Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Babies & Balls

Catchy title, eh? 

It's exciting times around here. 

We have baby bunnies...

Which is odd, considering when we bought the 2 adult bunnies that these came from they were purchased separately and each was listed as a "bred doe".  Which means, in case you're not up on rabbit reproduction lingo, they were girls already with child, so to speak.  That was 4 months ago, the gestation of a rabbit is 28-31 days, so when months went by without any babies we started to get suspicious.  Sidenote:  ONLY 31 DAYS OF BEING PREGNANT?!?  Lightweights.  I would've had dozens of kids if 10 months of my life weren't spent being pregnant for each one.  And now the term, "breeding like rabbits" has become crystal clear.  In addition to the absence of babies long past the due dates,  we noticed some rather inappropriate behavior for 2 mothers-to-be, if you know what I'm saying.  We then realized we did NOT have 2 does, but wouldn't you know it, we had a doe and a buck, or a boy and a girl.  Keep in mind that this is the same auction that alleged sold me donkeys as mules so I don't know why we would assume they were telling the truth but I guess since we were dealing in rabbits we figured they could be trusted.  Assumption, wrong.  So to make an already long story short, the 2 of them (a boy and a girl) did ahem...what rabbits do, and we ended up with these adorable babies.  And I have no idea if they're boys or girls, I'll just take them to the auction and have them tell me...or not.  All that has been confirmed for certain is that they are stinking adorable and sweet. 

You know what else is adorable and sweet?   This...
And because I'm the proud aunt and I can post more pictures if I want to....This
This is my new niece, Lyla Jean.  I'm sorry but if you look at those pictures and don't have a little pang of "oh what a sweet baby" you may be dead inside.  GI Joe's brother (my brother in law) and his wife L (my sister in law) are Lyla's parents.  I don't really know why I felt the need to spell out that they are my brother and sister in law in addition to GI Joe's brother B, maybe because if I said "my brother in law and sister in law" it sounds odd and could be mistaken for some very weird family dynamics.  Hmm, and now we know why it takes me an hour to do one blog post.  Welcome to my world.  ANYWAY, GI Joe and his brother are night and day in a lot of ways but one thing they have in common is making cute babies.  Lyla has an older brother Hunter who is 3 months older than Blade, an older sister Chloe who is 2 DAYS younger than Ryder.  Here they are.....
The Hulk hands are a nice touch don't you agree?

So what I'm trying to say is that last time B & L blessed me with a niece and nephew I was too busy blessing them with nephews of their own to be able to really enjoy Hunter and Chloe as babies.  I mean, I enjoy them now for sure, Chloe cracks me up with her love of shopping and high heels and her diva like demeanor (it's not like I can relate or anything) and Hunter with his random trivia facts and vivid imagination but when they were babies I didn't really get to sit and hold them for hours because you know, my own baby needed held and fed.  Does that make sense?  All that to say that THIS time they had a baby, GI Joe and I did not, which means I'm completely and thoroughly addicted to Lyla. 

I seriously cannot get enough.  Today is the first full day of her life that I have not seen her and it's taking everything in me to not hop in my car and drive the 15 minutes to their house to hold her for 10 minutes.  And before you tell me it's time to have another one, it's really not.  I have no baby fever or ovary ache-age whatsoever.  In fact, if it's not a baby that's related to me or the baby of a very very close friend, I don't even really like to hold them. I know, I'm not a real woman.  It just kind of freaks me out, maybe it's because I am scared I'll break it and since it's not in the family their parents will be really mad.  Because if they were in the family I"m sure they'd be totally fine with me accidentally breaking their baby.  Sure, I know I'm neurotic especially since so many women are baby maniacs no matter whose baby it is, but that's just not me.  But I do really love having a new baby in the family to hold without fear of breaking and to love on.  And buy shoes for, obviously...
It's been EIGHT years since we've had a baby on this side of the family, the side of the family I see on at least a weekly basis. Unlike my side, who have babies but then refuse to move closer so I have to go weeks and sometimes months without seeing them. Clearly, as an aunt, I've been baby deprived. 

Speaking of aunthood, it rocks. 

In celebration of being an aunt, I made a little somethin' somethin'.  A friend at work and I were talking on Monday morning about cupcakes and such and she told me that her sister had made some Cake Batter Balls over the weekend that were delicious.  Let me say that again...Cake. BATTER. Balls.  She didn't have the recipe but said she would get it for me.  I of course, went immediately back to my desk and googled "Cake Batter Balls" and have been thinking about them ever since.  Today I just couldn't wait any longer, I had to test these out. 
When I googled Cake Batter Balls, I landed upon this blog for the recipe.  I'd never read it before or heard of this lady.  All I knew was that she was a very smart lady and the recipe was easy so I took a chance.

It paid off.  They were really easy, with the exception of the dipping them in the almond bark, I am the worst at that.  But it worked out, I just covered my mistakes in sprinkles and all was right in the world again.  Not only were they easy but they tasted amazing.  I'm pretty sure these will be served in heaven, sprinkled with little flakes of gold and silver. 

Here's the link to recipe again http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2011/03/cake-batter-truffles.html.

She's much classier than I and calls them Cake Batter Truffles but that's not quite as catchy and demure as Cake Batter BALLS.  Call them what you what but just make them ASAP.  They're so cute you'll want to just schalack (I have no idea if I spelled that right and I"m betting spellcheck doesn't know what I'm trying to say so go with me on this one) them and use them as a centerpiece.  But don't, go ahead and eat them.  And then give thanks that we live in a country where there are such things as Cake BATTER Balls.  As if just plain old cake balls and freedom of speech weren't enough, we have Cake BATTER Balls. 

And bunny ears.....

 And perfect, precious babies named Lyla.   
God bless the U.S.A...and babies and balls everywhere. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011


This is a friendly, Friday reminder that we just can't be good at everything all the time. So go easy on yourself. 

Because sometimes even, I, Prairie Princess, award winning chef, messes up while cooking a meal that I got up early to prepare the delicous smelling marinade for and had been looking forward to enjoying all day. 
Blackened chicken anyone?

Sometimes in my quest to be the perfect mom/wife/housekeeper/chef I am trying to do 50,000 things at once.  I'm sure many of you can relate.  And in my hurried state, I may or may not have accidentally cranked the grill up as high as it would go thinking I was actually turning it down low buying me more time to you know, multi-task.  I thought it was odd when I looked at the temperature gauge on the grill and it was like it hadn't moved from zero.  Turned out it had LAPPED zero and had gone around the dial once and was making it around the second time, making this chicken definitely salmonella free at approximately 1000 DEGREES. 

Salmonella?  No.
E Coli?  No.
Edible?  Also NO.

You guys, I wanted to sit down and cry. Seriously.  But sometimes instead of crying over spilled milk burnt chicken you've got to suck it up and blog about it instead. 

I should not be left unattended with the grill.  This is what happens when GI Joe works late and by works late I mean LOCKS HIS KEYS IN HIS WORK CAR AND HAS TO WAIT FOR A LOCKSMITH.  So I'm not the only one who's had a rough night.  Oh and did I mention he's on mood altering steroids for his 6th case of poison ivy this summer?  Because he is.  And there's a reason the label on the pill bottle says "mood altering" instead of "mood enhancing".  Bless his heart and mine for having to love him in spite of the 'roids.  

Clearly, tonight should have been a takeout night.  Except when you live in the boondocks there is no such thing.

The blackened chicken wasn't a complete loss, I threw it in the barnyard, mainly for Hormel, but noticed that the chickens seemed to rather enjoy it as well.  So not only do we have an escape artist hog, a Prairie Princess who cannot successfully grill poultry, but  we have cannibalistic chickens...awesome. 

As for the grilling, I'm turning the tongs over to GI Joe from now on.  I'm charred for life.  :)


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hog Wild

I can't believe it's been 2 weeks since my last post.  Time flies when you're having fun or when you're back to being chauffeur mom running 3 kids, 30 different places at the same time.  Ahhh gotta love back to school.  But enough about that, I'm up past my bedtime so I'm gonna get right to it.  We'll talk about back to school and such another time.  But tonight I need to tell you a little story about Hormel the Hog and an event that would only happen at the Koons Zoo. 

Remember how back in the spring we decided we were gonna be all real farmerish and bought a piglet to raise and then *gasp* butcher when it got old/big enough?  I'm sure there are still pools out there betting against me actually being able to follow thru with it.  The jury is still out but I've done really well at not getting attached and doing things like petting her and taking lots of pictures of her.  BUT she's not really helping my case when she comes running to the fence, ears flapping in the wind every time we walk outside.  Or when we yell her name.  Uggh.  She's not supposed to be cute or do cute things!  We've still got a few more months before D B Day so we'll see.  I think if it were to just magically happen without me knowing I'd be fine, it's when I think too much about it that I start deliberating and trying to convince GI Joe that we should just keep her and breed her for piglets and THEN butcher the piglets instead.  She can just be our "sow".  
Anyway, Hormel isn't always being cute.  Sometimes she's being mischevious and doing things like escaping from the barnyard and walking around our front yard, or munching on our watermelon plants in the backyard, or walking along the road in front of our house.  You know, the stuff hogs do.

One morning a few weeks ago, GI Joe called me at work.  This is the conversation we had.
GIJ breathlessly:  You wouldn't believe the morning I've had!!
PP:  Oh yeah, me too, they're out of Reese's in the vending machine.  Now what am I s'psed to have for breakfast?!?
GIJ:  Hormel got out.
PP:  Can you bring me a Starbucks?  I'm so sleepy. 
pp:  Oh what's that?  Hormel got out? Did you get her back in?
GIJ: (deep sigh) You wouldn't believe what I had to go thru with her this morning.
PP:  Isn't she so cute?  I don't know if we should butcher her.  We should just keep her and she can have babies and then we'll sell the babies!  That would make us REAL pig farmers wouldn't it?!? 
GIJ:  She was running around the yard about to go in the road!  I had to chase her all over. 
PP:  So is that a yes?  We can keep her?!?  I'm gonna buy overalls like a real pig farmer!
GIJ:  I just spent 30 minutes chasing a pig around our front yard, NO I do not want to keep her.
PP:  30 minutes?  Why so long?
GIJ:  Well, every time I got close to her she got spooked and took off running the opposite way of the barnyard.  So finally, I grabbed the closest thing to a stick I could find to direct her.
PP:  Oh like one of those things the 4H kids that show pigs use? 
GIJ:  Yes, like that except we don't have one of those because we don't show pigs so I grabbed a fishing pole instead. 
PP:  Whatever works. 
GIJ:  Yeah, it worked but there's just one small problem.
PP:  You broke the fishing pole?  Was it my pink one, cuz I"m gonna be SO mad if it was!
GIJ:  No, it was Blade's and no, it didn't break. 
PP:  Phew, that's good because I really like the metallic pink color that my fishing pole is and I haven't seen very many others like that.  Although I do kinda want a different one because I'm not crazy about that reel...
PP:  Uh what?
GIJ:  I was using the pole to tap her on the neck to get her to go the direction I wanted her too and she tried to run under it and got the hook right in her neck.
PP:  Did you reel in?!? 
GIJ:  No, I didn't reel her in.  I just cut the line.  She wouldn't let me get close enough to take it out.
PP:  So she's running around with a hook, fishing line, and sinker hanging out of her neck?!?
GIJ:  Yes, but she's back in the barnyard!  She'll be fine. 

And by the next day, she was "off the hook" and we didn't even have to intervene.  Although we did catch her down at the pond with a tacklebox and a stringer of fish. 

Fishing poles, they're not just for fishing.  

I'm quite certain that if we had video footage of the events that transpired that morning with GI Joe running around the yard in his uniform, fishing pole in hand, hooking Hormel, we'd be on David Letterman right now.  Can you even imagine?!? 
A younger, much less experienced, pig wrangler. Obviously, he hadn't thought of the fishing pole trick. 

Hormel now runs squealing through the barnyard in terror whenever we are getting ready to go fishing.  On the bright side, the next time GI Joe says, he caught one THIS big, I have no choice but to believe him.  The proof is in the pudding  pork. 

 Got worms?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blink of An Eye

Ryder turned eig...well, he celebrated his 5th birthday for the 4th time today.  I really can't talk about it yet because a) how can my BABY be that old already and b) I'm exhausted from Day 1 of Ryder's 4 Day Birthday Weekend.  Where do these kids come up with this birthday weekend stuff?  And how did he finagle it that his fell on a Thursday, the same Thursday that we had to spend an hour at the school for open house and junior high orientation stuff, so he demanded that he get an extra day.  Not really demanded just announced that since his DAY was being interrupted by a school function he would require his birthday weekend to start Thursday and not end until Sunday.  So high maintenance, that one.  No idea where he gets that from. 
I have my standard sappy birthday post almost ready but in the meantime, take a trip down memory lane with me.  It'll be fun...and depressing. 

Even at 5 days old he had an ornery streak because moments after this was taken he pooped all over GI Joe's arm.  Ahhh memories.  Also, this picture?  Precious.

Heaven, help us.  Check him out.  I die.  One month old.  You always hear that the youngest kid in the family has the least amount of pictures.  With the first, the parents are all gung ho and religiously have pictures taken every 3 months, then the 2nd comes along and it might be every 6 months, and then the 3rd comes along and you're lucky to have one a year.  Well, I was NOT that kind of parent.  In fact, I think Ryder has more pictures than anyone mainly because I was rebelling against the system and would not be the mom with no pictures of her youngest.  So yeah, 5 days, one month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, 18 months, I did them all.  Then he started developing an attitude, a personality and wasn't as cooperative so they became slightly more sporadic.  But it wasn't due to lack of trying. 
Taken at adorable months old.  I'm too lazy to get up and look at the back to find out when it was.  I realize I'm slightly biased, but c'mon have you ever seen such a cute baby?  And this is how I remember most of his babyhood, such an easy, happy boy. 

Fast forward eigh.....72 months later...

We couldn't be prouder!  :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Child Labor Laws

We don't believe in 'em.  Both GI Joe and I work really hard so we expect no different from our kids.  Especially since they're "farm kids", there's no easy street for them.  No siree. 
Since they've been school age they've had chores, both inside and outside.  We've been criticized for making our kids *gasp* work but ummm, well, ummm....we don't really care.  There's a reason that back in the pioneer days there weren't as many juvenile delinquents, it's because they were TOO BUSY WORKING ON THE FARM.  Anyway, the older they get the more labor intensive the chores get.  Of course, it's not like GI Joe and I sit on the deck and eat bon bons while watching our kids slave away.  We're working right along side them.  Such is life in the country.  There's lots to do and there are 5 able bodied people to do it, no child left behind so they say.  Although pretty sure that's not what they meant when that phrase was all over the campaign trail. 

Last weekend when it was 100 degrees, we decided it was time to pull the wood siding off one of the shelter buildings for the animals so we could replace it before winter.  Since our boys are stereotypical boys who like to destroy and destruct things we put them to work tearing it off the building and getting it into smaller, manageable pieces so that we could burn it in a small, contained, fire in the ditch.  So destroying stuff+breaking stuff+fire=OH YES PLEASE. 

First, they got in their uniforms...

You know, swim trunks and cowboy boots for one, swim trunks and tennis shoes for the other.  Classic working man's uniform. 

There was extensive drug testing.  One failed....

Say no to crack. 

Then they got to work. It was all puppy dog tails and snails for the first board or so, but then when the heat set in and they realized just how much work they had ahead of them the mood quickly turned sour.

If looks could kill, he'd be using his inheritance to hire someone to do this "stupid work" for him. 

But you know what?  They did it.  And when they climbed up in the tree to watch the fire in the burn pile that they had made, they were pretty darn proud of themselves. 

Then a few days later, they volunteered to help me stain the swingset.  I figured no harm could come of that, I didn't care if the swingset looked perfect or not it just needed to have a new coat of stain on it to keep it weatherproofed.  And my arm was getting tired from already having stained one section of it.  So I handed them the brushes and the can of stain and went on my merry way. 

I kept hearing giggling and squeals and my heart delighted in them working together and having fun while doing something productive. 

I should've known.

A good while later, I came back to this...

 And this...
They looked like self tanner jobs gone wrong.  It took days before the big brown spot of stain on Ryder's nose wore off.  Classy.  

They had fun and the swingset is stained so mission accomplish.  Never mind that the slide also has a protective coat of stain on it.  You can just never be too careful with Iowa winters, you know.  

Ryder told me the other day, "Maybe I do want to live in the city so I wouldn't have to work SO HARD all the time."
I told him it really didn't matter where he lived as long as we were his parents he'd have to work hard so deal with it, oh and sorry about your luck, oh and one more thing...SUCK IT UP CUPCAKE.  Also, editor's sidenote:  AS IF. 
Then in a fit of exasperation and frustration at the unfairness of his tortured life as a farm kid he exclaimed, "I just want ONE summer where we don't have to do any chores!"
And then I laughed hysterically because THAT?  That is NEVER gonna happen. 

Country kids these days.  They have it so rough don't they?!?  I'm sure Laura Ingalls Wilder hated it too when her Wii time got cut short because she had to go do chores like staining her swingset.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fridays on the Farm

Sometimes when "city folks" visit the Koons Zoo, they ask, "So what do you do for fun WAY OUT HERE?!?"

I assure you that there has never been a time where we've sat around looking at each other in boredom saying, "What are we gonna do?  I'm so bored.  There's nothing to do."  Because there's ALWAYS something to do.

Sometimes we do hard farm girl/boy stuff....
Not pictured because we're too busy working to take pictures, obviously.  Actually, that's not entirely true. The truth is that after working like a farm girl, I am not photogenic in the least.  And if you think I'm going to be posing for a picture while I'm all hot and sweaty with my ponytail plastered to my head, mascara streaked down my face, lipgloss worn off, while wearing my swimsuit, cutoffs, chore boots, & pink workgloves, you are sadly mistaken. 

Sometimes we go fishing.....
Sometimes we take our livestock for a leisurely stroll through the countryside....

Sometimes we shoot stuff...

Sometimes we chop stuff...

Sometimes we start a fire (outside and ok inside too), kick back and eat s'mores...

Sometimes we go on 4 wheeler rides......

Sometimes we pet our peacock....

Sometimes we play catch the escapee bunny...

Sometimes we take our cow out for a spin....

And sometimes we pretend we're "urban" hairstylists and play with our duck's 'fro (doesn't everyone?) and then call him the The Rapper  Quacker known as TuPacTuQuack....

So I guess the answer to that question, "What do you do for fun way out here?" is simple, "Oh you know, NOTHING....." 

Have a great Friday whether you're on the farm or in the city! 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Reading Rainbow

"Take a look, it's in a book, a reading rainbow..."

Remember that song? From that weird show? Here's a little something to refresh your memory and to get that sung stuck in your head for the rest of the day,  you're welcome.

It's been a little while since I posted my last  "book club".  I've gotten quite a bit of feedback from you readers saying you actually read some of my recommendations from that post and wanted MORE! Now, I REALLY do feel like Oprah! But I get it, as many of the books I read are because I've seen them mentioned on someone else's blog or heard some buzz about it on Facebook or a friend told me to read it or Oprah told me to read it. Not really on that last one. In my experience if Oprah liked it, I thought it was horrible. While I'm sure she smells lovely, I'm not a fan of her taste in books. There you have it, my very philosophical method of selecting books to read. It's simple, I just want to read a good book. Life's too short for bad books. So consider this my gift to you.

Good Books I've Read

"Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand-This book is a MUST read. This is not my typical read but it was all the talk a few months back and I'm a follower like that so I read it. And then had GI Joe read aka listen to it on audio book. And then passed it off to my Smom & Dad to read and then told everyone I knew to read it too. So, so good. I'll be honest there are parts of the book that are painfully hard to read but it's crucial to the story and since it's a true story it's not like they just put it in there for shock value. It actually happened. If you're like me, this book will make you really angry at the Japanese for the things that happened during WWII. But then as I kept reading and continued on with the story, I realized that if the people who endured it and suffered the most from it can forgive and make peace with it, so can I. I just had to get over it and remember that if it weren't for the Japanese we wouldn't have sushi and I love me some sushi. I'm not saying, that sushi rights all the wrongs of the way they handled themselves in WWII but it certainly doesn't hurt. Just read this book, you won't be sorry. Here's a picture of the hero from the book Louis Zamperini, because as soon as you're done reading it you'll want to know what he's up to now and what he looks like, I'm saving you the trouble.
This is one cool dude and one INTENSE book. 
"Safe Haven" by Nicholas Sparks. I love a good, mushy Nicholas Sparks book. They're always an easy, feel good read. But I have to read them in small doses otherwise they get to be annoyingly predictable. Here's the standard Nicholas Sparks equation....set in a coastal town in the southeast, usually North or South Carolina, boy meets girl, tragedy strikes or has struck, love prevails, they live happily ever after, the end. But this one had some twists that made it a little different while still maintaining that Nicholas Spark's charm. This was a quick, easy, fun read. And it just might be one of my favorite Nicholas Sparks books ever. Way to mix it up a bit, Nick!

"Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back" by Todd Burpo-This book rocked my world. Seriously. No matter your religious beliefs you need to read this book. It's simply amazing. The minute I finished this book I went on Facebook and proclaimed to the world, or at least the world of my friends' list that they must read this. Good stuff, really good stuff. I'm kinda jealous of that little boy to tell you the truth. What an experience.

"Gone for Good" by Harlan Coben-Now on to a complete opposite of "Heaven is for Real". A friend of mine got me hooked on this author recently. He writes gritty, complex, mind boggling, thrillers that you seriously cannot put down. I've read 4 of his books now and this one is by far my favorite. It's so well written that you just never know where it's going to end up and when it gets there it all makes sense. It is not an easy read, it may make your head hurt a little because it's a lot to take in, just stick with it, you'll be glad you did. Another one I really liked of his was "Tell No One", another one of his that I really did NOT like "The Woods". Check ol' Harlan out if you're in the market for some well written, crazy, suspenseful, neglect-all-responsibilities-and-duties-in-life-until-you-finish, books.  My family was glad when I finished this book because then they had clean underwear again. 

"Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay" by Suzanne Collins-These were the 2nd and 3rd books in the Hunger Games series. Now I know why the first one was so cheap on my Kindle, because it SUCKED YOU IN AND YOU COULDN'T HELP BUT DOWNLOAD THE MORE EXPENSIVE SEQUELS. Well played Amazon, well played. Since this series is touted as "Young Adult Fiction" after I finished it, I had Dakota read it. She was reluctant at first because she's into books with dragons and wizards and witches and fantasy creatures whereas I'm not. She figured if I liked them she definitely would not (pre-teen anyone?!?), but she did, she really did. That's the beauty of well written young adult fiction, it appeals to all ages. P.S. It does have some fantasy creatures in it and I STILL liked it, yay me for expanding my horizons! You know that saying, don't judge a book by it's cover? It's true. Because at first glance and reading the back, I had absolutely no desire to read these, they sounded too weird, too out there for me. But then a blogger who has similar tastes in literature to mine was raving about them so I gave into peer pressure and read them too. And wouldn't you know it I'm a fan. Sometimes it's good to step out of your box. Let that be a life lesson for you. Wow, look at that not only am I giving out reading recommendations but life advice as well. There's a new Oprah in town! :) The main character of this series is a girl named Katniss and I think part of what drew me in is that she reminded me so much of Dakota. I loved this series and I especially loved having "book discussions" with Dakota as she read them. A movie of this series is coming out next spring so jump on the bandwagon now.

"Bossypants" by Tina Fey-I'm not a huge Tina Fey fan but kept hearing that this book was "laugh out loud funny" so I thought I'd give it a shot. I like to laugh out loud so why not?!? Much to my surprise it really did have some laugh out loud funny parts. She has a hilarious, self deprecating sense of humor that makes her so likeable and relatable. You felt like you were just hanging out with her, chatting like old friends, because she writes just like she talks, potty mouth and all. That was the only thing I didn't like about this book, my internal sensor had to work overtime, well, that and the creepy cover.

And finally, I'm 10 years late to the party (as usual)....

*"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" & "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by J.K. Rowling-I know, I know, where have I been all these years? Can we still be friends since I am admitting to not having read the HP series or seeing the movies when the rest of the world did? Sometimes when the whole world is going crazy over something (ie: Justin Bieber) I rebel and decide I have no interest in it. That's what happened with the whole Harry Potter thing. That, and I thought it was some medieval wizardry tale that had no appeal to me whatsoever. The rest of my family are diehard Harry Potter lovers. GI Joe read the kids the books out loud before bedtime and Dakota has read and reread all of the books on her own, not to mention they have seen every one of the movies multiple times. It was their "thing" (kinda like Star Wars because Star Wars? Blech! Except I did have the best nap ever one time in a movie theater when GI Joe forced me to go with him to see one of the SW movies) and I was fine letting them have that but then recently with the last one just being released and my whole family telling me how good it was, I decided millions and millions of people just couldn't be wrong. So I sucked it up and committed to reading each book, watching the movie, and then reading the next book. So far I've read the first and second book in the series and I just started on my HP Quest a week ago, so that should tell you something. My reactions so far are as follows: 1) They are completely different than I thought they would be, it's actually set in modern times! That came as a complete shock to me and made me happy actually because I am not into medieval, fantastical fiction, which is what I honestly thought Harry Potter was all about. 2) They are masterfully written. You feel like you know each character individually. With as many characters and personalities as there are in the books it would be easy to get confused but Rowlings writes it in such a way that you really don't. Impressive. 3)  It's about so much more than magic and wizards, it's about good vs. evil, courage vs. coward and doing what is right.  Those themes are so apparent.  We knew a guy once who tried to convince us that Harry Potter was straight from satan and that we should UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES allow our children to watch or read such devil worship. And now I know why GI Joe was quick to tell the guy that he was wrong and that we will let our kids read/watch that because he disagreed wholeheartedly.  May I just interject here for a moment?  Of course I can, it's my blog.  What is it with people telling other people how to raise their kids?  Not cool people, not cool.  I can't think of one time where I've ever seen that end well, where the parent being told how to parent says, "You know you're right I DON'T know what's best for my kids even though I have raised them and know them better than anyone else on the planet, I think I'll do it your way. So glad you mentioned that."  Yeah right. Note to everyone:  Don't tell us how to raise our kids.  Moving on....   4) I am actually ENJOYING reading these books and watching the movies. I don't think Dakota, however, is enjoying me reading the books, especially when I keep asking her questions and she responds with "Why don't you quit asking questions and keep reading so you'll find out the answer?" Fine, be that way. And I'm a real joy to watch the movies with since I'm watching them within a day or two of finishing the book it's very fresh in my mind meaning any minor discrepancies between book and movie, I am quick to educate my family on. The movies, so far, have also been great. I think I get "it" now. And from what I hear, the books and movies only get better and more exciting from here. I realize I'm behind the times but I'm kinda glad I'm doing it this way because I don't have to wait years between each book or movie. I already know how it ends so I'm just reading for the pure enjoyment of the books and to see how it came to that ending. As it turns out the whole world was right about this whole Harry Potter thing (except that guy who told us it was of the devil). I still think they've got it all wrong with Bieber Fever though.  He really is of the devil.  :)

If you want to see what else I've been reading, join me on my new favorite site http://www.goodreads.com/.  Really though, if you're a reader, this site is the best.  You can put books on your "shelves" that you want to read, that you have read, and are currently reading.  That's what I use it mostly for, to keep track of the books I want to read.  Because there's nothing worse than starting a book and feeling that sense of deja vu, only to get halfway through and realize it's because you've already read it!  Not that I've ever done that but so I've heard.  ;)  When you finish reading a book you rate it and if you're so inclined, comment about it.  Then goodreads compiles the ratings of every book, so when you're putting a book on your "to be read" shelf you can see what the general population thinks of it.  You can friend people and follow people too, although I haven't quite gotten into that yet.  When you friend someone you can see what they're reading or have on their "shelves".  I've always thought that finding out what someone is reading or what's on their bookshelves is kinda like peeking in their medicine cabinet.  So come take a peek.
Not that I've given you any bad book suggestions but if you're reading a book and it's bad, boring, etc, at what point do you stop reading? Or are you "gotta finish what I started" no mattter how bad it is kinda person? For me, if a book hasn't grabbed me at least a third of the way through I'm done with it. My free time is limited as it is and I certainly don't want to spend what little I have reading a bad book when there are so many other good books out there that I want to read. The only exception to this rule is if I am warned ahead of time that it starts out slow but picks up and gets much better. Then I'll stick with it BUT if it still doesn't pick up and gotten my attention by halfway through, goodbye forever bad book.
So tell me, what are you reading? Have you read any of these mentioned? Are you on goodreads.com?  Talk nerdy to me.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Redneck Resourcefulness

One of the best things about summer is S'mores.  But sometimes when you're tired after working all day, humidity is 150% outside, and the bugs are buzzing like crazy, you just don't feel like going outside and starting a campfire in the perfectly good firepit. 
But it's summer and the craving for S'mores is strong so what do you do?

I'll tell you what you do, or at least what my hillbilly husband did.

You go to your tool shelf and you find your  BLOWTORCH.

And then you fire it up...IN THE KITCHEN.  You know, the place full of very flammable WOOD.

Without wearing safety goggles because "it's perfectly safe" and "i know what i'm doing."
And you know what?  THe marshmallows turn out perfectly roasted, not too done, not underdone, just right.  Why?  Because a butane blowtorch is so much more precise than a boring old campfire. 

And then the 9 year old boy, another redneck in the making, roasts marshmallows on a stick while his Daddy holds the BLOWTORCH.  Completely normal, no?  NO, not at ALL.
"Mommy, this is the BEST CAMPFIRE EVER!  I'm not getting any bug bites, my marshmallow isn't catching on fire, and I'm not getting cold and have to go inside for a sweatshirt.  I think the S'mores taste better when we make them like THIS!"

No wonder their Daddy is their hero. 

I hope when the kids are grown and have kids of their own they'll remember the times like this.  The times where it became undeniably clear that their Daddy is a redneck through and through, but a resourceful redneck.  And their mommy laughing nervously because she was sure he was going to burn down the house but taking pictures the whole time because if that isn't making memories I don't know what is.  And I hope they'll be inspired to do fun things like that with their kids.  And most of all, I hope they wear SAFETY GOGGLES and in the name of all that is holy and gooey, that they STEP AWAY FROM THE WOOD CABINETRY.