Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tim Hawkins - A Homeschool Family

This was sent to me by a fellow homeschooling mom, and I just loved it. Mike and I explored more of Tim Hawkins' comedy online, both on youtube and his website - he's very funny on a variety of topics (with clean humor). If you need some good laugh therapy - do check him out. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Beatles - Birthday

December 15, 2007

Click the above for your listening pleasure while I tell you that "TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY!"

I knew I would have a good day when while still in the shower this morning, the shower curtain was slowly drawn back slightly by my darling husband who held out a fork with a chunk of brownie on the end ... fresh from the oven still oozing and warm to wish me a "happy b-day"! Fresh baked brownies for breakfast (!??), certainly not the norm here, but a fun and romantic surprize to be sure! He's just that way sometimes, could I be more lucky?

I had a very nice day, that included being sung "Happy Birthday" to at church potluck, Christmas caroling, and an enjoyable Christmas party that I helped plan and coordinate at the church.

This evening I am alone and will soon watch a movie I have been wanting to see. My kids are having a slumber party in one of their bedrooms, while Mike took our extra kiddos for a visit with their mother - they departed this evening (late) after the Christmas party and will return Sunday night.

Maybe after I conclude this post I'll enjoy my pan of birthday brownies, or some of the scrumptious chocolates I received as gifts from my crew. Or maybe I'll listen to my lastest addition to my Christmas CD collection (a b-day gift tradition since my first year with Mike)... who knows - maybe I'll just go all wild and crazy and hop in bed all by myself and sleep in late while the kids gorge themselves on candy from the Christmas party loot..?!

After all.. I SAY IT's MY BIRTHDAY!

Who else may claim..."It's My Birthday too, yeah!"... you may wonder? Since you asked, one famous fellow I've always known shares my birthday is Tim Conway, legendary funny man from my youth. Name doesn't ring a bell.. see the post below.

Tim Conway the Dentist

I was reminded of this skit recently - I had seen it years ago when my family watched The Carol Burnett Show every week.

Happy B-Day to Tim today too!

Does having seen this air originally date me at all? Whew! Sure feels like it!

Happy Christmas music video by John Lennon:

This song has spoken to me each Christmas for a long as I can remember. Recently we heard it on the radio and my son Christopher commented, "That was a really good song Mom" and I knew he understood the deeper meaning held within the lyrics and I was moved by his sensitivity. I have never mentioned my fondness for this song to anyone previously, so his comment was genuine, and all his own.

Tonight I did not expect to discover the film above while exploring what was to be found on youtube to accompany this music. I thought long about whether to post this video on my blog... or not, due to the upsetting and disturbing images it includes... but ultimately I decided that is the very reason it should be shared with others.

As much as I enjoy celebrating the birth of Christ each Christmas, it is of utter importance that we not stop there, but remember the lessens he taught and the message he preached during his life here; and when I take pause to look beyond my own "little world" into the much bigger one that demands all of our attention, I long for the day Christ will return again and there will be no more tears.

May this serve as a reminder for all of us who live in a country where it is easy to forget about the war, famine, poverty, and weeping "over there" that so many suffer everyday - even Christmas Day.

" And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Rev. 21:4

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Speeding Ticket Rant - AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

There are many reasons I utilize this blog, mostly to record our life events, sometimes to journal for myself (occasionally forgetting others may be reading it), and rarely to vent - like today. Since I am the only adult in my little world right now until Mike arrives home for supper, and then there is no time for adult discussion for hours anyway, dear blog (and readers) today you are my outlet for frustration... you may wish to move on to another entry if at this point you don't wish to be privy to my keen irritability at this moment.

But, in hopes that I can "get it off my chest" and move on with my day and care for the kids without being a nasty beast.. here we go...

Reasons why my day was ALREADY rotten...

1) My two nephews spent the morning being cranky & testy towards each other during breakfast and down the driveway to the bus.... nice start to the day.

2) Spent the morning preparing for tribal court at the beginning of next week, a very pivotal hearing is planned. As always an emotional, stressful process.

3) Trying to get house clean, schoolwork done, and ready all for church social and supper I am helping organize for Saturday night before leaving late morning to take Justin to the dentist at 11:30am.

4) Receive a call from Justin's teacher that he has had a "meltdown" at school related to the upcoming visit with his mother this weekend. He is missing and cannot be located at present moment. All students are looking for him, and I need to come in. This is the first time this has ever happened since him coming to live with us, so I am surprised, concerned, and irritated all at once.

5) Yank Ruby out of her bath with wet hair and get she & Fawn ready to dart to the school, while assigning my three oldest children lessens and chores to do while I'm gone.

6) Trying to leave, and Fawn's preschool bus shows up, blocking me in the driveway and I need to get out and spend 10 minutes explaining that Fawn does not go to preschool on Fridays and correct all paperwork on the spot, standing in the cold (while the driver remains warm inside the bus and my two itty-bitty's wait in the van).

7) Arrive at the school and get debriefed by Justin's teacher as to the details of "the event". Am still being informed as I realize I am supposed to be standing in the dental clinic at that very moment and it's across town - which in Brainerd due to the stop lights set to keep the 87% elderly population that resides here driving at a comfortable pace equate to taking FOREVER to get there. I depart - driving the speed limit regardless, and arrive 20 minutes late.

8) I leave appointment with a boy who has a mouth full of gauze and is even more sullen than when I picked him up - still wondering what is up with him. Make 2 fast pit stops on the way home for items that were needed ASAP.

9) NOW... the clincher.. I am driving home (the legal speed limit) and am about 1 mile from my house. Ruby had mentioned a few times earlier she had to pee - now she really has to go. I speed up to just under 65 to get that extra mile home covered quick, and who turns the corner... yes... it's Robocop... with a short circuit, I kid you not. After he saunters back to his vehicle, takes a nap there and decides to finally return, he hands me a ticket for $117 and says "You're a really good driver, nothing on your record." I wanted to say... "Gee, thanks for the break, Merry Christmas and be sure to ask for a sense of humor from Santa", or "hey, maybe since you seem to have nothing better to do, maybe you'd like to clean the urine off my daughter's booster seat now before you head out?" All I could do was remain silent and look at the ticket in utter disbelief - I have not received one in over 11 years and was dazzled by the inflation in prices I was now subject to.

I returned home (about a 1 minute drive), slapped the ticket on the fridge with the rest of the papers and forms to be dealt with ASAP, put Ruby back in the tub and made lunch for the kids. I now need to close this rant session, do some deep breathing and have a counseling session with Justin in hopes of finding out what is in his head today.

Breathe in... breathe out....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Family Weekend Getaway with the MN Orchestra's Sleigh Ride Performance

This past weekend we had a special family getaway to Minneapolis that included attending the MN Orchestra's Family Christmas Concert Sleigh Ride on Sunday afternoon.

I was blessed enough to WIN 6 free tickets in early October, after trying to purchase them in August, to find them sold out for all nine performances - and was placed on a cancellation waiting list. I was incredibly disappointed when I thought we would be unable to attend, then was elated when I received an email several weeks later notifying me of winning FREE tickets - it was certainly a "God thing", because I NEVER win anything... ever - and the email was discovered at the end of a particularly challenging day. I felt it was a direct gift from Him to me to lift my spirits and remind me he cares about even the little things that matter to us.

Justin, MJ, and Fawn spent the weekend with a lovely foster care couple here in the Brainerd area that have a horse ranch (40 total) and 5 dogs. This is an older couple with adult children who adore kids. Their home was so decked out in Christmas decor I was even amazed! The kids of course had an absolute fabulous time and are asking when they can visit them again...

Meanwhile, our now "small" family of six set out in the seemingly empty 12 passenger van to Minneapolis where we spent the weekend in the home of our good friends Jim & Jan Hiner. We never tire of their company and our kids adore them... plus Jan makes the best vegan food - how can you go wrong? We were honored to help Jan celebrate her 52nd b-day on Sunday morning with a lovely vegan brunch that Jim did the majority of the cooking for.

While there, we attended the church where Jim is the pastor and got to enjoy his sermon, we also spent time shopping Saturday evening at a fun toy store, a fabulous book store, Maegers and Quinn, that I highly recommend, and the Whole Foods Market and Byerly grocery stores for fun food.

On Sunday we attended the concert which was full to capacity, and were in the fifth row on the floor! Great seats! We have enjoyed the Fargo Symphony Orchestra which is very good on many occasion, and also the Heartland Symphony that travels through our current area.. BUT I must say that the MN Orchestra is without a doubt exceptional - so much so, they were just nominated for a Grammy Award for their CD release of Beethoven's 9th.

The concert was extremely enjoyable and it's theme was sleigh ride songs from around the globe throughout history. There were also other pieces intermingled within and amazing performances by a ballerina from the MN Dance Theater and dancers performing to a Russian Dance, as well as enormous puppets (the kind with people inside of them), and the String Students from MacPhail Center for Music joined in on the last piece (Beethoven's 9th). As a former Suzuki method family, it was amazing to see between 80-100 children of all ages play the violin beautifully alongside the Grammy nominated orchestra! Inspiring!

All of us enjoyed the entire concert immensely, little Ruby was absolutely transfixed the entire time. Following the concert we ate at a pizza kitchen, then hit a coffee house and savored delicious cups of hot minty cocoa (w/soy) topped with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy canes. Can you say... kids gotta BUZZ????

Then the journey home - listening to Christmas songs all the way...
"oh what fun it is to ride in a.... great big empty van! Hey!"

Notes about the concert:

Sleigh rides guided by many composers will help you travel from one country to the next. In Russia, you'll find highlights from The Nutcracker. In Germany, watch as In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre brings to life the “Evening Prayer” from Hansel and Gretel. Celebrate the New Year as they do in Japan, with the stirring finale to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, featuring a “chorus” of young violinists.

Sleigh Ride
December 9th, 2:00 Orchestra Hall

Leroy Anderson Sleigh Ride

Sergei Prokofiev Troika, from Lieutenant Kijé Suite

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Selections from The Nutcracker Suite
Miniature Overture • March
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy* • Trépak (Russian Dance)*
Minnesota Dance Theatre*

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart The Sleigh Ride, from Three German Dances

Englebert Humperdinck Evening Prayer and Dream Pantomime, from Hansel and Gretel
In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre

Johann Strauss, Sr. Radetzky March

arr. Percy Faith/orch. Lee Norris Brazilian Sleigh Bells

Ludwig van Beethoven Finale, from Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Choral
String Students from MacPhail Center for Music

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Steven the Vegan (G) Version

I LOVED this video when I saw it and wanted to share it with everyone - and was elated when I saw someone had created a "G" version! Enjoy a glimpse into the life of a vegan, with my buddy Steven! And yes, you do get questions like these believe it or not!

A Treasure Hunt At The Christmas Tree Farm

On November 26th, we set out to a nearby Christmas Tree farm to select the Amick tree for 2007. We did not tell the kids where we were headed, only that it was a surprise and they needed to dress warm. We met our friend Marlene at the farm to assist her in getting her tree as well and help her get it up in her home (a hard thing to do alone with those frustrating Christmas tree stands!)

After hiking about the farm we decided on a... ummmm.... a VERY lovely tree. I will let the pictures above tell the story.... needless to say, we are all enjoying our majestic tree (all but Dad I guess, who is having claustrophobic attacks).
This is our families second year visiting the Christmas Tree Farm and it is so much more fun and special than just picking a tree out from the boy scout stand, or the Nodak parking lot as we had done in Fargo for so many years.
It's fun to march about in the evergreen forest looking for just the right tree and then witnessing the process of cutting it down, putting it in the mesh and getting it on the van. We also dig the great crew of teenage elves that work there every year. They are really a great group of kids who have a cheery attitude and make it all the more fun... plus they do all the work, you simply stand and point (that is until you get home, then Mike becomes the elf... but I still get to stand and point!)
Note: Eye Spy with my little eye the kid in the Christmas tree hat in the photos...a.k.a. Gabriella who wears her new hat with brimming joy, but was especially excited to hike about in it during the tree hunt!

Move Over Chicken Noodle... here comes something even better...Hotdog Soup!

Illness at the Amick house struck Saturday night, November 24th, while we were having a fun evening out at the home of the Olson family, who have become good friends of ours. We were enjoying an evening of board games and conversation, when Justin began to complain of a tummy ache. He hung in there all night while we visited, spending most of his time on the sofa - but vomited shortly after arriving home. Thus begun the plague of stomach pain, nausea, headache, and fever that swept through our home afflicting all but M.J. over the course of nine days. We seemed to go down in sets of two, then experiencing a mild recovery period followed by a relapse = fun. Through all of this, the kids had very sensitive stomachs that did not tolerate much, so we stuck to simple foods like... toast for awhile. Towards the end of the week, I had a desire to make a soup that would be power packed with nutrition, yet appealing to them, since they had lost much of their appetites. It was then that I discovered an idea sent to my very own email address via my Mothering Magazine weekly email newsletter... Potato Kale Soup (a.k.a. "Hotdog Soup") I looked it over and thought it was just the thing I needed to spark their interest in a healthy meal, so I called in my shopping list to Mike and set to task when he arrived home after work with the goods.

Needless to say, it was a HUGE success and the entire HUGE soup pot was devoured with requests for more. It was deemed the new "favorite" soup by several of the kids. We've made it twice already (the second time w/o the hotdogs, just adding more veggies and they still loved it!)

I have shared the recipe below along with the adaptations I made. The recipe is from one of Cathe Olson's cookbooks. I have her book The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook: Whole Foods To Nourish Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women - And Their Families which I love and cannot recommend enough - so I am always game to give one of her recipes a try.

Potato-Kale Soup

By Cathe Olson

We call this dish "Hotdog Soup." Kids love the veggie-dog chunks.

6 medium potatoes peeled & cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)

2 cloves garlic, minced (I added extra)

2 stalks celery, diced

1 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

6 cups water or vegetable broth (I used homemade veggie broth, since I was going for maximum nutrients)

1 cup minced kale (I added extra, as well as some fresh spinach and put it through the food processor first to make the pieces very small... impossible to pick out of the soup!)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes (I added extra)

1/2 cup powdered milk (dairy or soy) dissolved in 1/2 cup water (I used regular soy milk from the carton)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

6 Tofu Pups or other vegetarian hot dogs, sliced

1 tablespoon miso (I used light colored miso - could be left out if you have none)

*I also added big chunks of carrots, then removed them when cooked, mashed them, then added them back to the pot
* In addition to the veggie broth, I tossed in a few Rapunzel brand vegan vegetable broth cubes for added flavor

Place potatoes, garlic, celery, salt, and bay leaf (and carrots if using) in large pot with water or broth. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Remove bay leaf. Add kale, nutritional yeast, milk powder/milk, and pepper. Mash until smooth. Stir in hot dogs. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in miso.

Makes: 6 servings

Recipe from Cathe Olson's Simply Natural Baby Food: Easy Recipes Your Infant and Toddler Will Love. GOCO Publishing, 2003.