Monday, July 30, 2007

What to feed the herd...?

Since a big part of successful dinner preparation is having a plan....

Sunday: Charlie's Chicken after church. No cooking. :)
Monday: Great-Grandmother Proctor's birthday party. No cooking. :) :)
Tuesday: Farfalle with Spinach, Garlic, and Grape Tomatoes, Grilled chicken, Grapes.
Wednesday: Pistachio-Crusted Catfish, Broccoli, Apples, Baguette
Thursday: Lemon Artichoke Chicken, Whole Wheat Pasta, Asparagus, Berries
Friday: Blackened Catfish Sandwiches, Sweet Potato Fries, Grapes
Saturday: Leftovers, Zucchini, Grapes and Berries

Of course, there are variations on the above to accommodate the kids, but this is what my sweet hubby and I will be eating.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Nine years

Last Wednesday, while I was at the lake with the boys and my sweet hubby was typing blisters onto his fingers, our ninth wedding anniversary passed. He called me that morning early while I was wrangling bookworms and said "Happy Anniversary!" And I said, "Sorry, I didn't know it was Wednesday." (I did know that Wednesday was our anniversary - I just thought it was Tuesday again like some sort of Groundhog Day phenomena.) We chatted a minutes and then I went back to my wrangling career and he went back to typing and on Friday we kissed and hugged and hung out together and then on Saturday afternoon (after I had slept a few hours and somewhat recovered from a week of wrangling without my strong, stable counterpart) we went on a date.

As in, HE hired his cousin K to come and wrangle #2 and #3 for a bit and we went OUT away from them. Of course, we did want K to agree to come again, so we took #4 with us - he was gracious enough to nap most of the time we were out.

We went to the mall to check out a new store that we wanted to see, but we couldn't find a parking place within 982 miles of an entrance and I got cranky about that and he suggested that we skip the mall and head over to our favorite bookstore for some browsing and beverages. The iced tea was delicious. And I fell in love with three new cookbooks but didn't buy any of them.

Then we went to a little sushi joint, which he had visited before, but I had not. It looked like a sushi bar inside - red wall, black trim, Kanji on the walls, and black lacquered tables and chairs, simple and clean and modern. And at the back was the sushi chef with his neat and symmetrical piles of pink and white fish and shellfish (some cooked, some not) and uniformly cut vegetables. We sat, the waitress came, and we ordered: seaweed salad, several pieces of nigiri and several rolled treats. And for dessert, he ordered me some green tea ice cream - and that was REALLY yummy. It was a good time had by all, including #4 who was adored by the waitresses.

Then we came home and got the little bookworms to bed and I wrote a blog post and he worked until bedtime. Romantic, huh?

It's been a fantastic nine years in spite of all that has happened. I love my man. He's just plain amazing. :)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I must complain..

I just spent 45 minutes updating my "Food for Thought" list, and then lost the changes. Grrrr....

My European city according to Blogthing

Here's what they think....

You Belong in Amsterdam

A little old fashioned, a little modern - you're the best of both worlds. And so is Amsterdam.
Whether you want to be a squatter graffiti artist or a great novelist, Amsterdam has all that you want in Europe (in one small city).

But they are wrong. There's this little village on the Mediterranean coast of Spain ...

To answer Comfy's question - book reviews :)

I didn't write a darn thing while we were at the lake. You see, efficient typing requires TWO hands, and I typically had only one available. However, we watched very little TV - mostly before 10am - and because I do NOT find Dora, Elmo, and Meteor and the Monster Trucks entertaining, I sat with the baby and read, except for the Cookie Monster segments - those still crack me up - especially Cookie attaching a huge chocolate chip creation to a rocket so he could fire it into space instead of consuming it - that struck home with me, as my mother and I ate an entire package of Oreos in under 24 hours. Yep, cookies are my downfall. Chocolate is a necessity, but one or two dark squares a day will do me. Cookies are dangerous things to have around.

So, here are a few very brief reviews:

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
This was a fantastic little read set in the 1660s in Holland. It is about Griet, who is a maid in the household of the artist Vermeer. The history is fascinating, as is the insight to art. Paperbackswap currently has 125 copies listed - go get one.

Sisterchicks do the Hula by Robin Jones Gunn
This was a fun book. Two women (one of them pregnant) are celebrating their 40th birthdays in Hawaii. It's 99% fluff, but it is enjoyable fluff. I complained that the first Sisterchicks book had some sudden didactic moments. This book is much improved. Again, it's available at Paperbackswap, so order it to read while you watch your kids run wild in the backyard.

The Quilter's Apprentice
and Round Robin by Jennifer Chiaverini
These are both part of the Elm Creek Quilt series, and I enjoyed them immensely. I am fascinated by quilts and quilting. I hope to learn how one day. But these novels are about far more than quilting. They are about family and friendships and community. There are several more in the series, but they are not available at PBS, you'll have to go to the library. I have the third in the series on reserve and hope to pick it up today. :)

The Magic Tree House Books by Mary Pope Osborne
Charlotte Mason would turn in her grave over these twaddly little chapter books, but my son loves them. There are some fun facts in each one, they introduce concepts in history and geography, and they promote literacy. However, "Jack said" and "Annie said" and "Morgan said." Jack could "shout," Annie could "whine," and Morgan could "announce." But no, they all just "said." If I were a new reader, I'd probably find the continual use of the word "said" comforting, but as an adult reading aloud, it nearly drove me batty and I began to change the word to something more appropriate and pleasing to the ear every time I came upon it. In a year or two when #2's reading ability allows him to enjoy them for himself, he'll be surprised to find "said" over and over again. Fun reads, though, with a smattering of education to them.

HA! I finished the post before #4 awoke from his morning nap. Off to feed him and read email before I return to my desk to browse through cookbooks and make a plan for grocerying and meal preparation for the next month or two.

Friday, July 27, 2007

What I did on my Summer Vacation

I worked hard. :) So did my mom - who, by the way, will soon be nominated for Sainthood. Not many Grammas are willing to help their daughters wrangle three sweet bulls in the china shop known as Mimi's Lake House for most of a week. Let me say, we did only have to glue one thing back together this time, though a poor lamp had his life threatened more than once (that would be the lamp that I've already repaired three times). I'll not tell you what we had to glue. It wasn't expensive. And I'm hoping Mimi will never notice. It was the principle of the thing that made us try to repair it at all. It's a cute little trinket - I hope the glue holds. :)

Anyway - now I'm home and tired and I want to go lay down with a book. But I'll leave you all with some pictures.

We inspected spider webs (that was actually schoolwork, since we are finishing up a spider unit - lapbook to be posted soon.)

We ate popsicles.

We swam and then we swam and then we swam some more. As in, we spent about 4 hours a day in the pool - with appropriate sunscreen, of course. None of us are burned a bit, but I bet that pool was lonely this afternoon.

Friday, July 20, 2007


I've been neglecting my blog, but I've been really busy.

I've been focusing on getting new routines in place and such around here. I've been making myself go to bed around 11 and get up at 5. That way, I'm still getting six hours of sleep, I'm up an hour before the boys. I get my Bible study and some prayer and reading time. And I'm working on exercising daily (swim three times a week and do Pilates with a video the other days). And it seems like I'd be tired, but it is increasing my energy level a lot. I've been avoiding the computer during the day except for occasional email checks. And working on getting a six week rotating menu set up complete with shopping lists. All of this to save my sanity. I set up a new laundry system - but that will be my next WFMW post. And we're working hard on first-time obedience and honor and respect among our family. It's been wild.

And I've been planning next year's home school. I need to do a little revamping and some serious personalizing on the schedule that I prepared while I was very pregnant. I need to plan out Math, Bible, and Language Arts. I need to schedule in some hands-on stuff and some lapbooking. I'm working on it.

And, because my mom has recently gather a bunch of her famous recipes to give as a wedding gift to some friends, I really want to take those recipes and type them up so that she can easily duplicate the project and so that I can have copies of all of them too. (See above mention of the menu project).

We also are having repairs done on our house (Termites. ew.) That would be on top of the new washing machine, repair for water damage, my father's ingenious drainage solution for our swampy yard, and general housework that has been neglected during the last few weeks of pregnancy and the postpartum brain fog. I'm determined to catch up before we actually start school at the end of August.

So, as you can see, the to-do list is much longer than the time available allows. And the blog is neglected.

But I'm about to go with my mom and the little Bookworms to the lake for a week (The King is staying here to work on some large projects of his own - and my dad will be around working on repairs.) On the last trip, I got a bunch of blog posts written and then posted them when I came back. Maybe I'll manage that again. Maybe I'll share a couple of my mother's amazing recipes, too. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

WFMW: PaperbackSwap

After reading several other WFMW posts about PaperBack Swap, I decided to check it out. I'm happy to report that I spent one hour posting 53 books that we've had in a "on-the-way-out" box and not done anything with. Within 48 hours, 14 of them are now on their way to new owners, and I will soon have 14 book credits. I'm kind of excited at the prospect of 14 books for the price of shipping.

PaperBackSwap is a free service that matches people who want to read a book with people who are getting rid of the desired book. As implied by using the word "free,"
there is no cost for the books - except that you will be paying media mail shipping costs on the books you send out. That has, for the most part, varied between $2 and $3 a book.

Now I just have to figure out which 14 books I'd like to read next. Any suggestions?

Update: I wrote the above 4 weeks ago, and then lost it in the folder before I had time to post it on a Wednesday. In the past four weeks, I've received many books of excellent quality, and I've listed more and sent out more. This is great fun! I now have a bunch of new fiction and Christian fiction reading material, some of the readers #2 will enjoy over the next year, and some informational reading on a topic that has interested me lately.

You can find more Works-for-Me-Wednesday posts by visiting Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Happy Fifth Birthday #2!

Today was #2's Birthday!

He was thrilled with his breakfast of eggs and a chocolate-glazed Krispy Kreme donut that Daddy went out to procure last last night. That stack of packages? Those are his birthday books that I've been collecting for several months. I didn't take a picture of them after the paper was removed, but he was excited to have about 30 new books to read and have read to him. He got five toys from Mimi, who loves to shop, and Popsy. Gramma and Grampa treated him to a new family aquarium pass and a bucket of rubber sea creatures that are really cool. So, we decided to buy him books and only books. That way our family library got what it needed, and Drew now has a bunch of books to progress through as his reading skills grow over the next year.

Other pictures from today:

Friday, July 6, 2007

Our Mini Vacation

We spent the weekend at Mimi and Popsy's Lakehouse. And I forgot to take very many pictures. We had a lot of fun! I bet you all were wondering how on earth I got two books read and reviewed. We spent the weekend with no cable and no internet connection. I discovered that I can read a book and feed #4 at the same time. And there were three other adults around to manage #2 and #3. Plus, the boat is in for repair and it kept raining here and there and all of that was limiting activities, which was fine with me, because "air conditioning and a book" is much more my style.

So, it rained a lot. The lake is almost to the build line (as of Thursday), and it was high when we left on Tuesday. Thunderstorms were popping up three or four times a day and lasting about 20 minutes or so. So, it started sprinkling when we were heading up to the pool, and #4 and I returned to the house. A few minutes later, I snapped these shots:

And the the Bookworm King and #2 and #3 were back in the garage (can't swim if there's lightning).

Then after about 15 more minutes, the sun peaked out:

And the King and boys headed back to the pool while #4 and I hung out at the house.

That is our trip in a nutshell. We had a wonderful time, and we are hoping that Mimi and Popsy will invite us back soon.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Curious George Unit Study - complete!

We finished our Curious George Unit Study. #2 enjoyed it very much. We ate bananas and doughnuts and banana popsicles (not all at once). We watched the movie Curious George, and we learned about monkeys, ostriches, and bicycles. (Did you know that the bicycle was invented 200 years ago? Or that ostriches can run 30 miles an hours for hours?)

Here is the list of books that we actually used:

About Monkeys

--A Monkey Baby Grows Up by Joan Hewett
--I didn't know that Chimps Use Tools and other amazing facts about apes and monkeys by Claire Llewellyn
--Apes and Monkeys by Donald R. Shire

About Ostriches

--Ostriches by Thane Maynard
--Big Egg by Molly Coxe

About H.A. and Margret Rey
--The Journey that Saved Curious George
That one was a bit over #2's head, but it was quite interesting to me.

About Bicycles

Bikes for rent! by Isaac Olaleye
Amazing bikes by Trevor Lord
The magic bicycle by Berlie Doherty
My rows and piles of coins by Tololwa M. Mollel

George Books to Read:
Curious George Rides a Bike
Cecily G and the Nine Monkeys

The Original Curious George
and every other George book we own - #2 has quite a collection

Other books by H.A. Ray
Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the World
Elizabite: Adventures of a Carnivorous Plant

#2 also enjoyed the construction of the Curious George Rides a Bike lapbook from In the Hands of a Child. I did most of the cutting, and he did most of the gluing. He did some writing on his own, and he colored the cover. He was in charge of placing things in the book, to which we added some Curious George scrapbooking paper and stickers that I got on sale (yahooo!) The project pack included activities about the book itself, the plot, monkeys, ostriches, and wheels. All of the answers were available in the project pack itself, though we found them in the books we used, also. The banana bread recipe can be found here.

Here are the pictures of his HOAC lapbook!

And here is #2 showing the lapbook off to Gramma!

Thankful Thursday: My Father

See the guy on the left? That's my dad. We've had a lot of arguments and heated discussions, but he's still a great dad. The things he'll do for us (that's my hairy brother, by the way) are amazing.

In the past month, he's fixed the drainage problem in our yard (that was two day's worth of shoveling clay). He helped me with the tire escapade so that I wouldn't get ripped off and to help entertain the boys. He helped on the day the wash washer was delivered - he came and fixed a leak on a moment's notice. And he loves to play with his grandsons.

I'm very thankful for my father.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Thoughts on books: Sisterchicks on the Loose! by Robin Jones Gunn

This was enjoyable and entertaining. The characters and their conversation are believable. And these women are true-to-life. One has three kids; the other, four. One has a lot of extended family in her daily life; the other has only one aunt and two cousins - and they live in Finland. The two women, Sharon and Penny, have been best friends for years. Penny decides that they are going to Helsinki to meet her aunt, and the adventure begins. The reader is inside Sharon's head, and it's a good, sensible place to view the adventure from.

I do wish it was possible for Christian fiction to not wax didactic when it is be humming along at a fine story pace. There are several scenes that were just plain hokey. There has to be a better way to write thought-life and prayer-life. Like all witnessing, it would be better acted out than told. I just don't know how one would do that. But hokiness must somehow be avoidable.

Don't get me wrong - this was a fun book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly suggest it for entertainment. I'll be reading the rest of the series, I think,

Monday, July 2, 2007

Thoughts on Books: I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis

This was a very interesting and well-done work of historical fiction. The author did a fantastic job of weaving a tapestry of true and false - such a job that it is, in fact, difficult to see where one ends and the other begins. The characters are all familiar people from the pages of a history of the Italian Renaissance - Mona Lisa, Lorenzo di Medici, Pope Alexander, Michelangelo, and Leonardo di Vinci. There is a timeline of events in the back of the book to help the reader separate fact from fiction, but this book demands a further look into the history of Florence.

Now, I picked up this book during an blessed hour in which my sweet husband sent me to Borders by myself to hunt for some new authors to read. I was intrigued by it because I’m fascinated by the flat not-quite-smile on Lisa’s face in the painting. Since the week she was our picture study, I’ve been wondering what she was watching or thinking about in the moment that her expression was captured. This book gives several options for the answer, explains some things about the way painting were dong in the era, and tells a fascinating story.

One thing that kind of surprised me from the book was that, though the world of fifteenth century Florence is very different from twenty-first century Oklahoma, people never change. There are all kinds of people in this story, and some of then act just as you’d expect while others are full of surprises.

Actually, the whole book was full of surprises. This is the first book I’ve read in a while that kept me guessing - I often have the end of a story figured out halfway through, but this one surprised me right down through the last few pages.

Just a warning: this is not Christian fiction - it is not objectionable, as it depicts an ugly time in ecumenical and secular politics in Florence, but it is not written to edify the reader in any way - just to tell the story in a memorable way. There are several scenes that are true to the customs of the time period that are rather gruesome (executions, for instance), but overall, it is a very entertaining read. I read the 515 pages within 48 hours - it’s that compelling - so don’t start it during a busy week. :) It’s a terrific beach (or, in my case, lake house) read.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

“Remove the stress in your life”

A doctor told me this two years ago. I was in pain constantly - my whole body ached and my back, which was injured, h.u.r.t. I couldn’t think straight because of the pain, and I was having other symptoms, of which I will spare you the details. After collecting a running tests on all manner of bodily fluids, I was told that the stress I was under had triggered an autoimmune disease, but I was not actually diagnosed (probably sparing me great insurance woes in the future). I was told to rest more - at least eight hours a night, eat right, and eliminate the stress in my life.

Yeah, right. I’m a mom. The stresses of my life all have names, need lots of love, and look too cute asleep in their pajamas snuggled up with their Linus-blankies. And those sweet stresses cause more stress - they unknowingly reek havoc wherever they run, dropping toys and gold fish on the floor and then walking on them. They require feeding and that means cooking and that necessitates cleaning which takes time - and by the time the job is done, it’s time to start again.

At the time the not-diagnosis was made, I had been running a five-year marathon of being the main caregiver for a medically-fragile child, and it was topped off with a great sprint of grief. Some how I really don’t think that doctor would have approved of me having two more children. I did clean up my diet and quit routinely eating things that I’m allergic to. I still don’t sleep much because babies will do that to you.

I learned that “removing the stress” doesn’t necessarily mean “don’t be in a stressful situation.” It means that I must watch my attitude because life happens, but being stressed is a choice. The washer breaks, but I don’t have to lose my cool. Tires blow out, but I don’t have to give up my peace. My children can be running through the house like cheetahs, but I don’t have to be stressed about it. I can hand each thing over to my sweet Jesus, and He’ll give me peace and joy in each situation.

One question, though - if that’s all you have to do to remove stress, why is it so hard to do it?