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.