Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rediscovering the Lost Art of Storytelling with Your Children

With television, iPods, laptops and more, it seems as though the art of storytelling within the family is becoming a lost art. It’s sad, really. Think of all the times you sat perched beside an older relative, listening as stories were beautifully crafted, taking you back in the day through words, bonding.

I believe it’s still important to tell stories to our children. It helps them connect with us, and it allows our children to learn who we are and what we believe in. You don’t have to be Hans Christian Anderson to craft stories. Your child just wants to hear your voice.

Picture from Google Images

Pierce frequently asks me for the stories in my head. Often I’ll tell them during chores, which seems to make the act of picking up or cleaning more enjoyable for Pierce. Each time I tell one, he listens intently, and at the end he tells me with a big grin, “That was great!” It embraces creativity, encouraging him to explore and craft with his own mind. Here are a few tips for storytelling with your child.

1. Start with what you know. Your child will love to hear stories of your own childhood. Tell about misadventures with your cousins, fishing trips, your favorite toys as a child.

2. When branching into the unknown, start with 3 loose ideas in your head before you start telling. Then you can weave the stories around those ideas. So you might just think of 3 random objects: a boy named Sam, a canoe, a turtle. Once you have those ideas, you can start to make connections between the three.

3. Relate your story to what your child knows. What are you doing right now? Are you eating dinner? If so, you might start your story with the little boy Sam eating dinner. Maybe he’s eating the same foods as you, or maybe he’s eating pancakes shaped like canoes. Hopefully he’s not eating turtle.

4. Add a little bit of magic – maybe your canoe can fly or your turtle can talk. This brings the element of wonder into your tale.

5. Have a moral. Storytelling is your opportunity to teach your child what you believe in. Maybe Sam uses his canoe to rescue a really ugly turtle that all the other kids and animals ignored. You can teach kindness, healthy habits, equality, sharing, and more through your stories.

Give storytelling a try with your children. It can only create a stronger bond, and once they’ve gotten a taste for your creativity they’ll soon be begging for more.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When Your Baby Has Severe Acid Reflux, Part III

If you missed my last post about this topic, you might like to go HERE to read.

After more than two years of battling acid reflux in our toddler, after bloodwork and barium tests and so many medicines we'd lost count, we found ourselves faced with surgery.  Pierce had three severe setbacks that fall, with weeks of projectile  vomiting.  It was time to investigate more thoroughly.

Granted, it was just a scope.  He would be having an upper and lower GI done.  But still, knowing your baby is going under anesthesia is terrifying for any parent.

Here is Pierce at age 2:

The drive to the hospital that morning was somber.  Paul and I were nervous of course.  We waited in a waiting area for a while.  It was early morning, around 6 am.  Pierce was hungry but couldn't eat anything.  There was a toy box in the room, with signs that each child was allowed just one toy, and afterwards it had to be placed in a separate bin for sanitizing.  We broke the rules after 30 minutes and allowed Pierce to get out a second toy.  We couldn't help but indulge him.

Finally they called Pierce back to a bed, in a waiting area for pre-surgery.  The nurses put him in a tiny gown, and he looked so small and helpless.  He knew something big was at stake, and fought against having his blood pressure taken.  Paul said he felt sick to his stomach.  I went around the corner and bought him a gingerale and some crackers, but we felt too guilty to eat or drink around Pierce, who couldn't have anything. 

The nurses were kind, gentle, and reassuring.  They put some cartoons on for Pierce, but he wouldn't watch them.  I had brought along some books and his stuffed Elmo.  He clutched Elmo, scared, as I read Goodnight Moon.  Dr. C. came in and talked to us about the procedure.  He told us to expect Pierce to wake up grumpy afterwards.  And then he said that one parent could go back with him when he was put to sleep.

Paul and I looked at each other and blinked.  I imagined watching my only son being put under anesthesia.  I said, "Paul, I don't think I can do it.  You go."
So he went with him.  And I sat there feeling guilty that I didn't go with him, that I didn't want to watch.  I fretted and tried not to cry.  Paul came back in shortly, and we waited.  I tried to read a book I'd brought, but I couldn't concentrate.  Paul ate his snacks.  The clock ticked.  We listened to the bustle in the hall of nurses and other patients, other children waiting to be wheeled back.   

Finally they wheeled him in, asleep.  The surgery was over.  Pierce rested peacefully on the hospital bed, swallowed up by the bed and his tiny gown, IV still in foot. 
Dr. C. came in.  He said that everything looked good - normal.  There was some inflammation in his esophagus, but other than that he was fine.  They had given Pierce some IV fluids while he was out in hopes of giving him some strength back - he was so weak after so much vomiting.

Dr. C. said he'd be changing his medicines.  He wanted to try Nexium now that Pierce was a little older.  In addition, he prescribed a month of Carafate to reduce the inflammation.  We were told to take it easy on foods, to start small.

When we got home we dosed Pierce with new meds and then started with a cracker, but Pierce wanted more.  More crackers!  We couldn't hold him back.  He ate half a sleeve of saltines before we were able to stop him.  We waited.  Would he start vomiting again?  Thankfully, they stayed down.

In fact, the new meds worked.  Suddenly, Pierce wasn't getting sick anymore.  Gone were the days of multiple outfit changes and following him around with dish rags and Wet wipes.  I can't tell you how thankful we were to have found something that worked.

The following summer, just before Pierce turned 3, we were finally able to wean him off the Nexium.  He finally, thankfully, had outgrown his acid reflux.  Once in a while, he'll still fight it a bit.  I'll hear him fighting it and he'll rub his esophagus and he'll talk about it, and say that he doesn't want to throw up.  But now, I just give him a children's tums and he's fine.  And these days are few and far between.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

There's a Bird in the House

With a few scattered mild days here and there, we left the door open one day to get some fresh air in the house.  And in flew a little bird:

Sorry birdie, but you're not going to get out through the trapezoids.

Next the bird flew up into the ceiling beams.  Our ceilings are really high up, as we have an A frame log cabin.  From his point up on the beams, he was able to poop on Paul's shirt.  I guess that little bird figured that's what he gets for leaving his laundry out in the middle of the living room.

Finally, he flew right behind the computer in our office loft.  And then waited for me to scoop him up.

Sweet little one:

See the squinty eye.  That meant he was scared.  So I quietly carried him downstairs to set him free.

Gently placed on the porch railing.  I think he's eyeing our bluebird house.  Sorry birdie, it's already taken!

Linking this up with WV Treasures Show and Tail.  I had to redeem myself after my last entry.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Welcome, Spring! Muffin Tin Monday

Aren't you glad it's Spring?  This is my favorite time of year!
Pierce had a biscuit (flower drawn on with food writers), a spring chicken leg (he loves drumsticks, I think it allows him to embrace his inner caveboy), watermelon, sunburst tomatoes, a mutant strawberry, and broccoli.
Pierce loved this lunch and only left behind a few bites of biscuit.

Check out more ideas from Muffin Tin Mom!

The winner of the two horse mysteries by Alison Hart is Angela at WV Treasures.  Thanks to all of you who entered! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Out with the Kids

I've got a stockpile of pictures we've taken that I've meant to post but I'm behind. 
Back in February, we took the boys to the Green Ridge Rec Center.  We didn't get any pictures at the indoor water park because Cort was terrified, so we had our hands full.  But they had a game room that the boys enjoyed:
There were white spots that they could chase around the floor. 

Then a few weeks ago we met up with friends Elizabeth and Mattie to celebrate Mattie turning 2.  Chuck E. Cheese was a big hit with all the boys. 

Reid was a little nervous about being in this car, but Pierce was there to protect him. 

Cort loved every single ride and begged for more. 

Pierce spent his time in the tunnels that ran up under the ceiling. 

I talked him into riding this horse though. 

Reid loved the toddler slide, which has a lookout. 

And Cort just kept riding rides.  Over and over.  He could've stayed all day he had such a grand time. 

Me with Elizabeth: 

What have you been doing lately that's fun?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Low Calorie Potato Salad

This is a recipe that was in Prevention magazine a while back.  This potato salad has around 130 calories per serving, so fairly guiltless.  And it's light and tasty too.  Perfect for the upcoming warmer months.

4 medium baking potatoes
2/3 cup low-calorie mayonnaise
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 sweet green pepper, chopped
1 tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 hard boiled egg, coarsely chopped

Boil potatoes 20 minutes or until tender.  Cool.  Chop coarsely (I peeled mine this time but they are also good unpeeled).  Mix with other ingredients.  Chill for 4 hours before serving.

My giveaway for two horse mystery novels ends tomorrow, don't forget to ENTER!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Losing a Tooth - Memory Lane Friday

It's Memory Lane Friday and today's topic is a memory from first grade.  Everyone is welcome to link up their memories. 

Back in first grade was when they started reading groups.  There were four reading groups, and each of the groups was in a different corner of the classroom.  Wonder if they still break classes up into different reading groups, based on ability level?  Seems there would be a nicer way to handle it.  At any rate, I was in the advanced reading group because I'd been reading for a while already. 

So one day we were in reading group and I was wiggling away at a loose tooth.  Wiggle wiggle wiggle.  All of the sudden, to my horror, it fell out!  I sat there with the detached tooth in my mouth and didn't know what to do.  Should I say something?  I was such a timid child, that I couldn't imagine speaking up.  Gradually, I slipped the loose tooth into my pocket, and never said a word.  I was upset all day over that tooth.

When I got home, though, and found out about the existence of the tooth fairy, I felt much better.  And when I got makeup for playing dress up under my pillow the next morning, I was feeling great about the whole thing, and couldn't wait to lose my next tooth!
If you'd like to link up to Memory Lane Friday, add your website to the link below.  Please take the time to go visit and comment on other's blogs as well!  Next week is a 'no theme' week on Memory Lane Friday.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Of Doughnuts and Dancing, The Red Dress Club Prompt

It was completely out of character for Hilary to steal. She couldn’t quite believe herself as she quickly slipped the frosted treat into her bag, glancing around the room nervously. The other students were gathered around the lab desk of Brandon Adams, who was putting on a rap performance with a partially dissected frog. Hilary felt sweat dampen her armpits, and waited for someone to point her out and scream “THIEF!”. But as always, Hilary seemed to be wearing a cloak of invisibility, and no one paid her any mind.

Two periods later when Hilary was safely in the school library, she brought the pastry out for examination. For the past three weeks, the school had been abuzz with stories of flow-nuts. They were the invention of the school genius, Jason Kruggs, an underachiever of massive proportions. Jason should’ve been bound for the Ivy leagues, but instead he wasted his time partying and hacking into the computers of large corporations. He once slipped a code into the design programs of a large architectural firm in town. When the architects tried to use the program, their designs would fall to pieces, and an animated wolf would stalk across the computer screen, proclaiming “I HUFFED AND I PUFFED AND I BLEW YOUR LOUSY HOUSE DOWN!”

So it wasn’t surprising when Jason came out with his flow-nuts. No one knew exactly how Jason had invented them, but there were plenty of theories. Some claimed it was a mixture of X and a specially processed sugar. Others felt like he used an herbal base – ginseng and valerian. Whatever his method, Jason supposedly devised this new drug and laced it into the frosting of glazed doughnuts. The consumer who ate the doughnut suffered very little side effects (possible stomach complaints being the most common), but would find a vibe – a flow – taking over the body. Soon enough, a user would be dancing all over the room, grooving to invisible tunes, the body overridden with rhythm.

Hilary didn’t buy it. Not one bit. There couldn’t possibly be a drug that would make you dance, not even from the school’s most legendary genius. She set the flow-nut on top of her neat, brown-paper covered Earth Science textbook. The flow-nut looked innocent, decadent in its sprinkles and sugar. Hilary had never taken a drug in her life, but it wasn’t as if kids were overdosing from the sweets. More importantly, if she could dance, if she could really dance, would other kids notice her? Would she lose her invisibility and start to make friends? Just thinking about it made her heart beat nervously. She hated being such an outcast, with the wrong clothes that never fit her apple shape and her springy, unruly curls.

Hilary glanced around the library, but it was quiet. Ms. Potter was bent over her computer, inattentive. Before she could change her mind, Hilary lifted the doughnut to her mouth and took a bite. The sugared frosting melted slowly on her tongue. It tasted just like a normal doughnut. Soft and chewy. Before she could change her mind, Hilary quickly downed the rest. Then she waited. Nothing. She didn’t feel any different. The room looked the same.

Hilary sighed with disappointment and opened her textbook. As she began answering questions about rock formations, Hilary didn’t notice when her foot started tapping. She didn’t notice when music and a beat filled her ears. But when she found her head bobbing to music, her eyes widened in surprise. Soon, her whole body was bouncing, and she’d pulled her curls down from her ponytail. She was up on her feet, dancing with abandon, the music piping through her veins as she danced and rocked across the library floor, unable to fight the movement in her body.

This week's Red Dress Club prompt was to write a piece based on this delicious picture:
You can go read more creative writing on doughnuts this week at The Red Dress Club.
Also, critique is always welcomed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Bear Comes for a Visit

Pierce's preschool has a bear named Buddy that goes home with a different family each weekend.  This past weekend was our turn.

Buddy comes with his own tote and some outfits.  He also has a few instructions - that he needs a book before bed and sleeps with your child.

So the first night he insisted on reading a bear book.  In fact, every night he wanted to read bear books.  Good thing we like bears so much at Two Bears Farm.

Over the course of the weekend we put Buddy to work on the farm.
First, he had to help feed the chickens.
At first, he was a little intimidated by Elvis.
But after a while he realized she is a friend. 

Buddy helped gather eggs and he found two, one of them was a blue egg!  Blue eggs are from our Americauna hen, Natasha. 

All that work earned some play time.  Buddy had fun going down the slide. 

Then while we worked on the garden, Buddy played with Pierce in our old farm truck. 

We we came inside for the day, Reid confiscated Buddy.  Reid has always had a weak spot for soft furry toys.   

Ah, a busy day!  Time to relax on the porch swing. 

Thanks for coming to visit Buddy!  You're welcome back anytime!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for two young adult horse mysteries - click HERE!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where is Two Bears Today?

I'm not here today!  Instead, I'm guest posting in a series called 'Pause Life for a Moment' at one of my favorite blogs - come visit here to read.  JDaniel4smom has long been a supporter of my blog, and is an excellent commenter.  We met over muffins - well, Muffin Tin Mondays to be exact.  I really admire her creativity and simple preschool lessons that she does with her son.  So please click over to visit her blog today (my post is about motherhood and the spirit of the horse - in my eyes they relate) and leave your comments there. 

And if you're stopping by from JDaniel4smom, a huge Two Bears welcome to you!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Shadow Horse and Whirlwind - GIVEAWAY and Young Adult Book Review

Thanks to all who entered this giveaway.  It is now closed.

Recently I was contacted by Alison Hart, who asked if I'd be interested in reviewing her books Shadow Horse and Whirlwind, and offering a giveaway.  I was thrilled she thought of me, and I confessed that I still have a huge collection of horse books from when I was a kid (three shelves worth, in fact).  Alison lives in Virginia and is the author of more than sixty children's books.  You can check out her website HERE

Shadow Horse opens with the main character, Jasmine (Jas) finding herself in deep trouble. Her grandfather has had a stroke, and her beloved horse Whirlwind is dead.  All of this is directly related to the wealthy but evil-hearted Hugh Robicheaux, whom Jas assaulted with a hoof pick, landing herself in the court system.  At the hearing, she receives 45 days of probation and is placed in foster care, since she doesn't have a relative to go home to.

Jas finds herself placed at the run-down animal rescue, Second Chance Farm.  Her grandfather is in a nursing home, and she fears for his recovery.  Ms. Hahn, the foster mother, seems nice enough, but when Jas sees a picture of her with Hugh Robicheaux, she knows she can't be trusted.   She is very much alone, in spite of some other kids her age - Chase and Lucy - who could be potential friends. 

When Jas rides along to a horse auction, she sees a horse with a rare thyroid problem.  His condition is completely debilitated, but Jas sees through the bones and sagging head to an underlying strong conformation and power.  She talks Ms. Hahn into purchasing the animal, and they bring home her Shadow Horse.  Mr. Danvers, the vet, confirms Jas's suspicions and with treatment for the thyroid problem Shadow makes a strong recovery.  So strong, in fact, that in no time he's jumping out of pasture fences.  And then Jas realizes that there is something more to this horse.  He reminds her of another horse that previously belonged to Hugh Robicheaux, long deceased, named Aladdin. 

How will Jas link Aladdin to Whirlwind?  And what will happen when she returns to court?  Will her grandfather recover?  And what about all these threats that Mr. Robicheaux keeps making?  Shadow Horse will leave you wanting to know more!

Whirlwind opens by summarizing what happened in Shadow Horse.  There is a case against Hugh Robicheaux for insurance fraud - that he killed a 'ringer' horse for Aladdin and sold the real Aladdin overseas for big money (plus collected on insurance).  But how can they prove that Shadow is the real Aladdin?  And will Jas be able to get released from probation and live with her grandfather again (who is currently in a nursing home)?

At her 45 day court hearing, Jas has the support of her grandfather, Miss Hahn, Chase, and Mr. Danvers.  But Hugh Robicheaux corners her alone and threatens to release a surveillance tape that shows her and Chase breaking into the office of his stables.  He also threatens to harm Second Chance Farm if Jas doesn't stop searching for Whirlwind.  How does Hugh know that Jas is searching for Whirlwind?  He must have a spy somewhere on Second Chance Farm - is it Mr. Muggins, a volunteer whose wife died of cancer, or is it ex-rodeo rider Rand?  Jas decides that she has no choice but to stop looking for Whirlwind to keep the farm safe. 

A house trailer is moved to Second Chance Farm for Jas and her grandfather.  Moldy and in shambles, Jas begins to fix it up to be home.  Meanwhile, she can't resist continuing to search for Whirlwind.  She begins calling around to try to find the person who hauled Whirlwind away.  Marietta Baylor, a chameleon of an insurance investigator, moves in to help search for Whirlwind. 

Meanwhile, donations are down at Second Chance Farm and the cost of hay is up.  They only have one month of operating budget left.  Is Mr. Robicheaux behind this?  And when someone winds up dead, how will they prove that Mr. Robicheaux is connected?  The end of Whirlwind will sweep you along with plenty of intrigue, a budding romance between Jas and Chase, and a cross-country chase that culminates with a surging hurricane, electricity and security system outages, and of course, the attempted vengence of Hugh Robicheaux.
I had so much fun reading these two books, and I know you would too!  I loved all the horse-world details, and I also felt strong connections to the main character, Jas, because of all my time spent working juvenile probation.  I met many kids just like Jas.  Would you like to win a copy of both Shadow Horse and Whirlwind?  Just leave a comment to enter, and if your email is not attached to your profile, please include your email address in the comments.  This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only.  Giveaway ends at noon March 27th, when a winner will be chosen by and the winner has 48 hours to respond.   

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why I Love Having Twins - Behold the Cuteness!

Patty Cake, patty Cake, baker's man

Bake me a cake as fast as you can! 

Just pat it.  And roll it.  And mark it with a C and R

And put it in the oven for Cort and Reid! 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sneaky Kid-Approved Veggie Calzones

Recently I tossed together these very easy calzones and they were a big hit with the kids.  Some of you asked me to share the recipe.  I just tossed this together, so I'm sorry I don't have exact amounts for you.

Place some fresh broccoli (1 1/2 cups or so) in a microwave steamer and steam for 3 minutes (or you could use thawed frozen).

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet.  Add a clove of chopped garlic.  Saute until softened, add approx. 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms.  Once those start to soften add spinach (couple of hand fulls).

Stir in steamed, drained broccoli, 3/4 cup of marinara sauce, and 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese.

Take 1 can of biscuits.  Roll the biscuits out into 6 inch circles.  Place filling in the center and then fold over.
Bake according to directions on the biscuit can.

Obviously, since I just threw this together haphazardly, it could be a very flexible recipe.  I'm sure you could try all different sorts of veggies in the filling - whatever you have on hand would work fine.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kindergarten Memories - Memory Lane Friday

Memory Lane Friday is a weekly blog hop where you can blog about your memories and link up.  Today is the first in a series of Memory Lane Fridays that will carry us through the school years.  As always, you can still link up even if you're off topic.  All are welcome!

I was excited to finally be of age for kindergarten, but the anxiety of the new situation got the best of me.  All the colored chairs, the cylinders of crayons, the bulletin boards with vibrant animals, numbers, and shapes lurking in overwhelming playfulness.  It was all too much.  As our meek tour of unwilling five year olds continued we followed our mysteriously aloof teacher out into the foreboding hallway, down sleek loud linoleum floors, and there before us loomed the doorway of the omniprescent children's bathroom.  I was not deceived by the deceptively friendly "girls" sign perched on the red door. 

We entered the echoey room, rows of stalls with 18 inch tall toilets and sinks just our size lined the walls.  My teacher was oblivious to the awkwardness of the situation as she began talking.

"Now boys and girls.  See this right here," she said in a very serious tone, gesturing to a massive, ugly pipe coming out of the wall, "Whatever you do, DO NOT TOUCH THIS"

Fear riddled my body.  Obviously, were I to touch the offending object, terrible things would happen.  Monsters would fly out of the pipes, dragons with sharp pointed teeth and shooting fire balls.  When we returned to the classroom, I hunkered down in my plastic orange chair, miserable, unable to let go of the images of the Pipe of Dread.

In the days to come, I refused to go to the bathroom at school.  I held it.  All day long.  I didn't drink so that I wouldn't be likely to need to go.  But one day it happened.  My bladder was FULL.  I didn't know what to do.  I couldn't possibly enter the bathroom with the Pipe of Dread.  I was about to bust, and started crying.  The teacher came over to ask me what was wrong, but I was too scared to answer her. 

"I'm sick, I need to go home," I sobbed.

"Do you have a sore throat?"

"No," I said in a small voice.

"Does your stomach hurt?"

"No," I whispered.

"Do you need to go to the bathroom?"

"NO!!!" I said, shaking my head emphatically.

"Then you can't go home," she said, returning to the chalkboard.

I squirmed in my seat.  I tried to will away the urge.  But it was beyond willing away.  Finally, it was too much.  I sat in horror as a stream of urine ran through my green plaid dress and dripped down off my tiny orange chair to the floor.  For the rest of the day, I sat in my own pee, too scared to move. 

When I got home that afternoon, I was immediately busted.

"Lisa, why is your dress wet?"  about two seconds after I walked in the door.  And so, I relayed my sob story to my mom.  She took me back that afternoon and made me go back into the bathrooms with her.  She showed me that there was nothing to fear.  That the Pipe of Dread was just part of the fire alarm sprinkler system, and that it wasn't 'out to get me'.  And after that, I was no longer scared to use the bathroom at school.

Want to link up with Memory Lane Friday?  Just insert your website into the link below. 
Be sure to visit other link ups and leave them some comment love.  Also, come back next week.  The topic is first grade.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gathering Morels

Sarah and Granny Rose were walking on a soft worn deer trail deep in the Appalachians. Spring had come over the past few weeks, and Sarah deeply breathed the magical potion of new life.

They were headed down the hollow to the spot where morel mushrooms thrived. They knew it was morel gathering time because the dark violets were in bloom in the forest, and the oak leaves were the size of mouse ears. Morels were decadent little spongy, pine tree shaped fungi that came out for two weeks every April. They would forage as much of the bounty as they could find, and take them home to dip in cornmeal and fry in the big cast iron skillet. Then they’d stuff their bellies until they were so full that they couldn’t barely see to their quilting.

Granny Rose paused briefly, leaning heavily on her cane, her breathing slow and steady. Her gnarled hands were riddled deeply with arthritis, so debilitating that even a tincture of powdered rhubarb in white whiskey couldn’t ease the pain. She pointed to the right, and nestled in the mossy hillside Sarah bent down to examine a Lady’s Slipper, elegant in its elusiveness, bulbous pink petals dripping gracefully towards the ground.

Suddenly Granny Rose lifted her head and gazed down the trail, and Sarah heard the sound of hoof beats approaching. It wasn’t often that others tread this path, and Sarah hoped that it wasn’t the mournful Preacher Robbins, who always managed to put Granny Rose in a foul mood for days.

When Inky the black mail mule came around the bend, full of purpose with his chest stuck out, Sarah was relieved to see Harley Thompson in the saddle. His eyes were wide, though, and Sarah could read the fear in his expression. A vein throbbed angrily, right in the middle of his weathered forehead.

“Granny Rose! It’s Amelia! She’s got the birthing pains bad. Been going on two days now. Please come!” he said emphatically, spittle launching into the air.

“Harley, it’s too early.” She paused briefly then continued, “Okay. Okay, let me just get up to the cabin to grab my birthing bag,” Granny Rose was reasonable, deliberate in her answer. Reassuring.

“Please, Granny Rose. There ain’t no time. Please just come,” he pleaded, tears welling up.

“Look, Harley, I got to have my herbs. Can you go get my bag and I’ll start heading down? It’s sitting right on the table.”

Sarah could tell Harley was torn as he glanced back down the mountain in dismay. But he realized he didn’t have much of a choice.

“Alright then,” he said, pushing the brim of his felt hat down a bit as he kicked Inky onward.

Granny Rose turned to Sarah, “Child, you want to head on home this time? I might could use your help on this one, and you’re nine now. ‘Bout time for you to learn the ways.”

Sarah was surprised, as Granny Rose had always sheltered her from much of her midwifery knowledge. For a moment she felt very small and frightened. Without time to really think it over, Sarah quickly nodded, and fell into step behind Granny Rose. They passed by the land of the morels as they began the two mile hike to the Thompson homestead, and continued on, descending deep into the valley as fast as they could manage.

This post was written in response to the prompt from The Red Dress Club.  This week's Red Writing Hood assignment is to write - fiction or non-fiction - about a time when you took a detour. Where had you intended to go and where did you end up?

Critique is welcomed and encouraged.  Also, if you're interested in reading a little more on Granny Rose and Sarah, there is this piece

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vintage Jellied Irish Coffee Recipe for St. Patrick's Day

When we visited my grandparents a couple of months ago, my Granny Anne gave me a vintage cookbook from 1969 called The Year Round Holiday Cookbook, by Suzanne Huntley.  It's actually a really interesting cookbook, because it gives you various recipes for all the holidays (even the lesser holidays, like President's Day) and it tells you the history behind the holiday and the food.  I was flipping through the St. Patrick's Day recipes and found one for Jellied Irish Coffee that seemed intriguing.  It's basically an edible version of the drink.

Directly from the book:

For 6 servings:
1 tbsp. unflavored gelatin
2 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp. instant coffee
4 tbsp. sugar
3 ounces Irish whiskey
Sweetened whipped cream

Soften the gelatin in 1/2 cup of water.  Heat the rest of the water, add the instant coffee and sugar to the softened gelatin.  Stir to dissolve the gelatin, add the whiskey, and remove the pan from the fire.  Pour into demitasse cups or small bowls and chill until firm.  Just before serving, mask the top of the jelly with whipped cream.

As the last strains of "My Wild Irish Rose" fade into the night, we can bless Saint Patrick for inspiring this time of "fun and frolic".  Erin go bragh!
I'm not a big drinker and I only drink wimpy lattes from Starbucks as far as coffee goes, so I added some melted dark chocolate to my Jellied Irish Coffee so that the coffee/whiskey taste would not be so strong.  It's kind of like a jello shot.  Only with coffee.  And whipped cream.  I confess not my favorite thing ever, but if you were really into whiskey and coffee, I imagine you'd really love this dessert.

I'm sharing this recipe on Joy of Desserts this week.  She collects vintage recipes on her blog. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to Clean Up Dog Vomit When You're Really Neurotic

Warning:  Gross post ahead.  Abandon ship, those with weak stomachs!

Thankfully, our border collie Scooter doesn't get sick very often.  But the other day the twins had fevers and didn't want their lunches.  They dumped a massive amount of mac and cheese on the floor, and I decided to cheat a little by letting Scooter come in for initial clean up.  I hadn't even finished washing the lunch dishes when I heard a hacking.  You know, the very hacking you DO NOT want to hear.

I quickly shooed him outside, but it was too late.  There was the most massive pile of dog puke on our rug and wood floors.  Seriously, I won't give you details but it was a HUGE amount.  How does his stomach even hold that much?  Oh ick.  I'm the biggest baby when it comes to cleaning up puke, have I mentioned?

Because it was a good two+ inches tall, I started by bringing the trash can over and using newspaper to scoop.  By this time the twins were interested.  So I was waving my hands saying "YUCKY!  YUCKY!  NO! NO!" while trying to wave them away.  The last thing I needed was for them to dive into the mess like it was playdoh. 

After newpaper action was done, I switched to paper towels.  Then I sprayed the area with my homemade rug cleaner (a combination of water, vinegar, and dish soap).  I scrubbed the cleaner on the rug with paper towels.  Then I sprayed the area with Lysol.  Then, I washed my hands really well with antibacterial Dial.

I continued to shoo the twins away so the rug could dry.  But two hours later I still had images of dog puke in my head.  I started worrying that maybe Scooter threw up because he had worms.  Or even parasites.  (And this thought is what did me in - honestly I'm not OCD but I just couldn't get rid of the thought of us all catching worms!). So I got out the Clorox wipes and scrubbed the rug and floor again.  And then washed my hands again.

An hour later I hit the area one more time with Clorox wipes.  And then I scrubbed it with a little Nature's Miracle for good measure.  Then I went outside and dewormed Scooter for hookworms, roundworms, pinworms, and tapeworms.  This involved 3 pills plus a liquid dewormer.  Poor Scooter.  Then more hand washing.

No lie - 8 hours later I was still thinking about dog puke.  So I vacuumed the rug and mopped the hard wood floor beside the area rug.  Then for good measure I mopped the rest of the house.

I think it's clean now.  I so need a steam cleaner!  Also - as it turns out - Scooter got into the chicken feed, so that's what made him ill.  All that worrying over worms for nothing!

So she's totally going to kill me for this, but I'm linking up today with Angela's Show and Tail at WV Treasures.  Because as all responsible pet owners know, sometimes it isn't just cute furriness.  But we love our messy furry/feathered friends anyhow!  Go check Angela out for less gross animal tales and pictures.

Also, please go visit Everyday Ruralty today.  It's a wonderful blog about rural living, farming, animals, and things of that nature. I have an interview over there, and I don't mention anything gross, I promise!

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Bento Find and Lunch for Preschool

I still pack bento-style lunches for Pierce each week when he goes to preschool, I just haven't had a chance to blog about them.  So I figured I'd take the day off from Muffin Tin Monday to share a bento lunch instead.

I recently found some cute lunch boxes on sale at J.C. Penney's for $3.99.  In addition to the shark box, they also had a pink mermaid.  The box is deep which is nice for larger items, and it has a tray that lifts off the top that is just the right size for a sandwich.

Pierce had a green egg (with I Am Sam drawn on by my food writers), two cheese skewers, a veggie calzone (stuffed with sneaky spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, garlic, tomato sauce and cheddar cheese - I'll post the recipe at some point because they are easy to make), 2 condiment containers - one with raisins and one with cranberries, and a kiwi. 
These lunches continue to be a hit, and Pierce often says that lunch was his favorite part of the day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Easy Canvas Prints - A Review

Recently I was contacted by Easy Canvas Prints to see if I would be interested in reviewing one of their products.  For a long time I've had this fabulous picture of my grandmother and have been longing to do something with it.  So it seemed like the perfect fit.

Easy Canvas Prints allows you to take a picture and turn it into a canvas print.  One thing I really loved about their website is how easy it is to use.  Just a four step process to create a masterpiece.

I already had this picture scanned into my computer.
This picture is of my grandmother, Lin Lin, and was taken in 1945 (according to the date written in pencil on the back).
I just love how vibrant and young she is.  Doesn't she look full of life?

First I went to the website and clicked on the 'Start Designing Now' button. 
You select your canvas size (I chose 11x14) and how thickly you want the image wrapped (I chose gallery wrap - 1.5 inches).

On the next step you will upload your image.  I've used other photo sites that took ages to upload an image.  With Easy Canvas Prints, the photo uploaded very quickly - no waiting at all.
Their guidelines will tell you if the resolution is too low or not.

Once you've uploaded your image, you will choose the border.  There are several options (including wrapping an image around the corners or choosing a color for your border), but I chose the mirror wrap option, which extends the picture around the sides in a mirror image.

Here is a close up:

Finally, you will select image options.  You can turn a color photo into black and white or sepia, and you can have minor or major retouching done.  Now you may have noticed that my photo does have a crease running across it and some white in the upper corner.  However, I decided I didn't want to fix these things, because I think they give an old photo character.  This option would be a great service, though, if you had issues in a picture that you did want fixed.

Once you've completed those four steps, then off to checkout!  It's really that simple.

A few days later the package arrived on my doorstep. 
I wasn't sure how it would turn out because it was such an old photo, but I am thrilled with the results.
What a wonderful way to enjoy this picture!
And when Paul saw it he immediately wanted to make some of the old black and white photos he has of his relatives into canvas prints.

As much as I want to keep this for myself, this particular picture is actually intended for my Dad.  You see, his birthday is in a week, and I suspect he might really love this picture of his mother to hang on the wall.  Happy birthday, Dad!  I hope you love this print as much as I do.

Disclaimer:  I was provided one canvas print in exchange for a review.  All of the opinions expressed above are my own.