Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wisconsin With Kids ~ Historic Point Basse

Last week I shared a few pictures of our day trip from Bloomer to Pepin and back home again.  That got me thinking about other day trips we've taken in the past.  I thought it'd be fun to share some of our experiences touring Wisconsin With Kids.

Today I have for you more on the Pioneer way of life.  Historic Point Basse in Nekoosa was a crossing point over the Wisconsin River on a trail that ran across Wisconsin.  Today the settlement has a number of buildings including the Wakely House, ice storage shack, barn, blacksmith shop, fur trading post and school house.  They have a number of events throughout the year.  We've attended both the Pioneer Festival and Harvest Fair.  We took the older kids back when they were small and we still talk about the fun times we had.  So in all fairness we thought it was about time to take the younger kids.

We started the rainy day off in the school house drawing on slates.  The teacher quizzed Sam on the original flag and the 48 star flag.  He passed.  As you can see many people dress the part at these types of festivals.  I believe these men were portraying the War of 1812 era?  I think.

The teacher even got Maria to take part, no easy task.

Joseph was in his glory when he saw the miniature horse/pony.  He took control just like he does with the horses at home.

We shucked dried corn.  It might be used as animal feed or ground into cornmeal for use in bread.

This gentleman was making ice cream, a crowd favorite.  His buddy showed us the ice house where they store ice cut during the Wakely Ice Harvest.  While waiting for the ice cream to freeze down we visited the blacksmith shop.

The blacksmith incorporated lots of science into his demonstration.  Fire, smoke, glowing iron, sparks.  Good times.

Letting the kids hold his HEAVY hammer.

I felt the need to get into the spirit of the day and braided my hair.  Sometimes I'm a dork like that.
The kids were trading in their fur pelt for a piece of candy or bead bracelet.

We visited with this man who sets up his tee-pee/encampment at this and other pioneer festivals.  He was a wealth of info on indian culture and shared a story about the # of plates in the carapace (top shell) of a turtle shell (28) corresponding to the full moon and a woman's menstrual cycle and how powerful women are when they are "on the moon".  See Sam's face.  I wish I knew what he was thinking at that point.

If you are looking for a fun, educational, and always entertaining day trip for your family check out the calendar of events at Historic Point Basse.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Two Clothing Tips for Kids with Down Syndrome

Today I'm sharing a couple of tips for those of you dressing children with Down syndrome.  Down syndrome brings with it a list of characteristics:  Brushfield spots, almond shaped eyes, gap between big toe and 2nd toe, short legs, rounder middle.  The last two make summer shorts wearing weather great.  Basketball shorts with elastic waist - easy on, look good.  However, as we approach the "Back to School" season, I start thinking cooler days.  That means blue jeans and hoodies.  It can be a trick to find jeans to fit a child with Down syndrome.  And not everyone wants to or knows how to hem jeans.  I've found that OshKosh B'Gosh jeans are an excellent choice.  They offer stylish jeans in a husky version.  I can buy Joseph jeans based on his leg length and the husky waist makes them fit perfectly every time.

Next up is not so much a clothing fit issue as a sanitary issue.  I don't want to share all Joseph's little secrets online, but I do want to share a tip I have for eliminating nighttime Pull-Ups problems.  Basic pajamas are meant to be easy on, easy off.  That easy off part became quite a problem for us a couple of years ago.  I was so frustrated with my pajama options:  blanket sleepers (zippers on the front) and elastic waist bottoms with pullover tops.  Neither stayed on all night, nor did the Pull-Up.  What a mess.  I considered sewing something with a zipper up the back and then ah hah!  Warren and I had an idea to cut the feet off his blanket sleepers and put them on him backwards.  Genius!

See the gap.  It's called Sandal gap deformity.
I cut the feet off his pajamas right below the ankle elastic.

But it was summer and he'd be pretty hot, so we cut off the sleeves just above the elbow.  Perfect!  The neck was slightly gagging him.  I cut a V-notch in the "front" making more room.  Perfectly Genius!

He's been wearing his pajamas this way for at least 2 or 3 years and it's a no-fail option for keeping the pajamas and Pull-Up on.
This is actually a pair of his winter pajamas.  I left the sleeves in tact for warmth.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Country Kids' Swimming Pool

We love our country life.  Swimming right out the back door in the reservoir.  That's how we spent our afternoon, the one where the thermometer read 103 on the chicken coop.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Answer Me This: Ice Cream Edition

I'm playing along with Kendra from Catholic All Year again.  And it looks like this will be the last week for awhile; she just had a baby girl.  If you're into birthing stories, hers is pretty fun to read because she ACCIDENTALLY HAD THE BABY AT HOME.

So, here's getting to know me better than you'd like.

1. What's your favorite grocery store splurge?

I'm a pretty frugal person when it comes to groceries.  I shop at Aldi and clip coupons for everything else.  Recently, Amber's been asking for Annie's Organic shells and white cheddar macaroni and cheese.  Come on, $2.42 for a box that serves 3 people.

 Lucky for her, I found a similar item at Aldi:  Simply Nature Organic shells and white cheddar and it's only $1.39/box.  Is that a splurge?  In my book, yes!

2. How's your penmanship?

Remember the grading system in grade school.

E = Excellent
G = Good
S = Satisfactory
N = Needs Improvement
U = Unsatisfactory

I'm pretty sure I got an "S" in penmanship many years in a row.

3. Do you have a "Summer Bucket List?"

Not a list on paper titled "Summer Bucket List", but we do talk privately about summer plans and then put a few things on the calendar before it fills up with all the other to do's.  This summer we wanted to go to a Rafter's Baseball game (check), tubing/kneeboarding (check), fishing on Lake Arrowhead (check), stand-up paddle board (check) and a big bike ride (still thinking on that one and trying to figure out bikes/carriers for all 9 of us).  In past years we wrote our ideas on a sticky note and stuck it to the fridge calendar.  It kept us on track and doing all the things we had set out to do that summer.  I'm not sure why we stopped that method because it worked well.  I'd even catch kids adding ideas to the sticky note.

4. What's the best thing on the radio right now?

Talk radio.  I love it.  Relevant Radio, WFHR, Rush (in small doses), Dave Ramsey, a little bit of Bob and Tom when they're not too crude.

5. Ice cream or frozen yogurt?

Definitely ice cream.  Soft serve chocolate.  Hand dipped mint chocolate chip, butter pecan, turtle praline, peanut butter cup.  I really like chunks in ice cream.  I have nothing against frozen yogurt, I've just never gotten into it.

For more answers from random bloggers please check out Kendra's blog and link-up.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Canning.....Small Batch Style

Pressure Canning.  If any old-fashioned kitchen task can elicit fear, This is it.  I've heard many stories about pressure canners blowing up, spewing glass shards and bits of vegetables, meat, or even rice into the light fixtures, ceiling tiles and kitchen crevices.  As one such story goes:  when the granddaughter (my old boss) was cleaning out the home for sale after the grandparents had passed, they found hardened grains of rice still in the kitchen light fixture from a canning incident occurring over 40 years earlier.  That's enough to scare any new homesteader.  Admittedly, I was apprehensive when I first started canning.  I made many calls to grandma for advice and kept my manual in my hand throughout the ENTIRE canning process.

Well, one of the reasons it seemed so daunting a task to can was that everyone talked of canning 100 quarts of tomatoes, 80 quarts of pickles, 75 quarts of applesauce.  What?  I could hardly get in a shower and a shave before some emergency over a couch cushion fort cut it short.  How would I ever accomplish such a task as canning with children in the house?

My answer is:  Small Batch canning

I like spending lots of time in the kitchen.  I like canning.  I like preserving our extra garden produce for cold winter days.  I really like canning huge amounts of anything.  But this mama doesn't always get what she likes.  She has to settle for short bouts in the kitchen.  That's where small batch canning comes into play.  And when I say small I mean sometimes only ONE jar.  Does that sound crazy?  Yes!  Does one jar take long to can?  No.  So if you find yourself yearning to try canning, but are a little apprehensive about the process or feel like there's no way you can commit the time for typical canning, then this is for you.  It works especially well for water bath canning.  Now this is not a post about the canning process.  You can find lots of information at your University Extension office.  I am writing this to encourage you to try canning even if it's only one jar at a time.

Itching to begin the canning season, I headed outside to grab some of this.

 And then picked these.
Boston picklers 
 And then I made this ONE jar of Garlic Dill Pickles.  Sometimes this is all the time I can commit to canning.  And I'm OK with that.

Give canning a try.  Small Batch canning fills the shelves, just a bit slower.

What's your favorite food to can?  Any stories you'd like to share?  I'd love to read them.

For more of my posts on canning/food preservation click here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Zucchini Season Has Arrived

Edited:  8/14/17

If you are here from YouTube - thank you for stopping by. Scroll down for the full zucchini muffin recipe.  The original recipe (with nuts) can be found at allrecipes.

See the bumblebee pollinating?
I've been getting zucchini for two weeks now.  I never tire of entering the garden and finding zucchini of all sizes hiding under those giant leaves.  Peter goes with me most days and counts the "bigenough?" ones before giving them a twist freeing them from the stem.  Then he counts the "not yet, mom?" zucchinis before traipsing back to the house with his shirt full of dark green bounty that he has NO intention of eating.  My mind starts running through the list of recipes I could make.  But, I save out a few of the smallest ones for sauteing in olive oil.  A fried egg with sauteed zucchini makes for the best breakfast and really sticks with me; keeps the snacking to a minimum.

So, if you have a basket full of zucchini waiting to become a delicious treat, start shredding and try one of these yummy recipes.  Edited to add:  Feel free to use zucchini or yellow summer squash or a combination of both.  Both give very good results.

This first one is from the blog Pattitudes.  Cranberry Zucchini Bread - this is so yummy and very moist.  We like the tartness of cranberries so I leave them whole and use 2 level cups.  A single recipe makes either two large loaf pans or 4 smaller loaf pans.

Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins - I've been making these for 5 years (my recipe was printed in 2010).  They are so tasty, but what isn't when it's chock full of mini chocolate chips.

Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins (recipe is doubled as written)
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 - 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix wet ingredients.  Add all dry ingredients.  Stir just until combined.  Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.  Fill lined or greased muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 for 16-18 minutes or until muffins test done.

See those "bigenough" zucchini, shred those; save the little ones for sauteeing

What do you do with all your garden zucchini?  Please share.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Answer Me This: Superhero Edition


Kendra at Catholic All Year has this fun little game where she asks random questions and then answers them herself before letting her readers answer them.  Since I've recently revisited my blogging, I thought I'd play along.  For her answers to her random questions check out her blog.  If you want to read my answers, well keep reading and if you want to read random answers from random bloggers follow the links at Kendra's blog.

Here's to getting to know me better than you'd like.

1. What's currently on your To Do list?

There's always the typical:  pick-up stuff around the house, tame the laundry monster, make food in large quantities.  Other than that, today I need to find old sheets to cover my garden, vacuum the sand out of the van, water flowers, vacuum hallway and my bedroom, make treat for Baseball players.

2. Better type of superhero: magic/radioactive powers? Or trauma/gadgets/hard work?

If given a test to match superhero pictures with their names I could probably do all right.  Their power?  Their rival?  My knowledge doesn't go that deep.  So I'd have to say hard work because it always pays off in the end.

3. Finding out if baby is a boy or a girl before birth: Good idea? Bad idea?

I really do like the element of surprise.  We didn't know with our first.  Like Kendra, I enjoy the old-fashioned delivery room announcement of "It's a boy" or "It's a girl".  However, with each consecutive baby we knew the gender.  I have a blood antigen issue so we have multiple ultrasounds and even for the lay person it's pretty obvious at 37 weeks if it's a boy or girl.  With some of the babies we got gender confirmation from our doctor, one we didn't want to know but the doctor slipped up and used the gender appropriate pronoun, and with a couple of them we self-determined and were right.

4. Have you ever appeared on a stadium jumbotron?

Simply put.....NO!  But, Sam is reading over my shoulder and he just told me about the time he was on the Jumbotron at Monster Jam.

5. Are you more book smart or more street smart?

It depends on the situation.  I think I've always had more book smarts than street smarts.  And with homeschooling, it's like getting a refresher course every year.  I've now learned Wisconsin history 5 times.  Once when I was in 4th grade and another 4 times with my kids.  And guess what?  I get to do it 3 more times, but it'll be a while.  Algebra 1 and 2?  Done that multiple times, too.  Like I said new refresher courses every year.

Street smarts have obviously come with age, experience and wisdom.  The more one has to attend to emergency situations the better prepared they become to deal with them.  I also have a husband who is very street smart (and book smart) so I can usually fake my street smarts by asking him first and then going with his plan.

I'm linking up with Kendra's Answer Me This post.

Boundary Waters 2015

The three oldest headed to the Boundary Waters.  It's year 6 for Emily and year 5 for Nick.  Amber is making her maiden voyage.  Woohoo!  They've been going with some family friends.  Each year the group is a bit different, the core group staying the same.  This year they headed off with the maximum size group of 9.  That's how many are allowed at one campsite.  Four of the 9 are "newbies" so I'm looking forward to lots of stories.  For a look back at 2011 click here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pioneer Life

Packing for camp, driving to camp, driving home, wondering how much fun child is having at camp, driving to camp, picking up child from camp and then returning home.  We do this numerous times each summer as each child heads to one camp or another.  In all the years we've never ventured from this routine until this year.

After picking up Sam from camp we headed to Pepin for an afternoon of exploring the pioneer life.  We had planned on having a picnic lunch along the way and happened upon the perfect place - Caddie Woodlawn's homestead and wayside.  Have you read about Caddie?  She's a real pioneer girl who lived in Wisconsin during the late 1800's.  Such a great story.  Anyway, we stopped at her homestead and had our picnic lunch.  I only took a couple pictures before my camera broke.  It just stopped focusing - still working on finding a repair shop.  Do those even exist anymore?  Or are electronics just use up and throw away?

There's something about a lichen and fungus covered, ant infested tree stump.  It attracts the kids every time.

Little girls in dresses running across large grassy lawns......so cute.

This is the original homestead.

And then the camera broke.  The end.

Not really.  Then we headed to Pepin to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum, stopped by Villa Bellezza for a glass of wine.  Then off to the Mississippi River/Lake Pepin for a little fishing and to watch the sailboats.  Once everyone was hydrated and changed into clean clothes we headed home.

It's summertime in Wisconsin and we're enjoying every minute.

Do you have any Wisconsin hotspots?  Please share.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

3 Years.......How Can That Be?

So, my attempts at getting back into the blogging rhythm have failed twice. Three time's a charm?? Last time I wrote here Peter was our baby and he wasn't quite 1. Now he's 3 1/2 and Maria is the baby. She's almost 2. I'm not feeling like my writing fingers are in full swing so I'll share a few pictures to get things started. 

I made these end of the year "magazine covers" for each of the kids. What fun to interview them; they all have such distinct personalities.


I originally saw this idea at Shower of Roses.