Fair and Rodeo

IMG_2451Every year we try to make it to our local fair and rodeo. We don’t really ride the rides or eat too much fair food. Besides being too much money, sometimes meeting Smokey the Bear is just way cooler!IMG_2452

IMG_2454So is winning prizes from the free games.

IMG_2461Of course our favorite cowgirl and her hubby joined us.

I was also able to catch up to an former coworker, which was very nice.

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A Bit of What I have Been Cooking

Between the kids being home for the summer and just the plain ‘ole heat factor I have rekindled love for our slow cooker. Super easy to put all of the ingredients in during the morning and get on with your day. (Just remember to turn it on AND plug it in. I have done that too many times.) Plus it doesn’t heat up the kitchen at all.

IMG_2301Slow-cooked lasagna from Tastes Better From Scratch. While it tasted good the noodles were overcooked. Maybe it was me, but the few slow-cooked noodle recipes I have made have all had over cooked noodles. S0 don’t see slow cooked noodle recipes on our menu anymore.

I have also cooked these recipes: (all from my Pinterest boards)

Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup, Slow Cooker Garlic Butter and Chicken and Vegetables, One Pot Crock Pot Sausage Dinner, Crock Pot Baked Potatoes, amongst other recipes from my Pinterest Slow Cooker board.

IMG_2460Then there were these beans, inspired by Mandy from Biblical Homemaking blog. I just put a bay leaf and a generous amount of salt, low boil for a few hours. Beans, so healthy, so cheap. They are mainly pinto beans with a few black beans I had sitting around. These didn’t go with any recipe but our kids, especially The Chief, LOVE beans.

IMG_2463Green Chili Posole from Around the World in Eighty Days with pre-packaged cornbread. This was super YUMMY. Then again most food is better with green chili. Can anyway say green chili cheeseburgers!?! One of my favorite foods.

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Our two daughters and I made these Thick and Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies…SOOO very good. Recipe from The Kitchen Magpie.

FUN Writing Exercise

I want to be a writer, pen my own book/s one day. Yet I don’t have much time to sit down and actually take classes and/or practice. This blog is truly my biggest outlet for my writing practice. But every now and then I steal away a corner of time to hone my craft just a bit more.

Writing Challenges podcasts afford me a (free) class that is ready and available when I am. Earlier this week I was able to sit down and give it a go. This is my second such writing challenge from this podcast. This one proved to be rather fun and invigorating. Here’s how it went.

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Imagine if you will the instructions are spoken in an older British male voice. Here’s your assignment:

*Pick a book of your self, poetry or fiction.

*Close your eyes, open the book and point your finger somewhere on the page.

*Take that word, the three words after and the three words before it.

*Write that phrase down.

*Now you have 5 minutes to write. Don’t think (which is harder than you’d think), try to write as fast as you can. You are not producing a work of art.

This was one of the most fun writing exercises I have done. What I wrote completely ended up different than what I started off with. So I am going to put myself out there, be vulnerable before you, my readers.

My word was OBJECT. The phrase: “…down, examined the object and slipped it…” Here it is, as is, no corrections made or revisions done.

Down, examined it and slipped it back into his pocket and walked away. Away from the dark, away from the mess. Away from the noise that seemed to grip him and not let him go. He walked out into the sunlight. Out into the fresh air. He felt alive. He felt free. With a sense of purpose, a newfound freedom, he looked at the forest before him and he just walked. He walked until he couldn’t walk anymore. Then he sat down and took a deep breath. The years had been hard on him. His hair was no longer deep rich brown. It has started to turn gray. His eyes were no longer sharp and bright. And his heart once broken actually felt like it was coming back to life. He took another deep long breath. He filled his lungs with the dewy freshness of the earth. It had just rained the previous night. He felt the moisture of the ground with his fingertips. Some clinging to… (5 minutes is up)

British instructor resumes his instructions; “After 5 minutes you should have covered quite a lot of pages.” Well, not this mama writer. I didn’t cover much ground at all. No worries though. “Now read what you have written, but read it forwards then read through it word for word backward.” No here’s where I had a harder time, “Underline one phrase that strikes you as possessing any one of the following qualities: it has energy, it surprises you, it has never been written before in your language. The phrase must make a kind of sense. It must possess it’s own inner sense, at the very least. That is it must not be completely opaque in meaning. It might be a whole sentence or at the end of a sentence and the beginning of the next.” I had a hard time finding that sentence or phrase. I need it to finish the assignment. As I need to write either a short story or poem in which it occurs without seeming out of place.

So, can you help me and tell me what sentence or phrase fits the bill? Thanks so much. And thank you for letting me put myself out here all of the time without judging me.

Power of a Game

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There is so much meaning behind this photo.

You may just see two people playing chess.

I see a father and son finding something that helps them bond.

I see a young man who has a diagnosed learning disability, who once was addicted to video games, who didn’t know how to function outside of video games almost beat his dad, who is very good at chess.

I see how our son, The Chief, being an example to his siblings and starting a wave of chess playing in our home.

I see a young man who has studied the game, went over plays in his head, practiced and even made his own chess sets.

I see the power of a game.

The Clubhouse

IMG_2480Building a blanket fort should be a right of passage for every child sometime in their life. Our kids LOVE building blanket forts or clubhouses as The General calls them.

IMG_2482Sometimes they are very elaborate with a room for everyone. Sometimes it’s a very open space, plenty of room to chat the night away.

IMG_2483Sometimes the “party light” is added for a festive atmosphere.

IMG_2481No matter what, they LOVE the togetherness this brings and reminds them of the good days with their birth family.

Why I Won’t Homeschool

I get asked every school year by at least two people if I am going to homeschool. I have an 8th, 6th, 3rd graders and a kindergartner. I have two adult children, one who is in college. My answer is always no.

See, I have home schooled. For six straight years and a short stint last year. I have homeschooled full-time and part time three of our six children. I don’t see homeschooling in my future. Just to be clear though, I am NOT against homeschooling at all. I know it is a great and wonderful experience and there are SO many reasons to homeschool.

But here’s my reasons for not:

*I know my limitations, academically, emotionally, mentally, and time wise.

**While I did well in school myself, that was ages ago and many of the things life have filed those academic resources and pushed them far into the recesses of my brain. My ability to figure out language, math, and the like are not as good as they used to be. If my child cannot figure certain things out on their own or we can’t find the help we need (our resources are limited here) then it just won’t get taught leading to educational gaps. While I am sure they learn things they wouldn’t have in public school, having that on my conscience is not good.

**Emotionally and mentally, homeschooling is super fun and rewarding. You really grow closer to your kids and get to experience some things you may not otherwise experience. There’s also that sense of gratification and success when your child finally grabs a hold of a concept they struggled with and you see the lights come on. However, I remember the days when my brain was fried and all of the other things I needed to get done became such a drag for me. I know we all have those days, but there really has to be a balance.

**Time. Can we just stop right there? It really takes a chunk of time out of your day/life to homeschool and to do it right. That amount of time is not a luxury for us at this point in our lives.

Part of me wants to homeschool again…very rarely but I still have that small spark in there that gets excited when seeing curriculum or the shelves of school supplies. My oldest two and I had a wonderful time homeschooling. We have a lot of happy memories. I can point to certain times that our lives were really enriched by the whole experience. But here’s the catch, besides all that I said above, with our older two we had a strong foundation in our relationship from their birth. Not so with our younger four. When I homeschooled one of our sons part-time, I saw that this foundation that we are slowly building upon and forming, weaken under the role of teacher and student that caused me to close my homeschool doors. My intentions were good. I wanted to help our son grow academically and give him that one-on-one attention he needed. In the end our relationship and continuing to grow it came first.

To sum it all up. I loved much of homeschooling. I also love the fact that someone else can teach our kids. I love spending time with our kids. I also love the break. For us, homeschooling is not the best. As a mom, I have learned (okay, am still learning) to set many expectations, sometimes my heart, aside, and look reality in the eye and do what we can do. If you homeschool, good for you. If you private school, good for you. If you public school, good for you. You be the best mom you are able to be for your precious kids.

My Favorite-Food Hack

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I am starting a new “series” called My Favorite.

This series will be about anything and everything as long as it is my favorite.

One of my latest and favorite food prep hacks is for salad. I like to buy the container of four small heads of different lettuce. Or the bagged mix. I eat a lot of salad, but unfortunately, we can’t always eat them before they go bad. Such a waste of food and money.

So, here’s my trick. I cut the ends off each root base, wash and shake the excess water out. I then separate each leaf onto a paper towel sheet, cover with a dry sheet. Repeat. The water from the lettuce leaves dampens each sheet and keeps the lettuce moist but not too wet. I do the same with bagged leaves minus the cutting off of the ends. This trick makes the lettuce last much longer.

What’s your favorite food hack?