Monday, March 31, 2014

Is everything I do embarrassing?

I'm driving home from gymnastics with Sarah in the back seat.  I go to turn on my left turn signal and somehow turn on the windshield wipers instead.  Sarah yells, "Turn off the wipers, Mom!" which I already had.  I turn around to look at her, and she's slunk down in the seat as far as she can go, with her hands covering her face, mumbling, "Oh my gosh, this is sooooo embarrassing!"

Whispers in the Meadow

Sarah was looking out the window, watching birds and squirrels.  She said, "I like spring.  All the animals are twitterpated."  She kept up a running commentary about who was chasing whom, and what they were all doing.  She said, "Oh, a beautiful male cardinal just flew in!"  I asked if he was with his woman and if they were twitterpated.  She said,"Of course she's with him, but she doesn't seem as twitterpated as he does.  She's marching away from him." 

Later she announced that she was going to write a poem called "Whispers in the Meadow", which she proceeded to do in about five seconds.  Here it is:

Whispers in the meadow
like dandelions
soft and yellow
like butter mellow.
As spring flitters by
like a butterfly
whisper in the meadow.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Do me a favor

Getting ready for church.  Mike asked Sarah if she had brushed her teeth.  She said, "Not yet!" and gave him a nasty look.  He said, "Hey, I'm just trying to do you a favor."  She replied, "It would be doing me a favor if YOU brushed my teeth!"

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday

From my Noah journal.  This was February 22, 2005 (he was 3 years old):
Noah & I had some deep discussions today.  He was asking about where babies come from, which led into a whole big discussion of his birthmother.  Later he asked where money comes from, so I was telling him that they make money in mints.  Then he said, "Why don't they make more and give it to people who don't have much money?"  I told him if they made too much money, it would be worthless, and then he asked, "How do they know how much to make?"  Hmmm.  Good question.  I found the where-do-babies-come-from discussion much easier to handle!  Somehow we got onto the subject of gooseberries (I think he actually said "koosh ball" and I thought he said gooseberry) so I was telling him how my great-grandma Winnie and I used to pick gooseberries off the bush in their yard and make gooseberry pie.  Next thing you know, I'm remembering how much I miss her and I'm crying!  Noah was shocked when he saw the tears, and he said, "What is that water from?" 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ordinary school day

 Sarah is writing a thank-you note.  Noah is writing sentences using his spelling words.  Marty is reorganizing my school files. 

Noah making his weird face.  In the background is the quote of the day:  "If you're talking, you aren't learning."  We got that from the teacher of our online etiquette class.


We're studying Ancient History, which inspired Noah to line up the Assyrian and Babylonian troops.

Sarah's world

Sarah was loitering around while I was making lunch, and she wasn't talking, which is VERY rare.  I looked at her to determine if she was ok.  She looked normal, so I said, "How is everything in your world?"  She said, "Oh, things are great!  The bubble gum trees just started blooming, so I'm harvesting bubble gum by the bucketload!  There are candy cane fences and donut rocks.  The cats and dogs are made of cupcakes and brownies, and they poop chocolate pudding!"   She really does live in her own little world.  A very sugary one, apparently. 


Noah has been making up jokes ever since he could talk.  When he was about two years old, he loved pig jokes.  He thought if you threw a pig into a joke, that automatically made it funny.  For example..."Who would let a pig on a plane?....A pilot!"  Then he would laugh so adorably that you couldn't help but laugh with him.

Today he invented some jail jokes.  "What do you call someone who plays music in jail?  A slammer jammer!" and "What do you call meat and cheese between two slices of bread in jail?  A slamwich!"  His jokes have come a long way since his pig days.  :)

While Noah was making those up, Sarah repeated a knock-knock joke that a kid she knows made up.  "Knock knock.
Who's there?
Smell mop.
Smell mop who?
I don't want to smell your poo!"  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We're unknown, but we all agree!

Our lunch topic today:  What's the difference between "unanimous" and "anonymous"?  Sarah immediately said, "No clue" and started eating.  Noah defined anonymous but didn't know unanimous.  I explained it, and then he said, "So if a bunch of unknown people all agree, they're anonymously unanimous!"

Begonias for breakfast

I was shopping at Aldi and bought a bag of Gardettos on an impulse.  I opened them and started munching while I finished shopping.  Mike hates it when I do that, but he wasn't with me.  The kids attacked them when I got home.  I rarely buy them, so the kids had a lot of trouble remembering the name.  Noah said to Sarah, "Don't eat all the begonias!"  It took me a second to realize he was talking about Gardettos.  This morning, the first words out of Sarah's mouth were, "I'm having begonias for breakfast!"

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Here's another one from early married days:

When my husband was a bachelor, he used to buy expensive, brand name items. Now that he’s married to me, he’s learned that generic is almost always just as good.
When we got married (five years ago) he had this nice bottle of Vaseline Intensive Care lotion. When I noticed it was nearly empty, I pried the top off, filled it up with generic lotion, and replaced the top. I had gotten one of those gallon-sized jugs of the worst lotion ever manufactured for about a quarter of what he’d paid for 32 ounces of the nicer stuff.
The next morning I tried to appear casual as he pumped out a squirt of the inferior lotion, but I was watching anxiously. He puffed out his cheek and starting rubbing it in, then caught a glimpse of me in the mirror, stopped in mid-rub, and said, “What?”, to which I replied, “What?”, and he said, “Why are looking at me like that?”, so I said, “Oh, I guess just because your skin looks so nice and smooth.” He raised his eyebrows as if he thought I got weirder by the minute, and then he resumed rubbing.
That was five years ago. Fast forward to today. I’m in the bathroom while he’s squirting out some lotion.
Haven’t you had that bottle of Vaseline Intensive Care lotion for a long time now?” I ask, curiously.
Um, I guess so.” He gives the bottle a token glance, but I can tell he’s not into this topic of conversation at all. I pause to give him a chance to think about it, but clearly he is not devoting any thought to the matter, so I continue.
Well don’t you think it’s rather strange that it never runs out? I mean, you use a squirt every day.” Now I have his attention. He begins to do the math.
Hmmm, a squirt a day for... how many months do you think I’ve had it?”
Five years.”
At least.”
            “How would you know that?”
Because you bought it before we were married. I never buy that brand.”
Then how. . .?”
Because I’ve been replacing it with generic lotion whenever it gets low.” There it is. It’s finally out in the open after all this time. I can longer keep it inside. He looks shocked, almost betrayed. Suddenly, I feel like we’re in the middle of a Folgers coffee commercial (“You mean this isn’t Folgers?!”). Then acceptance settles in as he muses, “Huh, I never noticed.”
I begin to think of more possible areas for replacements. For example, my husband has a serious cereal habit. He’s a chain-eater, sometimes eating six or seven bowls of cereal in one sitting, and he likes only the good stuff.
A few weeks after the dust settled from the lotion incident, I decided to buy a bag of fake Froot Loops and put them in a real Froot Loops box. So I bought one of those cheap bags of cereal that’s so cheap it doesn’t even come in a box. It was called Fruit Rounds or something like that. I dumped the Fruit Rounds into an empty Froot Loops box, sat back, and waited.
I didn’t have to wait long. Within the hour, he was on the prowl. He grabbed the box of counterfeit Loops and poured them into a bowl. Right away, he was suspicious. He glared at the Rounds, eyeballed them, sniffed them, then asked me, “What’s wrong with the Froot Loops?”
      “What do you mean?” I asked, concerned.
      “They didn’t make their usual tinkling noise when they hit the bowl. It was kind of a muffled tinkling. And they don’t look as bright as they normally do either. And they smell funny.” I was messing with a cereal connoisseur. Still, I gave away nothing. I just uttered a disinterested grunt.
      “Maybe it’s just a bad box,” he rationalized, shrugging as he poured the milk and plunged in a spoon. At first crunch, the hoax was exposed. He declared with absolute certainty, “These are not Froot Loops.” You can fool him with lotion, but not when it comes to something as important as cereal.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


I sure hope my neighbors weren't home this afternoon.  Our recycle toter blew over and spewed out its contents.  I was chasing after them and gathering them up.  All that running and bending took a toll on my waistband.  With an armload of recyclables, I bent over to pick up another one when my elastic snapped and my pants fell down, causing me to drop everything I was carrying.  I watched it all blow into the neighbor's yard while I tugged my pants up and resumed the chase.  I did finally gather it all up, but it took several trips to the recycle can, because I had to use one hand to hold my pants up. 

Lunch menu

 I was working with Noah at the desk, and Sarah was at the kitchen table working on math.  She ripped out the corner of page 21 to write me this note. 

 I wrote this back.

 They both made their selections.  Noah had to help me interpret his note (he didn't want the apple and kiwi in the same bowl).

What's the point?

Spelling class with Noah this morning.
Me: Spell "crocus".
Noah: C-r-o-a-c-u-s
M: Not quite.
N: Well, it doesn't really matter.
M: Why not?
N: Because it's not like I'm ever going to need to spell "crocus" in my life.
M: What if your wife wants crocuses at her wedding, and you have to write down the order for the florist?
N: By the time I get married, nobody will be writing anything on paper anymore.
He makes a good point.  It's unlikely that he'll be texting the florist anyway, but if he is, autocorrect will take care of it for him.  And even if he spelled it "croacus", the florist would know what he meant.  What's the point of teaching people to spell nowadays?

Fundamental snake charming

Sarah and I were looking out the window at this windy, rainy, chilly morning, and I said, "It's a great day to stay home all day in our jammies and make chili for dinner."  She said, "Meh. I'd rather get dressed up and go do stuff all day and then go out for dinner."  I was starting to reflect on the fact that that's a fundamental difference between us, but she was already talking about how snakes are not really charmed by snake charmers, so no time to reflect.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sarah's birthday

Sarah's 10th birthday was epic!  She got to go to Chick Fil-A and the mall with Nana and Papa last Thursday, and she's going to Culver's and Walmart with Grandma and Grandpa this Thursday (she likes to eat and shop).  On Saturday, we had a tumbling party for her at YMCA in Canton, which was very fun! 

And today we took her to Hacienda Fuentes for lunch, where they put a big sombrero on her, sang to her, gave her fried ice cream, and smashed whipped cream in her face.
 Mike is saying, "Yo como fajitas!" and Sarah is saying, "Oh, Dad."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Comfort is my color

I put a lot of thought into my outfit today.  We're having a tumbling party for Sarah, and I intend to tumble my heart out, so I chose pants that allow for free movement.  I have on a tshirt that tucks into my pants so nothing gets exposed, and a hoodie for warmth.  When Sarah saw me she said:
"I wouldn't wear that if I were you, Mom."
Me: Why not?
S:  Because plaid is not my color.
M: won't be wearing it.
S:  Plaid is not your color either.  Plaid is not anyone's color.
M:  Comfort is my color.
S:  Oh, Mom.  [walks away, shaking her head]

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday

From our newlywed days:
I never realized how deeply rooted I am in my morning routine until my husband started working the day shift. After several years of working nights, he had forgotten how it works to get up in the morning. So the Sunday night before our first day of going to work at the same time, we were making our arrangements to carpool.
“What time do you get up?” he asked me, probably expecting a simple two-second response and a kiss goodnight.
“What time do I get up, or what time does the alarm go off? It’s a complicated process. The actual alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m., which is really about 5:40 because the clock is fast.”
“Why don’t you just set the clock to the right time and set the alarm for 5:40?” he asked, logically enough.
“Because,” I guffawed, “5:40 is too early to have to wake up.”
He paused dramatically to let the stupidity of my statement sink in, and then said slowly and loudly, as if I had a learning disability, “Yes, but you’re waking up at 5:40 every day as it is. Just because the clock says 6:00, you know it’s still 5:40.”
“No, I don’t. I’m so sleepy that I’m fooled into believing it’s really 6:00.”
Every morning?” he guffaws.
“Yes. So anyway, the alarm goes off at 6:00 and I hit the snooze, because 6:00 is too early to get up, and I’m still tired. I sleep till the alarm goes off again at 6:07 and then I hit snooze. I then get my Bible and devotional magazine off the nightstand, put them next to my pillow, and sleep till the alarm goes off at 6:14. Then I hit snooze and read my daily devotional until the alarm goes off again at 6:21. Then I lie in bed and listen to my favorite program on the radio. After it’s over, I go to the bathroom, go downstairs and feed the cats, and get back in bed. When the clock says 6:48, I have to get up and take a shower.”
“So you actually get up at 6:30.”
“Whatever. All I know is that I have to be out of the shower at 6:50, according to the bathroom clock, which is about ten minutes fast.”
“Why. . .?” he starts to form a question but thinks better of it and just resigns himself to never understanding. “Then what?”
“Then I get dressed and get ready. I have to be downstairs at 7:30 by my watch, which is about five minutes fast, so that I can pack my lunch and be out the door at 7:32 by the clock on the stove, which is the actual time. When I get in the car, it should say 7:38 because it’s exactly six minutes fast. I listen to another radio program on the way to work. At 7:45 by the car clock, I meet Boxcar Lady on the road and wave to her and then. . .”
“Who what?”
“Who do you wave at?”
“Boxcar Lady. I call her that because she drives this little green car that’s shaped like a box. She must be pretty wacko about her schedule because I meet her at the same time on the road every morning.”
“Does she wave back?”
“No, I don’t think she knows me. But then I see Jack Joe a few minutes later and she sometimes waves.”
“Why. . .”
“Because her license plate is J-A-K J-O 4. When I turn onto Middle Road, I meet the McHugh family in their van. Their license plate is “M-C-H-U-E”, and one time I saw them pulling out of their driveway (when they were running late) and I noticed their mailbox said, “McHugh” so that’s how I know them.”
I couldn’t tell if the look on his face was amusement or disbelief. “And then I get to work at 7:56 car time, which is 7:50 real time and 7:45 company time. I put my lunch away, turn my computer on, and punch in by 8:00. That’s it!” I finished triumphantly.
He said, “I can’t live like that,” rolled over, and went to sleep.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Not much school (but lots of learning) this week

Our schedule was so full of good things today that I had to cancel our official school day.  We still had a great day of learning in my favorite classroom: life.  The kids had a science class at 9:00 a.m., and I picked them up a little early so we could be at the library for a program at 10:00.  The library  was showing TED talks (leaders in the fields of Technology, Education, and Design give their best talk in less than 20 minutes each) and then having group discussions about them.  I went last week with no kids to do a reconnaissance mission to see if it would be something I could bring them to this week. It was so interesting and stimulating last time, but the audience was all older adults, so I asked the facilitator if it was ok if I brought my kids to the next one.  Today's talks were even better than last time's, and Noah even participated a little in the discussion.  What a great education!

We picked out some books at the library and headed for Bloomington for an appointment for Noah.  The kids read their new books all the way there and didn't make a peep!

Noah had some blood drawn to see if he would qualify for an allergy study.  There was a long, complicated, roller-coastery issue at the appointment that I won't go into detail about here, but it caused me to pray right out loud in the exam room, and God resolved it in a way that was better than we expected!  On the way home, Noah asked me what the biggest thing was that I learned today.  I mentioned a fact from one of the TED talks.  He said the biggest thing he learned was that God can take something bad and turn it around for good.  I don't think we would have gotten that from the classroom.

Tomorrow is a half-day at school, because in the afternoon we are doing our annual pie-crust-making for the Mennonite Relief Sale.  Our church makes pies on the Thursday before the sale every year, but we miss it because of CBS.  The kids and I and one other lady make all the crusts the day before, so they're ready to be filled the next day.  We make 90 crusts.  We've been doing it for several years, so my kids can whip out a pretty good pie crust by now! 

We never have school on Thursdays because of CBS, and we probably won't get much in on Friday, because we'll be getting ready for Sarah's birthday party.  This is one reason we do school all year, even in the summer.  I'd rather do a couple hours a day all year round than 8 hours a day with the whole summer off.  I want my kids to know that learning happens all the time everywhere, not just when you're sitting at a desk with a textbook. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Gymnastics cake

I have this grand plan to make an awesome gymnastics cake for Sarah's birthday, including little clay gymnasts and edible gym equipment.  Tonight I asked Mike to take the kids to their Kuk Sool Won class so I could work on it.  The project of the night was to mold four tiny gymnasts out of clay and get them baked so they can cool and I can paint them another time.  I only had an hour and a half alone, so I worked  fast.  I was pleased with my first gymnast, who was doing the splits, but I got too ambitious with the vaulting girl.  I couldn't get her to stay upside down, no matter how many toothpicks I stuck in her.  I propped her up against a glass and hoped that she would bake and stay upside down.  The third one turned out to be a little oddly-proportioned (huge, long ape arms and stubby, skinny legs), but an hour had passed already and I needed to get them in the oven.

I cleaned up and hid the evidence while the gymnasts were baking.  I  checked on them after 15 minutes, and saw a grisly sight.  The vaulter had fallen off the vault, and her hands were missing.  I found them still stuck to the vault.

I pulled the tray out of the oven and removed the glass that had failed to support the vaulter and set it on the counter.  I used hot pads, of course, because I'm no dummy, and I realize that a glass that's been in the oven for 15 minutes is going to be very hot.  I also removed the handless vaulter, as well as the vault with two creepy hands sticking on it.  Then I put the other two gymnasts back in to bake for a few more minutes, because I have no idea how to tell when gymnasts are fully baked.

In an effort to tidy up, I grabbed the glass off the counter to put it in the dishwasher.  In the 30 seconds since I'd put it there, I'd forgotten that it was hot.  I was rudely reminded, and my seared hand opened involuntarily, and the glass shattered all over the floor. In the time it took me to go get a plastic bag to gather the big pieces, I forgot that the glass was still hot.  I burned my other hand picking up the first chunk.  I used the hot pads to pick up the rest and started vacuuming up the little shards.  With both hands burning and glass still everywhere, I forgot that I had a husband and kids.  They reminded me by arriving at that moment, so I had to scramble to cover up the handless girl and handy vault. Then I remembered the other poor gymnasts who were still baking.  I took them out of the oven and went back to vacuuming.  Sarah asked for a snack. Bad timing.

At that point, the vacuum died.  Just turned itself off right in the middle of the job.  It also inexplicably dumped its contents (dirt, hair, hot glass shards) in a pile on the floor under itself.  This birthday cake is not going very well so far.  I think instead of four gymnasts, I might just go with the one that turned out ok. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Throwback Thursdays

Is it just me, or is my blog super-boring lately?  I keep seeing "Throwback Thursday" pictures on facebook, and I'm thinking of doing that on here, except I would post old stories instead of pictures.  I have lots of stories from my pre-blog days.  Anyone interested?


I have a lot of balls in the air at all times. 

Homeschooling (that's a big bowling ball)
Driving kids to various activities
Keeping track of everyone's schedules
Making sure the bills are paid on time

The one I drop most often is that pesky cleaning one.  It ranks pretty low on my priority list, and I also dislike doing it.  I  must discipline myself (and kids) to clean a little bit every day. 


Today I wore a turtleneck and a wool sweater for probably the last time till fall.  I got so hot while I was getting ready for church that I had to open the window in the bathroom.  I'm always sad to say goodbye to warm clothes, soup, fleece sheets, footie pajamas, using the garage as an extra refrigerator, getting dark early, baking, snow, and all the other things I love about winter.  I'm putting on my warm weather sheets today and packing up the fleece.  I'm not giving up my electric blanket yet though.  I do like spring, but the problem with spring is that it always turns into summer, which I would happily skip altogether.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Whiter than snow

This is the continuation of this post.  Having made a trial gallon of laundry detergent and proving that it works, I was ready to mass produce. 

 Some friends and I gathered in the church kitchen and set up an assembly line.  We added dry ingredients, and hot water, shook till dissolved, added cold water, Dawn, and more cold water.

Then I passed them off to my handsome assistant, who shook, dried,

 and wrote "soap" on them so nobody would mistake them for a beverage.

Noah hauled them on pallets,

and Sarah and friends stuck labels on them.
It took us all afternoon last Saturday, and we made 146 gallons.  So this morning, Mike and Noah worked in the warehouse at the food pantry,
while Sarah and I gave away the detergent, along with the recipe, and explained how people can make their own for about 50 cents a gallon.  I was surprised at how excited and happy people were to get laundry detergent.  One lady said she was wearing her pajamas because she didn't have any clean clothes, because she had run out of laundry soap.  Last Sunday during church, the Lord showed me a more efficient system for mass producing it, so I'm excited to try that next time. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Signs of spring

It's been an extremely cold, snowy winter (the snowiest on record!), but today I see signs that it's coming to an end. 
 The creek is flowing.

Buds on the trees
 A robin in the backyard

A full-grown fly?!  Where did he come from?
 Noah playing basketball with the neighbor.

Sarah on the trampoline.

School at the library

I took the kids to the library this morning with no agenda, just to browse.  They both picked out books.  We had a conversation about history and classical music with one of the library workers.   Noah used the computer to look up a book and then found it on the shelves.  Sarah had a nice, friendly chat with a woman from Indonesia who said she couldn't read very well.  Sarah gave her some book recommendations and helped her find them on the shelves.  I noticed later that the lady checked out those books.  We checked out some books about ancient Egypt to supplement what we've been learning in history.  There was total silence on the way home as the kids were reading their new books.  It was a great trip!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The peaks and valleys of homeschool

Yesterday was a horribly, unbloggably bad day at school.  There were sutdent AND teacher meltdowns.  Enough about that.  Thank God that His mercies are new every morning!  We started fresh today.

I was quizzing the students on the continents, and Noah asked what continent the North Pole is on.  I love how he makes me think about things I've never considered before.  I looked it up and told him that the North Pole isn't on a continent; it's just a floating sheet of ice in the Arctic Ocean.  He asked if anyone lived there.  I said, "Just Santa and the elves and reindeer."  He rolled his eyes and smiled.