Monday, March 29, 2010

Back Home

We are glad to be back home after spending 6 days out at the farm...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area

The boy and his to enlarge - but you'll still have a hard time seeing them. They got quite a bit ahead of the girl and I...

Today we went hiking for about 5 miles in the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area CBCA (where the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers meet).

The first half of the hike was in a wooded area on a mud packed trail next to the river - the second half was on a paved road out in the open. The open area was much colder/windier and though they don't like to admit it - the kids were glad that mom "encouraged" them to dress warmly and bring hats and gloves.

I planned on taking a photo of the spot where the rivers met but my camera battery died. Though it worked awhile later when I tried taking some other photos.

There is a large visitor center at the CBCA which the kids enjoyed - especially seeing stuffed Trumpeter Swans (we read a book last week on Audubon which mentioned Trumpeter Swans so it was fun to get a look at how gigantic they really are), a bobcat, giant catfish etc.

There were a number of these cool mosaics at different points in the trail...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Free-Range Kids (Book)

I read an interesting book recently...Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. The book is about giving children more we had when we were kids.

You may recall hearing the story of Lenore's son a few years back...when he was just 9 years old she gave him some money and maps and let him find his way back home on the subway from a store.

Her son of course arrived home safely, and supposedly the "adventure" was his idea.

Many people applauded Lenore - others called her the worst mom and thought she was crazy.

Growing up in a small town, one of 5 girls - I don't remember there being many restrictions on us running around the neighborhood. I don't remember there being a lot of concern that one of us girls might be kidnapped and never seen again...(perhaps as in the story "The Ransom of Red Chief" my parents figured the kidnappers would be bringing us back).

My daughter is 10 and I know she would LOVE to have an "adventure" like Lenore's son...but we don't live in a small town and though I know the odds are greater that a meteorite will fall on her head while she is playing in our backyard, than getting kidnapped - I'm still hesitant to give her as much "free ranging" as she'd be happy with.

The book was encouraging to read and there is also a website that you can check out for more ideas about free-range parenting.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


The girl is D-E-T-E-R-M-I-N-E-D to catch herself a turtle.

She purchased her brother's bamboo pole and attached her small handled net to it with black plumber's tape.

Usually as soon as the turtles hear/see us they plop into the water and don't return until we are safely gone. BUT there was one big fella that was taunting her. He came back out of the water promptly and stayed out on the log just out of her reach. He seemed to know it. He didn't flinch as her net came close - he just sat there staring with a smug look on his face (if turtle's could have such a look).

Eventually it was time to leave...empty handed once again.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

His & Hers

Matching tennis shoes - rather pathetic I know. It wasn't intentional.

I was playing tennis in running shoes when I broke my ankle last summer, so we decided that I should buy some "real" tennis shoes.

We had tried a number of shoe stores searching for shoes specifically for tennis... stores either carried wimpy tennis shoes (more for show) or like the Nike store, had only ONE style for women and one style for men. I tried on both but neither was satisfactory. The last store we went to had a pair of tennis shoes. Problem is they only had them in mens'. The other problem is that they were identical to the ones my dh bought for himself last fall (I know our feet look about the same size in this photo but my feet are in fact a number of sizes smaller :)).

Now here is the confusing part - at least for me. Growing up in Smalltown, Canada we referred to all gym type shoes as "runners" (maybe it was just a family thing???). Growing up in Hicksticks Midwest, USA my dh referred to all gym type shoes as "tennis shoes".

But now I have "real" running shoes for running and "real" tennis shoes for playing tennis. And then "fake" tennis shoes for everything else. Sounds easiest just to say "go put on your runners".

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Misty Moisty Morning

I'm excited to see all this green coming up in our garden!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Picnic on a Stump

The weather was GLORIOUS today!

We had a picnic at the park and then spent much time searching for frogs (unsuccessful) and then turtles (successful in that we saw a TON but unsuccessful in that the girl was unable to catch one - much to her chagrin).

Before Helen Keller

Did you know that there was another famous blind/deaf woman before Helen Keller? I mean one that was known world-wide?

Her name was Laura Bridgman and she was born 50 years before Helen.

Her story is just as amazing, if not more so, than Helen's. Why have I not heard of her before? Well actually I may have read a passing reference to her in a biography on Helen - but nothing significant enough that it made me want to read more about her.

The other day I spotted a book on Laura at our library. It's called "She Touched The World" and it's a juvenile book.

Our library has only one other book on Laura, for adults, and I just put it on hold.

In contrast there are at least 66 books on Helen Keller in our library system.

Laura was even more disadvantaged than Helen. At an early age she became blind and deaf PLUS she had little or no sense of smell or taste (due to Scarlet Fever). She never learned to say more than a few words. Because she was born 50 yrs before Helen, there was even less known about how to deal with her condition. Incidentally, at least from what I've read, she did not misbehave quite like Helen did.

Laura was sent away to school when she was about 7 - within a year or two she had learned to fingerspell, read braille, and more. By the time she was about 10 - she was known around the world. Parents and teachers held her up as an example...and she was and is an inspiration.

I read the book aloud to the kids and we all enjoyed it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Little Hike

On Saturday we all went for a little hike.

There is a park about a mile from our house and across from it there is a brushy/woodsy area that the kids really enjoy. They prefer hikes that do not involve paved paths. Getting dirty and smacked in the face with thorny branches just seems to add to their fun.

In total our hike was about 2 hours.

Just as we were exiting the brush, I stepped up to my ankle in some muddy/ashy "stuff". Ugh.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Creamed Tuna on Toast

I have quite a few cans of tuna in my cupboard and have been trying to figure out what to make to use them up.

I was this close to making a tuna casserole when I remembered the creamed-tuna-on-toast (CTOT) of my youth. I am not a casserole kind of person - the most casserole-ish item I make is lasagna...and my kids are less-so casserole kind of folk.

When the kids asked "what's for supper?" and I told them, there was definitely some grumbling. The boy seemed kind of shocked when I mentioned that I had even thought about making a tuna casserole.

CTOT is basically flour, milk, butter and canned tuna.

When I sampled what I had made - I thought it was very bland - so I added more butter and some salt and pepper. Once it was poured over the buttered toast, the flavor improved.

To be honest it wasn't as good as I remembered it to be. The girl bravely ate her CTOT and claimed it wasn't too bad. The boy had his creamed tuna on the side and did not like it. The buttered toast though seemed to be a hit with him :)

I don't think I'll even attempt a tuna casserole in the future...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Letters of Friendship Letters of Love

I spent a goodly portion of a recent Saturday, going through old letters. As I have mentioned before, my dh and I have pretty much held on to most of the letters we have ever received from friends and family and each other. In addition, not too long ago my dh's mother gave him a bag with all the letters he wrote to HER during his college years.

That adds up to a HUGE stack of letters. Hundreds I'm sure.

One of the boxes of letters had been sitting in my closet for a few years and I got to thinking "do we really need to hold onto this FOREVER?"

Evidenced by the fact that the letters have been in our possession forever, these were important and special letters from important (to us) and special people, during the 1980's and 1990's primarily (before the time of everyone having email).

But we have a small house with little storage space.

My dh agreed that it was time to part with many missives.

There was no way I could read every single letter before I decided to keep or pitch - but glancing at something, if it was basically a post card or "thank you" letter, it went into the discard pile. I tried to keep a sampling of letters from regular writers for each year and some writers had all their letters saved (I won't say whose - that way everyone can just assume it was all their letters we kept rather than pitched).

It was interesting, fun, sometimes sad, and in some cases enlightening, to re-read those letters...

We did hold on to enough of the letters (I hope) to give a sampling of our family/friend histories , as well as all the letters my dh and I wrote to each other.

As the letters sat for days in a trash bag in the laundry room - I had second thoughts. Did I really want to pitch them? What benefit was there in keeping them? Future blackmail opportunities? Email letters from the same folks today are not all being printed out and saved. When I'm 98 years old and bedridden (due to a broken leg mind you, from skiing) - would I pull out those dusty letters and enjoy reading them? Probably. But I guess I'll have to amuse myself with only reading 500 hundred letters rather than 1000. Not everything can be kept for every possible necessity - including memories.

I'm saddened over the end of letters written on beautiful stationery and posted in the mail. I'm part of that problem. It's so much easier and quicker to send someone an email. And the important part is not the mode of communication - it's the fact that we take the time to communicate in the first place, right?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Shrimps Snacks

These shrimp "potato chips" were a huge success!

Both kids devoured them and I had to keep reminding them to not finish them off before I got around to taking some photos.

They are made with real shrimp - second ingredient after tapioca flour. "They taste just like shrimp" the boy declared.

I thought they tasted fine - but I'll stick with my Salt n Vinegar potato chips.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tennis Comeback :)

Today I played tennis for the first time since that fateful day some 7 months ago.

I wasn't too sure I'd be brave enough to attempt playing...every time I'd think about it I'd flash-back to the ankle breaking and feel apprehensive...

But today it was beautiful outside and at supper we were talking about tennis and I decided to give it a try.

We drove to the tennis court and it was full - we drove to another park and the court there was empty.

We didn't actually play a real game, there was no score-keeping (thankfully!) and I didn't go overboard trying to make difficult plays.

Every once in awhile there would be a ball coming towards me in a certain way and I'd think "this is how it happened 7 months ago"... but I enjoying playing nonetheless.

Guess the tennis season has officially begun.