Monday, February 28, 2011

Mr. T-Rex


We're doing a little study on dinosaurs this week in addition to the regular stuff the boys do for school each day. Today we read about the Tyrannosaurus. After they finished their school work, they made these T-Rex heads out of recycled milk cartons. I'm not sure if they look like a T-Rex though, but the boys love them.

This is a Kathy Ross craft project from her book, Crafts for Kids Who Are Wild About Dinosaurs. It was titled T-Rex Treasure Keeper and it's designed as a little holder for kids to put toys in. I love Kathy Ross' projects because they're super easy and always turn out well. It's kind of funny though because quite a few of the projects she has in this book are not true dinosaurs, but creatures that lived at the same time. Oh well -- close enough.

We had to alter the directions because I didn't have any rickrack for the teeth. You would think with all the craft supplies around here there would be at least a little rickrack in this house. Nope! So instead of using that, we just cut the teeth with pinking sheers. The boys liked it better because the teeth are actually sharp. It's actually two milk cartons, so you can make the jaws go up and down. CHOMP! I'm not sure what they're going to put into them, but I at least got a picture before they got all mangled.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Which do you prefer?


If you listen to music on some sort of headset, which do you prefer? I got an iPod Shuffle for my birthday, which came with the white earbuds pictured here. I've never been able to use these because they're too big and hurt my ears. I know they make smaller ones, so I might get some of those for the Shuffle. For my regular iPod, I use the Bose headphones pictured. The others I keep in my purse to use, like if I'm camping or traveling, and don't have my bigger ones. Did you know these all have specific names?

Full-sized headphones are called circumaural headphones. They are much larger and can be heavy and bulky to carry around. The good thing is that you can buy ones that literally reduce all outside noise. I love my Bose ones.

Pads that sit on the ears are called super-aural headphones. The ones I have actually clip onto the outer ear and are surprisingly comfortable. They work pretty good and block out quite a bit of outside noise.

Headphones that go inside the ear are called earbuds or earphones. I guess I have small ears because these have always hurt me. They're small, so they're easy to travel with. The downside to these is that they don't reduce outside noise very well. Because of that, people tend to turn up the volume louder, which can eventually lead to hearing damage.

I really like this iPod Shuffle that Rick and the boys gave me. It's tiny and about the size of a Wheat Thin cracker. Mine is blue. What's cool is that you can push a button to hear what the name of the song and artist is. I guess the older models didn't have that feature. I've loaded it up with Matchbox Twenty, Rob Thomas, Powderfinger, and Bernard Fanning. I'm thinking of adding all my Goo Goo Dolls music and maybe some Red Hot Chili Peppers. All these groups are kind of along the same line of music, so I thought they'd make a good playlist. Of course, I still like my 60GB iPod. Mine is an older model, so it's thicker than the new ones that are out now, but I still have some room on it.

So anyway -- what type of headphones do you prefer?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bubblegum Pop


Everyday I walk on my TreadClimber for 30 minutes, but I can only do that if I'm listening to music. I've been on a Matchbox Twenty kick lately, which you might have noticed if you're on Facebook. Today I decided to listen to something new, but since I have so much on my iPod, I got frustrated with having to scroll down too much. I couldn't even get through the As, so I settled on ... are you ready for it? The Archies! Yeah, I'm a dork and have their greatest hits on my iPod.

Music has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mom was an Elvis fan, which is the reason I became so fond of him. My brother listened to harder rock like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. My sister really loved The Beatles, whom I liked when I was younger, but can't seem to tolerate now. Weird, huh? Some of The Beatles' songs make me grind my teeth, and yet, I can listen to The Archies. I know ... it makes no sense.

I was born in 1965 and bubblegum pop was big from 1967 to 1972. Then it stopped for a few years before picking up again before the disco and punk rock age. So, I grew up with bubblegum pop, regardless of what my family was listening to. I remember people complaining about that type of music. My grandfather complained about hippies, long hair, and music. Now that I'm an adult, I see things different because I remember how life was then as compared to how it is today. What was so bad about bubblegum pop? It might have been corny, but it was decent when it came to the lyrics. Most of the songs I listened to today by The Archies were sweet and talked about innocent things like ...

Sunday picnics on the grass
Falling in and being in love
Holding hands
Watching children play
Going for walks and kissing
Birds singing and the sun shining
Life being good because everything's alright

Interesting, huh? None of the songs are over-sexual. They're not crude. They're not disrespectful to anyone. They were about friendship, loving your neighbor, being in love, etc. It was the hippie generation -- peace, love, and blah, blah, blah. Some of the new music shocks me. I guess I'm just an old prude. So, as I walked today listening to The Archies, I was reminded of those older people back then who used to complain about bubblegum pop. It makes me wonder what they'd think of it today. Would they still hate it? Or would they look back fondly, remembering a simpler, more innocent time?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Little Golden Books


Do you have a favorite Little Golden Book? I had my books out the other day and figured I'd take a picture of them since they were already scattered across the floor. I don't have a huge collection, but it's getting bigger. The ones I buy these days are usually found at thrift stores. I look for the older ones that are harder to find. Did you know the very first set of LGBs were printed in 1942? Simon & Schuster initially sold them for 25 cents each. I need to visit our local Salvation Army soon. They sell them for 10 cents each, which is even better!

Some of my favorites are The Shy Little Kitten, The Tawny Scrawny Lion, The Shaggy Baggy Elephant, The Gull That Lost the Sea, and The Little Red Hen. How about you? Do you have any favorites?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Warning -- ha, ha!


Okay, bear with me because this is hard. I'm not ready to post an official before & after picture just yet because my weight-loss progress isn't complete. I have 25 more pounds to lose to reach my goal. Once I get there, I'm hoping to get some good, full-body pictures showing my progress. As of today, I've lost 49 pounds and am really hoping to hit that 50 pound mark soon. Here are two pictures I put together that show a little of my progress.


We got Denny August 25, 2010. I started my diet October 1, 2010. This picture of me with Denny on the right was taken February 10, 2011, so that's about 5 months into my weight-loss deal. SCARY -- I know! I look just absolutely awful in that first picture because Denny was totally freaking out when I picked him up. Up until that point, he was the only cat in the shelter I hadn't petted yet. He was feral and really skittish, so I had to pick him up fast so the lady could take his picture before we shoved him into a carrier.

So, that's it for now. Like I said, I hope to have a good before & after picture to show my progress once I reach my goal. I have to laugh at this because Denny still looks like he's trying to get away. He likes me -- really! And on top of everything else, I think every pound I've lost, he's gained. He's one hefty cat. Better him than me, huh?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Do you know ...

... what a group of CRABS is called?

Or how about a group of CHEETAHS?

Do you know what is a group of MOOSE is called?

These are a few of the animals featured in Stork Musters & Critter Clusters, the second picture book of my Critter Series. If you liked Lemur Troops & Critter Groups, you'll like the second book just as much. Twenty-one different animals are featured using simple rhymes with adorable illustrations by Nikki Boetger. The book is now available @ 4RV Publishing, LLC. It can also be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble Online, Books-A-Million, or ordered through any local bookseller. If you have a child that loves animals, this would make a perfect gift. Click here to watch the book trailer. And, I have
MORE GREAT NEWS! The second DILLY book is available for preorder! Click the link below.

Friday, February 18, 2011

UnBEARable ...


I had another dream about bears the other night. Actually, it was early in the morning and I couldn't go back to sleep afterwards. I dream about bears a lot since moving to Montana. Most of the time, the bears are outside and I'm frantically trying to get a door or window shut. It never closes right and I'm always struggling in a panic. In one dream, I remember trying to hammer screws into a sliding glass door to lock it. Weird. The funny thing is, the bears are just meandering by, minding their own business, exactly like they do when I see them nearby. Very rarely do I dream the bears are aggressive.

Not this time.

In this dream there were four, massive grizzlies. They were cruising down a stream and all I could see was their heads sticking out of the water, reminding me of hippos. Except they weren't hippos. They were bears -- grizzly bears. It just went from bad to worse from there. These bears weren't meandering. They weren't minding their own business. They were killing people. My kids were there and I was trying to keep them from witnessing it, but that wasn't happening. For some reason, I had a knife and ended up using it -- multiple times. It was just horrible.

Then of course, I woke up and had that cold, surge of adrenaline rush through my entire body. I hate that feeling after having a nightmare. I don't know. Maybe if I didn't take pictures like the one above, then just maybe, I wouldn't have these nightmares. But gosh, they're so darn cute, even with their 4-inch claws. Well, at least they're cute in real life. In my dreams, they're another story. Oh goodie, it's almost bedtime. Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Boys!

This is what happens when you ask boys to make hearts for Valentine's Day. I should have seen it coming. Nathan did the pink one up top. He said his Valentine heart tried to give his girlfriend flowers, but she beat him up. Neil did the green one and it seems to be some sort of Valentine Vampire, complete with bloody teeth. I liked how he added the thumbtacks to the eyes. I swear, they're so weird.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WOOT!


I went to my doctor today. I've been having slight 'black-outs' whenever I stand up. They only last a couple of seconds, but I have to stop and close my eyes before I can see right again. I knew it was due to my high blood pressure medication being too high. About a year ago I was at an initial new patient visit at my dentist office and they took my BP and it was super high. I had no idea I had high blood pressure. I'm talking TRIPLE digits for both numbers. Yeah, that high -- scary, might-have-a-stroke kind of high.

I went to my doctor and started taking Lisinopril, but it didn't go down enough, so they upped my dose even more. Since day one, this medicine has made me feel bad. I would get dizzy every time I stood up. People would always tell me to stand up slower, but seriously, who does that? When you stand up -- you stand up. It's not like I was hopping to my feet. So, I lived with the dizziness for a long time. The blacking out part was new, but it's been getting worse, so I knew I had to get it checked.

I'm so happy to say my doctor has reduced my dosage. One ingredient in the Lisinopril has been taken out completely. I was taking 25MG once a day, but now she's got me on 10MG. I have to split the pills to make them 5MG in the morning and another 5MG at night. After a week of this, I get to stop the nighttime dose. Then, if my pressure continues to do well, after 2 months I get to STOP taking them FOR GOOD!

I've lost 48 pounds so far. Getting off this medication has been one of my main goals, so if I can get off them for good, that would be awesome.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Neil!


My youngest, Neil, turned nine today. He's been so excited about his birthday coming up. It's always a little hard for him because he has to suffer through my birthday on the 8th before he can really concentrate on his special day.

This picture is of Neil and Nathan with Mr. Potato Head. Neil is on the left. This was taken in 2008 when Rick and the boys went to Disneyworld. Obviously, I have more current pictures of him, but I wanted to put this one up because we're doing a Toy Story theme for his party. He doesn't know that yet, so I'm hoping to keep it a surprise until tonight.

Happy 9th Birthday, Neil!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Polar Animals -- brrrr!

The boys are doing Polar Animals Week right now, which seems appropriate with the cold temperatures we've been having. It's also been snowing lightly all day, so that adds to the whole thing. Yesterday they made the polar bears pictured above. The feet are clothespins attached to a craft stick body. Then they wrapped up the whole thing with fiberfill. I thought they turned out really cute. Monday they made the penguins pictured below. The project originally called for craft spoons, but when I went to start it, I realized I only had two spoons left. Instead, I traced one on craft foam and it worked just as good, perhaps even better because we didn't have to get out the paints. We turned them into magnets. Today we'll be reading about Arctic foxes and doing a craft project on those made from paper cups and fiberfill. Tomorrow it will be Beluga whales. Fun stuff.



Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pet Rocks


Does anyone remember Pet Rocks? They came out in 1975 and the fad really only lasted about 6 months. However, in that short time the creator, Gary Dahl became a millionaire. After listening to his co-workers complain about their animals, Gary decided to make the perfect pet using ordinary rocks. These pets never needed food, water, grooming, exercise, or pet care. He took action and surprisingly enough, he made money.

I never had a Pet Rock. I always wanted one, but my mom wouldn't dish out the $3.95 for a plain rock in a little cardboard box. What a mean mother. The originals aren't available anymore, but every now and then you can find them on eBay.

However, did you know Pet Rocks are still out there? In 2009, Martin Abrams bought the rights to Pet Rocks and began manufacturing them again. You can visit their website here. They're kind of cool looking, but with a little paint, most of us could make our own. I have to admit, the new ones are not as unique as the plain rocks Gary used from a building supply store for pennies each.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stork Musters & Critter Clusters


Stork Musters & Critter Clusters is available NOW on Amazon. It should be up on the 4RV Publishing, LLC website soon as well. This is the second book in my Critter Series, which teaches kids the names of animal congregations, or groups using rhymes and fun illustrations. Nikki Boetger has done a fantastic job illustrating this one, just as she did the first book, Lemur Troops & Critter Groups.

I will have the updated information on my website soon as well as an activity guide to go with the book, just like I have for Lemur Troops & Critter Groups. I hope you are able to share this book with your kids or pass it along to someone with kids. There are 21 critter groups included in this book, so everyone is bound to see a favorite animal, or two or three. The illustrations are absolutely adorable.