Monday, April 29, 2013

Homemade Butter

This is something I wanted to try as a kid, but never got to do. So when Builder Boy started telling me how to do it, based on what he learned watching the Bill Nye the Science Guy episode on farming, and asked me if we could do it, I said "of course!"  Principal Daddy picked up some heavy whipping cream at the store and a few days later we started shaking. I'm not sure if we were suppose to get heavy whipping cream, but Daddy said there wasn't anything labeled just "heavy cream," so this is what we ended up using. I put a small amount in a plastic container with a screw lid because I didn't want to risk the kids dropping a glass jar like they showed on the show, and I thought plastic would make it less heavy and make it longer before we got too tired.

At first the boys had a lot of fun taking turns shaking the container. Builder Boy kept talking about the process. "The cows make the milk, the factory makes the whipping cream, and we make the butter." After a while he made some observations. "This takes a lot of time and a lot of energy."

10 minutes later and no butter. "We need something to make this go faster." What do you think we need? "A factory."

We don't have a factory. I once made butter by accidentally over beating whipping cream, so I suggested using the beaters. "Yes, the beaters will work because the beaters won't get tired!"

A few minutes later and we finally had something that was solid enough that we declared it "homemade butter."  Technically, since we didn't separate the milk fat from the liquid, I don't think it really counts. But that didn't matter to the boys. They just wanted to see milk turn into butter. They were perfectly happy with the product, and it's taste.

Afterwards I told them about churns, and what people had to do before they had factories and electricity in homes. I used the Wikipedia article and a youtube video of a family using an old fashioned churn.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Funny/Weird Pregnancy Cravings

When I was talking to my OB the other day I mentioned some of the cravings I've been having and he was pretty shocked. Which in turn shocked me, because he's been doing this for quite a while, so I would have thought he'd heard everything by now.

With Builder Boy, my first pregnancy, I only had mild cravings for fruit and Taco Bell.

With Early Bird, I only remember craving pickled beets with spinach (the frozen then cooked kind) drenched in white wine vinegar. And I drank the leftover vinegar left in the bowl.

With Squishy, my current pregnancy, I have had a TON of different cravings. The problem, though, is that I have also been super sick, and something I crave one day I will puke up and despise the next day. In the beginning with Squishy I only had occasion cravings for marinated artichoke hearts and Taco Bell. I was still able to eat most foods then, so I was probably getting most of what I needed.

On the move I was craving chicken breast sandwiches and sausage patties. I didn't want to eat anything else. That lasted about a week, then I got super sick and since then (almost two months now) I can't stand chicken breasts or ground meat of any kind. Which, unfortunately, is about 98% of what I cook with most of the time. So I'm cooking dinners for the family that I can't stand to eat myself.

Two weeks ago is when the really weird cravings hit. Have you ever heard of kippered snacks? That's what we called them growing up. It's tins of smoked, canned herring. That's what I wanted. That's all I could think of. And I wanted sardines in mustard sauce and some in hot sauce. When I finally got them, I ate 4 tins in 3 days. Plain, room temperature, straight out of the can at first. Then with hot sauce and sour cream. You read that right: canned herring with hot sauce and sour cream (and cilantro.) With pickles and pepperoncini on the side. And grapefruit juice. I ate a jar of pickle spears in 4 days. I ate an entire jar of pepperoncini (and those things are packed in) in a week. I drank a 64 fl oz bottle of grapefruit juice in 24 hours. And amazingly, as someone pointed out, no heartburn! In fact, if I ate a few pepperoncini when I was nauseated my stomach felt much better. And those five days were probably the best I've felt this whole year. (These are the cravings that made my obstetrician speechless.)

But those cravings are gone. Now I'm living off protein bars and microwave burritos. That's all I've eaten for 2 1/2 days now. That, and more grapefruit juice. I've been so sick at one point two months ago I was down 15 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight (I started overweight, so that's not quiet as bad as it sounds.) I'm only 10 lbs down now, but I've got such major food aversion to almost everything that my doctor told my husband to go out and buy anything that remotely sounded good to me, just to get me to eat. So right now it's protein bars and frozen burritos. We'll see what it is tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"By Any Chance, Do You Homeschool?"

This happened a month ago but I felt it was worth typing up, and I have a few minutes of feeling well enough to do it.

"By any chance, do you homeschool?"

This was asked of me by one of the kids' church teachers at the HUGE new church we started attending when we moved. Builder Boy was feeling shy and was hiding behind me in a very big room that had to have had at least 60 kids grades 1-3.We had finally found the right class for his grade level after two weeks of signing him in at the pre-school desk and not realizing there was a whole other desk (down the hall) for the school-aged kids. The first week I had stayed with Builder Boy and Early Bird in the same classroom because they weren't used to anything like this (our kids were the only kids in our church of 115 members.) They did just fine, so the second week I went to the service and let the kids be in their own classrooms. Apparently during music time, Early Bird kicked the music directer when she asked him to sit down, and Builder Boy cried the whole time "because the music was too loud." ???? Builder Boy would only agree to come back if I went with him. So that's how we ended up in a big room with rowdy bigger kids and Builder Boy hiding behind me as I talked with one of the teachers.

"Yes, does it show that much?" was my answer. The teacher was very nice and said "not at all," she asked because they have quite a few kids who homeschool in the class. (Now if only I could figure out how to meet them and their parents!) She got someone to engage Builder Boy in an activity, and was very gentle and attentive to his shyness. I sat at the back of the room because I had promised him I would be there.

I had nothing against being labeled as a homeschooler, but during the time I was there, in between thoughts analyzing the lesson, I wondered if I had failed in "socializing" my children if it was so obvious that people could figure it out in one minute of looking at us. As the time progressed I had a teacher's helper come up to me a few times and tell me that everything was fine and I could go if I wanted to. I told them that I was fine where I was, and she and one other teacher came up to me at different times and asked me if we homeschooled. It wasn't until we were on our way home that it hit me: it wasn't Builder Boy's behavior that led them to guess we were homeschoolers, it was mine!

My best friend in California teased me a lot about not being able to just drop off my kids at a place they've never been before. (Her kids are public schooled and have a lot of practice with this.) BSF, AWANAs, VBS at her church, I always spent the first time with the kids in their class. It's a new environment, all new people, new place, and that can be scary and overwhelming for kids. Also, I like to know what the format for the lessons are and what kinds of things are taught. That puts me in the position where I can ask more specific questions and get better summaries from the kids to the question "what did you to there?" instead of just "stuff." Builder Boy has gotten better at situations like those; we've been doing BSF for 3 years now and AWANAs for 2 years, but we had just moved away from everyone and everything he knew, and did I mention this church is HUGE?

So is that it? Do all/most pubic school parents have no problem just dropping off their kids at a place they've never been to before, and have complete faith in the curriculum choices of teachers they've never met? Do all/most homeschool parents have less practice just dropping their kids off? Do all/most homeschool parents have more interest (and perhaps less faith) in what their kids are going to be taught by someone else?

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Problem with Pluto

Poor Pluto. I remember the days when it was still a planet. It was demoted the year Builder Boy was born, so he should grow up thinking there are only 8 planets. And if he went to public school, he'd probably tell you quite precisely that there are only 8 planets. But in my sentimentality, I screwed up. When he was 4 and I put up the solar system stickers on his wall to interest him in his new bunk bed, I put Pluto up. And of course he wanted to learn all the names of the planets. I didn't think a four year old would understand why it's up on his wall but not a "real" planet, so I put off explaining that part. Little parrot/sponge that Early Bird is, HE learned all the planet names, plus Pluto, too.

These past two weeks or so Builder Boy discovered Magic School Bus. It started with some of the books that I had but hadn't gotten around to reading to him yet. He immediately latched on to the Lost In The Solar System book, which was made in 1992; 14 years before Pluto got demoted. He wanted it read to him over and over, and after the nth time, and while Builder Boy and Early Bird were running around the living room singing about orbiting the sun, I decided to look up the show. There are 45+ episodes available on youtube and what do you know, the first one is the Lost in the Solar System episode. Builder Boy has been watching and reading the book for over a week now and loves talking about it and all the things he knows now like which planet has the most craters, which planet has clouds of sulfuric acid, which has the giant red spot, which one spins on it's side, and which is the coldest planet: Pluto. Oops.

I read him a (different) facts about the solar system book today. It's old (I got it at a thrift store;) it included Pluto. I showed him the Bill Nye the Science Guy video about the planets; Pluto.

Thankfully he's accepting me as a legitimate source of information. When we first read the book to him I explained that after the book was written scientists decided that Pluto was too small to be a planet. So while the book still calls it a planet, it's not one anymore. Which can get confusing when he keeps hearing about 9 planets instead of 8. But I think he's getting it because we've talked a lot (okay, I've listened a lot) today about it and he's self-correcting very well. He even made a "solar system model" out of his Gears! Gears! Gears! toys and he intentionally left out Pluto "because it's not a planet." So I guess it turned out all right in the end.

(Added later) A funny from when Builder Boy was 4 and was learning the names of the planets: When we got to Uranus he thought I was saying "your-anus." So when it was his turn to say it, he would call it "my-anus."  This went on for several months. :)
The Amazon listing says that they updated the info on the ten original Magic School Bus books, but I don't know when they did that.  Also, as of the writing of this post Amazon has the complete tv series on dvd for $43.92.  The Cartoons in English channel on youtube has the first 40 episodes. I created playlists, set up youtube on the Wii, and the kids can watch it on our tv through that.
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