Having an Herbarium (an Emily Dickinson Inspiration)

Emily Dickinson is my people. I first came across her poetry when I was about 12 or 13, reading the height of ‘80s teen romantic literature, a series called “Sweet Dreams”. Anybody else remember those books? Did you read them with New Kids on the Block muzak coming from your cassette player? Anyhow, I’ve lost my copies of those along with many other books from my youth, which really makes me sad and explains why I don’t lend books anymore.

The Sweet Dreams stories I distinctly remember as the ones that sparked my fascination in Emily Dickinson are called “The Right Combination” and “Love Lines”. I remember the titles and the story lines like I read them yesterday. I would give anything to own traditional copies of these books again… okay, maybe just a hundred pesos each, so if you have them, please consider selling them to me.

This post isn’t about Sweet Dreams, but about Emily Dickinson and how, decades after she grabbed me with lines like “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” (fodder for my reclusive, angst-ridden, popularity-loathing teen self), she’s still finding ways to remind me that she’s a kindred soul.

Consistent with my fangirl leanings, I already know a lot about Emily Dickinson. I did my high school senior year research paper on her (my teacher actually groaned at the breadth of the folder I’d turned in), as I did my Comm 2 research paper in my first year of college, with focus on Emily’s love life (the professor was amused and delighted with my enthusiasm, saying that I’d actually already created a mini-thesis and I could just develop and expound on what I had for my actual thesis – yeah, that was three years away and I couldn’t connect the topic with my actual major, which was Spanish).

So, the recent pleasurable fellow feeling I’ve had in relation to Emily stemmed from an article about her herbaria. I knew she studied botany and was an avid gardener, but I failed to home in on that information as something of significance when I was young. I’m very much interested in botany, but have never actively pursued the study, except casually in gardening and reading for the purpose of gardening and homeopathy. I figured it was time to put some system and structure into the interest.

With the feature on her herbaria, I found another way to not-so-subtly re-introduce her to my homeschooler (of course, my daughter is already familiar with some of Emily’s poems, thanks to her obsessed mother). With the poet as inspiration, we started working on our own herbarium.

We basically took a scrapbook, onion paper, and white label stickers (all of which were already in our supplies and miscellaneous drawers), and then we started clipping from our own garden. Let me tell you, our herbarium smells lovely. It’s not limited to our own garden plants, of course. When we see something pretty or interesting in our nature walks, we clip a sample and put it in a baggie to be researched and added to the herbarium later. Don’t worry; in our foraging and wildcrafting jaunts, we’re always careful not to overharvest.

What information do we usually jot down in our herbarium to accompany the cuttings?

  • Common name, location where it was found
  • Scientific name
  • Description
  • Practical function

Doing this reminds me of the 100 Species Challenge I participated in on my other blog, which was kind of like working on an online herbarium, using pictures instead of actual clippings. Virtual or actual, I find creating an herbarium fascinating and really fun. Now, I understand how this interest can leave others cold, but if you like botany and find pursuits like this incredibly satisfying, make your presence known in the comments section. Do the same if you love Emily Dickinson. 🙂

5 Wonderful Lessons Garage Sales Teach Our Kids

We recently participated in a multi-family garage sale held to raise funds for a fellow homeschooler who fell gravely ill with meningoencephalitis. While this dear little boy is thankfully now out of the woods, we still wanted to help with the expenses his hospitalization and continued treatment racked up.

My own family is no stranger to garage sales. We’ve held at least one every year and also regularly contribute to our church’s annual (now biannual) yard sale. There are obvious perks to holding garage sales. For one, you get to de-clutter your home. For another, you get to earn some money. If you involve your children, you can be sure that they benefit from the experience in many wonderful ways.

What are our young ones’ expected takeaways from doing garage sales?

  1. Material things are temporary. They get broken, lost, or outgrown. With garage sales, they learn to choose to not to be too attached to their possessions. They can be grateful for their time with something, but once it’s no longer useful to them, it’s time to let somebody else enjoy it.
  2. Value is twofold. An item’s worth goes beyond the price tag. They learn about cost depreciation and going rates in pricing, but they also learn to attribute appropriate value. Heirlooms, things of profound sentimental value, and other important items stay in the family. Everything else is dispensable.
  3. Pre-loved is a green choice. It’s best to keep your stuff away from the landfills. Your things are better off being reused or repurposed.
  4. A de-cluttered home feels lighter. Things can crowd them and weigh them down. Lessons in minimalism are best learned while young. They equip children to make smarter choices – wisdom beyond their years.
  5. Garage sales are Business 101. They involve the fundamentals of business, from organizing to pricing, to marketing, to mental math, to negotiating, to customer service, to teamwork, etc., and general life lessons about responsibility, safety, preparedness… And if your garage sale is actually for a cause, then there’s also the lesson of charity.

In a nutshell, a garage sale is a great idea, the benefits of which, are magnified when children are involved.

Do you like holding or going to garage sales? How do you feel about buying pre-loved items? Let us know in the comments.

Corn Dip, Part 1 – An Impromptu Concoction

It only took half a year, but I finally got to satisfy my curiosity on the corn dip.

My mom came over last week, and as what is usual for her, she showed up bearing goodies for her grandkids. One of them was a big bag of nacho chips. Since I had a can of corn kernels, I decided it was time to try making corn dip to go with the chips. It was quite the hype late last year.

We typically have nacho chips here, but we usually just eat them with homemade salsa, enhanced to con queso or con queso y carne, depending on what’s on hand. That’s what has always worked for us and we’re not really anxious to try anything new. We hardly even bother to make guacamole even when there’s aguacate (avocado) around.

To be honest, I was dubious about the corn dip. Corn on top of corn? It seemed like you have to be crazy about corn to be able to roll with it. Eating corn chips with corn dip sounded redundant, like dipping tomato in salsa, avocado in guacamole… let’s make it less ludicrous… like French fries in mashed potatoes, cheese cubes in fondue…

I overworked the analogies there, but it was kind of fun thinking of possible combinations, lol.

I ended up inventing my own corn dip recipe since I had to work with what I had in my kitchen, but it turned out pretty well. I eyeballed the measurements a lot, so I can’t really give a precise recipe, but this is how I made it.

Corn Dip

Ingredients

  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 can of corn kernels (15 oz)
  • 1 pouch of tomato sauce (200 g)
  • 1 pouch of mayo (200 g)
  • Half a bar of cheese, grated
  • Leek, sliced (because my green onion plant died while I was away at church camp)
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Cumin

Directions

  1. Sauté garlic and onion in butter.
  2. Add corn. Cook a couple of minutes.
  3. Add tomato sauce.
  4. Add leek.
  5. Season with salt and spices according to gut feel, haha. Cook for about five minutes.
  6. Pour into baking dish.
  7. Add mayo and cheese. Mix well.
  8. Pop into the oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 to 15 minutes (the dish, not you).

This tasted really yummy to me, but the next time I do it this way, I’ll be using two cans of corn. That’s not going to be any time soon though because the next time I make corn dip, I’ll be sticking to a more common recipe. That’s why there’s a part two to this corn dip saga. Let’s see which is better.

It’s crazy how I’m going on and on about corn dip when I have a long list of blog topics to write about.

Have you made/had corn dip? Is it your thing? What do you usually dip your tortilla chips into?

10 Effective Tips on How to Relish Parenthood

As parents, we tend to get bogged down by responsibilities and worries that we forget what a gift parenthood is. Consequently, we often fail to enjoy the privileges that come with it. Such tendencies could very well lead to a loss so great, it’s tragic.

While we never stop being parents, our children don’t get to be young forever. Their childhood is so precious, so special, and, unfortunately, also so fleeting that it’s important to remember to relish this stage of our life as parents. Unfortunately, when we’re living from paycheck to paycheck, facing a mountain of tasks, and fretting over the choices we’ve made for our family, it’s easy to lose the joy.

When we feel like being a parent is more of a burden than a gift, we should take the time to step back from our routine pursuits and remind ourselves how much we love our children and how important it is not only to ensure that they always feel that love, but that we enjoy their presence in our lives. Here are some tips for stirring up all the right sentiments about parenthood and spending meaningful moments with our children:

  1. Do “Hug Time”. The trolls had the right idea. While it doesn’t have to be scheduled, make sure that you make time for hugs several times a day. Especially enjoy it now when they’re cuddly and willing. Hopefully, they don’t outgrow the habit and will continue to welcome hugs and cuddles all their life.
  2. Inhale their baby scent. That doesn’t last very long. Soon, they’ll be smelling of sweat, sun, and, well, whatever else they’re exposed to. If your nose doesn’t appreciate this particular scent of childhood, then time breathing their scent in for after baths.
  3. Savor their gestures of affection. When she was a toddler, my eldest child used to go on walks with her Nannie (my mom) and come back with flowers she’d picked along the way for me. When she was learning to write, she also loved leaving me notes to find around the house (I miss that!). Of course, everything is cherished and preserved, the flowers, tucked between the pages of my Bible, and the notes, in a special box.
  4. Indulge in silliness. Have a dance-off, teach them funny songs (yes, I was the one who taught my kids the infamous “Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit” and “Great Green Globs”), switch roles for an hour, tell jokes… Just laugh, laugh, laugh with them.
  5. Snuggle in bed together. You could read books, watch a movie, tell stories, or just be. Forget the heat! Warm fuzzies in your chest that cozying up with your kids brings aren’t just for cold weather. They might not be interested in doing that anymore when they’re bigger, so do it as much as you can now.
  6. Capture the mundane. Fuss over the milestones, sure, but make the time as well to enjoy the daily details. For instance, when watching videos on my laptop, my youngest lies down on his tummy with his lower legs up and kicking in time to the music and his fingers drumming on the frame of my keyboard (and picking at the keys when I’m not looking). It’s really cute and I always pause to take the adorable image in. I’ve since committed it to memory, so I can summon it up in my mind when he’s all grown. While he still does it, I watch and feel my heart swell.
  7. Regularly spend unplugged time with them. Being fully conscious of each other without the disruption of electronics amps the quality of time spent together instantly and significantly. You tend to listen better, make better and longer eye contact, and, thus, connect more deeply.
  8. Share something you really enjoy with them. It’s good for them to see you cultivating your interests, and it’s even better when they can share your likes with you. Be it gardening, fishing, reading, or even just eating, you get opportunities to bond with your children on the kindred level, a truly delightful feeling.
  9. Experience new things with them. As fun as it is to impart your standing interests to them, it’s even more fascinating to explore new territories together. You would be starting out on even footing, something that they would probably find intriguing and appreciate.
  10. Break one of your own rules with them. These are truly special moments that usually serve you well when you really need to lighten up. When you’re weighed down by all that you require of yourself to be a good parent, allowing yourself to flout one of your own rules is a way for you to satisfy any urge to rebel, to take things a little easier, and to give the kids a break or a treat in case they had a particularly stressful day. For instance, if I had enough of my day, I’d tell the kids that we’re having cake for dinner in the bedroom while watching a movie (even though it’s not movie night) or if homeschooling was rough that day, I’d let my daughter experiment with my makeup; she’s usually not allowed beyond a bit of tinted lip balm.

I find that I need to consciously set out to do these things or I might end up simply going through the motions, resenting the overwhelming list of tasks that need to get done while taking care of hearth and home, and consequently failing to enjoy the infinitely precious blessing bestowed upon me.

The love is always there in our hearts, but it might fail to manifest, consumed as we are by all the daily details. That would definitely be regrettable.

What do you do to steer yourself away from a path of negativity and wasted opportunities as a parent?

Paleta – How to Beat the Heat in an Easy, Cheap, and Yummy Way

How about this heat, huh? I know the weather is a banal topic, but how can you help it? It’s just there, messing with your life and power bill.

Earlier in the summer, the heat was scorching. It was relentless and unforgiving. You felt it on your skin like a high-grade fever. These days, it’s humid. It’s wet and oppressive. The air is muggy and dense, like it could drown you. Life in the tropics, eh?

“What kind of heat are we experiencing today?”

“Oh, it’s balmy/sultry/arid/infernal… It’s the kind that renders you temporarily insane and drives you to go streaking up and down your street.”

To keep a grip on your faculties, you need a good offense. Air conditioning is an effective solution, but it’s not the cheapest or the most environmentally considerate option. Baths also work, but they get old after a while. Food, on the other hand, is usually gratifying.

Ice cream, halo-halo, frozen yogurt… These are all good choices, but you usually have to go to the store to get them. The halo-halo, for one, requires a slew of ingredients and quite an involved process to make. For an easy and cheap homemade cold treat, we’ve always turned to the paleta or popsicle.

My eldest child used to make ice pops by filling an ice cube tray with juice, covering it with cling wrap, and sticking a toothpick in the middle of each square. These days, we use actual paleta molds and fill them with more complicated concoctions.

Homemade paletas are not only easy and cheap, they are also a safer bet. If you’re particular about nutrition, you can be certain of what’s in your paleta. You don’t have to worry about chemical additives mixed in for longer shelf life and prettier colors.

When we’re choosing to make something healthy, we like freezing smoothies. Most of the time, however, it’s about the flavor. Watermelon and mint, mango and chilies, pineapple and lime… it’s really up to you (or your kids) to find a blend that works. Over here, the winning paleta flavor is peaches and cream.

I can’t share a precise recipe because I wing it a lot and eyeball the ingredients. Basically, I use canned peaches (fresh ones are rare here), all-purpose cream, sugar, and cinnamon. Lookit.

Oftentimes, we are disappointed to note that the freezer holds no yummy cold treat for us when all the while, we have ingredients to make awesome paletas. Molds are inexpensive, so it’s nothing to make that investment. Experimenting with different combinations is definitely creative fun you can have with your kids. Ultimately, you get a cold treat to help make this awful heat more bearable.

The Battle of the Tortillas

When you hear “tortilla”, what comes to mind? Is it a thick potato omelet or a round flatbread made from cornmeal?

Growing up, I associated the word with corn chips because, well… you know, tortilla chips (which a Mexican friend told me were actually called totopos and not tortillas). And then I got introduced to burritos and soft tacos, so tortilla became that flatbread thing used to wrap around and contain ground meat, beans, rice, veggies, and cheese.

When I started majoring in Spanish, my professors introduced us to the peninsular Spanish language and culture first, so I learned about the other tortilla. What does it say about me that I found the fact that there were two entirely different kinds of tortilla infinitely interesting?

As intrigued as I was by the distinction between the Spanish tortilla and the Mexican tortilla, I was even more fascinated by the way the tortilla de patata is made. All that flipping and sliding seemed like kitchen acrobatics to me – riveting stuff.

Spanish Tortilla

At that time, I couldn’t even boil water (and I was in the Girl Scouts growing up too!). I just had nothing to do with the kitchen. My mother told me when I was two years old not to mess around in the kitchen or I was sure to burn or stab myself to death (not in those actual words, but you get the idea) and I took the warning to heart well into adulthood.

In any case, the Great Tortilla Distinction remained a fascination until, well, the present day. As a Spanish teacher, I integrated cooking the two kinds of tortilla into the lesson, the Spanish tortilla for the upper school classes and the Mexican tortilla (which is definitely easier to make) for the middle school ones. I even ordered a tortilla press, which turned out to be next to useless as we ended up preferring the good old rolling pin.

Now that I have my own family, the tortillas are also frequently in the menu. I have a bunch of picky eaters on my hands, so I have to plan carefully to ensure that mealtimes aren’t a battle of wills and that food isn’t wasted. No, I haven’t been able to train them to eat whatever’s in front of them. I didn’t even try, so let’s move on.

Fortunately, my kids love the Spanish tortilla and like chicken quesadillas. My daughter usually helps me when she’s not minding her brothers (she’s a regular Kristy Thomas – a little Baby-Sitters Club reference there, heehee).

The problem with our Spanish tortilla is that there are five of us and we definitely need more than one “pie”. My husband recently bought a bigger cast iron skillet (the man loves his skillets), so that might make a big enough pie for our family. I doubt it, but we’ll see.

I’m not going to share my tortilla de patata recipe here because, honestly, I just wing it most of the time, but this recipe is closest to what I usually do, only I add some butter, carrots, and paprika as well.

As for my chicken quesadilla. It’s one of my dumb and fast food choices, provided I had already made and frozen tortillas and there’s a jar of my husband’s famous salsa (well, famous at our church, lol) in the fridge.

I basically heat up some chicken breast nuggets, cut them into strips, melt some butter in the pan, place a tortilla in it, arrange chicken strips on top, grate cheese over them, see that the cheese has melted some, place a second tortilla on top, make sure the mess is stuck together, and then flip the whole thing over to fry the other side as well. There may also be strips of bell pepper, depending on its availability.

Which tortilla do you prefer? What do you usually make with Mexican tortillas? Share your tortilla knowledge and experience in the comments.

How to Make a Chocolate Spread from Scratch

Homemade Chocolate Spread

Necessity is the mother of… making things from scratch. I’ve found this to be true time and again. In the past, the need usually arose from the mistaken notion of having a better-stocked kitchen. Finding that, contrary to my expectation, I didn’t actually have pancake mix, confectioner’s sugar, apple pie filling, tortilla, taco seasoning, et cetera, et cetera, and having already made and announced plans that required them, I had no choice but to turn to the Internet for a solution. Recipes and tutorials always unfailingly came to my rescue.

We just had a full weekend and failed to do the groceries then and so Monday was met with a meager cupboard. I had planned to make pancakes from scratch, but found that my husband had visited a nearby bakery the previous night and came home with a passel of pan de sal (tasty local rolls considered a breakfast staple in the Philippines).

Okay, that worked. It meant I didn’t need to make pancakes. We had butter and blueberry jam, so we had something to put on the rolls. Nonetheless, I was primed to make something that morning. Also, I had to deal with picky eaters who had certain preferences.

Around here, the favored sandwich spread was either peanut butter or Nutella. Unfortunately, we were out of both, so I had to be resourceful. I had peanuts, but they were garlic flavored. I had no hazelnuts except ones embedded in chocolate bars. I had loads of chocolate chips though. I had butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla extract… I could make a chocolate spread.

I had to make some choices though. I had Hershey’s milk chocolate chips and Nestle Tollhouse semisweet chocolate chips. I had Dutche cocoa tablets (side note: I have a couple of Dutche products in my kitchen, which means my eyes frequently come across the brand name, which then means I usually find myself singing “Pass the Dutchie”) and Swiss Miss instant cocoa mix. Since my recipe will be using sugar, I decided to go with the less sweet options.

This is the recipe I ended up using:

Homemade Chocolate Spread

Ingredients:

  • ½ C sugar
  • ¼ C water
  • 1 T grated cocoa tablet
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • A stick of butter (½ C), cubed
  • ½ C semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Mix sugar, water, cocoa, and salt in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir until sugar and cocoa are dissolved. Continue stirring over heat until it reaches a simmer. Remove from heat.
  • Add vanilla extract, butter, and chocolate chips. Whisk until chocolate chips and butter melt and the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour into a container. Don’t worry that it’s too runny. It will thicken as it cools. Store in the fridge for two weeks.

Like I said, it’s a chocolate spread, so don’t expect it to taste like Nutella. In any case, it was a hit with my family.

I have to tell you though, making things from scratch is quite addictive. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and self-importance, kind of like Tom Hanks in Castaway when he made fire. If I had the time, I’d prefer to make most things from scratch. Nothing hardcore though. I’m not quite up to milling my own flour. Stop that thought. I was just talking to my husband about making our own brown rice flour and corn flour for when we finally go gluten-free, casein-free. At any rate, I’m not ready to pioneer a settlement in some lost frontier.

What are the things you have made from scratch? Do you enjoy the process? Or do you prefer the easier route? No judgment here. We’re very much familiar with the demands of modern living. Let us know your thoughts.

How to Clean Crayon Marks from Walls

Yesterday was the first time National Homeschool Day was celebrated here in the Philippines. My family celebrated by meeting up with other homeschool families in our area.

Homeschooling, no matter how outsiders view it, is a brave choice. The challenges it presents are tremendously tough. You get the sense that you can’t afford to screw up because you’ll only have yourself to blame, and how can you live with that?

Well, obviously, with a lot of self-directed mercy. More often than not, we’re our own harshest critics, but well-seasoned parenthood is peppered with mistakes. That’s a confused application of figurative language, but anyway… Veteran parenting is the kind that seems easy, that suggests you’ve arrived at expert level but – hah! –   I’m not holding my breath trying to get to that point of parenting bliss.

I get the feeling that it doesn’t really ever become easier. The challenges are new and just as intense as we graduate to new stages. If it really does feel somewhat lighter, perhaps what basically changed is our attitude. We’ve learned to be more forgiving of ourselves. We’ve learned to choose our battles. We’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff, like crayon marks on the walls.

That was some segue, lol. At any rate…

We have cream walls in our home, the perfect canvas for a small, exploring hand wielding a crayon (or a pencil, or a marker, or my favorite eyeliner…).

Who needs wallpaper when you have little vandals running loose and wild inside your house, right? I have veritable murals.

I comfort myself with the knowledge that they’ll eventually learn not to draw on the walls. While they haven’t yet, I’ll just have to enjoy a little bit of toddler graffiti at home.

We could, of course, clean up those wall scribbles, but if you’re like me and a little bit lackadaisical in keeping the house presentable, it would probably take you months before you get around to it. 😀 Why bother, right? A neat and immaculate home lasts all of ten seconds. It’s a losing battle I just don’t have the energy or will for, lol.

Through the years, I’ve learned to be happy with “relatively clean and tidy”. There are maybe two times a year when I think I want ten seconds of an uncluttered, spotless home and make the effort. That’s sporadic enough for me to convince myself that crayon-marked walls have a certain charm to them. 😀

If you can’t live with those crayon marks, however, of if you’re finally getting around to erasing them, here are some ways you can go about it.

You’ll need a wash rag or a tea towel for every method, but the main cleaning ingredients are:

  • Method 1 – milk
  • Method 2 – toothpaste
  • Method 3 – baby oil
  • Method 4 – water and baking soda

Watch how successful my daughter and I were with each one in this video.

As it turned out, crayon marks aren’t that hard to erase from walls. After we made this video, we also tried with some plain water and soap, and the marks came off pretty easily as well.

Basically, we learned that we didn’t need to make a big production of getting rid of those crayon marks. The high difficulty level of the task was all in my head. Now, I don’t know about markers and pen ink. We’ll attack those marks next.

Btw, the video. It was our first video-making effort, which you can probably tell. It’s one of the skills my daughter is interested in acquiring (she says she wants her own YouTube channel), so we’re exploring it together. Just from this one, she has learned to use so many features of a basic video editing program. She was definitely more comfortable and knowledgeable in navigating her way through it than me.

She wanted to do a bunch of other fancy things, but I convinced her to keep it simple this first time. We also removed the music we’d initially put in because we learned that there’s a certain caveat if you use something from the YouTube audio library. I don’t understand it all that well yet, so I thought we’d better not use any music for now. I didn’t want to use music from elsewhere either until I look into copyright issues, so it’s just our voices and the hum of the AC, lol.

I promise, next time, we’ll use a better camera, a tripod, a mic, and my husband’s help. He actually knows how to edit videos, but he’s been busy. In any case, my daughter and I had a lot of fun floundering our way through this experience. 😀

That’s it for this post. What’s your attitude toward toddler graffiti? What method do you use for removing them? Any advice on video-making? Let us know.

Fun and Fascinating Ways to Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

Dr. Seuss Day is tomorrow, March 2. On this day in 1904, the beloved children’s book author Dr Seuss was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachussetts. He adopted his pen name Dr. Seuss when he was still a university student in Dartmouth. That’s what he is most known for, although he also used other pseudonyms such as Theo LeSieg, Rosetta Stone, and Theophrastus Seuss.

From his name, Dr. Seuss is obviously of German descent, and if you know the most basic of the German language, you’ll know that Seuss should rhyme with choice and not choose; however, Dr. Seuss didn’t mind the anglicized pronunciation it popularly took on since it rhymed with Mother Goose. 🙂

I grew up loving Dr. Seuss books, even if the Cat in the Hat often stressed me out. 😀 Now, I’m happy to share the “obSeussion” with my kids. My 10-year old daughter, who’s all about being silly, can’t get enough of the rhymes. The two younger boys love the cadence of these rhymes when being read to, and they definitely also enjoy flipping through the pages and looking at the illustration.

In our family, children’s books do not remain in pristine condition. They also usually don’t stay in the bookcase either. I’m not one for keeping things that were meant for my kids out of their reach. Unfortunately, this means that some pages have rips, scribbles, drool marks, etc. Even the board books are far from damage-proof. This means that our Dr. Seuss books all bear the evidence of my kids’ fondness for them. See?

seuss books

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. But that’s just me. Different families, different values, different ways of doing things. 🙂

To celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday, the US assigned the date National Read across America Day. We’re not in the US, so we can’t observe that. 😀 Having said that, we’d definitely be reading our copies of Dr. Seuss’ books. We’d do other activities as well.  The day’s going to be pretty full. I should’ve made it Dr. Seuss week instead. Here are some of the things I’m including in the day’s program:

green eggs

  • Breakfast of green eggs and ham while listening and probably singing along to songs from Seussical the Musical. (I can paint the ham, but I think I’ll limit the food dye to the eggs. If you want to use something natural – although mine is store-bought “natural” food color – you could puree broccoli and mix it with beaten eggs for a green omelet.)

  • Dr. Seuss books read-aloud from my ten-year-old and our homeschool puppets. (save One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish for later)
  • Visit to Seussville.com for games.
  • First movie (Cat in the Hat).
  • Crafts: truffula trees (pipe cleaners and yarn pompoms), oobleck (homemade slime, basically), Cat in the Hat mask (construction paper and markers).


seuss-oobleck

  • Afternoon snack of homemade goldfish crackers while reading One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. (makeshift mold using a strip cut from a foil dish or soda can)
  • Second movie (The Lorax).

That’s going to be it for our Dr. Seuss Day, which I think is already plenty, but we love Dr. Seuss, so it’s all good.

Do you plan to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday? What activities will you do? How do you make your green eggs and ham? What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book? Mine is Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Let us know in the comments section.

 

How to Effectively Transition into a Prepper

Inuit elders warn that the earth has shifted. They say that that their sky has changed. The sun and moon rise from different places than they used to. The sun is higher and warms up more quickly, giving them longer daylight for hunting.

They say that the Sun, the Moon, and the stars have all changed, affecting not only the temperature, but also how the wind blows. This makes it hard for the Inuit people, who inhabit the northern regions of the US, Canada, and Greenland, to predict the weather, something that is essential when living in the Arctic.

This warning happens to coincide with all the recent extreme weather events as well as the increased activity happening in the Ring of Fire, including the frequency of active volcanoes going berserk and large magnitude earthquakes occurring along the Ring of Fire.

This portent of doom and gloom, unscientific thought it may be, has definitely caused some disquiet to those living in the area. Californians buzz about the San Andreas Fault, which could unzip all at once with “The Big One”, making the entire state fall into the ocean.

Closer to home, we brace for the havoc that the West Valley Fault is expected to wreak. I live in Marikina so you can probably understand my concern. The experts say that the fault is ripe for a serious quake.

It doesn’t help that oarfish have been washing up ashore. Japanese myth has it that this “sea serpent” is a messenger from the sea god’s palace and is a herald of earthquakes.

Now, I listen to what the scientists say, but I’m not one to dismiss what the indigenous peoples and the animals are saying either. In this case, however, all parties are warning of impending catastrophe.

We could leave, of course, settle elsewhere, but we’re reluctant to disrupt our lives for a disaster that may or may not happen. And where would we move, anyway? Is there a place that is truly safe? So, we’ve decided to stay put, but we’ve also chosen to prepare as much as we can in the event that a devastating earthquake does occur.

We’re putting together an emergency earthquake kit, which includes:

  • Food and water (canned fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish; crackers and other packaged snacks with a long shelf life; camping food, etc.)
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Candles and matches
  • Portable radio (better yet, get a flashlight radio – we won one  at our church’s Christmas raffle, and it’s really nifty)
  • First aid kit (include dust masks)
  • Rescue tools (wrench, hammer, crowbar, rope ladder, fire extinguisher, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous supplies for comfort and hygiene (sleeping bags, pillows, toiletries, wet wipes, paper towels, garbage bags, disposable plates/cups/cutlery, busy bags for the kids, etc.)

Of course, there are other things that need to be done. We need to train the kids on what to do if the quake strikes, identify safe points in the house and other places, fortify the house against intense tremors, etc. In short, it’s time to channel the preppers.

If you’re interested in learning the ways of preppers or survivalists, the following are some manuals, beginner’s guides, etc. available for free on Kindle at the time of this posting. You can get some good tips from the LA-specific manual as well.

Be it a looming earthquake, a supertyphoon, or even a zombie apocalypse, it’s good to be prepared. Are you the type to be ready for any eventuality or do you prefer to simply wing it?

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