Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 2011 Round Up

Click mosaic to biggify. Created using Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
I've been chipping away at a book with all the doctor's appointments of late, but it's not done yet. I have started getting Southern Living and Good Housekeeping magazines (getting ready for the inevitable collage projects sure to come in school), and I read most of both of them this month. I mainly get them for the recipes! LOL

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
* TV Time: Pretty much the usual. Still watching The Next Iron Chef. Chuck, Rizzoli & Isles, The Closer, and Mythbusters are all up and running this month, in addition to the usual suspects.
* New Films: Catwoman (just as bad as everyone says, maybe even worse), Salt (eh, this was just okay), All the President's Men (truly excellent! highly recommended), Robin Hood (Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett; eh, this was just okay, not sure how a movie with so much going on could feel so slow), Twilight (not really understanding the fascination; maybe they get better? sure hope the books are better (have not read them)), Twilight: New Moon (well, somewhat better; semi-interesting concept if you leave out the high school drama/foolishness; officially Team Jacob, for what it's worth)
* Old Favorites: Tangled, Treasure Planet, Sneakers, Tron: Legacy, Stargate, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Last Starfighter, The Count of Monte Cristo, Batteries Not Included, Toy Story 2, Bolt, The Mummy, Toy Story, Up, The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Movie, Dumbo

What special days did I celebrate and how?
Spent Thanksgiving with my family at my parents' house. Great feast, saw my brother for the first time since last Christmas, good visit with my grandfather, excellent leftovers.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
A DSLR! Dad finally upgraded to a new one, so he gave me his old one, including the nice flash with diffuser and the big zoom lens. Yay me! Thanks so much, Daddy!!

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
DH had a one night tummy bug, but other than that, I think we stayed more or less well this month.

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
Played Canasta with the family over Thanksgiving. May have been a year since we did that. Dad trounced us so bad in a single hand that it took the rest of us 2-3 more hands to catch up.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
Tried a new recipe called Hot Chicken Salad (my cooking blog write up and direct recipe link. It was along the same lines as the Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole from a few weeks ago, but different enough to make it worth trying. Turns out, it was extremely similar in taste to our family favorite Ritzy Chicken Casserole. The Hot Chicken Salad was quite good, and I really enjoyed the corn flake and almond topping, but in my opinion the Ritzy Chicken Casserole is easier to prepare, so I'll probably just stick with that one. Might revisit the Creamy Chicken and Rice casserole, though.

Not doing nearly as well on my cooking blog as I hoped. Just *so* busy with work right now. Here are all of the current posts to Clueless in the Kitchen (forgot to do this in October, so that's what these are):What special or unusual purchases did I make?
Seems like there was something, but it's not coming to mind right now. Bought some Christmas gifts, but that's about it.

What were this month's disappointments or frustrations?
Work was frustrating, but for a good reason. (I know, that doesn't seem to make much sense.) I kept making mistakes, but at least I was catching the mistakes, or I knew they were mistakes I should not have made, which means maybe I'm starting to sort-of learn what I'm doing.

What were my accomplishments this month?
Made some progress on some of the "over time" 101 Things items, but I'm still failing miserably on some as well. If I don't hurry (like on the pantry/refrigerator, etc inventory items), I'll miss them completely. I did complete one item, though.

22. Find a barbecue sauce I like (bottled or homemade). We settled on Sweet Baby Ray's. DH's Aunt E has a better homemade recipe, but I haven't gotten it from her yet.

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

Luke had a pretty good month. School seems to be going pretty well for him, the reading is still making slow progress. His report card shows all A's (and S's for non-letter grade items), so we can't really argue with that. He also received a trophy for the completion of fall soccer. Overall, it was a pretty quiet month (which was nice for a change, especially with December/Christmas coming up).

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Nope, that pretty much covers it.

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: rounded

Wordless Wednesday - November 30, 2011

Currently feeling: pretty

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pinterest Inspirations for November

Yep, still a wee bit addicted. I didn't get to as many of these as I would have liked this month. Things just got busy at work. This one was actually done in October, though after my original October Pinterest blog post, and it is worth going out of my way to mention.

"Best Ever Hot Cocoa Mix" is how this pin was described. (Recipe here.) I have to say, this was yum! I don't think it is as good as my recipe that is made on the stove (I'll try to post that to my recipe blog before Christmas), but for an instant dry mix that's ready at any moment, it is quite good. I made half a batch, and I have a small food processor, so I had to pulse it in 3 batches. As you can see from the photo, the color is a little odd with the dutch processed cocoa, more of a gray/black than the warm chocolate brown most people are accustomed to, but it tastes really good. I actually thought it needed to be just a touch sweeter, so I added some extra powdered sugar (1-2 tsp per serving; I didn't measure exactly). I'd love to figure out how to get some vanilla in there, and I think maybe swapping some of the powdered milk with nondairy creamer might be good. I'll tinker with it, if I get a chance, but even as is, it is very good.

There were also a few more recipes:

Asian Turkey Meatballs (Recipe Link) - These were just okay. I thought they were rather dry, heavy on the ginger, and not enough soy sauce. Might be worth fiddling with, but there are so many other recipes to try, I'm not sure I will.

Hot Chicken Salad (Recipe Link) - This tasted very similar to a recipe I already make routinely (Ritzy Chicken Casserole), but mine is easier, and I prefer the sour cream to the mayonnaise. I'll just stick with mine.

Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole (Recipe Link) - For comparison to the one above, I also made this one. It was quite good! I will definitely try again, maybe with some tweaks. I think I should have made it in a deeper and narrower vessel; it dried out a little at 9x13 size.

Didn't get to any crafts or anything this month like I'd hoped to, and as busy as December is looking, I don't have high hopes for that month either. Maybe I should make it a mini-goal to do a non-recipe related pin from Pinterest each month? We'll see.

Currently feeling: pinned

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Disney Rides: A Conversation With Luke

While discussing that Luke will get to ride a new roller coaster at Disney next year.

Me: Big Thunder will be closed while we're there.
Luke: Awww! That's my favorite ride!
Me: I know, but you'll get to ride a new roller coaster while we're there.
Luke: Yeah!! I love Disney! It has all my favorite rides except for some.
Nana: So there are some rides you don't like?
Luke (nodding): Mm-hmm.
Me: Like what?
Luke: (shrugs his shoulders)
Nana: So you like them all?
Luke (looking confused): No.
Me: So which ones do you not like?
Luke (still looking confused): I don't know.
Me (a little frustrated): So you *do* like them all?
Luke (equally frustrated): But they don't have rides at the mall!

[He was hearing me say "them all" and hearing "the mall," as in the place you shop.]

Currently feeling: confuzzled

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

Hope yours was great!

Currently feeling: thankful

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Appetizers: A Conversation With Luke

At Applebee's for dinner.

[waiter brings our fried cheese stick appetizer]

DH: Do you want to try some?
Luke: No, thanks.
DH: Are you sure?
Me: It's like inside out pizza.
Luke: No, I don't want any.
DH: Okay.

[pause a few moments while DH and I start eating]

Luke (whining): I'm hungry!
Me: They're cooking your food. They'll bring it out when it's done.
Luke: But I'm hungry now!
DH: Gee, if only they would bring us some food that cooks quickly so we would have something to nibble on while they cook the rest of our food. Wait, look, cheese sticks!
Luke: But I don't like those! I want my chicken.
Me: I think you're missing the point.
Luke, No! I'm missing my chicken.

Currently feeling: too funny

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Life Magazine - Not Much Has Changed

Every few weeks, I run across a link to a LIFE Magazine photo spread. Most of them are very interesting and usually include links to a few never before published photos. I can't even remember what I was originally looking at, but I followed a link within the LIFE Magazine site to a list of the top 75 covers. While I disagree with some of them, it was very interesting to flip through them, especially in chronological order.

Many of the covers included only a photo, or at most a few words regarding the cover story. But there were a few years in the mid to late 50s where they included some other headlines on the cover as well. Here are the two that especially caught my eye.

"The Need for Better Scientists and M.I.T.'s Answer"
May 7, 1956 Life magazine headline

"Crisis in Education Part III - How U.S. Wastes Its Giften Children"
April 7, 1958 Life magazine headline

Not much has changed in 50+ years, has it? Sad. I think it would be fascinating to actually be able to read the articles. Anyone know of a (free) online source where I could do that?

Currently feeling: hmmm

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Luke's Official 7 Year Old Stats

Finally, I have Luke's official 7 year old statistics growth statistics. You have to make your "well visit" appointments about a month in advance. I originally had it scheduled for the last week of October, then discovered that it occurred during the week of standardized testing for first grade. I know those test scores can make a big difference to the teacher, so I rescheduled the appointment. By then, November 17 is the best I could get. On the one hand, six weeks late doesn't seem like a big deal. On the other hand, I think he grew at least 1/4 to 1/2 inch in those six weeks! Drumroll please....

Height: 51 in/ 129 cm (90th percentile), up 2.5 inches/6.35 cm from last year
Weight: 62 lb/ 28.1 kg/ 4.43 stone (85th percentile), up 4 lb/ 1.8 kg from last year

Overall, everything looked great, except for one minor issue: he did not pass the hearing screening. The nurse ran it twice and got the same failing result. She did say that she suspected it was just wax in his ear (his ears are very waxy; always have been). But when the doctor checked it out, she said there was actually very little wax in his ear and had the test rerun. Three more attempts, and three more failures. She said he should be able to hear the sounds around 20 deicbels, definitely by 30, but it was taking until around 40 before he would indicate that he heard it. We're being referred to an audiologist. :-( I can't help but wonder if it is the same fluid problem he was diagnosed with right before speech therapy. Guess we'll find out. I'll let you know how it goes whenever we get an appointment.

Currently feeling: frustrated

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First Grade Musical

Remember the musical program put on by the Kindergarten classes last year? We were so very impressed! So when Luke came home a few weeks ago singing songs from the musical Oklahoma, I couldn't wait for this year's show! So imagine my surprise when the First Grade musical performance at the PTA meeting was so.... disappointing? There really isn't another word for it (well, there is, but I'm trying to be nice). Apparently, the former music teacher retired and they have someone new. I'm trying to resist the urge to send her video from last year and say "If they were capable of *this* in Kindergarten, then imagine what they can do now. You are squandering their capabilities; please give them more credit!" Also, instead of doing a single longer program for all of First Grade, they sent the classes up on stage 1 or 2 at a time to do "musical interpretation and assistance in reading." Translation: the music teacher read the book while the kids either "sang" the book's refrain (if there was one) or added sound effects. Yeah.

DH and I suspect that this was her master's thesis or something, how music can assist in reading. And I'm sure it can and does! But I really wanted something more, um, traditional when it was advertised as a "musical program." And naturally, Luke's group was the last to go, so all of the kids who had already performed (and their parents) were wiggly and not very respectful. I was not a happy camper. I know it's her first year, and I'm trying to cut her some slack, but I expect much more next year.

But he did look terribly adorable on stage. He almost got upset when it looked like all of the xylophone seats were taken, but there was one spot left, next to "Hermione" from Halloween (that's not her real name, but I think it's a good code name for her for now).

Also, I don't think the PTA has children. Otherwise, I can't imagine they would have started the program at 7PM (already too late, IMO, though I understand many parents can't be there any sooner), then the after school music program group performed (which was *much* better, given that it is still managed by the former music teacher), then the four groups of kids each performed one reading/song that lasted about 3 minutes, not to mention the extra time it took getting four groups of children on and off the stage. It was nearly 8PM by the time we left, WAY past my son's regular bedtime. Do normal children stay up that late? Maybe we're the weird ones putting him to bed around 7:30, but when he gets up at 6AM, he needs it! Here's hoping next year's program is better.

Currently feeling: underwhelmed

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Last Soccer Game for 2011

The last game of our Fall 2011 U8 season was today. The last few games were in a type of "playoff" format where we played teams we'd already seen. We were fairly evenly matched with this team last time, though the score didn't really reflect that. I didn't do very well with the pictures or the video this time. This is about all I got that is worth showing.

This time, our boys played some of the best soccer we have seen them play. The other team only had 2 or 3 shots on goal, and they scored one. The problem was, we couldn't score a goal to save our lives! There were a minimum of 12 shots on goal for our team, and at *least* 8 of those hit the post and never went in. If we had paid the boys to hit the post, they couldn't have done it as well or as consistently. It was agony! Our only actual goal was a little roller into the net that the other team's goalie accidentally kicked in, and we ended up tied 1-1. That's okay, though. They had fun and played some really good soccer.

For some reason, starting at the U8 level, the league no longer supplies trophies to the teams. We all decided that wasn't fair, so we purchased some for the team. I was the trophy committee, and I think they turned out really nice. The boys loved them, which is all that really matters. :-) Looking forward to spring!

Currently feeling: like a winner

Friday, November 11, 2011

Job Update - Things Going Well

I finished and closed my first projects at work today! Guess that means things are going well. It's cost me a couple of 10 hour days, but they were done and on time. Overall, I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of things, though we haven't really gotten to the "hard part" yet (the complex projects that I was hired to manage because of my previous experience with the systems). But, I am officially billing and bringing in money, so I'm finally earning my keep (I hope!). Yay!

Currently feeling: working hard, trying to keep up

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Luke The Giant

We were informed today that Luke is officially tied with another boy for the tallest person in all of 1st grade. That's about 100 kids! Given that he is on the 90th percentile height line for his age, that means there should have been at least a few more about his height or taller. Should be fun to see them all standing on stage singing at the PTA meeting next week.

Currently feeling: huge

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Nerdcore and The Browncoat's Mix Tape

I learned a new geek term today: Nerdcore. According to
Nerdcore: Any form of music that is made by nerds, for nerds, or about nerdly things. Nerdcore can be made in any style of music, but most people identify it in either its pop-punk or hip-hop forms. Although many people think the term "nerdcore" was made up by MC Frontalot, it has in fact been in use by rock bands for many years prior to Frontalot's use of the term. Nerdcore should not be confused with bands that are simply stereotypically popular with nerds such as They Might Be Giants, DEVO, Ween, etc.
So why has this bit of nerd culture recently come to my attention? Because of a link posted by Nathan Fillion on Twitter. Go ahead and read the article; I'll wait!

The article is discussing The Browncoats Mix Tape by Adam WarRock. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is rap about Firefly (the Joss Whedon show, as if there were any doubt among most of my readers). Allow me to present a taste:

I've only listened to a couple of songs so far, but I have to admit, I am completely amazed. Who knew such a thing existed?! I feel like I've upped my geek quotient by a few more points today.

Currently feeling: nerdy

Wednesday, November 02, 2011