Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Hmmm...we have lived here for almost four years...so when WAS the last time we went camping? Well, its true there have been a couple of Father/Son campouts, and we have a yearly tradition of doing indoor camping every January where we set up a tent in our living room and convert our house into the great outdoors, but a real camping trip? (I count yurts as camping even if some people don't.) WOW...it has been about 5 years. #4 was just a baby last time we went, so of course he doesn't remember it at all, and #5 has never done anything fun in his life (as far as a vacation). He has never been camping outside of our living room (D missed the last couple of Father/Son campouts and before that he was too young to go) and he has also never stayed in a hotel. This should be an interesting trip for him if he can get over his fear of the lava (see my other blog for more details).
Its not that we haven't had vacation time. D gets a couple of weeks every year, but it seems like we have always had some kind of a project going on (like rewiring the whole house or remodeling the bathroom) or we were visiting family. Once we passed the four kid mark taking a vacation suddenly became much more expensive as well, because we have not found a hotel that would let all of us stay together, and most of the places that have adjoining rooms or family suites are out of our price range. There are other reasons that we have not gone on a vacation. I hadn't really thought about it before, but we haven't gone on a real vacation since Autism became a part of our daily lives (of course it was part of our lives before that, we just didn't know it yet). I am not sure if its because I am often afraid of taking the boys anywhere public, or if I just don't have the energy for the planning and stress of keeping everything together on a vacation. Either way I have managed to avoid it for the last five years.
I had big plans for renting a dumpster and cleaning out the garage on this vacation. But D wanted to do the camping thing. He was nice enough to compromise and let me set us up in yurts rather than a tent. This will be our first real vacation in a long time. I will let you know how it goes if I survive!
PS I think I have figured out how I will post for my Wordless Wednesday from the road. We will just have to see if it works or not...see you all in a few days! Wish me sanity and the ability to keep my boys calm!
Monday, July 30, 2007
I have figured out that I can post using email. But that doesn't really help me as far as the no Internet thing goes.
I wish blogger had an option so that you could do a week's worth of posts and each one would show up on your blog on the day you specify for it. It seems like that wouldn't be so hard to come up with, but its not currently an option.
Of course if that were the case, I could write a week's worth of posts when I was in a creative flurry and then I wouldn't have to stress out trying to think of something to blog about on the days when I am scraping the bottom of the creative barrel so to speak.
I have read other blogs where I have found out a week later that they were out of town the week previous, but I think they accomplished their blogging via laptop or some other Internet connection.
I may have to just post my wordless Wednesday early. If anyone has a solution for me, let me know!
Friday, July 27, 2007
To celebrate I am going to give my brain a rest and repost an old blog that I wrote near the beginning of my blogging career. I hope you enjoy it!
Have you ever noticed that DIE is the key word in Dieting?
Coincidence? I think not.
I have friends and family members that either have been, or are currently, engaged in that epic struggle of man (or woman) vs fat. I myself, as an American consumer have been drafted into this battle or am at least a victim of it due to the sneaky tactics of the fatty enemy (namely Oreos, Ice Cream and other horribly bad for you, yet oh, so delicious, stuff). We are engaged in a war here people! A war to save our very lives, and our quality of living. But here is where the edges of sanity become blurred for me. Which side am I on? I DON"T KNOW! I may be a double agent...or a triple agent! I can't be sure where my loyalties lie. I am NOT to be trusted.
Of course I can see the glorious objective of the dieting and exercising (note the similarity in pronunciation to exorcism-always painful or so I have heard) side of things, the svelte figures, the two, four or six pack abs, the lengthened life spans, the extra energy and vitality that accompanies good health, the reduced medical costs because of reduced illness and disease. These are all wonderful things, and well worth fighting for. But alas, I find myself torn. Why you might ask? Because of missing out on some flavor? Some mood food? Well, yes actually. That IS part of why I am torn. But also, because the very foundation of my entire upbringing, was based on food. Not the whole wheat, low sugar, carob kinds of food (although you might be surprised to find out that I was well exposed to those foods as a child) but rather many of my earliest and best childhood memories revolve around food. Good family times spent gathered around the family hearth (which of course was the Television) with some wonderfully healthy popcorn (slathered in an UNhealthy amount of butter or margarine and generously doused in salt). Oreo cookies, cracker jacks, ice cream, Cheetos, chips or crackers and clam dip, root beer floats, the list goes on and ON! I can tell you that one of my very earliest (and best) memories involved going to the Auto parts store with my Dad when I was about four years old, and on the way back stopping at this bakery for these pastries that were shaped like a figure 8 (I remember thinking they were like a racetrack) with jelly in the middle section of each side. I also remember getting to have Twinkies at the babysitter's house. Its one of the few pleasant memories I have of daycare. Is Thanksgiving about sitting around the table with your family and being so grateful for everything? Of course, but its also about that turkey, fresh out of the oven and and that crispy, fat dripping skin that is just waiting to be eaten. Its about pies, and mashed potatoes whipped with butter, and eating two full meals, and then going back to pick at the leftovers every two hours, and the great conversations you have when you run into other family members who are also raiding the fridge at the same time. Christmas is about candy and cookies, and gingerbread houses, and all the wonderful foods you can think of. Its also about giving, and about love, but a lot of the giving I can remember is taking those cookies, and candies and delivering them to friends and family, and how much it sucks to hear that someone is dieting and won't be able to enjoy the food you brought them. Really, dieting isn't that much different than dying is it? Because when you die you don't get to enjoy the food anymore either.
Its not just about sugary dessert things either...this whole dieting thing. Although I have to admit that I have the hardest time giving up the sugary things. Still...Broccoli to me, was meant to be eaten in a large pool of cheese sauce, or if its raw, dipped in a vat of ranch dressing. Zucchini is meant to be battered, deep fried and dusted with Parmesan cheese, then dipped in the previously mentioned vat of ranch dressing. Mozzarella cheese, although great on its own, is even better when treated like zucchini. Baked potatoes are wonderful when properly dressed, this includes butter, sour cream, bacon, cheese and chili.
I have yet to find someone who is dieting who is also truly happy about it. Of course they are thrilled or at least satisfied with the results, but I don't hear them looking forward to their next meal. I imagine that family gatherings may be dreaded because either they have to watch everyone else enjoy the food they wish they could be enjoying, or they give in and feel guilt for the next month about it. One of my sisters gave up making berry pies and jam this year for her diet. That's a whole year of berrydom down the drain...a year that can never be recovered. My parents went on this diet a while ago (more than a year I think) but they fell off the wagon, and even though they had been feeling so good about how they felt physically, the food just called them back. My Dad has now given up sugar again, and I know that he has done it for good reasons. I support him in his endeavors, I hope he can win the war. I do think he misses getting to eat chocolate though.
Me, I am overweight. Not monstrous, but bigger than I should be. Yes, I feel low of energy, and I remember the days when I was in shape and how great it was to be in shape. Yes, I long to be in shape again. Yes, I want to live a long and full life, and grow old, and still be dancing at 90. So that should put me squarely in the camp of the dieters shouldn't it? However, I also want to make holiday goodies with my children, and when they want me to try their cookies, or their chocolate truffles or toffee, I don't want to say-"Sorry, Mommy is on a diet." I want to churn out special meals for family gatherings. I want people to look forward to what food I might bring next. I like to cook, and I like to be praised for my skills at it, and I have not found a low fat or low sugar recipe yet that will get me the kind of raves that chocolate marshmallow cookies with chocolate frosting will. I want to enjoy life, but I don't want to always be worrying about if I can have something, or if it will undo all the progress I have made. I don't want to miss a year of berry pies, or buying my favorite flavor of Tillamook ice cream that is only out on limited release and hasn't been sold in stores for two years. (Cookie dough if you were wondering-get it while you can.)
The kicker for me is that once you enlist on the diet and exercise side of the war, you are a lifetime soldier. There is no going back. Of course there are days you are losing the battle, but once you really sign on you have to be prepared to go the distance. You have to be relentless, you have to keep on pushing at it, because if you stop, if you slip, and aren't able to catch yourself then you are suddenly undoing all that you have accomplished. Dieting is an uphill battle. Its so easy to lose your footing and end up back where you started or worse. I am not sure that I can take that kind of pressure. I will have to keep thinking about it for a little while longer. While I am thinking about it, I may as well have something tasty to comfort me. So I will say, pass the ice cream, but I will also add, just a small bowl please.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
1. Pre-heat your grill, then clean it well. Oil the grill with Olive oil.
2. If you’re using a gas grill, once it’s hot, turn the flame down to low. With a charcoal grill, spread your charcoal out thinly to cool things down
3. Lightly oil the top side of the dough
4. Place dough, oiled side down, on grill. Cover. Cook until top of dough is raised and puffed and bottom is just crisp, about 3 minutes
5. Lightly oil the top of the dough so it doesn’t stick when you flip it over
6. Using tongs, flip the dough over so the crisped side is up
7. Quickly add your pizza sauce, cheese (not too much or it won’t melt) and toppings
9. Grill until cheese is melted and dough is browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Check the underside often to see that it is not burning
10. Remove and serve
You can also cook pizza using a pizza stone on the grill. It takes longer though. You will have to put your stone on the grill to start out with (after the initial fire dies down if you are using charcoal but before the coals are fully ready) so that it can heat up gradually. Once the coals are ready and the stone is hot you can cook your pizza on it as you would in an oven but making sure to rotate the pizza periodically to ensure even cooking. With a stone it takes about 15 to 20 minutes depending on how hot your grill is.
Using your BBQ is a great way to beat the heat. We love to dutch oven cook, which is a great way to cook just about anything you would normally cook in the oven. So try something new today!
Sunday, July 22, 2007
I am not even sure I should say whether I liked the book or not, since that in itself might be taken for some kind of spoiler...but I did read all 759 pages in less than 31 hours from the time of purchase...so that must be saying something.
Anyhow, those of you that have read it or are reading it, let me know if you like it, but please refrain from spoilers in the comments, just in case!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
I am however, realizing with growing discomfort that in some ways the blogosphere reminds me of a high school cafeteria. There are advantages of course, because with the blogosphere I can figuratively sit with all of my friends on any given day by leaving a comment on their blog. Sometimes my presence is even acknowledged and that always feels good. However, as fun as it is to sit with my friends during lunch, I am trying hard not to notice that not very many people are choosing to sit by me. Were they offended at that time I brought egg salad for lunch? I just don't know. I don't like it though. I am not talking so much about not liking the lack of comments as I am talking about not liking that I care about the lack of comments. I never really cared about the whole popularity race in high school, so why should I care here? And yet, I read posts with tips about how to increase your blog readership, I read posts asking people to delurk, and I see the oohs and aaaahs in the comments sections when people get to some milestone in the number of comments reached. Is that what is really important?
So I am taking a little step back to examine myself and my reasoning. Why did I start blogging? It was to write, to have a place to express my ideas, my thoughts, and my sometimes quirky opinions. When I started to blog I didn't have it set as a public blog on blogger. I was not driven by comments, because only family members and a few close friends even had access to read my blog. Over time though, I began reading more and more blogs, and I enjoyed reading the many diverse comments. I let go of some of my paranoia and put my blog up as a public blog, and I also began leaving some comments here and there very cautiously. Occasionally I am left a token comment from bloggers that I read and comment on. I know that this is a courtesy on their part, and I appreciate it. I also have some friends and a few family members who will comment more often. I know that people are reading or at least loading my blog because of my handy dandy stat counter. Why does it matter to me that I regularly get 0 comments? I think it must go back to that whole high school thing. Sitting next to a popular person didn't mean you were popular, but if they actually talked to you or said hi, then you had suddenly risen above the level of a speck of dust and you were a real person. (Yes, I know its flawed, but that is how it always felt to people). If it didn't bother me then to not be among the popular elite, then why should it bother me now?
I am a little tempted to disable comments, but I do enjoy the ones I occasionally get. I think the problem is not going to be whether or not people choose to comment, but in my own personal mindset. Who am I really writing for? It used to be for myself, but somewhere along the line I think I started to WANT that acceptance and I let it matter too much. I started trying to force the writing and I started to try to write more often to make sure that people who were reading had something new to read. And I was making that effort with little reward. Writing on a regular basis didn't increase my comment level, and if my stat levels go down, does it really make that much of a difference? High school was 16 years ago after all, and I think its too late to go back. I think I need to go back to writing for me and not for that faceless and voiceless audience I have been trying to please.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
We made crayons. Okay, we didn't manufacture them from scratch, but we did make crayons. Back in February there was an article in Family Fun that gave the idea of using heart shaped cupcake pans to melt down crayons and make new heart shaped crayons to give as Valentines. I thought it was a cute idea, but didn't feel like paying $10 for a pan to melt crayons in. I have begun a small collection of silicone things, including some heart shaped and star shaped ice cube trays which I have used in the past to make kool aid ice cubes, chocolates (silicone molds work great for making chocolates) and now the crayons. We just used the star shaped ones. I wanted to make smaller crayons that they could hold in their hands easily, but I think that a larger star shaped mold would work well also. Unfortunately the crayons left quite a residue in my star molds, and even though crayons are non toxic, I may just designate this mold as my crayon mold. I did find that I could get the mold clean again with a lot of hot water, dish soap and a lot of scrubbing with a brush. If you are going to try this at home I recommend using a non silicone mold, or using one that you don't mind designating as a craft mold. They do also sell small disposable foil pans in heart and star shapes in the baking aisle at our grocery store, and I think they would work too although your crayons might have some lines from the pans.
First you need to make sure your molds are clean and dry. Next you need crayons. If you really want to you can open a new box, but I find this to be a great way to use all those little stubs of crayons that the kids have broken. Make sure all the paper is off of the crayons, arrange them in the molds as desired (they can go a little over the top as they will melt down into the cracks, but if they are too far over the top they will run over the edges. I put my silicone pan on a cookie sheet just in case the crayons ran off the edge. Bake the pan in a 225 degree oven for about ten minutes. Check to see how the melting is going and bake for a little longer if you need to. Once the crayon is all melted remove the pan from the oven. The crayons will set faster if you put the silicone pan in the fridge. After the crayons are set you can remove them and see what you came up with. The picture above is the result of our first set. We each made two crayons. Our were done using broken crayons. I later tried using a crayon sharpener and putting the shavings in, but the colors in that case ran together more and were not as defined in their differences. I recommend using one kind of crayon if you can. Some of ours were RoseArt and Crayola mixed, and one or the other of the brands tended to float to the top when they were melting so instead of that color being where we put it, the color was all on the bottom of the crayon. Also, I can't in good conscience recommend Prang crayons for this. I tried some using them and they were very brittle and the crayons crumbled and broke coming out of the molds. All in all, it was fun, and the boys enjoyed making their rainbow crayons. We will be doing more projects like this one. We would have done more crafts if not for an appointment in the middle of the day. We also watched the first Harry Potter movie as a family last night and we plan on watching the rest of them in order over the next few weeks.
I didn't accomplish as much as I wanted to yesterday, but I did spend a lot of time just being with the boys, and I noticed that their behavior was much better than usual. I think I will be spending less time on the computer and more time with them on a daily basis.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
I hope all of you have a grand Monday and enjoy yourselves and I will catch up with everyone on Tuesday.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Equality...Closer than you think!
I am sure you are wondering, "Just what kind of equality is she talking about?" Well, I will tell you. I am talking about the right to pee standing up!What? Do you think I am kidding? I assure you that I am not! What woman on a camping trip hasn't wished that she could pee standing up instead of having to squat behind a bush and hope that she didn't drip anywhere important? How many women have envied this ability of men at least once in their lives? I would guess that many have. I would never want to trade places with a man. I like being a woman. I like it in spite of having to pee sitting down. However, now if I don't want to pee sitting down, I don't have to.Okay...so I am feeling a bit sarcastic. I thought that products that help women to pee standing up were a little bit on the silly side. However, in my research I have decided that they can be useful. I even tried one out.The first of this kind of product that I heard about is called Whizzy. My sister,(I keep saying just my sister, but I actually have four very cool sisters who are all quite different from one another) my oldest sister...told me about Whizzy a while ago. She had also bought some at one point, and this past weekend (as we were all at another of my sister's house for our annual pumpkin party) she handed me a package containing some Whizzy products. I was amused, and figured that I would try one out eventually.That time came sooner than I thought it would. Even though we live in a fairly moderate area as far as temperature goes, it has gotten colder here, and in an effort to save money on heating our home, we usually keep the thermometer set fairly low. Yesterday evening it was pretty cold (for here) and I had to use the bathroom. The thought of sitting down on that freezing cold toilet seat was disturbing to me though, and the package of Whizzy(s) that I had set on the bathroom shelf caught my eye. 'What the heck' I thought to myself, and followed the simple directions. What do you know! It worked! I can pee standing up! And no cold toilet seat!Am I going to make a habit of it? Probably not. At a cost of around $1.00 per Whizzy I am not likely to use them often. They say that you can reuse each Whizzy one time, if you have a place to put it to dry out (ewwww). Still, its somewhat liberating to think that I can pee standing up if I want to!Before sitting down (no pun intended) to write this blog, I did a little Internet research and was surprised at the number of products like Whizzy out there. However, since Whizzy is the only one I have tried, it is also the only one I can recommend with confidence. Need the perfect gift for that hard to shop for woman? Whizzy is for you! Mother in law, feminist, friend, or just that gift for the woman who has everything...give it a try! If nothing else, it will make a good conversation starter!In all seriousness, Whizzy and similar products can be useful! Especially for women who have trouble sitting down, or getting up from a sitting position. Camping? Hiking? You won't ever have to worry about sitting in poison oak or ivy when you pee! Car broke down? Stranded? Whizzy is your friend! Icky public restrooms, or worse, porta potties? You won't even have to touch that toilet seat! Whizzy is for you! Big family with only one bathroom? Now you can ALL pee standing up! Do you work construction on a high rise building? Now you too can pee from the roof like the guys do! Want to write your name in the snow? According to their website, with Whizzy, now you can! Before Whizzy and products like it, there was NO urinal for women, and now, THE WORLD IS YOUR URINAL!For more information on Whizzy you can check out their website at http://www.whizzy4you.com/. Or feel free to do a search for other products that help women pee standing up.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
This is how we started out the 4th of July. My parents, one of my sisters and her boyfriend came down to enjoy the parade with us and we took a two hour walk on the beach (boy am I out of shape!) Even though we already have a plumbing snake my Dad brought his over. I have to say that it seemed to be MUCH more user friendly than ours was. Since we were busy visiting we didn't try out the snake while my parents were there. Then of course the kids wanted to do their sparklers and the few fireworks we had bought. Once all the kids were down, we were tired, but I decided to try out the snake anyhow. It was still hard work, but not nearly as horrible as our other snake was to use (think medieval torture device trying to use our snake.) After a while of slow progress I was rewarded with the gurgle of air in the sink drain. I tried filling the sink but it was still not draining properly. I continued using the snake for a while longer, and tried the sink again. The water drained right away. The real test though, was the tub. I left the snake down the overflow drain and proceeded to run some water in the tub. Cue the angelic choir! I never thought it would be such a great sight, and the whirlpool that appeared to suck the water out was a beautiful thing to behold.
I am sure you are all wondering what came out of the drain with the snake when I pulled it out. With my active imagination I was envisioning a dead rodent of unual size. What I got was hair. I was a little disappointed that it wasn't a bigger hairball, but I think that the snake basically drilled through and pulled the middle out. Hopefully the rest was washed down, and I am pretty sure it did since the drain hasn't drained this well in a year or so.
I got a shower before bed and I feel clean, CLEAN, CLEAN! Plus I feel pretty good about saving hundreds of dollars. (And yes, I did Thank God for answering the many prayers we have been saying to be able to resolve this without a plumber.)
Monday, July 02, 2007
So what are your big plans for the 4th of July? We are not big on spending money on fireworks because that is like setting money on fire. We did get a few small things because the boys love it so much, and we have big plans to watch the parade come through town on the 4th. The glory of it all is that the parade goes right in front of our house. I think there were even two floats in it last year! Mostly it is military vehicles, fancy cars, clowns, and a sprinkling of horses and floats. It is far from fancy, but its fun and if we get bored we can always just head back in the house. The boys love it of course because people throw candy at them and what could be better than that! Its like trick or treating without any work on their part. My parents are coming down again this year. Last year was the first year they came for the parade and they liked it enough to accept our invitation to join us. Hopefully the plumbing with be fixed and we will have time to mow the lawn before then!
Sunday, July 01, 2007
I take comfort that although I can't take a shower and will start to smell bad in a day or two, at least I can still flush the toilet and the other faucets and drains in the house all seem okay. Boy I wish we had two bathrooms!
On another note we have been the happy recipients of the ocean's bounty this week. First the clams, and then today our neighbor brought over some fresh sturgeon. We ate sturgeon for dinner. I baked some of it in the oven like I would a salmon, and I fried some of it in Tempura batter. We liked both, but the Tempura fish won out as the favorite. All of the boys had seconds and #1 had four helpings of fish. It was a nice treat, and there was even one more piece of sturgeon that I put in the freezer for later.