Friday, December 26, 2008

I'm in Texas!

My friends in Indiana knew that I was planning this trip, but my family in Texas did not (except for Jeshurun, who helped me plan). We left Indiana at ten till 4:00 a.m. on Thursday and arrived at 1:30 a.m. Friday. Mom and Dad were asleep when we got here, so Dad was very surprised when Elijah walked into the kitchen in the morning and said "Good morning, Grandpa," and Mom was even more surprised when Dad woke her up and she found Elijah standing at her bedside.

The weather here is phenomenal (one of Elijah's favorite words, by the way). We slept with the windows open, and the boys have been playing barefoot in the driveway. This is definitely the right time of year to visit Texas. Sadly Noah came down with a bit of a tummy bug, but he seems to be recovering already. Perhaps it was the stress of the trip, though the boys were remarkably cheerful in the car, which is why I drove straight through instead of stopping for the night someplace. Though they handled the drive well, I was exhausted! I don't think I'll do that again any time soon, at least not when I'm so far behind on sleep to start with.

The rest of the family is enjoying dinner at another family's house. I am home with Noah since he was sick earlier today. Hopefully he is fine in the morning so that we can visit the aquarium downtown with Caleb and Leah and others. I think the boys would love it.

Off to do some housework. Bye!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Photos! Yes, photos, at last!

I was trying to get a nice picture of the kids together--that is, my two boys, and the two little girls I watch full time (I also watch a littler one part-time, but alas, she was not present for this picture-taking session). Well, as I'm sure many of my readers are already aware, getting small children to pose for photographs can be a bit challenging.

Take one: (I have at least a dozen similar to this one)

Take two: (I find this one hilarious!)

Take three...aha, they are all looking at the camera! Close enough!

In the above pictures you may have noticed some shaggy-looking hairdos on my boys--well later that evening, I took the clippers to their heads (took some bribery) and the result is as follows:
This picture represents a sweet moment in which Elijah gave Noah a hug and kiss. Of course the camera was too slow to capture the moment, but I still thought it was a cute picture. Doesn't Noah look so much older with his curls cut off? I think he looks adorable (but I always think that). Elijah's hair looks pretty good too.

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, yes the couch cushions are standing up against the back of the couch--the children love it when I do that for some reason. And yes, the littler girl is still in her pajamas. She was brought over in her pajamas, but for some reason they didn't look particularly pajama-like to me, so I kept forgetting to change her into her regular clothes. I didn't get her changed until about ten minutes before her parents came to pick her up! Oops!

ETA: I uploaded these as "large" pictures. Is there any particular reason not to do this? Do they take longer to load this way? Will I run out of space in my blogger account or something?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Things that make me happy

I was getting ready to order some new prefolds (Noah is getting so big!) and saw that Green Mountain Diapers has a new size in stock! The dark brown edge prefolds will be just perfect for us. I'm so excited. The light brown edge unbleached were just barely the right size, and the toddlers were huge, so I'm glad they've come out with something in between.

I had to order some new diaper covers as well. A few months ago someone at the park walked off with our diaper bag, which of course contained most of my diaper covers. They were thoughtful enough to call me and say that they had gotten my bag by accident (looks just like theirs), but then never followed through on their promise to return it. I bought some of those Gerber vinyl covers from Walmart to get us by for a while, and they were horrible. Most of them are already unusable. So I finally ordered some more covers. I hope they come soon because I am desperate. But I am really excited about having more nice diapers and good covers. :)

Okay I know this post is entitled "things that make me happy" and there are a lot more things to list! But I'm out of time so perhaps I will post more later (and maybe I'll even post a few pictures, as I now finally have a digital camera!)

ETA: diapers have arrived! Noah is excited too, as you can see in this picture (I know it's dark, haven't downloaded a photoediting program yet).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The bright side

I hope I didn't leave my readers with the impression that I am wallowing in misery. Generally speaking I am able to stay positive. But once in a while it does all kind of hit me at once, so I wanted to vent. By the time I was done writing that post I was laughing at myself, so I suppose the post served its purpose.

Most of my complaints from the last post are resolved or soon will be, thanks in large part to my wonderful and generous family who have come to my rescue more than once in the last year. My car will be repaired this Friday, I should have a new dishwasher in place by this weekend, new glasses and contacts are on their way, etc. My dryer seems to have fixed itself. I thought it was broken because one day it kept running and wouldn't shut itself off, but it's worked perfectly ever since, so perhaps that time was a fluke. And a few more lamps and brighter lightbulbs (and a Mozart CD on loan from a friend) have been enough to dispel the gloom brought on by the perpetual cloudiness. I suppose I am still a few pounds heavier, but that was by far the least of my worries. :)

I suppose I haven't made specific mention of this in my blog before, but I have been a single mama for about a year now. Lately I've been receiving a lot of commendation for choosing to do what I've been doing, that is, working as an in-home childcare provider so that I can continue to stay at home with my boys. I've kind of been wincing when I've been getting those compliments, though, because the reality is, it's not working. :) I still believe that in theory it ought to be possible to support oneself working as an in-home childcare provider, and perhaps I will return to doing so in the future, but the reality of my specific financial situation at this time is that I can't make it work.

So this summer, I will be packing up and moving to Texas to live with my family for a while. Living with my family will feel like living in some sort of paradise, I think. To not have the financial stress, and to live in a nice home that's not a perpetually unfinished work in progress, and not have to work so much and be able to focus on my boys a little more, and to have other adults to talk to at dinner time, and my wonderful parents and siblings all close by...well, I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. It will be wonderful.

Of course, to get to that point, I have to dispose of many of my belongings, pack up the rest, do some repairs and get my house ready to sell, and prepare to move across the country, all while working fifty hours a week providing childcare, caring for my own two children almost 24/7, and attempting to sell a few crafts on the side to pay my bills--a daunting task to say the least. :) I feel like I have to climb this mountain of impossibility to reach a valley of repose on the other side. I must remind myself of the verses taped above my sink: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And again, "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory through Christ Jesus."

Perhaps to find the time to do all I need to do, I should give up blogging. What do you think? :p

Thursday, December 11, 2008

When it rains, it pours: a pity party

My dishwasher broke

My dryer broke

My glasses broke

My contacts expired three years ago

My car needs new brakes (and more)

Elijah outgrew his car seat

My HOA fees went up

My mortgage went up

My water bill went up

My income went up (Oh wait, no it didn't)

It's been cloudy for weeks

I gained five pounds


Coming tomorrow: the bright side

Maybe I'm weird, but I think this post is kind of funny. LOL

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Are you a scanner or a diver?

Came across this article today:

Are you a Scanner or a Deep Diver?

This article discusses the philosophy behind the book Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams, by Barbara Sher. I haven't read it yet, but would like to.

A quote from the article: "Deep Divers can by temperament and disposition fit happily and deeply into one career focus. Scanners can't, or at least not easily and happily. Scanners by temperament need to do different things, follow different ideas, fulfil different parts of themselves, and in many cases have a series of careers or be involved in parallel fulfilling activities."

I am most definitely a scanner! A serial scanner, to be precise. I think this is part of why being a stay-at-home mom is such a perfect fit for me--I have the freedom to pursue a variety of interests, at least as time allows. And since most of my interests are related to the home in some way (however tangentially), the home is the perfect setting for me to pursue my interests!

Thought I would share this in case any of my readers are finding themselves frustrated with the notion that one must find that "perfect career" and stick with it for life. Are you a scanner or a diver? Feel free to comment and share!

p.s. Did I use the term "tangentially" correctly? Any vocabulary enthusiasts want to comment?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


This evening I had a sad memory. About a year ago I participated in a big rummage sale. I met a lovely elderly lady selling an assortment of antique toys and dolls. Atop an old crate sat a lovely quilt top--a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top in beautiful antique fabrics, bold colors and excellent workmanship. I like to quilt, so I asked how much she was selling it for, and she told me she would let it go for thirty-five dollars. At this point I remembered that I didn't actually have thirty-five dollars to spare, so I made some sort of apology and departed (after a little conversation about quilting). At the end of the sale she came over with her hands on her hips, fixed her clear dark eyes upon me, and allowed that she might be willing to part with it for a mere $32. But (this is the sad part) I still declined to purchase it.

Tonight as I was drinking my evening cup of tea (Bigelow Cinnamon Spice, if you're curious), I was suddenly struck with regret about that quilt top. I am thinking of it this evening as "the one that got away." I would have gotten a great deal of enjoyment out of quilting that quilt. I might even have been able to sell the completed quilt for a nice profit. Ah well.

If you want to see what a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top looks like, do a Google Images search. They are made with hexagons. Hexagons are great. I remember reading something about why honeybees use hexagons to build honeycomb. I tried Googling this and came up with some interesting phrases like "tesselations" and "tiling of the plane" but nothing I could put into my own words for you. Suffice it to say that hexagons are the most efficient way to enclose the space for the honey. Less wax, more honey. Okay, it's waaayyy past my bedtime, so bye.

ETA: please note that this post was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. I am not actually in misery over the loss of this quilt top. Sometimes I think that my sense of humor does not come through well in my posts. Or perhaps in general?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Planets

The boys and I were returning from an errand last night when Elijah said, "Look, Mama, I see two bright stars." I took a look and realized that what he was seeing were planets, not stars. We talked about the difference between planets and stars, and how you can tell them apart (stars twinkle, planets don't), and I promised to look online to find out what planets we were seeing. At home, I learned that Venus and Jupiter are converging in the southwestern sky just after sunset; on December 1st they will be joined by a crescent moon to make two eyes and a frowning mouth. :) We will be watching.

Prior to this, Elijah's only exposure to the term "planets" was in the context of the piece "The Planets" by Gustav Holst. Our favorite is Mars, the Bringer of War, and this is our favorite video:

I also like Jupiter, especially the beginning of it, and there's a video on Youtube of a performance by the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Eiji Oue. I think Mr. Oue is an interesting conductor to watch--he is really dramatic. But in the end I think I prefer the version by the orchestra/conductor I posted here (not sure who this conductor or orchestra is--can't find the info). ETA: See comments section--this is the Tokyo City Philharmonic, conducted by Taijiro Iimori.

I love being a mom, and seeing the world through children's eyes. If it weren't for Elijah, I would probably have driven home lost in my own thoughts, and totally missed this celestial phenomenon. :)

Oh, another thing Elijah said on the way home: "Mama, I can hear the Willum Tell Overture--it's playing in my head!" *pause* "Can you hear it?"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My newly-discovered talent

I just upgraded the memory on my computer all by myself! A generous fellow from Freecycle gave me a bigger computer monitor, and a case that was supposed to contain memory sticks that would be an upgrade for my computer. I got home and got the monitor hooked up pretty quickly, then opened up the case, just out of curiosity. I saw something and thought to myself, "Hey, I bet those are the memory sticks." They had little latchy things on either side so I undid the latchy things and pulled the memory sticks out. "Wow, that was easy," I thought to myself. "I bet I could stick these in my new computer."

So, not knowing any better, I unscrewed the case to my computer and peered around till I figured out where the memory sticks went. There were some things in my way so I thought to myself, "I wonder if I can unplug this to get it out of my way?" *yank* "Well, that didn't work, do I just need to pull harder?" *yank yank* "Ah, there it comes. Now let me stick this memory stick in. It won't go, do I just shove it or something?" *shove* "Oh, there's a wire in the way, that's funny. I'll stick it over here so it's not in my way. Aha, now the memory stick is in, I think, but I can't see anything! I wonder if I can take apart the other side to see what's going on in there?" I got the screwdriver and undid various screws until the other side of the computer came off. "Aha, the memory stick was NOT in all the way. I'll fix that with a little more muscle. Now how did this thing go back together again?" I wiggled things around for a minute, then dropped everything to run and restart the washer so the diapers would get a warm rinse instead of a cold one. Back again: "Huh, that's funny, I don't remember these wires being here. How did that happen? Oh look, this whole box thing has shifted over. I'll just push it back and then the wires will tuck behind it. Oh look, the computer has been plugged in the whole time I've been messing with these wires. I wonder if I could have electrocuted myself. Well the cover is back on now, and I think everything is plugged in properly in there. Let's see what happens when I turn it on." So I turned it on and....IT BOOTED UP! I watched with bated breath and sure enough, IT WAS RUNNING FASTER! I jumped up and down and pumped my fists in the air and said, "It works! It works!" Elijah poked his head around the corner and gave me a very strange look. Anyway, I feel very smart now.

I hope that didn't bore anyone. I just was so excited about figuring it out on my own, that I had to post.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My latest plarn creation

A few months ago I wrote that I was crocheting a reusable bag out of plastic grocery bags, made into plastic yarn, also known as "plarn." Well, I finished that one ages ago and have been using it on a regular basis. Here's another one I just made. As you can see, this is a large bag, rather larger than I had intended, in fact. I am very proud of this one because I came up with a top-secret method to brace the bottom so that it stays square (involves a wire coat hanger--*shhh* don't tell anyone). I also applied my fabulous design skills to come up with an extra-strong reinforcing stitch for the bottom and handles.

This reusable bag was created from over 100 plastic grocery bags. I didn't accumulate them all myself--they were passed on to me by lots of generous people. One nice lady that I barely know dropped two huge black trash bags crammed full of plastic bags on my porch. And other people were quite generous with their plastic bags as well. In fact, I quite quickly reached the point where I had to turn down plastic bag offers. *confession* I have an entire closet full of plastic bags in my basement. I know, crazy, huh? I need to get going and crank out some more of these nifty reusable bags.

I haven't decided if I will keep this one (probably not), or if I will try to sell it (probably). Etsy, here I come! How much do you think I should charge for it? $100? $200? Just kidding.

Yikes, it's bedtime!

I was googling plarn bags for inspiration, and wondered if adding the word "plarn" to this post would cause it to turn up in a search. So plarn plarn plarnity-plarn.

ETA: If you think crocheting with plastic bags is weird, you should see what else I was crocheting with this week (hint: something else recycled). Photos to come as soon as I get my hands on a camera again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How fast can you read?

I was sitting in the "Preschool Exploration Center" i.e. playroom at the library the other day, reading through a children's book to decide whether or not to check it out for the boys. I've learned the hard way not to check out a book that you haven't read all the way through first, no matter what, even if you remember it from your childhood and thought it was a great book. This book, as it turns out, was excellent, as were a couple of others by the same author, Marjorie Flack.

Anyway, my point was, I realized that I was reading as fast as I could turn the pages. This made me wonder how fast I can read, so I did a google search and found this test:

How Fast Can You Read?

As I suspected, I am a pretty fast reader, between 500 and 600 words per minute. However, I have trouble staying focused, so my mind wanders and I find myself having to re-read the same paragraph twice. I also have trouble remembering some details like place names and names of characters. I wonder if there's a way to maintain my reading speed while improving my focus and memory? Perhaps I just need more practice--practice, that is, without a million distractions in the background. :)

Speaking of reading, I just read this book:

Animal Vegetable Miracle 1ST Edition

Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
...and I loved it. Fantastic book--food politics has always been an interest of mine. The author discusses the sad state of our farming and food industries, and describes her family's attempt to eat nothing but locally and sustainably produced food for an entire year. It's a great story, marred only by the author's dismissive attitude towards those who believe in creation. Her attitude actually didn't bother me much, because her story made clear the bounty of God's creation and the blessing of His abundant provision for us, whether she intended it that way or not; and she was modeling good stewardship of that bounty. Very inspiring.

Anyway, reading the book motivated me to visit our winter farmer's market this weekend--while I attend our fabulous outdoor market weekly through the summer months, I've never been to the indoors winter market. Maybe I can even scrounge up the money for some more of that delicious raw clover honey raised right here in Bloomington...mmmm...

The children are napping, so I should take this chance to do some work.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Interesting article

A friend recently posted their dismay that a "socialist" has been elected president, and wished that McCain had been elected instead. I tried to point out that Bush and McCain are pretty socialist as well, but I think my point was perhaps not getting across very well.

Here's an interesting article for your perusal:

Like Barack Obama, John McCain is a Socialist

Note that the New American is a very conservative publication. I say this to point out that you don't have to be a "radical left-wing nut" to disagree with Bush and McCain's policies.

And to clarify, I did not vote for Obama because I am very strongly pro-life (the only vote I cast this election cycle was for this guy), but I am excited to see an African-American family in the White House. I will be praying that Mr. Obama and his family are kept safe and sound, and not hurt by the racist hate that is unfortunately still alive and well in our society. I will also be praying that Mr. Obama has a change of heart regarding the rights of the unborn (but I'm not holding my breath on that one).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Elijah can read!! ...Almost

Elijah is now sounding out simple words, thanks in part to this website:

The kids (the older three anyway) love this site--Noah lets out an ear-piercing shriek of excitement whenever he sees me pull it up on the screen. We started with the ABC's page and that's still where the kids spend the most time, but Elijah has now developed quite an interest in the beginning readers' page too. A couple of times a week when it's time for me to prepare lunch, I'll pull up this site and put Elijah in charge of navigation. Elijah, Noah, and K (the 3.5 year old girl I watch) will huddle around the screen and watch with fascination. Today the favorite letter was "T" for tiger, ten, and taxi. They must have watched that tiger roar at least a dozen times in a row.

So if you have a little one learning his/her alphabet, check it out. :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

He's all grown up! sort of

Today I find myself alone with Noah, as Elijah has gone to Chicago with his daddy to visit family. Tonight will be Elijah's first night away from his mama ever, except for the night I spent in the hospital after Noah was born. I just called to check in, and it appears he hasn't missed me in the least. :) I don't expect that he will, as I'm sure he's having a great time with his cousins.

Elijah is such a big boy now! As of his fourth birthday, he is now weaned. I'm happy that he got to nurse as long as he did. I know that extended nursing of children is unusual these days, though it was the norm for literally thousands of years prior to recent history. In case any moms or would-be moms or soon-to-be moms are reading this, who would like any further information about extended breastfeeding, here's an informative and helpful link: Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet

Today started out as a "bad day" but after some attitude adjustments (Philippians 4:4-19 helped with that) I am doing much better. Now that I am done being negative, I am looking at Noah being his cute self and wondering how I could ever be so grouchy with him to keep me company. I feel very blessed to have the wonderful children that I do. Noah right now is singing to himself, "Da-da-da-DAAAAAA" accompanied by dramatic waving of hands. I think this means that he would like to hear Beethoven's Fifth, so I will go start the CD player.

Bye for now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm so excited!

I just discovered that I can listen to All Things Considered online! This is great. I always miss the program when it airs on NPR at 5 or 6, because I'm busy fixing dinner and reconnecting with my boys after my daycare girls leave. Now I have something to listen to after the boys are in bed, and I can simultaneously do housework or crochet. I can be more productive this way than I am when I read the news online (I doubt I could crochet and read at the same time...)

Monday, October 13, 2008

A nice picture

Taken at a friend's house the other day. Me, my mom, and the boys. Elijah is good at saying "cheese" for the camera but the smile doesn't quite extend to his eyes. Noah was grouchy as it was past his naptime. Personally, I think he is pretty cute when he is grouchy. Actually, I think he is pretty cute just about all of the time.

Elijah is getting so big, that I can no longer think of him as cute. He has graduated to "handsome." LOL It's hard to believe that he will be four this week. (And I'm 29 as of yesterday! Wow!)

Both boys' communication skills are improving. Elijah is getting much better at using words to express his feelings instead of whining. For instance, the other day Noah threw some cracker crumbs at him. He started to get upset but when I rebuked him, he calmed down and explained, "Noah threw slobbery crumbs at me and I didn't appweciate that."

Noah's vocabulary consists mostly of words like truck, plane, tractor, vroom, etc. but he is now adding words like wet, and funny; and he's putting words together into phrases more often, like "baby book," and "shoes on." He loves shoes! He will happily stomp around in my shoes, Elijah's shoes, or even, if all else fails, his own shoes. Elijah, on the other hand, is happy to kick off his shoes the first chance he gets.

Did I mention that I am now watching another baby part-time? She is 7 months old and very cute. Now for a couple of hours every morning, I am watching 5 children ages 3 and under! But it all goes pretty smoothly. The only downside is that I have to get up earlier as the newest one arrives at seven, but that's kind of an upside too, I guess. I've often thought that it would be nice to be up by six thirty every day.

Well, back to work.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mom's visit

My mommy is here! She arrived Friday night and will be here for two weeks. She is helping me out with a lot of things around the house and we are greatly enjoying her company. The first night she was here (Friday) I got sick. She was kind enough to help out quite a bit with housework and childcare on Saturday so that I could get some rest. By Sunday I was better, but Elijah was ill, so we all stayed home together and listened to a couple of sermons online (check out and a taped sermon by John MacArthur. And drank lots of yummy tea that Mommy had bought on Saturday. :)

Today we are back to normal health-wise, for the most part, though Elijah is still pretty tired and grouchy, poor guy. Mom is helping me rejuvenate my bathrooms--they are getting new caulk, new grout, and a good scrubbing. They will look so much better!

The boys are really enjoying their time with "Meemaw." It's so cute to see Noah bring her his favorite book (Bears on Wheels) and climb up into her lap so that she can read it to him. Both boys are delighted when she plays the violin or the penny whistle. And she is great at pretending with dolls and animals.

Well I need to get going...need to put some fresh sheets on the bed and get Elijah to sleep. Good night.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Budding musicians

The other night before bed Elijah was humming to himself. Then a thought struck him and he looked at me and said, "Mama, when I'm a grown-up, I can play Tai-chow-sky on the pany-o." :) :) :) I assured him that yes indeed, when he is a grownup, he can learn to play the piano and then he can play all the Tchaikovsky he wants.

Noah knows and can hum the opening line to Beethoven's 5th, and part of a piece by Mendelssohn. Elijah sometimes puts a name to pieces whose name I don't know, and I have to check to see if he's right. He usually is. Both boys like to "play instruments" while they are listening to music. They have decided that the broomstick is a cello, and a shorter stick has been labeled a violin. Both instruments are "played" with mixing spoons. Occasionally arguments erupt when Elijah decides that he would like to trade instruments, but Noah is not ready to do so; then I have to intervene...but this is an ongoing issue, Elijah deciding that he would like to "trade" toys whether the other children are willing or not. *sigh*

Perhaps one of these days I'll get a "real" instrument for the kiddos to play. Elijah would really like a triangle. Seems to me like a triangle would be pretty much indestructible, right? Indestructible is nice. Come to think of it, we do have a harmonica somewhere--I put it up during naptime one day, and never got it back down. Hmmm, now where did I put it?

Actually, come to think of it, maybe the pretend instruments are better than "real" ones, as they can play along without interrupting what we're listening to! I mean, the music to which we are listening! Sometimes correct grammar just sounds so awkward. Anyone want to suggest a better way to end that sentence?

Changing subjects--I have recently learned that several family friends (and my sister-in-law!!!) are expecting little ones. Congratulations once again! All are due I believe next spring.

For a while I felt like I had a house full of babies, with my own two and the two I watch; but now they are all getting so big! There aren't really any babies in the house any more. The older two are preschoolers now, and the little ones are fully toddlers. The littlest one just turned a year old this month. But I did get to babysit a really-truly baby for a few hours on Friday--she's 7 months old. That was nice. :)

Okay, this might be a bit disjointed? But I'm off to bed. I meant to go to bed early tonight. :( I would like to wean myself off of emoticons but it's hard.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

This saddens me

I don't know why I'm trying to post when I have to leave in fifteen minutes, but this really struck me (in a sad way) and I felt like I ought to share it.

Take a look at the box on the left--survey respondents were asked to pick adjectives that describe blacks. Notice where white republicans fall on this graph (the red squares). They are the least likely, of all white political groups, to apply positive adjectives to blacks, and among the most likely to think that negative adjectives apply. Note that less than 15% of white republicans think that the word "law-abiding" applies to most blacks! That's right, 85% of white republicans think that most black people are NOT law-abiding! Yikes!

This makes me wonder how many white republicans actually *know* any black people. I would have liked to see that question in the survey--how often do you interact with black people, and on what level?--and to see how the answer to that question correlates to the adjectives chosen.

But to a certain extent, your familiarity with black people ought to be irrelevant--surely any charitable American would be willing to assume the best about people that they don't know?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Okay, three posts in a day--this has to be a record. Anyway, the other day Elijah was playing with dominoes, and after a while he announced "I made 'lion'!" I took a look, and sure enough, he had carefully lined up the dominoes to spell: LIEAN. Which does say 'lion' if you think of it as LIE-AN. I thought this was very cute. :) Oh, and he had it backwards, reading from right to left.

So far he is self-taught--I really should get my act together and teach him some proper phonics. I started the book "Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons," but stopped when I realized he was not even close to being able to do the writing sections. A couple of months later I thought about the book again, and realized, duh, who says we have to do the writing sections? We can just skip them. Now it's just a matter of remembering to do it with him (at an opportune time, like when the other little ones are napping).

Okay, that's really all for the day.

Oh yes, the wedding

It has come to my attention that I have failed to post any pictures of my sister's wedding. Unfortunately, since I was in the wedding, I was unable to take any pictures, and the other expert photographer whose pictures I usually "borrow" was also in the wedding (that would be my sister. :P)

So the photos I post will be borrowed from several sources. For now I will just post this one, borrowed from Anna:

Above we have: Leah (my brother Caleb's wife, and the groom's cousin), Haley (best friend of bride, and married to groom's brother James), moi, Mercy, her new spouse Mark, Carl (groom's brother), James (also groom's brother, and spouse of Haley), and John (also groom's brother). The groom has a lot of brothers, six in fact.

The wedding was lovely and of course Mercy looked beautiful. She was a bit stressed out before the wedding though. I was not at all stressed out before the wedding, but I was stressed out after the reception when we all went outside to take pictures by this lovely pond, which you can see behind us. I was stressed because Elijah found the pond quite fascinating and didn't want to stay away from it. It had steep banks, down which he wished to venture. You can see him eyeing the pond again in the picture above. Just before this picture, he went out on a bridge over the pond (also behind us in the picture--note the highly inadequate railing) and leaned way out over the water to drop fluffy seeds into the water (cattails maybe?) and I couldn't do much about it because I was supposed to be posing for pictures. Fortunately a few other people assisted me in keeping him from plunging into the depths.

Oh, and as we left, Noah got into a nest of fire ants. I have been dreading fire ants ever since I first heard about them. But my imagination was worse than the reality. Once I got them all brushed off of him (and out of his clothes), he was fine--they didn't seem to cause him any lasting pain. The bites I got weren't too bad either. I am much relieved. :)

Okay, several children are waking from their naps, so I should go. Perhaps I will edit in more pictures later.

Plastic bags are yucky

Here's a slideshow about plastic bags, and the impact they have on our environment and our economy:

I've switched to the reusable bags that you find selling at most stores nowadays for $1, and...they are so much nicer! I love the big handles that I can put over my shoulder. I love that they're strong enough to hold two gallons of milk. I love that they are big enough that three of them hold a week's worth of groceries (well, that's if I don't put the milk in bags). I like the flat bottom that enables them to stand on their own when full of groceries. They're so much nicer, that I wonder why everyone doesn't use them all the time. Oh wait...maybe it's because they are always forgetting their bags at home, like I do. :) Seriously people [Mom], they cost a dollar; you should give them a try.

Note: the ones at Walmart for $1 don't have the hard bottom that makes them so much more supportive--so pick some up at Kroger or another store, where they still cost $1 but have the hard piece in the bottom.

Of course, the bags you find for $1 aren't exactly the ultimate in reusable bags--the best ones are the ones made of heavy-duty canvas, that you can run through the washing machine. But those are significantly more expensive...I've seen them at the farmer's market for $10. Maybe someday I'll be able to afford them. I bet they would last forever.

I hope that in my lifetime, plastic grocery bags will go extinct, so that the bags I crochet out of them will be a novelty item. Someday I'll tell the stories to my grandchildren. "Gather round, kids. Once upon a time, people brought their groceries home in these flimsy, ugly plastic bags. They hardly held anything, and wouldn't stay upright in your trunk, and sometimes they would rip and send your groceries rolling across the parking lot. And they had to put these warning labels on the sides, because sometimes babies would suffocate in them." "Eeeeewwww!" reply the kids. I can just see it, can't you?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm in Texas...

...and keeping quite busy, so I may not be able to respond to previous comments for a few days. My parents' church recently bought a new building and my brother Jesh and others have been transforming a wing into living quarters for the new pastor and his family. We spent a few days there this last week, helping out; the place was humming with activity--painting, tiling, new doors, trim, etc. Mom and I repainted the kitchen cabinets and replaced the handles. It was very satisfying to see those hideous yellow cabinets transformed into something beautiful...(ahem) well, tolerable at least. (Sometimes there is only so much that you can do.) I enjoyed working at the manse (parsonage) in part because I enjoy that sort of work, but also because I had nice company, like Mom and my brothers. :)

One person I haven't seen much is my little sister, but as she is getting married tomorrow, she has a good excuse for not being more sociable. Today she tried on her wedding dress for a few last-minute alterations (she looked lovely of course), and I got to think a little more about how my little sister is all grown up, and leaving home for the first time. I also scoped out her room, since I hope that the boys and I will be able to move in now that there's a vacancy. :) Well, not right away, but before too long.

I've been taking lots of pictures and will hopefully get some posted soon, maybe on Saturday?

I can't believe that my visit will be ending so soon (Monday). Perhaps I can just skip my flight back and stay here for good! (kidding, kidding, though I'm tempted).

Adios for now.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I got a new stroller!

...not the double jogging stroller I've been wishing for, but a single jogging stroller, which is a big step in the right direction. I found it cheap at a local rummage sale. The fabric is faded, but it's sturdy and a good brand (baby jogger) and has the fixed wheel I wanted, and it turns on a dime, and I can drive it straight over a curb without stopping (an advantage of great big wheels). I love it! Now I can make trips like I did yesterday--Noah in the stroller and Elijah walking on the way there, and Noah on my back and Elijah in the stroller on the way home (a mile each way)--only the trip will be sooo much easier with a nicer stroller.

My neighbors had a yard sale of their own today, and thoughtfully included a few items of mine that I wanted out of the house--some of them big, like an extra twin mattress and a broken computer desk--and sold them for enough to compensate me for what I spent on the stroller. I feel good about getting some of those big unwanted items out of my way, and (effectively) getting a new stroller in exchange!

Please don't take this post as an indication that I'm "done" with the last one--I'm still welcoming comments and meal suggestions. :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

cooking inspiration

I've been lacking inspiration in the kitchen lately. Seems like every day I go into the kitchen, open the fridge and stare into it, open the freezer and stare into it, and open my pantry and stare some more, all the while thinking, "What on earth am I going to cook?" Finally after eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner the second night in a row (Elijah's idea--he LOVES peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), I thought, "Something has to change." So I went to for inspiration, and discovered something new--a budget cooking page! I'm so excited! One of the first recipes I came across was sloppy joes. Of course my first thought was, "Sloppy Joes! Why didn't I think of that?" Sloppy joes are a perfect freezer food. I like to make big pots of food and then freeze some to thaw later--makes for less time spent cooking, in the long run. So I made a triple batch of the top-rated recipe. However, I'm not sure that any will make it to the freezer, as it's pretty good!

I have a lot of good meals in my repertoire, and I tend to be quite successful with new recipes as well (probably because I don't attempt anything particularly complicated), so I think our lackluster meals of late are mostly due to bad planning on my part. With some proper meal planning and a little browsing on allrecipes, I'm sure I will find myself re-inspired.

If my cooking readers would like to comment and mention two or three of their family's favorite meals, perhaps that would help. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Stroller frustrations

I decided this week not to use the car at all until Saturday. Then of course I ran out of milk, which is a big deal because coffee is just not the same without milk. :) So the boys and I walked to a local pharmacy and got a gallon of milk. For this trip, Elijah went in a small umbrella stroller, Noah went on my back in the mei tai, and the milk, once we got it, went in a bag which I hung from the handles of the stroller. Of course every time Elijah hopped out of the stroller to investigate something, over the stroller went with a thunk because the milk hanging on the back made it so unbalanced. I had to keep reminding him to stay put. LOL

I am very grateful for our big double stroller, which was a gift from friends at church. Without it, I would not be able to get out nearly as much as I do, especially not for our longer (more than a mile) walks. However, I'm starting to get frustrated with some of its limitations. It's a swivel wheel, which means if I'm going along a sidewalk which slopes towards the street, the stroller keeps wanting to turn and roll into the street, and I'm fighting with it the whole way. And it has the boys positioned one in front of the other, which means it takes a lot more muscle to turn it, as I don't have as much leverage with the narrow handlebar. On rough surfaces like gravel, the front wheels shake and rattle alarmingly, causing a very jolt-ey ride, and even some dead stops as the wheels manage to turn themselves sideways. And whenever I encounter a curb, I have to haul back on the handle (with my foot on a crossbar at the back) to lift the front of the stroller up--very difficult to do with one of my heavy guys in the front seat. Needless to say, all of these features add quite a bit of exercise to our excursions! On the bright side, I am getting very strong!

SO....I have done a lot of research, and concluded that my dream stroller would be a side-by-side double jogging stroller with 16" wheels, a fixed front wheel, and an aluminum frame. I have a specific model in mind, and I am checking Craigslist and the local children's consignment store on a regular basis...but no luck so far. I'm beginning to think that I will either have to wait till winter, when more people are willing to sell their used strollers, or buy new. But new are so expensive!

The thing is, I really think that with a good stroller, I could walk a lot of places that I now drive. So by driving less I would be saving money, which would somewhat offset the cost of the stroller. But do I really NEED a new stroller, or can I make do with what I have?

Sometimes it's hard to have to make all of these decisions by myself. It can take me forever to make up my mind! I did however make a rather impetuous decision today--I ordered a steam carpet cleaner! From initial idea to purchase in less than two hours!

Now that I have this post typed up, I realize that it's probably not going to be particularly interesting to anybody, but I stayed up so late typing it that I'm going to post it anyway.

EDIT: my stroller may not be as bad as I thought! See the comments section!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

a rainy day

Today was hot and humid and overcast. This evening we went to the park. My boys played for all of two minutes on the huge, fantastic playground, then wanted to go see the waterfall. (This particular park is situated in a narrow valley with steep sides and, in one spot, a waterfall). I am always tickled when my boys choose nature over big playgrounds. :) So we crossed the street and went down the long, windy trail through the woods to the waterfall. It was drizzling rain and the light was dim in the woods, which were much more lush and green than the last time we went--how long has it been? When we got to the waterfall, the boys entertained themselves by climbing around on the slippery rocks and throwing pebbles into the water. Well, they were supposed to be throwing pebbles, but Elijah preferred to throw rather large stones, which made me nervous as his aim is still a little wild. After a bit we headed back down the trail and out of the woods.

And then, we came to the highlight of our trip: the mud puddles in the gravel parking lot. Yes, the mud puddles were the highlight, apparently more interesting than either the huge playground, or the beautiful waterfall. The boys started out by watching the ripples caused by the raindrops hitting the puddles; then they made ripples of their own by tossing in some gravel...and then Noah accidentally stepped into the puddle with a splash, and a look of sheer delight crossed his face. Of course then I had to take off his shoes and let him splash away. Elijah quickly followed suit. I watched and smiled and looked around at the trees and the water and thought about how much I will miss Bloomington when we leave. After a while I packed my very wet boys back into the car and brought them home and put them to bed.

As Elijah was going to sleep, he sat up and whispered loudly, "Mama, I want to watch the Willum Tell Overture tomorrow." I said "Okay dear, now go to sleep." But he wanted to clarify: "I want to watch it lots of times." "Yes dear, we can do that, now go to sleep." He laid back down and whispered, "I like that kind of music, Mama." Yes, the William Tell Overture (our "piece of the week") has been a smashing success in this household, and before lunch every day we watch this clip over, and over, and over:

The William Tell Overture, as played by the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Claudio Abbado.

We like the part where the rain begins to fall, and all the umbrellas open up. :)

Okay, I have a sewing project to complete.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

An Apology

I know my blog has been short on pictures lately. It seems that I am always missing either the camera or the USB cord. Well, I will be more diligent about trying to find the two so that I can post some pictures. Thanks for your patience. :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Noah's new word is "cookie." This afternoon, he spotted the chocolate cookies on the counter and said carefully, "Cookie?" then made the sign for "please." Of course I had to give him one! As soon as he had one in his hand, he pointed at the cookies again and said, "Bubba cookie?" (Bubba means brother.) Awwwww! So I gave him another cookie and he took it to his brother.

Noah has been very sweet lately about sharing things. If he has anything nice, he wants to make sure that Elijah has some too. So cute! He is being a good example for his big brother, who is not always so generous!

Noah lately has been a bit rough with his brother and with the little girls I watch. He will sometimes hit, or pull hair (I think he's just doing it to get a reaction, as he doesn't seem to be angry or upset when he does it). If they get upset, or if I rebuke him, he smiles sweetly at me and then gives his victim lots of little kisses to make it "all better." It's hard for me to be strict with him when he is so cute! Fortunately he is more gentle with the baby than with the older two--I guess he senses that she is more "fragile" (her big sister's word).

I am very much looking forward to visiting my family in August. We will be in Texas for nearly two weeks--our longest visit yet. And yes, we get to fly down again--thanks Mom!

Well, we are off to take a walk before it gets too late.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A typical day

A typical day:
7:00a.--Noah wakes me by crawling out of his crib into my bed. I take him downstairs and have a bowl of cheerios, sharing a few bites with Noah. I brew a pot of coffee and do my hair (take it out of its braid, comb it, put it into a bun).
7:45--The girls I watch (K., 3 1/2, and A., 10 months) arrive. The older one is still in her p.j.s so I get her dressed for the day. Then I drink my coffee, supervise kiddos, and read the free newspaper that I found on my porch.
8:30--Elijah finally gets up and we eat breakfast--cinnamon raisin bagels, cream cheese, and o.j. After breakfast I find an old video of the BBC orchestra playing Beethoven's 5th, 1st and 2nd movements (our "piece of the week") on Youtube. The kids watch while I clean up the breakfast dishes. Then I give A. her breakfast and put her down for her nap. I do some more kitchen work, then read to/talk to/play with the remaining three for a while.
10:45--I have the kids pick up all the toys, put on shoes, use the bathroom, and we go outside. The big ones ride tricycles up and down the sidewalk, and Noah pushes a push toy. I water the plants on my front porch. Noah tries to escape a few times and giggles when I chase him. After a while we go back in (I couldn't take the heat, though the kids didn't seem to mind it).
12:00--I fix lunch. Peanut butter & strawberry jam sandwiches on whole wheat, and carrot sticks. We eat (carrot sticks first, to make sure they get eaten). By this time A. has woken up and joined us. After lunch I have the kids help clear the floor/move chairs, and I vacuum the main floor. The kids think vacuuming is very fun and exciting. We put on naptime diapers, read a story, and have a glass of milk. K., as she does every day lately, asks me to tell her where milk comes from. I say "from cows" just to tease her, but she says, "No, tell me the story," so I tell her the long version. I put K. down for her nap, feed A. her lunch, put Noah down for his nap, and put A. down for her nap.
1:30-3:30--a relaxing few hours with just Elijah to keep me company. I clean up from lunch, have another cup of coffee, check e-mail, etc.
3:30-4:00--K. gets up. Noah wakes up. A. wakes up. We read/talk/play/the usual.
4:45--the girls' mom picks them up. Once they leave, I cook dinner (chicken dijon, brown rice, green beans). We eat. Noah decides that he really likes green beans (has strongly disliked them until today). I have a cup of green tea. The boys drink the last drops (our tradition). Supervise kids--Noah in the evenings gets mildly fussy and needs a little more attention.
6:45--we get ready for a walk (shoes, hats, etc.) We are headed to a local rails-to-trails conversion. To get there we have to cut through a few parking lots, cross a busy street, cut through a couple more parking lots, go over a pedestrian bridge, and cross another busy street. Finally we are there. The trail is straight and level (as you would expect, seeing as it was once a railroad). It's well lined with trees, which keep it cool even on hot days. The sun is low in the west and slanting through the trees--very pretty. We go about a mile down the trail, and see runners, bikers, dogs, rabbits, and birds. Elijah collects handfuls of pebbles and tosses them into a creek, which Noah finds very funny. Now it's time to head home. We stop at Dairy Queen and wait in line, only to realize that they don't take debit cards. Fortunately, my bank is right down the street. I feel funny walking up to the drive-through ATM with a stroller, but I get over it. We go back to Dairy Queen and get ice cream (note to self: in the future, one small cup/cone/blizzard will be more than enough for all three of us). Then it's back through some parking lots, across the strip of grass, and home again. The sun is slipping behind the trees and it is now 9:00p.
9:20--the boys are changed and ready for bed. I take them upstairs to put them to sleep.
10:00--Noah is FINALLY asleep. I come downstairs, eat leftovers, and type this blog entry.

Well, that's a typical day in brief. I did leave out some things, like the diapers I changed--seven (yes, seven!!!) poopy diapers. And of course I mediated squabbles, supervised potty trips, nursed my little one, answered dozens of random questions, fielded phone calls, etc. etc. :) it's past my bedtime and I still need to shower. If you have actually read all this, I am quite impressed. :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yes, I switched to cloth!

In response to a comment on another blog...

Yes, I finally did make the switch to cloth diapers. I'm keeping it simple with Chinese prefolds (a few bleached and a few unbleached) and I fasten with Snappis. For now I'm using some Gerber vinyl pull-up covers and they actually work really well except that the vinyl rips too easily, so I think I'll try to find some Dappi nylon pull-ups. I do have one Thirsties wrap cover in blue which is sooooo cute, but it's much more expensive, and doesn't work any better than the pull-ups, so not worth the extra $$$ in my opinion.

All right, that's it--I would be happy to discuss further if any of you cloth-diapering fans have any comments or questions. :)

Monday, June 30, 2008

I love babies :)

Usually I wake in the mornings when Noah climbs out of his crib and into my bed. Well the other morning I guess I was sleeping a little more soundly than usual, because I woke to find Noah's chubby little arms wrapped tightly around my neck. He was struggling with all his might to lift my head off the pillow. He was grunting with the effort, "Oooooof! Eeeeerrrrf!" It was so adorable that I will confess, I pretended I was still asleep, so that he would keep doing it. But when he got tired of trying to lift my head, and instead tried to stick a finger up my nose, I got up in a hurry. :D

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Now for a happy post. :)

Hi friends. I got tired of seeing the grouchy post at the top of the page whenever I would check for here's a happy one to replace it :)

My brother Jeshurun (college student in Texas, for those who don't know him) recently drove to Ontario to visit/work for a friend who has a farm up there. He tried to stop by my place for a visit on his way through Indiana, but was prevented due to the crazy flooding we had--he tried three different possible routes to get to Bloomington, but all three were flooded. So we didn't get to see him on his way up. But on his way back from Ontario, a couple of weeks later, he was able to stop here for a couple of days.

It's been nice to see him again. He's been busy both helping me with a project--installing ceiling fans--and working with pencil and graph paper to plan his next project. His next project is to help renovate a church building (his church will be purchasing a new building next week, and they are renovating a wing to house the pastor and his family). At the moment Jesh is working on the ceiling fan in my bedroom actually--so I won't be able to get to bed for a while I guess. Good excuse to brew some tea and eat more if I haven't had enough caffeine and sugar today already. :)

After a few days of grouchiness about the state of my house, I have returned to my usual state of optimism. Yes, my basement smells musty, but thanks to the dehumidifier I found on Craigslist for a great price, the odor has greatly diminished, and the carpet is finally dry again. Yes, my dishwasher is malfunctioning, but I bet I can find a good one at a local used-appliance store, and they aren't all that difficult to replace (right??). Yes, I have a lot of unfinished projects around the house, and the unfinished trim in the living room/kitchen/entryway has been kind of bugging me, but I just discovered that I can run the miter saw in the basement at night without waking up the boys upstairs, so I bet I will be able to finish that project soon. Etc. etc.

Other nice things going on in my life: Noah has been the cutest thing lately. He is very affectionate and likes to laugh at things. I love hearing him laugh. I get the best laughs when I put lotion on his neck after his bath--he is very ticklish. Elijah is making good progress with potty training, and at random moments will tell me, "Mama? I love you most in the whole world." We've been enjoying Bryan Park and the farmer's market on a regular basis. And I have my sister's wedding to look forward to...and all of my plants look fantastic these days...and I have other nice things going on in my life too, but you get the idea. :)

Okay, I'm sleepy.

Monday, June 16, 2008

feeling overwhelmed

Hello folks. I have a computer overnight so I suppose I should make use of this opportunity to update my blog.

The last few days I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed. My basement flooded a couple of weeks ago, on an afternoon in which we had some torrential downpours. Fortunately it wasn't too bad--I just had a soggy carpet, and it was limited to one room, and nothing was damaged. But it was a big hassle to clean up. I comforted myself by telling myself that the flooding was a fluke event, not likely to reoccur (I have seriously never seen a downpour like the one we had that day).

Well I had just succeeded in getting the carpet completely dry, when it flooded AGAIN! And we hadn't even had that much rain. Well two times in two weeks was just too much for that poor carpet, and now it smells, well, musty. To be more precise, it kind of stinks. Can you imagine how embarrassing this is? I don't even really know what to do about it.

I think I really need a dehumidifier. But they're expensive. I'm looking around for a used one, and perhaps I will rent one over the weekend as a temporary measure.

I wonder if sprinkling baking soda over the carpet would help? I have lots of baking soda. Anyway, besides the carpet, I am just feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the work that this place needs. (Did I mention that my dishwasher is also smelling rather unpleasant? I think it may not be draining properly. Oh, and it's leaking, too.)

I'm learning that I'm capable of doing a lot of repairs and upgrades myself, which is good because I don't have a lot of money to hire professionals to take care of things. The problem is, since I'm not a professional, it can take me a lot of time to get things right (see the post about my bathroom sink for an example of this). Sadly, I don't have much spare time.

Perhaps it would help if I used the spare time that I do have to work on things, instead of updating my blog. :)

On the bright side, my wonderful brother Jeshurun will be stopping by next week on his way back to Texas from Ontario. If he has time, he will be helping me install ceiling fans. I am very excited about the possibility of having ceiling fans. And perhaps he will even have time to help me with something else, like replacing my dishwasher. But even if he doesn't have time, it will be nice to see him again, since I don't get to see my family all that often. :)

Okay, I've wasted those precious hours between the boys' bedtime and mine, updating Facebook and my blog. I guess I'll go sprinkle baking soda on the carpet with a flour sifter--this will be kind of fun--and then I'm off to bed.

EDITED to remove some of the whining. :) I'm feeling better now because the HOA has done some repairs to the gutters and drainage systems that should prevent future flooding. Also, the baking soda did help.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Just so you know...

...I am now computerless. :) I've been using a borrowed computer for the last...uh...six months? And it is now finally returning to its owner, so I will be without a computer until I find a new one of my own. I will still be checking e-mail a couple of times a week but I don't know if I'll have time to update my blog, so be forewarned, entries will be a bit sparse for a while. :)

I hope all who read this are doing well. Stay in touch!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Baked Oatmeal

I've often wished I could properly appreciate oatmeal, as I know it's such a healthy breakfast, and the kids really enjoy it. But I could never really get into it...too sticky and goopy and bland. WELL...finally the other day I tried this baked oatmeal recipe, and wow, it's great! I love that I can prepare it the night before, and just pop it into the oven in the morning for a hot breakfast.

Baked Oatmeal
1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (or less)
4 eggs
1.5 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
3 cups regular oats

Blend all ingredients. Pour into a greased baking dish.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, sprinkle 1 tbsp of brown sugar on top, and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or till firm in the middle. Serve hot.

My boys eat theirs in a bowl, crumbled up, with milk.  I like mine with a bit of butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar, or some honey.

This recipe is highly adaptable. You can add nuts and raisins or dates or dried cranberries, if you like that sort of thing. Or apples and extra cinnamon and a bit of cloves and nutmeg.  Or pumpkin and some pumpkin pie spice.  Whatever floats your boat!

The baked oatmeal in the photo above had the following modifications: I doubled the recipe, then substituted 1/2 cup flax seed meal and 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut for 1 cup of the oats.  I also added a bit of cloves and ginger, and a diced apple.  It was great!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 28th

I suppose I'm due for a post. There isn't much exciting going on here. The girls I watch were out of town for a week and a half, so the boys and I enjoyed our "time off." I got some organizing and cleaning done. I also completed my reusable bag made out of plastic grocery bags. It looks pretty neat. If I ever find the USB cord for the camera, I'll upload a picture.

Elijah has a cold and asthma again. He just went through this a couple of weeks ago. He is not at all himself, poor thing. The weather today is beautiful, though, so I loaded the boys in the double stroller and we went for a long walk. I stopped by the utility place and paid my water bill--saved myself a 41 cent stamp! Woo-hoo! When we got home, we had a picnic out in back of our place. The meal was not particularly exciting--tuna sandwiches to be precise--but it was nice to sit on a soft blanket in the cool evening, to watch the birds and the trees, and to spot the first clover blossoms scattered throughout the lawn.

I'm excited to hear of Mercy's engagement. I miss my family quite a bit, so it will be nice to travel to Texas for the wedding.

Hmm...well I suppose that's all for now. Oh, I've been learning recently that I have a few readers who have never commented (and thus I was not aware of their presence). So, hello, anonymous readers! *waves*

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Racist Incidents Give Obama Campaigners Pause

Sadly, I think most white Americans (at least the ones I know) are unaware that this kind of blatant racism is still alive and well in the United States. I have certainly witnessed more than I care to have witnessed, and it saddens me greatly to know that my children will most likely experience this kind of racism for themselves.

I think most of the racism my kids will encounter is the kind based in ignorance rather than malice, i.e. "You are such an articulate young man!" "So, do you play basketball?" "Hey bro, do you know where I can score some weed?" which is bad enough...but the odds are, they will also encounter the more malicious stuff at some point in their lives. I wish I knew how best to prepare them for it. :(

On a lighter note, I am out of coffee!!!! Aaaaahhhh! Must run to the store before the girls I watch arrive!!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Story of Stuff

I keep coming across recommendations for the little 20-minute video "The Story of Stuff" but I've never gotten around to watching it, till now. I just watched it and appreciated it enough that I thought I would recommend it here. Check it out:

If you're not already on the same page as the creator of this video, Ms. Leonard, you might not like everything that she has to say, but it's worth a watch anyway. The most surprising tidbit, to me: only 1% of stuff purchased in the United States is still in use 6 months later. The rest has been consumed or trashed. Yikes!

The older I get, the more of an environmentalist I become (tho the seeds were sown by Mr. Blok, a science teacher from long ago). My latest "eco-nut" project--crocheting a re-usable shopping bag out of strips cut from disposable plastic shopping bags. I get such a kick out of knowing that I'm taking something disposable and petroleum-based, and turning it into something re-useable and not half bad-looking, either. I promise to post a picture when I get it finished--but it might be a while before it's done, because it will take like 50 bags to make it, and I only have a dozen in the house, so I'm collecting them from friends (trying to get all matching bags, LOL).

On a semi-related note, I've decided that my sewing projects from here on out will be made from recycled clothing. I have a chest full of denim cut from old jeans that is designated for rugs and quilts. Denim makes a very heavy and warm quilt, quite nice for cold Indiana winter nights, especially when the mama of the house keeps the temperature quite low (to save on both energy and $$$). If any of my Indiana readers (do I even have any?) have any old/holey/stained jeans to pass my way, I would be happy to recycle them into something useful. :D

Well, three of my children are asleep, and the other has been kidnapped (kidding, kidding) by his dad for a walk, so I should use this rare quiet moment to get some housework done.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Success with naps!

Noah has switched from two naps to one, and naptimes are SO. MUCH. EASIER. He gets a bit grouchy late in the morning, but not intolerably so, and by the time I put him down after lunch, he is tired enough that he falls asleep straight away. No more spending half an hour or forty-five minutes trying to get him to sleep! Bedtimes have been easier too. He's started doing this thing where he grabs a handful of his shirt and tucks it right up underneath his chin. He seems to find it soothing for some reason. I've never seen another child do that. Anyway, it seems to help him go to sleep.

I made the mistake of trying to put Noah in the nursery at church a couple of times (new church, by the way!!! Yes, I finally switched), with the idea that I could then focus on teaching Elijah to sit through church. Well that was a bad idea, as Noah has now developed separation anxiety and cries the minute I set foot in the nursery. And he cries any time that I walk away and he can't see me. Well, not at home so much, but when we are elsewhere. When we're away from home, he just clings so tightly to me...which is really kind of cute, he's such a sweet little cuddlebug. :) So anyway, I guess I will have to teach Elijah to sit in church while at the same time holding Noah on my lap. This will be challenging. I am afraid that I won't get as much out of the sermons now, which is a shame because I have been enjoying them.

Oh, and Noah is now officially walking. He walks 90% of the time and crawls the other 10%--I can call that walking, right?

I have pictures to post but I'm sleepy. Maybe another time.

New Favorite Recipe

I have a new favorite recipe...Honey Baked Lentils. Here goes:

1 cup lentils (I use brown because red turn to mush)
2 cups water
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ginger
1 clove garlic
1 small onion
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients. Bake in covered dish at 350 till tender (recipe says an hour and a half, but mine only took an hour--I might use more water next time).

Serve with either white or brown rice. YUMMY.

Update Feb 2013:
Optional variations:
Sometimes I add sliced carrots.
Sometimes I add chicken (I just lay it on top of the lentils before I put it into the oven).
Sometimes I cook it in the crockpot, on low for 6-7 hours.
Sometimes I cook lentils, chicken, carrots, and rice all together in the crockpot for a one-dish meal.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Two pictures

I took two pictures today for the sole purpose of posting them here. :) First, here is the beautiful magnolia tree that I drive by every time I'm out and about. Springtime in Bloomington starts with the magnolias and the daffodils--but the redbuds and tulips are not far behind.

Mom tells me that in Texas, most of the magnolias are cone-shaped like a pine tree. That's not the case here at all.

And the second picture--this is a brand new neighborhood about 1/2 a mile from me. I think it's pretty. :) When we're out, Elijah will suggest, "Let's go look at the colorful houses." Each house on the street is a different color--one of my favorites is the one that is teal with chocolate trim (Mercy, I bet you would love it). They are all beautiful Craftsman-style homes with big front porches and gorgeous wood trim inside (I haven't been in, but I've seen pictures). And they all have cute little matching garages out back along the alley. :) Around the corner from this street, and part of the same development, is a row of traditional brick shopfronts--can't wait to see what stores will go in there.

But what itty-bitty yards!
You can click on both pics for ginormous close-ups. If you click on the magnolia picture, note the cute little seat that someone built around its trunk.

Friday, April 4, 2008

At long last...the story of my bathroom sink

I'm getting ready to make chicken pot pie. Chicken pot pie tends to take me a while--seems like there are a lot of steps to the recipe. So I thought I would tell the story of my bathroom sink while I'm in between steps. For instance, I just emptied leftovers out of the big pot I want to use, and set it to soak for a minute. While it soaks, here I am. :)

When we bought this house (townhouse I should say), it had been a rental for a few years and felt a little dingy and run-down. There were a few little things around the house that had obviously been done by a do-it-yourself-er. Like the living room trim. Apparently someone attempted to "upgrade" to nicer trim, except that the stuff they put down as baseboards was actually door casing. And they apparently didn't own a miter saw, as all the ends were just blunt-cut and stuck together with gobs of silicone caulk. Yes, it was ugly. :) But hey, we got a really good deal on the place, and I knew I could fix all the little "issues."

The "guest bathroom" (half bath on the main level) was done in similar fashion. Someone had attempted to touch-up the paint, and as you may know, there is no such thing as a successful touch-up paint job. The color never matches right, and it always ends up looking, well, patched. Also, the wall-hung bathroom sink was sagging away from the wall a little bit. Someone had attempted to hide the gap between the sink and the wall with--you guessed it--gobs of silicone caulk. Yes, it was ugly. :)

[Scrubbed the pot and a few other dishes, put Noah back to sleep, realized chicken was still frozen & set it to defrost under running water] Well I started by cutting away all the caulk with a utility knife. Then I got out my largest wrench to undo the drainpipe under the sink. Well my largest wrench wasn't big enough, and the neighbors didn't have anything big enough either. A couple of weeks later--oh wait, I should explain. I didn't have a car at the time, so I was relying on borrowed transportation, and errands of any sort were hard to do. We do have a hardware store within walking distance, but it closes at 5:00 and I work till 4:45--not enough time to bundle up the boys, load them into the stroller & mei tai, and make it there before closing.

Anyway, a couple of weeks later, I finally made it to the hardware store and bought another wrench. Got home and what do you know, the new wrench wasn't big enough either. A couple of weeks later (as you can see, this story spans a long period of time), finally made it back to the hardware store and got a proper wrench. Took apart the drainpipe, disconnected water supply lines, got the sink off the wall.

Wall-hung sinks hang from a metal bracket that is screwed into the wall studs. Well this bracket was screwed in with just two screws, which was clearly not sufficient--it had holes for five screws. No wonder the sink was sagging. Oh, and the bracket also was not level. Well I didn't have any screws that would work, so of course this meant I needed to make another trip to the hardware store.

[Checked the chicken, disciplined my son] Well a couple of weeks later I finally made it back to the hardware store and got screws to match. I decided to rehang the bracket about two inches higher than it had been previously, because I thought a slightly higher sink might be nice. So I marked and drilled the holes and screwed in the bracket (which sounds simple, but in reality I ran into several more obstacles, for instance not knowing how to get the screws in, until I finally found a ratcheting socket wrench in the basement).

[Checked chicken again, set it to boil with herbs, showed Elijah that two pretzels plus three pretzels equals five pretzels] Well before I could actually rehang the sink, I needed to patch some damage to the drywall behind it. But I went ahead and set the sink on the bracket just so that I could admire how straight and level it would be. And when I did, lo and behold, the water supply lines and the drain pipe would no longer connect, because I had raised the sink two inches. Why, oh why, did I not think of such an obvious consequence? *sigh*

But I was not to be deterred. I re-drilled and re-hung the bracket at its original height. I patched and sanded the drywall behind the sink, primed and painted the trim, repainted the entire bathroom in a light neutral shade, and replaced an old towel rack with a more practically located towel ring. And I hung the sink again...but....

[Made a mad dash to the kitchen because the chicken was boiling over. Then leaped over several obstacles and halfway up the stairs to turn off the smoke alarm which of course went off. Then explained to Elijah the difference between steam and smoke] The water supply lines and drain pipe (I hope I'm using the proper terms for things here) still do not connect properly. This is because the sink, while at its original height, is now more level than it used to be. So while I can screw the connectors together, I get a little leaking when I actually run water. I think this is something that I can fix with some tugging and a little teflon tape, but given my history with this particular sink, I would not be surprised if more obstacles lie in store. :D

Well, that only took me an hour and a half! I thought it would be much longer! I'm not sure how many of you will find this interesting at all (perhaps Jeshurun will, though I'm sure he could have done the entire project in one afternoon), but now you know the story of my very challenging little project. And I must clarify, that I have enjoyed this project very much, in spite of all the roadblocks!

I would like to edit this post to death, but I know that would take ages, and I don't have ages, so it's going up as is.

A few very belated pictures

Here are a couple more pictures from Texas. The first is just of Noah being his cute self. The story behind the second one...Mom ordered a dump truck load of sand/topsoil to fill in a soggy place in the back yard. Then a bunch of helpful young folks came over to help haul the dirt from the driveway (where it was delivered) to the back yard. This meant a lot of trips back and forth with the wheelbarrow. Caleb (doesn't he look spiffy for someone who is hauling dirt?) decided to put Elijah in the wheelbarrow too. Elijah was nervous at first (as in this picture) but soon warmed up to the idea.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Coming soon...

Stay tuned for "The Story of my Bathroom Sink." It will be a tale of ingenuity and creativity triumphing at last (after a long struggle) over a complex, frustrating, and seemingly impossible situation.

Just making a note of it here so that I don't forget to post about it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A day at the beach

On Wednesday we went to the beach in Freeport. It was a windy, sunny, beautiful day. The boys loved every minute of it. Of course we took lots of pictures.

Those who read Mercy's blog will already have seen this picture, but I had to post it again. Here is Noah getting his first taste of the ocean. He was fearless, marching right in. When we got out far enough, I would try to steer him back, but he was determined to turn around and get back into those waves.

And here are the boys digging in the sand. Elijah preferred the sand to the waves, I think. Noah kept putting sand into his mouth, then making spluttering sounds and trying to get the sand out of his mouth with his very sandy fingers (didn't work so well).

Jellyfish! Lots of little ones (dime and nickel-sized).

Here's Noah being his cute self.

In the background you can see me and Elijah, while Noah plays happily in the sand. If you look closely, you can see that he is soaked up to his shoulders from his adventures in the ocean.

Well, that's all for now--more to come soon!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Okay, okay, I'm updating

Hi! I'm in Texas with the boys. We are enjoying our visit, except that Noah is not sleeping well. Or when he does sleep, he sleeps well, but he's enjoying himself too much to go to sleep in the first place, so he stays up late but does not sleep in to compensate, then because he's behind on sleep he gets all wound up and doesn't want to go to sleep--and so on. I'm apparently not much of an expert on babies and sleep, because it's something I've always struggled with. I've read a few books and articles on the topic, but different people have entirely different opinions, so reading hasn't helped me much.

But other than Noah's sleep issues, we are enjoying our visit. Both of the boys obviously enjoy their aunts and uncles quite a bit, and their Meemaw too. They also enjoy the warm weather, and the opportunity to spend some time outside. If all goes as planned, we will be taking them to the beach tomorrow. They have not seen the ocean before, and I bet they will love it! I will too, I'm sure.

We visited Caleb and Leah's house between services on Sunday, and hope to visit again later this week. I like their home a lot--it's very comfortable and inviting. I think it's interesting how some of the more modest and "ordinary" homes I've visited felt so much more comfortable and welcoming than some of the bigger and more expensive homes. I would love to be able to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes a house feel like a home, not only to its inhabitants, but to visitors as well. Of course, it's probably something indefinable that can't be pinpointed. :) But I have my ideas. I know one thing that always makes me feel at home is bookcases, with books in them of course.

Well Noah needs me--gotta go!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Well Dr. #2 agrees with Dr. #1 that it is not mumps. He doesn't quite seem to know what it is either though. Some sort of underlying infection, he says, causing things to swell a bit. He showed me Elijah's parotid glands (glands that produce saliva), which would be infected if he had mumps. But they are pink and healthy looking, no inflammation or discharge. Elijah submitted to lots of poking and prodding as the doctor examined him very thoroughly. But he didn't complain at all and once the examining was over, beamed at the doctor and jumped around the examining room.

So, it's NOT mumps, but he looks like a chipmunk just the same. :)

Mumps, maybe

Elijah looks so mumps-ey that I called the doctor's office and asked them to do a mumps test just in case. If it is mumps, it's not a big deal, but I should probably keep him away from other kids till he's better. So this afternoon he's getting a mumps test.

Here are a few pictures of my little chipmunk. You can see the swelling on the left of his neck and face.

And also a picture which I just got from the kids' grandma. Can you see why the kids like visiting Grandma so much? (Hint: look at the background.) When Elijah saw this picture, he said, "I miss Grandma. I want to visit Grandma." I said, "Do you miss Grandma, or do you miss Grandma's toys?" I wasn't sure if I really wanted to know the answer to that question! But he passed the test with flying colors when he answered mournfully, "No, I just miss Grandma." Awwww!

p.s. I apologize once again for the funky layout. I suppose I should just line the pictures up down the middle, since any sort of creative layout ends up all wrong.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A few updates


Noah has been taking a few steps lately. He thinks walking is soooo entertaining. He gets a great big silly grin on his face every time. He can now wave bye-bye and blow kisses. He can say a few words: his favorite word is "geggle-bop" but he also likes Dada, Mama, Buh (brother), Voom (vacuum cleaner or toy car), and sometimes Puh (up). Unfortunately, he frequently chooses to communicate by screaming. He screams when he's upset (brother took his toy) or when he's excited (brother made him laugh) or when he wants more food. When I tell him "No screaming," he looks at me and gives a few test screams in progressively quieter tones, with a question mark on the end, until I stop saying "No screaming," and give him a smile.

He is a big fan of the 6 month old baby that I care for. When she arrives in the morning, he gets that big silly grin again. He crawls up to her carseat, pulls himself up, and leans over to put his face against hers.

This morning I awoke at one in the morning to find him sitting next to me and clapping. He was very delighted with himself for discovering how to clap. I was delighted too until I saw what time it was.

Elijah is sick today. One side of his face is swollen up like a chipmunk, and he is feeling very out of sorts. I wondered at first if he might have mumps, but the doctor says it's probably some sort of subcutaneous skin infection. I think that's doctor-speak for "I don't really know what it is, but maybe antibiotics will fix it." So he's got some antibiotics. I have mixed feelings about giving him antibiotics when I don't really know for certain what he's got.

I got Elijah a book called Richard Scarry's Great Big Schoolhouse. It goes through things like colors, numbers, alphabet letters, days of the week, and so on. The book is right up Elijah's alley because each page has lots of things going on, so he can sit and study each page for a while before he's seen it all. My only complaint about the book, and a complaint I've had with a few other books too, is that it says things like "All children go to school to learn how to read and write." Well obviously this is not quite true. When I read it to him, I rephrase it as "Many children go to school to learn how to read and write," and then I add, "but some children learn how to read and write at home." Yes, I plan to homeschool him if at all possible.

Well, I have some cleaning to do, so I will leave you with a picture (or three). These are of Noah expressing his usual level of interest in the camera. I can't figure out how to post them three in a row side by side, so this is a rather convoluted layout.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A few pictures

Some pictures for your enjoyment. Firstly, the view out our back door. Across the way you see some more townhouses like our own, except that ours does not have a walkout basement. For the past few weeks we have had a lot of precipitation, mostly a mixture of sleet, rain, and snow.
And here we have Elijah looking sharp in some new church clothes. He goes through phases where he bites his nails a lot. Not terribly attractive, I know, but it was either this picture or one of him looking a bit whiney (he was tired).

And here is Elijah smiling and saying "Hi, Meemaw" (my mom) for the camera. I took this picture to send to her. As you can see, I dress him in lots of layers for bed.
And last but not least, Noah looking cute as usual.

I hope everyone who reads this is doing well today!