I Sound Awful

My little guy was sick last week and since I had already written the check for the boys’ trumpet lesson so I decided to ask if I can just take his place.  I had messed around with the trumpet a bit before when they were first getting started with the horn so it’s not the first time that I’ve tried to play it.  But it has been a while since then.  Though I was surprised that I was able to buzz better than I had before.  Thinking more about the air stream rather than the buzz helped a lot.

Yes, I was able to play around some in the Essential Elements Book 1 and more or less hit the right notes.  But oh the tone was awful.  I’m glad that I have messed with enough instruments to know that this is the normal learning curve.  There’s usually a big hump in the beginning just to consistently make some reasonable sound.  Then it’s kind of fun just messing around for awhile then all the little details begin to become important for improvement.

Unfortunately, music instrument is one that kids often quit before they get really good.  Band or orchestra is great because the group motivates the student to continue practicing.  But sports often takes precedence over music.  I think sports in many ways is easier.  You only practice while you are with others, there is a lot more freedom in sports as opposed to music where for the most part you need to follow the directions on the printed music (unless it’s jazz) and it’s the same thing over and over again until the group comes together to perform.  And if you talk to any teacher of solo instruments they often see the big drop off once the students hit high school.

I’m glad for the opportunities that many schools offer for kids to learn a music instrument.  I do wish that more kids would stay with music because studies have shown that playing music is good for the mind and I do think it takes discipline.  Yes, even if it sounds awful in the beginning and there are times when it is kind of boring working on the same things to get it right.  But I think in the end it builds character and isn’t that one of the more important things for success in life?

Annoying Webpage Ads

Have you ever been annoyed by all those ads on some people’s webpages?  I am not opposed to ads as they do supports some great materials to be available online.  Even things like on YouTube where you need to watch certain amount of ads before getting to the content of interest, yes they get annoying but I think of them in terms of TV ads so you are receiving the benefit of the content through the support of the companies (although, not having the same ones keep coming up would be great and being able to tailor the ads of choice would be great, but I’m not complaining).

The ones that I really mind are the ones on the website that are almost virus like.  It gets in the way of seeing the content you want and so many things pops up left and right and right over the content that you want and sometimes due to slow connection, the ads are taking up so much bandwidth that the information you were looking for is no longer of interest and you are just desperately trying to extricate yourself from the tangle of ads and popups.  There are also pages that have so many ads that you wonder where the real contents are.  You can’t get through three sentences without being confronted with an ad.  I hope that people who do that realize that they are actually discouraging people from going to their site.

Today, I was trying to print a page from my phone and the print preview just kept having ads show up so I finally quit.  I would have put a link to the page, but decided that I do not want anyone else to suffer the same fate as I did.

So if you are planning on placing ads on your site.  Please preview them to make sure that they are not unambitious and virus like in their behavior.

Okay, that’s my rant for the day.  Hope you have a great and frustration free day.

Lasagna for a crowd

Yea!  I did manage to make the 24 serving lasagna without any major mishap.  I think the serving size is a bit on the low side as I did supplement with couple loaves of bread and couple heads of lettuce for salad.  Here’s the recipe with what I ended up using.  Unfortunately, I was not there to serve it and so it was not pre-cut so someone at some point took all the mozzarella off the top.

Note to self.  Next time try using an offset spatula to spread the ricotta mixture.  And pre-cut the squares.  Also just heard that some lemon juice with the mozzarella sometimes helps it not to be one stringy thing so I might try that next time.

The nice thing about this is that I can do this early, stick it in the oven and not worry about it while getting other things done.  Two hotel size pans can fit in my oven at once (just need to increase the time).

Print Recipe
Lasagna for a crowd
Get a hotel size pan and get ready to feed a crowd!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1.5 hours
Passive Time 30 minutes
Ricotta Mixture
Meat mixture
Additional ingredients
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1.5 hours
Passive Time 30 minutes
Ricotta Mixture
Meat mixture
Additional ingredients
  1. Mix together the ricotta mixture and set aside.
  2. Saute the onion and garlic. Add the rest of the meat mixture ingredients and cook until done.
  3. Assemble the lasagna starting with sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then three layers of finish with sauce and mozzarella cheese.
  4. Cover with foil and cook for 1-1/2 hours.
  5. Let rest for 15-30 minutes. Enjoy!
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Dragon Scales

My girls always like to comment that I have dragon scales when it comes to heat.  It seem like I have an abnormally high tolerance for heat.  I never thought that being able to occasionally tap my way around an hot oven with bare hands and cooking over a full extra size gas burner was that big of a deal until one day working with of of my boys with a low temp hot glue (it’s low temp right?) that some of it got on his hand.  I was very nonchalant about it and told him to just wipe it off.  Ops, he ended up with a blister–so sorry…  But blister or not, I should have been more understanding.

Some times it’s easy forget that we all have different sensitivity levels in life whether it’s towards heat, or pain, or our emotions.  It’s so easy to assume that others have the same tolerance that we do and accidentally hurt them, or vice versa like my girls sometimes are amazed when I actually reach for hot pads while cooking.  So likewise sometimes because a person may have a higher tolerance level, others can become less caring because they don’t think what is being done or requested matters.

I have over time become more aware about the fact that I seem to have a higher level of tolerance in many areas of life and I can’t assume the same about others.  Also, sometimes just because someone does not seem to show signs of wear and tear it is no reason to assume that all is well.  Like I said, I still do reach for that hot pad from time to time, even if I know there’s little chance I’ll end up with a blister from handling the hot stuff.

Cooking for a crowd

Recently I’ve taken up the task of cooking for a dinner at church on a fairly regular basis, so I started to search for “cooking for a crowd.”  It was really sad that I’d get recipes that has 6 servings and that is defined as a crowd.  I guess I’m always cooking for a crowd then.  And maybe having hung around too many home school families with families of unusual size (okay I like Princess Bride and the ROUS’s reference–rodents of unusual size and that’s almost how people today react to even our family with just four kids), six almost seem like a non consequential number when it comes to cooking.

At some point, I’ve done full multi course meals for up to 50 people and since I like baking, I’ve done enough to feed people at church functions.  So I guess my definition of a crowd is also rather skewed.

Anyway, then I stumbled onto cooking with hotel size pans.  Now, that’s what I mean by cooking for a crowd.  If started off when I stumbled onto this lasagna recipe.  Then it ballooned into school cafeteria recipes and I think food bank type homeless shelter recipes.  Okay, it does bring back some bad memories of school days where the rice was still crunchy and the meat felt like leather, and the vegetables were mush, but not all cafeteria food were bad.  I remember sophomore year in college staying in a school owned but privately operated dorm that was just two blocks from my department building.  For the most part, the food was great, the service was great and it was cheaper than the regular dorms to boot.

I have not tried any of these recipes yet, but I will try to comment on how things went as I start down this journey of baking in hotel size pans.  I will start with the lasagna recipe tomorrow and then go from there.

Do it now or later

I’ll be the first one to admit that I have a tendency to procrastinate and like to stay on the lazier side of things.  Today it felt like though I was just going from one thing to the next and I was just looking forward to a little time to sit down and get somethings done.  Then the drain backed up again…  For half a second I did think about just letting it sit and just tell the kids no more bathroom visits until we leave.  But thought better of it.  Anyway, managed to get the hairball out plus some roots, oh drat!  Now I can’t put off the root killing routine.

Anyway, after coming inside and cleaning up the mess, I really wanted to get some nice icy cold drink and just relax but then the sink and dishwasher glared at me.  Oh why!  I wanted to yell at the kids because they hadn’t put things away, but remembered that I’m at my worst with words when I’m tired and upset.  This is the frustrating thing about trying to be the adult around the house and needing to set the example.  Do I put things off too?  I do have somewhat of a legitimate excuse.  It’s not easy clearing the drain.  My back hurts.  I’ve got things that I want to get done.  But no, they are mostly excuses and I know it and I think to some level the kids knows it too.

Decision.  Fine, zip my mouth so nothing bad comes out of it.  Grid my teeth and get things cleared out and hope that nothing more comes up before we leave the house.  I’ve actually got a few minutes to relax now and I’m glad that I had gotten everything done.  I’m glad that dinner was already in the crockpot before much happened.  And best of all, I’m glad that I was not a bad example today for my kids.  Especially when we are around each other almost 24/7, they are learning constantly about how to deal with life.

Be a good example to others today.

Loving our children

Boy was it depressing to have read an email today.

As I look around our society, I see parents who love their kids in theory, but not in actions. Everything they ARE DOING, actually says they DON’T love their kids.

They buy them everything they want…

They don’t put strong boundaries…

They have terrible marriages…

They repeat their parent’s mistakes with their own kids…

They don’t properly guide them and train them for life…

They don’t take time to teach them manners and character…

and they live in the middle of an emotional and sometimes physical chaos.

Unfortunately, their emotions fail them and their evidence for love is what they imagine in their head and not the plain results in front of them. Most children don’t feel loved. Period.

Parents are falling short of the 5 Love Languages and neither quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts or physical touch are being met. The suicide rate for children proves me right…

Unfortunately, 89% of parents can’t define what unconditional love is and an additional 10% don’t know how to make sure their children feel loved. Even with their best intentions, they fall short.

We have entered an era where the survival of your children and their avoidance of drugs, sex and alcohol is dependent on how loved and accepted they feel and if this is not an easy area for you and your spouse, it better become a priority real fast.

Granted this email was from someone offering counseling for parents.  But looking around me, I think the statistics is not too far off.  I was just commenting today on many parents’ attitudes towards summer and other breaks and then looking forward to the kids being back in school so they don’t need to be bothered with the kids.  I don’t blame kids for not feeling loved if their parents’ attitudes are wanting to throw them out the door.

Few years back, I was talking to a friend contemplating about having kids.  The problem is that everyone at work all regretted having kids.  Wow, I’d hate to be their kids.

If you have kids, I hope that you would really love them not just in your mind.  And if you grew up with parents who didn’t know how to love you, I pray that you will forgive them and find healing in Christ.

Crash Course

YouTube is great, except sometimes you can spend so much time looking for stuff that it becomes a serious time sink.  But sometimes you find individuals who you does a really great job in breaking things down and they are a great source to go to for information.

Crash Course video is one that I’ve enjoyed with my kids.  The videos are short and enjoyable to watch and has a good amount of content for quick review or introduction to the subjects.  If you have a chance, check them out and enjoy some quick learning.

Amazing hearing abilities

Our dog has an amazing hearing ability when it comes to food.  There can be barely a rustling of bag and she’s there in a shot.  However at other times, we can be shouting her name and she just ignores us.  Come to think of it, our kids are like that too.  When it’s something of interest to them, like ice cream, it seems like we can just whisper and they will hear us, but when it comes to chores or school work, it seems like we can use a megaphone and they still won’t hear us.

I suppose I can’t complain too much about our kids now.  They are pretty good about responding to me.  But there are still times especially with the boys when I’m not sure if they’ve heard me or just chose to ignore me so it’s hard to figure out if it’s a discipline issue.

Then again, don’t we as adults still do the same thing.  One time a friend of mine was answering a survey concerning her husband’s health.  One of the question was if he was having problem hearing her.  Boy was that begging for some snide remarks.  Yes he does have a problem hearing her, but no he does not have any apparent hearing problems.

We all to a certain extent choose to only hear what we want and ignore or reinterpret the things we don’t like.  I think that’s why sometimes it’s so hard to be objective because I’m not even sure if I’ve understood the right thing in the first place.  The Bible is so true when it says in James to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  I know it’s easier said than done, but will you join me and try to resolve to be a better listener (even when food is not involved… no I have not forgotten about my dog).

Status Quo

I was reminded today how much I don’t care for status quo.  Maybe it’s because I’m too independent and don’t follow instructions well.  If I don’t like something or care for how something is done, I often go off and look for another solution or create my own version.

Maybe that’s why I homeschool my kids.  I started off looking for the perfect curriculum and realized that there’s no such thing out there.  Even with the things that I’ve created or modified, I’m not completely satisfied and in the end they may be inferior to what’s out there, but oh well, at least I have the satisfaction of having done something about it.

To be honest, I am extremely grateful for all the things that are available for homeschooling.  Especially some of the parent created materials which are far more understandable and kid friendly than many textbooks.  But I think that is what I’ve liked about living in the US.  There’s room for being different, there is room for each individual to improve on what they perceive to be insufficient and create.  Unfortunately I see that spirit waning.  People expect others to solve their problems.  And even in the homeschool community, there’s the tendency to follow trends and expect the right curriculum to be the answer.

Life will always throw those curve balls at us, what will we do when things don’t work?  I remember when I talked to my mom years ago about homeschooling our kids, she acknowledged that there are a number of bad teachers and they can have very negative impact on the kids (after working with them first hand in the public school), but she said I should just put our kids in school and pray really hard that they will get good teachers.  I’m not satisfied with that solution.  Let’s resolve to look for and/or create the satisfactory solutions rather than expect others to solve our problems.  Don’t be satisfied with the status quo.