Saturday, June 25, 2011

Peach O Cheese Pie

1 baked 9” pastry shell cooled or 9” crumb crust

Basic Filling:
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup ReaLemon reconstituted lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract

In medium bowl, beat softened cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in sweetened condensed milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Turn into crust. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.

Fresh Peach:
5 large fresh peaches, peeled
½ cup sugar
1 T cornstarch
½ cup water

Cut 4 peaches into slices; arrange a top pie. Mash or puree remaining peach. In small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add mashed peach and water. Cook over medium heat; stir constantly until thickened and clear. Strain. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring. Cool. Pour glaze over top of chilled pie.

Canned Peach:
1 (1 lb 14 oz) can sliced peaches
1 T cornstarch

Drain peaches; reserve juice. Arrange peach slices a top pie. In small saucepan, combine 1 peach juice and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat; stir constantly until thickened and clear. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring. Cool. Pour glaze over top of chilled pie.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

There are little eyes upon you,
and they're watching night and day
There are little ears that quickly
take in every word you say.

There are little hands all eager
to do everything you do,
And a little boy who's dreaming
of the day he'll be like you.

You're the little fellow's idol. . .
you're the wisest of the wise.
In his little mind, about you
no suspicions ever rise.

He believes in you devoutly,
holds that all you say and do
He will say and do in your way,
when he is grown-up like you.

There's a wide-eyed little fellow,
who believes you're always right,
And his ears are always open,
and he watches day and night.

You are setting an example
every day in all you do.
For the little boy who's waiting
to grow up to be like you.

Author Unknown

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cherry O Cheese Pie

1 baked 9” pastry shell cooled or 9” crumb crust

Basic Filling:
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup ReaLemon reconstituted lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract

In medium bowl, beat softened cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in sweetened condensed milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Turn into crust. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Garnish top of pie with chilled cherry pie filling or cherry glaze.

Cherry Glaze
1 (1 lb 5 oz) can cherry pie filling, chilled or 1 (1 lb) can sour pitted cherries
¼ cup sugar
1 T cornstarch

Drain cherries; reserve juice. In small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; stir in juice. Cook over low heat; stir constantly until thickened and clear. Add a few drops of red food coloring. Add cherries. Cool. Spread over top of chilled pie.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Goodbye to the Tree

I know to many people it may seem very silly to be upset over a tree being cut down. To my children it's feeling like the end of the world. They love this tree and they don't understand why it had to go away now.  I know how they feel.

Eighteen years ago I first took notice of this tree. I thought it was a wonderful, glorious tree then. I often told my mother that I hoped to have such a lovely specimen in the yard of the house I'd have some day. I was thrilled when we got the news that we'd be able to live in the home we are in with this tree.

Fourteen years ago this tree encouraged a little girl to go for long walks. We had family who lived in this neighborhood and we'd take walks to the bus stop in the picture, up to the post office or gas station. She didn't enjoy or want to cooperate in going on these walks until the day she spotted this tree. From that point on when ever she would see this tree she'd get all excited and run up to it and give it a hug. It was quite something to witness as it seemed this tree was something that broke through the wall she was trapped behind and grabbed hold of her so that she would interact in the present. She never spoke but her eyes would shine bright and she would get a huge smile on her face when ever she saw it. At the time it hurt deeply that she could light up for a tree but not for those who loved her most. At the time we didn't know about the autism.

Eleven years ago this tree welcomed us to our new home. We were very fortunate to be able to move into this place. We thought we were blessed to have family near by, her beloved tree, and a school close. My mother joked that we'd be able to hide behind the tree and observe the children walking to school by themselves. She also joked that while I didn't have my house; I at least got my tree.

The little girl's love for the tree blossomed and grew since we have lived here. Often she would disappear from the house only to be found sitting by the tree. Eventually it got to the point that when she would disappear the tree was the first place we'd go look for her. go sit by the tree and play quietly. The tree became the landmark for her finding her way around the neighborhood.  It became the meeting spot for her and a little girl in our neighborhood. It became a protector from the bullies as she'd hide behind it when they went by. She taught her little brother to love the tree too.

After a season or two of particularly violent weather, the children became very concerned for their tree. After every bad thunderstorm, wind storm, or heavy snow fall they'd rush out to make sure the tree was OK. When the tree had to be trimmed because of power lines; they both watched anxiously from inside and were convinced that the tree would be cut down to the ground. They were horrified by the way the tree was shaped after-wards, fearful it would die from the butchering of it's beautiful limbs. They would go out practically every hour to give it hugs and kisses in hopes it would feel better. They were thrilled when it continued to live and thrive.

This tree has held several bird feeder projects from Scouts, School, Arts & Crafts classes, and Home Depot projects. It's held a bird house or two over the years. It's provided shade during the summers. Especially when we'd have our sales events. It's been base for games of tag and hide n seek. It's been used as the center pole for games of ring around the rosie and as a sort of may pole being festively decked out in ribbons and balloons for a celebration party for both children at various mile stones.It wore a yellow ribbon while their daddy was deployed for a bit.  It was a marker for how big they were getting, too. It's been my girl's focal point for walking around in circles. I'm not sure how many miles over the years she's put in but walking around this tree. I know it's a lot as it's something she'd do for long periods of time each day in all seasons. 

This morning they both went out to give their tree some more hugs and to say goodbye. We had to leave while the men where here to cut it down. Neither child could handle the sound of the saws and chipper or the men talking to each other as they planned out how best to bring the tree and another down. They both swore they could hear the tree crying when the first limbs were being removed. We left quickly after that.

All day long they thought of their beloved tree and hoped and wished that it wasn't true. That their tree would still be standing upon their return. Maybe battered and broken as before when it had been trimmed but still standing strong and tall.

Upon coming home and seeing it totally gone, the stopped and stared for a good 10 minutes unable to comprehend what had happened. My girl was positive that we weren't close to home yet. The landmark she'd used for so long to find her way home was gone. My boy knew that we were a block from home, but didn't want to believe it. Once inside the house, they both broke down and cried as if their life was over. It was all I could do not to break down with them as my heart was breaking for both of them. Both went to bed early. Neither wanted the day to continue any longer.
R.I.P our beloved tree
Thank you for being a landmark, providing shade, 
and marking time as it and the seasons passed.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Strawberry O Cheese Pie

1 baked 9” pastry shell cooled or 9” crumb crust

Basic Filling:
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup ReaLemon reconstituted lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract

In medium bowl, beat softened cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in sweetened condensed milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Turn into crust. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.

1 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
Pinch of salt
½ cup fresh or frozen strawberries, crushed
1 cup water
1 pint whole strawberries hulled

In small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add crushed berries and water. Cook over medium heat; stir constantly until thickened and clear. Strain. Add a few drops of red food coloring. Cool. Arrange whole strawberries atop pie. Pour glaze over top of chilled pie.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Magic Lemon Meringue Pie

1 baked 8” pastry shell, cooled or 8” crumb crust
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup ReaLemon Reconstituted Lemon Juice
1 t grated lemon rind
2 egg yolks

In medium bowl combine sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and rind; blend in egg yolks. Turn into cooled crust.

2 egg whites
¼ t cream of tartar
¼ cup sugar

In small bowl, beat whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form when beater is raised. Spread over filling; seal to edge of crust. Bake in slow 325°F oven 12 to 15 minutes or until meringue is golden brown. Cool refrigerate about 2 hours or until ready to serve.

NOTE: To make a 9” pie: Use 3 egg yolks to make the filling. Use 3 egg whites and 6 T sugar to make meringue. Otherwise, proceed as above.

Makes one 8” pie

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Summer of the Miserable Couch Potato

Every now and then something happens that causes us to remember it by an appropriate name of sorts. When __ is said memories come forth some are fond and others not so much. Ex. the summer of girl scout camp rafting or the summer of the horse or the summer of the family reunion or the summer of cancer or the summer of no or the Seattle summer. I think you get the idea.

There have been some summers where we have done wonderful things, some where we have done not so wonderful things but managed to keep busy. Last summer was an example of the not so wonderful but managed to keep busy. This summer is starting out as a summer of not so wonderful and not so busy. Hence why it's looking like the summer of the couch potato will be it's name.

Why? well it's certainly not going to be because we have a great couch (ours is long gone and not being replaced to soon) or a grand television to watch (it's nice not grand). It's because this is the summer where everything that we'd traditionally do isn't going to be available.

Every summer the children are normally involved in a variety of activities. They participate in a special bike riding program, they take lessons through the local parks and recreations office, they attend educational programs and workshops through out the community, they go fishing, swimming, camping, play at the park, and actively keep busy.

Unfortunately the activities they most look forward to doing aren't happening for them. why? Well there are several reasons. The biggest reason is because the children have gotten older. They are no longer within the age limits to be able to participate in the activities. The other reason is lack of volunteers and giving those who haven't participated before an opportunity to do so. Finally, there is a funding issue. The funding is a many faceted issue. 1) not enough funds to meet the demands of those interested in participating thus creating a wait list 2) increased cost to provide the activity/service so either priced out of affordable range or limited number of participants 3) our income has taken a nose dive while the out going costs for daily living have increased. I can't justify dropping dollars I don't have for a one, two, or three week activity especially for one child let alone two when the activity is several hundred dollars now (ex. special art camp that is $500).

Everyone on the team feels that I should look into the local parks and recreation activities. What everyone on the team failed to consider are my children are over the age of 12. That's a real issue when the programs sponsored by the P&R stop accepting those over the age of 12. So those activities are no longer available for us simply because the kiddos are too old.

The next recommendation was for us to try the local Y. It was a sign of just how hard the down turn in the economy has affected their programs as they were way more than the P&R. Unfortunately, upon further discussion we learned that the kiddos won't qualify for the activities because of again being to old but also because of the special needs they have. We were welcomed to get a family membership. All we need it is $192.00 to get started and then to commit to $72 a month there after. I admit that's not too horrible a price it's just that I'm not sure I'd have $72 a month to spare considering that the cost for food, meds, transportation has gone up. Another thing that was pointed out that I hadn't considered was the time for the activities. Most of the activities that the children would be allowed to do are in late in the day or evening time slots. For several it would involve trying to figure out alternative transportation as for after the bus quits running. That is definitely something we must seriously consider in deciding. Yes, walking is not a problem for us. We do it regularly any ways. It could be a problem in the terms of safety though. See the one child has a condition that means spending x amount of energy requires y amount of time to rest in hopes of recovering enough to be able to function. That means that in order to be safe during an activity at the Y a minimum of energy can be put out prior to the activity. Then there has to be enough of a rest time after the activity that the child has the energy to make it back home. This could be done by using the local bus system but only if the child is allowed to use the pool or gym during the hours the bus runs. This is going to have to take some major thinking about to figure out if it's going to work or not beyond the dollar issue. (Yes, there are scholarships available but that's for those truly in need of them and we're not. As if we made some changes we'd be able to afford the $72 a month. They're right but then we'd be in trouble for not doing other things that we must do that we currently are doing)
The educational programs and workshops that a year or two ago was $75 to $100 per enrollee are now $325 to $500. If my budget can't stretch to cover $72 it just isn't able to stretch enough to cover it.

As for the special bike riding program we've been advised to sit this summer out to allow others to participate. On one hand I understand and can accept it because we've done it every year that we could since learning of it. Yet, I can't understand accept it as we always pay the full price and help out with the activity. That means we don't drop and run like some people do. It was suggested that we try the day camp this year instead. However, the day camp was most heavily stressed as not appropriate for the children to attend by their medical team. Plus it costs way more than the affordable biking program. So this is another door closed.

As for coming up with a biking program ourselves. This would be an option if I could come up with about $800. That's how much it would cost to get the special bikes ourselves for the kiddos. $480 would be for the special adaptive equipment, $200 for bikes the equipment would fit, and $120 would be for getting the adaptive equipment put on the bikes and then bike helmets and visibility flashers/flags. That's not too horrible when one considers that it would be for two children and would last a lifetime per say for each child. 

Now that leaves some of our typical summer fun activities that are cheaper for us to do but require some advanced planning. These are activities that require more hands on deck than just mine and also require a mode of transportation that isn't the city bus.  

Fishing, swimming, and camping are still options if we can get transportation figured out. I've just learned that there is something seriously wrong that may mean the vehicle we borrow won't be available this summer or for much longer. Also the extra set of hands is looking at not being as available for most of this summer as would normally be. This wasn't exactly a shock but it was most definitely something I didn't want to hear. Especially after the fiasco with the activities above and the "new rules" I'll discuss in a minute. I will say that thankfully because of the flooding and snow these activities aren't available at this time. That means later in the month or in July or August we'll have them to hopefully look forward to doing.

So that leaves us to looking at things that can be done at home. I have been informed that there are new rules and regulations that we must follow in order to keep our place of residence. These are as follows:

  • No being in the front yard when the neighbor is around.
  • No being in the backyard when the neighbor is around.
  • No being loud either inside or outside at any time.

These new rules are going to make it tough this summer. I normally send the kids outside to burn off energy and to entertain themselves for a bit with activities like running through a sprinkler or to play catch, Frisbee, badminton, or just to play. The kind of entertainment that an open front yard can provide in nice summer weather. Now that's pretty much going to not be allowed. Oh why oh why did we not turn the other cheek? Why did we allow the worker to address the situation? I feared it would come back to bite us and it did in the loss of being outside. The neighbor and their children will be around more during the time mine usually go out to play. Currently we can adhere to the plan as while they are away at school and work, mine go out to play. When they come home, mine come into stay until the next safe time.

As for the noise I can't help that the way the place is set up that every little sound seems to be happening 3 feet from you no matter what part of the house your in. Especially if it's warm enough to have windows or the screen doors set to let in the fresh air. Things that make noise be it the bouncing of a ball, children laughing, playing noisily in either the front or back yard can sound like it's happening right next to you if your in the bedrooms or living room. Heck, the neighbor can slam their front door and it sounds like our front door was slammed instead. Something I have gotten after my kids for slamming the door only to learn it wasn't them but the neighbor's children heading off to school or taking out the trash.

I had foolishly thought that we'd be able to easily live with the lack of outside use at home because we'd have lots of summer time activities we would be involved in.Now I am scrambling to come up with something for us to do. I am thankful that we'll still be able to go to the library as originally planned out.  I will also need to beef up some of the educational activities that we had specifically saved to use over the summer. It just doesn't make sense to do the water activities in the middle of winter; when they can be more easily and enjoyably accomplished in summer. I'm just sad that they're aren't as many to do this time around. It also looks like I had better plan on getting next years curriculum now instead of waiting until the middle of August as that will be away to occupy some of the time at home. We can go slower and maybe retain some of the skills gained from this school year. Maybe even add a few extra things although what I am not a 100% sure as we need something to do during the regular school year. It seems that the Wii, Computer, and TV are going to become a major center of attention. Something I had hoped would be used way less now that the weather would be nice. Oh well at least it will be better than nothing at all. So now you see why the kids are deeming this summer to be "The Summer of the Miserable Couch Potato".