Sunday, May 24, 2009

Michelle's Birthday

Last evening, we celebrated Michelle's 36th birthday at Sweetwater Farms in Inman, Kansas. It looks all of a beautiful Tuscan villa...right in the middle of Kansas prairie.

Upon arriving, we did a little exploring of the grounds.
Here are Matt and Michelle. I think this is in front of the pool house. Michelle had arrived earlier in the day to help with dinner preparations, including making the delicious ravioli we enjoyed later.

Here we are at the top of the tower. It provided an impressive view of the surrounding gardens.

Here is one of many stone statues we admired. We learned that the lady of the house is a sculptor (and, incidentally, is also Italian). :)

Enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery.

And finally, enjoying a delicious 5 course Italian meal!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


The NPR story I listened to on the radio on the way in to school yesterday got me thinking...and a bit irritated. In my opinion, the story was not very balanced. Now, don't get me wrong. I love NPR. But, I feel the need to vent nonetheless. I vented to Wayne about it last night, and I could tell he was not so interested in this. So, I guess you can be my sounding board.

This story focused on abusive techniques (and really, most of them were quite inappropriate). The option provided as appropriate intervention was that we should not use restraint at all. I work at a special education center. I would LOVE to invite Mr. Shapiro to come join us for a day. I would like him to see that we use physical restraint as a last resort after/with verbal deescalation and when a student is going to harm themselves or someone else. Basically, I don't think I'd feel very safe if we couldn't use restraint in our school.

One of my concerns in this debate is that the public, parents specifically, could start to believe that all children receiving special education services are treated in an abusive way. If they haven't already, they may start to fear the whole idea of any use of restraint and seclusion. Fear clouds good judgment.

I just wish NPR would have offered a less sensationalized version. Or at least included times when appropriate restraint and seclusion is effective. But, you know, that wouldn't make a very interesting news story, I suppose.

What are your thoughts? OK, I'm done with my rant now. :) Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Broccoli Salad

This is the salad I took camping this weekend. If you take it camping, wait to add the dressing until you're ready to serve.

Broccoli Salad

A couple bunches of broccoli (or add cauliflower as well)
1/2 a red onion, minced
cheddar or mozzarella cheese, shredded
Parmesan cheese

1 cup mayonnaise
2 T vinegar
1/2 cup sugar

The first time I made this recipe, which I believe I got from Lorraine Yoder, I was confused at how much of the ingredients to add. Just put in what looks good to you. Lorraine also added sunflower seeds and red bell pepper.

Camping weekend

We got home from a camping weekend. We planned to head out on Friday after work, but due to severe thunderstorms, we waited until Saturday morning. We headed to our favorite spot at Cheney State Park. As you can see, it was flooded. Our camp site is usually around the tree line - and the sandy shore on the far side of the trees is where we have our fire. Not this time. It was cold and windy. We decided to head back to Wichita to the Pankratz Campground.

We found this fabulous spot at site number 8302. Not only could we escape the wind and cold of the majority of the day, but those bathroom accommodations were so clean. :)

We were happy that in the afternoon, the sun came out, the wind died down, and it was quite pleasant!

The boys LOVED playing in the tents. (For the little amount of time we allowed it).

Matt bought a fire pit, so we could have our campfire and s'mores.

We also enjoyed fishing both days. Neither Wayne or I had gone fishing since we were young. Here is Wayne, with his first fish. One (of many) catfish.

Tyler, with his first catch.

Wayne was not a fan of the slimy catfish...or the sounds it made when the hook was removed.

He elicited the help of expert fisherman, Patrick.

My little fisherman.

The little boys did not mind the slimy scales of the catfish at all. Every time, they all wanted to touch them.

Wayne "kissing" the fish.

We had a great time, got some sun, and enjoyed relaxing.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tomato Bisque

Per Tyler's request, we had tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner. Not exactly warm weather fare, but we had all the ingredients. Perhaps you know how that goes.

This is an easy recipe by Tanya Tandoc, a locally famous soup chef. It is one of my favorites, and after we ate, I realized that I have never posted the recipe. Before I had this recipe, I thought I liked tomato soup. After I ate this soup, I fell in love. It really is delicious!

Tomato Bisque

2 cans tomato paste
3 cups water
3 cups heavy cream (I only had 2 cups of cream, so I added some 1% milk as well)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3-6 Tablespoons sugar, to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Add 1 tsp dried herb (ex: basil, tarragon or dill) at the beginning of cooking time or 1/2 cup fresh basil at the end of cooking time.

Combine all ingredients. Whisk well. Bring to a boil over moderate heat. Simmer 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Tyler was my soup making helper. He also asked me if I could make this every day. (Though, he did finish his cheese sandwich and not his soup). Oh well. :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rescue me

I called Wayne as I left school today to let him know I was running late. "OK, come and rescue me" he said. I figured Tyler was being a handful, but Wayne said that no, Tyler was not a problem. He kept what he needed rescuing from a mystery. I arrived home to find this.

Wayne with a shorn head of hair. He had shaved it himself...and needed help in trimming up what he couldn't do himself. I think he's a little weirded out by it. We'll see how long it stays this way. (As the man behind the curtain would say: Pay no attention to the toy chaos behind Wayne).

Wayne relayed to me that today, he and Tyler took advantage of our newly renewed YMCA membership and went swimming. We've had a lot of rainy days lately, and it was a good way to pass the time. Tyler told me that Daddy had taught him how to swim. To my great surprise, Wayne explained that Tyler had been swimming underwater, jumped in and swam to the side, and even dove for dimes! I didn't think this would happen for a long time and am a very proud mama!

One more exciting thing for today... A little early, Wayne told me that I should open my birthday present from him. CHACO'S!!!!! I've been wanting a pair of Chaco's for at least two years (since my Mom let me wear hers while we were in Florida). Wearing my Mom's, even at a size too small, they were comfortable - especially for walking. So, if you see me this summer, I'm sure you'll meet my new shoes. Can you tell I'm excited?

I was hoping to have a post tonight on the jicama salad that I made with salmon for supper. Unfortunately, it was one of the few dishes I've thrown out after eating barely even a serving. A little yucky jicama salad can't get me down today. I'm still riding high. :)