Saturday, July 31, 2010
Japan: The library had a lot of fun books about Japan; we also really liked this story quite a bit. The kids colored the flag and I also printed off this bookmark for them. They loved the bookmark dolls and we talked about kimonos a bit. Dinner was a challenge for me because I actually don't like Japanese food very much. So we had chicken katsu, which is a bit more American-friendly. We also watched Ponyo and the kids loved it.
Kenya: I thought Kenya was fun to learn about because I didn't know much about it before this month. We ate some yummy food for dinner; I used a recipe from a cookbook I had for a vegetarian stew with beans, vegetables, coconut milk, and peanut butter. We ate it with ugali and both Mr. Fob and I love the meal. The kids weren't as impressed. We also watched this movie, which isn't specifically Kenyan but still set in Africa and not your usual kids' movie (I do recommend it, but be aware that all the women in it are topless--it's a cartoon, but if that bothers you don't watch it). We talked about African animals and watched this video as well.
Korea: Most materials I could find about Korea talked primarily about South Korea, but mentioned the North as well so I just talked about "Korea" in one week. The kids colored both flags and we read some books about both countries. They also really liked this story from a Korean author. We ate beef bulgogi with rice, salad, and fruit.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Today a baby quail fell into one of our window wells. A family of them visit our backyard on occasion and apparently one little guy fell in as they were walking by. We first tried putting a board down in to see if he would walk up, but it was too steep and he kept falling off. I called the animal shelter to ask for advice, and they recommended using a net to catch him so our scent wouldn't rub off on him. Mr. Fob used our fish net to scoop him up into a bucket and I placed him in a shady corner of the backyard. When we checked a few hours later he was gone. I hope his parents came back and found him. I understand that nature is harsh and sometimes fragile baby birds don't make it, but I hate having to witness it up close.
Last night I was listening to NPR on the way to Target for some shopping. It was hard to go in and do my shopping after hearing a speech from the Bolivian ambassador reminding the UN that a child dies every five seconds, generally from poor sanitation. Some days I wish I could just magically change the world and make it so every child is as blessed as mine are.
For some reason lately I've been feeling kind of emotional about everything. I think it's just my hormones adjusting themselves. Plus I haven't been getting enough sleep, the lack of scheduling in the summer makes me stressed, and I've had two illnesses during the last two weeks. Life is on a bit of downturn around here lately but I have hope things will start looking up.
We got the information about Little Dude's preschool for this fall and he's really looking forward to it. I'm a little worried he'll get balky when the actual day arrives, but I think it will be good for him. We weren't sure if investing the money in school was worth it because he doesn't need it academically. Socially I think it will be a big help, and he will be so happy to finally go to school after watching his sister get to go for the last two years.
Next week is S-Boogie's birthday and I'm having a hard time accepting the fact that she is turning seven. She still can be a bit headstrong but generally is a really good kid. She is so friendly and is very excited to have a birthday party with all her friends and cousins. I love the fact that she wanted to invite everyone, boys and girls, and that she's totally happy with just playing slip-n-slide and eating cupcakes. I hope her lack of snobbishness persists. Especially because I'm a lazy party planner and am not great at doing elaborate things.
Speaking of headstrong children I had an epiphany the other day about the arguing. S-Boogie likes to argue with me a lot. It's been disconcerting because I honestly don't remember fighting with my mom very much and I generally avoid conflict as much as possible (and yes, Mom, I'm probably practicing selective memory here). The other day I realized that my reaction to this sort of conflict is probably just making it worse. We can have some sort of argument and I'll spend the rest of the day stewing over it and worrying about being an awful parent while physically feeling ill. S-Boogie will go on her merry way and forget about it ten minutes later. I need to remember that she's not me and conflict means different things to different people. Obviously I need to teach her how to discuss without anger and how to state her opinion positively and constructively. But I've also read things that point out that the ability of children to disagree with parents is often a sign of healthy attachment and adjustment. You can't argue with your parents if you are scared to death of them or if you have no opinions. And I don't want a spineless child. I do want a polite one who listens and speaks with respect, though. But I haven't done a good job teaching those skills because I tend to meet any sort of disagreement with a big reaction of fear. My attempts to shut down disagreement have just escalated the problem and I need to work on dealing with my own conflict issues in order to teach her healthy communication.
Two days after the birthday party we leave for our big week-long vacation. We're spending a few days at my parents' house in Vegas and then driving to California for some camping. I'm most excited because Mr. Fob gets actual vacation time and won't have to bring work along with him. The main thing I'm stressing about is the fact that I have no idea how to fit everything we need into our car. I'm toying with renting a trailer or getting some sort of cargo thing for the top of the car. The drive is also not going to be pleasant with three kids all squished in the back seat. I'm going to be reminding them not to bother the baby every ten minutes (I already do that on car trips, but this time it's going to be every ten minutes for about six hours).
I got an entire bottle of free laundry detergent in the mail the other day. It's from the company I fill out surveys with. My reaction was "Gee, I have to use this fancy detergent for a whole month. Throw me in the briar patch!"
Normally I'm a chocolate ice cream sort of person, but Breyer's vanilla ice cream is so delicious I could eat an entire carton by myself. I've recently developed a love of vanilla-flavored things like ice cream or yogurt, but still hate vanilla-scented things.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
My second big project this week involved sewing. I used to sew quite a bit, but really haven't done anything at all since coming back from my mission and getting married. Ever since we went to the 'Freedom Village' recreation a few weeks ago S-Boogie has been in love with 'the old days' (we've also been reading the Little House books for the last year). She has spent a lot of time during the last month wearing a sweater tied around her waist to simulate an apron. This morning our ward had a Pioneer Day breakfast and children's parade. I knew that S-Boogie would want to wear her sweater/apron and I just couldn't bear to let her do that. So I borrowed my sister-in-law's machine and made her an apron and bonnet. I used tutorials from this website (apron and bonnet), which was slightly tricky since she assumes that you know a fair amount of sewing. And I usually sew with a pattern. But I'm proud of myself because my knowledge all seemed to come back and I made both things work. If you look closely they certainly aren't perfect, but S-Boogie loves them and I they should still fit next year (assuming they aren't thrashed by heavy use before then). I did stop myself from staying up all night to make a matching bonnet for the baby but I have extra fabric and will do that next year. Now I just have to get my own machine fixed so I can make even more cute things for my kids.
So this week I rediscovered some skills that I thought I'd lost. I also discovered that I can figure out how to do things even if I'm not sure I know what I'm doing. And they don't have to be perfect in order to 'count'. I don't plan to do as many crafty things next week. The kids have been anxious to get out of the house more and I'm realizing that summer is rapidly fading away since school starts a month from tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will cool down a bit so we can dare to venture out of our air-conditioned house.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Blueberry Strata Pie
9-inch pastry crust, baked and cooled
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
3 tbls. sugar
1 tbls. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained (abt. 8 oz)
3 cups blueberries (thawed if frozen)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup water (or juice from pineapple with added water)
1-2 tsp. lemon juice
Beat together cream cheese, sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in drained pineapple and place in bottom of pastry shell. Chill while preparing blueberry filling. In a large saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; stir in water and lemon juice until smooth, then add blueberries. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cook and stir for about 2-3 minutes until thickened. Cool completely and then pour over cream cheese mixture in the crust. Top the pie with whipped cream before you serve it. Sometimes I make the blueberry filling the night before and just put it on the pie right before serving it. You can use Cool Whip on top if you want to be retro, but I've become a food snob and think Cool Whip is nasty.
I wrote this post because I want to enter the Shabby Apple giveaway. I really love Leslie's artwork and got to meet her last year at the Segullah studio night.
Yearning for the Living God: Reflections from the Life of F. Enzio Busche
A friend recently mentioned on her blog that she was really inspired by this book. I felt the same way; it was a nice break from some of the books I've been reading that, while good, tend to be a bit depressing and harsh. At the same time, it did not feel 'fluffy'. Elder Busche is articulate and has obviously spent a lot of time reflecting on his life and the lessons he has learned. I have read a lot of books--both fiction and nonfiction as well as Mormon and not--about 20th-century Germany and felt that this book was a valuable contribution to the literature written about that part of our recent history.
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
I thought this book had an intriguing premise--what happens to those on the periphery of tragedy and what is the role of those whose role in life is to deliver bad news. It was a good read, but I found that I didn't really connect much with any of the characters and much of the plot felt unoriginal.
Dance With Them Edited by Kathryn Soper
I happened to receive this book from Amazon the same day I attended the Segullah writing retreat. I thought it was serendipitous to get such a fine collection of creative writing after spending the day learning more about writing from some of the women who contributed to the book. Though it's certainly not a parenting manual, I gleaned valuable insights from the writing here. I'm only at the beginning of the parenting journey and I was inspired by the beautiful thoughts expressed by others who are further along in the path than I am.
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
The greatest strength of this book is Janzen's ability to write with real humor and warmth about a family and religion that she is no longer a part of. I enjoyed that aspect of the book and could identify quite a bit with the struggle to separate out the influences of family, religion, and culture on your life as you grow up. However, I felt like the writing was disjointed in parts and the central story seemed much flimsier than the premise set up on the jacket copy. I would have liked a little more depth in the insights found in this book.
Movies(500) Days of Summer
This movie mostly made me realize that I am really not hip and never will be. I'm probably not the target audience for a movie like this. But I still thought it was a lot of fun and did a lot of very brilliant things with storytelling.
Defamation: Anti-Semitism the Movie
As you can tell by the title, this movie is a bit tongue-in-cheek. It was interesting and both Mr. Fob and I felt like we learned a bit more about Mid-East politics. At the same time, it does not get into issues in a profound way and should be watched along with other things for a more balanced point of view.
I didn't have high expectations for this movie, so that's probably why I enjoyed it so much. It's your typical escapist romantic comedy where everyone is impossibly rich and beautiful, except that the major characters are all my parents' age and have grown children. We had a lot of fun watching it and honestly can't figure out why it was rated R. Yes, there is a lot of talk about sex but no actual action on screen and the language was very clean. It was probably the rather hilarious drug-use in the middle of the movie. I'd recommend this if you're looking for a fun, fluffy movie for a date night.
Born into Brothels
Some friends recommended this documentary to us and I'm glad we watched it. It is about a photographer who helps children born into poverty in India learn how to take photos as a way to improve their lives. The children in it were sweet and engaging and the film manages to avoid sugar-coating things or summing things up in a happy ending. I appreciated the fact that it didn't make philanthropy look simple, but still managed to be inspiring at the same time.
Up in the Air
This is one of those movies that manages to be funny and sobering at the same time. I think as a film it works incredibly well and the acting is all phenomenal. But as a commentary on current society it is harsh--like that cliche traffic accident you can't avoid watching. I love movies like this that are an extended character study; the main character has been living his life in a certain way for so long that it's fascintating to see what happens when things come along to shake it up a bit.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Indonesia: We read a few informational books, as well as this story that the kids really liked. After reading a lot about the puppet shows and dancing from Indonesia we looked up some videos on You Tube and watched a few shows with shadow puppets. For dinner we had chicken satay and fried noodles.
Iran: We read a few books about Iran and colored the flag; S-Boogie decided she wants to live in Iran because the boys and girls are separate and 'boys are yucky'. For dinner I made some tasty rice casserole with salad and fruit. We all liked it a lot.
Israel: We read books about Israel and colored the flag. I decided to do an Israeli breakfast as well as dinner, just to be different. For breakfast we had yogurt with fruit, orange juice, and challah with butter and jam. For dinner we had falafel. I've tried making falafel before and finally succeeded with this recipe. It was delicious. We also had a tasty carrot salad and fruit.
Italy: We colored the flag and read a few books about the country; the kids especially liked the story book about The Magic Boot. This was the week that none of our food turned out; we tried making gnocchi, but I didn't get enough flour in them so they didn't cook right. Instead I decided to cook some angel hair pasta and we had it with the tomato cream sauce. We also had bread, caprese salad, and some grapes.
Friday, July 02, 2010
Today the kids were in the backyard playing, and when I went outside to check on them I discovered that they had two large, rusty metal stakes they'd discovered in the dirt. I confiscated the stakes and went out to the front to put them in our garbage can that was waiting at the curb. When I opened it, there was a giant cardboard box sitting inside. Besides the strangeness of having someone else's garbage in our can, I was bothered by the fact that they had ignored the recycling can sitting right next to it. How long does it really take to break down the box and toss it in? I hate it when I see people put out their trash cans that are overflowing with cardboard that could easily be recycled.
Now you know what really bothers me; just don't use this information against me by leaving cardboard boxes on my doorstep (or, worse, in my garbage can).