Saturday, July 3, 2010

Grandmother's 92nd Birthday

Yesterday afternoon, we headed over to Dad's house to celebrate Grandmother's 92nd birthday with her. It crossed my mind, as I was gathering up Birthday cards that had been sent for her that seven months ago, we didn't know if this day was going to come. She's doing a lot better now than she was then.



Mark and my youngest waiting for Grandmother in the living room.

My boys saying hello to Grandmother once she came to the living room.

She sure does love those boys (: And they love her too!

I took the boys to Wal-Mart and let them choose her present and her card. We got her an assortment of sugar free chocolate candies. Then we signed the card-- each of my boys signing his own name (: She got a kick out of that. She could hardly believe my 4 year old is getting so big!

Then it was time for the cake (: Mark told me I put the numbers on backwards (;

The 4 Wise guys as they get ready to bring Grandmother her birthday cake. We sang her, "Happy Birthday." and my youngest helped blow out the candles. Then everyone enjoyed some of the cake.

We visited for about an hour. The boys played monkey in the middle with the plush football and ran around being boys (:

Before it was time to give hugs, wish Grandmother one last, "Happy Birthday!" before we headed back home so that Mark could get ready for work.

Happy Birthday, Grandmother!!

Tzatziki and Greek Meat Pies

Every now and then, I make this at our house. My kids call them Greek eggrolls (;

You make the Tzatziki first, since it's best if it's set and blended in the fridge for a couple of hours before you serve it.

Tzatziki

A staple of Greek cooking (:

Ingredients

1 containter GREEK plain yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil (or vegetable or canola, though olive is traditional)
1 cucumber-- PEELED
lemon juice-- to taste
mince garlic-- to taste

The Greek plain yogurt is actually where dinner started. About 9 months ago, Wal-Mart started carrying Greek yogurt in Vanilla flavor, and I said to myself, "You know, if they ever get PLAIN Greek yogurt, I'm SO going to make tzatziki." Well, last time I was in, they HAD it-- and here we are (;

Greek plain yogurt is thicker than the stuff you normally buy and has a fuller taste to it.

Directions

Dump the Greek yogurt into a mixing bowl and add the 2 tablespoons of oil. Stir it in with a spoon until it's mixed. Then squeeze in lemon juice-- not a LOT, but it's really to your taste. Add minced garlic-- also to taste, and again, not really a lot. Then take your peeled cucumber (the rind is the part that makes it taste bitter) and grate it over the yogurt. Stir it all together and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to mingle.

It's DELICIOUS! And goes beautifully with the Greek meat pies (:

Now, what I'm going to do is share my original recipe first, then the modifications I've made to it since then.

Greek Meat Pies

Ingredients

Stir fry beef (or lamb if you want to be more authentic)
1 medium onion, diced
fresh minced garlic, to taste
Just enough oil (olive, vegetable or canola) to coat the frying pan
oregano, to taste
parsley, to taste
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
Rice, cooked
Package of Eggroll wrappers or filo pastry

I used the steamer to cook the rice, and while that was cooking, I diced up the stir fry beef. Heat the frying pan with oil over a medium high heat, then add the meat and onion. Season with the salt, pepper, parsley and oregano. When it's about half way browned, add the minced garlic (over cooking the garlic will make it bitter). Once the meat and rice are cooked, set the oven for 350, and combine the meat and rice in a large bowl and stir it all up until it's well mixed.

Get out at least one cookie sheet and coat with oil. Using the eggroll wrappers, put about 2 tablespoons of the meat and rice in the center and roll up like an eggroll, then place on the cookie sheet with the 'point' of the side that would open down. After you've filled the cookie sheet, coat the top of the meat pies with a thin coat of oil as well, then bake until golden brown. I did 20, and it took all of 15 minutes.

Serve with the tzatziki and enjoy (:

**The easier and faster way to do this is to used ground beef instead of stir fry beef, to skip making/adding the rice, and to fry the Greek 'eggrolls' on the stove, like you would any other eggroll. It's how I've done it the last 3 times.

We don't generally have any left overs (:

Cheap Dates

So the other evening, as I'm getting my boys settled for bed, I ask my youngest, "If you could do -anything- tomorrow, what would you like to do?"

His first response was, "Everything!"

But I asked him to narrow it down. And he said, "Oh! I know! I'd like to go on a field trip!"

So I asked him where he'd like to go, and he said, "The playground!"

And so, yesterday morning, after having our breakfast of chocolate doughnuts, we got dressed and headed over to the local park.

It was a -beautiful- morning! 10 am and 79 degrees.

And my boys had a wonderful time getting to play.




If you can't already tell, I have some -serious- climbers (:



This is NOT a picture of him sliding down-- he moved too fast for me to catch that (;
Nope, it's a picture of him climbing right back up (:

My oldest is -really- good at the monkey bars-- goes across them forward and backwards.

My accomplished climber (:



My youngest was climbing up to try the monkey bars like his brother. But decided to go over on the single bar instead.

My boys have to climb up to get to them-- it's a rule we have at our house that both of them can tell you (since it's been around since they were each 2.): No one will help you climb. If you're going to climb up, you have to be able to do it on your own. And once you're up, you're the one who has to get you back down.

It might seem like a harsh rule: I've stood there under the tree and talked each of them on how to climb themselves back out. And told them how to get themselves unstuck (even when my oldest was hanging upside down by a single foot). But here's the logic behind it: If THEY get themselves back down, then 1. they know that they can, 2. If they choose to climb trees when someone (read: me) isn't right under them to help when they get stuck-- they aren't treed-- they can get back down, and 3. It helps teach them the limits. Limits of what the branches will hold, limits to where they can safely climb-- so that they aren't likely to go where they're actually going to get hurt.

As a result, I have the two best tree (and pole) climbers in the neighborhood!

I like to think they came by it honest: When I was growing up, my Momma taught my sister and I to climb trees-- sort of grew up believing that a happy tree was a tree that was getting climbed. Like to think I've passed on the same belief to my little boys.



The other thing they LOVE doing is swinging!




My youngest actually spent close to an hour swinging and jumping out (:


I love all the 'framing' opportunities our local playground provides.


All in all, we spent 2 hours at the playground before it started getting too hot to stay.

Although there aren't any pictures of them (I don't take pictures of other's children without their permission), there were plenty of kids for my boys to play with. My youngest spent his time with a girl he went to preschool with, and my oldest played tag with three girls who ride his bus.


All in all, a wonderful cheap date with two of my favorite guys (:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dreams and Reality

So the other evening, I woke wide awake at 3 in morning and couldn't sleep. My mind was busy again. And this time, I was focusing on dance.

See, in 1996, the spring semester of my first time at college, I signed up for my first dance class (Tap) and absolutely LOVED it! Over the next 4 years, I was dancing upwards of 3 hours a day between tap, ballet and jazz and loving them all. Particularly for a girl who grew up with practically no coordination.

Then, in 1999, I married the love of my life, moved out of state and pretty much took a 10 year break from college. And dance-- at least, mostly. I took a random belly dancing class here and there.

So last fall, 2009, I enrolled at Troy University an hour up the road from home to continue my education in Art, Theatre and Dance. LOVED taking Ballet II, and this past spring, my first Contemporary dance class. But I knew then that I still couldn't spot turn.

And I discovered that at 32, I have arthritis. Alieve does wonders on that.

Anway, so the other night, up and not sleeping. When I'm thinking about the schedule of my classes for next month. I was signed up for Ballroom dance and Contemporary Dance II.

You probably noticed the 'was'. See, when I first started at Troy, my advisors told me that with a double major, my minor would never show up on my degrees. That's the dance minor. But I also know I've got about 2 years of classes left to complete that double major-- and the dance minor would add 6 classes to that already long list.

But I also realized that I have no intention of -doing- anything with a dance minor. I'm not going to go on to get a masters in dance-- I know I'm not that good of a dancer. I'm not going to be teaching tap. Or jazz. Or ballet. I have no intention of trying to be a professional dancer. IF I do teach dance, it's most likely going to be belly dance... which I'm not taking any classes in college for.

And all of that together opened my eyes to reality: I don't -need- the dance minor. I don't need the dance classes. And the two classes I was signed up for in dance are two classes that can now be used to pursue my majors.

I changed my schedule with a bit of sadness: I can accept my own limitations. And my doing so, I can pursue my strengths. So they have been replaced with Script Analysis, another art class and my last needed theatre practicum.

And this afternoon, when I checked the mail, I had an unexpected surprise in the mail.

I have been awarded the 2010-2011 John McKinley Art Scholarship at Troy! Mr. Johnson applied me for it. (:

I was so surprised to received the letter in the mail, I actually cried!

The conditions for the scholarship? Taking a full course load (which I am), maintaining good grades (which I am), being an art major (which I am) (: and, (and this part I really like), writing the sponsor of the scholarship a thank you letter (which I have just done).

And so I begin to embrace a quote my friend Jess shared yesterday:

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. - C. Jung

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stages of Artistic Development in Children

Okay, so I've mentioned Mr. Percy's Teaching Art to Children's class before. This was actually one of my favorite assignments from the class. I made a powerpoint presentation for it. I anticipate it won't be quite as 'fancy' in a stationary blog format, since I've removed the animation and created separate slides for the information that was on them (: I've also removed my children's names from the slides and from their artwork.