Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Vindictive

Yesterday, my son got stung by a bee while walking barefoot in the backyard. Today I did. I'm not deathly allergic to bees, but perhaps a bit more than average.

For a few hours after I got stung, I could only limp around, feeling slightly sick on a foot that was swollen a little all over. The major swelling went down in a few hours and after I got the girls down for their naps, I had time to feel grouchy about my foot.

The fact that there are so many bees in our backyard is partly our own fault. No one has mowed back there for almost two weeks and the clover is blooming nicely. Although still limping a little, I decided now was the time to spoil their fun and if I was lucky grind a bee or two up in the lawnmower blades.

I got the whole lawn mowed before The Baby got fully awake. Yea! And don't worry, sweetie, I think I actually raised the blade to cut the front yard. Unless I lowered it. Um...yea! The Grass Is Mowed! How lovely!

Since Everybody's Doing It

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Garden in Late June

It's been hectic around here, as you might imagine from the last two posts, and I don't always get around to all the watering the plants have needed in this hot, dry weather. It sure is nice that everything isn't too finicky.

Robert the Llama Butcher is garden blogging and remarking on how nice it is to have a fairly drought hardy garden. I definitely agree!

Despite the heat and the fact that many things are already getting bug-eaten, I find I can stare for a long time out the back window or sit on the back deck when the mosquitoes aren't too bad and marvel at the garden that was just scrubby grass and a lot of weeds about a year ago. The flowers seem at almost their very best right now. It's incredibly relaxing for me to look at and be amazed by.



Demolition Man (and Woman)

Saturday, while the boys were taking a break from gate-building, I walked over to the next block to meet with a developer who is building a lot of historic repros in the neighborhood. Some are on vacant lots, but he is also tearing down some houses. A lot of neighbors hate him, but I can't strongly dislike someone who fills in overgrown lots where illegal activities were taking place or tears down rotting houses where illegal activities were taking place, and in their place builds nice looking, non-cookie cutter houses where law-abiding, productive citizens want to live.

I wanted to meet him though to get a look at the house that is scheduled to be demolished tomorrow. It's always been one of my favorite houses in the neighborhood and you can tell it was once absolutely beautiful, but it had long ago been robbed of most of its character and in the three years we've lived here it has sunk farther and farther down. After seeing the inside, at least two people strongly in favor of preservation, who have rescued old houses before, knew this one couldn't be saved.



Before it comes down, I wanted to know if there was anything worth taking out, so I went over to have a look with the developer. Inside, the place was pretty ghastly. Besides having had smokers in it for years and nasty carpet and all the usual things, before the people moved out of the place a few weeks ago, they had one last blowout party and spread trash, food stuffs and who knows what else all over the place. It was definitely a place you wouldn't want to breathe through your nose while you were in.

Most of the place had long ago been "remodeled" and was missing anything nice or charming, but there were a few rooms that still had original woodwork and the developer offered to me and other interested neighbors anything in the house that we could get off and out of there before Wednesday.

We may not be hard core, period renovators, but we are cheap and there are lots of neat old house things we'd love for our house, when the price is almost free except for manual labor. Sunday afternoon instead of napping, mowing the lawn or working on the gate, Justin and I got a babysitter for the kidlets and trotted off with crowbars, work gloves, screwdrivers, mallets and assorted other tools and set to work removing all the window and door casings that were still intact (because those in our house were not saved and we miss them), a couple of 5 panel doors that match what's in our house and that we hope we can perhaps retrofit into the spots in our upstairs where our home's remodelers put hollow Masonite doors.





We also brought home the mantel and hope to find a way to put it around our fireplace, because our home's fireplace surround(s) was(were) also not saved.




My husband may not agree, because he's the one who got fleabitten during the experience, but I think our haul will be worth it in the end and at least some neat old things will find a new home instead moving on to the dump.

Building Fences

This past week and weekend involved both building up and tearing down. But first, the building. Many weekends ago, my husband and father dug great big, three foot deep holes in the ground and put in fence posts and filled the holes with concrete. Then, due to all sorts of life going on, the project came to a standstill.

My father came back for another visit last week and work began again. He not only knows how to do lots of things, he's a good motivator and teacher. Pickets and rails were cut, the fence posts were cut down to the appropriate height and the short fence sections were installed. During this part of construction, I helped keep the children away from the dangerous tools, a boring, but necessary cog in machine.



The fence now needs a good gate to make it complete and keep the dog in the backyard. Justin and my dad got out the portable tablesaw Justin got for his birthday back in the early part of the year and put it to work for the first time.




By the end of the day on Saturday (my dad's last day with us) the two of them had cut all the lap joints and had a frame for a gate.




Besides keeping small children far away from the tablesaw, I also painted a decorative iron piece that we will be putting into the gate.




We want to paint all the surfaces before we fasten the gate frame together, which I think may be my job this afternoon if I can get the girls to nap at the same time.

Monday, June 27, 2005

"Mommy, I have a seed in my nose!"

Yes, that's right. The Girl came up to me this morning and asked for help removing the cherry pit she had shoved up her right nostril.

When her brother was about 2 1/2, he put electrical wire insullation up his nose. We never did find that and figured it must have come out below, but the cherry pit popped right out.

It won't make for the dramatic story that many Sewanee students heard year after year read by the admissions office as their all-time favorite essay, written by a student who one summer long before they reached college age stuck a raisin up their nose and had to have it surgically removed. On the other hand, I was perfectly happy to just have to give a little squeeze and dispose of the offending object. I think The Girl can find something else to write about on college applications. In the meantime, I hope we have gotten the interest in sticking stuff up places where it doesn't belong behind us.

I Knew It Came From Their Father

I said the weird licking/tongue thing had to come from my husband's side of the family. Now I have proof.



(Okay, the dog isn't really his fault.)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Religion -- Mangled Two Year Old Style

We've been teaching the older two kids to say The Lord's Prayer as a place to start with memorizing passages of Scripture and to aid them in saying their own prayers. They both have it mostly memorized, but The Girl's version is rather questionable. She usually says, "Give us our trespasses."

This week we are also in the midst of the late nights, sugar highs and camp songs that seem to be required at VBS. The theme and memory verse for this year's classes is, "Nothing is impossible with God." Everyone thinks it is absolutely adorable that The Girl sits on the front row, sings all the songs and has the verse memorized. They aren't listening too closely though, because she doesn't say impossible. She always says "possible," which changes the theology just a smidge -- to something more akin to the Unitarian position, I'd imagine.

Can Everyone Hush and Can Everything Slow Down For A Sec?

We've had VBS, a houseguest, a fence and gate to build, people coming to get day lilies, chairs to mend, our front gable to finish planning, a baby with Roseola or something, relatives having surgery, et cetera, and the world keeps going, the laundry and dishes still need to be washed and I want a nap.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Experiments All Around

For a while now, The Baby has been participating in some different studies at the Vanderbilt Infant Cognition Lab. Today she did one study and The Boy did another. The Girl got an hour of free babysitting and enjoyed having someone play with her alone. I love signing up for these things. I also enjoy saying that I'm sending my kids off for medical experiments as if we were in Monty Python's Meaning of Life.

It's the little things.

You Expect One of Us To Admit Being Wrong?

Below, Victor asks whether my husband and I have come to any consensus about our grammar question. As if! I say "were." My husband refuses to trust me or anyone else -- probably wise of him under normal circumstances. He has decreed that "was" sounds better and he's sticking too it.

I'm right, of course.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Who Would Have Thunk It?

Grammar is apparently a hot button issue around here, inspiring more comments than just about anything I've ever posted before.

Can I Get Up Now? Or The Haircut That Nearly Did Me In

I'm not a long haired person. My hair has almost never been long. My mom kept it cut short, because she didn't want to or know how to deal with fixing hair. As a small girl, I envied all the girls with long hair, braids or most especially small versions of Princess Leia hair. There are far more pictures of me as a child with short hair looking almost like a boy than there are of me with even semi-long hair.



As I grew older, I had longish hair and I have one picture of me from my sophomore year of high school where my hair would actually pass as long.



Most of the time though, my childhood of short hair has stuck with me. I start getting really antsy if my hair gets very long. I always threaten to get a pixie cut, but lack of assurance that I wouldn't look really stupid has made me hold off on that. I tend to opt for a short bob.

The only problem with short hair is that it grows out -- quickly. And I never seem to have enough time to go get it cut. Add to that, that the beauty salon I go to starts with Super and ends with Cuts, so I don't have to make an appointment, so I can always put off a hair cut one more week.

By this past weekend, I'd been talking about getting my hair cut for weeks. I hadn't had it cut since early March and it was getting down past my chin. Definitely driving me crazy.

Saturday morning, I left the kids at home and took off for the nearest Supercuts. I got there and there wasn't a big crowd. Both stylists were finishing up and there was only one guy ahead of me. I probably got in the barber chair within five minutes. And then the torture began.

My hair stylist was either new at it or a perfectionist or both. I never thought I would say I didn't want a perfectionist cutting my hair -- afterall, even if I go to the cheapo shop, I still want a decent cut -- but I can firmly say after having this guy work on my hair to take it from a chin length bob to a jaw length bob in 1 1/2 hours that I can do with out perfection. When the other stylist called back the fifth person since I had sat down, I nearly screamed that if he's just give me the scissors I'd finish the job myself.

My hair looks fine now (though not so much after a long day and when you let a five year old take your photo), but my rear end may have suffered permanent damage.



Friday, June 17, 2005

A Grammatical Question

My husband and I are fighting. No it isn't a debate that's answer will hurt the marriage either way. We both are sure we're correct however, but after pouring through Strunk & White, the MLA and Chicago Manuals of Style, and my favorite grammar text English Grammar for Students of German, we still haven't found an answer.

What? Why are you looking at me funny? Don't most people have grammar arguments and have to go to their favorite reference books for assistance?

So what say you all? Which do you think is correct?

"Once upon a time, there was a king, a queen and a knight..."

or

"Once upon a time, there were a king, a queen and a knight..."

The closest we've found to an answer comes from one of my alma mater's UDel and essentially says that we're both kind of right.

Q. Which is correct?
Long ago there was a king and a queen who had twelve sons.
Long ago there were a king and a queen who had twelve sons.
A. This is an interesting question. If native English speakers were writing this sentence, they would probably observe the logical plural subject and use "were" as the verb. When speaking the sentence, however, most speakers would say "was." There is a strong tendency among English speakers to use "was" after the referential "there." This is especially the case when we have two singular nouns joined by "and" (a king and a queen).
Your example sentence has a feeling of informality, sounding like the beginning of a children's fairy tale. To me, it sounds more natural (in spoken form) to say, "Long ago there was a king and a queen . . ." even though there is a logical plural subject.

Feeling Bad. Feeling Good.

Some days I get alumni newsletters in the mail and I read about all the things my friends are doing with their degrees. They are out there teaching German, running libraries, or having other careers. I sit here at home (or out running around) and all I'm doing is running an in-house population growth study, and managing disagreements, and filling sippy cups and wiping rear-ends and -- well, you get the picture.

Those are the times I start to feel bad. I think what I'm doing is important. If I didn't, I'd be doing something else. Sometimes it just doesn't feel special or interesting, when I hear what everyone else is doing with their degrees.

Then, however, I read an article like New York Metro's Empire of the Alpha Mom linked to by the Llama's and I start feeling pretty good again. I remember that I'm not raising mini-me's or out to turn my kids into a business venture. I don't need a village to take of them, just my husband to take them once in a while when I'm losing my mind, to get them sometimes in the middle of the night and work with me as a partner.

I haven't lost myself by having kids. I've become who I am, which is in part, their mom. I may not wear the latest fashions or have ever had a manicure to worry about, but I can teach them about God, how to read, how to bake cookies, the names of plants, and other things like that. I'm also glad to teach them a little about work, sucking it up and not getting everything they want.

Research may say there is no such thing as spoiled, but it makes me feel a whole lot better to say that my kids don't get everything they want -- not even every cookie or chance to lick their shoes.

I sure as heck don't have this parenting thing down pat. I have a lot to learn on the job and some days I want to trade the whole bunch of them in or hire a village to watch them, but suddenly Isabel Kallman has made me feel pretty empowered. I can do this. I don't have to be perfect. My kids aren't perfect. We're all perfectly normal and not Type-A freaks.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Okra

I just harvested the first okra of the season, which is pretty exciting, but then again -- what does one do with three pods?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A Milestone I Never Wanted to See

There are many milestones one reaches in life -- going off to Kindergarten, graduating from high school, graduating from college, getting a job, getting married, having children, watching them go off to school, etc. I've made it that far and I've watched my friends and family hit those milestones as well.

There are the exciting milestones that I love to hear that my friends have reached. In the first several years after college, it was exciting to watch many friends follow our lead and take the plunge into marriage. I still love hearing about the good things, like my friend who just wrote to announce the birth of his second son, another friend who is hoping to buy a house in the next year, or one who is hoping to be planning a wedding soon.

I don't keep up with most of my friends as well as I should, but when I do get together with old buddies, I enjoy the reminiscences and the chance to catch up on the news of who has heard from whom lately. This last time though -- not so much. Along with the usual talk came the gut punch that the first of my friends is getting divorced.

I suppose with so many divorces every year in this country, it was bound to happen that some one or other of my friends would fall into that statistic, but I wasn't ready for it. Especially not from someone who married a high school sweetheart after putting up with five years or so on opposite sides of the country for college. I heard about the person back home the first time I met this friend. Though we haven't talked in years, I always follow with interest the updates on successes and changes life had brought. Not this time.

It will be worse the first time I hear about the death of one of my peers, but this feels almost as bad. It makes me feel awful and yet I can't stop thinking about it. I don't know when things started to go wrong. I don't know the details. I don't want to know, but the divorce of a long ago friend still rips me apart. Naturally this brings pain to the couple, their kids, their families and the people they are closest to, but divorce sure is an ugly beast when it can make someone miles and years away from a couple so sad.

I'm sorry for the end of their marriage. I'm sorry for them. And I'm sorry that I've reached this milestone. It's not one that I ever wanted to reach.

Memed

I get tagged to do various memes and it sometimes takes me a while to get around to them. Sorry about that. I've decided not to tag anyone specifically, but feel free to consider yourself tagged if you want to do these and have not been tagged before.

Blair tagged me to do the "If" meme, in which one finishes five of the statements below.

If I could be a scientist...I'd be a physicist like my dad.
If I could be a painter...I would paint pictures people might want to buy. I guess if by painter, you mean, one who paints, I am a painter. I do like painting and my own artwork hangs all over my house. However, I don't see myself doing this for a living in this lifetime.
If I could be a doctor...
If I could be a farmer...
If I could be a gardener...
If I could be a missionary...
If I could be a lawyer...
If I could be an athlete...
If I could be an innkeeper...
If I could be a professor... I'd want to teach British history.
If I could be a writer...
If I could be a llama rider...
If I could be a bonnie pirate...I'd swill a lot of rum and say "Aargh!"
If I could be an astronaut...
If I could be a world famous blogger…
If I could be a justice on any one court in the world...
If I could be married to any one famous political figure...
If I could be a circus star...
If I could be a poet...I'd write concrete poetry and laugh at all the losers who thought it was real poetry. I would be well aware that the emperor had no clothes.
If I could be a musician...
If I could be a chef...
If I could be a rodeo star...

Do I look like a person who likes books? Does it show? Okay, I was a librarian and all that. Susanna and Sarah G. both tagged me for the book meme.

Number of books I own:
A lot. Here's a sample, though it leaves out a few whole bookcases.
bookcases.jpg


There is a little bit of everything in our collection -- lots of books from college, lots of children's books, my collection of Emilie Loring novels, reference books, an Encyclopedia Britannica set from the early 1900s, not enough P.G. Wodehouse, and too many books on how to raise children. We're heavy on fiction, poetryand history and light on science, which can be explained by the fact that this is the house of an English major/lawyer and a German literature major/librarian.

Last book I bought: I'm not even sure. Despite owning a lot of books, I tend to check out most of mine from the library these days. There are many books I want to read but don't care about owning and there are others I want to preview before I consider buying them. I use the library for both purposes. I went to the library yesterday. Here's what I got for myself: The Doll People by Ann Martin, The Lady Chosen by Stephanie Laurens, The Victorian House Book by Robin Guild, and Victorian: American Restoration Style by Joan Brierton.

Last book I read:

The last thing I read, other than a Bible story was the a book to the kidlets last night called Beautiful Warrior: The Legend of the Nun's Kung Fu. It was an interesting tale and provided a pronunciation guide in the front which I always appreciate. Pronunciation guides that I discover in the back of a book only after stumbling over words throughout a story are annoying, though I suppose better than no guide at all.

Five books that mean a lot to me:

Pride and Prejudice was the first Jane Austen book I read and it helped form my love of her books and probably influenced my love of Regencies romance novels in general, even if, compared to her, every other writer is a hack.

Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the Anne books, as well as some of the other books by L.M. Montgomerey, were and still are beloved. They are books I can reread and am not disappointed in. Some books lose the magic as you grow up, but the Anne books have not. Also, the name of one of my daughters is a name I first ran across in one of the Anne books.

James Herriot's books mean a great deal to me. I love the stories and for years and years I listened to them practically every night on tape as I fell asleep. They are like comfort books to me now and ones I need to start reading to The Boy pretty soon. I think he'd enjoy them.

A book on my shelf the physical prescence of which means something to me as well as the information therein is Reader's Digest Book of Facts. As a kid, I absolutely loved books of trivia, facts, lists, etc. This particular book is one my grandfather owned and which my parents brought home for me from his house after he died. I loved to read it to myself and outloud to anyone who would listen to me. I sometimes carried it in my backpack to school and nearly cried my eyes out when my backpack was stolen with it in there. The backpack was found with the book still in there, though the cover was almost detached. I never took it back to school, but I have moved it with me everywhere. I love the certainty of of the title -- no mere speculation, it contains FACTS. It has proved useful over the years for looking up things like the order of British rulers, etc.

My fifth book is difficult or impossible to select. By choosing to fill that last spot, I say that nothing else is quite equal to the rest. Do I choose Little Women, The Golf Omnibus that contains some of my favorite Wodehouse short stories, do I pick the German books I actually enjoyed reading in college and grad school, any number of children's books that I find especially wonderful and that I hold particularly dear, or what else could I chose? So many choices and all of them good -- I think I'll leave this slot blank.

If you think I live with a lot of books, how would you like to live in a house made to look as if it is made of and decorated with books? (link via Houseblogs)

One Reason I Love Gardening

This morning I was out watering all the flowers and it struck me that one reason I love gardening is the feeling that old friends are coming back to visit me every year. Other than providing water and a little fertilizer, I don't actually do much for these plants. I'm not gardener enough to attempt things that are very difficult.

These perennials come up every year and then one by one start blooming and being great visitors. Sure, some get a little pushy and the crowds need to be contained, but overall I love to see them year after year.

The day lilies, although probably the most likely to come back and look great without any help from me, are also one of my favorites to see returning every year. I have a lot of colors and varieties and I never remember what color will be where. It's an adventure every summer to see what will be red, what purple, what will be orange or pink or cream. Getting out and seeing what's blooming where is something exciting enough for me to almost enjoy the morning stroll through the garden watering, although as the summer goes on, the weather gets hotter and more and more of my friends start to age and leave for the year that chore gets less fun.

But still, the flowers and the chance to see things grow and change year after year are wonderful. From the first peeking bulbs to the mums in the fall, I look forward to visits from my old friends for years to come.

A Story By The Boy

This is a story exactly as The Boy typed it on the computer yesterday, with only his name changed.

ANIMALS OF THE WILD BY The Boy

Once upon a time there was a bear. he had a pet wolf. the bear knew a fox. once the bear ate too much cereal and hurt his foot. nothing ever works out for me ! he said. then the fox who was also a trickster came and tricked the poor bear into bumping his head on the wall. after that the bear chased the fox forever and ever. the end copy right 2005 The Boy


Don't worry, he offered me unlimited license to make copies in exchange for being his mom.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Pretty-ing Up The House

When we first bought our house, it looked okay from the outside, but it was boring. It had been stripped of all its Folk Victorian trim and lacked much curb appeal. It still has plain white vinyl siding, but we've painted the trim, fixed up the yard and added some gingerbread fans.

We have been planning on eventually adding a window to our front gable along with shingles and now the money is all saved up and I've been harrassing a Pella salesman to price just about very imaginable grid pattern and window shape. Seeing as how we are not Bill Gates and we have a very definite budget limit to this particular Moron Project, which is compelling us to put the nicest window in our house on the attic, we still had to turn away from the lancet arched window (which would have alone cost more than our entire budget for windows, trim, shingles and installation), the gothic grid pattern and a few other things that really called to me.

Yesterday while the kids were napping, I played with our pictures again and finally everything started coming together in my mind and in the pictures. The timing for things coming together worked well, because we had an appointment last night to order the window.

The nice thing about having a Folk Victorian is that they grabbed a bit of style from any place they could find it. While we want a house that doesn't look crazy and remuddled, we have a little leeway in picking and choosing from Carpenter Gothic, Queen Anne, Stick and other true Victorian styles.

So here's what I envision our house looking like eventually with windows in the gable, octagonal shingles on the gable, bargeboard gable trim and for added measure the spandrels I hope will be some other year's big Moron Project.
house envisioned with possible gable trim colors2 copy.jpg


I'm Here, But Not All There

This morning I rose at the crack of dawn (not really, but 6:15 is early for me to get out of bed) showered, dressed, put on some makeup to hide the rings under my eyes, and drank a cup of coffee (curses on my husband for addicting me to the vile brew). And then before the children were even awake (except for the one I had to wake up to relieve a little pressure), I drove off to the dentist for my seven o'clock appointment.

Except when I got there the receptionist looked at me funny and asked what my name was. An odd thing to happen in a little dentist's office where everyone usually knows you -- even if this receptionist has only seen me once before. I gave my name and then as she began to tell me that I wasn't on that day's chart, I suddenly realized that I was a week off. They'd called several weeks ago to change my appointment and I'd marked it on the calendar, but somehow I'd managed to jump a week ahead in June, so even though I knew my appointment was June 21 and I'd just been writing June 13 on things yesterday, I was absolutely positive that I knew when I was supposed to be at the dentist.

No, I'm really such an eager beaver that I just wanted to get my teeth cleaned a week early. Not. But due to a cancellation they'd had, they actually had time for me, so I did get it over with and I won't have to wake up early, drag myself out of bed, and repeat the whole process next Tuesday. And the best part is that I didn't have any cavities.

The bad news is that getting up that early has left me in an all day stupor and helped contribute to a wicked migraine that sprang from nowhere leaving me practically ready to remove my head and that is only now getting better with doses of ibuprofen and caffeine.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Playthings

Parents are often heard to note that the most exciting part of a new toy is the box. This is certainly the case in our house, where even the acquisition of a new box of diapers is often cause for excitement. The Boy and The Girl draw on, sit in, sail the world or sled down snow-capped sofas in a new box. Cardboard is a highly valued commodity in our house and they are certainly not above fighting for the privilege of getting the first shot at any boxes that arrive here.

Another form of cardboard that engenders much excitement and a fair share of turf wars, is the "toot-toot" as it is known in this house. "Toot-toots" are so named because they are often turned into horns, though they have also been made into kazzos (with the addition of wax paper), spy glasses, scroll holders, sibling beaters, etc. The "toot-toot" comes in both short and long sizes. The long size originally was surrounded by paper towels. The sort version by toilet paper.

My children love them, fight over them and can find a million and one uses for a little roll of cardboard. The embarrassing part is when they ask for the toilet paper roll when we're out at a public restroom and the paper runs out.

And Then There Are the Real Creepy Crawlies

We seem to have a brown recluse problem. I reported some time ago finding a dead one in the baby's room. That was before she started sleeping in there. Now she is though. We've found five or so spiders (not in her room) in the last two weeks.

I grew up reading Charlotte's Web and Be Nice To Spiders, but I don't really believe in it. At least not when they are in my house. Especially since I've become convinced that the very nasty, painful, scarring bite I got on the back of my neck last year was caused by a brown recluse.

Has anyone else dealt with a spider infestation?

Creepy Crawly

The Baby is now a creepy crawly, full blown menace. She's been getting around for a long time, but now she's getting into stuff. She particularly likes pulling all the books off lower bookcase shelves and finding cords and wires to chew on (good thing she doesn't have any teeth yet). My other two did the book thing, but pretty much always left wires alone, so we have a new layer of baby proofing to try.

She also pulls up on the sofa now. Yikes.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Quiet Time

I've come to love two o'clock in the afternoon. For about an hour, the house is usually quiet. The girls are both napping and The Boy is either reading, watching a video or entertaining himself in some other fashion. All is still.

Until schedules change and this no longer happens, I enjoy a brief moment or two to myself. I certainly could use the time to clean house, fold laundry or something else necessary, but instead it is usually my time to read on the computer or pick up a book. Sometimes, I even grab a short nap of my own. If there is work that must be done, I count on this time as my chance to do it.

I love two o'clock. Time with my children is precious, of course. You have to say that and I do mean it. I love this short time in the middle of the day though, when silence reigns and the world grows still. When things happen and we can't be home for the daily time of peace, my whole day seems thrown off.

Here's to quiet time. There sometimes seems to be so little of it in the world. I'm going to get a cup of tea and enjoy it until somebody wakes up.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Baby Food

The Baby is finally starting to feed herself a little bit. First cheerios, then little pieces of watermelon, and then it was time to go to the store and get her the freeze dried fruits and vegetables that have been a mainstay in each of my children's baby diet.

You see, I don't like feeding the kidlets baby food very much. Baby food is messy and it makes it hard for me to get a bite of my own food. As soon as they are picking up little stuff, it is time to find something for them to feed to themselves. It's a harsh world out there and there is no time like the present to start them doing for themselves.

The freeze dried produce from Just Tomatoes fits the bill. Some of their stuff isn't appropriate. Some things are too sharp and hard. Some are too chewy. The berries, the bananas (after some breaking them down to size) and the green peas, however, are just right. The kids can pick them up pretty easily. They are actual fruits and vegetables with more nutritional value than you average cereal product and they aren't gooey or sticky.

And so it is time to start The Baby on some Just Peas, Just Blueberries and a some other stuff. Wild Oats doesn't carry them anymore. But! The Fresh Market carries some products, so we made the trek the other night to yuppie shopping heaven. Dried fruit they had in plenty, but no peas. The kids always love the peas, so that was a brief annoyance. I got some blueberries and some strawberry bananas for The Baby and placed a large order for peas from the Just Tomatoes website.

Here's to children who can feed themselves! Of course, I wish the older two weren't swarming so heavily over The Baby's food. Piggies.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Working for Peanuts

The Boy has gone through phases of being into many authors and fictional characters. Recently we've been through Sandra Boynton, Asterix, The Magic Treehouse and a few other things I can't remember. When he goes through these periods of being really, really into something, he wants to assign characters from the books to each member of the family, he asks me to look for coloring pages on the web and he writes his own knock-off versions of the favorite authors books.

Our house is littered with books in the "style" of beloved authors. We have a "Boynton-style" book called Snakey Achey. Several Asterix comics that would probably make Uderzo shudder and a few Magic Treehouse books too.

The Boy's latest craze is Peanuts. He reads and rereads all the comics he can get his hands on. We're all assigned Peanuts characters -- he chose to be Schroeder, which I find interesting. And now he's making his own "Peanuts" comic books. He told me, with all the seriousness a five year can muster, that he was very sorry to know that Charles Schultz was dead, but he guessed it was up to him now to draw the cartoons.

Those will be some big shoes to fill even if one ignores the very large copyright issues, but I think all this practicing and copying could lead somewhere interesting some day. Maybe he'll get a blog or something.

A Conversation

The Boy: Mom, do Germans live inside the Earth?

Me: Um, no. In Germany, usually.

The Boy: But Dad said...

Me: He meant if you dig all the way through the center of the Earth to the other side you'd come out somewhere around Germany.

The Boy: So Germany is in outerspace?

Me: Sometimes they sure act like it, son, but no. We'll get the globe out when your sister wakes up and I'll show you what Dad was talking about.

Phishing

By now everyone probably has heard all about phishing. I've heard lots about it, but my spam filters and those of my e-mail provider are good enough that I don't actually get much spam or at least I don't have to look at it. Yes, I count myself among the very lucky. So, anyway I hear all about these scam e-mails that are so realistic looking that people are fooled into giving away all sorts of personal information.

Today I got a phishing letter that actually came to my inbox (wow, I felt so special), but I sure hope the people getting scammed are being fooled e-mails that aren't so obviously fake. First of all, how many of you not in Oklahoma (as I am not) are doing business with the Bank of Oklahoma (sometimes spelled Oklahomaa)? Second, I presume that those good people in Oklahoma have a reasonable grasp of English and know how to use articles in front of nouns at appropriate times, don't forget necessary verbs in really important e-mail messages and don't separate the subject from the predicate with a comma. Third, when including the URL on which to click, don't misspell the bank to which you are referring. And my advice to the phishers, spiffy graphics will fool more people than a plain e-mail.

My advice to the rest of you -- if you receive the following information do not give out any personal information.

Dear Bank of Oklahoma Customer:
Your access to online account has temporary block limits for security purposes. Our Online Fraud Department, identified some unsuccessful attempts to compromise your Bank of Oklahomaa account, in order that you as valued customer of our Bank system haven't financial loss in fraud activity, we have to begin extreme measures.We encourage you, to sign on and complete verification form for increase online security of your bank account.Allowing your account access to remain limited for an extended period of time may result in further limitations on the use of your account and possible account closure.


Monday, June 06, 2005

Pulling Up

I was unloading the dishwasher this morning and suddenly there was this little person standing there holding on to the door. I know she's seven months old, but I think she should wait a while longer to get all vertically mobile and stuff. Apparently she disagrees. Her crib is going to have to be lowered tonight.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Thursday, June 02, 2005

They Grow Up Too Fast

Beatrix on the bench.jpg


The Baby turned seven months old yesterday and started eating Cheerios (or the wheat-free Wild Oats equivalent anyway). I don't know when I started feeding such things to the other two, but The Baby was clearly ready for them -- picking them up in a nice pincher grip and slurping them down as fast as I could put them on the high chair tray. She's also started crawling a bit like a normal baby and not like an inch worm and she's also doing some almost pulling up. It doesn't seem possible that she's old enough to be doing this stuff.

Pippa on the bench.jpg


The Girl suddenly seems older too. She's potty trained and stays dry at night at least as much as her older brother. She has definitely opinions on clothing, shoes and everything else and was recently heard corrupting a song from Bible class to say, "Day One, Day One God made applesauce when there was none." We'll work on the theology, but it was pretty funny.

George on the bench.jpg


The Boy has his last day of preschool tomorrow. In the fall he'll be a full-fledged Kindergartener, although at hippy German school the distinction is rather non-existent, it still means he'll be going to school every day and learning things like vegetable chopping and sewing that he missed out on this year. He also went up to the librarian at the public library yesterday and asked for assistance in finding books on dinosaurs and Egypt. Yesterday afternoon he wanted to write a history book about "olden day people," but since he didn't know enough about them, he wrote his own continuation of Gelette Burgess's Goop books. This morning he was telling us what he'd learned about the consumption habits of carnivorous dinosaurs. He pretty much fascinates me and I generally feel very lucky to get to know him.

Strawberry Lemon Muffins

I mentioned below that I've been working on a recipe for strawberry lemon muffins. I've made them a few times with subtle variations and they've tasted great and looked awful -- sticking to the pan or staying flat, etc. The basic recipe was originally for blueberry muffins, but I started playing with it once when I had strawberries, but no blueberries. The last batch I made would probably have been fine if I had used muffin cups, but without them, they had a hard time coming out of the pan intact.

So here is my recipe for strawberry lemon muffins -- a work in progress. Any suggestions for improvement will certainly be considered.

Strawberry Lemon Muffins

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature (I usually stick them in a bowl of hot water for 5-10 minutes to warm them up)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
zest of one lemon
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or you can use 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and leave out the whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pint diced strawberries


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put paper linings in muffin pans (approximately 18). Spray oil on tops of muffin pans to keep overflow from sticking.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla, sour cream, milk and lemon zest. In another mixing bowl, mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in strawberries (batter will probably turn pink) and make sure batter is completely mixed.

Drop batter into muffin cups and bake for about 30 minutes (check at 25 minutes if your oven burns hot). Muffins are done when lightly browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

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