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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Guy Is Getting Older

No, not my husband.  (Well, he is getting older, but this post isn't about him).  My dog Brodie is nearly 11 1/2 and in Westie years that is definitely a senior citizen.

Our Shellie died a couple of years ago at age 16, but she was a larger (and really old) terrier.  It was tough.  Our first indication that she was starting to decline was when we realized she lost her hearing. We had to learn to use hand commands, although she was quick to pick it up.  We also had to walk up and touch her whenever we wanted her attention.  There were a lot of other things that happened physically to Shellie before she died, but losing her hearing was the first big step.

I just realized tonight that our Brodie has also largely lost his hearing.  At first I thought (just like with Shellie) that he was being a stubborn terrier at times because he was ignoring me when I called.  We did a little test tonight and really the only thing he hears is when I whistle.  He is getting hand commands already which is good.

This guy was a surprise birthday gift to me on a "big" birthday and he's very special.  Don't ask my husband how special he is, because you will probably get a very mixed response at best.

He sleeps a lot too which isn't all bad because we know he's not getting into trouble in the next room.  But turn on that barbecue grill and he dances around like a puppy.

I think Brodie may still have several good years before his run is over, but for tonight, its a little sad knowing we are beginning the last stage of his life.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

It Takes Just A Second

Last night we attended a graduation party. The hosts have a large pool with various seating areas scattered around their backyard. It was a pretty good crowd and we were there for a few hours. We were having a nice time talking to a couple with three beautiful young daughters, ages 11, 8 and 3. We were standing near a table with chairs around it near the pool and it was getting pretty dark out there. The kids were moving around, eating, talking and playing.  Nothing extraordinary. Suddenly, the husband asked the wife "Where's the baby?" referring to the 3 year old. She had stepped around the table where he couldn't see her and we were all talking. The other girls just looked at him. We were so close to the pool.

Do you know what happened next?

No, the baby didn't fall into the pool. Her mom and I were talking, but between the two of us, we had an eye on the toddler. Once the husband knew where the baby was, we went back to our conversations, but I bet there was a third pair of eyes on her after that.

Every year in Arizona multiple children die or are severely disabled in pool accidents. Every year we hear the same thing - watch your kids around water.

It can happen so fast. We could have taken our eyes off that baby for just 30 seconds and that would be plenty of time for her to be in the pool. Little ones don't necessarily hold their breath or make noise when they when they unexpectedly fall into a pool. It can happen at night or in broad daylight. I can't tell you how many times I have seen news stories of children found at the bottom of pools in the middle of the day during a party. There are so many eyes, it just seems counterintuitive that a child would slip under the water and no one would notice. But it does.

If you have a young child and a pool, there must be barriers between them. A locked patio door won't work if the child can go through the doggie door (there have been several drownings in Arizona like that). If your child can reach and operate the latch on the pool gate by standing on a nearby chair, there is no barrier. If your child or your family is at someone else's house, you need to know if there are barriers are between them and the pool. If there are no barriers, you must watch them.  EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND. Don't depend on other people at the party, even if there are quite a few. There is no guarantee someone will see your child, and if it is dark or the party is big, it's pretty likely that someone won't see your child fall into the pool.

Accidents can and do happen. I'm certainly not preaching because my kids are teenagers and most of the time I want to push them into the pool. I'm just giving that friendly PSA.

Please, watch your kids around water.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Easy Mexican Crockpot Chicken

I love my crockpot and as a working (outside of the home) mom, I need to use it more.  Here is a recipe I found on Pinterest from RecipeMothers.  I changed it up a little, so here is my version.  It's so easy you won't believe it.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I made 6, but whatever fits in the bottom of your crockpot)
can of black beans
can of corn (leave the liquid in)
can of Rotel
8 oz block of cream cheese
taco seasoning
ranch dressing mix
rice or tortillas (or both)

I always use a liner in my crockpot because I HATE cleaning it afterwards. Place the chicken breasts on the bottom of the crockpot. Dump the beans, Rotel and the whole can of corn (including the liquid) over the top of the chicken. Because I don't trust my husband to do too much, I put these ingredients in a bowl the night before.

The original recipe called for Fiesta Ranch dressing mix, but I couldn't find it so I improvised.  I used a taco seasoning and ranch dressing and mixed them together.  I used most of both packets because I had 6 chicken breasts, but use your best judgment as to the amount of seasoning you want. Dump it on the top of the vegetables.  Finally, place the block of cream cheese on the top.  No need to chop it up (unless you really want to).

Turn the crockpot on low for 6 hours.  Some versions of this recipe use chicken that is still frozen, so in that case I would plan on 8 hours. It would probably work well if everyone is out of the house all day. If you have a husband who forgets to turn the crockpot on at the right time, it will still work in 4 hours on high.

When it is done, stir so the cream cheese gets spread throughout.  Pull out each chicken breast, cut it up and return it to the pot.  You will probably be able to shred it with a fork - it is so tender!  Serve over rice or use in tortillas.  We did both.  The rice thickens it really nicely so it isn't runny in the tortilla.  My kids loved this and they are not generally an easy sell. 



Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tie Dye with Acryllics

I've been collecting a lot of pins on Pinterest and haven't had a chance to try all of those cool crafts. My extended family met at Kentucky Lake over the 4th of July, and never missing a chance to try a craft, my very own Craft Diva and I tried out this tie dye method from Ricochet and Away!  I found it to be easier than most dyeing methods I have seen and it's something kids can easily do.  However, I would not expect to wear the finished product for at least 24 hours due to drying (and possible need for re-dyeing.) I found everything I needed for this craft at Walmart:

White cotton shirts
Acryllic Paint (I used Waverly Inspirations Chalk Paint in Ocean, Peacock and Pool)
Plastic spray bottles (one for each color)
Package of rubber bands (office supply section)
Plastic gloves (acryllic will come off your hands, but the scrubbing is a pain)

I started with damp shirts and instead of rolling them the way described in the tutorial, I wadded them up into a ball.

This, my friends, is the wrong way.  I had to repeat the painting process more than once because I didn't roll the shirt, but wadded it up into a ball.

Next, combine the paint with some water in the spray bottle.  I used about 70/30 water to paint ratio, but you have to try for yourself.  Too much paint will result in a stiff mess.  Now spray.  We alternated these complimentary colors for the best effect.

After spaying them thoroughly, I put each shirt into a plastic shopping bag and squished them to get the paint distributed.  It didn't work as well as I wanted, because as I said, I wadded up the shirts the wrong way to start.  After removing the rubber bands and seeing big blank white spaces, I realized my mistake and had to roll the shirt up again for another round of spraying.

Once you get the desired amount of paint on the shirts, you need to let them dry completely before wearing (or you will wear the paint).  I also wanted to make sure my shirts didn't accidentally run in the laundry, so before I washed them, I soaked them in cold water and vinegar for an hour.  (It's probably not necessary, but it's the best way to set dye of any kind.)

I made shirts for all of the cousins, but here's the one that turned out best from my grand-nephew.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

STG Top 5 Kid Crafts

Creativity in kids should always have an outlet and my daughter is the original Craft Diva. Unfortunately, as she gets older, she's less interested in crafting although she is still really creative. Today I'm reliving the best Craft Diva crafts for kids.  These are easy to do and your kids will be proud of the results. Click on the title to see the original post with detailed instructions.

1.  Origami Ninja Stars - This has to be one of the most popular posts I ever wrote.  This is a craft Kenzie found on her own and her instructions are very simple because we managed to take some good pictures.  Use multicolored copier weight paper for the best results.

2.  Corn Syrup Painting - This is definitely one of my favorites.  You need to use a heavy sketch book paper for this one because the "paint" is heavy and thick.  You will love the shiny smooth effect you get using the paint, but don't forget - it needs lots of time to dry!

3.  Yarn Mache Bowls - These are messy, but even the youngest kids can do this craft (once you make the paste).  This is a great way to get rid of yarn stashes and your child will like having a functional bowl for small items.

4.  DIY Finger Paints - These are also in the easy/messy categories.  One word of warning - be ready to put the paints to use within the first couple days of making them.  They do tend to ferment and will get smelly if kept sealed up in a bag!

5.  Melted Crayon Drawing - We saw this craft many times before we did it, so it wasn't too hard to do.  We were going with a slightly sophisticated product with a black canvas and black paper wrapped crayons from Michaels.  It's a little tricky to do it in a circular pattern like we did, so you might want to stick to the horizontal version.  Also, be careful with those hot glue guns, hair dryers and melted wax crayons with little ones.

So that's it!  While I've been writing this, my now-12-year-old Craft Diva noticed the post and commented that she wants to do more crafting.  We'll see, but if she does, you will see it right here.

Keep those kids crafty!