Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Haunted Halloween

Twas Halloween Night

Twas the night before All Saints, when all through the house, all the large cockroaches were crawling around the couch.

The pumpkin was lit and placed on the stair, in hopes that children soon would be there.

Sophie and Oscar were dressed like a bee, it was definitely a sight worthy to see.

When we walked out on the town, getting candy from ghouls and ghosts dressed in a gown.

Candy was dispersed by shopkeepers with care, looking for little kids ready to scare.The candy was placed gently in her bag, and it got so full it started to sag.

Away we then left to go to the church, where decorations were hung on the perch. Decorations of goblins and witches from the front to the rear, I waited for my friends and others to appear.

With Mom and Dad near by my side, I went to the ball pin for a ride. The colorful balls were fun and easy to hold, I laughed and bounced and felt quite bold.

At the end of the night we had a hotdog and bun, and we then left and went down like the sun.

As we made our way home Sophie fell asleep, and now she sleeps without making a peep.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Drug Education

Apparently, October is "Drug-free Month", where police and teachers attempt to convince students to "Just Say No". Unfortunately... I don't think it is working. All they seem to manage to do at the primary school is come up with clever sayings like "Say BOO to Drugs" and hand out goldfishes with the phrase "Fishing for Drug-free Friends". Which is ok, but not exactly effective. Kids will learn that teachers and police officers say don't do it. And essentially, yes... kids need to know that it isn't ok to do drugs. However, they aren't really given any reasons why NOT to do drugs. It's like telling a kid not to play with fire and hoping that the kid accepts that parents and teachers know best. And by the time they reach middle school and are on the hormone highway, they disregard anything a grown up says.

I think it is time to put away the witty sayings and start thinking of great ways to get kids to understand the 'Why not' in doing drugs. Here are a few interesting ideas.

1) This is what happens to kids' teeth when they do drugs. This picture shows the teeth of an 18 year old, before getting dentures. (Ok... so I'm lying about it being an 18 year old and them getting dentures... but hey... it could be true).

2) Or the ever popular, YOU COULD DIE!

3) You can age faster! Here is a picture of a woman over the time span of 15 years. Looks like she begins taking drugs at the age of 15. They should definitely show this to girls! You know what would be even better? Create a program that would allow the computer to take your current picture and show what drugs would do to your face over 10 years. That might convince some girls!

4) You can go to prison if caught in possession of drugs. Make sure to point out to them that there is no tv or 'computer time' while in prison. Oh... and that their is a rough dude at the local prison or juvy named 'Ralph' that likes to beat up and molest the newbies. Ok... so maybe saying molest isn't a good idea... but it could be effective.

5) Get a drug addict from jail to be interviewed and broadcast on tv to the classes. He/She can talk about all the things they did to get their next 'fix' and embarrassing and scary stories.

And if all else fails... and by fails I don't mean that it won't convince them, but that it isn't 'age appropriate' or pass amongst the school superintendents... go with the ever-popular egg commercial. You know the one... this is your brain... this is your brain on drugs. Classic and effective (somewhat).

When I asked the students why they didn't do drugs (typically I don't ask this but it was 'Drug free month' and they had to sign a banner saying "We say 'No' to Drugs") I got answers ranging from "Because they are bad" to "Because you'll go to Hell". Not one kid said because of prison, death, addiction, and horrible mental and physical defects. I mean sure my suggestions are scarying these kids, but some of them are already being 'scared' into saying "No", by telling these kids simply "If you do it ... you go to Hell". And no it isn't the school system doing it (they know they'd get sued), but it is their parents.

Lets' educate these kids and keep them away from drugs. So ... in honor of the few days left of October... just say "No to Drugs" or as some kids say "Druggies go to the Devil so don't do it".

* Note to Reader- This post is intended to include grades 2-12... although more likely aimed towards middle school and high school students. Also, I was absent for a week in October so teachers may have hit on some of these points, but the students may not have remembered them.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Making Jack

While Brian is in New Jersey, Sophie and I decided to have a fun activity to keep us occupied while Brian was gone. And since Halloween is approaching, we decided the best activity would be to make a jack-o-lantern. So yesterday, Brian, Sophie, and I went to the grocery store and picked out a big pumpkin just for the occasion. While Sophie was in her highchair today she helped me pull out all the seeds (or as I like to call them "Jack's guts").

After he spilled his guts (was seed-free), Sophie and I discussed how 'Jack' would look like. I wanted it to be something that wasn't too difficult and take up too much time; and Sophie wanted Jack to have no more teeth than she did. So, we agree and made a 'happy Jack' with two bottom teeth in the middle... just like where Sophie's two teeth are. And thus, Jack was born this Monday, October 26, 2009. And he should stay fresh and functional until October 31, 2009. Then, on Monday, November 2nd, he will catch a ride on the garbage truck to the retirement center where he will live out the remainder of his existence playing BINGO with other pumpkins and discarded waste.

Top Ten "I Want to See" Places in Arkansas

Arkansas, the Natural State, has several state parks and here is my TOP 10 list of places to see while we are in Arkansas.

1) Crater of Diamonds (I'd like to do this when Sophie is walking because carrying her and constantly bending down to try and pick up or search for diamonds sounds a bit too strenuous)

2) Little Rock Capitol building (apparently is a miniature version of the Capitol building in Washington, DC)

3) Alligator Farm (there is one in Hot Springs)

4) Hot Springs National Park (I'd like to go there again and hike around a bit more than what we did)

5) Get pampered inside one of the Bathhouses in Hot Springs (an excellent Mother's Day gift I would think- hint hint)

6) Washington (during the Civil War, this place became Arkansas' state capitol and they have lots of museums and buildings from the era)

7) Louisiana Purchase State Park (where the Louisiana purchase was signed)

8) Petit Jean State Park (beautiful landscapes and AR's first state park)

9) Devil's Den State Park (I want to see the caves and enjoy some hiking)

10) See a Civil War Re-enactment (not exactly a place, but they take place in a couple cities in Arkansas)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween House Party

Yesterday evening we went to the Haner's Halloween Party, where they decorated their house with a disco ball in the carport, a giant spider web on the front porch, and a skeleton coming out of the grave near the dock by the lake. It was a nice relaxing atmosphere being able to talk to several others that I typically don't see very often. And it was enjoyable for Brian who spent most of his time with the guys gathered around the bonfire out front. Even Sophie enjoyed herself and didn't complain when we put here in her bumblebee/hornet outfit (provided by Aunt Elizabeth). Some of her friends were there as well including Baby Caroline dressed as a monkey, Corbin as a duck, Lany (spelling?) as the Little Mermaid Ariel, Colin as Mickey Mouse, and Colin's sister Ellie as Minny Mouse, and Gabriel and Patrick as football players, specifically Steelers.
Even some of the adults dressed up... however, Brian and I were not in this category regretfully. There was a Queen of Hearts, a Sexy Kitten (I would say 'cat', but for those that were there would say that that would be a very bland definition of her costume), Safari guides, V (from the movie 'V for Vendetta'), Morticia, a Minnie Mouse, a Steeler's player, and a Patriots player. I'm probably leaving someone else out and for that I apologize. But if we are here next year, I'll make sure that Brian and I are dressed for the occasion as well! Sweaters and jeans doesn't quite cut it at a Halloween party.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Technologically Retarded

Hi my name is Stacey and I've been a Technological Retard for 20+ years. If it resembles a computer in any way, just consider me incompetant! I'm truly thankful for all of the techologically competant (computer geeks) who are friends with me and can overlook this trait and help me with my computer (because yes of course I have to own one). And even after owning my own computer for about 10 years, I still use 'monitor' and 'modem' interchangibly to mean the 'screen'. However, fear not I am progressing in the computer vocabulary area, because what I used to call 'the big black thing that has the cd drive and 'on' button' I now call 'the tower'. I count this as progress. Today I had a 2nd grader that told me their was something wrong with the CPU and I said "What?". I eventually had to ask him to point to what he was talking about. So... baby steps are needed with me when you talk about computers.

Also, don't ask me how much RAM I have because I'm as likely to known the answer to that question as I am to know how many cockroaches live in the United States. I know that RAM means speed... I think. The same thing applies with asking me about gigabytes or megabytes... just don't ask. I may know how much I have on a jump drive as long as it is written on there. If it is not written... don't ask. However, I know that gigabytes refer to storage space. Now how many gigabytes is good to have on a computer? I don't know, but hopefully there are more on the computer than on my 2 jump drives combined.

Computers and I just don't know how to talk to each other. I don't speak computer and if this gives you any indication... I've taken Spanish for 4 years (2 in High School and 2 in college) and I can barely speak Spanish. A computer can give me an error message in the most basic language it can and I'll stare at it like it's written in Klingon (spelling?). Even on my last post it wouldn't let me post my video because... my html object wasn't closed. What the heck?! It's not a door... how do you close something like that? Even now, my laptop is in the hands of someone infinately more intelligent trying to get the stupid thing to start working after Windows Vista caused it to crash. And of course, Windows Vista had to crash on MY laptop... a person who is so stupid they wouldn't know even how to fix it. Thank God again for the computer savy. You have bailed my rear-end out SO many times! So this post is for you... Josh Biebs, Gordon Schroeder, Britt Neeley, Elizabeth Barton, Brian Oney, and anyone else who has helped this Techno Retard with her computer... you guys are the best!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Play Together

The great thing about having siblings is that you always have someone you can play with! Don't have a friend nearby? No worries. That sister that steals all your clothes and candy is just a few doors away in her bedroom! Is it rainy outside and your mom won't take you to your friend's house? Don't worry! Your brother that still picks his nose and eats his boogers is downstairs looking for something to do! 

For those kids that do not have a sibling it's a little harder for them to find entertainment and to learn important lessons like sharing and such. Allow me to suggest a pet! Yes it isn't the same thing... but it's at least a step in the right direction. Pets are great for kids because they can learn to share their toys. To work things out when the dog/cat destroys their toys (like a sibling does). And then they also learn to shift the blame onto the pet when they did something wrong (like a sibling does). As a perk, the pet will not back-talk to the parent, they'll just look at you with their sad eyes and mentally communicate the message "This sucks" when they are dressed up like a babydoll or are getting fed bugs or mud pies. Also, they'll not embarass you in public, like when your daughter points out to the ladies in church, that her brother likes to pee in the next door neighbor's rose bush out front near the road. If she says, the dog likes to pee there outside... it's expected... it's a dog. Or if they tell a gross or embarassing story related to the animal... most people just shrug and say, "Well it is an animal; I guess things happen" and they won't questions your parenting skills at all! 

Overall what I'm saying is... I'm glad we have Oscar here for Sophie. He loves her so much and they seem to share everything. Now, I'm not saying that is great... I really get tired of pulling Sophie away from Oscar's dogfood dishes, which she seems to think is her afternoon snack. But at least she has someone else by her side, other than Mom and Dad, to play with her and be her companion. Oscar always seems to make time with her- whether it's when she's in the highchair eating (he is an excellent floor cleaner) or when he's playing with Brian and will take a few seconds out to give her a kiss on the face before returning to play. So take some time... and thank your pets (either the present ones or the ones you had as a child) and reward them with catnip, dog biscuits, or whatever... because they are invaluable to a child. 

* Video coming soon!*

Morbid Meditations from a Cemetary

Today we went to the Oakland Cemetery in Camden, which contains 683 grave, including those of Confederate soldiers. It was amazing to see so many old graves and it made me think about all these people and all their stories. For example, the oldest grave is that of an unknown girl who died on a flat bottom boat on the Ouachita River. Chain around the grave was from old anchor chain from the boat. But what was her story? Who was she? Why was she on the boat? All that remains of her story or her life is a plaque that tells where she died.

And that girl (or woman since we don't know her age) is not the only one whose story is lost. There is over 250 graves of Confederate soldiers... most of them 'Unknown'. They are even grouped together around a monument stating: “We care not whence they come / dear is their lifeless clay / whether known or unknown to fame / their cause and country still the same / they died and wore the Gray.” But that is all that unites these men... the Confederate army. These soldiers not only lost their lives, they lost their identity, their stories. Who were they? Who did they leave behind while they were at war?

There were several graves that made me wonder who they were... other than their names and dates for their birth and death. One says "Loving Mother", but honestly... I'm sure she was more than just a 'loving mother'. I mean, could you summarize your whole life in one line?

Otherwise, it was interesting to walk around and see all of the graves and imagine all of their stories buried long ago with their bodies. But the weather was perfect for a nice walk with the crisp cool air and the leaves beginning to change colors I got some nice pictures as well.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More Rain, More Apples, More Baking

Hopefully this rainy week will soon be over, because the Ouachita river is flooded, some roads were flooded, and even some buildings were flooded (I was informed last night that the Central Christian Academy closed it's doors for the rest of the week on account of the water seeping into the building). As I passed the courthouse today I noticed that even the county sheriff is prepared for the overflow and had his boat parked in the back parking lot of the courthouse. The only reason I know it was his, was the fact that it had Ouachita County Sherriff written along the side of a bass boat. On a lighter note, this would be the perfect time to teach kids about Noah's Ark! Perhaps I could even convince my high school bible-studiers to start building said floation device.

Anyway, knowing that the rest of the weeks' weather would inevitably be the same (as I said in a previous post it rains for days), I picked up some more apples and other ingredients to keep myself occupied in the kitchen. And since apples were still $1/pound, I've made more fried apples. Canning all but a little bit which is to become Sophie's lunch.

Canning Fried Apples
- After making fried apples, turn the stove off but leave the apples and the pan on the stove to cool slowly.
- Have already prepared 3 pint jars in boiling water along with their lids
- Remove one jar and funnel in the fried apples.
- Add the juice and water until liquid removes all pockets of air and is an inch to a half inch from the rim of the jar.
- Wipe the jar rim clean from any liquid or apples with a dry towel
- Remove one lid from the heated container and place on the jar
- Place ring around the jar to secure the lid to the jar and return jar to the hot water bath
- Do the same with the remaining two jars. The reciepe makes about 3 pints total.
- Make sure the water in the hot water bath covers the lids of the three jars and leave the jars in the hot water bath for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Remove from hot water bath and place on counter
- After jars have cooled, check to make sure the lids popped to 'seal in freshness', and label. If jars did not pop- place in refridgerator to be used within a few days.

And since I'm stuck with tons of apples as well as the perfect season for apple sales and even the consumption of apples, I've added another apple reciepe. This one is for apple bread, which I have made several times for my parents and sibilings, as well as for my husband. And therefore, I'll add this recipe on here for you (don't worry... I promise this will hopefully be the last apple recipe from me that you'll see in awhile).

Apple Bread
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chopped apples
1 cup nuts (optional)

Grease 2 loaf pans. In a large bowl beat together the sugar, oil, and eggs. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinamon. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture. Add the vanilla, apples, and nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour.

For those of you who have found any or all of these recipes a good resource, I'm glad; for those who have found these past two posts fairly boring and only like looking at the pictures, well I promise to not include any more recipes for awhile.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Busy Baking

Yesterday and today have been rainy cool days, and the rest of the week promises to be the same. And while I'm tired of the rain, it is the perfect weather for staying inside and reading a good book and cooking or baking. Since I need to go to the library to pick up a good book (since none of the hundreds on my bookshelves seem to interest me right now) I decided on the latter and my now very messy kitchen smells heavenly. First I made my husband's favorite- No Bake Cookies. This is a smart move because when Brian gets home from a hard day of work, he won't mind that the house is slightly disheveled and that the kitchen sink and counter tops are overflowing with dirty dishes and cookbooks and things.

Secondly, since this is the weather for it... I made homemade bread! I just did the traditional white bread, but I added honey butter to the top of it before putting it into the oven. Mmmm.

Here is the recipe for Traditional White Bread:
6-7 cups all purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp shortening
2 pkgs. regular or quick active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups very warm water
Melted margarine or butter

Mix 3 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, salt, shortening, and yeast in large bowl. Add warm water and beat with mixer. Add remaining flour. Turn dought and knead on floured surface. Place in greased bowl, turn greased side up. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 40-60 minutes. Grease 2 loaf pans. Divide dough in half. Roll dough into rectangles with rolling pin. Roll dough up and pinch in the sides of the dough and place in loaf pans. Allow to rise in warm place for 35 to 50 minutes. Then place bread in 425 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. When cool, brush loaves with margarine or butter and allow to cool.

Sophie loved the bread!

Lastly, since this is the season for it... I made fried apples. I've never made fried apples before, but in the Sunday bulletin newsletter from our church Faye added her mother's recipe for fried apples. In addition, the grocery store had apples on sale for a dollar per pound. How could I resist? They turned out nicely and since it isn't likely that we'd be eating them very soon (at least not the whole batch) I canned them. And they look beautiful! So far I've made 3 jars, but I have more apples to do, and I've got at least 2 jars reserved - 1 for my in-laws and 1 for my parents.

Here is the receipe for the Faye's Fried Apples
6 apples (any kind but I used red delicious) peeled.
1/2 stick butter
Brown sugar to taste

Peel apples and slice them thinly. Heat butter in a large skillet and then add the apples. Turn them frequently until they are the doneness you desire. Sprinkle them with brown sugar to taste. Then cook them a bit longer. Remove and serve.

Sophie and Oscar both enjoyed the first part- peel apples and slice thinly. While I sat on the floor of the kitchen peeling apples, Sophie played and occasionally grabbed small bits of apples to eat. And Oscar (encouraged by Sophie's triumphant attempts at getting food) snitched some of the apple peels I had discarded in a nearby bowl. It was cute.

Wichita Wedding

This past weekend we went to Wichita to witness Brian and Jamie's wedding (Brian is my cousin). And the inevitable perk about weddings and yes... even funerals... is that you get to see family. Some may say that it is crass to say this, but weddings and funerals bring families together that people typically may not see very often. Anyway, the wedding was fun with the exception of Sophie being fussy and voicing that complaint during the service.

Otherwise, she behaved well for the reception and got to spend lots of time with her Great Uncle Gerald (who coincidentally spent most of his time teasing and joking with family members or watching the OU football game on the big screen in the lobby/commons area) and time with Great Aunt Carmen. And Sophie made her rounds as well visiting almost all of my mother's relatives (since all of my mom's brothers and sisters were in attendance at the wedding).

Sophie also got to dance at the wedding and she loves to dance! Aunt Ashl
ey, Grandpa, and myself took her out a few times on the dance floor. The funniest one though had to be when Grandpa was holding her and trying to do the chicken dance! It was classic. Dad was struggling to keep up with the steps and I had to tell him 'hands.... wings.... butt' to help him remember the action and he was trying to do this all while balancing Sophie in his arms. I wish I would have caught it on video... it was priceless.

Sadly, the evening and in fact that weekend was not long enough. Gerald and Richard left after supper to return to the farm. Suzi and the boyfriend Tony left after supper as well for Omaha, NE (for information regarding the interrogation look at the previous day's posting). Shortly afterward, Carmen, Joe, & Ryan prepared to leave for the long drive back to Pheonix and Tuscon Arizona. And even Brian, Sophie, and I had to think about leaving as well because we had to wake up early in the morning to get started on our drive back to Arkansas. But we had a great time with family and friends and made a safe trip back (as well as hopefully all of our family did).

And before I forget since the whole point of this was to talk about the wedding... not just the family in attendance, it was beautifully arranged and done and I think Jamie will make a good addition to our extended family. And my Aunt Joann (mother of the groom) looked beautiful and was a perfect hostess to the days events. I think she was glad to see Brian settled and wed, especially for his daughter's sake. And Aunt Alice did a good job as guestbook attendant, but a better job as a photographer of the event. I'm so thankful that she always has a camera handy! And I need to remind her again when I see her next that I'm still waiting to see the pictures she took of us butchering chickens that one day at the farm! (Evil thought about whether it would be funny to post those pictures on the blog) . Anyway, thank you family for making it such a fun affair! Hopefully, we'll see some of you when we return to Kansas again for Thanksgiving and Sophie's 1st Birthday Bash!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Barton Interrogation Task Force

Typically how this happens is when a man decides to date one of the illustrious Barton babes, they get interrogated. Part of it is to get to know the person who thinks they deserve to date a Barton (we are a very prideful family... can you tell?) and to judge whether he is indeed worthy. So... Suzi brought to us, Tony Montgomery, a 25 year old graphic design major at University of Nebraska in Omaha.

Now... traditionally, it's just Dad and I setting aside some time with the guy and grilling him with tons of questions about his background, his future plans, and his views or beliefs. However, this only allows 2 people to interrogate them and therefore leaves out 6 other siblings, the mama, and distant relatives. In light of that, it was decided that since many of the siblings and distant relatives would be in town due to my cousin's wedding, that they be able to participate in the interrogation process as well. So my mother passed around paper to all of Suzy's family... and all of her relatives (aunts and uncles) to list questions to ask Tony. So rather than get interrogated by Suzy's dad and sister, he got interrogated by her brothers, sisters, dad, mom, aunts, and uncles. Only the pets were left out.

After everyone submitted their questions, everyone gathered around the round table where Tony and Suzi were sitting. I say 'gathered around' as opposed to 'sat around' because there were not enough seats to fill the butts of the number of people who were there to witness Tony's answers. I believe in fact that there were 24 eyes all looking at Tony awaiting his answers (26 if we were to count Suzi who was sitting right next to him). Of the 12 people gathered around the couple, Dad read off everyone's questions, while also sitting right next to Tony in case one of his answers required him to drag him out of the building for an ass-whooping. (I love my Dad!)

Here are some of the things we learned about Tony:

1) He's Irish and German heritage
2) He comes from a Baptist background
3) His favorite color is orange
4) The first feature he noticed about Suzi was her eyes
5) They met at his work- Baker grocery store, while Suzi was doing rotations for pharmacy school.
6) The thing Suzi does to annoy him is not spend more time with him.
7) The thing he does that might annoy Suzi the most is send her too many flowers.
8) If Suzi was mad at him and wanted to borrow his car, he'd run.
9) He has 2 older siblings- a brother in the Navy (married and stationed in Japan) and an older sister who lives in Omaha.
10) He seemed to be an overall good guy who was respectful to 'the family' (always a good idea) and to Suzi (definitely a must).

Overall, I'm going to say Tony got the 'Green flag' from our family. But if the background check comes back with issues... we'll have to revisit the subject and him again! (Just kidding!)

Baby Sophie Meets Baby Suzy

On Friday, Sophie and I went to see Autumn's newest daughter- Baby Suzy or Suzanna Grace. Sophie seemed more interested in playing with Autumn's two other daughters (Allie and Mariah) who were 'big girls' (in Sophie's estimation since they were 5 and 3) and had lots of cool toys around the room. And this gave me some time to just hold Baby Suzy. She was so small and tiny and it brought back memories of Sophie when she was only a few weeks old as well. And the strange part was... she was just like that only a few months ago.... well.... technically... several months ago, but time flies.

Anyway, after some cuddle time with Suzy, I brought the baby closer to Sophie to see the 'baby'. She just looked at me... looked at the baby... and then continued to play with the toys one of the girls had left on the floor for her to play with. She really didn't seem all that interested in baby since it didn't seem to light up, make fun noises, or move around like the other toys did. She even gave me this look that was like 'What? What is the big deal?'.

Eventually, we did get some photos of Sophie with Autumn's three girls on the couch... and then she became somewhat interested in Baby Suzy. And she kept wanting to touch Baby Suzy, which wasn't a good idea since Sophie's 'sometimes' idea of touching is hitting things to see if they make noises. So... not that great of an idea. Anyway, even after seeing and meeting Baby Suzy, I don't think Sophie has any real idea that Suzy is another person and that Sophie herself was just like that not too long ago. Well... maybe we'll have to try a lesson on babies another time, when she's a little bit older. Depending on when things happen, perhaps we'll give her that lesson with one of her own siblings.