Friday, December 27, 2013

battle of the bulge

First of all, I hope everyone had a joyful Advent and a merry Christmas.  I wish you a happy New Year.  Still in kind of a post-holiday fog here--exhausted but in a good way.  

Over the next few days, we'll be doing some shopping with gift cards we received.  I always enjoy that.  :) 

But none of that is the point of this post.  

Many bemoan holiday weight gain.  Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year all come relatively close togeher.  All involve lots of festivities and food.  Putting on a few pounds seems almost inevitable.

Strangely enough, I avoided it this year.  And then some.  

Rewind back several months.  I had gone for ages with ill-fitting clothes.  My pants especially just did not fit.  They were way too tight, and buttoning them was an unpleasant experience.  To say the least.  

I spent ages trying to shed a few pounds, with the goal of being able to actually breathe comfortably in my pants.  No go.  

Then a friend of mine gave me some clothes she didn't need anymore.  Ah, blessed relief!  The pants fit!  I could exhale and everything!  Shortly after that, two more generous friends took me shopping as a birthday gift.  Even more pants that fit (plus some tops to boot).  Problem solved.

Irony is a cruel thing sometimes.  Or maybe it's more of a joke played by Murphy himself.  But now, when I finally have larger pants, I start to lose weight.  And my lovely new pants aren't fitting as well anymore.  

They're getting too loose.

I know, I know--I shouldn't complain.  I get that.  And it's nice to see the weight starting to budge--really.  It's just frustrating that after all that time of trying to get my other pants to fit, I start losing now.

So if you're looking for weight loss tips, here's one--buy new pants.  Apparently that's what does it.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sarah's iPhone

Sarah wants a phone.  She isn't getting one anytime soon, so she made her own.  Out of paper.

Her screen, with all of its apps.

The Apple logo.  

She carries this with her.  She talks to imaginary friends on it.  And she's learning phone etiquette!  She silenced it during school yesterday and checked for voicemails when her work was done.  We ended up grabbing fast food one night this week, and she commented that she probably ought to leave the phone in the car during supper so she wasn't tempted to use it at the table.  I agreed. 

She says it's an iPhone 5S.  I confess I don't even know what that means, I'm so far removed from the world of smart phones--me and my $20 phone with its $30 monthly plan.  I probably wouldn't know what to do with an iPhone if I had one. 

But apparently Sarah could help me.  ;)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

my own Marie Antoinette

The other day we saw a man standing on the side of the road with a sign saying he was hungry and needed help.  Unfortunately, we were not in a place to stop then and we had no food with us.  But we discussed ideas of what we could take back to him later.  Both girls tossed out suggestions from what we had in our pantry.

But then Natalie came up with a different solution.  She decided that the man should get married.  

Why?  Is she expecting a wife to cook for him?

Nope.  When questioned about how marriage would solve the man's problems, she responded in exasperation, "At weddings, there's cake!"  

So there you have it.  If someone is hungry, let him eat cake.  Wedding cake. 

Monday, December 9, 2013


We got an opportunity to "test drive" Time4Learning for a month.  I'd seen the site advertised, so I was excited to see if it delivered on its promises.  Both Sarah and Natalie got accounts set up, and both used the site frequently.  Here are our thoughts.

1. The girls loved it.  They were eager to go to the site, and they liked the activities.  Natalie is still asking about it, even though our trial period has ended.  
2. Variety of activities.  Each girl had a wide range of subjects and games from which to choose.  
3. I could log in as a parent to check Sarah's scores, progress, etc.  The information was already there and organized--no extra record keeping on my part.
4. The parents' area also had forums to check in with other parents for tips and advice.  I didn't actually use this feature, but it was nice to know it was there if needed.
5. Although each child's account was set up for a particular grade level (3rd grade for Sarah, preschool for Natalie), they could bump up or down a grade if they wanted or needed to.  I like that it could be customized that way.
6. I could get PDFs for things like spelling lists or science supplies--very easy to print for reference.

1. Cost.  I do think the program is good, but I don't have the money to pay for it each month--especially for both girls.  
2. There were no records for Natalie.  Don't get me wrong--we do preschool in a very laid-back fashion around here.  I'm not even keeping official records for her yet--she's only four!  But I would have liked to have known more about what activities she did and what she knew and didn't know, just for my own information.  
3. It is computer-based.  We end up spending a fair amount of time on the computer for school anyway.  Adding even more screen time to our day didn't exactly thrill me.  I think most children today need less time in front of a screen and more time in the "real world."

I think this site could be great for public school kids who are behind in an area or two--it could provide a fun way for them to catch up on skills in those subjects.  Homeschool families might like to fill in "gaps" or subjects they feel they neglect.  It's also nice as a supplement to enhance what you're already doing.  We like history here, and Sarah especially enjoyed Time4Learning's timeline activities.  That was a nice way to add to what we were already doing.  Finally, if a parent just wanted a fun way to help students keep learning over the summer, this would be a good option for that.  

Even though we won't be continuing with Time4Learning right now, I do think it's a great site with many benefits.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Yes, she's at it again.  :). 

Apparently Natalie pays more attention to Sarah's schoolwork than you'd think.  Sarah's grammar curriculum uses a particular pattern to analyze sentences.  Natalie knows this pattern--better than I realized.  

Today Natalie was looking at the Jesus Storybook Bible.  The story of God parting the Red Sea had pictures of horses and chariots.  Naturally, my horse-loving girl zeroed on those horses.  She recited, "Horses neighed.  What neighed?  Horses.  Subject noun."  

Maybe she'll grow up to be a grammar nerd like her mother.  ;)

Yesterday's Natalieism demonstrated four-year-old theology and moral structure.

She asked why God hadn't married Mary.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

coming soon...

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Friday, October 25, 2013

day to day

I remember reading a book in college called Wisdom Distilled from the Daily.  I honestly don't remember much of the book's subject matter.  But I do vague memories of it having something to do with finding the sacred in the day to day.

I think we often focus on "big" moments--monumental events, milestones, game-changers.  But much of life is the ordinary, the mundane, the routine.  Those big moments are few and far between.  If we aren't really living in all those in between moments, what are we doing?  

But I confess that I don't always appreciate the daily grind as I should.  Children are little for such a brief time, and I know that, but there are still days when it's just hard.  I'm tired, I'm grumpy, I'm overwhelmed, and everything seems monotonous.  

When I look back on my childhood, of course I remember the "big" moments--birthdays and holidays and celebrations.  But I also remember a whole host of little moments--ordinary, day-to-day type moments.  So I'm trying to remember to be fully present in those moments with my own children.

I don't always succeed.  I'm still tired and grumpy more often than I'd like.

But tonight we celebrated.  What did we celebrate?  Well, nothing really.  But Sarah wanted a candlelight dinner.  She wanted cloth napkins and fancy glasses and so forth.  So I made spaghetti, and we had salad and pineapple and garlic bread, and we ate by the light of flickering flames.

It felt special.  We sat and talked long after the food was finished.  I admit the darkness made it hard to see, so Natalie ended up wearing some of her spaghetti, but all in all it was a big success.

Here's to enjoying fully the day to day.  :) 

Excuse the clutter--this is real life, people!  ;)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

long time no post

*blows dust off of blog* (again)

It seems I have to do that periodically.  I'll be going along, blogging semi-regularly, when all of a sudden I just stop.  And then I have a hard time getting restarted. 

Sorry about that.

Of course, there are dozens of blog posts I could have written over the past few months.  Writing them now really isn't feasible.  Or reasonable.  I doubt you're missing too much anyway, so we'll just pick up and move on from here, hmm? 

I am going to try to keep this updated more frequently, with day-to-day goings-on.  I don't promise long posts, but just some short snippets of life. 

For now, school continues tripping along.  We've settled into a good groove, I think.  I'm happy with our curricula, and the girls are too.  We all love taking care of the baby (Natalie is especially enamored).  The girls got to ride horses back in September, which they loved and are still talking about.  I signed up for NaNoWriMo, and I may post periodically on how it's going.  But for the most part, life just goes along normally. 

But hopefully, now that I've written this post, it will be easier to write about normal life as it goes along.  That's how it's been in the past anyway--once I finally blow off the dust and actually write again, it's easier to write again. 

Fingers crossed, anyway. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

growing up

There's a strange tension to be felt as children grow older.  On the one hand, there's a part of me wishes I could keep them little just a bit longer--preserve that sweetness and innocence and cuteness.  But I have to admit there are moments where I'm just so proud of how they're maturing that I wouldn't have it any other way.

Yesterday I had started some laundry, but I'll confess to forgetting to shift it over to the dryer when it was finished.  My allergies are acting up this week, so I feel lousy, I got busy with the baby, and I just plain forgot.  

The girls headed downstairs to brush teeth.  I was feeding and diapering the little one, but I realized that they were taking an awfully long time.  What on earth were they doing?

Natalie finally wandered up the stairs.  I asked her about the delay, and she proudly told me, "We were doing laundry!"  Sure enough, I could hear the dryer going.  They had taken it upon themselves to switch the laundry over for me.  C'mon now, all together:  awwwwwwww....

As a funny side note to the whole growing up thing: Sarah is definitely a child of the modern era.  She happens to love the Beach Boys' music.  The other day, she was listening to the song "Kokomo."  Nelson and I reminisced on it being popular when we were in elementary school.  Sarah then chirped, "So this is what everyone had for their ring tones on their phones?"

Um, suuuuure...

Friday, August 9, 2013

a horse is a horse of course of course

It started with My Little Pony.  We don't have cable, but the girls know how to rock YouTube.  They watched the modern-day "Friendship Is Magic" MLP.  They watched the 1980s G1 MLP that I grew up with.  They watched two incarnations of the show I never even knew existed.  They watched them all--over and over again.  

They started collecting MLP toys at birthdays and Christmas and other such things.  I felt like I was living in My Little Pony world.

Somewhere along the way, though, it shifted.  Suddenly it wasn't just these cartoon ponies captivating the girls--it was horses in general.  They are enthralled with all things equine.  They get horse books from the library (non-fiction ones, no less)--every time we go.  They love spotting horses when we're out driving.  Natalie does a pretty spot-on neighing sound.  They have added some really realistic-looking horse figurines to their toy collection.  They love them.  

Reading the library books with them has taught me a thing or two I didn't know (I can't say I was ever much of a horse fan, so it's not hard).  I think we might kick off the school year with a horse unit study I have--both girls will enjoy that, and it might help us ease back into the school routine.  Might as well leverage their obsession while I can, right?  

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

amid the stench

Note:  it is not my intent to hurt or blame anyone with this post.  This is simply me working through my own feelings.  

My house smells like peanut butter this week.

If you aren't aware, I loathe peanut butter.  I can't stand the taste.  I despise the gloppy texture.  And I abhor the smell.  

I don't usually keep it on hand.  But the girls have had it elsewhere, and this week they requested peanut butter from the store.  And since it's something of a rarity around here, they have been eating it every day.  Sometimes for more than one meal.

The smell of peanut butter seems to permeate my kitchen.  I think it stinks.

But it fits with this week.

We got heartbreaking news on Sunday.  Our beloved pastor of ten years is leaving.  I don't even have words for what he has meant to our church and to our family.  It's hard, and it hurts, and I have more emotions than I can process.  I cry, and I pray, and I cry some more.  Even just going about normal daily tasks, I have this kind of hollow ache.  

It stinks.  And I hate it.  

But my girls are loving their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and their peanut butter on banana bread breakfasts.  Natalie is a terribly picky eater, but this week she's getting good protein and healthy fats.  So something good is coming out of that wretched smell that lingers in my kitchen.

A core doctrine of biblical Christianity is that God is sovereign.  He is in control.  He gives beauty for ashes, and He works all things together for the good of those who loves Him.  And as Mark Lowry put it, this situation has not shocked Him off His throne.  He is more than capable of working His will through it and bringing something good out of it.  

I am clinging to that right now.  Even as I wrinkle my nose against the stink.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

summer fun

I have been fighting with my phone for a few days now, trying to make it give up these pictures.  It didn't want to do it.  But I finally managed to convince it.  I win.  HA!

I think I'll take photos on the iPad from now on.  It's much more cooperative in the picture-taking department.

Anyway, we had gift card credit (I LOVE gift card credit), so the girls wanted a pool.  They wanted a big pool. 

They have had a blast already.  :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sarah the chef

Sarah has been able to make herself a simple bowl of oatmeal for breakfast for awhile now.  She simply measures the oats and the water into a bowl and cooks it in the microwave.  She usually adds brown sugar once it's done.

She had really hoped to have waffles for breakfast this morning, but I forgot to mix up batter last night. Oops.  She asked if pancakes were a possibility.  But I was in the middle of changing a diaper and warming a bottle and would soon be feeding a baby.  I knew that there was no way I could do something as hands-on as pancakes.  I asked her if she would just make herself a bowl of oatmeal this morning, and we could do pancakes or waffles another time.  

Sarah asked if baked oatmeal would be possible.  I knew I couldn't make it for the same reason I couldn't make pancakes--diaper, bottle, feeding--but I stopped to think for a moment before I said no. The recipe itself is pretty simple.  And I have it memorized, so I could talk her through it.  I turned the oven on to preheat, and told Sarah to grab a bowl.  She could make the oatmeal herself.

And she did.  I told her what to do, step by step, but she did it all.  All I did was take it out of the oven once it was done baking.  

It was good.  Tasted just like baked oatmeal.  ;) 

You can see her oatmeal behind her on the stovetop. 

I've posted the oatmeal recipe before I think,  but I'll go ahead and share it again, because I've changed it from the original anyway.

Baked oatmeal:
1.5 cups old-fashioned oats
0.25 cup brown sugar
hefty shake of ground cinnamon
freshly grated nutmeg to taste (Sarah skipped this step, so feel free to do so as well)
0.75 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
0.5 cup milk (or vanilla almond milk, which is what we use)
0.25 cups melted butter (sometimes I use melted coconut oil instead)
1 egg
If using regular milk rather than vanilla-flavored milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a bowl, combine the "dry" ingredients.  In a separate bowl or container, combine the milk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla (the "wet team").  Mix the two thorough and put the mixture in an 8x8 baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (it's usually closer to 25 in my oven).  Serves 6 (theoretically).  

To serve, you may add milk to your bowl if you like.  Nelson and Sarah tend to do this.  Natalie and I prefer it without. So try it both ways to see which works for you.  

Enjoy!  :) 

P.s. Pardon any typos--I'm on the iPad, sitting outside in the sunshine.  So it's totally worth any mistakes that show up!  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

I don't have too many male readers, but I do wish a happy Father's Day to any fathers who do happen to land here.  :)  

We are visiting my parents this afternoon.  I baked my dad a pie for the occasion.  

One of these days, I should write a tribute to my dad and all the ways he's influenced me and the things I admire about him.  But for today, I'm going to use a post I had planned for earlier in the week but never got written up and published.  It fits the theme of the day pretty well.  

Sarah will often sit on the bed right before bedtime and want to talk with Nelson.  She'll ask him some science or technology type of question, and it usually leads to a lengthy discussion.  I find it fascinating to listen in, because Nelson always answers in great detail.  He talks to Sarah like she's a little adult, and Sarah hangs onto every word.  

I'm sure much of it goes over her head, and I don't pretend to know how much she'll remember of what he tells her.  But I do know she'll remember that he took the time to answer her questions and that he was never condescending about it.  Honestly, that's more important in my opinion anyway.  

Thanks, dear.  :)  I think you're doing good work there. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

another Natalieism

The baby's mother took a day off, so I had a day off today as well.  We headed to my parents' house for a visit.  Along the way, we hit a bump in the road.  

"Whoa!" exclaimed Natalie.  "That bump almost made me lose my brain!  But it's back in my head now!"  

So I guess it's all fun and games until someone loses a brain.  

Watch out for those bumps in the road.  They can be pretty rough.  

Natalie the songwriter

Sarah has a doll that is Jessie from the Toy Story moviesNatalie was playing with Jessie yesterday morning and started singing while she played.  This is the little ditty she composed:

I fell in love with Woody!
He starts to kiss me,
And I'm going to faint.

And at this point, Jessie indeed splats down on the couch.  It must have been some kiss.  Literally swept her off her feet.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sarah's e-camp

I mentioned that Sarah wanted to do an online science e-camp over the summer.  A part of me finds it amusing that Sarah's favorite subjects are art and science--I can't claim I was ever overly fond of either.  But she loves them both, and she has been excited about starting this e-camp. 

The idea of an e-camp is somewhat funny to me as well, actually.  It really highlights how everything is available in electronic form--books, mail, businesses, science camps.  I'm not naive enough to think this takes the place of a "real" camp (and we're really hoping to send her to a real camp next summer--I'm working on it now), but it is a neat program.

It's through a website called Supercharged Science, and it's taught by Aurora Lipper, who is a former NASA scientist.  The camp covers astronomy, rocketry, flight, electricity, chemistry, lasers, robots, and more.  Yeah, it's an extensive course!  It runs from June 1-August 31, so she has plenty of time to enjoy the offerings while still having a relaxing summer. 

The program is set up with videos where Ms. Lipper explains and demonstrates the activity or experiment.  Everything is very hands-on.  Sarah even has a notebook to log all that she does and the results she gets.

The site offers a program for the school year too, but that isn't feasible right now.  However, we do take advantage of the occasional free teleclass she offers to her email subscribers.  Those have been fun. 

I may update more throughout the summer as to what she's doing and learning.  But so far, so good.  Today she even got a brief math lesson from the e-camp.  :)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

more iPad shenanigans

For about a week now, I've had an outline of blog posts to write up--several different topics, notes I had jotted down, and so forth.  I just hadn't had the chance to actually sit down and write them up and schedule them.

But I'm reading this book on procrastination, and I guess I got inspired.  So while the baby napped earlier today, I grabbed the iPad, opened the Blogger app, and began typing away.

I finished up and began looking over it for proofreading.  I placed it in the "posts" pool of the app without publishing, because the baby started to stir and I wanted one more chance to look it over.  Later, I attempted to click on the post again so I could edit it.

I had said that iPad autocorrect had started to redeem itself.  What happened next wasn't an example of autocorrect gone awry--more app gone awry (or more accurately, app user gone awry)--but I still find it somewhat ironic which post it happened to.

In attempting to edit the post I had written, I instead managed to delete the post on autocorrect.  Completely, totally gone.  It didn't ask "are you sure?"  It didn't bump it back down to drafts or stick it with other deleted posts.  Just poof!  Gone.

That post is back now, thanks to a copy Nelson still had sitting in his Google Reader (and boy, won't I be sunk once that goes away here soon!).  I'm not too thrilled with the Blogger app at the moment and even less thrilled with myself for making a stupid mistake like that.  But all's well that ends well.

Anyway, we're fine here, and I'm going to try to get those posts written and scheduled for real now.  I'll play around with the Blogger app a bit more too, to ensure that I don't bungle something else.  I use the iPad's LiveJournal app quite a lot, but clearly there are differences between the two. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013


No, you aren't experiencing deja vu.   This post was accidentally deleted.  Now it's back, thanks to Nelson.  The story of how that happened will come in the next post.  
Remember this post?  I still get something of a giggle when I remember the iPad randomly popping up with Ljubljana.

It still comes up with weird, random corrections at times, and the circumstances dictate whether I respond with amusement or annoyance.

However, I think it's redeemed itself somewhat.

The other day it tried to autocorrect to "Natalieism."

I think the iPad has been reading my blog.

Friday, May 31, 2013

is there a Doctor in the house?

Natalie had this dream where Sarah was sick, and we left her at home while we went to visit my parents.  I asked her who took care of Sarah while we did this.  "The doctor was taking care of her!" Natalie proclaimed.

Now of course she meant our lovely pediatrician.  But Sarah heard this and got excited.  "The TARDIS was in our house?!"  She of course had heard, "The Doctor was taking care of her"--very different thing.

Natalie rolled her eyes at such an assumption and corrected her older sister. 

But I got to thinking...a doctor making house calls?  In this day and age?

Yeah, I do think maybe a TARDIS and a time-traveler would have to be involved in that somehow.  ;)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

book review: surprisingly...unstuck

I snag a lot of books when they're free for the Kindle.  Even if it ends up being terrible, I'm not out anything (and I've read a few that weren't even worth the price as a freebie).   But once in awhile you come across a real gem; that's always a nice surprise.  So anything that even looks like it might possibly interesting, I grab it.
A couple of weeks ago, I grabbed this book called Surprisingly...Unstuck by Maria Brilaki.  I wasn't expecting much when I started reading it, but boy was I surprised.  This is one of the best books I've come across on starting new habits.  It deals specifically with diet and exercise (and yes, I do need help in those areas), but you could apply it to anything really.  It delves into why it can be so hard to make the changes you want, why willpower and motivation often aren't enough, how the brain works, how to break goals down into small steps and even "ridiculously small" steps, how to set up triggers to work for you instead of against you, and more.  It covers a lot, and it does it well.  It's both practical and inspiring, which is a great combination. 

I actually think I'll end up rereading this one; it's that good and that helpful.  I highlighted and made notes and began making plans. 

Obviously, your mileage may vary.  Maybe this book won't resonate with you as much as it did with me.  But I do recommend it heartily. 

The free period is over now, so there is a cost to the book.  The link above is my affiliate link (hopefully it's working properly).  If you want to check your local library, many do offer Kindle books for checkout now.  I've done that a few times, and I love the convenience of borrowing a book while sitting at home browsing my library's website.  :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

wrapping up the school year + Memorial Day weekend

Yep, we're still here.  :)  It's hard to believe we're heading into summer already, but we are.  Sarah and I are almost done with the school year (we're finishing up this week), but she wants to keep doing art and science throughout the summer.  So her art curriculum (which is on DVD) and an online science camp will satisfy her "summer school" needs while still giving me something of a break.  I'm going to spend some of the summer planning next year--Sarah will be in third grade, which I find more intimidating than I can adequately express here.  I fully admit that this is mostly due to my own issues with my own third grade year, but I'm hoping that preparing ahead of time will help.  I also am going to be planning preschool for Natalie--this will be my first year homeschooling two!  Plus, we have adorable "part-time adopted baby brother" (as the girls have dubbed our baby-sitting charge) to add to the mix.  Yes, a summer off for me sounds heavenly as I plan for next year.  Sarah can enjoy her art and science independently.  :) 

In a couple of days, I have another post planned.  It's another book review.  Stay tuned.  

And happy Memorial Day weekend.  I've seen some lovely tributes on Facebook.  Do take a moment to reflect on the meaning of this holiday weekend.  I'll be thinking of a some friends of mine who have lost loved ones in service to the country.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

she says the darnedest things

Just because it's been awhile since I've posted any "Natalieisms" doesn't mean she hasn't been saying them.  In fact, over the last few weeks she's had some doozies.  

My child has no filter, as they say.  None whatsoever.  Whatever she's thinking in any given moment is exactly what comes out her mouth.  Now it's funny.  Someday it won't be, so we're trying to talk about kindness and good manners and all those important things.  I'm not sure it's really getting through yet.

Still, you may get a chuckle out of some of the things she's popped off with lately.  

The first one comes from our annual end-of-the-year picnic for the homeschool co-op.  One of the older boys had a mohawk.  Natalie had never seen a mohawk before, so naturally she commented on it.  Specifically, she told him he had "squirrel hair."  Thankfully, both the boy and his mother found this hilarious.  

The next incident came at a church brunch as I sat chatting with one of the ladies.  A lady who just happened to have white hair.  Natalie said her hair was old.  Not the lady herself, mind you--her hair.  

Since we're baby-sitting a baby boy during the day now, we have baby boy diaper changes.  And yes, Natalie has noticed the difference in baby boy parts as opposed to baby girl parts.  She asked, "What's that purple thing on his bottom?"  As I explained the difference between boys and girls, she said, "So it just popped out?  Like a belly button?"  

Yeah, sure.  Just like that.  

Of course, when Sarah first saw a little boy getting a diaper change at my parents' house, she asked why he had a tail on his bottom.  ;)  

We're working on that filter, really.  But in the meantime, if you know us personally and Natalie pops off with something in your presence, please don't take it to heart.  :-p  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

p.s. to yesterday's post

Yesterday I posted a review of The Christian Parenting Handbook.  Check it out if you haven't read it yet.  If you decide to purchase the book at a local Christian bookstore, you can print the form found here to take with you and get some special free bonuses.  These bonuses are valued at $400, so it's definitely a good deal. 

If you don't have a Christian bookstore near you, the link also provides an online retailer who can honor this promotion.  You won't miss out. 

This offer is valid May 10-11, 2013.  So time is definitely of the essence!  :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

review: the Christian Parenting Handbook

My basic parenting philosophy is probably best summarized by a quote I found on the internet years ago:  "There is no way to be a perfect parent.  There are a thousand ways to be a good one."  Basically, I see a whole lot of freedom and flexibility in this whole parenting gig.  What works for me may not work for you, and I don't see any problem with that.  Parents are all different, children are all different, families and circumstances are all different.  My biggest pet peeve in the world of parenting books is probably any cookie cutter or "by the book" approach, where certain steps guarantee a certain result.  Sorry, I think as human beings we're all a bit more complex than that.
That said, I like parenting books, and I like having a variety of parenting resources from which to pull ideas.  There is a whole lot of wisdom out there, from people who know a whole lot more than I do.  I received a copy of The Christian Parenting Handbook by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller to review, and I was excited to read it.

Parenting books tend to fall into one of two extremes: highly theoretical or extremely practical.  The theoretical ones put so much time and explanation into the overarching philosophy that it can sometimes be difficult to even imagine how to make it work in practice.  How does it work in the real world?  However, sometimes the immensely practical are so caught up in giving you specific steps to follow or situations to apply that you don't have any long term goals and you lose all ability to think outside the box.  Plus, they can lead to frustration if you follow the "steps" and it doesn't "work."

My favorite parenting books are always the ones that find a balance between these two extremes.  Yes, give me the "big picture."  Let me understand the principles so that I can creatively apply them to my own circumstances.  But also help me out with a few practical suggestions or ideas, just to get the ball rolling.

The Christian Parenting Handbook strikes me as leaning more to the theoretical, but it in no way neglects the practical.  Overall, I think it strikes a pretty good balance.  I plan to go back and read through it more slowly when I'm not on a deadline (paying attention to the places I highlighted especially), but I am pleased with the book and I do recommend it.

I think probably my two favorite parts of the book (at first reading anyway; I reserve the right to change my mind) are the sections on consistency and on tasks vs. problems vs. conflict.  Why?  I'm so glad you asked.  ;)

Consistency is the holy grail of parenting in almost every parenting book out.  "You must be consistent!" may as well have been thundered down from Sinai given its prominence.  And for those of us who are fallible human parents (ahem), it can seem daunting at times.  If you aren't consistent 100% of the time (and let's be honest--no one is consistent 100% of the time), you can feel enormously guilty.  Clearly it's your fault that your child is still having a problem with XYZ.  If only you were more consistent!

But this book rightly points out that our children are not Pavlov's dogs.  "Consistency" is a very behaviorist approach to child rearing.  Is it important?  Sure.  We all know that.  But is it the be-all end-all of the world?  Not so much.  I won't summarize the whole chapter here (after all, I think my job is to make you want to buy the book!), but I will tell you I found it very freeing.

I also appreciated the chapter on the difference between tasks, problems, and conflict.  Ever have one of those days where every task feels like a problem, and every problem feels like a conflict?  Nah, me neither.  Clearly this chapter was written for someone else.  But if you run into that someone else, here's what you can tell them.  Tasks are the basic to-do lists of your day.  Wake up.  Make coffee.  Get children dressed.  Teach children obedience and godliness and basic addition.  Etc.  Problems are the things that are preventing tasks from being completed.  You're out of coffee.  The kids can't find their shoes (that's never happened here).  They also can't remember basic addition, and they're not too interested in obeying.  You know--problems.

Our job as parent is come up with ways to ratchet the problems back down to tasks--not escalate them into conflict.  Yep--that's on us.  How I do that may differ from how you do that.  It may involve consequences and discipline and training, but those things are tasks when are parents--part of our basic job description.  Maybe it's just a mental shift, but viewing problems as a thing I need to get back down to a task does seem to help with it not becoming a big conflict. 

So, yes, I do recommend this book as a worthwhile read. 

The book is available in both paperback and Kindle edition on Amazon. I believe has it as well.

Monday, May 6, 2013

I'm still here

No, I'm not dead.  :) And yes, tomorrow I will be posting the review of the parenting book.  It's selling like hot cakes apparently, so I'm glad I got to review an early copy. 

We're very busy here, trying to wrap up our school year.  We've had several end-of-the-school-year socials--picnics and parties and such.  We got Sarah glasses, and we celebrated Nelson's birthday.  And...I started a part-time job, of sorts.  I'm caring for the infant of a friend of mine.  She brings him over in the morning, and he hangs out with us during the day while his mother works.  He's an adorable baby (aren't they all?), and he's very sweet, laid back, and content (knocking on wood).  Sarah and Natalie are referring to him as a "part-time baby brother."  Since he's not my child, I won't violate privacy by sharing his name.  I'll try to think of a clever internet nickname for him, but for now I'll just call him Baby Boy.  So if he shows up in future stories, no, I didn't sneak off and have a baby while you weren't looking.  ;)

But those who know just how tight our finances have been can guess what a huge blessing this is and how much an answer to prayer.  Besides, I think I said when I was six years old that I would follow in my mother's footsteps one day; it's about time I made good on that. 

Book review coming tomorrow! 

Friday, April 19, 2013

I don't get it...

Yesterday I found this chart.  It gives the average cost of food for families in Feb. 2013.  It divides those costs into four levels: a thrifty plan, a low-cost plan, a moderate plan, and a liberal plan. 

I've been working for a long time to try to lower our grocery budget.  The more I plan ahead (and have backup plans), the better I do.  Some weeks are better than others.  But I continue to track and try to see if I can't make the best possible use of our somewhat limited resources. 

But according to this chart, a "thrifty" plan for my family is spending $135.60 a WEEK on groceries.  That's almost $588 a month!  We usually range between $325-450 (depending on how well I'm doing any particular month).  I have never spent $588 on groceries.

And this is the thrifty plan??? 

I do realize that these are averages and that food costs can vary widely according to the region of the county in which a family lives.  I'm no doubt sheltered by the low cost of living that exists here and our relatively low food prices compared to many other parts of the country.

But.  New England isn't exactly known for being cheap.  Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Tightwad Gazette, ran across the USDA's chart back in the mid-90s (when the Gazette was still in publication).  And she shared this rather humorous anecdote: she immediately sat down to figure up what she spent on food for her family of eight.  To her dismay, she ended up in the "low cost" bracket.  She moped around for days, wondering how she, as a writer and publisher of a frugal living newsletter, could have missed falling into the thrifty bracket--or even below it. 

Finally, one of her assistants decided to check her math.  The assistant promptly burst out laughing upon realizing Dacyczyn's error.  Dacyczyn had totaled up her monthly grocery bills.  The USDA chart was listing weekly totals. 

Yeah.  Dacyczyn spent less in a month than the low-cost plan allotted for a week. 

So it's not just me wondering what the heck is up with these charts.

To present another side, a blogger I read spent over $800 a month in 2012 for her family of five.  But she was buying all organic, grass-fed meat, raw dairy, and gluten-free grains.  So her family's special diet definitely figured into the higher costs.

So I'll open it up for discussion: does your spending fall within these parameters pretty neatly?  Do you think the numbers are fairly accurate? 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

treasure hunting

While doing some cleaning/straightening, I found an old issue of Whole Living magazine.  I mean Dec. 2011 old.  I had gotten a free subscription and then never renewed when it ran out.  I enjoyed the magazine's emphasis on natural living, emotional and spiritual well-being, and whole foods. was a little too "hippie" for my tastes, so I didn't renew when it came time to have to actually pay for it.  I might love yoga and try to buy organic as much as I'm able, but I'm not full-on flower child yet.  ;)

I miss it sometimes though.  It had some good tips from time to time.  So when I found the issue today, I read it even though it was out of date...because it wasn't really out of date.  I saved an article on some migraine remedies to try (most of it just reaffirmed what I already knew or was already doing, but I'm always willing to learn more and try something else).  I saved another one on a home spa technique that looks intriguing.  Another article gave natural remedies to treat or prevent cold and flu--again, most of it is stuff I already know, but reminders don't hurt. 

I had honestly forgotten how much I liked the magazine overall.  Now I'm wondering if I could manage to score another free subscription somewhere.  ;) 

I'm also wondering what other lost treasure I might unearth while cleaning. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

my brain is Swiss cheese...

Seriously.  I had a post in mind to come here and write today.  Now it's gone.  Clearly it fell out of one of the holes in my head.  :-p 

Soon, though, I'll have a review to post here.  I received an e-book to review, so I'll be reading it and writing about it soon. It's called The Christian Parenting Handbook, so I'm really excited to be looking over it and sharing my thoughts.  If you decide this book is exactly what you've been wanting or needing, wait until the week of Apr. 29-May 5; they're giving away lots of free stuff with purchase then.  Around $400 in free parenting resources I'm told, so definitely worth the wait.  ;)  I promise to have it reviewed by then! 

In other news, Sarah finds her science book fascinating; it currently deals with astronomy.  Who doesn't love astronomy?  She is also loving the art curriculum my dad got for her.  And I will confess to feeling slightly super mom-ish as I cooked and worked with her on grammar at the same time today.  I don't feel anything close to super mom-ish often, so it's worth noting.  ;) 

Maybe later I'll remember what I actually meant to blog about tonight.  Here's hoping.  Or maybe you're better off that I've forgotten; who knows?  :-p 

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Since the girls enjoyed The Nutcracker so much, I jumped on the chance to take them to see Sleeping Beauty.  We went yesterday.  The ballet was beautiful, and the girls did enjoy it.  I think it was longer than The Nutcracker though, and Natalie especially got a bit restless.  Still, I'm glad that we went.  We're so cultured, visiting the ballet and all.  ;)

Natalie's birthday part was today.  We had beautiful weather for it.  We went to the park with some of her friends and had pizza and yellow cupcakes with lemon frosting.  I'm not much of a cake baker, but I got a yellow cake recipe from my mom to make the cupcakes.  They were pretty darn tasty, if I do say so myself. 

Nelson took some video of the festivities, so you can pester him about posting it (as well as the talent show video and the carnival video).  :-D 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

spring has sprung...

At least temporarily.  After all the chilly weather we've had, yesterday's warmth and sunshine was welcome indeed.  A small carnival was set up in the parking lot of the mall, so we went to check it out.

The girls had a blast...for the most part.  Sarah went down this very tall slide that moved pretty fast.  I wish I could adequately describe her face when she got up at the bottom of the slide.  She was definitely stunned--I think the slide was taller and faster than she'd been expecting.  She was white and shaken by the end.

Natalie wasn't able to do several rides she wanted to because of the height restrictions.  But she did ride the carousel, the kiddie roller coaster, and a ride where cars spun around a base while moving up and down.  Surprisingly, she liked it all.  The last carnival she visited, even the carousel was a bit too much for her.  This time she really enjoyed herself.

I think Nelson got some pictures and video.  :)  Hopefully, we can get those up soon (as well as the talent show videos). 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Natalie's birthday

So I actually started this post on Saturday (the day of Natalie's birthday).  And then I never finished it and never posted it.  Knowing Blogger, it may end up with Saturday's date on it when I do post it; I guess we'll see.

Anyway, Natalie turned FOUR on Saturday.  "How is that possible?" is so terribly cliche, yet...not. 

But time is a funny thing when you have kids.  On the one hand, part of me can't believe my baby is very much not a baby anymore.  Same thing with Sarah.  But it also seems like they've always been here, always been a part of my life.  Yes, I do remember life before children...but somehow, they were still a part of it.  It's kind of fuzzy around the edges. 

Our initial plans for the day were a party at the park with pizza and cupcakes and some of Natalie's friends.  However, our weather has been unseasonably cold here, with no sign of spring in sight.  So we decided that delaying that whole party thing would be a grand idea.  The park can happen some other time, when we won't be risking everyone turning into icicles during playtime.

Soooo...we went shopping instead.  Each year when we get our tax refund, we always have this long list of things we need but haven't been able to afford.  So Saturday was shopping day. 

One of our first stops was Office Depot.  As I was grabbing pens and pencils, Natalie was chattering excitedly about what else we might grab here at the office supply store.  She brightly told me that she had found the shoe aisle.

Shoes?  At Office Depot?  Yeah, sure.  I smiled and played along, thinking she either had a fabulous game of pretend going or she was just really not getting the concept of "office supplies."

But no.  I really need to learn that my kids know what they're talking about.  Even when I think it makes NO sense, it does.  You just have to figure out the sense they're making.

Natalie had peeked around the corner at the next aisle.  This is what she saw:

Office Depot does indeed have a shoe aisle.  So there you go.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sarah's tabernacle

Remember this post? Apparently it made an impression. Out of the blue today, Sarah decided to construct a tabernacle.

The ponies are the sheep to be sacrificed.  The pine cones are the wood for the fire.  There's a box to be the ark of the covenant.  The round "cookie icing" (from a wooden Melissa and Doug set) are the tablets for the Ten Commandments (she was a bit bummed that she didn't have something more arch-shaped).   There's a pencil to be Aaron's rod, and a Disney princess plays the part of the high priest.

Honestly, it's been so long since we visited the tabernacle and awhile since we discussed it.   Her daily Bible readings are in the New Testament right now, so she hasn't read about recently either.  I guess it shows how powerful a "field trip" can be.  Obviously this doesn't look anything like the tabernacle, but the essentials are there.  She really retained a lot.

Thanks, Dad!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


I think I wrote a couple of posts and then never actually hit the "publish" button.  :-p  Oops.  And then I deleted one that I had published.  Double oops.  I think that one's back now. 

I need to redo my blogging outline, because I have this jumble of things in my head, but they never seem to quite make it to the page--er, screen.  I do know that one thing I had in mind was a series of book reviews of sorts.  It wouldn't be anything particularly regular, but I figured when I finish a book I could tell you what I liked or didn't like about it.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who's always looking for something new to read--if I come across a real winner, people might like to know, right? 

This week I've read a book on making kefir and one on herbal remedies (both Kindle freebies).  I'll summarize/review them sometime this week. 

It's kind of chilly and wet here--not only was Phil wrong about spring coming early, it isn't even going to come on time! 

Natalie turns 4 this coming Saturday (as hard as that is to believe).  She really wants pizza and cupcakes at the park.  I'm not sure this weather is going to cooperate for her.  I'm trying to come up with a backup plan, but I'm not having much luck.  :-p  We'll see, I guess.

Need to get ready for the week ahead, so I'll sign off now.  Have a good one!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Hello!  We aren't dead or anything.  :)  I've actually written for one of my other blogs semi-regularly, but I can't seem to be consistent on more than one at a time.  :-p  Oops.

Anyway, last night was the "talent show" for our homeschool co-op.  Sarah's Spanish class counted to ten "en espanol" (darn, I wish I knew how to get the tilde on that N), and her history class sang the "50 States" song (one of several songs I've heard that lists the states in alphabetical order).  She also read a story that she wrote and illustrated.

Natalie's class didn't perform this year, and Natalie didn't really understand why she didn't get a turn on stage.  As various performers took the stage, Natalie kept asking, "When's it my turn?  When is she going to call my name?"  When we got home, she performed a "dance" for us in the kitchen for her own private "talent show."

Nelson took video of Sarah's performances, and I recorded Natalie's.  So if you're the type who enjoys that sort of thing, you will get to see them in all of their glory.  :)  I think he wanted to do some sort of editing to them before he posted.  I'm not sure if he'll put them here or Facebook, but stay tuned.

P.S. Blogger's spellcheck is weird sometimes. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

back to blogging

It's funny; I actually had an outline of things I wanted to blog about, so that I could keep this and my other blogs regularly updated.  It was all planned.

Then the plague hit.  :-p  And it took forever to get over it.

I'm trying to remember the timeline of the last few weeks, and it's honestly just not straight in my head.  It's just this big blur of misery that all sort of runs together. make a very long story much shorter, Natalie got sick.  She stayed sick.  She ended up with a double ear infection, an "acute bronchial spasm," and eyes that looked like she had pink eye (she didn't; she just blew something coughing).  When she first started the medicine regimen, she actually got worse.  But five days into the treatment, she finally started feeling better.  She finished the last dose of medicine on Saturday, and I think we can call her officially cured. 

I'm still pretty congested; it's gross, really.  But I feel a whole heck of a lot better than I did, so I won't complain.  We're finally back into a normal school routine (the downside of homeschooling is not having a substitute teacher to call), and I'm catching up on housework. 

Funnily enough, one of my online buddies claimed Natalie and I gave her our colds.  Who knew that yuck could travel via cyberspace?  (Although if any cold could do that, it would be this one!) 

So anyway, now that we're all recovered and back to what passes for normal around here, I'll dig out my nifty outline and get back to regular updates here. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

baby, it's cold outside

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow yesterday, so supposedly spring is on the way.  You'd never know it here.  Snow flurries Thursday, ice Friday, more snow yesterday, snow today...I told a friend on Twitter that Phil was a low-down, dirty liar. 

We had no church this morning, and this evening's classes and Super Bowl party were also cancelled.  There is more snow possible tonight, although I don't think it's as likely as the past few days.  Of course, weather forecasting is iffy at best, and we sometimes get our biggest snows when it isn't really supposed to do all that much. 

The girls have a sled (thanks, Dad!), so we did get out for awhile today.  A short while.  I freely confess that my entire family is a bunch of cold weather wimps.  It's a good thing I've never had to live in Michigan or anything--I'd die.  Part of the problem was the wind--it was cold, strong, and biting.  We had no desire to stay out in it for very long. 

Both girls had a great time for that short stint though, sledding down the hill.  Then we came inside and drank hot beverages.  In my opinion, hot drinks and blankets are the ideal way to spend a cold afternoon.  I can look out the window at the pretty snow from inside my nice warm house. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

holy guacamole, batman!

I made salsa-topped pork chops for supper.  I had tortillas to make tacos out of them if one wished, and I had avocado.  Anyone who knows me knows my love for guacamole.  Anyone who knows my girls know they share this love.  So really, having avocado on hand should have excited everyone female in this house. 

Natalie and Sarah refused the avocado.  Insistently, repeatedly, inexplicably refused.  Natalie almost panicked at the thought of avocado on her plate, begging me not to put it there.  Sarah haughtily informed me that while they liked guacamole as much as ever, they did not wish to partake of plain avocado. 

Grumble, grumble, grumble. 

I am not a short order cook, and I don't usually offer alternatives to the meal that is there.  However, I don't force-feed either.  Either child is perfectly welcome not to eat any part of a meal--they just shouldn't be surprised when I don't offer anything else.  So I really wasn't going to make an issue of the avocado, even though I found it ridiculous. 

But.  Natalie kept going on about it.  To the point of being rude and disrespectful.  I did something I've never done before.  I told her that if she made any further comment about the avocado, I would be feeding her a bite of it. 

Her eyes grew wide.  I figured the problems was solved.  But a few minutes later, she popped off again.  I put a small amount of avocado on the spoon and gave it to her. 

And lo and behold, she remembered how much she loves the stuff.  She started begging for more.  Suddenly Sarah was intrigued, and she started eating the avocado too.  Both laughed at how much they enjoyed it.  They happily put away several slices.  It was like some weird, infuriating version of Green Eggs and Ham.

Sheesh.  Don't mind me; I'll just be over here banging my head on the table. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

writer's block again

So once again I can't think of anything to say here.  :-p  Funny how often that happens. 

School continues pretty much normally.  Natalie has been begging to do school as well, so I have been doing some freebie preschool activities with her.  She must be enjoying them, because today she wanted to start school immediately while Sarah was dragging her heels. 

Sarah did have a brief lesson on using a dictionary today.  She then proceeded to look up about half her spelling words in the dictionary, just because she found it interesting. 

I snagged some free timeline cutouts at co-op last week; I hope having a visual reference will help as we study more of history.  

We found a YouTube video of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech that we watched today.  I can't hear the speech without getting a bit teary.  The "I've Been to the Mountaintop" is even more chilling since it foreshadows his death so eerily;it's like he knew.  I appreciated John Piper's tribute to Dr. King

And now I've probably rambled enough.  Sorry for not having anything terribly profound or humorous.  Mostly just life plodding along.  :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

circle of life

Yeah, I know. Cue The Lion King music! But as cheesy as the title is, it fits.

This past Friday (January 11), my cousin gave birth to her second child. She had a boy, and she named him after my late grandfather. It is a lovely tribute, and I know my grandfather would have been thrilled. My cousin and her baby are both healthy and whole. We rejoice with her.

This past Friday was also the day that my husband's grandmother died. She had been battling cancer for a long time. She was an incredibly kind, sweet, gracious lady. We mourn her loss.

My brain and my heart are having a hard time reconciling these two events on such opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. I truly rejoice for my cousin and her husband. I truly grieve the death of Grandma. It seems so strange to have both reactions dueling within me.

And yet...isn't that life as a whole? Isn't that how it so frequently goes? We laugh. We cry. We dance. We stumble. And sometimes, we do it all at the same time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

spellingg bee

Yes, I completely stole the title of this post from the TV show Psych.  I'm a fangirl.  Sue me.  You can have all of my student loan debt if you win.

Anyway, do you remember this post from last year? 

Today was the day of this year's spelling bee.  Sarah was very eager to try again.

She still remembers the word she missed last year, although she can joke about it.  "I missed 'harsh!'  That is harsh!"

Numbers were waaaaaaay down this year.  Apparently some sort of plague is making the rounds, and many were unable to participate due to illness.  Both bees had a much smaller turnout.  The upper grades' bee had only eight children--I know there were at least twice that many in it last year and probably more.

The younger kids' bee had two children--Sarah and another girl.  Not much of a bee, but they enjoyed it.

They honestly were quite evenly matched.  They both got quite a few words correct and went several rounds.  Then the other girl missed a word.  Per the rules, Sarah still had to spell her word correctly to win.  But she missed hers too.  They went a few rounds with both of them missing words--it was comical almost how similar their levels of spelling prowess were.  I knew it was anybody's bee, and it would possibly come down to a fluke.

In the end, Sarah won.  She is thrilled with her medal and thrilled to have won a spelling bee after being disappointed last year. 

I'm proud of her, of course, although a two-person spelling bee isn't much of a competition.  But I'm proud that she wanted to try again.  I'm proud that missing a few words didn't frustrate her to the point of losing her concentration and making dumb mistakes.  I'm proud that she thanked everyone who told her she did well.

I'm especially proud that she told her opponent what a good job she had done, and that the opponent also smiled and congratulated her.  Such good attitudes from both of them.

And I'm glad it's over.  It's nerve-wracking when your kid is up on that stage!  ;)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

follow-up to yesterday: kitchen disasters

So between the French toast breakfast and the supper that pleased everyone (nigh near impossible in this house), I was feeling pretty pleased with myself and my culinary prowess yesterday. 

Pride goes before destruction, I guess. 

I had planned these positively delicious-sounding sour cream enchiladas for supper tonight.  Then I realized: I was out of cheese.  We never run out of cheese in this house, but we managed it thanks to that lovely but unplanned mac I had made last night.  Drat.

Okay, no biggie, just figure out something else to make with chicken.  My casseroles tend to involve cheese as well, so those are out.  Not enough time to make soup really.  Sweet and sour chicken!  That's it!

I've not been successful making sweet and sour chicken since the discovery that I can't have soy sauce.  Darn, I miss soy sauce.  But I forged ahead. 

Some nights you really just need to grab a $5 pizza and give it up.  :-p

While my rice cooked, I started chopping my chicken.  Rachael Ray says to do your chopping next to the stove, so you can dump things directly into the pan when you're done.  I was kind of in a hurry, and it sounded like a time saving step.  Only I don't have room next to my stove like she does.  So I set up my board on the stove--I wasn't using all of the eyes.

You so know where this is going, don't you?

I set up my pan on the back eye so I could dump my chicken into it once I was done chopping.  I chopped and dumped and turned on the eye to heat the pan.  I added my fat to the pan.  I got ready to dump my chicken.

I frowned.  Why wasn't my pan heating up?

Because I of course turned on the wrong eye.  Yep, I now have an eye-shaped burn on my cutting board.  The stove eye is coated in nasty melted plastic.  Arg.

I also over-cooked dinner--which didn't have any flavor to speak of anyway.  It filled our bellies.  That's really about all you could say about it.

Grumble, grumble, mutter.

*raises right hand*  I, Karen, do solemnly swear never to brag about my cooking accomplishments on this blog again.  It's just not worth it.  Sheesh. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

kitchen capers

I had made a couple of loaves of sourdough bread last week.  I had some bread still left over, so I decided to make French toast this morning.  I mostly used this recipe, although I upped the cinnamon and vanilla, added nutmeg, and used Natalie's almond milk instead of whole milk.  Still, it made for a very yummy breakfast, especially since we splurged on real maple syrup with one of Christmas gift cards. 

Speaking of gift card splurges...I also bought a jar of almond butter with that gift card.  I love almond butter.  I wanted it on a piece of sourdough toast for breakfast one day last week.  However, I discovered something terrible.  Someone had opened the jar at the store--and used their fingers to draw a smiley face in the almond butter.  :-p  YUCK! 

I had already thrown away the receipt, because I don't keep them after the charge has cleared the bank.  Thankfully, Target was gracious and exchanged the product anyway.  Sadly, apparently this isn't unusual, although the manager said that it was normally cosmetics that the culprit opened and defaced.  How utterly spiteful and wasteful! 

I meant to use some leftover chicken in tonight's supper, but I ended up making homemade macaroni and cheese instead.  We ended up doing kind of a "meatless Monday" even though I hadn't planned it.  I'm pondering trying to do it more often though.  I also made these pumpkin muffins, although I used white whole wheat flour, almond milk, and again increased the seasonings.  Oh, and I omitted the chocolate chips because of Natalie. 

I'll probably make more sourdough bread tomorrow.  Gotta to keep using the starter regularly so that it doesn't go bad or lose its "oomph." 

I'm tracking our grocery spending this month, trying to lower it from last month's total.  However, I'll confess up front that the gift cards will certainly help with that.   The real test will be next month!  ;) 

Rather boring post, I know.  Maybe someone will find the recipes useful. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Happy New Year!

I always love the "fresh start" feeling that a new year brings.  There's just a feeling of renewed hope and another chance and sense of promise.  "It's been a long December, and there's reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last."  I always think of that song lyric on New Year's Day.  I think that's what we all wish for when the calendar page flips--a better year than the year before.

I didn't accomplish even close to everything I wanted in 2012, and as such I loved this blog post from A Holy Experience.  I often find encouragement and inspirations from Ann's words, and this post was no exception.

I do have goals and such for the new year, but I'm not making any big "New Year Resolutions."  Instead I'm trying to break things down into shorter term monthly and weekly goals.  I recently read the book Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews, and it provided some food for thought as to how your overall goals should dictate how you budget your time.  It's not a new idea--Steven Covey talks a lot about the same principle in his books--but it's presented in a very practical, easy-to-read format.  I have a shiny new planner to map out my ideas (and it even has its first coffee stain, so it is truly MY planner now).  I'll post more about how it's going throughout the upcoming weeks and months.

One goal I will share now is to procure an AP Stylebook with a gift card I got for Christmas and study it.  I need to brush up on the peculiar quirks of AP style that differ from conventional grammar.  Then I can retake the proofreading test offered by the company for which I write and have  more jobs available to me.  I'm always going to continue working on writing more frequently so that I can increase my writing speed.  I am a very slow writer, taking too much time to ponder every word.  I also tend to "over-research."  The experts I've read all assure me that writing more often will help me write more quickly.  I will make more money if I write more articles.  Writing more articles will only happen if I write more quickly.

On a completely different note, one thing that is rather exciting to report is that I ended 2012 by going a full two and a half weeks without a migraine.  TWO AND A HALF WEEKS!!!  That is an extraordinary record and very exciting.

Naturally, I broke my streak on New Year's Day.  Do I know how to ring in a new year with style or what?  ;)

Anyway, best wishes for a wonderful 2013 for everyone.  (Please excuse any mistakes you might find in this blog post).