A Quote to Start Things Off

"Passive Aggressive. It works for my mother, it works for Duolingo" Luis Von Ahn , co-founder of Duolingo from his TED talk, How to make learning as addictive as social media.

Search Me!

Pictures of Memories I

Pictures of Memories I
Snow kidding! These "kids" now range from 17 to 23

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Friday Fragments Pics & Video Edition

Friday Fragment Time again. I am waiting for a Skype Call from Russia at a little after Midnight on Friday. It is 4:15 p.m on Friday in Khabarovsk where I am expecting the call from. That is a fragment for a different time but explains why I am up so late on a school day.

Just videos and pics in today's fragments.

Fragment 1. Fun at the dinner table

Fragment 2. Baseball at the Zoo

When we go to the zoo we expect to see bears like this . . .

And This . . .

But at the Brookfield Zoo this weekend there were a number of human cubs. Chicago Cub fans like my son, players and former players like Milt Pappas who my sister had on a poster in her room when she was growing up.

I had a cool video linked up of Spider Droid doing a pitching game but I called him by his real name and I can't get the edited version to upload. SPider Droid had fun playing baseball games and we all had fun at the zoo.

Fragment 3: Blue Ribbon Robotics

Earlier last week Spider Droid competed in the Kane County Fair. No pig in competition or anything like that. He participated in a virtual robotics challenge where among other things he completed a cd-ROM curriculum on robotics, entered his findings in a journal, made a PowerPoint presentation including a video (which is really cool but uses his real name are you sensing an overprotective dad theme here?) and made this poster for display at the fair.

He also overcame his shyness and had an interview with the judge where he showed his video and explained what he learned.

The result of all his work: A blue ribbon. For those of you who don't speak County Fair, A blue ribbon is as high as you get w/o being the winner or runner up of the event. We don't speak County Fair so when we saw the ribbon we both thought (me silently, I have some tact) that it was just a participation ribbon. (We both have won those before). It actually means that he met or exceeded all of his objectives. Win, Place or Show we are very proud of his accomplishments.

Fragment 4: Leave them Laughing. (I hope.)

A few hours later back at the dinner table . . .

For more Friday Fragments drop what you are doing and head over to Half Past Kissin' Time. I have a Skype call to get, so I'll catch you later.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Missouri Relief Project

Joplin Tornado 5 by DMangus
Joplin Tornado 5, a photo by DMangus on Flickr.

Spider Droid and I have an opportunity next week to do a work project near Joplin, Missouri where a massive tornado decimated the city on May 22nd of this year.

I will be posting again before I leave with a little more info what he and I will be doing.

I am not the handiest guy with a hammer and that is putting it mildly. While we don't know exactly what we will be doing this is a work and constructrion trip, something that is definitely out of my comfort zone.

Yet when we heard of the trip we felt compelled that we should help any way we can.

This leads me to my 2 questions for the day.

1) How do you react to tragedy like a flood, tsunami, earthquake, act of terrorism etc.?

2) Have you ever felt compelled, called, motivated to do something out of your comfort zone? Did you do it? How did it go?

For more questions head back to Self Sagacity.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Project Week (With updates)

After a medium-sized summer (don't want to declare it long or short--I do have two full weeks left before I (Amy) go back to work) of swimming, laying about reading, frequenting the zoo, hanging about libraries, etc., it's time to get some long-neglected projects done around the house, before fall hits in full swing with soccer, ballet, school, work, Awana, etc. So here's our list (accompanied by some "before" and "after" photos, to keep us honest): *Clean & organize playroom (also doubles as an entryway/bunny house) Before: After: (That's not a feather, it's sunlight!) *Clean out craft cabinet Before: After: *Organize school shelves *Clean out bathroom cabinet *Make front yard look better *Make back yard look better *Put up a clothesline? (thinking of trying this click the word this) *Clean out kitchen cabinets *Clean out under sink Before: After: With everyone's help from young to old, we should be able to accomplish all of these tasks, along with some afternoon swimming, and some packing/prepping for a weekend family camp-out, and a Dad and Spider Droid trip to Joplin, MO, to help out tornado victims. Let the projects begin! (or, continue...working hard!)
Tuesday night update: Dave, ever the meme participant, wanted me to remind you that having a project week, involving the whole family, and taking before and after pictures of the projects work for us. To see what works for others go to WFMW at We Are That Family.
Wednesday Night Update: Dave and Spider Droid worked on projects outside of Grandpa's house with cousins, uncles, nephews, brothers, fathers and grandpas (depending who you ask) today. Nothing new on our project list got removed. We girls relaxed and Bunny returned the favor and kicked me from Baltic to Boardwalk in Monopoly.
A commenter told me about Tackle it Tuesday @ Five Minutes for Mom and Dave linked me up there. If you are visiting from there, welcome. you can head back by clicking here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Six Word Saturday-Monopoly is fun, when you win!

Slowly buying up property, might win!

Acquiring a couple of hotels, yay!

A few more hotels won't hurt.

Getting closer to world domination, yes!

Mortgaged to the hilt, she's out!

For more Six Word Saturdays click here

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

questions of fun, frugality and fears.

I went to Great America with the bigs yesterday. Great America is a Six Flags theme park in the Chicago area. I have been going to the park for more than 30 years. That means that the park or myself are very old or possibly both. Going to an amusement park can be kind of expensive in this day and age. Six Flags has a winter reading program and if your kids participate, each kid (K-6th grade) gets a ticket. This seems like a good idea at the time but when you factor in the cost of your ticket and other family members outside of the age range, along with parking and other amenities, the cost of these free tickets adds up pretty quickly.

I have noticed that in the past year Six Flags has been making changes, some small, some big, to help families in this tough economy. Don't get me wrong, I know they are helping families in order to encourage them to attend their parks so they can spend money there. But some of the changes are very positive to families on a budget.

In the past year the reading program has allowed teachers including home school teachers to win 1 ticket per class. So, my ticket was free yesterday as well.

Now remember I have been going to this park for a long time so let me give you a little history lesson. As you probably know, amusement park food is expensive having a captive audience and all. So in addition to going to your cars to eat food you brought from home, people would sometimes leave the park, have a meal and come back. Over the course of time, the park cracked down on these activities by a) not allowing cars to leave the park w/o paying the parking fee again and b) not readmitting people to the park after 6:00 p.m., this way allowing people to have lunch in their cars but not dinner.

Also a few years ago the park sold two types of parking spots. Closer to the park for more money and farther from the park for less. Which meant if you wanted to spend less money and eat in your car you would spend more time walking all the way to the back of the lot (sometimes past rows and rows of empty parking spaces to get to your car) spending the one commodity more precious to a frugal park goer than money, time.

This year the park made some great changes that really encouraged me. They may have been motivated more by the rows and rows of empty parking spaces I alluded to parenthetically in the last paragraph, who knows. First of all, I had decided to pay the higher amount for parking so the kids and I didn't have to walk all the way to the nether regions of the lot to park. As I drove in, I noticed that parking was again only 1 price, meaning I could park close to the entrance. That was pleasant surprise #1. Pleasant surprise #2 occurred when the parking attendant handed me my receipt and told me I could use it to reenter the park throughout the day. The third pleasant surprise came at about 1:00, as we exited the park for lunch. I read a sign saying that you could re-enter the park up until 9 pm. If you take all of the pleasant surprises and put them together, it gives the patron the opportunity to eat lunch or dinner outside of the park, or in the parking lot without additional cost.

All this leads up to my first question: How have you seen entertainment companies (movies, restraunts, museums, zoos, theme parks, etc...) compete for your business in this economy? And how have you benefited from it?

Question #2 comes from a fear I have of pit bulls. I am not scared of them myself, as much as I am of my children being eaten by one. My neighbor has 2 pit bulls: an adult that was abused as a puppy, and a really cute puppy. My brother-in-law has one also. Both my neighbor and brother-in-law are staunch defenders of pit bulls. It's not the pit bulls that are the problem, they say, it is the owners.

If that's the case, how come every pit bull attack story sounds exactly the same. It was a very friendly dog that never did anything wrong and then one day it snapped. I am sorry but I don't want my children or anyone else around the dogs when they do snap.

Question 2 then is what is a pet you would never want to have or even have live near you?

So those are my questions. For more Two Question Thursday head over to Self Sagacity.

Monday, July 18, 2011

HSD Rewind: Newspaper Fried Chicken

I have a little feature on my blog that announces the most frequently viewed post on the blog. I titled it the post of the week. I was surprised over the weekend to find that the most viewed post was a recipe post Amy wrote for Works for me Wednesday 2 years ago. So let's review the taste sensation that's sweeping the nation and get in the (not so) way back machine to

Original Air Date: June 30th, 2009

I have asked my lovely wife to contribute one of my favorite recipes for this special themed edition of WFMW. This dish works for us as a dish to pass at summer cookouts but also makes a great family dinner. Here is the lovely and Talented Mrs. Dad . . .

This is called "newspaper chicken" because we got the recipe from the newspaper. Creative huh.

**NOTE: This is a two-day affair, but well worth it!

Here's how I make it, but there are any number of variations you can make to make it your own. I take 5 lbs of boneless chicken breasts and cut them into small strips or chunks (I get the bag-o-frozen chicken from Aldi.) I cover them in water in a large tupperware bowl and add 1 cup of salt. Yes, one entire cup of salt. I put the cover on it, and shake it a few times, and refrigerate it overnight. Sometimes during the night, if I happen to get up, I shake it a few more times. In the morning, I dump out the salt water and rinse the chicken well. Really well. This brining isn't for flavoring. Then, using the same bowl while the chicken is on a plate or drainer, I put 2 cups of milk (I use skim) in the bowl and 2 tablespoons of vinegar and stir that up (handy dandy buttermilk.) Then return the chicken to the bowl and make sure the chicken is covered. If not, add more milk. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. I like to double dip my chicken because it comes out so crunchy, really good. I put 2 cups of flour, along with 1 tsp of the following: salt, garlic powder, chili powder, and 1/2 tsp of pepper and dry mustard. Mix it really well in a large ziplock bag (I've tried doing it in a bowl, but doesn't work as well.) So you take chicken out of buttermilk and save the buttermilk! Put chicken on a plate. Then with a pair of tongs or "grabbers" put a few pieces of chicken in the flour mixture to coat, then grab with grabbers, drop in buttermilk, and then back into flour mixture.

Place coated chicken on a tray (I use my pampered chef "stackable cooling rack" laid on top of a cookie sheet.) Once all chicken is double coated, let the tray sit in the fridge for another hour. This ensures the coating will stick to the chicken. **Sometimes I do have to make another bag of flour mixture. This double coating is messy, but it really makes for nice, crunchy chicken. After an hour, get a frying pan ready with enough oil to be 1/2 way up the sides of the chicken. I fry it over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, place a few pieces of chicken in the oil. If you're doing it right, as the hot oil is cooking the food, the salt water is coming out of the chicken, therefore, making it a nongreasy affair. Love it. So you fry it on one side for about 4 minutes (try to leave it alone here, don't check it a bunch of times), and the other side for about 4 minutes more. This, of course, varies according to size. Using bone-in chicken will take longer. Now, this is important: do not try to keep the chicken warm to try to serve in an hour or so. Either serve immediately, or allow to cool and either serve cold, or microwave to warm it up. If you try to keep it warm in the oven, it gets gooey, and nobody likes gooey chicken! This chicken also freezes quite well. I usually have enough for a meal right away, leftovers in the fridge, and then some in the freezer for a later meal.

Ingredients at a Glance:

5 lbs boneless chicken breasts
1 cup salt, water to cover chicken
2 cups milk plus 2 TBLS vinegar (or buttermilk if you have it)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt, garlic powder, chili powder
1/2 tsp pepper and dried mustard
oil for frying

Thanks Amy. She also does a great impression of Jimmy Stewart saying chicken. She is certainly a woman of many talents.

Meanwhile back in 2011. Amy is still a woman of many talents. Today she got a job that she neither applied for nor interviewed for. She merely told some people she wanted it, and bam, it was hers. It's actually her same job just in a different school, one much closer to our house.

So she will be able to get home quicker and make this fantastic chicken. We still love it and hope you will too. If I repost this in ten years time I might have to remind people what a newspaper was.

As with last time I shared this recipe, I am sharing this @ We Are That Family for Works for me Wednesday because (wait for it) Newspaper Chicken works for me. click here to see what works for others who may not have chicken on their mind and be so easily defined.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The New Pooh Review

On January 13th I posted the trailer for the new Winnie The Pooh film entitling the post six months and two days from now to signify when the film was coming to theatres.

The film came out today (Friday July 15th 2011)

My Six words: Six Months Two Days go fast!

I mean, wow do they fly. The whole family and I were all planning on going today. Amy had other things going but I took 3 kids and 3 stuffed animals and we had a fantastic time.

The film is just over an hour which is about the only bad thing I can say about the movie. It takes all the best elements of the books and movies and blends them together for a hilarious, mesmerizing and extremely satisfying experience.

One review of this movie said this was a perfect film for Pre K and Kindergartners and they are not wrong. I think it is also a perfect film for older children and adults. My soon to be 7th grader was laughing the loudest of anyone in the theatre.

Animated movies have grown up a lot over the years. There are some that are so adult that I wouldn't ever consider taking my children to. Winnie The Pooh is quite the opposite. It is a film that I would want to watch even if I didn't have children. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

For more Six Word Saturday click here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I thought Super Hero Movies were for Kids.

Friday Fragment Time here at the pretty good Coral.

First of all let me start out with a rant. My temp job ended on Tuesday, so I have had the ability to do things between 3 p.m and 11 p.m. that eluded me when I was working. So, Wednesday I went to see Green Lantern. Over the past 5 years there have been a plethora of super hero movies, the majority of these films feature the comic book heroes I grew up with.

Now when I think of super heroes, I think of 6 - 12 year old boys. If I were making Super Hero films they would be my target demographic My problem is that with few exceptions almost every super hero movie that has come out in the past ten years is not one I would want a 6-12 year boy to go to. Especially not my 6-12 year old boy.

Green Lantern is no exception. It is a dark scary movie that would certainly give my son nightmares. There is also sexual content that would preclude me from having good old Spider Droid watch it.

Over the past 5 years I have previewed many of the super hero movies, Iron Man, Spider Man 1&2, Fantastic 4 among others and there was always something in those films that kept me from letting Spider Droid watch it.

What bothers me is that many of these movies are marketed for children and that children would love watching super hero movies. My son is always disappointed when he asks about a movie I have screened and I tell him it's not for kids. He always gives me a look that says a Super hero movie that's not for kids, what's the point of that?

For Fragment 2 I will move from rant to review.

I recently had the joy of reading a great book to my kids. It is called Marvin Beeederman, Super Hero - The curse of the bologna sandwich.

The thing I really liked about this book is not just that it's funny, it's how it's funny. It uses one of my favorite methods of humor, repetition. It repeats parts of the book over and over until the mere mention of certain words are pure hilarity. I am looking forward to reading other books in this series.

Fragment 3

Continuing the superhero theme. Here is a video of one of the super heroes of the animal kingdom, the mighty dolphin.

Well that's all the fragments I have time for today. I have had a super time. For more Friday Fragments click here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I"m Back

Late Tuesday night. My temp job at the box company ended. So, I may have a little more time for blogging in the near future.

I have lots of good ideas for posts. Here are a few . . .

Don't Know much about History.

Tweeting the Carnival.

Why my Son won't be seeing Green Lantern.

I will also be participating in a few meme's in the near future as well.

Until next time adieu.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

How work can effect diet.

The nice thing about working late in Friday night is by the time I get home Six Word Saturday is already posted. Now if I were more together I would write the post prior to work and just link in when I get home. The truth is I have not done a lot of blogging since I started my temp job last week. I have quite a few posts that I could spend time on but I am not sure how people who work 8 hour days blog as well. Sure being a home educator is a full time job and yet I find time to blog then. What will be interesting is if I continue to do 2nd shift temp assignments after Amy goes back to school in August. This job I am on now has me leaving the house at about 2:15 which school is usually done by, so I guess it is doable. I just don't know what that will do to the blogging. Let's wait and see.

Oh I almost forgot. Six Word Saturday. Look up at the title of this post if you have forgotten it. I'm looking too.

Here are my six words:

May never eat graham crackers again.

Here is my explanation. A good part of my assignment is loading cardboard into big machines so they can be made into cardboard boxes. The thing is I'm putting thousands of these in per job and I have discovered that cardboard looks like graham crackers. So at times I am looking at graham cracker looking box, after graham cracker looking box. My fear is that one day soon I will be eating a graham cracker and it will taste like, you guessed it, cardboard.

For more Six Word Saturday. Click Here.

Next Time: A Trip to the Zoo.

White Sox Week in Review

On my other blog I participate in a little meme called Six Word Saturday. I have done it here before. The skinny is you give your six words and if you want you can explain them. So, now that we've explained that go review the title of this post.

Here are my six words:

I go to work. Sox lose.

Last Friday, I started a job at a box factory. It is an assignment from a temp company. I work the second shift 3-11. We didn't work on Monday as it was the 4th of July. Since then every day this week the White Sox have played or finishing playing while I have been making boxes. They now have lost 4 games in a row. This may not seem like a big deal. But it is. Box making is hard work and generally speaking my family is asleep when I get home, I would like a bit of good news like say a White Sox victory. Also, last week they got to .500 for the first time since early April. For those stopping in from Six Word Saturday who might not know what .500 means it means they have won as many games as they've lost. Now with these 4 losses they are back to below .500 where they will remain through the All Star break and perhaps the rest of their season.

Maybe if I quit my job they will start winning again. Although back then they only won 1/2 the time and I didn't get paid. So, I think I'll keep working.

For more Six Word Saturday click here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Not sure why he didn't make it the first time.

But you can still vote Paul Konerko into the all star game by clicking here and voting him in in the final vote.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

SIx words after a full day of work

I forgot how "real" labor feels.

Don't get me wrong I am not saying that what I usually do (teach the kids) isn't work. It not only is work, it is the most demanding (and rewarding) job I have ever had, It's just since 1992 when I graduated college all have my jobs have been office jobs with the exception of my work for the census last year, This summer I have contacted various agencies and have looked for summer employment. I have not had a great deal of success so far. Today I got a call at about 3:30 p.m. to work an 8 hour shift at a box factory. I worked 10 hours putting literally thousands of potential boxes in a box making machine. The work cycle was like this 1 to 1/2 hours of grueling backbreaking work followed by 1-2 minutes of adding fractions. I of course loved the fraction adding part. I would have done that for free,

If I survive the weekend I may get invited back next week to make more boxes. If that happens I will be glad for the chance to bring some money into the family and I also glad to be able to still do hard work as a man of my advanced years. But I will be especially glad that every hour and a half or so I can get paid to add fractions!

For more Six Word Saturday click here to head to Show My Face dot com.

A to Z 2023 Road Trip

#AtoZChallenge 2023 RoadTrip