Friday, July 22, 2011

Random Thoughts: When You're Strange

1. I don’t even have words to describe the heat. Ugh. Grr. Plf. See. No words. We all got in the car today and drove to pick up a couple of my prescriptions at Wal-mart. Neither of our cars have air-conditioning. I believe I have whined about that before. It hasn’t gotten any better. Thankfully, the air-conditioning in the apartment is working just fine. One of my neighbors told me she is keeping her air on 68 degrees and lower. That sounds like heaven. I’m afraid I would freeze my boys out. I have said more than once that I would be happy nekid in a freezer. I am not prepared to try it…I say a lot of things.


2. Speaking of ‘not working’…We have a 3-4 inch white stripe running vertically through the middle of our flat screen television. It started a few months ago (a month after the warranty ran out) with a translucent stripe. Now it has graduated to this lovely white edition. We have had to adjust our tv habits somewhat. I still find myself straining to peer over the side of the white stripe to see what’s behind it. It has also challenged Josiah’s Wii playing skills. He’s much more patient that I would be with it. I tried to watch a movie with subtitles the other night when my boys were out golfing. I got tired of trying to play “guess the word behind the stripe.” We’re kind of stuck with it right now. As annoying as it is we can’t eat it or put it in the gas tank.

3. Not that watching TV is so important to me. We have Netflix (the poor person’s cable), but we only get a couple of regular TV stations. I generally catch up with my favorite shows online. Design Star. The Glee Project. So You Think You Can Dance. I am not really into cop shows, or medical shows, or soap operas, or even those forensic investigation shows. They wear me out. I prefer the lite and fluffy shows. The most shocking thing that has happened on the Design Star lately was an unfortunate coffee table creation. Now I will admit to being a fan of Star Trek and Doctor Who. A good fantasy goes a long way with me and who doesn't love a good trek across the galaxy?  Books are an entirely different thing altogether than TV. I will read just about anything.  Give me a good mystery while I sit nekid in the freezer. And to be perfectly honest when you have kids you spend more time with "Arthur" or "The Suite Life with Zack and Cody" on your television than anything else.

4. I broke a rule today. Okay, so it was a rule of my own making, but nevertheless. I bought something craft-like for our upcoming Cousin Camp. I am so ashamed. Well, not really. I couldn't resist. It had sparkles and a clearance tag. How can a girl pass something like that up! (you can follow my Cousin Camp preparations here and here.)  The picture doesn't do the sparkles justice, I promise!



5. The Studly Muffin is participating in an event tomorrow absolutely unheard of in the daily operations of his employer (Gospel Publishing House). He is working overtime, my friends. Hallelujah! (I am belting out the alto part of  Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus right now!)

6. I really need to brush up on my editing skills. Either that or get more sleep. My apologies to those who really care about my grammatical deficiencies. I could be defense and tell you that when I wrote for money I had an editor who could clean up my punctuation and grammar. I miss her. I was always tempted to send her other things to edit along with my assignments. Random e-mails. Grocery Lists.

7. So my plans tonight? I have been sitting here pounding away on my laptop, sighing loudly and occasionally mumbling something about 'ice cream,' but nobody is taking my hint. Being a calorie watcher I am not going to initiate a trip to the Frozen Custard Shop..but I certainly won't turn down a treat from a loved one! Josiah also just came in and told me that he was going to have to skip his (and I repeat) "My Night Light Watching." Every night he has a routine of standing out on the balcony for a little while. I made him stop howling (at the moon or whatever), but I assumed he was just taking in the summer evening atmosphere. Now it turns out he waits and watches for all of the parking lot lights to come on at dusk. This was a revelation to me. The reason he can't stand vigil for the "Night Lights" tonight? He's afraid his Daddy will think it is weird. Now what does that say about me?

Love, Rebekah

Old-School (and some new)

I can't believe I'm still up. I really need to be sleeping...or doing dishes. I haven't been at the top of my "Homekeeping" game, that's for sure. I actually made Hamburger Helper tonight. It was painful. I am not a Hamburger Helper sort of gal. I apologize to all those out there who need Hamburger Helper to get through the week. I admit I have issues with processed foods, but I, myself, have been in the need of a boxed dinner to get by now and again.

And it is also pretty sad that my son has developed a love for instant mashed potatoes. I'm not sure how it happened. I am a devoted food snob. My supper wound up being a mango and half of an orange.

So why this terrible fall from food snobbery? I have spent the last two days literally surrounded by mountains of scrapbook paper. I'm am so afraid that Maintenance menwill need to come and fix something that everytime I hear a sound in the hall I start making piles and covering them with towels. I am fearful that somebody will turn me into the "Hoarders" show one of these days and I will wind up on TV trying to justify my collection of stick glue.

I got a few things done for Cousin Camp today and did a few things that I had no business messing with. While on yet another search for my elusive box of scrapbook notions I came across a couple of lapbooks that Josiah and I have made over the last few years. Now lapbooking is one of my favorite homeschooling tools. I'll have to post more about it later. But basically it is a scrapbook with lots of little books pertaining to any subject you might be covering. I particularly love to do lapbooks based on literature.

One of my favorite Children's author is Jan Brett. The Three Snow Bears is a retelling of The Three Bears...only set in the Arctic.  This is the cover of the lapbook.


There are many lapbooking resources available. I have purchased ones I can just download, but more frequently I use bits and pieces of either free minibooks others have created or I made my own. Or I find them from resources I already have in my crazy collection of Teacher books. That is another reason to turn me into "Hoarders." I have more teacher books than a gal teaching her only child has any right to. In my defense, I taught other people's children for years...If I have a few (or 250) education type books hiding underneath my bed that's my business. Thank you very much.

I can't stand a naked lapbook. It might be okay for some. I envy you. And to be honest, Josiah doesn't care if they are naked. But I am too visual to be happy with nakedness (now that doesn't sound quite right). Anyhoo. I always use scrapbook paper. And stickers. And other stuff.


Just looking at this stuff makes me long for a good blizzard. Just a small one. It's 100 degrees outside. A day or two stomping through the snow would do us all good. Then it can go back to summer. And wait until January to snow again.



This is some stuff kept in a pocket inside the lapbook.



Another book I pulled out of our long and forgotten completed projects was a Farm Notebook. Josiah did this in 1st grade (I think). A Notebook is different than a lapbook in that, well, it is compiled using a notebook of some sort. We created pockets for this notebook and he filled them with the mini books and other projects.  I didn't take a picture of everything in the Notebook. But you can see some of my favorite little books.


A few little books tucked into one of the pockets. You can see the evidence of my Bubble Letters everywhere. You can take the teacher out of the Early Childhood Classroom, but you can't take the Early Childhood out of the teacher. Bubble Letters Forever!


Another pocket.

 And the cute little book in the pocket. With lima beans.


What? No Bubble Letters on the Baking Bread book? I must have had an "off" day.




And yet again. Another "Bubbless" book.


But how cute is this Peanut Butter and Jelly Book? Makes me think of my Girl Scout days. Which in turn makes me think of Girl Scout Cookies. Thin Mints. Good Grief! That mango and orange didn't really cut it! Anybody got a good late night "Thin Mint" recipe?


And how precious is this. We cute out shapes (and my very strange rendering of a barn) and Josiah made a farm landscape. If I asked him to make the same landscape today you can guarantee that we would find Indiana Jones crouching behind the tree waiting to dig up some sort of lost treasure. They grow up so fast!


Shew! I think I'm ready for bed. I am going to scrounge in the kitchen first. Maybe I'll find an old Thin Mint.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cousin Camp - Part 2: Let Them Eat Cake!

Baby, it's hot outside! We are under some sort of heat advisory here. It's so hot my mom called me and threatened to ground me if I went anywhere today. Not really. She did use her best "mean momma" voice and told me I had no business going out today in this heat. I didn't argue too much. The heat is pretty hard on my temperamental "ticker." It's always something.

Meanwhile, I am still crafting away in preparation for Cousin Camp next week. I am making some extra-special mementos for the kiddos to take with them. And I am attempting to do it with materials I already have. I don't have as much as I used to, that's for sure. I am going to finish a few things up when we head to my parent's farm this weekend. My mom has more crafting notions and supplies than I could ever know what to do with. But you can bet I am gonna try :<). You can read more about what I did yesterday here. This seems to be my "thing" this week.

Today I decided to redo a small book I was doing to go along with another Poem  Mom had written for one of her therapeutic art classes. This one is called The Midnight Cake and has a chocolate cake recipe to go along with it. It is also longer than the Lemonade Poem I made the book for yesterday. My first attempt at The Midnight Cake book I created on the computer. It was pretty cute, but it was complicated to print. So I decided to make a small paper bag book. I absolutely love doing paper bag albums. Not only are they economical, but they have a lot of charm. I have made lots of them....one of these days I'll dig some of them out and take some pictures to share.  In fact, we made a version of the paper bag album for the ladies at church on Mother's Day for a gift to take home.

My mom and I spent a Saturday around her kitchen table doing these...and we had a ball. This is the one I brought home to keep and it was actually decorated by Mom.  This is made from a little bit larger white lunch sack. We bought some gift books all about tea and tucked them inside.




We created a pocket for a tea bag to go along with the little tea books. You can see I haven't used my tea bag. I probably won't. Unless I get really hard up for tea. If it had been chocolate it wouldn't still be there.


I bought the tea bags at Tuesday Mornings...which by the way has some darling scrapbook supplies, as well. Everytime we go in there Josiah thinks he needs to buy orange slices.


So what to do about The Midnight Cake Book? Since this was going to be for the kids, I knew that I wanted something a little whimsical. So I traced out a cake. Don't laugh. It is unbecoming. It was intended to be a little 'wonky.'


Then I folded my paper bag in a few different formations until I came up with a size I liked. It also needed to fit into my recipe card holder I am giving to the kids. Then I took a big gulp of Iced Tea. Isn't this play by play fun?

After that I cut out my cake pieces. Hey, I feel like some sort of sports commentator! Only I'm not paid as well. And they have better hair. So I decided to use a different scrapbook paper for every piece. It will give it a lot more interest and add to the 'whimsy' effect.


Then looked through my paper and chose what I wanted to use. My first impulse was to use very feminine "girly" prints, but I had to keep in mind that I was also making these for boys. So I made a few unusual selections. I wanted brown for the chocolate cake, but not a solid brown. I love the Sock Monkey Paper.

And after a lot of cutting and guzzling of iced tea I came up with my finished product. I am not really happy with my background. I should have picked something a little less bright, but I used Elmer's so I'm stuck with it. And I am not doing making these crazy books over again!


Somebody noticed I had the camera out and stuck his hand in front of the shot. Goofy kid.
He makes me laugh.



I put the title of the book on the inside flap.


Somebody then grabbed the camera and took a self-portrait. He's still goofy. He also makes himself laugh.


Back to the book. I am going to put the poem on the inside of this book. I have it all ready to print.


Not too bad for using scraps of this and that.


Makes me hungry for some chocolate cake.

Cousin Camp Projects - Part 1

Like my blog's new look? I realize I change my blog's look as often as some little boys change their underwear (which is rather hit and miss, I've learned). I am one of those people who, if finances permited, would redecorate my house according to my mood. Redecorating my blog is at least some way I can release some of my pent up creative energy...and considering that finances are as tight as a my first perm, this is a happy substitute.

It has been some week so far. Later I have a story in the continuing Great Chicken Saga...Which I have renamed The Great Chicken Caper. But right now I am wrapped up in the plans for our First Annual Cousin Camp. Baby Sister's kiddos won't be able to make it (they live in OHH-klahoma), but hopefully we can plan better for next year.

I really love to plan events and parties. I used to have quite the stash of resources available to me. They are sadly in Exile (conveniently called the Storage Unit) along with my piano and personal library. My tiny apartment doesn't hold us very well...I couldn't very well find a place for my collections of vintage china. Anyhoo. I had first stumbled across the idea of Camp when I was reading a Homeschool Blog I like to visit now and then. We weren't able to send Josiah to any kind of camp this year (last year he got to go to golf camp). We are kind of in a "Make Your Own Free Fun" season in life and doing a camp at home appealed to me. But Josiah and I always do fun and interesting things...we needed company. Why not the cousins and why not at my parent's farm? My mom was thrilled with the idea (we didn't ask Papa).

I did a little research, made some notes and started planning. First of all I really went overboard. I planned a different theme for every day of the week with thematic menus, decorations, and on and on. Then I decided that I really needed to be functional for at least one of our camp days and decided on just one theme.  I will post more later about what I've planned and all that, but I wanted post the projects I've been working on.  I love any kind of paper crafts. It is something I can while sitting and can be done fairly quickly (I am the Queen of instant gratification). My goal here was to use things I already had. It would have been really tempting to run to Hobby Lobby...but I obstained...with some mixed results.


Hey. My mess! How can anyone work in such chaos, you ask?  Just pretend you can't see the stuff all over my dining room table. Because we are going to have Cooking School everyday at Cousin Camp we thought it would be fun to have some recipe holders they can fill every day with whatever we learned to cook. My favorite is Fudge Day. Which my Mom is teaching. I still can't make good fudge. What is up with that! The recipe holders came from a card holder that I used as a template.


 I made a cover (using my desktop publishing program and some scrapbook paper). I am still not done with these. I couldn't find my bucket of little scrapbooking notions. Which almost lead to an emergency run to the Hobby Lobby. I have a feeling I am going to have to raid my Mom's endless supply of materials. I promise I'll post the finished product. They certainly aren't done enough for me.


I next tackled the little scrapbooks we are going to make. Now the kids will design their own scrapbook cover and pages, but I like to have a sample of any craft. I started with some little $1 albums we have floating around. (Remember...do with what you have!) I loved the owl because it kind of resembles me in the 3rd grade. My glasses were thick!


These little woodland creatures were absolutely cute. I tucked them in my bag when I left Mom's this weekend...knowing, of course, I would be working on this project. Believe me...I should have tucked in a lot more. I still can't find my scrapbook notions...ding dong it! But isn't this Opossum cute? Trust me, though. There is nothing that cute about the Opossum in real life. We used to have one that would hang out on our back porch and eat the cat food when I was growing up. Charming. This one is obviously trying to improve it's image by wearing a flower on its cheek. Works for me!


Now skunks are cute. This one is especially cute with it's little bedazzled nose. A little ironic, huh? Nothing cute about a stinkin' skunk though. I have a friend who can't smell skunks. Can you imagine a road trip without the stench of skunk roadkill? Here's a fun little bit of trivia. They only cancelled school one day my senior year of high school (which is unheard of in the Ozarks...we always have snow days). A skunk had gotten trapped and died in the water system around a new housing development. Obviously they had to check for contamination. How long that skunk had been there we never heard. I probably don't want to know.


Anyone ever see The Never Ending Story? This guy reminds me of the speedy snail.


I don't encounter many porcupines in my neck of the woods. 


I almost put him on the cover of my scrapbook. But I remembered that Josiah has a special fascination with frogs and he might like to use him on his scrapbook. My parents have a particularly great bullfrog who lives on the pond. Frogs are pretty cool.


I did find some neat twilled (is that how you say it?) candy in my scrapbook paper box. Which isn't the same as my scrapbook notions box. I'm going to have to search Josiah room for my scrapbook notions. They might have been put to use in some sort of great adventure. I loved this candy, too, because it didn't make me crave a Snickers.


Just imagine this owl with a scrawny body and fuzzy hair and you have me at 9.


The finished product. I wanted to add some more ribbon, but this was all I could find. I might add some more when I next invade my mom's scrapbooking stuff. More is always better.


My mom writes lovely poetry. I can't write poetry. I am too rambling for poetry. She wrote this poem for one of her theraputic art sessions she teaches. Originally they made some sort of book. I just took the idea a little farther.  I had a time with this book! I found a mason jar sketch I liked online then copied to my desktop publishing program with the intention of making an accordian book. Only I wasn't paying attention and wound up mixing up the words all over the place. That's what I get for thinking I rock at multi-tasking! I had to do some cutting and pasting...literally. I also wasn't thrilled with the covers. If I had my druthers I would have bought some yellow vellum for the lemonade, made some orgami ice (instead of my flat, sparkly ice) and found a way to include a straw. But...the goal is to use what I have! I am not competely happy with them, but they will work.




So. The projects so far. I have another little book that goes with the recipes that Mom wrote. I also created it while working on something around the house and it wound up a complete mess. I decided to quit before I did something really dangerous. I also made sure my guys had plenty to eat today. There is something to be said for that!

Love, Rebekah

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chikins

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Music Man starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. I could probably sing you every song line by line (but that is another issue and a need for possible therapy). One of the songs is called "Pickalittle (Talk-a-Little)"...which I have embedded from YouTube. The song is meant to compare the gossipy habits of some women to a flock of chickens. Pretty accurate portrayal in my opinion.



Despite my fondness for Sushi and Pedicures I am not the city girl I sometimes portray. I know it must seem as if I sit in my 2nd Floor Apartment thinking that chickens do in fact come from a chicken growing weed in Alabama somewhere. Sorry to burst your Bubble. I grew up in the Cun-Tree.

My Dad has always been somewhat of what my Mom likes to call a Hobby Farmer. His obsession with Farm Life has been varying through the years. He is also a minister and has a Master's in Bible Languages, but that is neither here nor there. I have yet to see a connection between being able to translate Ancient Hebrew and growing watermelons, but I'm sure it helps. 

Anyhoo. Dad was born on a farm and would have lived happily on that little farm in Anderson, Missouri for years to come had not his mother passed away when he was only 8. My Grandpa moved most of the family to the San Fransisco, Bay area....where I don't think they kept any chickens.

Fast Forward to my childhood and you find us living in the woods in North Central Arkansas with a variety of Farm Animals, Pets and Vegetable Gardens.  I spent many a summer afternoon weeding a garden, plucking a chicken (oh yes I did!), feeding a pig or three and chasing the goat out of the house.  In fact, it became a common occurrence for my Dad to come home from the Sale Barn with a new addition to his Barnyard Buddies. I even wrote about one of our Pigs. You can read about it here. It was a sad day for my Dad when we moved to Missouri to a real neighborhood in a town so he could start his Master's program. I was thrilled. No more chicken poo.

When my parent's bought their current farm several years ago they immediately began planning their chicken coop. I was not a fan. Here's the deal. Chickens aren't the brightest animals. And roosters can be pretty ornery. They can get pretty offended with you...I remember one holding a particular grudge against shoelaces. They also  poo. And plucking and gutting a chicken is not what dreams are made of. There is a reason that my favorite summer menu is new boiled potatoes, fresh sliced tomatoes, corn on the cob and watermelon...notice...Meatless! I was sure that I would be back to plucking chickens again and I really have become a fan of "pick up your chicken from the grocery store" method.

So. A few weeks ago I started hearing the chicken talk again. A brother of a guy from church had some pullets (young girl chickens) from a chicken farm. Could Dad get a place for them? So during our 4th of July weekend trip Troy and Dad went to pick up the chickens. You can imagine my horror when (after the guys took off in the truck) my mom sat down and told me my Dad was planning on tying the chickens legs with twine (he actually told her yarn would be fine) before sticking them in the back of his truck bed...which he had covered with chicken wire. Not generally the most effective way of transporting chickens. This is what years of education gets you. I wonder if chicken catching is talked about in the Ancient Greek.

My husband is a city boy. The closest he had been to a live chicken had been at the petting zoo. I sat for the next hour fully expecting to get a call that The Studly Muffin had been attacked by a mad chicken and I could expect to find my own ride back to Springfield. I needn't have worried. The Studly Muffin quickly adapted and became a chicken handling pro.  The chickens arrived thirsty and a little traumatized, but alive.





The chickens are now finding their place at the farm. Dad created a temporary cage for them so that they could get used to being in the great outdoors. The Big Black Dog Solomon has been pretty good with them. He does think they need to be on one side of the pen or the other. He likes to go herd them from time to time, but he seems fairly uninterested. And the chickens have already laid a few baby chicken eggs.



The temporary Chicken Coop. Notice the white laundry buckets holding down the tarp. We get Fancy in the Cun-Tree.

I took a book to the farm with us with weekend that I had found at the library. It's called The Backyard Homestead. Dad spent the weekend pouring over it. I wonder if Mom needs to call the area Sale Barns and warn them. I am drawing the line at Pigs. I will call  a Farm Animal Intervention.

Notice something different about these chickens? Their beaks are clipped. They were born in a chicken house and had their beaks clipped so they don't peck each other to death.



Chickens are kind of cute when you think about it...at least they are cute when they are alive. Their clucking also makes me kind of nostalgic. As long as I don't think about the chicken poo I'm fine.

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