Saturday, September 27, 2014

What-What?! Week of September 28th

This week was not bad.  The husband was sent home on Tuesday because he was too sick to work.  I cooked food, and it was good (lasagna, oatmeal jam bars, other things...).  It also rained most of the week, which was pretty sad to me.

Lowe's Build and Grow: Fire Truck

Yesterday, I took the two older kids to Lowe's for their monthly Build and Grow clinic.  This is a free event put on by Lowe's, and is a lot of fun.  At the event, you get a free apron and safety goggles, and the wooden project.  The project this month was a fire truck.  My kids had a good time, though the project was just on the edge of their ability to maintain patience, as far as waiting for instructions, wearing the goggles, and so on.  The kit was entirely put together with nails, which the kids hammered together more-or-less successfully.  The assembly was well thought out, and it seems pretty sturdy.  I think that getting the kids interested in working with their hands and giving them some ability to use tools is really good for their sense of independence.  Combine that with how much time they've spent playing with the toys, and you bet we're going back next month.  They are already excited to build their own haunted houses. :)

Book Review: The Green and the Gray by Timothy Zahn

I picked this Zahn book up from the library, based on the good reviews off Amazon, and how much I liked The Icarus Hunt.  I was pretty disappointed.  This story follows the same basic formula as The Icarus Hunt, with the protagonist and his associate stuck with something they don't understand, that everyone else is willing to murder for.

Where the story really goes wrong is the main protagonists -- the married couple's relationship is terribly clich├ęd, it doesn't feel real at all, and the dialogue is painful.  One of the other big issues is the number of characters is unmanageable.  There are all these sides doing all these things, it's hard to remember who is doing what (and why) at any given time.  So when there are big reveals, they tend to fall flat because it's hard to keep track of the significance.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Art Thursday -- September 25th

"Lego Princess"
On a regular basis, I print out blank Lego bases for the kids to color on.  They've done stuff like ninjas, heroes and heroines, teachers, and so on.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

What-What?! Week of September 21st

This week... could've been better.  My kids have all had colds, and I haven't been feeling so great, either.

The husband worked 50 hours this week.  As I sit here typing, he's in the big kids' room, reading to them.  Earlier the boys wrestled with him, and the baby snuggled on the bed with him.  They missed him, for sure.

Puppets Please Marionettes

This past weekend, I took the two older kids to the library to see a puppet show by Puppets Please.  I have been to a few puppet shows before, and I have to say, this one was really special.  It was incredibly interactive and really engrossing for the kids.  The songs were catchy, and well-suited for the age of the audience.  In the gopher act, the characters talk about growing up to become various kinds of scientists, like astronauts, paleontologists, doctors, and so on.  Corey talked about that act for days, asking about whether he could grow up and be a scientist.  My kids had a really great time, and I'm glad we went.

The University of Washington Twin Registry

The other day, I got an odd letter in the mail from the University of Washington.  Apparently, the university operates a twin registry, and does research based on it.  I am a twin, and when I filled out my paperwork to get a drivers license, the paperwork specifically asked about it, to ensure that identical twins do not share a license (though what stops identical twins from using each other's licenses...?!).  This registry is unusual because it gets its information from the drivers license database, which makes it an unbiased sample of the community.

I think this is pretty cool.  The university's website is also an interesting read, with information about studies, twin biology stuff, frequently asked questions about twins ("Can twins read each other's minds?"), and a list of twin documentaries, as well as films involving twins... like the original Star Wars trilogy.  Not bad, researchers, not bad.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Art Thursday -- September 18th

"Ponies... Pony-ing"
As far as I can tell, this picture is entirely made up of ponies flying through the air.  Could they be on a giant trampoline?  I sort of imagine the cart and pony (at top) bouncing on a giant trampoline, like BMX guys.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What-What?! Week of September 14th

Things are as they were, mostly.  This past week, I set up Skype with my father-in-law, which was really nice.  I miss everyone back home.

I went to an informational meeting for this local homeschooling group, which I'm probably going to join.  They seem like people who could be my kind of people.  They have events mostly in town, too, so it's not like driving to the East Side all the time, which is where the other homeschool meet-ups I've found are.

And now something vaguely depressing...!

Gene-Altered Apple Tested in Washington State via The Seattle P.I.

Last year, an inspection of gene-altered apples found trees that were flowering less than 100 feet from conventional apples, poor record keeping practices, and using no methods of keeping animals away from them.  Basically, doing everything to ensure that these genetically altered apples interbreed with other apples.

The article goes on to describe the kinds of incidents that occur at experimental plots with the potential to spread genetically modified produce to unwanted areas, and the wrist slaps that the overseeing government agency applies when things go wrong.  In the incident above, the agency fined the company $19,250, which is a paltry sum.

I don't necessarily disagree with genetically altered produce.  I understand the science, and that, as yet, we have no evidence that it would be harmful to humans.  However, what I do object to is that it is extremely difficult to keep genetically modified produce from mixing with conventional produce.  I want to have the choice not to get it, and I want to have the assurance that, if for whatever reason we do find out that certain varieties are harmful, we have other options.

The article, clocking in at five pages, is a bit of a long read, but well worth the information.

With that, how about some pictures of my kids?  They are adorable:

The artist at work.

It's unusual to see this one be so still.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Art Thursday -- September 11th

"A Family Dinner"
There's a mommy feeding her children, with the daddy looking on.
Not sure what's going on with the candle, and the poster of a dinosaur, but there it is.

Monday, September 8, 2014

EZ Squeezees Reusable Baby Food Pouch Product Review and Recipe

I like buying the individual pouches of baby food and applesauce for my kids, because they are incredibly convenient, and best of all, not messy.  It's something I can hand to my littlest, and not have to worry about the mess he'll make while I take care of the big kids (or even eat my own lunch!).  There are two problems with these pouches, though; they are expensive, and they are terrible for the environment.  To give you a cost comparison, the Plum Organics brand Morning Mash-Ups that I like to buy cost $1 to $1.25 per pouch; over the course of a month, this can add up to as much as $37.50. Granted, that's not a lot, but considering that's only feeding my baby one pouch of bananas and oatmeal a day, two very cheap foods, the markup is significant.

With this in mind, I went looking for alternatives; looking on Amazon, there were many options for reusable baby pouches. The majority of them have great reviews, though the poor reviews are telling; the options that zip closed on the bottom tend to leak, the ones that zip closed on the top can be difficult for some babies to eat out of. Top and bottom opening ones both were reviewed as difficult to fill. After doing a few hours of research, I picked the EZ Squeezees Refillable Food Pouches because of the side-opening feature, as well as the gusset side allowing it to hold more; these were also some of the larger pouches, holding over 6 ounces, and only cost about $10 for 3 pouches, much less than the $4-5 that other brands cost.
Overall, I have been very pleased with these; the size allows for a full meal for my baby, and the zipper stays closed, and they are easily washable. Filling them is still somewhat of a challenge (I shudder to think how hard it'd be with a bottom loading pouch), but I discovered a great trick for that: Use a canning funnel! As you can see, a canning funnel fits perfectly in the opening on the pouch, making it much easier to fill. If you don't have a canning funnel, look online or at your local grocery store.

Recipe: Banana Oatmeal Yogurt Baby Food

  • 1/2 cup oats (rolled or instant)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/3 cup yogurt of choice (I prefer a full fat Greek-style yogurt)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Sugar or maple syrup (to taste)
Boil water in a saucepan, and stir the oatmeal, banana and salt. Stir constantly until the oats are cooked, then remove from heat and let cool. Once cooled, stir in yogurt and sweetener (if desired). Makes approximately three 6-ounce servings. Enjoy!

(Please note that this is an older article, originally posted via Yahoo! Voices.  Yahoo recently shut down Voices! and removed the content, so I am reposting my old articles onto this blog).

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What-What?! Week of September 7th

This week was a mixed bag.  Labor day went really well; the husband barbequed, which was good, we went shopping at the thrift store, and generally relaxed about the house.  But, I didn't get a job that I really wanted.  The interview felt like it would have been a great fit, the commute was pretty good, the pay was enough... but it was not meant to be, I suppose.

I've discovered the /r/Economics sub on Reddit.  The posts are pretty interesting, and the conversation is actually pretty educated.  Of course, it's economics, which is the "dismal science", so it's pretty depressing, too. :P

Thrift Store Love

My mother gave me her set of Pyrex mixing bowls, which I absolutely love.  However, a while after I'd owned it, I found out that the Cinderella mixing bowl sets actually came with four bowls, not the three that I had.  Browsing at the thrift store this past week, I spied the last bowl I needed for a complete set.  The bowl (it's the largest white bowl) is not in the best condition, having some scratches and silverware marks, but I'm going to try a few things to improve it.  It was a very lucky find!

Other than that, Saffron and I had gone earlier in the week, and found the perfect clothes to turn into a costume for her.  This Halloween, she'd like to dress up as Elsa from Disney's Frozen, wearing her coronation day dress.  Here's a pic of the dress, versus what we picked out to use:
The purple dress we're going to use for her cape is just about perfect, since the gathering at the neck and the flutter sleeves make it look like a cape on her already.  I just have to hem it and add a fastener at the neckline.  Saffron's excited for Halloween now. :)

(images via pinterest)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Art Thursday -- September 4th

"Digimon: Digital Monsters"
Yes, Digimon, the TV show from my childhood, is on Netflix.  My big kids love it, so there are drawings, of course.  This one is apparently an imaginary movie called "Digimon: Digital Level".