Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Toilet Seats for Christmas and Other Fun

We got the kids a toilet seat for Christmas.

Yes, you read that right, a toilet seat. Aren't we wonderful parents?

For those of you who know about our four gifts for Christmas tradition, this is not part of the four gifts. This we are considering a bonus gift. We are just spoiling these kids aren't we?

Our house has two bathrooms. Our bathroom came with a wooden toilet seat. The kids' bathroom came with the standard white seat. What they are made of I have no idea. The kids thought they had been shorted. They protested that our toilet seat was so much more comfortable than their toilet seat. Kellen especially would use any excuse to use our bathroom instead of his own. A daily question would come from him, "Mom, can I use your bathroom?" My daily response, "NO!" Call me selfish, but my bathroom gets enough stink without adding the funk from an eleven year old boy.

Time passed, and eventually our much loved and coveted toilet seat developed a crack. No one wants to get pinched by a crack in a toilet seat now do they? Tim picked up a new and of course, wooden toilet seat for us.

The kids were so in love with our wooden toilet seat that they begged us to put the old cracked one on their toilet. We of course, refused because if anything is going to be hurting their behind we want it to be intentional, not just an accidental pinch from the toilet seat. They would have to make do with their common white toilet seat.

Then I had an idea. Wouldn't it be fun to put a new wooden toilet seat in the kids' bathroom late Christmas Eve? We could install it and even add a bow and a ribbon. Tim outright laughed at me, and argued that there was nothing wrong with the toilet seat that was already in there. Eventually, he did think it would be a fun extra gift for the kids, and agreed to pick up another wooden toilet seat.

Unfortunately our plans were a bit spoiled by an eleven year old, who amazingly, while watching a movie on the other side of the house, can hear me talking on the phone to his father about a surprise Christmas gift. Yet, he can not hear me when I'm am right in front of his face asking him to unload the dishwasher. Uncanny.

Even with the surprised foiled, Tim bought a new wooden toilet seat. Kellen installed it, and now everyone has happy bottoms while taking care of business in the bathroom. Merry Christmas!

And if that wasn't enough fun for one post........

Remember all the snow we got last weekend? With temperatures hovering around the freezing mark, most of that snow is still here.

Nolan has an issue with underwear. He loves boxers, but prefers to wear them alone. If he is wearing sweat pants, he never puts underwear on unless made to. He will wear underwear with zip pants, though, after learning the hard way that zippers and naked bottoms do not go well together.

Sunday, when I came home from work, Kellen informed me that he owed Nolan a dollar. This was a problem because Kellen could not get the safe where he keeps his money open. That is another story, but I promise that the snow, the underwear, and the dollar are all part of the same story even though these paragraphs seem totally unrelated.

Apparently, while I was at work, and Tim was working outside, the boys were in the house. Nolan was having a boxers only day, and it was getting on Kellen's nerves. Kellen bet Nolan that Nolan couldn't run to the Y, a spot in the driveway about 1/4 mi from the house, in his boxers and crocs in the snow.

Did I mention that Kellen owes Nolan a dollar?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Wonderland

They warned us it was coming. We saw it begin before we went to bed Friday night, but there is just something amazing about going to sleep with no snow on the ground and waking up to this.

The roads were terrible, and the electric was out most of the day, but the kids had fun playing in the snow and sleeping by the fireplace. It really was a great day to play in the snow. The snow was heavy and wet, perfect for packing, and the temperatures were not bitter. Tim was having fun playing in the snow too with the four wheeler. Well, until he got stuck anyway. Power came back on last night, the roads are clear, and this will all likely be melted away by Christmas day when the forecasted high is 45 degrees. Enjoy the snow while you can!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Homestead Happenings

With lows in the teens, and highs just barely reaching into the 30's, winter has officially reached the 100 Acre Woods. We had our first snow Saturday, and some of that pesky stuff is still sticking around for now.

I'm not much of a fan of winter. Yes, snow is beautiful, and really I do enjoy going out to sled with the kids and play in the snow. I just get worn out dealing with the practicalities of winter. I tire of the constant mess of coats, gloves, boots, and hats times six in a space that is entirely too small for all that stuff and my laundry. Keeping water available for the animals during freezing temperatures becomes like a part time job. And of course driving in the winter is no fun...but other than that winter is just great!

In other happenings, this cold spell will probably mean an end to the garden. We harvested broccoli and lettuce into December. The root crops still in the ground need harvested. Now, it is time to start thinking and planning for next year's garden. I recently was introduced to a new seed company, Hometown Seeds. They will be sending me a pack of their survival seeds, and I could not be more excited. The package includes 16 non-hybrid varieties. I am really excited to try the Butternut Squash. That will be a new one to our gardens.

Many of you may remember the decking that has been out by the rabbits for some time now. That decking has become a first class chicken house and storage area. It is not complete, but the chickens are quite happy in their new spacious home. I am quite happy with a good storage space for the animal and garden things, though a little shock out how quickly that space has filled up.

We also are getting ready for Christmas. Last week we made the annual trek to Lincoln county for the Christmas tree. We decorated the tree, and made this year's ornaments at The Pottery Place. Much of the shopping is complete, and soon we will begin the baking and candy making. Christmas will be here before we know it!

Things are busy here, as always. Seems the homestead never slows down, but only changes focus. We are just trying to keep up, and enjoy the process.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway! I'll be drawing a name tomorrow night!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Giveaway - I Used to Know That

You may remember I reviewed the book I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School
a few months back. We have found it to be a useful little book. See the review here.

The publishers are now offering you a copy of this little book that is packed full of facts. This would be a great stocking stuffer for the adults or the students on your Christmas list. Entering is easy. Just leave a comment and be sure there is an email address where I can reach you. The giveaway is open to all in the US or Canada. A random winner will be picked Tuesday, December 8th.

Here is a little article from the author of the book to give you a taste of the book:

12 Days and 12 Facts for This Holiday Season
By Caroline Taggart, Author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School

Ever catch yourself saying I Used to Know That?Each holiday season brings another round of cocktail parties, family get-togethers, and corporate gatherings -- and invariably, lots of small talk. It's easy to feel overwhelmed when discussing politics, literature, and other intellectual "stuff," especially when what is thought to be general knowledge is often long-forgotten. Enter I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School. From English and Literature to Math and Science, from History and Geography to Religion and Other-Worldly Topics, this book leaves you equipped to handle any topic of conversation.

Here we've cherry-picked twelve fun facts for the holiday season -- one for every day of Christmas (or whatever holiday you prefer!) Quiz yourself to see how much "stuff" you need to brush up on before hobnobbing with the boss or office crush.

On building sentences: Just what is a "clause"? (Not to be confused with Santa Claus.)

Answer: A clause contains a subject and a verb and may stand alone as a sentence or as part of a sentence (when it is often called a subordinate clause): Santa Claus loves cookies but can't eat them without milk.

How many bones is the spine made up of?

Answer: 26 small bones called vertebrae (Be careful lifting all those heavy holiday boxes.)

Acclaimed author Charles Dickens (1812-70) wrote which Christmas classic?

Answer: A Christmas Carol. The miserly Ebenezer Scrooge tries to ignore Christmas and is haunted by the ghost of his former partner, Marley, and by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come, who show him the error of his ways.

The fist chapter of this famous book opens with "Call me Ishmael." Name the book and author. (Hint: it makes a whale of a gift!)

Answer: Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Melville is also the author of Pierre and the unfinished Billy Budd.

There's a name for the process of watering your Christmas tree? Who knew?

Answer: Grab the kids and give them this science factoid as they nurture the family tree: Osmosis is a form of diffusion that is specific to the movement of water. Water moves through a selectively permeable membrane (that is, one that lets some types of molecules through but not others) from a place where there is a higher concentration of water to one where it is lower.

Can you name all 6 wives of Henry VIII, father of the Church of England?

Answer: (Listed in order) Catherine, Anne, Jane, Anne, Catherine, Catherine. They are often remembered as divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. Sure makes you think twice when complaining about bad relatives.

Who was the 16th President of the United States?

Answer: Abraham Lincoln (R, 1861-65) and yes -- he really was born in a log cabin on a winter's day. Notably famous for many reasons including his Gettysburg Address: "Four Score and Seven Years ago our fathers brought fourth upon this continent a new nation conceived in Liberty . . . "

8. 'Tis the season to be jolly giving! Don’t forget to tip well this season -- etiquette coaches will tell you that means no less than 18%. So just how much should you tip on a bill of $50?

Answer: Percent means by a hundred, so anything expressed as a percentage is a fraction (or part, if you prefer) of 100. So 18% is 18 parts of 100, or 18/100 or .18. If your bill is $50, multiply 50 by .18 to get your tip total of $9. If you're feeling generous, a 20% tip would require you to multiply 50 by .20, for a total of $10.00
50.00 x .18 = 9.00
50.00 x .20 = 10.00
Percentages can also be holiday-relevant when it comes to figuring out in-store sales. In this case, you want to multiply by the inverse of the percentage listed. So if you have a $50 sweater that's on sale for 25% off, multiply 50 by .75 for your total of $37.50. That same $50 sweater on sale for 40% off would equate to $30, or $50 multiplied by .60.
50.00 x .75 = 37.50
50.00 x .60 = 30.00

9. Brr, it's cold outside. But just how cold does it have to be to get some snow around here?

Answer: Did you know that the freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit? Keep an eye on the temperature and watch your footing for ice on the ground. (See previous fact about those treasured vertebrae!)

Everyone knows Santa and his elves live in the North Pole. But what about the South Pole (aka Antarctica)?

Answer: The South Pole was discovered by Roald Amundsen (1872-1928, Norwegian), who was also the first to sail though the Northwest passage, the sea route from Pacific to Atlantic along the north coast of North America. Antarctica is the only continent that contains no countries -- instead, it is a stateless territory protected from exploitation by an international treaty. A good place for the elves to protest low wages?

11. Which Ocean is bigger: the Pacific or the Atlantic?

Answer: The Pacific Ocean is larger at 69,374 square miles -- that's almost double the Atlantic, which comes in at 35,665 square miles. Making it evenmore astonishing that St. Nick can cross the globe in just one night.

Remember the reason for the Season! Can you name a few things that both Judaism and Christianity have in common?

Answer: Both are monotheistic religions that share the first five books of the Christian Old Testament. Both religions view Jerusalem as a sacred site, the former for the Wailing Wall (contains the remains of the temple that was thought to be the place where God resides on earth) and the latter for Christ's burial and resurrection site.

Happy Holidays to all!
©2009 Caroline Taggart, author of I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School