Halloween Costume

>> Friday, October 31, 2008

Ahh.... another Halloween. It now always reminds me of our last Halloween in New York when the little kid shouted "TRICK OR TREAT", did a double-take, and seriously asked me how I figured out how to dress up as Short for my costume. Fantastic.

In case you're curious, I believe I told him that it was a trade secret, but I'd be careful to hang it up properly so it'd still be good for next year.

So he got his treat, and I got my trick.

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Book Recommendations

I've been coming back more and more to my lovely collection of children and young adult books, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you.


I'm not really sure why I love The Story About Ping, by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Weise. It's sad and definitely not politically correct. Ping is a hunting duck from China who goes up and down the Yangtzee River with the family that keeps him (uses him for fishing) along with all of his wide family. Ping gets separated from them one day and has an adventure.

Culturally speaking, this book is filled with stereotypes and faux pas that an American with Asian roots may be annoyed by. However, considering I grew up watching old-style Kung Fu movies with my dad, it didn't really bother me. At the very least, Ping can be a history lesson. But it has a lot of great sounding words, repetition and word plays that the kids can play along with. Great for ages 0-Adult.


I don't know about you, but all my dolls and creatures have names. They also talk to me. I don't care what you say, it's Real. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams helped me understand that those times when I was in a hurry and left Charlene or Teedee upsidedown on their faces or out in the cold, they didn't hate me, and everything was all right. This story is sad, but also helped me learn about love and loss and redemption. In a weird sort of way. Probably good for Pre-K and older, unless you have little kids who need to read about loss to get through something.


Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin. The farm animals are tired of the farmer, and fight back when they discover an old typewriter that helps them communicate. This book is just funny. Great for ages 0 - Adult.


Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw has great rhymes and fantastic sense of humor. General plot: stuff happens to sheep in a Jeep. Great for ages 0 - Adult.


The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Milo comes home one day to find a kit to make a tollbooth for use with his toy car. But when he drives through it, he ends up in another place! This story is education oriented, with characters like the Spelling Bee (who spells his words), and Tock the Watch Dog (pictured on the cover). The book recommends ages 8 and up, but I know an 8 year old who didn't get it. This book is all about word puns and taking things literally (or not). One of my top favorites.


The Green Book by Jill Paton Walsh, is a sci-fi book for young adults (probably Junior High and up, maybe 3rd grade and up for mature kids) that I found to be written in a much different quality than other standard sci-fi stories.


Yes, I know The City of Ember (by Jean Duprau) was just released as a blockbuster movie. The movie trailer motivated me to find and read the book, and I'm glad it did. With today's average kid, I'd say high reader Third Graders could follow the book, but it opens opportunities for discussions of many sociological issues and world responsibility issues for the Middle School level. It's very well written, is engaging and uses great vocabulary; to Lanse and myself it read like a "children's book" but it isn't condescending in any way.


Before there was Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings (at least in my reading timeline), there was John White's Archives of Anthropos. When I read them, The Tower of Geburah was the first of the series. Geared for young adults, or advanced readers in lower grades (my 4th Grade teacher read it to the class), this series is Christian allegory published by Inter Varsity Press (my copy's IVP, but Amazon says Topeka Bindery, which I've never heard of), but it's not nearly allegorical to the obvious extent of something like The Pilgrim's Progress. It's a fantasy series about children who travel to another world and save the day; similar to Chronicles of Narnia, but at the same time completely different. The good is very good, the evil is pretty evil, and there's a lot of magic going on... but it also continually offers explanations of how it exists and can be fought in the real world. While it's obviously fiction, this book helped form a lot of my ideas of my faith and how my life fits into the spiritual world.

Like the Narnia series, John White originally wrote this story first, wrote a sequel, and then wrote a prequel.... and then the publishing companies decided to re-release it in chronological order. So if you look it up on Amazon it'll put this as Book 3. Unfortunately, I didn't find the other books quite as captivating, and I'd worry that you'd miss out on the joy of this one if you do it how they say to. In my world, the series goes: The Tower of Geburah, The Iron Sceptre, and The Sword Bearer. I believe there are other books in the series published as well, but that's all that's listed in the front of my copy.

Also, I just discovered that the cover artist is Kinuko Craft, one of our favorite fantasy illustrators. Yay!

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Chicken Stoup

Since I'm sick (a wonderful gift from Friday's flooding) I really wanted chicken soup. Amazing what can happen when you want chicken soup and actually have a chicken! I didn't take any pictures of what ended up to be more of a stoup, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Into my Ellie (1.6qt crock) went

  • 1/2 diced green bell pepper,
  • 1 diced stalk of green onion/chives
  • 1 tiny can of sliced mushrooms I found in the back of the cupboard
  • Chicken from the parts of the chicken that we tend not to prefer; I put in mostly wing and leg meat
  • 3/4 cup of chicken broth
  • Dry whole grain Minute rice, didn't measure, just sorta shook the box over the pot.
  • I didn't put in any seasonings because the chicken I used was from the last thing I cooked and had lots of flavor, and the broth had loads of salt.
I actually started with 1/4 c. liquid thinking that, as a good crock pot, the liquid would double on its own. It didn't, and I don't know why; either the lid wasn't settled right, or the rice absorbed it all. So I added another 1/2 c about three hours in when I started to smell the stuff burning a little.

I ran this on high for 4 hours and then put it on low because we were too lazy to get up and eat it right away.

My stoup was REALLY GOOD. We had it with homemade bread and what was in the pot fed the two of us for one meal. It was a lot chunkier than canned chunky soup; it really was more like a soggy casserole with a little bit of broth poured over the top when we served it out. When I say it that way it doesn't sound as good, but it really was.

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Crockpot Rosemary Apple Chicken

>> Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We bought a whole young chicken (very small) and I just put it in the crock pot. We also bought 3 apples that I intended to use with the pork, and then for some reason changed my mind. So I did some digging and found a great recipe using both, plus some rosemary from my garden. This all went into my 6 quart crockpot.

(I love the Crock Pot Lady's blog format, so I'm imitating her. I mean to flatter, not thieve!)

Ingredients (as seen above):
  • A small chicken. I unwrapped it yesterday hoping to just plunk the frozen bird in, not realizing that there were weird bits of paper on the outside and the bag of guts inside, and I couldn't get them off/out. (It's my first time cooking a whole bird, be nice now.) So I had to put it in something else and re-wrap it and let it thaw the normal way. That's why it looks weird in the picture.
  • 3 apples, Granny Smiths in this case. I peeled and diced them.
  • Chives (about 3 stalks), chopped up. I ended up having 1/2 cup of diced chives. The original recipe also called for a whole sweet onion and a couple cloves of garlic, but I didn't have them.
  • Fresh Rosemary. The original recipe said 3 stems, but how long? So I put three stems of varying sizes inside the bird, one tucked in each wing, and I finely chopped the leftover little bits to mix into the liquid. Maybe it'll be too much, but I like rosemary.
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock; I've never used chicken bullion, and this is actually the granule stuff; the jar said 1 t. to 1 c. boiling water, so I did 1/2 t. to 1/2 c. boiling water.
  • To the stock I added: Kosher S&P, 1/4 t. Garlic salt (to make up a little bit for the missing garlic), and 1/2 t. dried onion (and then it clumped weird so I sprinkled more on top to make it even).

Directions:
  • Lock the cats in another room
  • Wash and chop/dice/hack all the things that need chopping/dicing/hacking.
  • Prepare the chicken stock; add the spices to it.
  • Prep the bird; take out the bag-o-innards, and I cut off as much fatty skin as I could because I'm just that way.
  • Put apple chunks and chives in the bottom of the crock, reserving 1 apple's worth and some chives. Put the bird in the crock. Stuff the bird with rosemary stalks, some chives, and as many apple chunks as will fit. In my case, it was just about one apple.
  • Pour the stock/spices over the top, and dump in any remaining ingredients.
  • Turn it on high and cook it until you know that it's safe to eat. I don't own a thermometer, so after 3 hours on high, I plan to put it on low and go out for the afternoon, get my free crunchy taco at Taco Bell, get a free mocha latte at Barnes & Noble, talk to Lanse for a while, and probably eat the chicken around 8. I figure if it's falling off the bone, it probably reached a safe temperature.
When I put it into the crock pot, this is what it looked like!


I'll update when we've eaten some to tell you if it's worth it. It's smelling pretty darn good right now though!

Update 1: the liquid level is now at about 3/4 of the crock pot, and the steam is making bubbles out the side of the lid. So maybe reduce the stock to 1/4 c. I let some steam out just now, since it was making hissing noises when the wet escaped.

Verdict:
It was very tasty. Very tasty indeed! I served it over whole grain rice, with a side of green veggies. Neither of us ate enough though, so we crashed big time... like rice tends to do, this made us feel full before we'd actually provided our bodies with enough energy, so keep that in mind when you serve it up. We're now going on Day 3 of leftovers; the first leftover day we just ate the chicken again with a veggie, yesterday I made stoup (see next post), and today I think I may just have turkey sandwiches for lunch. Yay!

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This week's Educational Philosophy

>> Monday, October 27, 2008

Up this week, we have: Johann Pestalozzi, Friedrich Froebel, John Dewey, and Maria Montessori.

Also due:

  • Discussion post (the equivalent of a 1 page paper);
  • 3 or more replies to classmate's discussion posts
  • another 1-2 page paper (these ones always turn out to be 3 for me);
  • a 3-6 page paper (3 parts, 1-2 pages each, so it'll probably be around 7 pages); This one could be fun if I take the time; it's basically going through all the philosophies we've learned about so far, highlighting a couple points from each, and creating my own educational philosophy. I'm looking forward to it, if I can manage to find some focus.
  • All of this is based on much reading, some of which I've done, some I haven't.

Also due for Making Connections class (Ed 1011):
  • 2 page research paper on career profiles and opportunities
We're going to Charlotte next weekend to see my brother and sister-in-law and Kaylee, so I have to do a little work ahead as well.

I also have to make bread and figure out dinners for the week, and we really really need to get those smoke detectors installed, and probably clean the house a bit... it's gotten really messy, and the clutter is distracting... and I'm having someone over on Thursday morning to hang out. And I really want to get into my Bible Study lessons as well, which probably won't happen.

I'm feeling a bit busy.

EDIT: Just for kicks, we have Johann Pestalozzi (Philosopher) vs. Roger Rees (Actor)


Photo from my web homework * Photo from imdb.com

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Wet and Soggy

>> Friday, October 24, 2008

What an incredibly fun evening!!

It's been raining all day, the kind that you sit inside and go, "Wow, that's a heckuva lot of rain," but out the window of our house it wasn't flooding the street or anything. Lanse had a game scheduled to play at Green Dragon, and for whatever crazy reason I was feeling housebound
(even though I spent all morning out at church), so I decided I really wanted to go with him. I don't know what compelled me... I didn't think painting would be that interesting, but for whatever reason something inside me thought I had to go. So I did.

As we drove into the parking lot in front of the store, we realized that the water was nearly up to the bumpers on some of the cars. That's not good. So we parked a few rows up where there was *slightly* higher ground, and went in to play. I got my paint set up, Lanse got his game going. More people would arrive and say, "Hey, y'all might want to check where you parked your car..."
And then the water came up over the walkway in front of the store... and then started seeping in through the front door... (this is actually a pic of the back of the front section of store, the water came in from both sides to meet here... the plastic bag in the background was floating aimlessly around.)


and then the back door...


at which point the gamers got involved, since there was a D&D game right inside the back door. Then it was coming in the door by the videos. And suddenly, all games stopped and everyone started grabbing stuff off the floors in all the rooms, crawling under shelves, desperately trying to mop and push the water... until there was no where else to push it.


These kids were there with their dad, and were well prepared with their rain boots. The smaller girl was our resident mopper.


In order to keep the water out, all the doors were locked and poor-man sandbagged (towels and cinder blocks), though they did have to keep opening one door for people to go through, they eventually stopped and made everyone wait. It was finally decided around 8:30 that it was time to close up, the waters won the day. Everyone in the store gathered at the front door, Beowulf (a store owner) unlocked it, and there was a rather fast mass exodus, door slammed behind us.

Our car was enough higher ground that in the exact place we parked, we were only in an inch or so, but backing out put us at about a foot. The water was up to my knees between the store and the car. This was the view looking back towards the store, which is the dark green writing between the Imperial Store Cabinetry and the Sleep King. (Pointy roof bit on the right.) And somewhere under that water are periodical large concrete barriers dividing the parking aisles. I'm so glad the one by higher ground had shrubbery!


After dropping Tabitha off at her house, we came home and got out of our wet clothes, and got into the tub. I was more concerned about warming up and soaping off any kind of crap that was in the parking lot water, but Lanse stayed in the hot tub and let the bubbles go. He looks happily ruffled now.

Now, snuggled under an afghan and two cats and looking back on the evening, I'm really glad I went!

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Ellie made burgers!

We had hamburgers... well, cheeseburgers really... made in Ellie, my new 1.6 qt. crock pot! Now, a few people whined and complained, and said I obviously don't know what a crock pot is for, but darn if they weren't really good and didn't take much effort at all!

[Quick insert for mental visual: a 1.6 quart crock pot is about the width of a standard 2 cup tea pot, and half again as high. So it's small, but still useful. I could probably cook two regular cans of Campbell's soup in it, if I didn't put the lid on. (Since crocks cause the water level to rise, that could be disastrous!) But that at least should give some idea of how big this crock pot is.]

Usually when we buy hamburger, we buy a huge amount and the cut it into 1 lb sections and freeze them separately in freezer bags. We've realized how much faster they thaw if they're not in a large chunk, so when we put them in the bag we squash them flat so they look like pizzas when you glance in the freezer. Doing this also means that all I have to do is thaw it on a plate, cut it into pieces, and flip them into the frying pan! However, for whatever crazy reason, when I make hamburgers in my pan (I haven't got an indoor griddle) it takes 10 minutes of prep and 15 or 20 minutes on the stove plus fighting 3 cats off the whole time.

Total time fighting off cats: 30-40 minutes.

So instead of that, here's what I did:

First I put 4 pieces of rolled up tin foil tubes in the bottom of the crock pot in a square like Lincoln Logs. If you look up the Crock Pot Blog linked on the right and look up hamburgers, she did the same thing and put a picture as well. Putting the burger on the tin foil keeps it up out of the grease so it's not flat out boiling instead of roasting, or whatever the non-wet term is. While it turned out great this time, next time I plan to make my initial foil rolls larger; the bottom one wasn't completely out of the grease. (This also means you'll have a good half-inch of grease on the bottom to clean out later. Yay.)

So then I took:

1 lb. hamburger, flattened relatively thin.

Cut it into 4 pieces, two each of the same sizes. Over everything I put kosher salt and pepper, dried onion flakes, garlic salt, and savory, and then mexican blend cheese just on two of the four pieces. Then I took the other two and put them on top of the first two so I had basically two enormous hamburgers with stuff in the middle.

Put one hamburger carefully in the crock pot on top of the foil. Add 4 more pieces of foil and put the second one on top. Cook on high for 3 hours. (Mostly cuz that's all the time I had. You could feasibly cook it for 6 hours on low. Haven't tested it yet though.)

These burgers were the perfect size for the crock pot in both width and height! Yay!

However, because crock potting is a wet cooking method, while they were lovely and tender on the inside they were kinda gross and slimy on the out. So when it was time to eat, I popped each one into a hot pan for 30 seconds each side to crisp it up.

Total time fighting off cats: 3 minutes - 2 while prepping, 1 while cooking.

Put on home made bread (cuz that's what we had, but obviously hamburger buns are good too).

They were very tasty indeed, and a whole heckuva lot less hassle than my old method!

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A Classroom for Ana

>> Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I was bored. I drew a classroom. Ana wants to see it, so here it is. PLAN A



Here's PLAN B, basically the same classroom but shifted around so that a neighboring classroom could share the entry, bathroom and kitchen:



Ana thinks the whole group area is too big and some neighboring areas too small. But she really likes the term 'Recentering Zone', which really is actually the Time Out corner. *grin* So I guess I've done well enough.

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New Arrival

Everyone say hello to our new arrival! Her name is Ellie. She's 1 1/2 (quarts).



She joins her big brother Sy. He's 5 (quarts).


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Learning through Play

>> Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Very cool John Locke quote from Some Thoughts Concerning Education in defense of learning through play:

Thus children may be cozened into a knowledge [of] letters; be taught to read without perceiving it to be anything but a sport, and play themselves into that others are whipped for. Children should not have anything like work, or serious, laid on them; neither their minds nor bodies will bear it. It injures their healths; and their being forced and tied down to their books, in an age at enmity with all such restraint, has; I doubt not, been the reason why a great many have hated books and learning all their lives after: it is like a surfeit, that leaves an aversion behind, not to be removed. I have therefore thought, that if playthings were fitted to this purpose, as they are usually to none, contrivances might be made to teach children to read, whilst they thought they were only playing.

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For Tim and Susan

We still use your present to us. Kira thanks you!


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Additional thoughts on Philosophies and Pioneers of Education



I love how complicated this class makes philosophers. While there is more text following this, here's the time line given for John Locke's life:

1632 – Born
1690 – Published An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and The Second Treatise of Civil Government
1693 – Published Some Thoughts Concerning Education
1704 – Died

Apparently he was quite accomplished. *grin*

Oh, and this week is not Maria Montessori, she's next week. This week is John Locke, Horace Mann, Jane Addams, and Paulo Freire.

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Cold, Financial, Organizational, Autumn Cooking (?!)

It is cold. (Says the transplanted Minnesotan). OK, so it's cold for here. It's been in the low 40s the last two mornings when Lanse has gone off to work. Considering two nights ago we didn't know it would do that, and last night we just added blankets to the bed (trying to keep the heat costs down as much as we can), even with my sweater and afghan and coffee and cat my fingers are a little bit blue beneath the nails. Sigh. It's still supposed to get to 75 degrees today.

I don't think it's the cold itself as much as the speed of the cold. Last week it was absolutely gorgeous (aside from the rain), in the mid 80s, 60s at night. Then WHAM we drop 20 degrees. As much as the weather here is typically wonderful and warm (yes, we did spend January 1 on the beach last winter) it tends to skip over my favorite temperatures both in the spring and fall; we tend to not get many days in the 70s. Today, when I'm sure the sun's hitting the porch, I'm moving out there.

We are taking the Dave Ramsey course, Financial Peace University. It is really fantastic, it's offered through our church, and there's a handful of people at our church who took it previously and it worked. If we followed his steps, we'd become millionaires.... eventually. It is not a Get-Rich-Quick scheme, it's a step-by-step logical process for becoming debt free and building up savings and stuff... basically Wise Accounting for Dummies. He's got a couple of catch phrases: "We live like no one else now [sell all our stuff and eat rice and beans] so that we can live like no one else later [super wealthy millionaires]" and he showed a clip on how gazelles get away from hungry cougars, and we're supposed to "be a gazelle" in our fleeing from debt and being consumed by financial slavery.

Frankly, we kinda suck at it. I think we're both more for tangible goals; ephemeral 'if you do this long enough this other thing will (probably) happen' goals don't apparently work well for us. He's got a lot of neat tricks that save money, which I get all Special Snowflake* about, using poor mobility and low stamina and blood sugar control issues as excuses (are they really excuses if they're true?) for not catching the bus (and thus getting a job) and not eating beans and rice. And we're really not good at emotional risk-taking to pay down debt; there's stuff we could do but we're afraid to do it, or feel we have some other legitimate reason to change up the program. Maybe we do. But what it really comes down to is, as Lanse succinctly put it, we're feeling more like sloths than gazelles.

That said, we put some dollars into 'Adoption - Immediate' (as opposed to 'Adoption - Savings') and went out and bought some organizational bins to start making the back room useful again. Turns out that the small bins we got from Lowes over a year ago were made to fit into the big bins we got from Walmart this week, so it's all spiffy. I took pix, cuz it was just so cool to me (dork).



Returning to the cold, the side benefit of the Dave Ramsey-meets-Cold Autumn plan is that I've discovered the return of wanting to cook. I pulled out the crock pot, and I've used it three times in the last three weeks or so, and I've baked two loaves of bread with my bread machine. I have to put another of both in today too; gotta research what to throw in with the pork roast and then I'm trying to time the bread to be done when Lanse gets home. Good stuff. Also, I'm a member of a Walden research community (for my school) that gives me a $20 GC for Amazon every month that I play along, so I just ordered a mini-crock, 1.6 quart; the way we eat right now, that should do us just dandy. Yay! I've been researching via and emailing with the Crock Pot Blog Lady, Steph. She's faboo. She's cooking something in a crock pot every day for a year for her family (of 5, I think). She makes some of it up, and tosses some of it out, but it's fun to find recipes and get ideas from her. She doesn't have much for the mini-crock that's meal worthy, mostly dips and sauces, so I asked and she's gonna see what she can come up with. Yay!
Last night we had tacos, and I just upended a pound of ground beef (raw) in the crock with the taco seasoning packet and the required water. The meat kinda had a weird texture because it basically boiled instead of fried, and it didn't crumble like it would had I browned it first (I tore it into chunks with meat forks), but it was pretty good nonetheless.

Um. What else? Oh, a friend of ours from church (who we also game with) was just hired for Lanse's department at work. Should be interesting to see how that develops.

Also, I got my last quarter final grades. A (100%) and A (93.7%). I am SO glad to be done with Sociology, it's not even funny. I thought I was gonna get a B! *gaspmoan* For those who aren't aware, I do realize that Bs and Cs are at some times acceptable; it's just my personal goal to knock this part of my scholastic life out of the ballpark, since I failed out of Wheaton with an Academic Dismissal (failed too many classes to stay). I'd really love to have an amazing success story and tell Wheaton (in my head, of course) exactly where they can... put... that Academic Dismissal. Of course, right now you find me writing this blog instead of studying....

I'm in the middle of Pioneers and Philosophies of Education. It sounded cool before I started to think about it, and then realized that my Wheaton D in Philosophy was actually based in a mental blockage I have against questioning the building blocks of reality (a technique I feel breaks down faith, and I have absolutely no need for). So I got a little nervous. Last week we studied Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and it was actually quite fascinating; we're not studying their philosophies on life per se, we're studying their philosophies on education in particular, and so far it's been reading articles on modern people's take on them, instead of having to sit and read books they wrote themselves. So it's a lot more applicable and, therefore, easier. Woo! This week includes a bunch of people, including (I believe) Maria Montessori. So that should be interesting. If I ever get around to it.

Finally, Spook just jumped up next to me and licked my right eyebrow. There's no accounting for tastes, I guess.



*Special Snowflake: someone who thinks that their situation makes the rules not count for them. Ref: people who cut in line because they're late; people who think their child doesn't have to follow the rules in class; basically, people who use any little thing as an excuse to get what they want, and think it's perfectly normal. Of course, the irony of the phrase is that all snowflakes are uniquely special.

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Friends, cheese, and church

>> Thursday, October 16, 2008

It was evening, and Audra and Beanie had already arrived. We were just waiting for Kendy and possibly one other person to stay for the weekend. But it was late, so I said good night. Then it was morning, and I asked what everyone wanted for breakfast. I explained that yesterday was the last day of our budgeted month and we had no food at all, but we could all go on a big shopping spree now that we have more money, and we could make pancakes or waffles, or eggs, or whatever. Aud, who was sitting on the coffee table, was concerned that it would use up all our money for the month. She's so sweet. "But," we exclaimed, "we don't need cheese!" Because there were five or six small blocks of varying cheeses, still packaged, sitting on the beige sofa next to me. Some of them had red on the labels. From her lounging spot on the couch, Beanie agreed that cheese was very important.



Kendy wasn't up yet, and Aud and Beanie were still sleepyish (Aud was still in the sweats and t-shirt she'd slept in, and Beanie had on zip-up footsie jammies, peach colored I think). While they were in the kitchen talking about something, I went out on the porch where my mom and Audra's dad were having coffee and talking. Audra's dad in my dream was Carl Winslow from Family Matters, except that he was a lawyer instead of a cop, and he was explaining something legal about something I don't remember anymore. I was under the impression that, as if we were twelve or something, he'd come to pick up Audra from her sleepover, but was fine hanging around until she was ready to go.

I decided that I'd go to church with my folks and then hit the store on the way back. We (mom, dad, and I) went to Wooddale Church, which had changed a bit... there was a bunch of the dream about the service and getting lost wandering in the halls, and Lanse was in one scene as we were leaving, which was just us walking through hallways and passing tables with brochures on them. Something specific happened that meant we were leaving quickly, but I don't remember what. So dad, mom and I get out to the parking lot and go over to where we'd parked our bright blue Mazda hatchback. The car in that spot was indeed the same bright blue, but it wasn't our car. So we started asking questions of the construction guys across the aisle who were up on one of those long arm bucket things fixing a spot light. They had no idea where our car went, but since our key fit we decided to figure out the error later. So I was driving home to my company (no parents... weird...) through this small town, and I stopped for some reason...

Yeah, it gets really blurry then, there's a chase and a possibly drugged up cousin, and a flight of stairs... and bicycles?

Maybe...

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And there is GREAT rejoicing!

>> Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My husband, of whose creativity and imagination I am increasingly proud, accomplished one of his life goals today. Reaper Miniatures will be producing some of his kit-bashed futuristic sci-fi ray guns (officially called "Futuristic Weapons") to be released in October. Which is now-ish.

Click on the picture to go to Reaper Minis release announcement.


This was a combination effort; Bobby Jackson and Bob Ridolfi also contributed to this weapons pack. Everything except the bottom left sprue was created by my husband.

Dearest, I am over the moon proud of you.

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Indecision

The more I browse and think and learn via email groups, the more I'm realizing I really want a girl. I know that I can love little boys too, and the wait for a girl is incredibly long, (more so the younger you want), plus if we were just to get pregnant, we wouldn't have a choice. So I don't know that it's worth saying anything about it. But I feel like I understand girls better, and while I know there are sports-oriented girls, I oddly feel like I can handle that better than sports-oriented boys. I haven't had a whole lot of experience with little boys, but all the ones that I have known have been very physical without a whole lot of reasoning skills. That makes me nervous, I don't know quite how to relate to it. Granted, the younger they are the more we can influence that sort of thing to some extent. And it's not just a sports thing, that's just an area in which the kind of thing I'm talking about often appears. I just tend to 'get' a higher percentage of girls than I do boys.

I also find myself still very drawn towards sibling groups (just 2), partly because we know we eventually want two anyway and I really don't want to go through this crazy government process again, and also because I feel like if there's two kids who are good at relying on each other it'd be some sort of comfort for the transition. Plus, ya know, I like kids. Since we're also looking at out-of-state adoption, I worry about the impact of removing an already-wounded child from everyone that's familiar to them. When I moved to NY it was by choice to an extended (married in) family that loved me, but no one really understood me at all; the only evidence of my past was my stuff (which many adopted kids come without), and even though I was an adult who had control over the situation it took a long hard time for me to get through it. I can only imagine what it would be like for a 5 year old kid feeling that kind of thing. I think having a brother or sister along for the ride would be a major benefit for them in an out-of-state, too-far-to-visit-often situation.

Oddly, I'm also finding myself drawn to pre-teen girls. Yes, I know, pre-teen girls are traditionally crazy even when they're not adopted kids. What in the world am I thinking?? Yes, older kids have gone through a lot, and there's a lot of physical risk when older kids decide to throw some kind of fit or something. Yes, there's hormones and other random stuff that comes with that. But we have five pre-teen/teenager friends (kids of friends, and other kids who show up to play games at the game store, some from crazy broken up home lives) who we get along with really well. We seem to really understand issues facing them (these specific ones, anyway) which even a lot of traditional style parents don't. We obviously wouldn't take just anyone, but according to what I've been reading, there are some older kids out there who are aware of their situations, able to reason and (within age-appropriate limits) make reasonable choices, want to work with the therapists and take their meds, who really just want to succeed, but nobody wants them because of their age. Yes, of course it'll be hard, but they're kids... all kids are hard, just in different ways at different stages. I feel like, chosen carefully, we have something to offer.

So all of this is to say that I'm very unsettled! None of what I've written here actually fits the paperwork we filled out. And obviously we don't want to get in over our heads; we must be able to provide for all the needs of whatever children we have in our home. But I feel like 'one toddler boy' could maybe not be the direction we're meant to be gearing up for.

When we pray for guidance, make choices based on the options available and then pray for peace, and peace is not forthcoming, doesn't that mean that perhaps we should reevaluate the choices?

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Turkey Cranberry Creation

>> Monday, October 13, 2008

Today's dinner experiment! Having browsed through the Crockpot lady's blog, as well as a couple other places for ideas, here's what I just threw in the crockpot:

1.3 lb. ground turkey
2 small bell peppers
rest of the bag of dried cranberries I found in the cupboard that were still soft and within useby date
Half a packet of Tastefully Simple Spinach and Herb... herbs. (Basically it's dried onion, garlic, parsley, dill, and oregano? Something green and flaky that's not parsley or dill. Oh, wait. It's 'Spinach and Herb'. Maybe the green flaky bits are spinach. *heh* )
3/4 c. brown Minute rice
1 c. H2O

I feel like it's missing something vital, like a cream-of soup (*shiver*) or something to make it more sticky casserolish. But I want it to be mostly meat and veggies, and not so much on the carbs, so if it's too dry I'll add something at serving time. I think the flavors should all go well though.

Here's hoping! Update later tonight!

UPDATE:
How did I forget salt?? *doh!* It was edible, but pretty flavorless. Adding salt at the table helped, but I also underestimated the amount of herbal seasoning it would need. If I had more of all the ingredients (except the meat, that was a good amount), and seasoned it properly, I think it would have been pretty good. And it did end up stewish... it was wet enough to stick together, but not so wet it was soup, and not so dry the rice was crunchy.

So there you have it.

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Friendships - Missing!

>> Sunday, October 12, 2008

I've always been one of those people who has a gazillion acquaintances and maybe one or two really close friends. Throughout school I tended to only have one super-close friend at a time; at least until I went to college. Now, thanks to the wonderful world of the Internet, these friends are reappearing. I'm glad, because I keep having dreams about them. It's like my 'past life' (pre-Wheaton life) is haunting my subconscious. So I'd like to kinda tie off... or pick up... the loose ends.

Last... March?... I got back in touch with my friend Amy from Elementary and Junior High, and she and her husband actually came to visit. That was cool. And Amy got me hooked back up with Emily. Then last week I got email through Facebook from Karen, who was my best friend in Fourth and Fifth Grades.

To complete my MN pre-high school "friends list" I think I'm missing Jana and Kevin. I kept in touch with most of my High School friends, most of whom are still my best friends. The only folk I'm missing are Jill and Mishaun. *hrm* Pre-MN would probably just be Carol, but we were friends before my memory really kicked in; I mostly know we were friends from the photographs and the baretts I still have that mom said she gave me when we were five. Everyone else from IL (pre-2nd Grade) who were my friends actually went to college with me, so we're all set there.

So, if anyone knows how to find Carol, Mishaun, Jill, Kevin, or Jana, feel free to let me know. I've started the searches!

(Why is it that reunion sites and networking places that let you put in your schools don't go any lower than High School? What if I want to find my best friend from when I was twelve? So not fair.)

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Finito... for now

>> Thursday, October 9, 2008

I have just turned in my final paper for this term. I bid a fond 'adieu' to Intro to Education, and a not-fond-at-all 'GET AWAY' to Multicultural Biases in Sociology. (Real name changed to protect the guilty.) I have three days of non-school in which to make our house acceptable unto the Fire Marshall, and then Monday I get started on EDUC 1002, aka Pioneers and Philosophies of Education. Yes, I'm done with two, and only picking up one. It's a harder class though, lots of names and dates, and I was horrid with just regular Philosophy class, so we'll see. I'll have the time of two classes this term to spend on it so hopefully it'll even out.

I'm in a Walden program that runs on 12-week quarters, containing two 6-week terms. I started half way (Term 2) through Summer Quarter, so I took classes for 6 weeks then had a week off and started the current term (it's technically not done until Sunday night). I don't have a break between this term and next because they're the two terms within Fall Quarter. I do get a week off between quarters, which usefully falls over the week of Thanksgiving. Huzzah! Christmas might be tricky, but I'll be making a special effort to work ahead.

So now I'm off to focus on not thinking about school. Maybe I'll watch a movie!

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Not long for the crawling stage

>> Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My niece Kaylee figured out crawling last week. Go Babygirl!! But then, like... third or fourth day of crawling, she got to the couch and pulled herself up and took a step. So now there's video on my brother's flickr page of her stepping (with help). And new pics! This one's my favorite. She got the elephant slippers for a new walking prize. *grin*



I mean seriously... check out that face! She knows she's that good.



(Picture taken by my brother. Her face looked washed out on my screen when zoomed in, so I messed with the balance. Hope it's okay for you!)

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Conversation with Bert

Bert is our Social Worker, Yolanda Roberta. I sent her an email last week with some questions, and she called last night to discuss them. This is part of the whole process of her getting a feel for who we are as individuals and what we want as a family, so it's a pretty important thing! I thought it was pretty cool that she called instead of emailing, except for the fact that I now have nothing in writing. So I'm going to put it here so that I have it written down, also because I think they're good questions and may clarify some things for friends and family about how this system works. These are in no particular order, except that I tried to put first the ones that I'd already mentioned elsewhere in the blog.

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Question: Can we have a checklist from you of what kinds of child proofing we'll need to do for the inspection? I tried a google search and found everything from just outlet covers and keeping a close eye, to chaining down the toilet and padlocking the refrigerator and installing nearly every bit of furniture four feet up. There's just so wide a range, I'm not sure what detail they'll be looking for.

Answer: All we need to do for the inspection is to get locks on the cabinets and drawers and any closets that might have chemicals or medications in it. We have to put covers on the outlets, and move anything that's obviously a danger, like scissors or knives in the bill desk, that kind of thing. We will also need to get those hook things that you spool curtain strings around so the kids can't hang themselves. We also have to get the smoke detectors to have the installation date written on the outside, be sure the fire extinguisher is current, and put the step stool away when they come. Oh, we also have to make sure our hot water doesn't come out above 120 degrees and our fridge is cold enough to actually keep food safe to eat. Pretty basic stuff.

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Question: Inspections: Will we have warning or are these surprise inspections in order to capture regular living conditions?

Answer: They are done by an outside company, who will call and make an appointment.

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Question: When can we safely start looking at photolistings? Will you provide additional photos and information aside from what we can find online?

Answer: We can look any time we want, but we won't be able to do anything about it until the home study is completed, and there will be no guarantee that the same children will be available at that point. She recommends we wait.

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Question: You explained about how SC agencies aren't... licensed...? to do stuff past a certain point because the state saves money by doing it themselves. At what point do we stop working with you and start working directly with them? Will you go alongside us or will our "case" be turned over to someone else?

Answer: I actually had the terminology wrong here; Bethany is licensed, it's just that the SC office does not fulfill the same kinds of services in SC when adopting a child from SC. Basically, when a family is found for a SC child within SC, SC government does all the finalization themselves instead of paying an agency to do it. Make sense? SC state will work with Bethany Virginia, or Bethany NY, but wouldn't finalize with Bethany SC because it's cheaper for them to do it themselves within state.

If we decide we want to adopt a child from SC, here's what will happen: Bert will put together all of our records in a presentable book form, and go with us to a meeting with state people, including the Social Worker for the child, and present us as an interested family. We will all talk, we will have a book about us and our lives prepared that will go to the child, and we'll set up further appointments. We will also receive a binder with every possible thing there is to know about the child, from med records to school records to a history to notes from foster care. At that stage, Bert will no longer work with us, but she is available as a resource for questions or advice. Once we leave that meeting with our binder, we have a week to look over it and decide if we want to proceed. Next we'll meet the child in the foster home, somewhere on their own turf, just chat, get to know each other. Then we'll spend a day visit, a little later have a week-long visit, then they will be able to move in if everyone's cool with it.

If we decide to adopt a child from another state, Bert will be with us to the very end, as Bethany will be the organization doing the finalization instead of the state.

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Question: We have found in the past when making large decisions that ask us to delineate guidelines (such as house-hunting search criteria) that we have a tendency to get frustrated, and then wander out to search on our own, and what God points to (so far) has always been outside of the bounds set by the stated criteria. In other words, I'm afraid that the child He has for us may be outside of the terms set on our paperwork, simply because that kind of thing seems to often be the case for us. My concern is whether or not that will affect your opinions and review of us, if we have to stick to what's on the paper... or not. If we must stay within the bounds on the paper, we may think about broadening them slightly, but if we have flexibility I won't worry about it.

Background: Unfortunately, there's a great deal of the home study process that feels very similar to the process of buying a house. When we bought our house on Edgemont in NY, our realtor had taken us to see a lot of houses in the suburbs, as we were afraid of living in the city and had excluded it from our search criteria. However, while out on our own on a Sunday, we saw the Edgemont house and fell in love with it. We honestly didn't realize it was within city limits at the time, since it was in the cute little University area bordering a suburb. Our realtor was very indignant that she wasn't given the opportunity to find it for us because "We weren't looking there!" The last thing I want to do is torque off our Social Worker, which is ultimately why I asked this question.

Answer:
The entire process of the home study helps her clarify what we meant when we marked things on the paperwork, and what areas we would be flexible on. The paperwork is always able to be altered, addenda added, as we learn and process and think through things. We are required to take 14 hours of classes, and she says that sometimes people will learn something that will really alter their ideas and they'll call and write up a change to their search criteria. No big deal. We'll be doing this kind of thing anyway every six months; just a check in on the paperwork to see if anything's changed in our family needs or desires. We are not locked in to what's on that paper.

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Question: Being new at this whole adoption thing, I had been encouraged to seek out other people who have adopted as a kind of support group. I've been chatting online through two different adoption Yahoogroups, one of which I joined last week specifically regarding adopting older children. Unfortunately, what I'm hearing is overwhelmingly depressing! While a few have had good experiences, the loudest people are the ones who have been hurt, which makes sense. But the overall opinion even with happily finalized families is that social workers hide things about the needs of the children because their main purpose is to get children into a home and off the state support system, and that the purpose of agencies are to make money. What are your thoughts to this kind of a response? (Bert took this really well, actually, so that's good.)

Background:
This question was based on the area of behavior and development issues. Many older children will apparently be placed with a foster-adopt family who appears not to actually meet any of the requirements set forth by that family.

Answer:
There are many reasons why situations like this occur, and unfortunately there's sometimes not much to be done about it. There's only so far that delineating paperwork can take you. One problem is that many times Social Workers don't have all of the information. This happens sometimes because of the high turnover rate of Social Workers (some kids can have a new one every six months), sometimes because of poor documentation, sometimes because Foster Families are not of good quality or don't feel some behaviors are unusual enough to write down, and sometimes simply because in cases of abandonment there's just no one to tell them anything about the child. Another reason is one that comes up in child development with any child who's been through a tough situation, fostered or not. Every situation is new, and comes with new struggles. Many of these children will suddenly find themselves not knowing how to behave and fall back on unhealthy survival techniques. Sometimes behavior may escalate due to emotional triggers like smells or sounds that may have been present during abuse and never existed during foster care. And sometimes, there's just the bottom line fact that when a child doesn't trust anyone, they often just don't tell anyone what's happened to them. There have been many instances where a child will be adopted, and after a year or two of growing trust in the parents and finally starting to feel safe, will open up and talk about some horrendous abuses that no one had any idea had happened to them.

The bottom line is that there's no guarantee. We will be focusing on knowing as much as humanly possible about a child's history, collecting it from as many sources as possible, praying as hard as we can and being open to His leading, and going with our gut upon meeting the child.

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Question: I have an elderly friend from church whose grown children agreed to foster-to-adopt through the state. They have been "waiting" for many years now with a string of kids going through, because they are continually given children who end up going back to family or have needs beyond what they can handle. They were told that they would only be given children they would adopt in the end, but it seems as though the state is using them as a regular fostering family. I'm very concerned about that possibility; I understand the role of foster-to-adopt for states that don't legally release their children until a family is found, but what prevents our being taken advantage of because we checked 'yes' on the foster option? We don't feel we have the emotional ability at this stage to serve as regular full-time foster parents.

Background & Answer: There are three choices of how to participate with waiting children: foster care, foster-adopt, and adoption. When you are a foster family, children don't stay, they just come and go, but while they're with you, you have to be their 'parent' without becoming too attached. We've decided we don't have the emotional capacity for that right now. Adoption is just that; you go through the process, find a child, adopt them. Seems simple enough, but the problem is that many states never list their waiting children as legally available to adopt until a family has been identified for them. I have no idea why they do it that way. However, these children must remain with foster care until they are legally free... which could take a long time (years) depending on the situation. So we could feasibly find our child in one of these states, but not get to have them even visit until the legal stuff was complete. The middle option is kind of a go-between option: being foster parents long enough to find your child and adopt them.

What happened with this family from church is that they decided to foster-adopt through the state, without an agency. So the state is doing this, "Oh, here's a kid you might want to adopt..." and sending them a high-legal-risk foster kid, and then removing them right away to go back to the family, basically using them as traditional foster care. They've been foster-adopting for three+ years now, and have had about 8 kids go through their home. We do not want that to happen.

Right now, here's what we're doing: We have checked off willingness to foster-adopt if we locate the child we want to adopt and they come from a state wherein they will not be legally freed until after a family is found. Because of this, the child could come here immediately with us as their foster family until the paperwork for legal freedom is complete and the adoption paperwork goes through, without waiting. We don't intend to have multiple children come and go, and can dictate that by stating our willing level of legal risk (high-moderate-none) and under what circumstances. Again, like the behavior issues, we're dealing with people who are unpredictable, and the state really does want the families reunited if the birth parents prove willing to put out the required amount of effort, (not so common); there are no guarantees. However, we've been assured that if we choose carefully, look at every scrap of possible information on the child and the situation, and remain clear on what we want to have happen, we can have a pretty high expectations on the process. We are also protected by Bert and Bethany, as we're not dealing directly with the state ourselves unless we decide on a child from SC. But the bottom line is that we set the rules.

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OK! Is that enough information for you? Don't worry... if you're itching for more, I'm sure there'll be some soon enough! For me though, I know my brain is full and my typin' fingers are sore. Tune in again later.

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Naming Conventions

So over in Inara a lovely friend posted a link to the recent Parenting Magazine list of baby names for 2009, and it listed techniques to use to see if a name you like is a good idea or not. Stuff like being aware of nicknames or shortened versions of the name, spelling stuff with initials, that kind of thing. You wouldn't want your kid to sign a lease with his initials in the little spaces down the side spelling "BAD" or "DUMB" or something.

Anyway, it made me think of my naming conventions. Frankly, all I've had to name so far are cats, but it keeps me amused. While they all share common names such as "dumb-butt", "No!" , "not food" and "GET DOWN", they also have their own actual real names. However, it may be a good thing that only cats are involved, because I also have a horrible habit of creating nicknames.
Colin: There was something that I called him early on for nearly a year that I can't remember now. I went through a "Bubba" phase when we moved down south, but Lanse put a quick end to that. Now I call him "Bud" for no apparent reason... actually, my mouth got so used to "Bubba" I had to find something similar enough to switch to it half-way when I forgot. I also like to call him "Mister". Lanse's cousins, when they were young, called him "Collie-wallie". (They didn't visit often. ) But Colin's so... prim and proper, that I feel bad most of the time using nicknames on him.

Kira: Before we got her, she was named Princess. Since the family we got her from was my co-worker and her daughter was my student, we called her Princess Kira for a while, and I also call her Ladybug. This was because she was our only girl cat, and I wanted to call her "Lady", but I always called my college roommate "Lady" (inside joke, don't worry about it), PLUS, that college roomie picked 'little black kitten' (in French) as her livejournal handle, so it all made sense. I added the 'bug' to distinguish between them. Now I call Kira 'Sweetie' and 'Girlie' and 'Sweetie-Patweety' (though not often).

Spook: Being that he's the baby kitten of my heart, I stray the most with Spook. I am his person, so he lets me get away with more. Obviously, the easiest first thing was "Spooky", which quickly reduced to "Pooky" or "Pook". As it's not polite to reduce that to "Poo", it became "Boo". Now, sometimes he's "Boolie" or "Boodle". The other day, suddenly my mouth called him "Boodle-doodle", and it became fairly obvious that I may actually have some kind of Problem.

Maybe they shouldn't let me around real children with real names.

Though they do say admitting the problem is the first step....

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Malfoy vs. the Doctor

>> Monday, October 6, 2008

As we skidded the blue van into the parking lot we could hear the screams announcing we'd arrived at the right place. We finalized our plan, jumped out of the van, and took off running. The Doctor and someone else went around the corner of the building and into the main University offices lobby. I was trying to keep up, but had this enormous fake book slung over my shoulder and it kept banging into my knees. By the time I rounded the corner for the stairs, they had vanished into the building (which, incidentally, was nice rich brownstone and brick, three-stories, entrance on the second, with crenelations and towers in the facade, but unfortunately no neat tower rooms. There's a floor plan at the end).

Since the book is vaguely important later on, here's what it looked like:



The idea had been that we'd get there before the bad guys, and I was supposed to be posing as a student. (The book was supposed to look like a textbook; it was part of the Sneaky Disguise). Obviously, we'd timed things wrong... so I skipped the fake student thing and went on with my mission! I had a mission... though I don't think it was ever clear what it was. I snuck up the stairs towards the front door and peeked in to see two small explosions go off in various parts of the lobby, and a blond scary guy with a gun standing near the door facing in, so he didn't see me.

All the bad guys were scary blond men along the lines of the kind of Russian spy type you might see on original Die Hard or other 80s explosion movies. This particular group was run by Mr. Draco Malfoy, as seen here: (Image taken from a google images search from someone's blog, but I do know it's an official photo from the new movie coming July, 09!)



Getting back to the plot, after watching the scary blond gunmen for a minute or two and taking general notice of the construction and layout of the room, I edged back to the corner of the stair and scanned the courtyard for any sign of the Doctor. While I had my book thing slung backwards, and my eyes facing forward, a kinda sleazy student thief-for-pay snuck up behind the stairwell, reached into the cover of my book, and stole my microchip! There was a break in the action as he got away, and I sat in the stairwell "guarding" and waiting.

After a bit I heard Malfoy's voice saying, "Ahhhh... the Doctor!" and somehow I knew that he'd gotten the microchip, and knew it was alien, and suddenly realized his doom was at hand! All the scary blond bad guys ran for the end of the courtyard, just as the Doctor came up behind me. I started in with, "I'm sorry, he got the chip, I couldn't stop him..." and there was a HUGE explosion at the end of the courtyard. Draco stopped and looked back, laughed an evil laugh, said something like "You've not seen the last of me!!" and vanished around the corner.

Then there was a break and some snogging. And then I woke up.

For a bit of a visual aid, I created the following Dream Event Map. Enjoy!

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Fake Greek Turkey Loaf Sandwich Thing

>> Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I had some ingredients. Not many. Talked to Kit a little bit, got some ideas, ended up creating a Kinda-Greek meat loaf sandwich that was good but has given me heartburn. In case your digestion is better than mine, here's what I did:

1 lb ground turkey
Mix in finely chopped basil, marjoram, and rosemary. The basil is the strongest in flavor, so use less of it if you don't want it to all taste like basil. Add kosher salt and pepper.

Form it into a loaf, and bake it. This time it took 40 minutes for most of it at 350. I think my oven's uneven, (say that ten times fast!) since the ends of the loaf were getting tough and the middle had a tiiiiiiny tinge of pink to it. Argh.

Anyway, then slice the homemade bread you threw together the other day, wrap it in tin foil and pop it in the oven when you bring out the meat and let it warm in the residual heat (turn the oven off!) while you set the table and all that jazz.

Spread mayo/Miracle Whip or tzestieke, which I can't spell, or sour cream or greek yogurt or something on the bread, (we had the first option) then meat slice, then sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

It was really good. I had a glass of ice tea with it. I had my sandwich open faced and ate with a fork and knife, Lanse ate his like a sandwich. I couldn't quite finish mine, he had one and what was left of mine, and was full. But we don't usually eat much anyway.

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Inspective To Do List

Things we're pretty sure we need to do for the inspection:

1. Clean the garage. This is scary, cuz it's still crowded from moving in. Even though we won't really do stuff in there, fire code needs an obvious and unimpeded path from the kitchen door to the exit.

2. Organize and bin up extra crap around the house, especially stuff being stored in our child's room.

3. Childproof the house. Now I'm sure the first thing you think about are locking cabinets and plugging outlets and putting up baby gates. But remember, I'm the height of a 5 year old, so almost EVERYTHING WE OWN is in my reach. Including scissors, knives, heavy and/or fragile objects, china dishes, cleaning supplies, medications, cat food... you name it, they can get it. This prospect frankly terrifies me. We haven't even got the proper kind of furniture to put a lot of this stuff out of reach and have me use a step stool, since we buy furniture that's me-accessible. If we had that I'd feel a bit better. I may just choose to bin everything until we can budget for more lockable or tall furniture. We also need to replace or add locks to the outside porch door and maybe the front door, since those are very easy to open as well.

4. Make a decision about the play structure in the back, and then do something about it. Some of the higher pieces of wood are splitting and the top level is really rickety and missing some side slats. We could A) fix up what we have, B) remove the scary top level which a kid the age we're looking for shouldn't use anyway and leave the short level with the slide and trap door and then do lots of TLC to it, or C) just take the whole thing down and use it to heat the house in the fireplace in January. Considering January cost us $200 more than any other month last year in heating, that actually is more appealing than I want to admit.

5. Clean up anything scary around the shed like broken glass or boards with nails in it. The shed itself is barred so I can't even get in, so I don't think we'll have to do stuff there. Some day soon we want to tear it down.

6. Do some weeding. Seems weird, but we have spiny vine weed things crawling along the front walk and coming up between slats in the porches and trying to eat the house. We try not to feed the weed plants. No one named Seymour lives here.

7. Maybe replace the carpet in the back rooms. If we don't have dad come and steam clean it again the day before inspection, we may not pass the health bit. Cats don't like that carpet; rather, they like it TOO much.

ARGH! At least we have about 6 weeks before we could be inspected.

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About This Blog

Life is about changes; transitions from one place to another, from one purpose to another, from one being to another. They say that the person you are today is a completely different person from who you were ten years ago and who you'll be ten years from now. So far, at the age of 33, I've had four major transitions in my life which redefined who I am. Two years into the results of the most recent transition I am again - still - exploring how God is shaping me. Over the next few months I hope to review my past and set goals for the future, and embrace the next adventure of rediscovering me.
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