Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chomper's New Pad

Chomper is our resident fire-bellied toad, here showing off what else? -- his fire-belly! We've had him a while now, let's see, according to this post that would be about 5 weeks. (Sure glad my blog helps me remember when things happen). But during those 5 weeks, he's been living in a glorified plastic goldfish bowl called a "fire-bellied toad landing" with a bit of moss and a sprig of plastic plant.

Since Chomp is officially our homeschool pet, we turned the adventure of making him a new home into our science project for the week. First up, we purchased a complete 10-gallon aquarium set-up off craigslist. Then we went to Home-Depot to get supplies for his 1/2 land/ 1/2 aquatic tank. We did lots of research online before shopping and were going to build a false bottom and use a pond pump to make a waterfall--cool!

Our last stop was the pet store in Belton. Um...should have gone there first! The guy was very helpful...especially in telling me I was making it WAY to difficult. He showed my their set up of simple gravel, rocks, a filter and plants. Well, crap. I guess that means we take all the do-it-yourself, labor-intensive crap back? Yup. Anyway, that made for an entire field-trip day and we happily came home with all the supplies we needed to get started! Plus "we" learned to ask experts before we rely solely on google--duh!

This is Kai adding some river rocks to start the building process. The big rocks are pieces of slate.
This little hoodlum was helping wash rocks in the wheelbarrow. He was wearing Sissy's jacket on the chilly morning, but dunked the sleeves in the water so was just kind of standing there dripping.

Kai and I were using a chisel to knock all the sharp edges off the broken pieces of slate that we were using to build the waterfall.

Oh, darn! There was a cute picture our photographer took of herself and me that was supposed to go here...and I almost put it in but looked twice and noticed you could see straight down my t-shirt. Lovely.

Adding water so we can figure out where the waterfall will work best. 10 gallons isn't a super-large tank, so there are only a few ways to fit the filter and keep it hidden.

Elena's drawing was helpful--she had it all planned out in her head and was getting a little frustrated at me for not doing what she was thinking. I had her make a sketch to help! You can see all the dirt that was still on our rocks even after several washings. The filter worked wonders and we had clear water in 24 hours.

Added plants (some fake glow-in-the dark ones that came with our tank) and some sprigs of philodendron that will grow anywhere.

Ahhh, that looks like a nice place to call home, doesn't it?

And here he is checking things out. He finally gets to stretch his legs again...we think he missed that!

Well, another reason we wanted to upgrade was to get a friend for when I picked up his weekly cricket supply today, look who I brought home:

Eric and I get to name, we think "her" based on the overly-friendly greeting Chomper gave her after just a few minutes, ahem. We thought about Charlene, but we have too many "Chars" in our family already...Charla, Charlotte, Cheri. Maybe Chloe. Or Claudia. Hmmm, ideas?

Chomper has been silent up until "she" showed up. Now we've had the chance to hear his call...kind of like a child's soft laugh. Really cool. He's digging the new pad. What a fun pet!

Add'l Homeschool Notes (just for us, but you can read them if you like):
-Fire-bellied toads have heart shaped pupils. Some frog species have star and diamond-shape ones.
-Chomper's dark skin color is either a result of being bred in captivity or he's a different species than our bright green one.
-The toxins they secrete from their skin and their waste builds up in the tank. It will have to be cleaned out every few months. We'll have to do partial water changes every week or two.
-Unlike other frogs, FBTs eat with their hands, not their tongues.
-They can breathe through their skin and by swallowing air.
-When they swallow they often close their eyes which go down into their skulls and act like a plunger to push the food down their throat whole.
(Thanks, Miss Kim, for the awesome frog book! We're learning a lot!)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Another Festival...

This time we were right at home! The Raymore Festival in the Park is this weekend. The kids and I went out for pizza tonight since Eric was away playing a disc golf tourney, then headed over for some medium-town excitement.
I say medium-town because just today as we were driving through Raymore, I was thinking "Sheesh! There are SO many people who live here!" Subdivision after different from my little hometown. Then at the festival I ran into someone I know about every 20 steps...LOL! At least half my bunco league for starters--we were all trying to figure out where we are playing on Monday, and then I ran into the gal who is hosting. Then I knew three people with a booth set up so talked to them too. So much for thinking this place is huge. I guess it's more of a "just right."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chunk O'Love

Zane baby is 18 months old now! The little stinker melts my heart over and over every day. He is VERY opinionated and passionate about what's going on in his little life...but has yet to translate much of that to the tune of English (right, Joy?). Lots of signs and constant "uhs?!" - ugh!

Anyway, he is learning to use the potty and I guess my other two just weren't the chunky-monkies that Z-baby is...the boy is too big for our 2 potty chairs! We're talking thick ol' belly and thighs that make him sit way too far forward for there to be any chance of a successful "tuck and sit" if ya know what I mean! The first time he did it...ew, all over the chair, the floor, and me. Lovely.

So we were dawdling around Target yesterday and ran across the potty chair isle! Here's a picture of his cute new froggie seat. He seems to love it, and he fits! Yay!

You can also see how fun it is to be doing this with an 18 month old. Not so good when it was that 1/4 of a roll and one more upstairs left in the whole house. No worries, though, we were back at Target again today!

The Great Henna Experiment - Part 6

Well, here goes the oxidation process. Technically, the lawsone molecule is binding with the keratin molecules on my strands...whatever, I am not the chemist of the household! LOL. It's definitely deepening in color to more of an auburn from the copper, which is a good thing!

After 24 hours:

Same with no flash, "Like, what is THIS?!" (That reminds me of when I got quoted in the Wichita Eagle in high school after our small town 3A basketball team played a 6A city team saying it was "Like, wow!" Betcha can't guess what I was!)

After almost 48 hours in the setting sun...just a few minutes ago. Please excuse the baby boy clad in only a dipe...just getting ready for a bath.
I think I like it, just was expecting something less dramatic. It's another night with Eric out of town so I've got to go run the hoodlums...something is going on in the kitchen besides "family kitchen cleanup"...I see fly swatters, pvc pipe and yard sticks are involved so I better get!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Great Henna Experiment - Part 5

And, this, my friends, is red hair. Y'all love Lucy, right? Supposedly this is what she used when she could get it imported from Egypt.

I do think there were some sections that didn't get completely covered...the paste was so thick it was hard to tell by myself. And getting it rinsed out was interesting...let's just say no camera allowed. But I think my natural color was strawberry enough that those strands will blend in just fine.

For now, it's good-night...I'll take some more pix as the copper tones down over the next few days. Fingers-crossed!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Great Henna Experiment - Part 4

Well, don't get me wrong...I love my natural hair color. I'm actually cringing just looking at this picture right now. What am I thinking again?

My little photographer just happened to get up for some allergy medicine (drat fall grasses!), so she took some of the beginning application shots.

Dear Lord! What in THE world??!! Anyone else like to smear some pond scum on their head?

Did I mention the mess?

All wadded up and ready to sit...can you see the orange skin on my forehead? Yeah, forgot the vaseline step. Supposedly it washes right off your neck/ears/face. We'll see about that. Anyway, I finished about 9:35's now covered with plastic wrap to cook for 2 hours. Worst case scenario is that I missed a bunch of random spots and will look blotchy. So I guess I'll be glad I bought extra and be doing this again tomorrow night!

I think it's time for a homemade granola recipe from Erica at Confessions of a you like our sprinkles? This was part of home-ec today! And I'm going to curl up with my Jane and Friends book club selection for the month....The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. Oo-we-oo. Later...R

The Great Henna Experiment - Part 3

Two hours and a few minutes have passed...rinsing, rinsing, rinsing...

Ooooh, I don't know about this guys. That's some realllllly red hair.

Okay, so now I have four hours to get up the nerve to smoosh this stuff onto my head....hmmmm. Granted, it is supposed to darken over then next 4 days as part of the oxidation process. Oh, I'll probably do it...I mean I've been worse than a ravishing red-head before and survived! Stay tuned....

The Great Henna Experiment - Part 2

I did my research and it seems my batch of henna is ready to test! Of course, I was right that I shouldn't have put tap water in the mix...oh well. The goop has darkened nicely and smells, hmmm, like old tea. I mixed in a little ground cinnamon to spice up the aroma a bit (it won't change the dye). My hairdresser saved a slice of my hair last week so here goes the strand test:

Smearing it on with something I found as I rummaged through the junk drawer:

And, wah-lah! Must say (in case you weren't thinking it already) that it looks like something Eric pulled out of the shower drain....eeewwwwwwwww:

I'll let it sit for a couple hours or so then we'll see! I don't think I'll attempt going to watch soccer practice before I put it on my head so it's going to have to wait until after the kiddos are in bed for the main event.

The Great Henna Experiment - Part 1

Since I've only been talking about using henna to dye my hair for what? One, two years now? I decided it was high time to take the plunge. Sounds like the makings of a fun blog series for the day, eh?

I ordered my body art quality henna from Tap Dancing Lizard over at Henna for Hair .com a couple weeks ago. I bought the bulk pack of what is supposed to be the least intense colored kind of the stuff. Bulk because I think I'll want to do it again and my sister is game to try it too...with our mops it's going to take a lot of leaves!

So here's the line up:

Lemon juice (bottled for ease and no pulp), my box of henna, and some cheap-o conditioner to assist in rinsing it out.

I have walking inspiration around my house...check out the luscious set of auburn locks my dear Kai-boy was blessed with:

I'm expecting a few shades lighter, maybe more of a strawberry for my results.

This is what henna looks like straight out of the's the ground leaves of the henna plant, in case you're wondering and that is 200g's.

Added 2 cups of bottled lemon juice and began to stir...going for yogurt-like consistency. Gross! I told everybody it was the glaze for last night's pot roast and they all gagged!

Also put in 1/2 cup of water which I'm sure would be better off distilled or something, but it's tap:
And that's it for now...I mixed it up yesterday afternoon and it needs to sit until the dye releases, probably about 24 hours. I'm really not sure what I'm looking for...better do some more research. Next up will be the strand test...oh and some DrPepper for the afternoon as it's going to be a long night!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Funnies

I have taught preschool Sunday School for ages and love it! My favorite thing over the years has been the funny things they say. I really should keep a notebook...maybe I'll start after today. So this morning we were talking about how God takes care of us, the animals, the flowers etc. during our Bible storytime. Enter the comments:

"My shirt has red AND black AND grey!"

"Mine is a rainbow!"

"I have an owie right here."

"I have a cat and he puked on the living room carpet this morning!"

"Do you think this is a scab or just a bug bite?"

The cat puke threw us, I told the little boy that was gross, but thanks for sharing. Eric is snorkeling over by the counter, trying to smother his guffaws, and I just keep on just never know what's on their precious little minds! Love it!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Great Midwest Balloon Fest

Whee! With Eric out of town, I decided to load up the kids for a Fabulous Fun Friday Adventure! A friend had posted the Great Midwest Balloon Fest on FB (thanks Jaime!) so off we went.

It was a bit comical loading all our stuff on the stroller through the parking lot (i.e. field) and down the huge hill to the viewing area. But our little camp was just right.

We arrived early, around 4:30 p.m. and enjoyed walking around all the fun things like jumping in the bouncy-deal, foot-long corndogs, smoothies and sno-cones! Because of the high winds, the mass launch didn't start until about 6:30, but it was soooo coool!

Later, we went down the field a bit to be close enough to see the baskets and burners.

At nightfall the Glo started! The ballooners were back to the field from the earlier launch and this time were tied down and would light their burners turning the balloons into giant beautiful light bulbs! The crowd would count-down 5-4-3-2-1-GLO! Really fun! We also enjoyed the live bands for awhile...then it was time to head on home.

We were grubby and tired, but our glo necklaces kept everyone entertained as we made the long trek back to the van...this time UP the giant hill with the loaded stroller. HA! Two guys saw me stuck at half-way, hollering for Elena and Kai to come help push and they came to lift us up the rest of the way...shew! It was a head over there tonight or tomorrow if you get a's the link for times and info: Great Midwest Balloon Fest.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Meal Planning Simplified

In the spirit of occasional overwhelment (hmmm, I've used that word a lot...but I still claim it to be occasional), I starting thinking about what I spend the most time doing. Laundry? School? Cooking? Playing? Shopping? The winner?...It's all about the food. Planning, purchasing, preparing, experimenting and cleaning up.

So my next step was to figure out how to do all of the above in a more efficient manner, short of hiring a cook, which of course would be my preference! For some reason meal planning and execution is one of my most dreaded tasks of homemaking. Maybe because it is so constant...three meals and two, sometimes three snacks a day for the five of us plus Eric doesn't like to go out (what is wrong with that man?).

Over the years I have tried different methods like once-a-month-cooking, online planning services like e-mealz (Dave Ramsey recommends that one), my own two-week or monthly plans, and various other ideas from other bloggers or mommas. A few weeks ago I got hooked on Erica's blog over at Confessions of a Homeschooler and she makes a fantastic monthly plan with many of her recipes linked to a printable menu. I had never considered planning for more than just dinner and side dishes and really feel like a dunce for never writing down different meals to try for breakfast, lunch and snacks.

So here's my wish list:
  • Customizable & printable menu for 1 week up to 1 month or more
  • Aisle-ordered grocery list auto generated from menu
  • Ability to add/import recipes from the web or text files
  • Mac-compatible program/service, an OLD Mac at that.
  • Pleasing user interface...I'm going to be doing this a lot and don't want to feel like I'm working on the guts of my computer sorting files or something!
That doesn't sound too hard does it? I was going to do it myself by creating some sort of calendar/database/worksheet system but I knew there had to be something out there right up my alley. Enter the obsessive researching side of my personality...even dreamed about it for a couple nights. Here are the results:

Shop'NCook Menu
All good except the interface...too plain jane for me and the demo I downloaded seemed a little bogged down...dragging and dropping recipes to the correct menu was confusing and sometimes took multiple tries.
MacGourmet Meal Plan
This I really like! But being on my old Mac (for just a few more months...we're upgrading soon) I could only download an older version that didn't allow demo-ing of the meal plan add-on. Looks good on all other accounts from the site description though it might be too nuts and bolts for me.
Kitchen Monki
Hot dog, this one is free! And is everything I was looking for! Ahhh...but again the older puter is going to bite me in the butt...scripts on the pages keep me from using it seamlessly. Pages taking a while to load. Maybe a little too recipe-sharing focused. Can even sign-in through Facebook. I think this would be a good fit for a lot of people.
Plan To Eat
And the best is saved for last. The user interface is the first thing that grabbed me...clean, neat and pretty! I started my free 30-day trial, uploaded a couple recipes and used some of their samples to make a pretend 2-week menu and printed out a custom grocery list all in a few minutes. You can even make multiple lists for separate stores!!! The list also combined same ingreds from recipes A & B (i.e. 11 chicken breasts [A][B]) with a separate printed list with a recipe key. I can drag and drop the recipes onto the calendar which has 4 meal slots per day...multiple recipes can go in each slot. Oh, and when I finally catch up with the times and get a smart phone, I can send my list to my phone. To be fair, I believe all of the above programs will do that.

So Plan To Eat it is! I'm really excited to utilize it and hoping after the initial loading of my recipes it's going to save loads of time. My idea is to plan at least a month in advance, but to break up the shopping into weekly short trips. Their program allows you to print the grocery lists for just a day up to whatever. Combining all this with the planning of ALL our food may make me the best kitchen manager I've ever been! Oh, and a year subscription is only $39 or you can pay $4.95/month...the time saving capabilities should make it pay for itself. If I convince enough of my friends to use it I can get my subscription free...that'd be link to them through my blog peeps! And Happy Homemaking to ya...

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Slidin' through Omaha

Well, like any good plan, sometimes better things come along to change it all up! The plan was to start school last Monday, and instead we took a vacation!! So last Tuesday it was off to Omaha, Nebraska on a rainy morning. God seemed to smile on our little adventure with a beautiful rainbow arched over downtown Kansas City...

It wasn't long before the kiddos hit the ground running at the Omaha Children's Museum. Such a neat place!! Elena was convinced it was all going to be "for 2-year-olds"...that conviction lasted about 30 seconds as she promptly discovered the arts-and-crafts room. Even Zane baby had plenty to explore...

The amazing ball room was a favorite...I think we were in it for close to an hour...

Kai had a great time loading up and checking out some groceries...

Zane loves any type of vehicle with a steering wheel right this giant car was right up his alley!

Eric and I were t.i.r.e.d. so we went straight for our hotel that was on the edge of downtown, chosen especially for it's "just right-sized" water park. Perfect for our kiddos and we had it all to ourselves! These racing slides were super-fast and there were lots of giggles as we would all bounce along the landing pad...

We ate at an excellent brewhouse in the Old Market area, Upstream Brewery. Delicious food and wonderful service and atmosphere...mmmmm. The Old Market area is really well fact, we were impressed with the entire downtown area. Murals and statues almost every block, clean parks, container after container of lush was just a really nice place.

The next day we waited out the rain with another trip to the waterpark while Eric got wet playing some disc golf. Our afternoon was spent at the renown Omaha zoo. It was perfect weather and we all enjoyed the animals, the train and the interesting exhibits. Not to mention the rhino rides!

Gooooo Gorillas!!!!

After we checked out Thursday morning, we walked around the lake at a park. We saw HUGE, I mean HUGE fish with dorsal fins like a shark's swimming in the big pond...hmmmm. We need to figure out what they were...maybe carp? I just kept thinking my brothers would love to try and catch them! We asked a couple locals if they knew what they were and they didn't.

One of our last stops was also one of our first...the giant slides at the downtown park! We had had so much fun on them after supper the first night that we went back for more giggles. The kids especially liked them going down while sitting on some wax paper...Elena went airborn!

Our very last stop was at the pedestrian bridge that connects Omaha to Council Bluffs, Iowa over the Missouri River. We actually learned a lot from the historical markers about how settlers tamed the river to enable towns along it to grow and thrive without being washed away every spring. Of course, now "they" are trying to reverse some of the natural environment alterations that occurred because of the developments. Very interesting. Here all my sweeties have one foot in Nebraska and one foot in Iowa...

After some nice afternoon car naps for everyone but our driver, of course, we awoke to another rainy day in Kansas City and yet another beautiful!

We were back in time for a trip to the movies before one last supper out and then back-to-school night at Discovery Homeschool Academy. What a great trip!