Wednesday, December 19, 2007

So Terrible. Must Stop Laughing.

A cavalcade of bad nativities and it's 2004 predecessor. Of course, anybody who passionately hates the "art" of Thomas Kindade pleases me greatly.

via HaJollyHa

The Talkies

My older children are convinced their little brother is a highly verbal genius. Every time he makes a noise, I hear voices shouting, "Mom! Did you hear that? He said..."

Every time I am not in the room, my one year apparently has taken to having long conversations with his brother. Probably about the difficulties of finding good sisters these days or the unlikelihood that anyone other than Shakespeare really penned the Bard's plays or perhaps how far they could shoot something of their sisters' across the room. Brothers, of course, have so many topics of conversation.

It's true that the one year old is quite the mimic. Say anything around him and he'll get a big grin and try to repeat it. There are only a few things I'm willing to count as words yet, "Noooooo" and "Dee" (for "three" which my husband says as he rockets the baby around the room and which the child will run up and shout gleefully if he finds you lying in a position that reminds him at all of the rocketship game). He sometimes correctly says "Mama" and "Dada" but even those don't seem to be clearly specific, as far as I'm concerned.

Nevertheless, his siblings translate volumes of his sayings and let me know what he's thinking. My seven year old sagely confided in me the other day, "What they said on that public television parent tip is true. You should talk to your babies a lot."

"Only if you actually want them to learn to speak," I said.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Easy Christmas Present

Although I'm glad I didn't take the handmade Christmas pledge, because I would have failed miserably, we are making a few presents this year.

The kids and I made stupid sock creatures for my niece and nephew. Those weren't hard to make, but they were time consuming.

I've been at a loss as to what my mother-in-law would like, but finally I remembered something I saw a link to a while back. I'd tell you where if I could remember, but I don't. It was a tutorial on making silhouettes. Now a real silhouette is done with someone snipping away freehand, and it is really cool to watch. This is not that way, but rather something that requires no real artistic talent.

First, I took a photo of each of the kids' profiles up against a blank wall. Okay, first, I really went to Michael's bought a picture frame with a matte (my supply of millions of them being packed up, of course) and a piece of black cardstock. Then I took pictures of the kidlets. Getting a one year old to turn sideways long enough for me to snap a picture was hard, but it turned out to be harder to get a three year old to do it. Once uploaded on to the computer, I cut each of their heads out using the magnetic lasso tool, sized them to all be approximately the same, and printed them out.

The pictures I then cut out, turned upside down, traced them with a pencil on the back of the black cardstock, cut them out, glued the silhouettes to decorative acid-free cardstock that I already had lying around, (alright, I actually stole it from the kids' art supplies) wrote each child's name and the year under their silhouette, taped the pictures onto the matte, and put the picture frame back together.

Originally, I had planned to get the kids to paint some sort of watercolor for the background behind their heads, but using the cardstock made the whole thing go a lot faster and I realized I didn't really want to give my one year old access to watercolors.

So here's the result. I think my mother-in-law will enjoy it.

Enough of This Stuff

Let's talk about something else, if anyone is still out there.

Other than the house and Christmas there are several other things going on in the Adams household. One is an upcoming trip a few months into the new year. My husband, the brilliant young attorney, has managed to garner a six week working jaunt to England.

Naturally, the stipend does not include money for a wife and children. Nor does the trip come at a particularly good time, what with us only barely getting into our house by then, but we're tagging along anyway.

Although I got to live in Germany while I was in college and travel around the continent, I've never been to England. I've always wanted to go and frankly after all the little ones started arriving, I didn't see international travel as a thing likely to be in my future. Looking at the price of tickets, I certainly am reminded why we never go anywhere.

We've gotten our passports. Things are falling into place. Now I need to figure out all the other stuff I need to have to travel with four children, including a one year old. Then I need to know where to take the tykes while their father hangs out in various Inns of Court and quaffs ale with the local barristers. Suggestions?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

An Anniversary and the Unforeseen Costs of Renovations

Yesterday was the anniversary of our buying The Purple House. It's been a long, long year. While we are getting close to being able to live in the downstairs, our workmen never have seemed to feel the same sense of urgency in getting us in there that we would have liked. Of course, they haven't been living on the charity of a kind friend for seven months either.

Today was a busy day over there. The chimney sweeps were building our fireplace. We're converting the old coal fireplace into a wood burning one. It will be pretty tiny, but it will allow my spouse to burn things, which will make him happy. The painter was priming the kitchen cabinets and I think the carpenters were working on patching the floors upstairs. The place is a disaster, but less of one that before and if we could just convince the workmen to put a finish on the floors downstairs, we could consider moving in soon.

In the meantime, as I consider, with a sigh, the big money pit, I want to mention some of the expenses I never thought of when we went into this. I'm not talking about the price of paint, what it costs to replace structural beams or rafters or anything like that. I'm talking about other things.

First, and perhaps the cost that should have been most obvious -- restaurants. Although I have the use of a full, gourmet kitchen where we live, when one is displaced, on-the-go and often on the opposite side of town fixing up a house, it sometimes is difficult to cook at home all the time. We've eaten out and eaten at far more fast food restaurants in the last year than probably in all the years of my life up to this point.

Second, clothing was not something I thought a whole lot about in budgeting our renovation. When we moved out of our old house last April, the weather was cool, but warming up. I thought we'd be packed up for a month or two at most. Now, seven months later, my children have all grown and all the clothes I had packed up for them to grow into, are still packed up. All their summer clothes for the hottest months had to be purchased, because those were packed and now I've had to find sweaters, coats and warm pants, because those too are packed up.

Finally, and perhaps the most ridiculous expense, also really the most avoidable, has been the library fines. Where we are currently living I don't even have a bookcase. I've found alternative solutions for our homeschooling materials, but I have never come up with a good place for all our library books. When we were in our own home, I had a system and 99% of the time, I knew where the books were, when they were due and I either got them returned or renewed on time. In the past five years, before we moved, I probably racked up a total of $10 or less in library fines on all the family cards together. In the past seven months, we've incurred over $50 in fines. Books slip into places I can't find. I can't seem to keep track of their due dates and everything is in a tizzy.

This is not intended to be whiny, but really to act as a cautionary tale. If one must follow in our footsteps and buy a fixer-upper -- consider and expect the unexpected.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Doing a Little Decorating

Our hostess took the kids out yesterday and got a tree. They are thrilled and I admit that even I feel a little more Christmas cheer with lights shining. The kids are especially pleased, because the people we are staying with use colored lights (a thing previously unheard of on our tree).

When I went up to the attic to dig out the lights I also looked through the ornaments and it didn't take me long to decide that we would not be using their ornaments. All their ornaments are beautiful and glass (such is the life of the childless). I should note that the people we are staying with are going out of town for Christmas, so they don't really care how we decorate the tree and I am sure they will appreciate our not breaking all their ornaments.

Our collection of less fragile, wooden and metal ornaments are not reachable at present, so I told the kids they could make ornaments this year. They are quite pleased and crafting away, drawing trees, snowmen and the like to their hearts' delight.

To add some interest to the flat paper things they are coming up with, I think we'll be using some of the projects from some great websites out there.

Canon Papercraft has just about every kind of paper craft you can think of. They have things designed to be ornaments, but I think my kids would also enjoy adding toys and animals.

Another favorite website is The Toymaker. She has great toys for all year round and special sections for all sorts of holidays.

I don't know whether they'll want any fish ornaments, but I think they'll have fun making some fish and pretending to catch them.

Finally, leave it to Martha to have some interesting craft projects. We might try paper poinsettias or some fancy stars.

That should keep us busy for a while, huh?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

In Search of Christmas Cheer

We're not living in our own house yet. Some day we may again have our own quarters and I am very thankful for the roof over my head and the comfortable bed, but it is not my own. During this long process of renovation, the lack of my own space has really gotten me down at times, but never more than now as the world around me decorates for Christmas.

I didn't grow up celebrating Christmas at all and have only done so for the past ten years. Even during that time since my marriage, it was never a religious holiday for us. This year it has become much more than it ever was before and although that means I should be even more grateful to consider what I have and think about my Saviour who was born without even a normal bed to be laid in, I cannot help but find myself feeling melancholy.

We might have a tree, because the couple we're living with are thinking about getting one, but it won't be our tree. We might have stockings (or maybe not, I just don't know right now), but they won't be the family ones we've collected over the years.

On a good year, I struggle with making Christmas a time of cheer and happy memories, because it doesn't come naturally to me. I didn't grow up with any of it. I grew up saying, "Bah humbug!" and thinking people who celebrated Christmas were idiots. Yet, I love the music, the lights, the cookies and all, but I don't really know how to do Christmas. What little I have done in the past to make it special for our family, is now all packed away and out-of-reach.

I know and can tell myself over and over that it isn't about the things. It's a magical time whether one has the world or nothing and I have a whole lot more than nothing, so what's my problem?

I put on my best poker face, smile for the kids, we're doing our very first Advent wreath ever and I'm playing Christmas music on the iPod, but I'm afraid the feel of Christmas is missing this year without a home to decorate and have friends and family visit.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Disappearing Blogger Tricks

Sorry for the disappearing act, but it's been one long sniffle after another around here. Wednesday the baby was dripping snot and cranky. I took him in to the doctor and found out he had a double ear infection.

Thursday morning around 1 a.m. the oldest popped into our room to tell us he felt dizzy and couldn't sleep. He had a fever and he kept coming in to tell us about it ever hour or so. By 7 a.m. he felt fine and perky, but I was more exhausted than ever.

Thanksgiving was fine. I made maple-bourbon pumpkin pie with a praline crust (the pie with the longest name in the world, but it is so worth making) and apple-cranberry cobbler, which turned out to be a necessity, since the people we are living with only own one pie plate. I'd love to say both were huge hits and I certainly did my share of eating them, but most people were so stuffed from dinner and in a hurry to be elsewhere that dessert was, sadly, largely forgotten.

Friday I woke up to a cold that has quickly devolved into a sinus infection. I feel miserable and can't taste anything. I finally called the doctor yesterday. They never called me back, so I suppose I need to try again.

In good news, the walls inside the purple house are being painted and we even have someone scheduled to come and clean the place in a few weeks. There seems to be a theoretical possibility that if a few more big things get done, we could be living there in some less than comfortable, but still manageable state.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What Form of Apples?

Should I make an apple pie or apple cranberry cobbler? I can't decide.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Winner of the Nerd Crown

My husband, who was once a writing tutor and in one of his proudest moments made a girl cry when he used big words that she didn't understand (words like pejorative), called me up yesterday to suggest that I should change the glaring mixed metaphor at the end of the last post. It's true. It is a pretty dreadful one, but I'm feeling far too lazy to change it. I told him I didn't want to and called him a pedant.

My seven year old's ears perked up. He, too, often gets called a pedant by his parents. In mock annoyance he declared, "I'm Mr. Pedant! No fair stealing my title and giving it to Dad!"

I've always said that boy was just like his father.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Story of a Lady

The littlest ballerinas were gathered in the hall waiting for their class to start. A few of the more rambunctious ones were giggling loudly and spinning in circles, falling to the ground now and then with loud thumps. Other classes were in session, so one of the waiting parents, a father, called the girls to order, "Ladies! Settle down!" The girls calmed themselves to a dull roar and waited with quieter wiggles until their teacher called them into the studio.

My five year old wasn't one of the rowdies that time, but I was sitting close by and the thought crossed through my mind as he spoke, "How lovely. Call them ladies and they respond -- actually beginning to act like little ladies." That was my impression.

As the girls trailed in to their classroom, cute as buttons in their little pink leotards and ballet slippers, one mom came over to the father who had settled the loud group and said, "No offense..." One must pause here to note that the words "No offense" like that Southern phrase "Bless your heart" mean "I'm about to tear into you and say something nasty." So to continue, the mom said, "No offense, but don't ever call my daughter a lady again! I hate that word."

She turned around in a huff and I said under my breath that I'd rather appreciated his phrasing and it was much better than calling them wild hyenas, although they had at first more resembled those.

To hate the word lady? To insist your daughter not be called one? It seems another death knell in the coffin of civilized culture. I'm hardly a model of refinement and I hated every minute of the torture my parents called "Junior Cotillion," but I still hope to teach my children from a young age to be ladies and gentlemen. I don't want just men and women some day. I want them to be polite, kind, thoughtful, generous, quiet when its called for and all those things that separate one who is merely grown from one who has grown up.

My Head is Full of Rubber Cement

I'm sniffly and whiny and the children have been watching a lot more TV than usual.

When Mama is sick, homeschooling gets put on the back burner.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Must Be Twelve to Enter

From the marvelous, not blogging
Terry, who draws readers from Kindergarten on up.


Boy shorts underwear -- interesting alternative to wedgie-giving thongs or weird cross between granny panties and wearing your husband's boxers?


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Online Blogger Coffee

Last week, Meredith (who is always chalk full of good ideas) hosted a lovely coffee morning for local bloggers. Now she's taken the idea further and is carrying on the conversations with those who couldn't make the journey to her house.

First question: does your family read your blog?

My husband does. Other people maybe, but they haven't admitted it to me.

Time for a Change

I don't have the time or brain power for a large site redesign, so we'll go with this for now.

Does it look okay to you?

The clipart came from here.

Friday, November 02, 2007

House Update

Some of you might be sitting around wondering, so how is the purple house these days?

We had set ourselves a deadline of moving in by November 1. That didn't work, but things are progressing. All downstairs walls that needed a new covering have been drywalled and the taping and mudding is almost finished.

The carpenters have been building the counters (we're going to have wooden ones -- maple, if you are wondering) and are working on getting all the remaining trim put on the cabinets. We've talked to a painter about getting them painted.

In the living room, a fireplace had been walled over and it not only looked funny, but left us without a place to burn things. We opened up the wall and are having the fireplace put back in. We'll be doing a Rumford fireplace which fits the small space best and also supposedly will lose less heat than a regular fireplace. They'll start work next week.

The upstairs, which we gutted, is reframed, rough plumbed and the electrification is almost completed. We need to have the plumbing and electrical systems inspected and then we'll be ready for insulation.

When I set the ridiculous goal of getting in there by Christmas, I thought it was ridiculous, because it couldn't possibly take that long. Ha! Maybe we'll be living there by then, at least in the downstairs.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reading Your Way To Catholicism, A Book List

Since much of my conversion story is based on reading our way to the faith, I've been making up a book list. Obviously, it isn't complete, or even one that would be effective for any particular other person. I've divided it into categories. I also make no pretense that I have read all of these, some were read by my husband and spoon fed into my little noggin small bits at a time.

Church History

Conversion Stories


There are probably a million other things I could list. We also read a lot of blogs, a lot of articles, and listened to many Podcasts (Fr. Riccardo is worth finding on iTunes, if you like that kind of thing).

Feel free to add any other good book suggestions in the comments.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Feed Readers

One thing I hate about Feed Readers -- they let people who might have blogs I'd love to read keep track of my blog and read it without my having any idea who they are. Who for instance, has me on their bloglines in Brazil?

So if you are reading through a feed reader and I don't know you or if you are a lurker hiding out there through some other means, take a moment to say hello. I'd love to know who you are, how you got here and all that.

The Hazards of Parenting

I've received scrapes, bumps and bruises from my children doing various cruel things to me. There was the whack to the bridge of the nose with a hard plastic toy that left me with a large lump and a bruise. There was the skinned knee when they ran through my legs and took me down off the edge of the sidewalk. I knew parenting was not for the fearful, but I didn't know it would be so physically painful.

And today the one year old tried a new trick. He stuck his finger up my nose and scratched. When I stopped crying, I got to clean up the blood dripping down my face.

Conceiving the children is the fun part of the full contact sport, but the painful part of full contact starts with birth and continues on much longer.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Outside the Fold

Robbo has a lovely post about the teachings of the Catholic Church on what happens to those souls who are not part of the universal church.

One of the most beautiful things that drew me to the Church was this teaching. The church I grew up in and the church I left recently, both taught that if one was not part of that organization, one was lost. No ifs, ands, or buts -- just lost. If you read the Bible and didn't see what they saw, you were dishonest. If you didn't have a Bible, well -- hmmm...I don't know. Probably your tough luck.

For several years as I watched people earnestly striving, but reaching, in my opinion, incorrect conclusions, I could not see how that teaching of my church could be so. Surely not everyone was acting in bad faith. Could I really ascribe dishonesty to so many people?

Discovering a new concept, the visible church (that I'd always believed in) linked with other Christians not fully in communion, but not necessarily damned, was a revelation. It fit the world I'd been looking at and trying to understand. It made sense and brought relief as we came to realize we would be blazing a trail upon which the likelihood of our families following was not great.

We pray for the conversion some day of our friends and family to the Catholic Church. We would love for all to find Christ in His fullness within the Fold, but we take great comfort and solace from the fact that they can indeed be part of the Church, whether they come all the way in or not.

Like Robbo, you may feel free to comment, but uncharitable comments will be removed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's Raining! It's Pouring!

I'm glad for the rain, although it means our carpenters can't work on some things, because the do a lot of their cuts outside, and the drywallers can't bring in drywall, but grey, rainy days make me sleepy and cold. To counter act the greyness, the kids and I are making applesauce. Yum.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Porta-Potty is Still in the Front Yard

For the first time in about seven months, we now have a working toilet inside the Purple House. The porta-potty remains for the workmen, but we are glad to be able to use indoor facilities once again. Who knew that such great pleasure could be derived from a toilet?

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Do Not Think That Means What You Think It Means...

During a diaper change of the littlest (a boy), his two year old sister came up and said, "Oh look at his cute little totem!" I was torn as to whether or not I should mention that that word really starts with an "s" or whether "totem" would cause me less embarrassment later on. Either way the poor boy is doomed, but at least I can pretend not to know what she's talking about.

Later, my oldest said, "Does submarine messaging really work?"

"Submarine messaging?" I was imagining sonar or flashing lights or something of the sort.

"You know, submarine messaging -- when you whisper something over and over into some one's ear while they are sleeping."

I did correct that misspoken word, but don't imagine for a moment that I won't forever after think about hidden meanings as being submarine messages instead of subliminal ones.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fairy Wings

Wearing fairy wings sometimes does allow you to fly!

More pictures of the short set over at Flickr.

Monday, October 15, 2007


My one year old weighs about 18 lbs. I don't want to even imagine a newborn that weighs 17 lbs.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Finding Rome

My conversion to Catholicism isn't particularly spectacular, though I suppose it did involve a fair amount of kicking and screaming on my part.

To go back to the beginning though, I was raised in the Worldwide Church of God. We went to church on Saturday, didn't eat unclean foods, kept the Old Testament Holy Days and never, ever celebrated pagan holidays like Christmas and Easter.

When I went to college, I didn't go to church much at all. I went to an Episcopal school and attended services with friends on campus once in a while, but I never really seriously considered the Episcopal church a possibility. The services were pretty, but that was about all. During college, I briefly dated one or two Catholic boys, but neither was very serious about their religion and when I considered it, I didn't think marrying them was a real possibility because one thing I would never be was Catholic.

My senior year of college, I met this really cute guy, who happened to be the son of former missionaries just back from 10 years preaching in Taiwan. Sometimes I went to church with him, but more often if we talked about religion at all, it was to argue. I'd pretty much turned into an agnostic, at least in practice. I didn't go to church any where and didn't know quite what to believe any more. But God was working on me, bringing me back to religion.

In the Worldwide Church of God, one did not get baptized until adulthood (not some undefined age of reason, but actual adulthood). So I had not ever been baptized at all. Finally, after many discussions, conversations, fights and whatnot, my father-in-law-to-be (that cute guy I'd met in my senior year and I now being engaged) convinced me that I needed to be baptized -- and so in 1997 I finally became a Christian.

My husband and I married shortly thereafter and years of faithful and happy attendance of church services and Bible studies followed. I was not particularly disgruntled at any time with our Church. There were a few teachings with which I never quite agreed, but I have always believed in the authority of the Church and so I followed the doctrines despite some questions. I believed we were part of the Lord's true church.

Then the rug started getting yanked out from under my feet. My husband began a study of church history, doctrine and just about every other subject he could get his hands on. He started ordering all sorts of books at the library, which I would pick up, hand to him and say, "You can read these, though I have no idea why you'd want to. But I'm not becoming Catholic." It's not usually a good idea to state categorically what you are not going to do when it comes to God.

My husband started shoving books at me. His first try was giving me Chesterton's Orthodoxy when I was 9 months pregnant. That didn't go over so well. So he tried again. He gave me Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy by Frederica Mathewes-Green. The beauty of the ancient church, which the author describes in great detail started working on me. I read more. I thought and pondered and prayed about what I was learning.

I was discovering that early Christians believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I was realizing that the Bible hadn't always been there in a compiled form, which made Sola Scriptura almost an impossibility. I considered all the early Saints who went to their deaths for a religion that I had been taught they were responsible for paganizing and apostatizing. I was amazed to discover that early Protestants like Luther believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary and prayers to Saints.

Things started to make sense, but at the same time nothing made sense. What about everything I'd always been taught and always believed? Where was the church I'd been following to be found in history? Why was the church that was the "pillar and ground of the Truth" "the light on the hill" the church "against which the gates of Hell could not prevail" so invisible for 1500+ years?

I was mad. Mad at my husband for ruining my life which was going along a path I knew and was doing just fine on. Oddly enough I did not have a very difficult time accepting the Magisterium (I'd always believed the Church had teaching authority over me). I didn't have too much trouble with Mary and the saints (I can go into that at another time). One of the most difficult things for me to accept was the teaching on birth control. When I was pregnant with my fourth child, I told myself and the world I was done having babies. I'd done my fair share and now I was going to have to go through it all again? No thanks!

But you can't always get what you want, can you? One night as I lay awake crying and furious, a small voice ran through my head. It sang the words to a song we often sang in church:
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Was it honest of me to sing that in church when I wanted my own way? I wanted a family under my own terms. I wanted church under my own terms.

After that night I could no longer really object very much, though I kept trying. I read everything I could get my hands on, but we all still kept on going to our old church. It became obvious to us and to some of our close church friends that we wouldn't be there much longer, but how to make that leap?

We finally found a way when we met a lovely man who had once been a preacher in our church and had since, some years before, converted to Catholicism with his family. He invited us to attend mass with him one Sunday. Once we went, I told my husband I couldn't go back. There was no return. We dodged questions for a few weeks about where we were and then wrote a letter explaining to our Elders why, although we loved and respected our former congregation, we were not coming back.

We also had to tell family members, which wasn't too fun, as one might expect. In the end it was done though. We still love the people we left behind, but we couldn't be happier about the life ahead of us in the Catholic church.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Paying the Urban Living Tax

Several years ago at our old house, we noticed one afternoon that the door to our shed was off its hinges and, unsurprisingly, all the rakes, shovels and similar tools were gone. Our neighbor told us we'd paid our "urban living tax" and we'd be set for at least a few years.

Now we own a new house and the urban living tax has come due again. First our rocking chair walked off the front porch. Then we got a phone call from our carpenters. Did we move their tools? Nope. They lost a bunch of tools and all of Justin's tool boxes full of small tools were gone. All of our pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, clamps, scrapers and lots of other things we haven't remembered yet.

It's not the end of the world, of course, but it is just one more thing to slow down the purple house progress.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Too Much Life

Last week my second child turned five. I'd show you pictures, except I keep forgetting to download them. Maybe later. I didn't intend for it to happen this way, but we wound up celebrating multiple times. First with some friends who were going to be out of town. Then the next evening we had a cookout with friends from our former church. The next evening we went to the park and had a celebration with kids on her actual birthday. The next evening we went to a dinner party for my husband's firm.

In that time I also had a new nephew born.

And we've had lots of purple house doings as well.

And I managed to miss the new five year old's check-up because the doctor's office will not accept my cell phone number into the system as our phone number. Yes, I had the appointment written in my calendar. No, that didn't help.

Justin and I also forgot, for the first time, the anniversary of when we started dating. We've always managed to celebrate on or near the event. Not this year.

I keep waiting for a break. I want some time off. I forget everything, get behind, spend days not getting half of my goals accomplished. This chaos is one of the unmentioned side-effects of renovating a house. Whenever we manage to get something under control, something else slides and then the part we were finally on top of, falls apart once more. Order is hard enough to come by in a family of six, but right now it seems impossible.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Saturday, as my husband and I were puttering around the bathroom getting ready for the morning, the seven year old was packing. I saw he was packing and he came in to ask for a lunch sack for the sandwiches he'd made. For some reason, neither one of us thought much about it. Tralalala, the kids are packing up, making lunch and for some reason, we just assumed they were going to be "exploring" the back yard or the living room.

When we got downstairs five minutes later, we looked around for the kids. Hmmm. Not in the back yard. Not in the living room. The front yard? Nope. A glance out the kitchen window, revealed them trudging along through the church yard next door, carrying bundles of blankets, toys, clothes and other stuff. Then the oldest left the four year old and the two year old alone and he came back to the house for water.

We went out in time to reassure the concerned jogger who was passing by and questioning the children that they were not really the cleanest, most tidy homeless people he'd seen in the area. Nor had their parents dumped them and left them to their fate.

After that, we let them trudge around the church yard a bit more, before explaining to them that they could not hike the neighborhood for the day and camp out all night by themselves. The seven year old thought it completely unfair that we had let him pack, make lunch and get so far with his plans before cutting him off. He couldn't understand how we possibly could have thought he wasn't intending to leave the premises.

We finally cleared that up and made sure the children understood that running away, even with the best of intentions, was not on the agenda. Where do they come up with these ideas?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Chattanooga Choo-Choo

Actually, we didn't go to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, but we did hit Chattanooga yesterday. My husband had work down there, so we tagged along (the beauty of homeschooling or not if you are seeking a night away from the family).

While my husband was sitting in on boring depositions, we wandered through the Hunter Museum of American Art picking out our favorite pieces of art (this was one of my favorites and I'm not sure what it says about the seven year old, but he liked the naked nymph statue outside the building best of all). By the end, my two girls were yawning and fidgety, so I was glad we went there first thing while we were all fresh. We then strolled down the hill to the aquarium, went to the bathroom, wandered through the freshwater side of things. Went to the bathroom. Ate lunch. Went to the bathroom. Wandered through the saltwater aquarium, which also has a butterfly area, and went to the bathroom.

Then we headed to the children's Creative Discovery Museum, which was awesome. Water, music, art, dinosaurs, theater, magnets and pneumatic tubes kept us busy for the hour and a half until closing time. We didn't even make it up to the second floor.

My husband picked us up and we drove over to the North Shore for ice cream at Clumpies, which (after Hot Licks in Fairbanks, AK) has some of the best ice cream I've had. After dessert, we had dinner at Sticky Fingers and came home tired and ready for bed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Beginning of the New Road

Sometimes the simple can be the most profound.

My husband and I made first Confession on Saturday. During Sunday Mass at a beautiful little church in Kentucky, we were baptized (Justin and I conditionally) and then we and the oldest boy received Confirmation and Holy Communion. Justin took the names of St. Justin Martyr and St. Joseph; I chose St. Gianna; The Oldest, Sts. George and Benedict; the girls chose St. Joan and St. Elizabeth of Hungary; and the youngest, St. Peter. Our sponsors and the children's godparents are a couple that entered the Church about 12 years ago from the same background out of which we came.

We capped off the day with a cookout at our friends' farm with lots of
families with lots of children.

It felt strange to wake up Monday morning and say, "We're Catholic." We never thought that would happen. It was a wonderful experience, in the true sense of the word, and we will be mulling over the significance of it for a long, long time.

(a few pictures below the fold)

The two year old is looking uncharacteristically pious.

An attitude more characteristic of some members of the family.

Modern Life

Last week I was reading The Rag Coat to my Kindergartener. I thought this would be a good time to start teaching her to sew and to let my seven year old put in some more practice, since we really hadn't done any sewing in a year or so.

We started with the same project my son and his Waldorf Kindergarten class did -- a felt "dream pillow" embroidered on the outside and filled with rice and lavender (inside a muslin bag made by me). We use two small squares of felt, tapestry needles (which are pretty dull), and embroidery floss.

The seven year old has come a long way since his first sewing project in Kindergarten. He settled right in, stitching out a nice T-Rex head on one side and his initials on the other. The four year old went quickly from huge stitches to much smaller more controlled ones. I was quite pleased to see how much they were enjoying it all.

As they stitched and I watched and helped out as necessary -- unraveling threads, tying knots, or teaching new stitches -- I pulled out the iPod and we sat around it, sewing, drinking tea and listening to Alice in Wonderland. It was a modern take on a long ago, cozy domestic scene.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's All Greek to Me

I can't remember where I ran across this first, but Steve Demme, the Math-U-See guy, gives a great lesson on memorizing the Greek alphabet in 10 minutes. My seven year old watched the video and now runs around saying, "Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta..."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

You May Call Me "Your Majesty" says I'm a Cool Nerd Queen.  What are you?  Click here!

via The Llamas

Snips, Snails, Puppy Dogs' Tails and Rough Skin?

"Moooooom!" wailed my seven year old from the bathroom, "Is there any other soap I can use? I don't want my skin to be smooth and silky."

He's trying to grow up and be a man. Apparently, he's decided that manly men do not use soap that advertises its skin smoothing qualities. He hasn't learned yet that real men suck it up and use whatever soap the women in their life choose to purchase.

I made it clear that since there was only one type of soap available, he would be using it. He grumbled, but finally washed up.

And then I heard another howl, "But I don't have dry, frizzy, unmanageable hair!"

Where do I find soap that makes your skin rough and scaly and your hair limp and messy?

Monday, September 10, 2007


My seven year old has taken a fancy to pig Latin.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ask a Silly Question

"How did you wet the bed?" I asked the two year old this morning.

"Well," she said leaning in as if she were going to confide a great secret, "I peed on it."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


We spent the weekend cleaning up at Chez Purple and I expanded one of the flower beds with thick layers of newspaper and straw. It should be ready for planting in the spring, when I'm ready to fill it.

Justin cleaned out the basement and we moved stuff that has been sitting on the porch forever and looking incredibly white trash down to the basement. We went back on Monday and did a bit more work.

After it all, I was sore. Very sore. Can't move my left shoulder very well sore.

I whined enough that Justin came home from work early yesterday and I went off to the doctor.

I have tendonitis and need to do some physical therapy. As with any sort of injury, you never realize how much you use something in the course of a day. It hurts to raise my left arm above my head, or behind my back. That means getting dressed and undressed (especially putting on or taking off a bra) is painful. Unloading the dishwasher hurts. Washing my hair hurts.

This also means I probably won't be doing any more painting around the Purple House nor much heavy lifting for a long while.


Friday, August 31, 2007

Long Hair and Power Tools

A long while back, I mentioned that I'd been letting my hair grow out, and some of you demanded a picture. I never got around to taking any so I never posted one, but when I downloaded everything off the camera the other day, I realized my husband had taken pictures of me using the reciprocating saw on the fence and they show my hair too. So look -- long hair.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Bend In The Road

Anne Shirley often talks about the road of life -- sometimes the way seems straight and clear for a bit and then one reaches a bend in the road around which one cannot see. Sometimes the bends take one by surprise and one can never be sure what good or ill lies just beyond view.

Although this will come as a complete surprise to 90% of my readers, there is one more thing, in addition to moving, living in someone else's house, homeschooling, renovating an old house, and fence building, that has kept my mind occupied and my thoughts away from blogging. That one other thing is one of those unexpected bends in the road. If one had suggested just two years ago that my path would take such a turn,I would have told them they were mad. Twelve months ago, I began to imagine that my husband's path might, but I knew that mine never would. And then, just a few months later, my heart began to change. The path I was traveling suddenly curved away, taking me away from much of what I thought I knew and the direction I thought I was going.

I fought the guide at first, then prayed that my path would turn back and away from where I could see it going, then pleaded, "Why me?" In the end, though, I knew the path was true and that I must follow where I must go.

And by now you are all wondering, What is she talking about? What path? What kooky, nutty thing has this woman done now? It's a surprisingly simple thing, and an even more beautiful thing, and yet it is the most complicated, frightening, and difficult thing I've ever done: my family has bid farewell to the church we had followed, without rancor and with great love and admiration for all its members including all of my husband's family, and we will shortly be received into that most ancient, hated, and beloved church, the Catholic Church.

I may blog about this more as time goes on and as life permits. I am neither a debater nor an apologist, although I will be glad to answer friendly questions asked in a spirit of love and friendship. Comments are closed on this post, but you all can find my e-mail address if you need it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Family Traditions

Adams Kids with their cones.jpg

In my family, it is a tradition that when a child starts Kindergarten, they receive a cone filled with toys, school supplies and other goodies. This isn't a tradition special only to us -- it's really a German custom -- but my aunt lived in Germany for about 30 years and so, when her nieces and nephews started heading off to school, she started making cones for them.

I remember getting my cone on the first day of Kindergarten and I still have it (flattened though it may be) packed away in my cedar chest along with my wedding dress and other important paraphernalia. We also have the seven year old's cone, of course. This year we had another Kindergartener and she needed a cone. In order to make sure no one was left out, my aunt also made and filled cones for the other kids.

They were all very pleased. My aunt did inform me though that she had gotten a bit carried away -- in Germany cones are not traditionally as tall as the child going off to Kindergarten (of course, the beginning scholar is rather short...)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Photographic Evidence

For those of you wondering if I'd just stopped taking pictures of the family and/or the Big Purple House, the answer is -- sort of. Mostly I just forget to drag the camera out and when I do take pictures I forget to download them. But finally, I have taken a bunch off the camera and put them up on flickr -- should you all want to see the Adams brood or the big money pit.

Friday, August 24, 2007

How Do You Stop a Two Year Old From Talking?

I really want to know how to cease the endless stream of conversation from my two year old. Not because my head is going to explode if I don't get a few moments of silence (that happened a long time ago). Nope. This time it is because my two year old has a cold and is losing her voice. You would think from the sounds coming out that talking might be uncomfortable, but she won't stop talking. Not for a second will the narration of every thought and action cease. It hurts to listen to that little scratchy voice, but other than a never ending supply of lollipops, I can't think of any way to stop her mouth.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Home Again

One of the joys of being a stay-at-home mom who homeschools -- when my husband had to go to Knoxville for work, I decided we should tag along. We had a great time swimming in the hotel pool, finding new and different Knoxville restaurants, visiting the really nice (and free) McClung museum at UT, and the Knoxville Zoo, which has more animals than the Nashville one and a reciprocal agreement for members. We were going to visit the art museum on Tuesday (their free day) before we headed home, but a few of us woke up yesterday with a stomach bug and so we missed out on that.

Still, we had a fun time -- made even better for me -- when I walked into Panera with the kids to buy a snack and I saw the Blogfather himself. I fought an inner battle with my celebrity stalker self and finally decided against rushing up and saying, "Are you really the Puppyblender?" I did get to talk to him though -- my four year old tripped over his laptop bag and I got to apologize. Fortunately, the laptop was not in the bag and so I didn't have to worry about damage to expensive electronic equipment.

All in all, Knoxville was a fun trip and a nice break from the routine, but I could have done without the ending.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Last night we all stayed up far too late trying to see the Perseid meteor shower. I had hoped that we would be able to watch it from the church yard next door, but we're too far into the middle of the city for the stars to show up much, so we bundled the kidlets into the car and took them out to the edge of Nashville where the lights were dimmer.

Unfortunately we were all too tired to stay and enjoy the sights very long. I saw about four shooting stars, the seven year old saw two and my husband caught two out of the corner of his eye. For the best night of viewing that isn't so hot, but it was something and getting out and doing it was fun. It made me want to go camping some time after the weather cools off a bit.

If I can only stay awake today, all will be well.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Why did my four year old have more accidents yesterday than my two year old, who has been wearing underwear for less than a week?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

One of These Is Not True

According to experts, my personality type is :
Buddhist Monk
Ink Blot Personality TestOther people like me display these traits.
  • They are great kissers
  • They are geeks
  • They are trekkies
  • They go commando
  • Take the Ink Blot Personality Quiz at

    (by way of Diane)

    Understanding Infinity

    Sometimes I check out a million books at the library and the thing my seven year old reads most is the tattered, dog-eared Lego catalog that his friend passed on to him. Sometimes, I plan out all the good books I want to get at the library and sometimes I walk through the aisles and pull things off the shelves more or less at random (my two year old adding to the randomness and to the amount of books we accidentally check two or three copies of out).

    Sometimes the books I think my son will adore are met with stony resistance and absolutely no interest (ahem...Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh) Other times, books I hated become beloved (A Wrinkle in Time).

    Once in a while, I pick out something at random that I've never heard of before and my son carries it off to the bathroom and returns 45 minutes later declaring that it is the "best book he's ever read" and that he's revising his Christmas list to include it as his top gift request.

    Such a book for my son is The Cat in Numberland. I grabbed it while walking through the math section at the library and my son fell in love. For days I heard, "Thank you for checking this out. I never understood infinity before. I love this book! Can I read it to you?"

    The story takes place in a hotel that is at once always full and always has room for one more. It introduces a lot of mathematical ideas in a way that kids can grasp and makes math (another thing I never liked that my son seems to enjoy) fun.

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    Potty Training

    Other than trying to fit all the things that need doing in a 24 hour period into that amount a time and generally falling short of one or another of my goals, I really didn't have that much going on in my life -- so the two year old finally decided to act on my suggestions that she might consider using the toilet (right after I'd just bought a bunch of diapers, naturally) and came down from her nap wearing underwear a few days ago.

    She's doing great as far as the liquid end of things goes, but as for the solids -- well, she's put it in the designated receptacle once and otherwise, I've had a lot of messes to clean up. This is what I hate most about potty-training.

    Well, that or when I caught her hands in the toilet up to the elbows manually trying to flush down some paper that hadn't made it all the way down. I try not to be too squeamish, but that was a sight I never want to see again.

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    Losing My Voice

    I perfectly capable of talking, yelling, singing and all those things. Laryngitis hasn't gotten me down. Yet, some how over the past few weeks (or maybe more) I haven't felt like I had much to talk about.

    Or maybe I have so much to talk and type about that I can't get any of it out. I haven't planned to go away and disappear into the world of dead blogs (like some people), but I'm finding it difficult to write anything at the moment.

    If anyone has any suggestions or would like to be a guest blogger over here now and again, I would love to revive the place.

    Tuesday, July 31, 2007


    Learning how to manage schooling two kids and occupying the other two is keeping me busy.

    Friday, July 27, 2007

    Free Literature

    Yay! Free stuff!

    I was browsing around iTunes the other day, because I have fallen in love with podcasts. So much stuff to listen to, so little time. Then I found something else to fall for. I'd noticed the iTunesU section, but since I'm not in college and have no real desire to go back to college (unless I could live in a dorm by myself and have someone clean the bathrooms and feed me -- then I might consider it -- if I could have my 19 year old body back) I didn't pay much attention.

    Then the name of a children's book in the popular downloads caught my eye. I clicked on it just for investigative purposes and discovered that the University of South Florida has put up a huge children's literature curriculum for teachers with recorded poems and books on iTunes and the full text and teaching suggestions on line at Lit2Go.

    My kids and I love to listen to books on the iPod when we're driving around and although I can check a bunch out from the library, I'm like a junkie when I find another source. Now my only problem is not filling up the whole 30 Gigs with kiddie lit.

    And those without an iPod can still download stuff to their computers and listen there.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2007

    School? Already?

    I can't believe the time has passed so quickly, but here I am planning the first week of school for the kidlets. The seven year old will be beginning second grade and I'll be starting to do Kindergarten work with the four year old since her birthday is coming right up in September.

    I really thought that by the time school rolled around we'd be in our own house, but obviously that is not the case. Instead, I want to get started next week so that when we eventually (I hope) get to move into our house, we'll have enough school behind us to take a bit of a break and settle in.

    I plan to start school next Monday and so I've been writing up a preliminary schedule. I know full well that we won't stick to it precisely, but I want to have a plan. When I followed it more or less and planned out a week at a time last year, things went much more smoothly than when I sort of haphazardly just grabbed something and started working on it.

    Teaching two kids this year will complicate matters, I imagine, especially since it isn't like the baby and the toddler are going to sit quietly in a corner while I endeavor to educate the older ones. I imagine we'll either be doing a lot of group activities or a lot of guided "here's your work, now go do it" types of things.

    My goals for the year include more religious education, foreign language instruction, a better concentration on art, and continuing the progress we made in other subjects.

    The four year old is very excited at the prospect and the seven year old is wondering what's in store. I admit that I am too. I can't believe it is already time to begin.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    House Work

    Last Friday, my friend Meredith watched the kidlets and I got a little painting done at the Purple House. Not as much as I would have liked, which is the story of my life these days.

    Saturday we got up, ate breakfast and went back to the other house. We finished hanging panels on our side fence (after two trips to Lowes for fence boards -- somebody and it wasn't me had a problem calculating and counting). Once again I got to use the reciprocating saw. Something about wielding power tools is kind of fun. We figured out that we have been working on the fence for the last 5 weekends in a row. We will need at least one more to trim out the fence that's finished and then we'll need to begin work on the sections of fence that will close off the back yard. The fence on either side of the house will be shorter than what we've already built, but it will be at least as much work. We'll be building three gates (one of them a double gate for trucks).

    Our carpenters have started fixing the rafters and dormers upstairs. They claimed before they started that they'd be done with everything including framing the rooms out in two weeks, but I'm beginning to wonder. Sigh.

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    Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    Be Careful What You Stick In There

    The Baby sprouted his first tooth yesterday. I spotted the tell-tale white line on Sunday, but could feel it until yesterday. I haven't been bitten yet, but judging by how hard he would chomp down before any teeth were involved, I imagine a few screams of pain are in my future.

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Sneaky Education

    Every one likes a little break now and then. The Boy and I are enjoying our summer vacation, although it would be wrong to say that all learning has ceased. Some is still overt. I'm making him read through his math fact cards once a week or so and work on a lesson or two every week in English For The Thoughtful Child, but it's always more fun for all of us when the summer time education is a little more hidden.

    One thing my son and I are especially enjoying is Scrabble at Not only are we practicing spelling and vocabulary, but also math as we add up various scores and figure out what words will score the highest.

    Hooray for Scrabble!

    Tales From a Guilty Conscience

    I was out weeding and mulching one of the flower beds at our new house the other day, when I heard a voice say, "Excuse me ma'am. Can I ask you a question?"

    I looked up and a policeman on a motorcycle was sitting on the end of my driveway. I'm pretty sure I don't have anything to hide, but I still flinched.

    "What's that orange flower behind you?" he asked.

    "Oh, um,'s a sunflower."

    "Does it have seeds?"


    "Are they good to eat?"

    "I don't know."

    "Okay. Well, thank you, ma'am."

    And with that he was off on patrol once more.

    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    Why Are You Going to Jail?

    Last night at dinner my husband announced that today he was going to have to visit a jail for his work. The immediate response from the children was, "Why are you going to jail?!? What did you do?"

    Despite reassurances that he was in fact merely going to be a visitor at the facility, the four year old asked this morning if he was going to have "those chain thingies put on his arms and legs." Again, we tried to make the kids understand that they don't usually shackle the visitors to the local jail.

    When I talked to my husband this afternoon, the two year old asked, "Is Daddy out of jail now?" This will be fun to explain to all our friends.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007


    You scored as Hermione Granger, You're one intelligent witch, but you have a hard time believing it and require constant reassurance. You are a very supportive friend who would do anything and everything to help her friends out.

    Hermione Granger


    Albus Dumbledore


    Ron Weasley


    Remus Lupin


    Severus Snape


    Sirius Black


    Ginny Weasley


    Draco Malfoy


    Harry Potter


    Lord Voldemort


    Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
    created with

    From the Llamas.

    Turtles, Ghosts, Actors and Calamities

    Although there are a great many children's books that I love, I hardly ever find one that I love so much that I find myself recommending it to adults right and left. I have one such book now though and I understand why my librarian friend stuck it in my hand and said, "You must check this out."

    The kids and I are listening to it on CD in the car, and it is utterly hilarious, bizarre, and quirky. I can't quite get over how much I love it. The book is The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization by Daniel Pinkwater. The author reads on the CD and if you've ever heard him on NPR, you'll know he has a great voice. His delivery can be perfectly deadpan and serious in a way that makes me laugh frequently. Frankly, I'm not sure the kids love the book half as much as I do, although The Seven Year Old seems pretty into it.

    The story is set shortly after WWII. Neddie Wentworthstein, a kid in Chicago and the son of a shoelace king, reads about the Brown Derby restaurant out in LA, mentions to his dad that he'd like to eat there some day and so his dad decides to pack up the family and move West, so that they can. Neddie gets on a train with his family and over the course of his travels to and in Los Angeles meets a shaman named Melvin, a ghost named Billy the Phantom Bellboy, actors, bad guys, and a mysterious, but powerful, turtle figurine.

    I'm definitely buying a copy of the book at some point (we're listening to a library copy right now), so The Seven Year Old can read it to himself and Justin can also get a chance to read it, but I'm not entirely sure I'll love it quite as much when it isn't being read by Pinkwater. In print or audio though, I think Pinkwater has produced one of his finest books yet.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    First Blood

    The baby was the slowest of all to crawl. He didn't start until 7.5 months. He's making up for lost time though by pulling up on everything already. I've found him stuck inside the legs of a chair where he'd crawled, pulled up and was standing with no idea how to get down. Things on the coffee table are no longer safe and as we discovered today neither is he.

    He pulled up on the coffee table, reached for something on the ground and when he let go of the supporting table, smacked his lip into the edge. Now he's got a fat lip and a little scab, but thanks to the great comfort of nursing, he didn't cry too much and shortly thereafter, I found him standing up, holding onto a box.

    It's hard to let go and let them take their bumps and bruises, but so the learning process goes.

    Monday, July 09, 2007

    Gone Some Where?

    Have you been on vacation? Done something fun? Are you dead?

    Nope, not really.

    I don't have any particularly great reason for not blogging anything last week. Plenty has been going on. Enough to keep me busy and exhausted, but nothing too interesting, I suppose.

    Last week we had intended to go out of town to visit my folks, but since our workmen were working, we stayed home to supervise and work on our fence. Some of you may remember that we're building one. Most of you probably forgot a long time ago. But we are building a fence and it is a huge project. The yard is 100 feet wide and about 275 feet long. Our neighbors built a fence down one side, but we are fencing the back, down the other side and then across the middle of the house to enclose the back yard. We've now almost finished 160 or so feet and we have about 70 feet left to go on the side fence, before we can start on the fence that will go across the yard on either side of the house.

    It's hot, sweaty work, but I got to use a reciprocating saw for the first time and that was pretty fun.

    Anyway, other than fence building, we went to a small town on the Fourth (after working on the fence in the morning) to visit my sister-in-law and let the cousins all play together. We saw fireworks and stayed up way too late. Then we worked on the fence some more the next few days. On Saturday, we worked on the fence a little and bought cheap mulch from the city and I finally started mulching my flower beds.

    And that's life as I know it.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007

    Art Camp

    The seven year old is spending the afternoons this week at an Art Camp held at the local art museum. When I signed him up, I didn't know what to expect exactly, but knowing his love for art, I knew he'd enjoy it. It's a treat to pick him up every day, see his excited smile, hear what he did and listen to him tell me once again, "Thank you for signing me up!"

    No pictures yet of his artwork. They'll be having an art show and bringing it all home on Friday.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    Hippie Skirts

    In style or out, one of my favorite kinds of skirts is the long and flowing hippie skirt. I'm actually most comfortable in jeans most of the time, but when I put on a skirt these days for church or just because, I like the kind that looks good with Birkenstocks (although I do wear them with nicer shoes as well).

    They aren't made for those times one needs to be really dressy, obviously, and at those times I prefer something more classical and tailored, but I love the way hippie skirts flow and swing around my legs. When I walk down stairs, they flounce around me and I feel certain that if I spun around they would twirl just like my daughters' favorite skirts and dresses.

    And that's really the crux of my love for them. Hippie skirts satisfy a little girl longing for flouncy, feminine twirliness that combines well with my love for comfort.

    Monday, June 25, 2007

    School's Out

    We finally dragged to the end of the school year on Friday. Math and language were holding us up, but we made it through a year of homeschooling.

    Sunday I started planning for next year. Although I've been researching and thinking all year about what I like and what I don't like with this year's curriculum. I think the seven year old got a good first grade education, but I think if I did it all again I could do it better with even better books and materials.

    For instance, although I think he got a good grounding in grammar from First Language Lessons, I was rather disgusted by the fact that the poems chosen for memorization were all revised and rewritten and they chose not use fine art for the picture studies. If children aren't learning the standard versions of poems then something is lost from cultural literacy. The kids are going to think they know and understand references, but they aren't. Next year I plan on using Primary Language Lessons by Emma Serl. I think it will provide much of the same stuff that I liked from the other book, but with more authentic texts. I'm not sure what we'll do for spelling. I may just have him write more and practice words that he has trouble with.

    Last year we used Saxon Math 1 and again, I think my son got a good first grade education, but it took a lot of prep work on my part, even though the lessons were scripted, and although my son now claims to have loved every second of math, some days it was a challenge to get him actually to want to do his lessons. I think for next year we may switch to Math-U-See.

    I'm not sure what I want to do for science. That was the subject I had the hardest time with this past year. Nothing clicked well with either of us.

    History was my son's favorite subject throughout the year. We used The Story of the World and I liked it for the most part. Although I liked the writing in Hillyer's Child's History of the World a lot better. I'm trying to decide whether to switch from the Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer to a much older Story of the World series. It's still written in a narrative that will captivate the audience, but the writing is better. On the other hand, it doesn't have the handy maps and activity guide that the books designed to go with A Well-Trained Mind provide and I might miss those a lot.

    For my four year old who will turn five in the fall and who learns in a very different way and doesn't do much of anything that she doesn't want to do, I think we'll be taking a different approach from that of her brother. I plan on using Five in a Row as the springboard for her Kindergarten studies with a heavy dose Waldorf-style meaningful activities (like cooking, cleaning and sewing) and the ritual of different activities based on the seasons.

    We'll also start Latin this year, I hope, and maybe do a little passive German. I'm a bit embarrassed that I have not taught the kidlets any language at all.

    So that's my preliminary plan. The kids will probably continue taking swimming lessons and the four year old wants to take ballet. It will be interesting to see how things go when we start up again. But in the meantime, I'm enjoying a little break -- if you can call it that. As I type, the seven year old is sitting across from me making me teach him how to add large numbers that involve carrying digits.

    Children in Church

    "If the two-year-old is in church with us, it's only because he's sick in the first place. Without the nursery, we wouldn't have heard a sermon in years."

    I don't want to pick on Lenise, but I don't like church nurseries or special children's worship services. We go to church to worship God and part of that worship is listening to the sermon, but that is not the only part. One of a parent's primary jobs is to educate their children about God -- to train them up in the way that they should go.

    When we send our children out of the service to a nursery, we tacitly say they are not part of the main church body. They must be shunted off some place until they learn to behave. But if they are sent out of the service, when do they learn to participate in it? When do you change from fun nurseries and watered down children's services to "Okay kids, now you have to grow up and listen to the boring stuff." Wouldn't it be better to train the children that the one service is for everyone? God is for the eight month old and the eighty year old alike.

    Jesus said, "Let the children come unto me." Are we to suppose that listening to an entire sermon or making sure that nobody around us is bothered by a wiggling toddler is more important than teaching our children that they are a vital part of a church.

    Are my children perfect? Do they sit still, face forward and pay attention? Almost never. Are they part of the body of the Church? Yes. Do they need to be acknowledged as such by encouraging them to participate in worship with the adults? Yes.

    In today's society, we grownups spend a lot of time trying to get away from the kids we have, because we think they are annoying. Sometimes they are. However, it doesn't make them less annoying if we don't spend time teaching them how to be adults. I take my children to real restaurants, on errands of all kinds and I take them with me to church.

    I do not take them everywhere I go and I occasionally like some down time away from them (I like dates with my husband and quiet trips to the grocery store as much as anyone), but one place I think it especially my duty to instruct the little blighters is at church. Sure send them to Bible classes when they split up into various ages, but when the congregation comes together to worship God as a body, they are part of that body and they need to be there.

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007


    When a two year old snuggles up to you in church and falls asleep, do you (a) assume she loves you and loves to snuggle (b) needs a nap (c) someone slipped her narcotics (d) check for a fever? In my experience, the answer is always (d), although there have been times when I longed to slip a particularly active and wiggly child a little something to make them drowsy.

    The two year old has been running an on and off 103 fever since Sunday morning. Unlike my other children who would feign illness in order to get their hands on medicine, this child is particularly resistant to medication. She won't take it in liquid form. She used to be okay with the rapid melt kind, but now that also has gone to the unapproved list. There is one other way to get Acetaminophen into a child and that involves sticking it where the sun don't shine. That's always fun and non-traumatic (NOT!).

    Adding to the excitement around here, as far as I'm concerned -- I have a cold. I'm sniffling, snorting and I sat up in bed and pulled a muscle in my neck. So imagine me bent over snorting and wheezing. I'm moving like I'm about 85 and picking the baby up is no fun. And naturally, I've passed the rivers of snot onto him as well.

    We're just a barrel of contagion over here. Want to visit?

    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    Flowing Tresses

    I've almost always been a short haired girl. Although I begged to have hair long enough to put up in Princess Leia buns when I was in Kindergarten, my mother insisted my hair remain short enough that she could keep it combed and detangled with minimal effort. I got a lot of Dorothy Hamill haircuts and almost never had long enough hair to even manage a pony tail.

    In high school, I briefly had long hair when I played Margot in The Diary of Anne Frank, but I got tired of it pretty quickly. In college, I grew my bangs out and the fastest way to get your bangs to match the length of your hair is to keep your hair cut short. I did eventually grow my hair out to a length where I could wear a pony tail, but I didn't like how it looked and chopped it all off again. Since then, it has stayed pretty short, until now.

    During my last pregnancy, I decided to grow it out. I was tired of short hair and ready for a change. I've had it trimmed a few times since then, but I'm enjoying the slightly long hair.

    The most unexpected thing for me is how much a certain spouse of mine likes my long hair. He never seemed to mind me with short hair, but when I last said I wanted my hair trimmed, he quickly replied, "Don't get too much taken off."

    What is it about long hair? Did I miss out on being a femme fatale and having a large male following in my single days by not having long hair? Do most of you men prefer a woman with longish hair? Or is it just my husband?

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    The Return of the Tooth Fairy

    The Tooth Fairy got to make a surprise visit. We'd put the kidlets to bed and were about to have to go up for our usual "knock it off and go to sleep" visit, when the seven year old came downstairs holding his hand to his mouth full of blood yelling, "My sister kicked my toof out!"

    Sure enough. He'd been talking and the four year old wanted to go to sleep, so naturally -- she kicked him in the mouth. It knocked out one of his front teeth, but fortunately, his front tooth was ready to come out. It had been loose for months and would have fallen out long ago if he'd ever wiggled it. Still, it had been held in by some skin still and that's where the blood came from.

    After it stopped bleeding though, the Boy was pretty happy to have lost the tooth and even happier when he woke up the next morning and discovered that the Tooth Fairy had come. Good thing she didn't oversleep.

    A reenactment:

    A happy (if fewer toothed) boy:

    Thursday, June 07, 2007

    Good Eatin'

    My friend at Musings of a Housewife tagged me for a restaurant meme requiring me to tell you my five favorite restaurants. It is an interesting question, but since I firmly believe that the best restaurants are usually local, most of you won't know these places or ever get a chance to sample their yumminess, unless you travel to Nashville.

    Sadly, I have far too many favorite restaurants. I really love to cook, but I love it when someone else plans the menu, slices, dices and cleans up too.

    The two best restaurants I've been to in Nashville are both on the side of town where my new house is! Yay!

    1) Margot Cafe

    The menu changes every day. Everything is fresh, inventive, made in-house and absolutely delicious. It's a great date restaurant.

    2) Eastland Cafe

    Another great date restaurant, this one is also close to my new house and easier to get a reservation at for those times when a babysitter falls into your lap at the last minute. The herb-filled oil for dipping bread into was so good, I could have licked the plate and after the blueberry beignets for dessert, I think I did.

    3) Sitar

    My children sometimes call in "Mango Lassi Land" which gives you some inkling of what they really go there for, but although I do think their mango lassis are some of the best I've ever had, I would also recommend pretty much everything else on the menu too. Or go for the buffet at lunchtime and try it all. We've been going there since before my oldest child was even a gleam (or leer) in his father's eye. It is always good.

    4) Monell's

    There are a lot of restaurants that I've been to more often than this one and probably some I like even more, but it is definitely unique and perfect for taking visitors to, especially non-Southerners -- a good Nashville meat-and-three, with the usual Southern vegetables like macaroni and cheese along with turnip greens and okra. The tables seat twelve, so a large family can all sit together, or if you are there with a small party on a busy night, you'll get to cozy up and meet some new folks. Food is served right away and family style, so the kids are happy. There is a ton of food and it is all good country cooking -- everything from drinks to dessert is included in the price and there are choices set out on the table for just about everyone (though vegans would have difficulties). Outside the old house in which the restaurant is located, is a beautiful garden which my kids love to run around in after dinner, while the grownups finish up thirds and fourths.

    And now for something completely different...

    5) Sonic

    My favorite fast food. The burgers are yummy and they can make any drink known to man.

    I don't know who to tag. I guess I'd especially like to know what Nashvillians think, but anyone else who is interested feel free to join in.

    I Forget Every Year

    Gardening is, for me, restful, peaceful and restorative. At least until it gets too miserably hot and the garden is covered in weeds, that is.

    Gardening with children, on the other hand, is one long prayer for patience, interspersed with shouts of "No!" "Not yet!" and "Don't touch that!"


    But my "garden" for the year is planted.

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    Forward Locomotion

    Guess who started actually moving forward yesterday!

    That's right -- the wee one. He's still pretty slow, but picking up speed rapidly. Nothing is safe on the floor any longer.

    Friday, June 01, 2007

    Train Up a Husband In the Way That He Should Go

    Mrs. P delivers some of the finest writing about how a man should dress.

    As an aside, I finally let Justin get rid of his bucs when we moved. I'd convinced him to keep them for years, but I'd never successfully convinced him to wear them. He's totally on board with the whole seersucker and bow tie thing though, but such was not always the case. Fortunately, he was willing to learn.

    Long Distance Gardening

    One of the hardest things for me this spring and summer is the fact that my potential garden is on the other side of town. I miss my old flower beds and vegetable gardens and sometimes wonder how my old friends are blooming. I wouldn't be thinking so much about my old garden, but for the fact that I don't really have a garden yet at the new house, and since we aren't there, I can't spend much time tending the garden any way.

    Before we sold our old house, I moved a lot of plants across town. We made a big flowerbed down the side of the driveway and created some beds in front of the house. Things are growing nicely, although the short, 18" max sunflowers I planted are now 3'+, so the beds are a bit more crowded than I'd expected, but that's not much of a problem. The beds are full of weeds along with the flowers though and I haven't even had time to mulch.

    I wanted to have a vegetable bed, and we certainly have room for one, but I don't have the time to tend to it, water it, weed it, or even harvest anything. I'm trying to decide whether to give up on a garden completely or if I should buy a determinate tomato plant or two and some basil for a few easily movable pots. Doing that would probably make me happy, but the thought of settling for that "garden" is kind of depressing. Sigh.

    Thursday, May 31, 2007

    Theological Questions

    Today the oldest two kidlets were having a heated discussion about whether or not God makes "pee-pee." The four year old chose the pro side, arguing that since God makes everything, He is directly responsible for the creation of this particular waste product. The seven year had a more nuanced argument that while God may have designed his creation to excrete substances this way, that He is not in fact involved every time some gets made. The four year old, obviously, could not agree to this point and finally, after some arm-twisting by their mother, they agreed to disagree about the particular origins of urine.

    When I had children I had no idea what kinds of topics would come up for discussion.

    Wednesday, May 30, 2007

    Brushing Up on Swedish

    Okay, I can't say I'm brushing up on a language that I don't speak. I can say "I don't understand anything." in Norwegian and a Swede would understand me, but that and Skoal are as far as I ever got in mastering any Scandinavian tongues. All that may have to change though. It looks like I may be getting a Swedish sister-in-law. My older brother came down with Lena, who is in the US meeting the family. If all goes as planned, he wants to move to Sweden in August. My big brother is finally growing up.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2007


    There just isn't too much to say these days.

    We've finished history for the year, but still have about 4 weeks worth of math left. Other subjects are somewhere in between.

    We're still living with a friend. Only some of the purple house actually has had the floors replaced and there are so many other things to be done before we can live there that the mind boggles. I've given up on the idea of a vegetable garden this year.

    Everything is fine, but it seems to be in a holding pattern at the moment.

    Friday, May 18, 2007

    Chunky Monkey

    The Baby had his seven month follow-up weight check yesterday. For those of you following along, at six months he only weighed 13 lbs 11 oz and was below the bottom of the weight chart's percentiles and he'd only gained 11 oz in two months. The doctor wanted us to make sure he got more calories and suggested supplementing with formula.

    The formula was not well received in liquid form, but after a few days of trying he was willing to eat it mixed with cereal and I started feeding him solids at least three times per day and making sure I nursed him more often and longer.

    After a month of gorging, he's up to 15 lbs 2 oz, which, while by no means a big baby (that puts him in the third percentile for weight), is a rapid increase back up to his personal normal curve. We're happy and so is the doctor. Now we just need to keep it up and make sure he keeps eating enough.

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    What a Difference Sight Makes

    My four year old has been through one reading lesson book and sort of learned something, but what she had learned, she was slowly losing -- which is one of the reasons I took her to the eye doctor. Now that she has glasses, reading is coming back. Today she actually demanded to do a reading lesson -- and that has never happened before.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    The Birds and the Bees

    Before we had children, my husband and I agreed we would be open and honest about things like how babies are made. I kept waiting for my seven year old to ask questions (especially as he waited for his younger siblings to arrive) and occasionally we'd have simple conversations about parts of the puzzle, but he never seemed much interested in the whole process.

    My husband, of course, felt inclined to just ignore the whole thing, because whether or not he thought in theory that full disclosure was the best policy, when one is the parent of a bright and talkative child, there are things one doesn't want to hear brought up in conversations with strangers.

    Now that The Boy is seven though, it seemed like he really ought to know what's what, and since my husband continued to shirk his fatherly duties, a few months ago my son and I had a little talk. Naturally, he thought that it was all a little weird and gross, but we moved on and haven't chatted about it much since.

    The other night we were coming home in the car and the children were a bit fractious, so my husband proposed singing songs. "Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast" and all that. My four year old wanted to sing "I Gave My Love a Cherry" which always makes me think of John Belushi smashing a guitar in "Animal House" but I was willing to overlook my biases.

    We launched into the song and when it was sung through, my daughter said, "If you want a baby not to cry when it isn't sleeping, you have to give it lots of nur-nur." I was so pleased to think she'd picked up a little subtle breastfeeding propaganda.

    Then my seven year old said, "If the guy singing the song wanted to give his love a baby, he'd have to marry her first."

    "True," I said. I didn't like where this conversation was leading though. I know that boy too well.

    "And he wouldn't actually give her a baby. He'd just give her some sp-rm. [singing] I gave my love a..."

    [Both parents scream] "NO!!!! No more singing."

    Maybe my husband was right.

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