Friday, December 29, 2006

Clean as mud?

My friend Joan gave Sass a container of Crayola's Sudsy Mudsy for Christmas this year.

Oh. My. Gosh. She loves it! This is, after all, my girl who would rather play outside in the mud than just about anything.

And truly, as far as bath time fun stuff goes, this is one of the best ones we've used. The mud is really soap, and it actually smells really good, kind of fruity. It does turn the water an icky brown color, but that's the only drawback for me. Sass thinks it's cool though. LOL!

It even comes with its own little shovel to scoop out the mud. Too cute!

Clean-up is actually a lot easier than with most of these types of bath toys. It does leave a pink residue once the water is gone, but it only takes wiping out the bathtub with a wet washcloth to get rid of it. No scrubbing like with the bathtub crayons. YAY!

We'll be getting more of this stuff!

Friday Fact

Something about me that you probably don't know:

I cannot read books that are written in present tense. I think it's because I can't believe that what is happening in the story is happening at that moment. I see the story as more of a record of what has already occurred.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Recent reads

I realized last night that I've really gotten away from mentioning my lastest reads, so here are a few of the more memorable ones from the last few months.

  • The Frog Princess. Cute, cute, cute! I love books that retell a traditional fairy tale. This particular one . . . well, I'll let you read it. This is one that Sass and I read aloud. Spyder joined us too, but he decided that I read too slow for him, so he finished it before we did. We have two of the sequels, but we haven't started the next one yet.
  • Eragon. Very traditional epic fantasy, and occasionally wordy, but overall quite good.
  • The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 1. Nice, easy fantasy. Complex enough to be interesting, but still on the fluffy side.
  • The Moorchild. Lovely, lovely story with wonderful characters. I was entranced.
  • Montmorency and the Assassins. The third book in Eleanor Updale's Montmorency series. I didn't like it as well as the first book, but better than the second.
  • 84 Charing Cross Road. Absolutely charming, and a must-read for book lovers. 84 Charing Cross Road isn't about the books though. They're more supporting characters. The main characters are Helene and the staff of the bookshop, and the story is the relationship that develops. Since I'd first read this book a few years ago, this was a skimming sort of reread, like looking through a familiar photo album. You know what to expect, and part of the fun is remembering.

In reading this list, it's blatantly obvious that I've been spending most of my time on children's and young adult books. It started out as a way to stay ahead of Spyder, but I've been enjoying this retreat.

The 12 Days of Christmas?

I've been thinking lately that I'd like to begin a few new traditions to end our Christmas celebrations. Everything seems to abruptly climax and end on Christmas Day, and it seems as if everyone is at a loss for what to do next.

We watched The History of Christmas recently, and I was reminded about some of the older celebrations, including the Feast of the Epiphany. We attend a Protestant church, so we don't celebrate Epiphany, at least as a church. I've been thinking though, if it might be a good idea to celebrate it as a family. It would be a better way to ease us out of the holidays and into the new year. Plus, with all of the commercial Christmas distrations over, it would be easier to focus on celebrating Jesus' birth.

I didn't think of it until after Christmas this year, so I haven't put anything into practice except for continuing to discuss the Christmas story. I am gathering ideas for next year though.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Poor little Sass

She's sick. She's had the sniffles since last week. On Christmas Eve it turned into a cough that only got worse, and it's been going ever since.

Strangely, she seems to feel fine. She's playing as usual; she's eating normally; she's generally the same old Sass, just with a horrible cough (including chest congestion).

Tomorrow would be 5 days for the cough, and that's my limit, so we took her over to the little minor medical center. The doctor checked her ears and her lungs, and they were fine. It's just the cough and congestion. He prescribed a strong decongestant for her, so perhaps that will do the trick.

I sure hope so. The Triaminic and Robitussin just weren't cutting it.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Kathy's quotes 12/26

We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

- Archbishop Oscar Romero


I needed this today.

Our time has been so hectic lately that it seems like I can't keep up. Today was spent at home, reconnecting with my children. Sass and I played dollies. Spyder and I snuggled on the couch and talked.

Spyder took a three hour nap. Sass took two little naps. And they both really needed it.

As for me, I did four loads of laundry, changed the sheets on the beds, and cleaned the kitchen a bit. Even doing that little bit, I was wiped out.

Tomorrow I'll begin again.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Please forgive the bullet points. I'm too tired to write coherent paragraphs!
  • The weather was awful. Rain, rain, and more rain. Cold rain. The temperature hovered around 38 degrees all day.
  • I ended up not getting to bed until about 2:30 am -- cleaning up from the party and all -- and I overslept. We started the present opening party at Mom and Dad's an hour later than we should have.
  • My mom loved the gift that my dad gave her. In fact, she loved it so much that she started crying! My poor daddy didn't know what to think. He gave her a Past-Present-Future necklace. I am very glad that she liked it so much. It was sort of a family effort. My sister told us that she wanted it; I found one on sale at a fantastic price -- and went to buy it on Black Friday (which is a huge deal in itself!); Dad paid for it. LOL!
  • Christmas dinner at my cousin's house was very nice. She has MS, and because of the MS she has good days and bad days. For the last several years, the family get-togethers have been on bad days. This year was a very good day though, and I could see the person that I remember from years ago. That was a gift in itself.
  • The movie tickets that we gave my cousin-in-law were a huge hit. In fact, when he came to say thank you, he told Skeeter, "When I found out you had my name, I was hoping you'd give me movie gift certificates again!" We draw names, and Skeeter had his name two years ago. I felt bad that we gave him a repeat present, but just couldn't think of anything else! I suppose it all worked out! :o)
  • Sass got a Dora scooter today, and she's been riding it all over the house since she opened it.
  • Spyder got a metal detector, and I can tell he's going to be treasure hunting everywhere. I hope that most of it is outside though!
  • Skeeter spent the afternoon trying to repair my sister's computer, which would be tedious and horrifyingly annoying for me, but he loved it.
  • Thankfully the weather never got cold enough for the rain to change to sleet or snow. The wind was really strong though, and I was glad to make it home. The poor dogs were very glad to see us. We brought them in immediately, and I heated some chicken broth to pour over their dog food. I like to think that they appreciate the warm food in their tummies on a cold evening.

It was a wonderfully satisfying day with family!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

What a day!

WHEW! I'm exhausted!

We had our 8th annual Christmas Eve Fiesta tonight! It seems so strange that it's been 8 years since we started the fiesta tradition.

Our family opens gifts on Christmas Eve morning. It seems early to most people, but it really works out best for us. We always have the fiesta that night, and Christmas Day is spent with other family. Opening them on the morn of Christmas Eve gives the urchins a chance to actually enjoy their gifts.

Actually, Christmas Eve day is probably my favorite part of Christmas, with everyone at home doing little projects or playing with their new toys. I spent the day cooking -- beef enchiladas and chicken tortilla soup. Skeeter spent the day playing around with the computers. He gave me a fantastic handheld computery thing, and he had to learn how to use it so he could teach me!

The urchins got a GameCube for Christmas this year, and Spyder spent the day moving between the GameCube (a Scooby Doo game) and a new Nancy Drew game that our friend Julie gave him.

Sass was in a little bit of gift overload, so she tried a little of everything. Her Diego playset, her Mary Poppins doll, her books and book/CD sets.

Guests started arriving around 6:15, and we had a house full of people by 7. We ate yummy Mexican food, played board games, and watched Spyder and a friend do experiments and magic tricks.

The last of our guests left just a few minutes ago, and now it's time to clean up and get the stockings ready for tomorrow morning!

It was a really wonderful day!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Fact

Something about me that you probably don't know:

I wear shoes all the time, even when I'm just around the house. When I get dressed for the day, I get completely dressed, all the way down to my socks and shoes. And I stay that way until time for bed. I just feel like I'm not fully dressed without my shoes.

Oh yes, and my toes are almost always painted -- usually bright red. :o)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Racing toward the end

Spyder has set a goal to finish his first Awana Truth & Training book before the end of the year. He's really taken it upon himself to memorize his verses.

The book is supposed to last the entire year. It's divided into 8 "Discovery" chapters, with about 7 sections per chapter. Spyder just finished Discovery 7 last night, so he only has one more chapter to go and he'll be completely done. He won't have any trouble making his goal.

After that, we'll start reviewing and practicing for the Awana Bible Quiz that's coming up in February.

I'm so proud!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Oh dear!

My car is still unwell. The urchins and I drove it to my parents' house today (about 70 miles away) for my dad to have a look.

He did the easy stuff first -- changing the oil and brakes. Just as he was finishing with the oil, he got sick. That's how the flu comes on him, with no warning. One moment he was fine, tinkering with the car with Spyder "helping" him. The next moment, he was freezing and had to go inside. He didn't even clean up the mess, and he never leaves a mess in the shop. He may leave his socks on the floor, but he's fastidiously clean with his shop and tools.

He didn't get a chance to look at whatever engine problem there is, and I certainly wasn't going to ask. For some reason, he's very susceptible to pneumonia, and his cold/flu troubles usually lean that way.

I decided to drive it home and hope for the best. I had gotten about 20 miles into the trip, and it quit on me. Totally quit in the middle of the highway. I recognized it early enough to coast onto the shoulder. I sat for a moment and tried again. It started, and I began to get back onto the highway when it died again. I tried this several times, each with the same result, then I called my dad. And I hated to do that. Ultimately we decided that I'd just leave the car and have Skeeter come to get me.

Being the stubborn, er, tenacious person that I am, I finally got it moving and back onto the road. I immediately turned it around and started back to my parents' house. I figured that the closer I got it to the house, the less time it would take when my dad could finally come and tow it.

I ended up making it to the house, praying the whole way. Most of the drive is on roads with no shoulder, and I had to go over a huge bridge. The bridge was where I was most worried, and it's definitely where I prayed the hardest. :o)

Skeeter did come to my parents' house to get me, and we just left the car there. So now I'm completely carless, with my last minute Christmas Eve party shopping to finish! YIKES! At least I'm mostly done with gifts.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Kathy's quotes

My friend Kathy has been doing a "quote of the day" service to friends for several years. Here are some that have touched me this year.


A leader does not conform; you can't be part of the crowd when you're out in
- Anonymous


You do the world no favors when you hold yourself back.
- Mike Bishop


Even in our darkest times, God is right beside us.... God gives us exactly
what we need at the moment we need it, ignoring our impatience and pleas for
the wrong things.
- from "Living Faith" July/August/September 2003 issue


There is no greater loan than a sympathetic ear.
- Frank Tyger


If you're serious about something, you have a plan.
- Fr. David Knight, from a "Twilight Retreat" 8-13-02


God has the right to first place in our life, because He bought it, and at what a price: His precious Blood.- Fr. Larry Richards


What might look like heroism could just be a stubborn streak.
- Fr. David Knight, from a "Twilight Retreat" 8-13-02

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Book frenzy

I went to the Scholastic Warehouse Sale this weekend.

Oh. My. Goodness.

It was, quite literally, held in the local Scholastic warehouse. Part of the warehouse was open to the public, and anyone could go in and shop. All books were half off of list price. Half off! Plus, I had a coupon for $10 off a purchase of $50 or more.

I could almost hear the angels singing when I walked inside and saw all of the fantastic stuff they had. Not old no-one-wants-to-read books either. One of the things I bought was Peter Pan in Scarlet ($9), which just came out this fall! I found so much great stuff. Christmas presents, homeschool supplies, the works!

I found 5 Usborne Internet-linked books, which I love to use as homeschool reference books. Those are well worth the $8 regular price, so I was overjoyed to find them at $3 to $4 each.

A few other things that I found:

Those are just the ones that I can remember offhand. My urchins are both getting loads of books this Christmas!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A bit about me, Christmas quiz edition

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper

2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial

3. When do you put up the tree? The weekend after Thanksgiving

4. When do you take the tree down? New Year's

5. Do you like eggnog? Sort of. I like boiled custard a lot better.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A BB gun (oh yes, a Red Ryder BB Gun when I was about 8)

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes

8. Hardest person to buy for? My dad

9. Easiest person to buy for? Inside my family -- my children; outside my family -- Julie (we have basically the same taste, so I just buy something that I would like!)

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Normally I mail Christmas cards, but I've let it slide for the past couple of years.

11. Favorite Christmas Movie? It's a Wonderful Life

12. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Probably, but nothing comes to mind.

13. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Dressing

14. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Colored

15. Favorite Christmas song? Secular -- Gloucesterhire Wassail; Religious -- What Child Is This

16. Travel at Christmas or stay home? A mixture of both

17. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes

18. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star until Christmas Eve

19. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Eve morning. I don't like opening presents as part of Christmas Day.

20. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The mood of the shopping crowds

21. What is the thing you most look forward to doing this year? Christmas Eve morning with the family

22. What do you need the most for Christmas this year? A new car, definitely

23. Whats your favorite Christmas memory? The year before my Nana died.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Fact

Something about me that you probably don't know:

I love to cook -- most everyone knows that -- but I absolutely stink at desserts. Main courses, soups, sides, hors d'ourves . . . no problem! Desserts . . . no way! I can muddle my way through cookies and cakes, but anything more complex is just beyond me. I have a few tried-and-true dessert recipes that I tend to use frequently.

My mom is a dessert queen though. She can whip up some fabulous stuff, and I haven't been able to master most of her favorite recipes.

Ah, a moment of enlightenment

Spyder came running into the kitchen earlier yelling, "Mooooooommm!! The Inconceivable Guy is Rex!"

There's just nothing like that wide-eyed, surprised, pleased-with-yourself look when you've figured something out.

I've no idea why it took him this long to figure it out though. He's seen those two movies a hundred times. :o)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

An unplanned adventure

My car died today. I actually had the same problem last night, but this morning it started up just fine. I had (mistakenly) thought all was well. We had a few errands to run, so I decided that we'd take a chance.

In retrospect, this wasn't the smartest decision I've ever made.

We had managed two of the four stops with no problem. The third stop was Wal-Mart, one of my Least Favorite Places. The store itself was relatively painless, which was very surprising since it is the Christmas season. It wasn't terribly busy, and I managed to get everything on my list.

We finished up and went to the car at about 3:30. It wouldn't start. It gave the usual "rrrr. . . rrrrr. . . rrrrr" as if it wanted to get us home, but it wouldn't ever start the engine. I called my dad to see what I could do. Ultimately, the answer was not a thing. I called several friends who live nearby, but no one answered the phone. Skeeter was out of town for the day, so he couldn't help.

The urchins and I ended up leaving everything in the car and walking home. Oh yes we did. We walked 3.5 miles in heavy traffic, then in the dark, with Sass in her Princess shoes. Of course there were no sidewalks, plus we had to cross a 6-lane road, a 4-lane road, and several small business connector roads. WHEW! We started walking around 3:45 and made it home around 5:30, but that did include a rather long bathroom break. Luckily we were almost home by the time it got really dark, but it still wasn't easy. Our neighborhood doesn't have sidewalks (grrrrr!), so we had to walk through the yards. The street is just too busy to walk on it instead though, especially when people are getting home from work.

I am thankful that the weather was nice today. It was warm when we started out, and no one was really chilly until sunset. We had only bought two small items that needed to be refrigerated, so I didn't have to worry about food spoiling in the car.

Spyder thought that it was a grand adventure. He called it the "Treasure Trail" since he found loads of little things for his pockets.

It could have been much worse. One thing is certain though: we were all tired at the end of this adventure!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Today's craft is for the birds!

Really! We made bird feeders today. They were the easy feeders, made with pine cones, peanut butter, and birdseed. The children love making them though.

We usually make them in the spring, but we're supposed to have "unseasonably warm" weather for the next week or so. We were spending the day in the yard anyway, looking at rocks and dirt -- excuse me, SOIL -- so we decided to make the bird feeders as well, just for fun.

We decided to hang them in "Lucy's tree" -- the one that she guards from the squirrels -- so she's had a bigger job than usual since then! :o) We wanted to be able to see the birds using the feeders though, and that's really the only tree that we can see from inside.

Sorry, Lucy!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

You know you're a bookaholic when

. . . your daughter comes in to see you reading the gifts you're supposed to be wrapping.

. . . you have to be dragged away from said gift with a "MOOOOOOM! You're supposed to be wrapping, not reading!"

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Spyder's creative genius

MOM! I need some paper, quick!

I have some art in me that I've just have to get out!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Fact

Something about me that you probably don't know:

I am very particular about my bed.

I sleep on flannel sheets year-round because they're so much softer. I can't use cheap flannel sheets either. The cheap ones feel hard and bumpy after just a little while. I buy new sheets once a year. I also can't sleep on dark colored sheets. It makes me feel weird.

I make the bed every day, and it has to be made just before I get into bed for the night. If the urchins decide to wallow in the bed during the day, I have to remake it before I turn it down for the night. Wrinkled sheets make me very uncomfortable, and a wrinkled comforter is just as bad.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bednight story

Sass and Spyder always get bedtime stories, "bednight stories" as they call them.

Skeeter usually tells the stories -- he's better at it than I am -- but I do my fair share as well. The format is that each child gets to pick 5 words that will be used somehow in the context of the story. They LOVE it, especially in giving us words that are completely unrelated to see how we'll use them.

Tonight Sass wanted to tell the story, so I got to pick the words. Mine were cow, horse, dog, cat, and bird.

The story that she told was about a farm where the horse wanted to live in the mud with the pig. The other animals saw this craziness and started doing things that they shouldn't.

I was pretty impressed. Sass really did a good job with it. It's been a while since she tried telling the story, and I could tell that she really thought it out rather than just jumping to use all of the words I gave.

My favorite part?

"Then the dog jumped up in the air to catch the bird! They're juicy, you know."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A day in the life

Lately I've had several people ask, "What do homeschoolers actually DO all day?" so here is a bit about how we organize our schooling activities. This is not necessarily typical of any other family! It seems that the more homeschoolers I know, the more I realize that everyone does things differently.

I tend to categorize our studies into math/science and liberal arts, so that's the way that we study them. We do math and science on the same days. English, history, and geography are also on the same days. We don't have an exact schedule for which studies belong on which days because that can change depending on the week. We do different outside activites several times a month, and the days (and even times of day!) are not always consistent. It would drive me batty trying to set an exact schedule of days and times. Instead, we work it around what is best for our schedule, making sure that math/science days and lib arts days are done at least twice a week.

Today was liberal arts. Our history study right now is Ancient Mesopotamia, so we used the dough that we made at Thanksgiving and made our own cuneiform tablets. Spyder decided that cuneiform was actually much harder than Egyptian heiroglyphics (which we studied last year). Cuneiform used about 600 different symbols, and Spyder and I both had a difficult time remembering any of them. After the cuneiform tablets were made, we took some of the dough and made a model of a ziggurat.

We also read pertinent selections from The Story of the World, Ancient Mesopotamia, and The Mystery of History. I had wanted to read a bit from Gilgamesh the Hero, but the children wanted to move on to geography, so that will wait til next time.

Geography today was pretty easy. The children both played Carmen Sandiego on the computer, working together -- YAY! Spyder also did a crossword puzzle, and Sass did a coloring sheet.

We read part of Gail Carson Levine's Cinderellis and the Glass Hill before Sass fell asleep on the couch. Spyder and I had hoped to get to the end of it today, but poor Sass was exhausted. She'd gotten up at 5:30 am with Skeeter, so by noon she really wanted a nap! (So did I, but I didn't get one!) While Sass was snoozing, Spyder and I talked about parts of speech and did Mad Libs until Brittney and her children stopped by for some serious play in the backyard.

After our friends had gone, Spyder decided that he wanted to learn German (no idea why though). He got out an audio course that we've had for years. He put the first cassette in the player, and he worked on that for almost an hour. I finally had to dig out my old German/English dictionary and my college German texts. He was thrilled! I have a feeling that we'll be scouring the libraries tomorrow afternoon for an course that comes with a book.

That was it for the "official" schooling, but during room time tonight, Sass drew pictures of ziggurats. LOL! I suppose some of the information did sink in. I always wonder if it does.

Spyder spent his room time looking through my German texts, then reading Mystery in Massachusetts. He finished Mystery in Massachusetts, then he moved on to Skinnybones.

Tomorrow, on to new adventures in astronomy, earth science, multiplication, and division!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Party hard?

Oh. My. Gosh.

We went to a family Christmas party for our church's Awana workers. The party lasted from 2 pm to 8 pm. By the time it was over, I was so beyond "ready to go" that I can't honestly remember if I said goodbye. It was quite a lot of fun, but six hours for a party was just a bit too much for me.

It was supposed to be from 2 pm to 6 pm. That's a bit long anyway, but they did have activities planned for everyone. The problem was that most people didn't show up until almost 3 pm! We were late starting with everything.

The host's house is on about 10 acres of land, complete with a stream and a pond. The children had a wonderful time playing in and around the stream, and they even fished for a bit since the pond is stocked with fish. Sass has been sick for the last few days, so I tried to keep her inside most of the time. (I knew that it was a lost cause with Spyder from the beginning.) The hosts have two girls who are a few years older than Sass, so we played with their little animal toys for an hour or so. After that first hour, she got bored with the toys, so she did end up going outside with Skeeter and Spyder for a while.

After a couple hours of play, we all came inside and had a huge barbeque feast. During the feast, Michael Ann remembered that the children had a special choir practice at 6. YIKES! We had at least six of the choir members there! Michael Ann took the children to choir practice while the rest of us cleaned up and played Secret Santa. We were into a mean game of men vs. women Pictionary when the children got back.

As soon as they were back, the hostess had them play a kind of musical chairs with a wrapped gift, which they all thought was just excellent. At the end, they all got to open the gift and pick a toy out of it. I'll have to remember that game for our fiesta.

It was really fun, but with having such a busy week and being sick, it was just a little bit too much party for me.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Fact

Something about me that you probably don't know:

I like to wash dishes. Crazy, isn't it? I do though. I like the way the water feels on my wrists and hands. I like standing at the sink and looking out at the yard during dish time. It gives me time to think in a way that nothing else does. I generally do the dishes when everyone else is busy so that I can take 15 minutes or so and think.

I hate putting the clean dishes away though.

Cough, cough

Not the children. Me.

I've had the cough for several days, but it's gotten worse. This morning it was terrible, and it hurt.

We have our homeschool playday today, and we're going, but I bet we won't stay for long. I'd skip it altogether if I hadn't promised Carla that I'd be there.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wacky Weather!

This has been quite a year for odd weather. It's almost December 1, and it has been in the 70s for several days this past week. We're supposed to be in for a storm tomorrow though. Temperatures are supposed to drop 40 degrees or more, and there is also a significant amount of ice expected.

My sister lives west of us, and she's already experiencing it. She said that the temps in her area dropped 20 degrees in less than an hour.

As with most storms, the grocery stores will be packed tomorrow. I normally do my shopping on Thursdays, but with the party tomorrow night, I did it a day early. No crowds today either. I suppose people aren't planning to go into panic mode until tomorrow when the storm's arrival is upon us. Not that I'm complaining though. I prefer to shop without loads of people milling about trying to decide which flavor of Pop Tarts would be best while surviving in the frozen wasteland. (She scoffs.)

As for now, it's still stinking hot. Poor Brownie is miserable in his beautiful thick coat. He keeps moving from place to place on the marble floor trying to find a cool spot. Lucy isn't faring quite so badly since her coat isn't as thick as Brownie's. She's in her usual spot behind the rocker.

It isn't just the doggies that are hot though. The people are too! We've had to turn on all of the ceiling fans. Poor Spyder couldn't settle down to go to sleep because it was hot in his room, and I just had to put Sass back in bed because she woke up and was too hot.

I think I'll almost be glad for the cold weather!

Living the life!

Documented proof why I should put the sorted clothing into the washer immediately.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Today was slightly better

I was able to actually finish a few tasks today, unlike yesterday when it seemed I was being thwarted from finishing anything.

I did get the Christmas boxes put back into the attic (YAY!) but there are still loads to do before the spa party on Thursday night. I'm about to panic just thinking about all I have to do before then.

I'm going to be watching Olivia (as usual) on Thursday, and she and Sass always make a bit of a mess. Luckily, it's mostly in Sass's room, so at worst, I can just close her door.

However, I'm also going to watch Michael Ann's son Jack from 8 to noon-ish. EEK! Not that he's bad at all. He's just a toddler -- and a very active toddler! So not only am I trying to clean for the party, but I'm also trying to toddler-proof at the same time. To anyone else, I'd have said that I couldn't do it, but there's no way I would have said no to Michael Ann. I just moved up the time schedule a bit.

So, for tomorrow, here are the major points:

  • Dust china cabinet
  • Clean ceiling fans in kitchen and living room
  • Dust bookshelves
  • Put away the two stacks of books on the end table
  • Clean kitchen cabinets
  • Sweep, mop kitchen and dining room
  • Clean bathroom
  • Mop bathroom

I cleaned the kitchen today, so it's mostly done. I'll just need to do the mopping and such. I cleaned the bathroom too, but that was before Sass decided to paint in the bathtub. The bathroom will definitely have to be done again.

Well, since everyone else is in bed and I have a few moments, I suppose I'd better get started on that list.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bah humbug!

Well, I don't really mean that. Not really. But today was . . . a completely unproductive day.

We put up the Christmas trees this weekend. This year we have two. One is for the breakable ornaments. That tree is out of the way, so that the dogs and the urchins don't get ideas on breaking our nicer ornaments. The other is for the wooden, plastic, and homemade ornaments that shouldn't break if they happen to fall on the marble floor.

Skeeter and I got both trees up, but we ran out of time before we got the ornaments on. The children and I are by ourselves until Wednesday night, and I wasn't thrilled about going into the attic for the ornaments, but I did promise. Thankfully, Skeeter had pulled all of the Christmas boxes to the edge of the steps, so I didn't actually have to go into the attic, just to the edge.

We still have boxes sitting around from the trees and the few decorations that we put up on Sunday afternoon. *sigh* And I brought even more stuff down because the children begged and begged.

Frozen Salad?

When I was about 10 or so, my mom started making a dessert she called "Frozen Salad." What a horrible name for a dessert! It sounds like it should be broccoli and mushrooms and whatnot -- all stirred up and thrown in the freezer. Yuck!

It's actually pretty good, despite the wretched name. Michael Ann, Michael, and I immediately renamed it "Sugar Coated Pink Marshmallow Fluff," a much more descriptive and accurate name.

My mom has abandoned it for several years in lieu of making newer recipes. She made Sugar Coated Pink Marshmallow Fluff for this Thanksgiving though. My children have decided that they like it, so it looks like I'll be making it now too. Ahhh, traditions!

For those who would like to try this oh-so-Southern fare, I've included the recipe.


Judy's Sugar Coated Pink Marshmallow Fluff

1 can crushed pineapple
1 cup mini marshmallows
3/4 cup chopped nuts
1 can condensed milk
8 oz cool whip
1 can cherry pie filling

Mix everything together, adding the pie filling last. Freeze until set, then allow to thaw slightly before serving.


It's good stuff, y'all! Be warned though -- don't get a large serving. It's rich!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

History, just for fun

At the beginning of the school year, I picked up a copy of The Wicked History of the World at my friend Brittney's house. And the subtitle was even more intriguing -- history with the nasty bits left in.

I like history anyway, but who can resist a title like that!?! I picked up a copy for us the next time we were at the bookstore. We absolutely love it! The text is written in a fun manner, and the cartoons are sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.

Even more recently, I realized that The Wicked History of the World is something of an overview of the author's Horrible Histories series. Being the bookaholic that I am, I had to see what those were about.

I ordered the two that were available in my library system. The first one that came was The Measly Middle Ages. We were actually on our way out to dinner when we got it. I read a few bits in the car, and we all liked it so much that we took turns reading during dinner!

These books aren't "the last word" in history, but they're FUN. They give you enough information to get you interested, but not enough to get bogged down like most do. History can be so dry and dull, and I think most children get turned off of history simply because of the presentation. I know that I never liked it until my freshman year of college, when my Western Civilization professor completely disregarded the "usual" way of teaching. She threw the lecture-only, memorizing-names-and-dates format out the window and let us discuss, compare and contrast, and experience -- as much as possible -- past times.

So far, all of these books are ones that Spyder will choose to read during his before-bed reading time. Just last night, he read part of The Wicked History of the World to Sass. History books that a very active 8-year-old boy chooses to read? YEP! They get my seal of approval on that alone!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Fact

Something about me that you probably don't know:

I cook for my dogs. Really cook, particularly in the colder weather when I think they appreciate it more. I figure that I'd be bored if I ate the same thing every day, so I try to vary it a bit for them too.

Today's specialty meal was stew made from the turkey carcass and fat. No spices though. Just grease, broth, and some tidbits of meat.

Thanksgiving Day Feast

We ended up having more people than originally planned. My Uncle Richard and Uncle Kurt came. I shouldn't have been surprised to see Uncle Richard, but I figured Uncle Kurt would spend the whole day in a deer stand. Then later in the day my Aunt Liz and three of her children came by. I haven't seen my cousins since Easter, at least, so that was nice.

As always, there were more food choices than any reasonable person could fit on one plate. Uncle Richard made a fried turkey, and it was pretty good. I'm not a fan of roasted turkey normally, and most of my choices are vegetarian anyway, but this was surprisingly good. Moist, with lots of flavor. The dressing is always my favorite though, so most of my eating was devoted to that. LOL!

Skeeter ate sweet potato pie -- and liked it! -- without realizing what he was eating. We were even talking about pumpkin pie vs. sweet potato pie on the drive there. I love pumpkin pie, but I'm not all that crazy about sweet potato pie. Skeeter swore that sweet potato pie was (using my friend John's term) ubdadebil. (Of the devil, for those not fluent in Johnese.) I saw Skeeter eating it and didn't say a word. After he was finished, I told him what it was. The look on his face . . . .!!! He's no longer a sweet potato pie hater though!

Memaw put peanut butter chips in the pumpkin pie this year. I had to pick them out, so my pumpkin pie experience was slightly soiled. What WAS she thinking? She's making up for it today though. We're congregating at her house for dumplings. YUM!

We all got into a discussion about how most of our significant others are from small families. My family is NOT small. It can't be, with Memaw having seven children. We're loud and boisterous and it's normal for us. Skeeter says we're intimidating. I guess I can see that.

They picked on me yesterday, for something that happened 30 years ago. (Long memories, those people.) When I was about 8, I gave Memaw's phone number to a friend's grandfather. He asked, and I WAS EIGHT, so I had no idea what that was all about. Well, he asked Memaw out. I knew all of that. But the news to me was that she went! She drove; he took her to the Sonic; he hinted for her to pay. First, I'm beyond shocked that my Memaw would eat anything that came from a fast food place. Second, we found out that she went out with him a second time, and he asked her if he could move in with her! She told him no, and he started stalking her. AAAAHHH!! My cousin Curtis turned red and covered his face. LOL! I don't know if we were laughing more at Memaw and her revelations or at Curtis and his red face.

After we had eaten, and the dishes were clean, Spyder and I took over the stove and made playdoh. Easy, easy, and it doesn't stink like store-bought playdoh. Everyone had a blast making sculptures, but we ended up not keeping any of them. They all got squshed into the big playdoh blob to be used again.

We spent the evening looking at the sale flyers for today -- twice the size of the paper itself -- and finally left at around 6:30. All in all, it was quite an excellent day!

Michael's Thanksgiving Day wrap-up

  • Oh, there's Mary Francis trying to trip Mamaw, and Mary Francis had a horrid, horrid butchered hair cut.
  • Bethany, "BB" is pretty as always, and seems somewhat normal.
  • Mary also told Mamaw, "Let's ditch these folks and go have some fun."
  • Then there was everyone trying to ridicule Noodle for, at the age of 8, setting Mamaw up on a blind date with an old man down the street. Only during the telling of the story, after 30 years, Mamaw finally admitted she went on a second date with the man.
  • Uncle Kurt said he weighs 125 and can't gain weight.
  • Uncle Richard snores, probably more loudly than me.
  • Moma's tea was good as ever, but I didn't drink any out of the beige plastic glasses, of which I am so fond. That's sort of a ritual for me. But I let it go since it was a SOLO cup holiday.
  • That's all I can think of. It was a good day out there.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

To build a better flashlight

One board
One wire
One bulb
Two batteries
Seven nails


One precocious 8-year-old boy

So much for that

Skeeter is out of town this week, working on a biodiesel plant about three hours south of us. Because of the holiday, we don't have many outside commitments this week. I had intended it to be a stay-at-home, enjoy-being-together kind of week.

That was completely shot out of the water before 10 am today. My parents called just before 10 to say that they were in town, and they wanted me to join them at the mall for Christmas shopping. Considering that they don't come to our town very often, I couldn't really say no. Plus, I had told my mom just this weekend that she needed to start working on her shopping since the crowds seem worse than usual already. My beloved Target was absolutely mobbed on Sunday night. Normally Sunday night after church is a great time to go. It's practically empty! Not this week.

We had a productive shopping time though, so it was worth it. We shopped with them from about noon to 3:45, then ran back home to play with the doggies before heading out again.

Monday is my only work day, and since Skeeter is out of town, the children stayed with a friend about 20 minutes away while I was working. Unfortunately, that added an extra 45 minutes to my "work day." I dropped them off at 4:45, and I didn't pick them up until 11:20. Whew!

Perhaps tomorrow will work out better as a stay-at-home day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The simple life

My children absolutely love to play outside. (And I must say, I'm grateful for that sometimes.) We have a swingset and a huge privet hedge, both which get tremendous amounts of play time.

The swingset is not only "the swingset" but it also serves as Spyder's "spy training course." The privet hedge is commonly known as The Enchanted Forest, complete with a little cottage (made by Spyder and Sass).

They haven't had any new "outside toys" in about three years though, so I've been trying to think of something new and fun to add to their play that wouldn't cost a lot.

The solution? A teeter totter. My dad built one for me when I was little, and I figured he could come up with something. He sure did! One sawhorse, one board, and four nuts and bolts later, and we have a new source of fun.

It doesn't look beautiful, but it serves its purpose, and the urchins think it's the best thing ever. Sass was a little bit unsure of it at first, since it does go pretty high, but now that we've had it a few days she's almost as confident on it as Spyder!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A bit about me, quiz edition

1. What time did you get up this morning? 8:30
2. Diamonds or pearls? diamonds
3. What was the last film you saw at the movies? Stranger than Fiction. (Much better than I expected.)
4. What is your favorite TV show? Digging for the Truth
5. What did you have for breakfast? coffee
6. What is your middle name(s)? Ann
7. What is your favorite cuisine? Mexican
8. What foods do you dislike? cooked cabbage, brussels sprouts, beets, ketchup
9. What is your favorite chip flavor? regular tortilla, I suppose.
10. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Dan Zanes
11. What type of car do you drive? Nissan Altima
13. What characteristics do you despise in people? lack of integrity
14. Favorite item of clothing? my grey fleece pullover
15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? England
16. Favorite brand of clothing? Liz Claiborne
17. Where would you like to retire to? Don't know.
18. Favorite time of the day? Early morning, assuming that I wake up rested.
19. What was your most memorable birthday? age 6
20. Where were you born? Arkansas
21. Favorite sport to watch? Razorback basketball
22. Who do you least expect to send this back to you? n/a
23. Who do you expect to send it back first? n/a
24. What fabric detergent do you use? Gain
25. Coke or Pepsi? depends on whether I'm buying bottles or cans
26. Are you a morning person or night owl? night owl usually
27. What is your shoe size? 9
28. Do you have any pets? two doggies
29. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with your family and friends? absolutely nothing new and exciting going on here.
30. What did you want to be when you were little? archaeologist
31. Shampoo? Philosophy
32. Day/Night? Night, usually.
33. Summer/Winter? Winter
34. Favorite commercial? LOVED the RNC commercial blasting Harold Ford, just because it was funny.
35. Wearing? blue shirt, tan pants
36. Eating? No
37. Drinking? No
38. Thinking about? Going to bed
39. Listening to? rain -- loving it!

*********THE LAST 24 HOURS*********
Cried? No
Made a new friend? No
Cleaned your room? No, but I cleaned Sass's room. That should count.
Drove a car? Yes
How many hours slept? 5

********DO YOU BELIEVE IN***********
God? Yes
Yourself? Yes
Your friends? Yes
Santa Claus? No
Destiny/Fate? Undecided. The whole free will/predestined debate is always a catch 22 for me.
Ghosts? Spirits? Yes

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dave Meurer

Who is Dave Meurer?

He's a Christian humor writer that, truthfully, was probably the person who convinced Skeeter that being a Christian isn't necessarily boring. If you haven't read his books before, I highly recommend them. Some of his earlier books are out of print, but they're still available pretty cheaply through Amazon.

I gave Skeeter the latest book, Mistake It Like A Man, for his birthday, and we've both been reading it off and on. One particularly bit seems to have been written just for us:

While men enjoy normal movies involving submaries and explosions and daring
rescues, women prefer movies that involve British actors and shrubbery and
agonizingly slow plots. And they want you to watch these movies with
them. The only benefit to these movies is that your spouse will be all
weepy and emotional and want to be hugged. This can lead to a romantic
interlude, as long as you can avoid slipping into a shrubbery-induced coma
before the movie's over.

Oh yes, we are one of those couples. I bought Pride and Prejudice recently, and the first thing that Skeeter said was, "You don't have to wait for me to watch that." Oh really. How surprising.

We have, however, embraced these differences, along with the new terminology -- Shrubbery Movies. We watched The Constant Gardener this weekend, and about 20 minutes into it, Skeeter said, "I thought this was supposed to be a spy movie. As far as I'm concerned this is just another Shrubbery one."

Friday, November 10, 2006


Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker finally hit our movie theatre today, and I took Spyder as a surprise. He had no idea until I bought the tickets, and it was such fun to see the joy on his face when he realized what we were seeing.

Anthony Horowitz (the author of the book series) also penned the screenplay, so I wasn't surprised that he brought in a few elements from the later books into the film.

I believe that the boy who plays Alex Rider is a newcomer, but he was just what I had pictured Alex to be. Bill Nighy was absolutely perfect in his role as Alan Blunt, the director of the spy agency that Alex joins.

Overall, it was excellent larger-than-life fun for anyone who likes action movies!

My choice for a sequel: Eagle Strike.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Anger and forgiveness

I've been avoiding my blog. Most of the time when I avoid it, it's because I have something better going on. This time, however, it's because I have a need to record something unpleasant, and I hadn't really worked it all out until today. This post is personal and probably boring, so casual readers are excused from reading. :o)

On Sunday night at Bible study, a woman in the group made an incredibly rude comment about me to my friend Carla. I overheard, sort of, and I thought that she was making a comment to me rather than about me. Since I didn't quite catch what she said, I asked her to repeat it. She did. Loud enough for everyone on our side of the room to hear.

At first I was simply stunned. Then I was angry. At best, this person was a casual aquaintence, and truthfully, that's stretching it. And yet, she made a stinging comment about my life to my friend, then to at least a part of the class.

This happened just before our opening prayer, and I spent the few minutes in prayer trying to catch hold of my anger and focus. It simply wasn't enough time for me, and just after prayer, I excused myself and left. I spent class time in prayer instead. I'm glad that I did. It was much better for me to have spent the time in prayer, rather than in class where I would have been seething and not listening.

Afterward, I was waiting for Skeeter and the children, and Carla passed by. She knew that I was angry about the comment, and she knew that was why I had left. We are actually between studies at the moment, and none of us knew the topic for the evening. I found out from Carla that the study for the evening had ended up being an "extra" study that the leader had decided to do -- about hurting others with thoughtless words and/or actions.

How timely.

The woman found me and apologized afterward, whether it was at Carla's urging or due to the class topic. I will admit, I wasn't nice. I was polite, and while "polite" and "nice" are not mutually exclusive, they are most definitely not the same thing. To her, "I'm sorry. I didn't know you were upset," I replied, "Your comment was rude, judgemental, and distasteful, and it hurt my feelings. But thank you for your apology." I was dismissive, and I shouldn't have been. But at the time, I was still angry and hurt.

Considering her expression when she walked away, I think that she was expecting me to say, "It's okay. I forgive you." It wasn't okay though, and at the time, I hadn't truly forgiven her. I would have been lying if I had said that. I already had "anger" on my list of sins. I didn't want to add "lying though my teeth."

Since then, I've spent lots of time praying about it, and I have forgiven her, but that still doesn't make it "okay." Saying it was "okay" would have validated her comment. How can I, as a Christian, say "I have forgiven you" while also explaining that she should consider curbing her tongue? She is absolutely entitled to her opinion, but she does not give it in the spirit of love. That's what I want to express to her, and I haven't figured out a way to do it without seeming spiteful of being on the receiving end of her barbs.

I found out just today that this woman has a habit of making scathing comments.

To a woman who had recently given birth: "Have you gained weight? Those jeans make your butt look fat."

To my friend Brenda: "Not to be rude, but your daughter needs a lesson on sharing."

To a child at a birthday party (who was asking for a piece of cake): "You need to get back. You don't look like you need those extra calories anyway."

Obviously, the comment to me was not an isolated incident. Lately my prayers have been about how to talk to her about her need to insult others. She is a relatively new Christian, and I do think that she needs to be Scripturally reprimanded for her behavior. I'm just not sure that I'm the one to do it.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Post Halloween Math

Spyder got his candy loot out today and started counting the pieces. The homeschool mom in me immediately suggested that he count the different types of candy as well so he could figure percentages and ratios.

He looked up at me and said, "COOL!" then took the candy into the computer room. About 30 minutes into his activity, he came to me with a piece of paper which not only showed amounts of the different types of candy, but which also showed graphs detailing which candies were most frequently given.

He is so completely, utterly his father's son.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Just batty!

It's Halloween, and that means Bat Brownies in our house!

It seems so strange how these traditions start. Three years ago I bought a Betty Crocker bat shaped cookie cutter. Spyder and I used it that year to cut out cookies to decorate. They got eaten before Halloween, so Spyder and I decided to bake more. We decided to go for Ultimate Chocolate Brownies instead of plain old cookies though, and the traditional Halloween Bat Brownies were born!

This year I let the children decorate all of them, so they're a little more -- ahem -- free form. I usually take about half and outline the bat in decorating gel. They were having a blast with the frosting and sprinkles though, so I decided to let them do all of them. If I had realized that they'd like it that much, I would have bought more than one kind of sprinkles!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sometimes the simplest thing works best

I've been trying since June to get Spyder to memorize his multiplication tables. He knows the concept and can answer almost any problem given enough time. But that's just it. He took FOREVER to do his multiplication problems.

We've tried graphs and charts. We've tried card games. We've tried problem drills and flash cards. *sigh*

Last week I got out a pair of dice and one of the graphs. He spent a happy hour or so throwing the dice and filling in the graph. The second day, he got the dice himself and started throwing them and writing down the problems on a sheet of paper.

About four hours of work total, and -- voila -- Spyder knows his multiplication tables for 1-6. I'm on the search for 12 sided dice so that we can do the rest of them. A local shop was supposed to have ordered them, but the ones that I "picked out" were backordered. They can't seem to realize that I don't care what they look like, as long as they're readable!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fall weather and the kitchen

What is it about cold and rainy days that makes me want to cook? Every time that the temperatures turn cooler, I find myself in the kitchen making whatever I can put together with the ingredients on hand.

It has been so cold and rainy -- the cold rain that gets you chilled just walking outside -- and I've been in the kitchen for two days. Yesterday, I made potato soup and cornbread for us. I also made a meaty stew for the doggies that they must have liked. They were licking the splatters off of the floor!

Even now, I'm thinking about what's in the pantry. I'd like to make party mix, but I don't really have everything. I could cobble together something, but I don't think it would taste the way I really like it. I think that's going to have to wait until I can get to Britt's to pick pecans. I do have the ingredients for double chocolate chip cookies though!

We're thinking about heading to the bargain theatre for a night out, but I think I'd prefer to just stay in tonight. I think I'll make Thai noodles . . . .

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I have a love/hate relationship with schedules.

On the one hand, I love waking up and knowing what is happening that day. It makes it easier to plan and sometimes I'm able to get everything done more efficiently. Knowing that we have to get A, B, and C done before D comes along gives me a deadline to work with. Plus, I live by my calendar. If it's not on the calendar, I'm not likely to remember it, so I absolutely must write everything anyway. Why not make some sort of schedule around all of it?

On the other hand, some days I'd just like to have some free days to do . . . whatever! Play in the yard, or walk over to the park, or head to the children's museum or the zoo. Currently, we have one "scheduled" free day -- Fridays -- and even then we've developed a routine.

I'm trying to facilitate experiences that are "new and different" instead of just the routine "same old, same old." I've been on the couch for an hour with my little legal pad trying to figure out how I can schedule and be free at the same time. I haven't come up with a solution yet.

Monday, October 23, 2006

At least he knows what he wants

SPYDER: I'm thirsty.

ME: Go get some water out of the fridge.

SPYDER: I don't want water.

ME: Well, I think we're out of juice, so water is just about the only option.

SPYDER: I don't want water. Don't we have soda? I want something artifically flavored!

New Beginnings

Skeeter is starting his new job today. He wasn't supposed to start until November 20, but they needed him sooner.

Truthfully, he wanted to leave his previous job. He wasn't crazy about it. It wasn't challenging at all, and Skeeter was one of the few people who really cared about how well he did his work. It's not easy working with apathetic co-workers.

The new place seems nice. He's been doing consulting with them since March, so he knows the boss already. Still, it's always exciting to start something new.

I'm anxious to hear from him to see how it's going!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Sass has a friend named Rose. She's part of our homeschool group, about a year older than Sass. They've been buddies for a while now. Sass has never actually called her by her name though. When they met last year, Sass started calling her "Summer." No idea why. Rose seems to answer to the name Summer though, so I suppose it's not a problem. Rose's mom and I just shrug at each other when we see it happening.

This random renaming isn't an isolated incident. Sass has also decided that the guy in the electronics department at Target is the spitting image of Mr. Tumnus (from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe). So, every time we're in Target, she calls out, "Hi, Mr. Tumnus!" We don't see him very much any more. I think he probably hides when he sees us coming.

Sass has finally started calling her friend Olivia "Olivia" instead of "Sophia" so I suppose it's a step in the right direction.

A new era in homemaking

I made homemade dog biscuits today. Somehow I feel like that was turning a corner and sauntering down a street that wasn't even on the map.

They were quite easy, actually, and it felt just like baking scones. If we liked chicken flavored scones, with a little bit of powdered milk thrown in.

At any rate, they turned out quite well. The dogs seem to like them anyway.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stormbreaker, again

Spyder and I are so disappointed. Tomorrow is supposed to be the American release date for the movie Stormbreaker. However, the movie is in limited release, and it's not playing anywhere near us! We have three different movie chains in town, so we can usually find some theatre that is showing what we want to see. Not this time! The best we can hope for is that it does well. Maybe we'll get it here eventually!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Praise the Lord!

"Praise the Lord" is not a phrase I use lightly. I didn't even realize it until recently, but when I say something as powerful as "Praise the Lord," I really want to mean it.

Spyder had said it one evening last week, as a response to something very minor. I don't even remember what it was that made him use the phrase, but it was something equivalent to finding a toy. That night as I was tucking him into bed, I asked him what he's meant by it. Was he truly giving a praise to God, or was it just a glib remark? As I suspected, it was just something to say. He didn't mean it to be superficial, but in the context, it was. He wasn't truly thanking God for whatever it was. We had a wonderful, enlightening conversation about words, meanings, and intentions. I love these conversations that Spyder and I have as he's getting tucked into bed. They almost always leave me in a thoughtful, usually God-centered, frame of mind.

Until then, I didn't realize that it was so important to me to use "Praise the Lord" as a true praise, not a blithe remark.

A mile or so into my drive home from work tonight, another driver ran a red light and hit my car. I was more than halfway through the intersection, and he came racing through, tires squealing and weaving madly. He clipped my back bumper, hard enough for me to feel and hear it, but glancingly enough that the damage is minor. The driver never even slowed down. He gunned his vehicle and left.

I pulled over just after I cleared the intersection, into a church parking lot, of all places. At first, I was mad. How could someone do that and not even care? He knew that he had hit me, and he drove on anyway. What about the insurance claim? I decided to drive home -- it was almost 11 pm, in a not-so-nice neighborhood -- and call the police from there.

Less than a block into my drive, I realized that I didn't need to focus on being mad at the other guy OR being worried about the car insurance. I needed to thank God that he had kept me safe. There is absolutely no doubt about it. If that vehicle had hit me full on, I would have been severely hurt. I wouldn't have been able to walk in and kiss the children in their beds, or go snuggle next to Skeeter and put my cold feet on his warm ones.

My Lord deserves sincere, honest, heartfelt praises for keeping me safe tonight!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Avian aversion

I don't like birds. Most everyone knows that about me. That's a very broad statement though, and it's not wholly true.

It's more true to say that birds scare me, particularly birds that fly at me. Chickens flock around your feet and legs when they think you have food. Ocean birds fly around your head when they think you may possibly have some tasty morsel for them. Even the sparrows that hang out near the zoo picnic tables are little daredevils when there's food involved. All of those scenarios make me cringe.

This morning, I saw a cardinal in the tree outside. I sat on the bench and watched him for quite a while, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. He and the resident bluejay were having a lively discussion, probably about the cardinal invading Mr. Bluejay's territory. Mr. Bluejay is a very territorial bird. He has fits about the dogs, who have been there longer than he has! He generally stays away from us though, and he very seldom ventures near us when we're outside.

Soon the pinecones will start dropping, and the children and I will make bird feeders. We do it every year. It seems like an odd thing for someone who has such a distaste for birds, but my aversion to them is very complex.

I actually do like to watch birds, and I like to hear birdsongs, but I have no desire to actually interact with birds. That's the heart of it: it's the interaction that I don't like rather than the birds themselves. The skittish songbirds who peck away at the birdseed are welcome in our yard. The overly brave ones will do well to stay away.

Case closed!

Spyder has solved another of his Nancy Drew games, Mystery in a Haunted Mansion. Some days, he can spend hours on one of these games. And really, I don't mind at all when he plays them. It's not mindless. There are logic puzzles throughout, and it's a mix of mystery, critical thinking, and problem solving, all in a fun package.

This is the fourth game that he's solved, and he's getting better with each one. I'm really proud of him!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Not exactly restful

Today hasn't really been all that restful, but it has been productive. I went through Sass's closet and the tub of last year's "too big" winter clothes. There were several things that she didn't need and/or still couldn't wear, so I invited my friend Brenda over to go through them. She ended up taking two bags full of things for Olivia. The rest of the stuff that we aren't keeping has already been taken to the consignment shop! WOOHOOO!!

I also rearranged her top two dresser drawers. One is supposed to be for sockies and undies. The other is supposed to be for pajamas. They had gotten all muddled, and it was driving me crazy. They're now neatly organized as they're supposed to be. Tomorrow I'm going for the other four drawers!

I also took a box full of miscellaneous stuff to the thrift shop. I've started keeping a box on the extra rocker, and I just put things in as I go through the day. When the box is full, I take it over. I've taken about 10 boxes in the past week that way!

Restful is good I suppose, but productive is probably better overall. :o)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Catching up

This week has been a wreck for me. I've had a horrible cold all week. The urchins caught it around Wednesday, when I was feeling the worst, of course. Thursday I was much better. Today it seems as if I've begun round two. I've felt worse today than I did on Wednesday. I think I probably overdid it on Friday and Saturday, thinking that I was in the clear.

We attempted to go to an arts and crafts festival on Friday. Everyone got up super-early. We drove to the bookstore to get my paycheck. Things took longer than they should have, and we all decided to get a snack (and a coffee for me, of course). As I was getting into the car, the coffee spilled all over my lap. A large coffee. A large coffee that I hadn't even sipped yet. At that point, I figured we'd just turn around and go home.

I worked both Friday and Saturday nights this week. I really wanted to go home on Saturday night, but the other bookseller was also sick. We decided to stick it out together, rather than debating who was sicker, then putting all of the burden on one (sickly) person.

Today we visited my parents. My sister and her boyfriend were there, and we all had so much fun. We played Hot Seat with them, and Skeeter and I lost bad! It was Skeeter's first time playing though, so he's forgiven. He roasted me at backgammon tonight. I chalk it up to my illness. :o)

As usual, Spyder spent the day shooting the BB gun. He's getting really good. Of course, his targets are aluminum cans, and they don't exactly evade the shot. :o)

Playing in the dirt is Sass's favorite activity, and she spent most of the day with a cup, a hoe, and a whole lotta dirt. Playing is dirty work!

It was just gorgeous outside today. Not too hot, slight breeze. Just perfect. I love sitting outside on the porch at my parents' house anyway, but today was just about as perfect as I could imagine. (Excluding my sniffling and coughing, of course.)

We got home incredibly late, but it was most certainly worth it! Tomorrow is supposed to be a restful day. We'll see how that turns out.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A laugh out loud funny

Spyder has formed a club, The Mystery Solvers (TMS for short). Tonight, Sass informed Skeeter that she had now formed her own club -- girls only. No Boys Allowed.

Its name? The PMS.

giggle, snort, laugh

No, I'm not making this up.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A classic boy stunt

Today we visited my friend Carla. Spyder and her son Zachary are best buddies, so they were thrilled to have unexpected play time. They were playing outside when Spyder poked his head in the door and gave Skeeter the "come here" motion, round eyes and "oops" expression in place.

Skeeter came back in and said, "We need to go home. Soon." I used my superior interrogation techniques (aka "The Look") and found out that Spyder had climbed the privacy fence -- 6 feet solid wood privacy fence. As he was going over the top, his pants got caught on a jagged portion and ripped. Not just a small tear either. They were torn all the way from the seat to the waistband, along with his underwear. The entire right side of the seat of his pants and underwear were flappin' in the breeze.

Good heavens.

After the incident with Sass, I wasn't even upset. I was just pleased that I didn't have to take him to the doctor for a big ole splinter in his bottom. :o)

And don't forget

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Celebrate in style!

Autumn is on the way!

Autumn is absolutely my favorite time of year, and I can feel it coming soon! This morning when I went out to get the paper, it was chilly with that cool-weather-is-coming sort of feel. I can't wait!

A few random thoughts for this lovely morning:

  • I'd like to build a fire pit in the back yard. I LOVE the smell of a wood fire, and I think that the urchins would like to be able to roast marshmallows over it.
  • Sass has decided that she wants to be a mermaid for Halloween this year. We already have a mermaid costume, but she has specifically asked for a tail, so I'm on the search for appropriate fabric to make one.
  • Spyder is having trouble narrowing down his costume. He has several ideas, but hasn't made a decision. Whatever he decides, I hope it's soon.
  • I'm a bit ambivalent about quitting my bookstore job. I'll miss it, but it will be nice to have more family time. When Skeeter and I talked about it, I realized that what I'll miss most is discussing books with people, not the job itself. My friend Britt and I have been kinda, sorta talking about getting a book discussion group together. Not really a book club where everyone is reading the same thing, but more of a "what are you reading" type of group. I'm not a "book club" type of person, so the open style would work much better for me. Still, I like the way that the bookstore gives me the opportunity to be aware of so much more.
  • Interestingly, I won't really miss the discount. I can usually find what I want online for the same amount (or sometimes less). The cafe discount is another thing though. THAT is something that I'll miss.
  • Christmas is approaching, and with it, all of the gift buying. I was talking with a friend yesterday who said that she spends about $200 per child for Christmas. HOLEY COW! Maybe I'm a big old skinflint, but we usually do about $50 per person -- $200 for the whole family! This year may be slightly more because I have a few ideas that I'm not sure I can do as inexpensively as usual, but I can't imagine spending $200 per person. Plus, I don't have very many gifts stashed in my gift closet like I usually do.
  • We've finally decided upon the date for Space Camp. Skeeter and Spyder will be going around Spyder's birthday next year. We haven't decided if Sass and I will go and stay in the area or if we'll stay home. That's still at the wait-and-see point.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The weekend recap

The antibiotic is working, and Sass is MUCH better! There wasn't really a lot of improvement on Saturday morning, but it wasn't worse, so we decided to wait before taking her into the doctor's office. By Saturday night, the redness was noticably less, and tonight it was almost gone! I noticed this evening that she was just beginning to put pressure on the bottom of her foot again, so I think all will be well without another doctor visit! :O)

I was supposed to go on a women's retreat with my church group, but I missed it because of Sass's foot. I just couldn't leave her like that. She absolutely wasn't herself, and she just wanted Mommy. I'm sure that Skeeter couldn have managed, but I certainly wouldn't have been at peace about leaving her. As it was, we had a really nice weekend, so I can't regret not going.

Spyder got a brand new pair of tennis shoes on Saturday. He's really beginning to grow up. He chose these shoes, and before he's never cared what they were. This year's tennies aren't the light-up style either; they're just plain old Adidas. Tonight he got dressed for Awana, and he looked so grown up! He's in Truth in Training now, the class for the older boys.

I went to a great consignment sale, and I found loads of stuff. Sass didn't really need much, but I found some pajamas and a couple of dresses that I couldn't pass up. I got a Halloween t-shirt for Spyder too, but alas, the arms are too short, so I'm going to end up selling that one. It's a size 7, and I don't want to leave it hanging around here for Sass to grow into. Spyder went with me to the sale, and he was such a joy! It was very nice having time with just him. We don't do that often enough.

Spyder spent most of today studying for Truth in Training. I was really proud of him. He said three sections tonight. Next up is saying the books of the New Testament. He learned them last year for Sparks, so this is just review. He should be able to get that done with no problem!

Skeeter cleaned his desk tonight! He put away all of his papers and filed everything, and his desk actually looks clean and neat! Mine is looking pretty bad in comparison, so I have a mission for tomorrow.

Spyder cleaned Sass's room tonight while she was in the bathtub, and he did a really good job. I'm not really sure why he decided to clean her room, but I'm certainly not going to complain. He uncovered a few toys under the bed that are now in the Goodwill box, plus he found her pajama top that's been missing for a week!

I bought a pair of the new Mary Jane style Crocs. I love them! They're just as comfy as my old ones, but they look a little nicer. And this time I got a nice basic brown (rather than purple) so that I can wear them to work without anyone fussing at me. :o)

Friday, September 15, 2006


We went to the doctor this morning, and she is now taking an antibiotic to fight any infection. She's felt decently well for most of the day. No fever at all, and she even played outside for a bit.

Now for the bad news. The doctor thinks that there is still a bit of wood in her foot. Unfortunately, he couldn't really tell anything yet. Essentially, we're at a wait-and-see point. If it gets worse while she's still on the antibiotic, we have to go back in for them to see if they can find any wood inside. That poor, poor girl. I think I'll be crying right along side her if it comes to that.

Fruit from the labor

We have a rule in our house about movies. If the movie is based on a book, the book has to be read before the movie can be seen. Skeeter follows it as he wishes, but Spyder and I are pretty good about following it. It's not a hard-and-fast rule. For example, neither of us have read Mary Poppins, but we sure do love the film. It's mostly for the newer releases, although I'm certainly not opposed to reading older books.

It's been my self-imposed rule for ages, since before college at least. Spyder has only been under it since about six months before Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film) was released. He's grumbled about it, but he's stuck to it. Mostly because I made him though, not because he wanted to.

We all went to see How to Eat Fried Worms today. Great boy movie, but not at all like the book. Spyder recognized that at once, and afterward we had a great discussion on book vs. movie. Ultimately, we decided that the movie was very loosely based on the book, at best, but they were both good for their own reasons. Spyder had some excellent contributions to the discussion too, not just listening to Skeeter and me.

As we were walking out of the theatre, we saw a poster for Eragon. I mentioned that I needed to read it ASAP because I wanted to see the film. (Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich are both in it -- must see!) A little further along the row of movie posters, we saw the one for Stormbreaker. I read that book earlier this year, and I knew right away that Spyder would love it. I've tried to get him to read it a couple of times over the summer, but to no avail.

After dinner, Spyder got the Stormbreaker book and started in. No fussing, no grumbling about how unfair it is, "making" him read the book. He just started reading. And the book itself? He loves it. :o)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My poor sweet baby girl

Today was a beautiful day. Not at all hot, even during midday, and we spent quite a lot of it outside.

My sweet girl was running out to the clubhouse -- barefoot, as usual -- and stepped on a stick. She has a pretty deep puncture wound on the bottom of her foot, and we're going to have to take her to the doctor tomorrow. It happened around 4:30 this afternoon, which is when her doctor's office closes, so we didn't take her then. Skeeter was actually the one who was outside with the children at the time (I was folding laundry), and he rushed her inside. It was bleeding pretty heavily, but we stopped the bleeding and cleaned it. She put a My Little Pony Band-Aid on it and went about playing. It wasn't until after bathtime that she said that it hurt. Sure enough, it's beginning to swell, and I think it has the beginnings of infection. We cleaned it again with peroxide and put Neosporin on it, but that's all we can do at home.

So, off to the doc first thing tomorrow morning.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Happy Birthday, Skeeter!

My wonderful husband is 37 today!

Sass decided that a birthday isn't really a birthday if no one wears party hats. She got out her stash of Barbie hats and everyone wore them, including her stuffed animals. My personal favorite is Odie with the overturned teacup as a hat. The pink one wouldn't fit, you know. :o)

The day started out with a party. Sass set up the animals last night before bed, and this morning I made omelets and pancakes and set out some fruit. Spyder set the table, then woke Sass. Sass and Spyder woke Skeeter together. He wanted coffee, but we persuaded him to open gifts first. He got a pound of Starbucks coffee as one of his gifts (Spyder's idea), so he was very pleased that we made him wait. :o)

After present opening, we all had breakfast. I ran out for a few errands while the children and Skeeter watched a Don Knotts movie, No Deposit, No Return.

Since we'd had a really big breakfast, we just winged it for lunch, but we all went out for dinner -- Mexican, one of our favorites. Afterward the children went to a friend's house and Skeeter and I stayed home and watched V for Vendetta (and folded laundry, LOL!).

All in all it was an excellent day!

A Sweeping Song

Sweep away, sweep away
Go away dirt
Sweep away, sweep away
Go away dirt!

We don't like dirt in the
house house house.
Come on dirt,
Get on that broom.

Sweep away, sweep away
Go away dirt!

Words and music by Sass :o)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Oh no! Spots!

Well, my children have chicken pox. Spyder has been calling them "chicken spots." Sass's term has been "chicken pops," which has been conjuring amusing images of little chicken popsicles in my mind.

I discovered spots on Spyder's chest, tummy, and back when we were swimming at a friend's house yesterday. He had been playing with the dogs earlier that morning, so I thought there was a possibility that they were flea bites, but alas, I could see the little blisters that indicate pox. This morning they were creeping up his neck, but he doesn't have a fever, and he says he feels fine.

Sass didn't have spots yesterday, but I saw some on her tummy this morning. She's also fever-free and is acting the same as always.

Neither of them is complaining about itching yet, but I have Benadryl on hand, just in case.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Today Sass was playing with her ballet doll and one of Spyder's trucks. The truck is a NAPA sound machine truck that makes pretty realistic semi truck sounds and a sound bite of "NAPA! We keep America running!"

Sass put her doll on top of the truck and motioned to the other dollies lined up behind. "Come on! Let's keep America running!"

LOL! Advertising at its best!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


There is a new bandwagon in Mommy Blogdom, Moms for Modesty. Normally, I don't participate in these things because, quite honestly, this blog is just a way for me to record our days, and I prefer it that way. This bandwagon, however, I'll hop on ever so briefly to add my voice. Why? Because I absolutely, totally, wholeheartedly agree with the idea that I should encourage modesty in my children. Perhaps some clothing designer will run across our collective voices and realize that there is more to clothing children than what's trendy and hip.

Spyder isn't really an issue. He wears the usual Boy Uniform, jeans or shorts and some sort of t-shirt. He's a play-in-the-dirt boy, so for everyday he wears things that I wouldn't have a fit about turning into rags. For church, he is allowed to wear khaki or navy slacks with a non-t-shirt style of shirt. No writing allowed. Patterned shirts are perfect. He's an easy one to dress. Boy Clothes aren't very imaginative, and the most offensive parts are usually t-shirts that are a bit too risque for me. He doesn't really care one way or another, so I just stock his closet with things that I do like, but are "cool" enough for him.

The problem has come in dressing Sass.

Since she was born I've insisted on some sort of diaper or panty covering when wearing a dress. It's a Big Deal to me. Most of her dresses came with a diaper cover, but we did have three generic white covers for when they didn't. Uncovered diapers get saggy and dirty and disgusting pretty fast, and it was just always nicer to see her bum covered properly.

Once she was out of diapers, it was still a Big Deal, but for a different reason. Sass is a dressy-dress girl. She almost always wears dresses simply because she prefers them, but she's not really concerned about keeping her dress down while she's playing. So, if she's wearing a dress, she wears bikers or capris or leggings underneath (depending on the season). Most of what we buy has coordinating bikers or leggings. In fact, that's one of the things I look for -- if there are matching bottoms available.

Here are some of the brands that I prefer:

These brands have styles that tend to be more classic than trendy; all of them offer matching bottoms to the dresses; all of them are well made, so I know that whatever I've bought is going to last the whole season.

I haven't had the problem with pants or shorts with writing across the bum, but I'm sure that just because of her age. However, I absolutely would not let her wear some of the things I've seen. Even the innocuous ones like "Cheer" or "Dance" call attention to a part of her body that certainly doesn't need it.

I probably do spend more on Sass just to be able to cover her in things that I find appropriate, but for us, it's worth it.

It's rather interesting that Celia Rivenbark's new book is Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank . . . . Her title essay is, as always, wonderfully crude and spot on. I also had a conversation on this very subject with a friend yesterday who commented that she wanted all of Sass's clothing because she liked how "she's always covered!"

I wonder if this is the beginning of a new trend.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

This and that

Feeling uninspired with writing at the moment, so I figured I'd make a list. :o)
  • Sass learned how to blow up balloons today.
  • Spyder started a new Nancy Drew game -- The Curse of Blackmoor Manor. These kinds of games aren't really my thing, but I'm really impressed with how much critical thinking is involved.
  • Skeeter has a job offer from a firm which occasionally hires him for consulting. Neither one of us is really sure whether we want him to take the job.
  • I'm thinking about applying to a different bookstore. A new one is opening closer to my house, but I don't know much about the company.
  • Spyder, Sass, and I watched The Standard Deviants Astronomy Adventure, Part I today (a Netflix movie). As always, the information was presented in an entertaining way, but it wasn't quite what we wanted. We aren't going to bother with Part 2.
  • Spyder read How to Eat Fried Worms because he really, really wants to see the movie.
  • We made Key Lime Pie today, and it was fantastic!

Monday, September 04, 2006


My neighbor's tree is absolutely loaded with pears. Today we picked a dozen or so, and I'm on the search for recipes! Pears are pretty expensive here, so I only buy them occasionally, and never for whole recipes.

I'm overjoyed to have so many!

Any suggestions?

Pirates . . . arrgh!

I've just finished a wonderful young adult series, the "Bloody Jack Adventures" by L.A. Meyer. I originally started reading them to see if they were appropriate for Spyder (they're not just yet), but I continued reading them just for me. :o)

The series begins with Bloody Jack. The setting is London, around 1795. Mary, a six-year-old girl is orphaned when both her mother and father die during an outbreak of the plague. There is nowhere for her to go, so she ends up on the streets and falls in with a street gang. A few years after, the leader of her gang is killed and she decides to strike out on her own. Disguised as a boy, she renames herself "Jacky" and gets a position on a Royal Navy ship as a ship's boy. She learns quickly and keeps up The Deception, despite running headlong into puberty and adolescence.

The second and third books continue with her vast adventures. Despite all of her hardships -- and there are many -- the books are encouraging and empowering, something that is sorely needed in young adult books today.

Highly recommended, particularly for teen and pre-teen girls.

Friday, September 01, 2006

September 1

The beginning of September always feels like a new beginning to me. A fresh start, a change of pattern. I'm not sure why; maybe I've had "new school year" impressed in my mind, even though I no longer have the need to follow the traditional school schedules.

But whatever the reason, the September date feels like I've turned the page onto a new chapter. The weather is even cooperating at the moment. We've had some (relatively) cool days, and even a couple of moments where I've thought, "Ooh, I'm kind of chilly!" Considering the summer we've had, that's just short of amazing to me.

September always makes me feel as if change is on the horizon, but this time more than usual.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Just what I needed to hear

From my friend Kathy's Quote of the Day email:

Jesus came to the disciples at the start of "the fourth watch," or around 3
a.m.... Many people seem to become unsettled during "the fourth watch,"
that is, very early in the morning when they can't get back to sleep, but
it's just too early to get out of bed. In the darkness, problems seem to
multiply and magnify.... What more apt time to invite Jesus to come to us!
Even if sleep has abandoned us, Our Lord will not.

- Fr. James McKarns, from "Living Faith" January/February?March 2003

Celia Rivenbark

Celia Rivenbark is absolutely one of the funniest writers I've read. I'm in the middle of her latest book, Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank and Other Words of Delicate Southern Wisdom.

All of her books are written somewhat like a collection of essays, so they're perfect for anyone who loves to read but doesn't always have the time. I've been reading the book while giving Sass a bath, waiting in line somewhere, waiting for that pot of spaghetti to boil . . . . You get the idea. If I have a couple of minutes, I read this book.

Being a fellow Southerner, I know (and, sadly, am probably related to) most of the people she describes. And she is completely spot on. And they're Laugh Out Loud Funny. I can't even say how many times I've laughed aloud and had to explain why I was laughing. :o)

Read her; read her; read her!