Monday, September 29, 2008


The kids and I were playing The Globe Game this morning. Sarah couldn't seem to locate Australia.
She said: "I'm never going to win this."
Noah said: "You need to have a positive attitude. Do you know what that means?"
Sarah: "No."
Noah: "It means you have to think you can win. Maybe I'll even let you win."
Sarah: "Oh yeah? Well maybe I'll let YOU lose!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Big Bad Burned Bummer

Dinner was supposed to be delicious tonight. Pork chops with cranberry apple stuffing in the crockpot and steamed sweet potatoes. The food in the crock pot smelled fantastic all day. We could even smell it outside. I put the sweet potatoes on the stove to steam, got busy with the kids downstairs, and forgot all about everything. About an hour and a half later, Noah said, “Mom, what is that snapping sound?” I didn’t really know or even care. He persisted: “You better check it out. I think it’s coming from the kitchen.” Even that didn’t ring a bell, but I knew he wouldn’t let it go until I investigated, so I went up to look.
Halfway up the stairs I could smell the nastiest burning smell I can ever remember. It was then that I finally remembered the potatoes, which had long ago steamed to a brown mush. The water had all evaporated, and the bottom of the pan was roasted beyond repair. I soaked it and tried to scrub it with various items, but the actual surface of the pan was bubbled up and peeling off and certainly unhealthy for food preparation. It was my favorite Pampered Chef pan. As Sarah watched me throw it away, she said sadly, “No more steamed beets for us.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the food had burned to a crisp onto the crockpot, and I didn’t notice the smell, because it all blended in to make one horrific scent that I could smell across the street at the mailbox. It made Noah gag and his eyes water. Right about that time, Mike came home. Earlier in the day, when I was slaving and chopping, I had imagined him coming in the door and saying, “What is that delicious smell?” but in real life, he came in scowling and said, “What did you burn?”
Even now, hours later, the entire house just reeks.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Sweet Rabid Squirrel

My son is normally a peaceable, wonderful, sweet, pleasant person, but when I come at him to give him a haircut, he turns into a rabid squirrel, squirming and whining and running away and hopping around. What is so difficult about having a haircut???? I'm hatching a plan to make him save his own money to pay for a professional haircut if he can't act like a human when I give him a haircut.

Get Up and Dance!

I was curled up on the couch with a heating pad this morning, full of pelvic pain, and Sarah wanted me to dance with her. She had on a fancy dress and sunglasses, and she was about to crank up the music. She looked at me and said, "Come on, Mom! Just get up and dance!" I forced myself to do it using mind over matter (in Sarah's mind, my pain doesn't matter). I danced with her and actually felt better. If I didn't have kids to get me going, I would succumb to the pain and never do anything. One more reason to be grateful for them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dipping Dinner

We had one of our favorite dinners tonight, at Sarah's request: the dipping dinner. We dip chicken nuggets into zesty onion ring sauce from Burger King (my favorite sauce for all kinds of things), various fruits into yogurt, carrots into ranch dressing, and foccacia bread into a mixture of olive oil and parmesan cheese. All I have to do is make the bread and set out all the food. We shove all the chairs together and huddle around so we can all reach everything. No plates, no silverware, just one messy table when it's all over.


Our green caterpillars have turned into brown chrysallises, and somehow white butterflies will emerge! Totally amazing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Childlike Faith

Sarah got out a piece of red paper and started cutting it into tiny pieces. She said it was Jesus' blood. This kept her busy for a long time. She invited Noah and me to join her, which we did. She wanted me to get bags so she could bag up some blood to give to every person we see at the campground this weekend. Noah liked that idea and thought we should also put Scripture verses in each bag. I'm a Christian, but I'm not one to push Scripture on people, so I wouldn't have thought of that. Sometimes I look at my kids and think they are just evil, but at times like this when their hearts are so pure, I can see why Jesus said that we have to have faith like little children in order to get to heaven. Noah is supposed to be memorizing Genesis 28:15 this week, so that's the verse they put in each bag. When we were done, I vacuumed all the little bits of Jesus' blood off the kitchen floor.

Bugs, bugs, and more bugs!

I just counted the various jars and containers housing bugs in the garage and on the front porch: 16. Noah loves collecting bugs and caging them up for further study. He usually studies them to death, literally. That's why I call these "bug houses" death traps. Old applesauce jars, spice containers, sour cream tubs, etc. all full of interesting creatures, including some revolting arachnids.
One day I heard the sound of glass shattering in the garage and my first thought was not of my children's safety, but instead: "Please let that not have been the spider jar." Of course it was. Noah was yelling, "Killer and Swallow are getting away!" Two huge furry spiders were making a break for it through the shards of glass. Fortunately, they had been in the death trap for so long that they were pretty weak and slow, so it was not much of a challenge (physically at least) for me to stomp them.
One time we were at Walmart, and Noah said, "Can we get this mayonnaise?" I told him we didn't need any, and he said, "But this container would make a GREAT bug house!" In addition to 16 bug houses, we also have a worm bowl, fish tank, tadpole habitat, and butterfly garden.
This morning I harvested several bunches of broccoli to put in a pasta salad that I'm taking on our camping trip with friends this weekend (hooray!). The problem with organic gardening is, of course, the bugs. I washed the broccoli in the sink and flushed out several green caterpillars. Noah ran to get a death trap. He wanted to know what kind they were. I looked them up in our field guide and discovered that they would become cabbage butterflies if they survive the death trap. Noah remembered seeing cabbage butterflies swarming around the broccoli. Apparently they were laying eggs.
I cut up the broccoli and dumped it into boiling water with some pasta shells. Several caterpillars rose to the top of the water, stiff. I scooped them out, and I think I got them all. I hope the people we're camping with this weekend don't read this, although I guess we would survive if we ate a few caterpillars with our pasta salad. My mom would call it extra roughage.
While the broccoli and pasta were cooking, Sarah looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said sweetly, "Would it be possible for us to eat some of that before you turn it into pasta salad?" I gave her a bowl of it, and then Noah appeared and wanted his own bowl. After refilling their bowls a couple times, I realized that they had eaten more than half of it. Looks like I'll be making more pasta this afternoon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Scary sounds

Taking a shower is always a scary proposition, because I never know what the kids are doing during that time. Today I was in mid-shampoo when I heard the following:

"Oh no! Get the paper towels!"
"No, that won't be enough...get the big beach towel!"
"Hurry up before Mom sees it!"
"Don't step in it!"

When I got out, I considered going to investigate, but I didn't want my good mood to be ruined, and I realized I didn't want to know. Maybe I'll ask them about it later, but for now, ignorance truly is bliss.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The anti-yesterday

It seems that if I have a really good day, it's usually followed by a really bad one, and vice versa. Today I woke up with major cramps and told the kids that we would be watching TV all day. They had pretzels and milk for breakfast. After a couple hours of TV, the guilt set in and I turned it off. Noah hauled out a box of school supplies and wanted to do some math, using Think It Through, which always ends badly for both of us. He can't comprehend it, and I can't comprehend why he can't comprehend it, and we both get frustrated. I should have just said no today, but how can a homeschooling mother say no when her child wants to do math??? I explain it again; he starts working on it, doesn't get it and wants to quit. I tell him I want him to finish it. WHY? When will I ever learn not to push the academics? I don't believe in it, and it never works, so why do I insist on it once every year or so? And why today, of all days? Meanwhile, Sarah wants to play a very simple math game, so I'm doing that with her while trying to help Noah. She can't even figure out how to move her piece the right number of spaces on the board. What is that Bible verse I'm supposed to be memorizing this week? Oh yes, 1 Peter 1:22. "Now that we have purified ourselves by obeying the truth..." I don't feel purified. I feel irritated. The washing machine starts making a horrible noise. I get Sarah started on a puzzle so I can investigate the washing machine. She wants help with the puzzle. I tell her I'll help her after I look at the washing machine. Noah, of course, follows me. " that you have sincere love for your brothers..." I open the washer and discover a giant wall of suds. Apparently I put in too much detergent. I start bailing out the suds. Noah asks me to play a game of Hot Hoops Basketball with him. The phone starts ringing. " one another deeply, from the heart." There, I did it. I force my voice to be calm when I tell Noah that no, I will not play with him because I'm in the middle of a problem and when I get that done I'll be helping Sarah with her puzzle. Aaarrrgggghh!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What a lovely day!

The weather is perfect today, finally, after almost a week of clouds and rain, so we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at Christy's Tea Room. As if that isn't special enough, while we were sitting outside waiting for our food, some good friends drove by, spotted us, stopped and had lunch with us! When we got home, butterflies were swarming our flowers in the front yard, so the kids spent a long time chasing them and working together to capture them.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Date with Sarah

Sarah and I had our best date today. I took her to a production of Winnie the Pooh at Eureka College. It was well done, and she was totally into it. At one point during the play, Roo was hiding at Rabbit's house, and Kanga was looking for him, going around and asking audience members if they had seen him. We were sitting at the back, but that didn't stop Sarah from yelling out, "He's at Rabbit's house!" The whole audience burst out laughing. The cast members did face painting before the show, and Sarah told her painter exactly what she wanted: a rainbow with white clouds and blue raindrops. During intermission there was a great spread of free food, and Sarah almost burst with joy. At the end of the play, it was Pooh's birthday, and he celebrated by sharing his birthday cake with everyone. They actually came around and gave each person in the audience a cupcake. The date ended badly when I told Sarah that she had to save her cupcake until after dinner. She had already eaten way more sugary stuff during intermission than I would normally allow. She was very disappointed when she couldn't eat her cupcake. Aside from that, we had a great time together.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I don't remember much about being six years old. I wonder if my son will remember playing in the rain with me this afternoon, jumping in puddles, and collecting (and counting!) 52 worms? Will he remember the steady rain running down his hair and into his eyes, throwing his head back and opening his mouth wide to catch the raindrops? I hope so. I know I always will.

Double date

Mike and Noah went to Lowes and Office Max, and they went out for lunch at Steak 'n Shake. Meanwhile, Sarah and I went to the Morton Pumpkin Festival Parade. She couldn't believe her good fortune as people kept throwing candy at her. Since I'm a rabid anti-candite, I only let her have one piece. She wisely chose a jawbreaker that lasted the entire parade. She stuffed it in her mouth and mumbled, "I just LOVE ya, Mom!" When we got home, it was strange and a little lonely without the men in the house. Fortunately, they arrived soon, and I put Noah to work cleaning the living room and vacuuming.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Range of Emotions

Sarah experienced the entire range of human emotions (except maybe for thankfulness) tonight at the Pumpkin Festival. When she woke up this morning, she was full of anticipation, and the first thing she said was, "Happy Pumpkin Festival Day!" Just before we left home, she reminded me not to forget the tickets. When I told her I had them, she said, "Are they squeezed tightly in your hand?" When we were walking toward the rides, she was skipping with joy and shouting about all the rides she wanted to ride. While she was on some of the rides, she looked scared to death. She got hurt when a boy had a fit and yanked away from his mom, cracking his head against Sarah's. She was full of wonder as she released her helium balloon and watched it disappear with all the others. She was mad that she didn't get her own ice cream cone but had to share with me. She was bitter that she didn't get to ride some of the rides she wanted and disappointed when we left. She staged a sit-in and refused to walk when it was time to go. Just before we put her to bed, she sighed and said, "I'm tired of crying." The weather was perfect, and it wasn't too crowded when we first arrived. Noah had a good time, without the emotional peaks and valleys of his sister. He said this year's Festival was his favorite. (If anyone is actually reading this, you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Up and Down Day

Today was definitely not as enjoyable as yesterday, but there were some highlights:
  • We had a picnic on the patio to celebrate the perfect weather.
  • The kids helped me make split pea soup and wheat rolls and play clay.
  • My new blender arrived, so we were back in business with smoothies and popsicles.
  • Mike's mom stopped by with delicious apples and peaches from Tanner's Orchard and ride tickets for the Pumpkin Festival.
  • We had a fun play time outside after dinner.
Sounds like a good day, but in reality, the kids fought most of the day, and I was irritated with them. Not much bothers me more than hearing people fight, especially when those people are my own children.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Day in Amish Country

We spent all afternoon studying the Amish today. Noah and Sarah have no desire to be Amish, because they think it sounds like too much work, and they were appalled at the thought of no TV, no computer, and no electricity. I've always secretly wished that I was Amish. We learned about their beliefs and way of living and read a great Patricia Polacco book (Just Plain Fancy). We hard boiled some eggs, and Sarah and I colored them, and Noah peeled them. He crushed up the shells, and I drew a peacock on a piece of cardboard (there was a peacock in the book). We spread glue all over its feathers and covered them with colored eggshell pieces. We also covered the kitchen floor with colored eggshell pieces. Sarah vacuumed. Then we made a traditional Amish shoofly pie. It was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. I wanted to make split pea soup too, but the kids thought we had spent enough time in the kitchen.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Our Family Song

Mike made a CD for Noah of hard rock songs, because Noah likes the drums and electric guitars. Mike spent a long time selecting songs whose lyrics weren't offensive, which was no easy task. One of the songs is "Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns 'n Roses. Mike and I both like that song, and so do both kids, so Sarah has dubbed it our "family song". I took Sarah to the farmer's market this morning, and she wanted me to roll down the car windows and blast our family song on the way. So there we were, driving down the streets of our little town with Guns 'n Roses blaring!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The best day EVER!

I was supposed to make a quiche for dinner tonight, but the harp delivery and tuning session made that impossible, so we ended up going to the grand opening celebration of a new car dealership in town. They had free sandwiches, chips, vegetable tray, and bottled water, plus free inflatable bouncy things for the kids. The food was good, and the kids had a ton of fun. They were squealing and laughing and so full of joy, and the weather was absolutely perfect. Sarah came running over, smiling and sweating, to grab some food before she ran off to play again. With her mouth stuffed completely full of bread, she yelled as she took off, "This is the best day EVER!"

Simple beginnings

My harp arrived today, and I called my teacher to arrange a time for her to tune it. She said if I came immediately, she could do it right then, because she was leaving soon. I realized that my two worlds were about to collide, because I didn't have time to go into the phone booth and put on my Fancy Sophisticated Musician persona. So my teacher got to meet Frumpy Housewife Mommy, complete with baggy sweats, pony tail, and kids in tow. She gave me some music to start practicing. I guess I had imagined myself producing beautiful flowing chords effortlessly; I didn't consider the reality of summoning up all my concentration to clumsily pluck out a simple tune like "Twinkle Twinkle". Nonetheless, the harp is beautiful, and I love it!


Here's what I made for breakfast this morning.

Hot Quinoa Breakfast Cereal
1 cup
2 cups water
1/2 cup apples, thinly sliced
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Milk or cream Honey or brown sugar
In a medium-sized bowl, soak the quinoa in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. In a medium saucepan, combine the soaked quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add apples, raisins and cinnamon Simmer until water is absorbed Serve with milk or cream and sweeten to taste with honey or brown sugar.

Sarah, who loves to eat but is not very adventurous with new foods, declared that she didn't like it, even before she tried it. She just wanted "plain old oatmeal". Noah and I ate it, and she soon joined in and ate more than we did. Noah pronounced it "Ok, but not my favorite" and I thought it tasted rather plain and vaguely soapy. It was interesting to cook, because when it's cooked little curved tails come out of it. Quinoa is supposed to be the most easily digested protein and perfect for babies. Wish I had known that when I had babies.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Progressive dinner

Tonight I had three little dabs of leftovers that I wanted to use up, and four hungry people to feed. So I dumped each dab onto its own plate, heated it up, stuck a fork in it, and set it on the table. Each person took a bite of whatever was in front of him and then passed it to the right. The plates were flying, and the kids were having so much fun that they didn't even realize that they ate all the leftovers that they claimed they didn't want.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bathroom cleaning

Currently, you could dine on any surface in my bathroom, if you so desired. I scrubbed the shower walls, bath tub, sink, counter, light bulbs, clock, towel racks, floor, toilet, and walls today. I also washed the towels, window curtain, closet curtain, and shower curtain. This kind of major cleaning only takes places about once a year, but it is a joy to go into the bathroom right now. Everything smells fresh and looks clean, at least until the kids get in there to do their bedtime routine.

In other news, my blender had a meltdown today while I was making smoothies. I had it loaded with fruits and vegetables, yogurt, orange juice, and milk. I turned it on and went to stir my stir fry on the stove. Soon I heard mechanical choking noises and smelled that horrible smell of something electrical burning. Smoke was pouring out of the blender. I turned it off and found little bits of rubber in my otherwise delicious-looking smoothie. The rubber ring at the bottom of the blender had completely disintegrated and spewed its debris all over the smoothie. It was a sad thing for me to have to dump it all, and now I have to order a $60 replacement part.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My other persona....aspiring harpist

Mike has been telling me for years that I need to blog. He's always far more ahead of the times than I am. After reading my friend Angela's blog, I'm inspired to start.

Tonight I went to my harp teacher's house to observe a lesson and see her instruments. I have ordered a harp online, and it should arrive on Friday, so next week's lesson will be my own! I've wanted to play harp for several years, but encountered many obstacles. I just found this teacher who only lives 3 miles away, and she helped me find a good beginner's harp. I wanted to make a good first impression on her, so I changed out of my mommy uniform (shorts, faded baggy Tshirt, pony tail) and into a long denim skirt, white shirt, and hair clip. When I arrived at her house, it was like entering another world. It was lovely, quiet, peaceful. I felt like a super hero coming out of a phone booth. I was no longer Frumpy Housewife Mommy....I had morphed into Fancy Sophisticated Musician. I know I'm going to love this 30-minute transformation every week.