Monday, September 1, 2014

Pasta Salad Bar

The four of us had a great camping trip this past weekend with my brothers' families, my brother's neighbors, my parents, and Heesu and her friend. The weather was beautiful, cool and clear. To top it off, there were almost NO mosquitoes! Hooray! This was the first time Heesu or her friend had been tent camping (first ever camp out for Heesu), so we were very happy it was a positive experience.

When we camp with my family, we usually do our own breakfasts and lunches in family units, then take turns providing a common dinner for the whole group. I don't like cooking while camping*, so I made our meal ahead of time. It was a rousing success, so I decided to share it here to inspire others looking to feed a largish group. We fed ten adults, two teenagers, and four kids (not counting Anne).

3 lbs rainbow/tri-color pasta
1 can (6 oz) medium olives
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts
1 qt grape tomatoes
2 cucumbers, chopped in bite-size pieces
3 bell peppers, chopped in bite-size pieces
1 lb sugar snap peas, cut into bite-size pieces
1 lb sharp cheddar, chopped in bite-size pieces
3 cups Italian dressing
12 oz diced pepperoni

I cooked the pasta at home, then put it in two Ziploc bags. I drained the olives and artichokes before putting them in separate Ziploc reusable containers (I really like the "Twist-n-Loc" ones!). I chopped the vegetables and cheese, putting each in a separate container. I made two batches of Italian dressing, storing one in the Good Seasons cruet and the extra in an empty spaghetti sauce jar; we ran out, so I recommend making three. I splurged and bought the pepperoni already diced.

When it was our time to make dinner, Jeremy just unpacked the cooler (and chopped the peppers, which I forgot to do at home). He put all the containers on a picnic table and let people serve themselves from our pasta salad bar. Everyone was happy, which is quite an accomplishment! I think it was so well-received because each person had only the things he or she really liked. It seems most people will try to eat around one or two items in a typical pasta salad. Building your own avoids this problem. Maybe I'll even do it at home some time!

*Part of it is the hassle of bringing a stove, using pots and pans, and spending time cooking that could otherwise be spent camping. The other part is that I don't particularly like cooking in general.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Paint with Water

With a HUGE thank-you to my home schooling mentor, 
who gave me these and other no-mess activities for free. 
I'm not sure who is more excited about our new treasures!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sacred, Profane, and Everything In Between

Guest post by Jeremy, as you'll probably figure out quickly. If you're not up for a frank discussion on profanity, come back Wednesday and there will be more pictures of the kids.

"...when you hit your thumb with an eight-pound hammer it's nice to be able to blaspheme. It takes a very special and strong-minded kind of atheist to jump up and down with their hand clasped under their other armpit and shout, "Oh, random-fluctuations-in-the-space-time-continuum!" or "Aaargh, primitive-and-outmoded-concept on a crutch!” - Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

Our attempt to rid our home of works that take the Lord's name in vain has made me much more conscious of minced oaths. For those unfamiliar, a minced oath is a euphemism for something more offensive, and in this case I'm referring to modifications to blaspheming or other divine invocations. Much as I experienced when we first started paying more attention to taking the Lord's name in vain, I had been dimly aware of how commonplace minced oaths are in our society, but I hadn't processed their near-ubiquity, especially if you give the ones that are just used as general exclamations any thought.

The etymology of some was obvious; as the old joke says, heck is where you go when you don't believe in gosh. What I didn't realize until recently is that a large number of these "light curse" exclamations have an origin in the sacred. "Gee whiz" is derived from "Jesus' wisdom" - and all of the "gee" or "jeez" expressions seem to trace back to God and/or Jesus. "For crying out loud" developed from "for Christ's sake". "Bejeezes" hardly even qualifies as minced, but I'm embarrassed to say I never really gave it any consideration. "Good grief" refers to Christ's suffering, as does "suffering succotash", if there are any Looney Tunes fans out there. Even if you want to get cute and use antiquated and/or ones from other English speaking cultures, many of those have problematic origins; "bloody" started as a contraction of "by Our Lady", egad was "oh God", zounds used to be pronounced differently as a shortening of "God's wounds", gadzooks was "God's hooks" in reference to the nails on the cross, jeepers creepers...

And then there's this guy. Conscience, indeed.

All that is just a partial list, but thinking along those lines has also made me realize there are probably others. Some sources have "great Scott" as a derivation of "good God"; this makes me wonder about, for instance, "oh, man" (though a cursory search didn't bring me anything conclusive on that one). When it comes down to it, almost all the minced oaths I hear commonly (and many that, by consequence, I say myself) can be traced back to God. Even "oh my" when it stands alone - what's the implied ending there?

What does that actually mean as far as taking action? It's a grey area; I certainly wouldn't be the first religious person to reject minced oaths in their entirety, yet there are entire faiths (at least Judaism) that thrive on minced oaths even in sacred settings. I'm not thrilled with the concept, but I'm also not ready to say I think they're out-and-out wrong. Even if I was, that brings me back to the quote at the start of this post - what should I say when I hit my thumb with a hammer? Blaspheming at gods I don't believe in isn't a great option; I suppose the Marvel movies have made "by Odin's beard!" more socially acceptable, but it would've been hard for it to be much less. Some of you are probably thinking that it would be easier to say nothing, but I haven't really found that viable either. There's some scientific suggestion that swearing is part of a deep-rooted emotional response to stress for some people, and my personal experience has suggested that people who have sheltered themselves from "harder" profanity tend to use the "softer" stuff with the same zeal and connotation.

To that end, I do think I'm personally at the point where I find "shit" less offensive than "gosh", as the former is an arbitrarily profane name for a biological function and the latter is a just-barely veiled slight against the creator of the universe. However, I am very well aware that practically no one, including the usual author of this blog, agrees with me on this point, and I don't wish to cause discord, especially not over something I'm not even confident is an issue of any significance.

Liana has no problem with these minced oaths; she believes their use, even when conscious of the origin, represents a desire to avoid the offense and therefore is acceptable. I'm not so sure, but either way I'm willing to go with that for the time being, if only for social convenience. Even if I'm "right", I don't suspect it's a battle worth fighting with anyone; there are much more important things about being a Christian, and perhaps even few things less important. If nothing else, having examined this aspect of my life has made me even more conscious of my word choices - and that alone has, I think, made the exercise worthwhile.

Jeremy is aware that "bloody" is considered vulgar in the UK, but in the US it's essentially used as a minced oath, so it seemed to warrant inclusion.

Friday, August 22, 2014

7QT (Vol. 99): Baptism party, our international student, and future gymnast

Happy 4th anniversary of baptism, Peter! We had a small, fun party this evening with all the grandparents, my brother with his family, and a brief visit from one of our parish priests. He was invited by red panda, who thought Peter would like to see him. We lit Peter's baptismal candle, sang a blessing song Mom and I learned from the Sisters of Mercy, and enjoyed yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Yum!

Heesu brought gifts for all of us, including this model airplane (Korean Air) for Peter. He is thrilled with it and very proud of his work assembling it. He is being very careful to keep it out of Anne's reach and would prefer it to be in his sight at all times. :-)

One of our only concerns when we signed up to host an international student was that our student would not like our kids. That is not remotely true! It brings me such joy to see Heesu being so patient with them. Tonight, she taught Seal (Peter's nickname for his sea lion - very confusing) how to play Mary Had A Little Lamb on the piano, holding Seal's flipper to play one note at a time. We are blessed.

Anne has also taken very strongly to her, lighting up whenever Heesu enters the room. I think my kids are going to be very disappointed when she is at school all day!

Anne is a climber, finding innovative ways to get what she wants. Just this week she realized she is strong enough to push her high chair around the kitchen, so no counters are safe any more. I think she will excel when she is old enough to start gymnastics. Allow me to present the following two exhibits.

 Hanging from the shark cage at the aquarium - with pointed toes.

Front support on the shelf - I think she is supporting some weight with her right toes, but still.

Read more 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Monday, August 18, 2014

Life as a Host Family!

We love our exchange student. She is very social, positive, and enthusiastic. She seems to really like our kids; they both adore her. Anne actually started crying tonight at dinner when H got up from the table momentarily. (We still haven't talked about online privacy, so no name or picture yet.)

H started tennis practice today. With one car, this makes life interesting. We took Jeremy to work, went with H to complete her medical forms and drop her off at practice, went to the playground, picked up H, went home (where everyone napped except Peter), drove back to pick up Jeremy. Phew! We are very happy to say that one of the other girls on the tennis team lives three miles away from us, so we have coordinated some carpooling for the remaining practices before school begins.

H is working against some intense jet lag, but otherwise seems to be settling in very well. She is enjoying decorating her room and has picked out some meals for this week. Last night, we took her to a frozen yogurt place as part of the walking tour of our village; she was delighted. Today, I told her how much I was looking forward to learning with her, talking about her assignments. She replied, "I think it is a very good thing that you have me." I think so, too!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

7QT (Vol. 98): Adorable Kid Moments

Lots of my online time this past week has been spent updating the website for the homeschool group to which I belong. Unfortunately, it is all on the "private side" of the site, so I can't even show you how awesome I am! ;-) Also, it means my blogging has suffered a bit. I'll let the kids write this one.

Dad's story: "Once there was a hawk who was looking for lunch. He didn't want a mouse or a chipmunk, but eventually he found a peach tree. He swooped down, sunk his talons, and was very surprised that the peach wouldn't come off the tree. It wasn't ripe. He decided to stay there, hanging upside down by his talons, until it ripened. He stayed there for two weeks, then ate it. He liked it so much, he wanted to eat peaches all year."

Peter's story: "Once there was a toucan who was looking for lunch. He didn't want a mouse or a chipmunk, but eventually he found a pear tree. He swooped down, sunk his talons, and was very surprised that the pear wouldn't come off the tree. It wasn't ripe. He decided to stay there, hanging upside down by his talons, until it ripened. He stayed there for two weeks, then a hawk ate him."

Peter (who says /w/ in place of /r/) decided to teach Anne some words while we were driving:
P: Anne, say doggy.
A: Dah-ee
P: Say oak twee.
A: Oh tee
P: Say cahw (car)
A: Moo
P: No. Say cahw.
A: Moo
P: Anne, no! Say caahhwww.
A: Moooooo
I finally took pity on him and prompted her myself to say car. :-)

Our exchange student arrives tomorrow! Peter has been looking forward to her arrival all week. We've been trying to get the house clean and in order, pretending it is always like this. Today I enlisted the kids to help me clean the bathroom. Anne climbed into the tub with a rag sock and rubbed the baking soda and vinegar. Peter asked if he could help with the sink. "I don't like getting into things I am cleaning."

When I snuck into Anne's room tonight to grab the baby monitor, she rolled over (in her sleep) and said, "Papa?" She sure loves him!

He loves his red panda from Uncle Keith!

Find more 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary