Saturday, April 12, 2014

Oliver Nature Park

Whenever you live in a new state you have to find new favorite places- places to play, shop, visit, etc... When we lived in Arkansas I loved visiting all the state parks. We made it our mission to try and make it to most of the state parks. There was so much hiking and beautiful scenery. And when we moved to Texas we got the benefits of a large city (zoo, stores, monuments, museums), but not much of the nature. Sure there was a little bit in the local parks, but not exactly enough to feel like you were removed from the city. 

However, I've found a place in Oliver Nature Park.It's large... it's beautiful... and you can forget you are even in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In April there are the bluebonnets, which was the main reason we came. 

But they also have a tree house overlook.

And a windmill. I took plenty of pictures of it as it continued pumping water as the wind turned the blades.

In Texas History I've taught them all about windmills and how it changed the environment and migration into West Texas. However, few of them have seen a windmill other than in pictures. Let alone one that was actively pumping the water. See how there is black and then their isn't? 

The kids did pretty well throughout it all, but they were NOT HAPPY when we had to leave. 

Operation: Bluebonnets

We've lived in Texas for 3 years now and we've never ever taken pictures of or near the Texas state flower- bluebonnet. I see them on the way to work covering the interstate. I see the pictures others take with their kids with the bluebonnets (hopefully not the same ones on the interstate). After getting some good tips nearby where to find bluebonnets, our family hopped in the car to Oliver Nature Park in search of bluebonnets. And we found them! I got some amazing pictures of the kiddos.

So I guess we can cross this temporarily off the bucket list until number 3 arrives. And then we'll again have to wait until they bloom again in April.

For those looking for bluebonnets in safe places so you can take pictures with your kids, if you click here, there is information on Oliver Nature Park.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Honey Corn Muffins

Have to share this information because I made the BEST cornbread muffins ever! These have beat out any cornbread I've ever had. I know this isn't a cooking blog, but I thought there are probably other mom's out there who might enjoy this information. I know my kids sure enjoyed the results.

Honey Corn Muffins
(Recipe was tweaked from original Baked Explorations Cookbook)
2 lg. eggs
1 c. milk
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 1/4 c yellow cornmeal
1/2 c. honey
3/4 c. flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I used paper cups instead of spraying muffin pan with cooking spray. 

In medium bowl, whisk eggs. Add milk, vinegar, honey and butter. (Tip- melt butter and honey before hand in the microwave to help it mix better), whisk and set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugars, and salt. make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour wet ingredients into the well and fold the dry into the wet until mixed.

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full (I think some of mine were more like 5/6). Tap bottom of pan to level the bottom. Bake 12-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes. 

Serve with butter. Or if you can find it Country Crock has honey butter in some grocery stores and it is amazing. 

Hope y'all enjoy this as much as we did. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Student List of Countries of War

Again, this information was pulled from my 7th grade classroom ballot, where I asked the students to list a country they would most likely support the United States going to war with today. Very few of them were up to date on current events, although I did show them the news and talk with them previously about what was happening with Russia and Ukraine in the Crimean Pennisula.

Here are their results:
1 person wants to go to war with Brazil.
Another one with Iraq.
One more with Germany.
Another with the United Kingdom.
Two decided Chili needed to be vanquished.
While 2 more wanted Iraq.
And another 2 Iran.
Four wished to obliterate Canada.
5 wanted vengence on Japan.
5 more wanted to nuke North Korea.
Another 5 believed India is the problem.
6 chose Korea, but didn't identify North or South... perhaps they wanted the whole pennnisula.
9 said without a doubt, Mexico was  the problem.
But the top 2 countries receiving 13 and 14 votes were: China & Russia.

Again I let them name their own countries and they did not have a map. I thought their choices were interesting. Some were obviously informed about current events (i.e. Iran, North Korea, China, Russia), while others seemed to pick the only country they could remember from 6th grade Geography class (i.e. Chile, Canada, Germany).

Anyway, there you have it. Should my 7th graders go to war, it seems likely they'll be headed to China or Russia... followed by Mexico.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Top 5 Best & Worst Reasons for War

So to introduce my 7th grade Texas history students, I created a ballot over various topics regarding war. One of those topics included an assortment of reasons a person or specifically a country would be willing to go to war against another country. World War 1, had multiple countries going to war for different reasons (allies, war pacts, threats, etc...) and the United States itself has gone to war with various countries to for a variety of reasons. So without further ado... hear are their results.

Top 5 Results 7th Graders Would Wage War Against Another Country:

5. A terrorist destroys a building and kills people.

4. Another country invades the United States.

3. Another country attacks our allies/friends.

2. Another country steals our weapons technology.

And the number 1 answer with 92% wanting to go to war because... Another country says they want to kill all Americans.

Top 5 Results 7th Graders Would NOT Wage War Against Another Country:

5. Another country won't let U.S. citizens visit.

4. Another country gets nuclear weapons.

3. U.S. citizens are getting put in jail in other countries.

2. Another country has Muslims and they could be terrorists.

And the number 1 answer with 71% wanting to stay out of war because... Another country has oil or a natural resource we want.

An almost 50/50 tie goes to the following reason, which I find hilarious:

Another country's president calls all American's "stupid"

So what are your thoughts regarding the the results?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bribery Begins Early

So my kids are very helpful. Or they try and be helpful and instead make a mess. Like when they choose to count out my Ziploc bag supply in the kitchen.

Or sweep leaves only to throw them in the air.

Or feed the poor starving dog who isn't starving but just really wants people food. You get the idea.

One thing that Sophia always begs for is McDonalds. And it doesn't help that her school is right next door to a McDonalds! However, genius me decided to negotiate a deal with my 5 year old and 1 year old. If they would help me to gather the leaves (not throw them, not play with them, but trash them), I would so wonderfully purchase Happy Meals for both of them to enjoy AFTER we collected the leaves.

She tried to negotiate, wanting to play with the leaves AFTER sweeping them. She tried to manipulate me into letting them eat BEFORE the work is done. But, wise mom here didn't budge. But kept her word and they eventually kept theirs.

I was hoping to finish collecting and bagging all the leaves in the backyard, but after 1 hour of work outside and 7 bags of leaves, I decided it was time for a break for everyone.

And after playing a little bit after supper, they easily went to sleep (tired from all the work no doubt) that they quickly went to sleep. Well, Sophie took a bit of effort, but less than normal. Yes.... I feel like I've caught on to something here. Well, I did until my husband told me he didn't want the leaves bagged because he was just going to mow over them and use them for the soil. DRAT!

Honey, I love you, but I refuse to empty those 7 bags of leaves back onto the ground. Sorry.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Bartons Altogether Again

It's been about 11 years since the immediate family has all been together. With 7 siblings living in 4 different states, it can be complicated. Unfortunately, we were all together for a funeral, but we tried to make the best of it, by trying to get some pictures of everyone together.

Some of you know my family, however, for those that don't here are some recent pictures of us all together:

First all the Barton siblings (Left to right: Nick, Andrew, Stacey, Suzi, Elizabeth, Ashley, Ben)

Then the 'whole' family with spouses and children:

Of course, you might recognize this crazy bunch:

And this is my brother Nick and his wife Amanda:

And my sister Suzi:

My sister Elizabeth & her husband  Britt:

Ben, Andrew, and Ashley didn't get any pictures than of the group shots. While my children instead enjoyed posing for the camera at any possible moment. Yep.... those are my children.

Anyway, that is my family. We grew up loving each other and hating each other off and on. But as we got older, well.... we realized just how awesome, amazing, talented, fun and weird we were together. And well, let's just say, we always make life interesting. And if you think things are crazy with me.... you should see me with my siblings.