the large rocks and then falling over the edge of the precipice and breaking their necks as well.

It was fun going through the maze of rocks - this here was a very narrow passage...I wondered what would happen if I got stuck part way through...guess it would be to starve myself like Winnie the Pooh, until I was slimmed down enough to slip through! There was another narrow passageway that was actually wider than this one and it was called "Fat Man's Squeeze".

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cicadas - Simple Fun

The other day the kids found a cicada..."They are kind of a muddy color when they are getting ready to molt" my encyclopedic daughter informed me. I don't know if that's true or not, but usually when she makes such a statement, she is correct.

I hate spiders and insects such as cockroaches - but somehow the cicada doesn't bug me (pun intended). The kids like to collect the "remains" from cicadas that have molted. When my mother-in-law was a child, she would gather cicada "shells" and play with them...pretending they were buffaloes.

Cicada "shell"

Playing with the cicada was short-lived as we needed to go grocery shopping. At first dd put her new friend into a pail, then decided to place him in our little planter on the front steps.

When we returned home from the store the kids rushed over to see if the cicada was still there. Not only was he still there but he was in the process of molting and they got to watch. I was called over.

Here he is almost out of his "shell" - a second later he was out!

It's kind of hard to see the cicada as he's camouflaged with the flower stems - but he is on the far left.

Dd ran and got a plastic container and popped him inside..she was going to keep him - but decided to let him go.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Homemade Jam

About a year or so ago, I brought home this "Jammin Kit" by Disney. I picked it up for only ONE dollar at one of the many dollar stores around here. It sat in my storage cupboard for about 6 months, then it was moved to the upstairs cereal cabinet where it sat for 6 more months. Once I moved it upstairs the kids saw it and would occasionally ask when we were going to make some jam.

I figured we'd better do it before summer was over, so went hunting for some strawberries. The fresh ones at the grocery store looked pretty lame so I just bought a bag of frozen ones.

I remember my mom making was probably blueberry or pincherry or crabapple. It seemed like a long, hot process...boiling jars, cooking the fruit, straining the fruit overnight in cheesecloth etc. etc. I wasn't quite up to that.

This kit included everything we needed (except the fruit) and required no cooking, no boiling jars, no straining.

The strawberries were dumped into a large bowl, mashed with my newly procured-from-the-thrift-store potato masher (how did I live almost all of my married life without one?), a package of pectin and sugar were added and then mixed.

Jam was ladled into jars, set out to firm up for about 1/2 hr and then popped into the fridge.

It was so easy and the kids enjoyed it and it counts as "educational", so I wish I had bought a few more of the kits so we could make jam a few more times. But more than likely the remaining boxes would have sat mouldering somewhere for a year or so. I've always have great intentions but have problem with the following through part...I'm sure my mom would say that is how I have been since I was a little girl :)

Of course the kids were so eager to try the jam...and they loved it. How could you not love something that tasted like the topping from a strawberry sundae?

I like how the kit says on the back about it being a family activity and a HEALTHY SNACK.

I rarely ever buy Disney stuff - I've got this thing against Disney. It is not a "religious conviction" or "boycott"... I think the mass marketing of it all just irritates me. I'm tired of seeing Mickey Mouse all over the place, I don't like the whole "princess" thing for girls, I don't for the most part like animated movies...a number of reasons. But I have to say this jam kit was a dollar well spent :)

I checked on-line and you can actually buy this kit through - it's more than a dollar, it costs $11.99...which is still a pretty good price...though not close to the steal I got for $1.00.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cilantro / Coriander

Cilantro is an herb that is commonly used in Mexican dishes such as salsa and guacamole.

I was reading Pioneer Woman's recipe blog and decided to try "Liz's Black Bean Chowder With Yogurt-Cilantro Relish" one of the many recipes that was submitted for a contest on her blog. The chowder part sounded yummy - but I had my doubts about the yogurt-cilantro relish.

I have only tasted cilantro once or twice before - and HATED it both times. But for the sake of the recipe I bought some today and decided to try it again.

I tried some of the cilantro plain (as did the children - their first time) and in the "relish". Plain - it was nasty. I tried a few nibbles of the relish - thinking maybe the taste would grow on me - but it didn't. I don't think I'll be changing my mind any time soon. I don't even like the smell - ugh.

Dd tried it and said, "It's weird - I think it's nasty!"

Ds tried it and said, "It's good! - I like it mom!"

Apparently when it comes to cilantro - people either hate it or love it. There is even an anti-cilantro website called Cilantro haters tend to think it tastes soapy or like metal shavings.

I read somewhere that the good vs bad taste may be a result of genetics...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Smile YOUR on Camera

Walking to the grocery store we came upon this sign. It's on the back of a new-ish oil change type place.

Before I was married I worked for a leasing company, and one of my responsibilities was to proofread lease agreements to ensure there were no mistakes that would cause us problems later. My job after I was married, involved working on aircraft repair manuals (typing and proofreading - unbelievably boring).

All this proofreading, coupled with my love for reading, has enabled me to recognize spelling/grammatical errors pretty quickly. This is not to say that I am a spelling or grammatical expert (I especially have trouble with punctuation) b/c I certainly am not! I know my blog has errors, in part, b/c I'm usually too lazy to proofread my own work (bad I know).

Having said all that - I still enjoy finding errors on signs and in published materials. This sign provided a teaching opportunity with the kids.

A few months ago I came across a blog that was about a couple of people going around making corrections to signs, menus, etc. I couldn't remember the name of the blog - but when I Googled I did find this article - I'm not sure if it's about the same guys or not, but still interesting.

Then I came across this recent article - the guys ended up being charged with vandalism after they changed a historic Grand Canyon sign.

My Little Pack Mule

It was a beautiful morning and I wanted to take the kids for a walk while it was still cool. I also needed to go for groceries - so I decided to combine the two.

When we were first married I couldn't drive...and even if I could drive we only had one car. My dh was working (and working long hours and Saturdays some of the time) and I was at home with no job (due to immigration issues) and no children yet and knowing few people.

If I wanted to get somewhere I'd usually have to do it via "shank's mare". At some point I obtained this cart...handy for groceries as well as transporting laundry to the laundry room (sep. building in the apartment complex) from our apartment.

Then I learned to drive, we obtained another vehicle, we moved into a house and my pedestrian days were over. The cart hung out in the garage for many a year - rarely taken down except for the rare excursion to the Farmer's Market.

Today we took down the cart and the kids were VERY excited over who was going to be able to push/pull the cart empty and full!

We can walk to the grocery store in about 15 min - the way is kind of hilly, but my little pack mules had no problem.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sugar Overdose

Parents know they ought to lock up medicines and poisons or at least put them out of reach and sight of young children.

I might have to begin applying those procedures to the sugar bowl.

My daughter wanted a "tea party" for her birthday party and since we were having real tea, she also wanted to have some cream and sugar CUBES- not just plain, ordinary, boring, sugar.

I let dd fill up the sugar bowl and she filled it to overflowing. After the party I'd say the bowl was about 1/2 full.

Yesterday as I was preparing supper (really just warming up some left-overs) I looked over at the counter and noticed that the aluminum foil that I had placed over the top of the sugar bowl, was askew. I removed the foil and was surprised to find the bowl empty.

I went to the kids and asked what had happened to the all the sugar cubes. Dd confessed that she had eaten them all! Shocked - I asked her how many she thought she had eaten that day..."oh about 10" she replied.

I think there must have been more than 10 b/c I thought it was about 1/2 full when I put the foil on the top.

I went and got out a teaspoon measuring spoon and a bowl and scooped into it 10 teaspoons of sugar so she could see how much she had eaten (at the very minimum).

Was it a coincident that all day she had been complaining of "not feeling well" and "not feeling very hungry"?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Bribing" Kids to Go to School

I heard on the radio how a public school in St. Louis is "rewarding" students with hip hop tickets for coming to school.

"Students with the best attendance records through September will be invited to a concert by hip-hop artist Shorty. Those with perfect attendance will receive VIP tickets. To qualify for those, students must have shown up for Monday's first day of school."

In the past the "reward" for students showing up on the first day of school was that their names would be entered into a draw to win a TELEVISION.

I figure if the kids are not willing to go to school without some sort of enticement - it would be better that they not show up at all. The kids that don't want to be in school make it very difficult for the kids that do want to be there and do want to learn.

If the kids do only come so they can get a ticket - what happens once they receive their ticket? How about giving the tickets at the end of the year for good attendance?

The Omnivore’s Hundred Meme

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

Here's my list - instead of crossing out items I would not consider eating, I just put them in italics.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Ber above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis (may be willing to try b/c I love the name!)
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini (separately)
73. Loche asinthe
74. gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill (depends how fresh the roadkill was and type of animal)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shelled crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Looks like I still have a ways to go! But at least a lot of the things on this list that I have tried, so have my children - so they have had a good start! A bunch of the listed items I had to look up before I knew whether or not I would try them and some I didn't look up so I'm not really sure what all I may have committed myself to :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"I Don't Remember Growing Older..."

"Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don't remember growing older when did they? Wasn't it yesterday when they were small? Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset - Swiftly flow the days. Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers blossoming even as we gaze..." (Fiddler on the Roof).

Tomorrow my girl turns 9. She was a difficult baby. She cried a lot. A LOT! She was fussy. She was "needy". I often wondered what she would be like when she got older. Now I know.

She is a beautiful, sweet, humorous, intelligent, helpful daughter.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Flexible School Scheduling

This morning I was out riding my bike around 6:00...the temperature was still cool, the air smelled wonderful, it was quiet, and "not a creature was stirring not even a mouse." Or so it seemed.

If you are not naturally a morning person - you are missing out! There is not a better time to be outside, than the early hours.

By 6:30 I saw kids waiting for the school bus. It made me start thinking about the start of the school year and when it should take place. Schools in our area have been in session for one or two weeks.

We will "officially" start back after Labor Day weekend. I say "officially" b/c even though we take a break from the bulk of our schoolwork during the summer months, we continue to do some schoolwork here and there. It might be reading for an hour about pyramids or working a chapter in math or it might be going for a swim. I sometimes think it would be better to keep the same school routine year round since kids always seem to do better when there is a schedule.

By getting in hours during the summer - it also helps us maintain a more flexible schedule year round. Even though our state does require a certain amount of hours in a few main subjects - we can choose when those hours take place. School only in the morning or school 4 days a week, a week off for visiting grandparents...whatever works best for your own family.

One of my biggest beefs with the public and private school system is that once your child is enrolled - your whole life revolves around the schedule the school/government dictates. You see your child for an hour or so in the morning and then not again til late afternoon. Then in most cases there is homework, so the school also dictates how your child/family spends their remaining few awake hours at home.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Katy Trail - Part 3

This morning we headed out for part 3 of our Katy Trail ride. We got started later than we would have liked to - but as the weather was cool and beautiful it didn't matter too much.

We began at Pittman Hill Road and (some of us) went as far as Weldon Spring, and back. A total of about 14 miles I think.

We stopped by the river and had a little rest and snack.

Dh and the girl made it all the way to Weldon Spring...the boy and I - not as far. Ds was having right wing issues and so we turned back and rested awhile.

It was pretty slow going coming back due to the sore arm, 2 snakes (1 dead, 1 living), 1 peacock and a deer that was sighted. Also - we took a little side trip.

The girl and dh spotted a large (according to the girl) lizard.

Aren't webworm "nests" creepy?? Reminds me of the large spider cocoons I saw as a teenager watching "Kingdom of the Spiders" on television.

At the end of the road, everyone agreed they had had an enjoyable time, all things considered. What could make the experience any better than to top it all off with a Happy Meal at McDonalds.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The tomatillo (toe-ma-tee-oh) is a small round fruit (used as a vegetable generally) that is a member of the nightshade family (as are tomatoes and eggplants). These 4 little tomatillos cost 75 cents. Tomatillos are used in Mexican cooking.

The tomatillo is covered in a papery "husk" that when removed, there is a sticky residue that needs to be washed off.

Both kids liked the taste...dd said "It tastes like a pepper - a sour pepper." Ds said "I like it - it is kind of like an apple."

I was surprised how sour it was. Dd was right - it is sour and has the taste of a mild green pepper...the consistency is firmer than a tomato - kind of crunchy and juicy like biting an apple slice.

After tasting it fresh - I cut it up, and made it into a cooked salsa that I mixed in with a taco salad.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

T. Boone Pickens

I've just got to say - that guy has one of the coolest sounding names! I've heard him talking on the radio a few times recently and his name totally fits his voice.

Alfalfa Sprouts

The kids really like bean sprouts so I thought I'd give alfalfa sprouts a try. I like how thin and fine they look and figured they'd be good on a veggie sub type sandwich.

I didn't like them. The kids DID like them - go figure.

One problem for me was that when I was eating them they kind of reminded me of hair - and there isn't too much that can as quickly ruin my appetite as finding a hair in my food.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Homegrown Tomatoes - Exotic?

Are homegrown tomatoes exotic eating? Well if for 11 months of the year the only tomatoes you eat are the pale, tasteless store-bought variety - you'd probably think homegrown were exotic!

Yesterday on our way home from church we noticed a couple of houses with "tomatoes for sale" signs posted. We stopped at a house we'd been to a year or so ago and the tomatoes were $1.50 per lb. Seemed a bit high so we moved on to the other house with a sign - just one street over. Tomatoes - $1.00 per lb.

I walked up the sidewalk to the front porch where a table was set up in front of the living room window (curtains open a crack for peeking I suppose). On the table was a scale, tomatoes and a cash box with a note saying it was "the honor system".

I weighed out 2 lbs and then out walked an elderly gentleman bringing some more tomatoes. These ones were larger - so I got another lb.

The tomatoes were great just sliced and sprinkled with some salt and pepper or on toast with fat-free mayo/salt/pepper/pickle slices.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Katy Trail - Part 2

Yesterday after an early supper, we headed out to begin "Part 2" of our Katy Trail ride.

Last time we went as far as the bridge above - so this time we drove to the parking lot by the bridge and started there.

It was a very pleasant evening on the trail. Few riders/walkers/joggers and the temperature was relatively cool. All together we rode about 10 miles - which means 5 miles further down the trail and then back to our starting destination.

Now here was a kind of odd thing that happened on the trail.

We were riding along the trail when coming in the opposite direction was a lady and a man. I instantly recognized the lady as someone I had seen at a restaurant about an hour away, three days before.

When they passed us coming back I heard them talking to each other for about 5 seconds - and in that 5 seconds they mentioned the name of the restaurant we were at.

If we lived in a small town of 10,000 and this occurred it would not have been so surprising. But we live in a pretty large metropolitan area - and I NEVER ever run into anyone I know. Well let me correct that - I did run into our librarian at the Big Lots one day - but the library is almost right next door to Big Lots so that isn't so surprising.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

In Case You Are Like My Mother

and are wondering what ever happened to "Exotic Eating Experiment" - I'll tell you.

This blog started out about the kids and I trying new foods and then blogging about it. Throughout the months it has morphed into more of a "typical" blog about what is going on in our lives. Our families and friends live hither and yon - and so this is a good place to let them all see what is happening in our corner of the universe.

We continue to try new foods once in awhile - whenever we come across something that looks interesting - but I haven't been as active in scouting out new things for us to try. Our great international food store is about a 1/2 hr drive and for some reason I haven't been as enthusiastic about driving out there as regularly.

So this is the reason there hasn't been as much food experimenting going on...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tea - Tougher Than You Think

The Tea Council of the USA has a scholarship contest each year. Contestants enter a home video that "must focus on a unique and creative way to drink tea, and must contain at least one valid message regarding Tea’s health-related benefits, specifically black, green, white and oolong tea (with no specific commercial brand mentions)."

Here is the winner from last year - I love it! Another favorite "Crouching Tea-ger".

I do like tea - and when I drink it I prefer to use a tea cup and saucer. With coffee you can drag your coffee mug around anywhere and you just keeping doing what you are doing - but with a tea cup and saucer it kind of forces you to sit down and relax and enjoy it.

Unfortunately the scholarship contest ends tonight at midnight - otherwise it would have been fun to try and come up with an entry. But then of course I'd also have to come up with an educational pursuit.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays - Baked Hush Puppies

The other day the kids asked if we could make hush puppies but we were out of cornmeal so I had to say no.

Fast forward to today...cornmeal had been purchased and the kids asked it's hush puppies for supper tonight.

We love Capt'n D's hushpuppies but they are deep fat fried and are 100 calories for each small pup.

A few years ago I came across a recipe for oven baked hushpuppies - so when the craving hits - we make our own.

Oven Baked Hush Puppies

2/3 c yellow cornmeal
1/3 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 c minced onion
1/3 c skim milk
1 T vegetable oil
1/8 t salt
1 egg beaten

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Combine onion, milk, oil, pepper and egg. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients - stirring until just moistened.

Spoon 1 T into mini muffin pans coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 min or until lightly browned. Remove from pan immediately.

The kids loved them, but upon tasting them, ds remarked that he thought we ought to buy some store-bought ones some time. Hmmm guess they are not quite up to the Captain's standards for him.

For more Kitchen Tip Tuesdays - visit Tammy's Recipes.

And Then There Were None

Do you remember that old Agatha Christie movie? It was a.k.a. "Ten Little Indians" but I guess that wasn't too politically correct. Ten people were invited to an isolated place and one by one they disappear and are found murdered.

What does "And Then There Were None" have to do with this gummy chap featured above? Well he is losing his teeth one by one and soon he may have none! I've heard of kids having their top two teeth missing but as of early this morning, ds, using self-inflicted medical intervention, now has 3 teeth missing on the top.

"I don't think I'd better eat cereal this morning," he told me. "I don't think you'd better eat corn-on-the-cob either," I replied. Awhile later he's back with..."All the cereal in the house is hard cereal so we need to go to the store before breakfast and get something like porridge... b/c I don't have any chompers...I barely have enough chompers to chew gum."

Ds has been working that third tooth into extinction for a couple of weeks and has had some sort of motive behind doing it. He's already run to put the tooth under his pillow, hoping to acquire something other than the traditional Blizzard. "You can't give me a Blizzard coupon b/c we had a Blizzard recently (Sunday)." I'd say he's hoping for something that is plastic and small and has the words Star and Wars emblazoned on the packaging somewhere.

Too bad the tooth fairy is in cahoots with the person who did a bunch of de-cluttering and cleaning yesterday...the tooth fairy will only be bringing consumable gifts into the house in the future.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Today I'm in a cleaning / de-cluttering mood. I need to strike while the proverbial fire is hot - so de-cluttering is what I am doing. Having company on the horizon always inspires me to do a thorough cleaning...

I decided that we have too many blankets. Sure blankets are needful - but how many blankets does a person actually need? Same with extra pillows. I like to have some extras for when company comes for an overnight visit so I'm not getting rid of them all - but so far I've filled up three trashbags filled with outgrown clothes and excess blanket clutter. Don't worry they are not headed for the landfill - waiting to donate.

I always feel good when I de-clutter...I love packing up clothes the kids have finally they no longer play with...books that no one cares too much about, dog-eared crafts that are crumpled up in the bottom of a drawer. It's really hard when you have a girl that is a craft-making machine. I can't keep all the houses she makes out of boxes, the pictures she draws, the magazines she crafts etc. etc. etc.

When mama is on the warpath - nothing is safe! I'm sure my husband wishes that were true.

Well one cannot continue to de-clutter on an empty stomach so I better go find some lunch...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

On the Go

This morning we all got up at 5:30 AM, had breakfast and then headed out for our maiden bike journey on the Katy Trail. "The Katy Trail is a 225 mile (365 km) bike path stretching across most of the state of Missouri. Over half of it follows Lewis and Clark's path up the Missouri River, where you can ride beneath towering river bluffs while eagles circle overhead. After leaving the river, the trail meanders through peaceful farmland and small-town Americana.

America's longest "rails-to-trail" project, formerly the MKT rail line, is flat and scenic. It's ideal for hiking, running, or cycling on just about any kind of bike. "

We have walked the trail before - but this was to be our first time via bicycles. We rode from Frontier Park in St. Charles over to the Page extension bridge and 1/2 way across the bridge. The kids did great and the round trip took us about 1 1/2 hrs and was approximately 6 1/2 miles.

Right now the kids are too young to do the full Katy Trail (and the parents are not up to it either!) - but we hope to be able to do it in bits and pieces.

Being that we still felt pretty good after the bike ride, we decided to go for a walking tour of downtown St. Louis to look at some of the historical buildings.

A month ago I came across this site and showed it to my dh - Built St. Louis..."a site dedicated to the historic architecture of St. Louis, Missouri -- mourning the losses, celebrating the survivors." A great website if you are interested in architecture, dying cities or just St. Louis. Ever since reading the website - my dh has been hankering to do a downtown St. Louis walk. We packed up some water and snacks and the kids, put on our hats, girded up our loins, and headed downtown.
I've always loved the old brick buildings and houses in St. Louis - if only I could buy one of the houses and move it to another location!

It is sad to see cool old houses and buildings in various states of decay...but nonetheless we enjoyed our city tour.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Finders Keepers

This morning we drove to the grocery store. When I parked the car I noticed a fake flower stuck in the hedge next to my parking spot. The kids also spotted the flower and went to check it out.

It wasn't fake. It was a long stemmed red rose!

I just so happened to have a bottle of water in the car - I opened it up, deposited the flower and left it in the car until we were finished shopping.

Question is - where did the rose come from??

Favorite Books for Children/Teens

Here is my list of favorite books for children - some were my favorites as a child/teen, some have become new favorites...books I've only come across since I got married and or had children of my own (I've put an asterisk next to those ones). I'm sure there are more - but these are the ones that I can remember now.

You will note that there are a lot of mysteries - I still enjoy them. Very few animal type books - which I generally despise and always have. I do not like Dr. Seuss books and only have two listed below.

My philosophy on books for children:

1. Books for children do not have to be dreadful for the adults reading them! If I'm going to read a book to the kids, regardless of their ages - I want it to be one that does not drive me crazy in the process!
2. Read to your kids a lot.
3. Don't only read age appropriate books to your kids. It's OK for the 5 yr old to sit in on a reading to the 10 yr old.
4. Read fiction and non-fiction.
5. Utilize your public library to the fullest - but also have a good selection of books at home.
6. For homeschooling I prefer to use "living books" for most subjects. What is a living book? I found this definition on a website..."Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.” They can be contrasted to dry writing, like what is found in most encyclopedias or textbooks, which basically lists informational facts in summary form."

An Edward Lear Alphabet*
Betsy Tacy*
Bill Peet books*
Bread and Jam for Frances*
Cheaper by the Dozen*
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs*
Frog & Toad*
Gone Away Lake* & Return to Gone Away Lake*
Island Boy*
Linnea in Monet's Garden*
Locust Pocust*
Lord of the Flies*
Mud Pies and Other Recipes*
More Spaghetti, I Say!*
My Side of the Mountain*
One Thumb, One Thumb, Drumming on a Drum*
Owl at Home*
One Morning in Maine*
Rabbit and Skunk and the Scary Rock (Carla Stevens)*
Some Little Golden Books (Theodore Mouse Goes to Sea, Dr. Dan, We Help Mommy, We Help Daddy, The New Baby)*
Snowflake Bentley*
The Hundred Dresses*
The Ox-Cart Man*
The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe*
Uncle Wiggly*

A Child's Garden of Verse
Anne of Green Gables
Blueberries for Sal
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlotte's Web
Cherry Ames Mysteries
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
Ginny Gordon Mysteries
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Hardy Boys
Little House on the Prairie
Little Women
Love You Forever
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
Nancy Drew
Pippi Longstocking (I still remember Pippi's full name - Pippilotta Delicatessen Windowshade Emilie's Daughter Longstocking)
Robinson Crusoe
Swiss Family Robinson
The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
The Boxcar Children
The Girl Who Owned A City
The Secret Garden
The Sea of Adventure by Enid Blyton
The Ship of Adventure by Enid Blyton
The Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton
The Tanglewood Secret
To Kill A Mockingbird
Tom Sawyer
Trixie Belden Mysteries
Winnie the Pooh