Category: Untraditional Living

Whippo Playground, Nostalgia

My step-dad showed up a few weeks ago asking me to paint a picture of the place where he grew up–not the house but the playground nearby. It wasn’t a very scenic spot and there were lots of changes to be made to make it “like it used to be”. It turns out that he was once part of an informal gang who would hang out there, climb the water tower, play baseball, and create havoc for the folks nearby. They are meeting up this weekend at the sports bar we went to earlier this month which is owned by another of the former crowd. This painting is to be there as a reminder.

I was nervous about it because in general I prefer to paint people and their doings and water towers aren’t high on my list. However, after standing out in the snow taking pictures from all angles then buckling down and getting it done, I found that all the males in my life ADORE water towers. I find that very odd. Both my husband and son wanted prints of it and my stepdad was absolutely in hog heaven when he saw it. Go figure.

A Mob of Snowmen

Saturday, after 50 degree weather we suddenly got several inches of snow, which then melted by the end of the day, only to be replaced by great winds and freezing temperatures the next day--our weather is a bit odd. The kids took full advantage of Saturday’s snow and attempted to make a village of snowmen. It looked more like a mob to me, especially when several got their heads knocked off or were left partly made because the snow was too heavy.

I was going to show these individually and talk about what was going on but I have been gone all day and just found out I need to go out again to fix someone’s computer. My doodle will have to wait and you can just click on the slideshow if you want to see the whole gallery of pictures.


I have pictures to share of the children’s snowman mob except my camera batteries just died and all the rechargeables have disappeared. The mob was made before all the snow melted yesterday and now we have a wind advisory (50 mph) and wind chill advisory (-20 degrees F). The kids have been warned not to venture out, period.  I would let them but for their habit of taking off their hats and gloves and leaving them outside.

In other news I got a phone call last night shortly after returning home from my bil’s birthday celebration at Kings (happy 23rd Dan.)

The phone call seemed very similar to most calls from my brother–we chatted about our search for a Wii, the cost of gas, his long commute (he works at the Cape in Florida), and numerous other things. My brother and I are 4 years apart (yes I have another one who is 18 years younger, this is the older of the two.) He spent a very long time being my baby brother and, living in the secluded area we lived in, my only playmate. We have much in common–we both do web design on the side, both started our businesses about the same time, both moved away from that side of the business at the same time–we are very similar in though except that he is a very social electrical engineer and I am a less social artist. 🙂 Kind of two sides of the same coin.

He has been dating the same girl off and on since high school. His relationship with her has followed the same up and down pattern that my husband and I did before we married. When she moved down there to live with her parents and go to school (her parents live near him) and they announced they were dating again I began to wonder. The longer they stayed together again the more I guessed. Last night confirmed what I had been thinking.

My baby brother called to tell me he is engaged. Woohoo! His fiancee is a dear friend who has always stopped by to chat when in town even when they were no longer dating. She is the one we were always happy to hear he was dating because they brought out the best in each other. The other girls he has been with have brought out the worst.

No date yet just because they have to find a place and then will be able to give a date. However this means a trip to Florida in the next few years, though I am not sure at our current income how we will afford it. As far as my brother is concerned it is imperative that we be there.

Saturday Photohunt: Heavy

This photo came immediately to mind when I saw this weeks theme. I just had to go find it.

Of all my children Rachel has always been the heaviest. When she was little she was in the 90th percentile for everything–she has stayed there through the years. My baby brother (now 16) has always been like me, small for his age. In this photo he is 6 years old, the same age my son is now (my son looks just like him and even has the same mannerisms.) Rachel is 3 months and if I remember correctly ate 16 ounces of pumped milk–thats a lot! She was one heavy little girl even though she doesn’t look it.

Day in the Life 13: Kids in the Kitchen

When I was young I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. At some point my mom got me a Betty Crocker Cook Book for Kids and some other weird kid’s cook books (I tried to find them, believe me. One of them had humpty Dumpty on the cover and had recipes for “Purple Cows” and cucumber sandwiches, the other had a child’s hand reaching down to all kinds of awesome cookies, I also had the official Winnie the Pooh cookbook and several others that I didn’t use so often.)

I made a lot of messes and wasted plenty of ingredients but my mom taught me the basics and kind of just let me go in the kitchen–as long as I cleaned up I was allowed to play with food. It is how I learned and I learned a lot. When I was older I would often make desserts and when we needed to take food somewhere I usually whipped it up.

My kids are 6, 8, and 10. I have spent plenty of time in the kitchen with them teaching them to read recipes and measure. All three know how to use the stove and the older two are capable of using the oven. All three love to help in the kitchen.

Lately my oldest has been kitchen obsessed. Our rule is that she is allowed to bake or cook as long as she makes sure the kitchen is clean before AND after. (I don’t allow cooking in the kitchen unless it is clean and the dirty dishes all int he dishwasher.) She is finally to the point where I don’t have to be in the kitchen with her. I am letting her make mistakes (like not mixing the ingredients right and misreading the recipe–it is how I learned and it is how I intend the kids to learn.) Yesterday she decided to make pie crust for pumpkin pie–she can’t eat most of the pumpkin pie ingredients and she didn’t ask me what I substitute so I let her go.
She used Stevia with pumpkin and used way too much Stevia so the filling was pretty much inedible. However, the crust was decent though not mixed well enough. It was definitely edible. 🙂

Today she has decided to make peanut butter cookies. I am staying out of the kitchen.

After yesterdays mistakes she learned to ask more questions before proceeding and to reread the recipe. She is also teaching her little brother and sister to measure, repeating many of the fine points I have taught her over the years. Teaching another is one of the best ways I know to learn something yourself.

If she succeeds with these this will be the first time I have not been involved in the process other to take pictures and answer questions. It will be a real success–especially as she already did all the dishes and cleaned the kitchen unasked so that she could bake, and has already cleaned as she has gone along, instead of leaving a mess for later.

The best part is–since her snack foods are expensive and the ingredients are much less so letting her make her own snacks, even with the mistakes is MUCH cheaper than buying ready made ones. (And reading recipes is a great way for Rachel, my dyslexic child who struggles with comprehension to work on her reading skills.)

Update: The cookies are AWESOME! She did a great job!

Todays doodle to come later–I am intending to work from the pictures I took of them working in the kitchen since they were moving too much for me to doodle while they worked.

Homemade Granola Bars

Most of you know that my oldest can’t eat foods with dyes or preservatives not to mention several other commonly occurring foods (like apple, citrus, and cinnamon. ) Yet she LOVES granola bars. She has two kinds she can eat both of which are VERY expensive.

We already have a favorite granola recipe and I finally found a granola bar recipe that the kids all like and which is adaptable (which is very important to someone like me who rarely measures and uses only what is on hand.)

I didn’t measure for this but it is easy to “eye”.


Dry oatmeal or other dry grain (roughly 4 cups)

rice cereal-we use an organic one but you could use whatever crispy rice cereal you like or use nuts or more oatmeal instead (About 1 cup)

A tablespoon or so of oil–you can use margarine or butter instead

honey or maple syrup (about 1 cup–more to tast–the goal is to make the consistency right so if you like sweeter add more honey or maple syrup and less peanut butter)

Peanut (or almond or cashew or whatever nut butter you like, you can substitute date here) We used Almond butter–about 3 cups of raw.

Raisins (optional)

The goal is to make a glue-like substance to keep the dry stuck together. In our case the dry was about 6 cups and the wet/sticky was about 4 cups. I threw it all in the food processor until it all started to clump together–not a solid ball, just slightly. I would add slightly more wet next time as these were not as chewy as I would like. I think the consistancy you are looking for is about that of pie dough.

We then flattened it all into a pan, cut it into slices, then baked at 375 for about 15 minutes. The kids are VERY happy with it so I call it a hit. (They also loved it uncooked–which you can do by refrigerating the bars for a couple hours. We lost a whole rough due to nibblers.)

In the search I found several highly adaptable and more specific recipes to try–I was looking for recipes that did not include butter or corn syrup–I want HEALTHY. This website had the best list and if you are nervous about trying my halfway recipe I would suggest heading over there, these recipes are much more sure of themselves.

Day in the Life 12: Breakthrough and some Pod People

I just stopped what I was doing (working on my doodle-a-day–almost finished and ready to post) because I had made the kids a smoothy and realized that I needed to fill the blender with water (I had left the kids with the full blender drinking their little hearts out.)

I expected to see a table full of empty smoothy glasses and a blender.

I found the blender, and glasses, in the sink, all full of water!

I asked who did it and they replied, “We did!”

Not only did they remember to not leave everything to turn into smoothy cement but no one took credit!

Who stole my kids and replaced them with *pod people?

On the other hand, sometimes pod people is a good thing.

*When I was a kid, when my parents did the weird jeckle and hyde thing I imagined that aliens had come along and zipped on parent like skins–I thought of them as pod people and imagined that if I looked hard enough I would find the zipper marks.

Braving the Storm for a Hoodie

Yesterday it stormed. Windy, rainy, lightening-y storm. It was also 60-something degrees out. More often in February that storm would be ice and snow, though occasionally it is rain, rain, and more rain–of the flood the basement sort.

I didn’t want to go out yesterday. Of course, knowing that the next day was going to be 30-something and snowing was a bit of an incentive to get what I had to do done. While I was till at home pondering whether I really wanted to go out my mom called and told me of a huge sale at JcPenneys. She started the conversation with: “I know you usually don’t by clothes at the regular store but….75% off everything that is on sale”. (She meant I shop thrift shop for everything, and she is right.) Of course the fact that my hubby has fallen in love with a hoodie he received for Christmas and has not worn any of his other sweat shirts since was a bit of an incentive to consider a trip to Pennys (It is a “No more Cowbell ” sweatshirt, referencing a Saturday Night Live skit–it looks good on him and has made him fall in love with hoodies).

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