Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Inspiration

Simple Mom is one of the "new to me" blogs that I'm using to replace my magazine hankerings. The site looks fresh and modern, is easy to navigate, and has lots of great content even if you are not a mom.

As for the home front update:

- Our new refrigerator has been installed
- It is generally considered a reliable brand
- It was a decent price
- It had "free" delivery and removal of the old fridge
- I say "free" because really it involved a complicated rebate process
- Which Prince Charming has completed (Bless him!)
- The Store from which we purchased the fridge is also giving us a gift card
- Because there is a small dent near the bottom of the door
- It was a gift card or they would completely replace the appliance
- Which seemed rather silly
- Considering we need a refrigerator now
- And what if there was a dent on the new new one?
- So we are still recovering from this week
- And the children are still coughing
- My ear problems are not wax related, thank you, Stephen
- They are genetic
- I need to stop now before I reveal any more embarrassing information
- Such as my weight or age
- Almost 28
- Oops.
- Quitting now.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Not Your Ordinary Thursday, I Hope

I don't know what your house looks like when you've been sick for a week but I am not sharing pictures of mine. So use your imaginations - a week where mom does no tidying, cleaning, or organizing. A week. After a whirlwind week and after a birthday party where 20 people crammed themselves into a kitchen the size of a nice railroad car. Or there abouts.

Are you imagining it? Can you see the stacks of dishes, papers, and miscellaneous "stuff"? Can you visualize all the things that Mom does every day NOT.BEING.DONE?

Then you can understand how it was the perfect time for our refrigerator to completely give up the ghost. Fail miserably. Shut down permanently. Die. Not keep things cold and, in fact, leak water all over everything in the freezer and refrigerator. Do the opposite of what it is SUPPOSED to do.

Whatever.

Today I woke up with the intention of getting back on track. My left ear is still not back to normal and I'm still getting over this cold / flu / plague. But I had more energy and so did the girls.

Which, as it turned out, was a very good thing.

Because not only did we have to try to catch up a week's worth of schoolwork and housework (and then some) but we also had to go buy a new refrigerator. No time to consult Consumer Reports. No time to shop around for the best deal. (My poor frugal heart bleeds over that.)

So, without further ado, my to do list for tomorrow:

1. Everything that didn't get done today.
2. Everything that didn't get done Monday - Wednesday.
3. Pray nothing else out of the ordinary happens. And, oh yes,
4. Have BRAND STINKIN' NEW MAJOR APPLIANCE INSTALLED

Sorry for the shouting. It just seems to be happening today. And what is that twitch in my left eye?

*blink*

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Pox, A Plague, A Pestilence

*Obligatory warning: this post contains information pertaining to sickness, illness, and bodily fluids. Those weak of stomach or faint of heart may want to just move along to another post.*

So, just as we finished celebrating Sweet Pea week we were all struck with the worst colds / flu / sinus infections we've had all winter. No, we haven't gone to the doctor...yet. And we all seem to be improving a bit, albeit very slowly.

Monday we - gasp - did no school at all. I know. Actually only a couple of us even got dressed and we spent the entire day sleeping in the oddest places. (For instance: Tigger came into my bed to snuggle with me and the next thing I know I'm waking up with her asleep beside me, Prince Charming asleep on the couch, and both the other girls asleep in their room. And it wasn't nap time.)

Tuesday we managed to do a few school assignments, mostly things that can be done while piled on mom's bed because it is, and I quote, "More comfy".

At this point I should mention that one of the common side effects of my head colds is a completely blocked left ear. It is rather serious, which I have seen doctors for multiple times but we've never decided on a course of action (choosing, by default, to do nothing and just see what happens). As a result of this, if I fall asleep on my right side I am very nearly totally deaf.

Which can have its advantages. Case in point: last night Tigger woke up. She must have called for us but no one heard her. So she came to our room. I woke up when Prince Charming got out of bed but, as he seemed to be handling it, I didn't get up. (I'll take my Bad Mother award now). She reported that she had thrown up.

A few minutes passed. I was in that half-asleep / half-awake, not quite sure what's going on stage. Somehow my innate "Mom-ness" triumphed over my cold medicine induced foggy brain. I stumbled toward the bathroom. To find - last warning for all the wobbly sorts out there - my husband holding a tissue to Tigger's nose as it bled and bled and bled everywhere.

I am not kidding, it was a horrible sight. Blood streamed from both nostrils. It was on her pajamas, on the floor, all over her face and hands. I grabbed a cloth and pinched her nose. Then I almost fell on the floor. "I can't do this", I believe were my exact words, but I can't be sure. (I'm really ready for my Bad Mother award now) Prince Charming took over pinching the child's nose and I laid down, trying to keep from being sick. (I am one of those "weak of stomach" types, at least where blood and my children are concerned)

So he got the bleeding stopped and the children settled back down. And I got my stomach settled and went back to sleep for a little while. Only to be confronted, once I was awake for the day, with bloody sheets, pillows, cloths, and floor. Which I cleaned up as quickly as possible and without any sort of stomach rebellion.

So, in keeping with our light schedule, we again did as much school as possible from my bedroom. One of our assignments was history. As I read, both yesterday and today, Polly gave me several worried looks, apprehension evident. And what might we be studying in history?

The Black Death.

Seems appropriate to me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Peek at Sweet Pea Week

Sweet Pea's birthday celebration lasted nearly a week.

She got cards with money in them:

Pretty clothes to dress up in:

And lots of other wonderful packages to open. She clapped her hands when she realized all this loot was for her:

And then there was the cake. And oh, what a cake! My friend Rachel made it (she has made most of our cakes in the past four years) and then brought it over to our house to decorate. Decorating was nearly as fun as eating it, especially when you can eat the extra candy.

The wafers at the bottom spelled out her name, but Prince Charming has blurred those.

Sweet Pea's favorite? The gumdrops. We could tell she's grown up since her last birthday. Last year she was wearing as much cake as she ate. This year she was quite tidy.

So the birthday week came to an end. Which is just as well. Because yesterday we were all laid low with some vicious head colds. (As Pastor Dad would say, "Cough due to cold") So with all the sneezing and coughing and blowing noses, we're thankful we planned the party for the day before her real birthday. She doesn't know the difference. Yet. We may not be able to get away with that for much longer. She is a remarkable child, after all.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This Day in History...

Our little Sweet Pea was born and what a day that was! She was punctual (born on her due date) and in a hurry (the doctor barely had time to catch her).

And she was alert:
She nursed right after she was born. (The child still loves her food!) She looked watched Prince Charming and me very carefully (She's always been curious). She hardly cried. (OK, that characteristic didn't last.)

The dry facts (8 lbs. 3 oz. 21 in.) just don't capture the amazing gift that each new child is.

This is Sweet Pea at a little less than one year old.

And here she is now:
Her sisters say I should change her blog name to "Buster". I've considered "Stink Weed" a few times, I admit.

But really, no matter what, she'll always be my Sweet Pea.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blogs of Distinction

I've done a lot of grumbling lately about stores closing, magazines ending, and so on. So what am I replacing my magazine habit with?

Blogs, of course.

I'm going to take a risk and tell you my favorite inspirational blogs on Saturdays. This week I'd like to mention:



Oh my stars and garters: this site is wonderful! It's beautiful, inspiring, and helpful. Go there. Now. You will want to turn all your trash / recycling into beautiful things. (An altered diaper wipes container is in my near future for my first project. And to think I've just been throwing them away.)

I've added a link in the left sidebar. And if you make anything or decorate anything because Tip Junkie inspired you be sure to let me know. I need all the encouragement I can get.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gah! What next?

So, remember how yesterday I said my second favorite magazine is no longer being published?

Well, today I found out that my first favorite isn't either. However, they are looking for a new publisher for that one, so maybe it won't be gone forever...

I think I'm going to start listing things I don't like, in the hopes that they will be closed / cancelled / sent away / generally done away with.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quote from the Other Room

Polly: "Guess what Tigger's been doing! Double dipping from the toothpaste!"

Me: "?!"

I don't want to know, I don't want to know, I don't want to know...

Run! Hide! Save Yourselves!

I've already grumbled about my favorite store closing.

I've grumbled about thrift stores not being able to sell used children's products or books published pre-1985. (Check out the Common Room posts about CPSIA if you have questions. And, lest you think it doesn't effect you: the Goodwill store in the tiny NC town my sister Lulu lives in has already removed all children's products from the shelves.)

Now I find out that my favorite magazine (OK, it's really my second favorite, but still...) is closing.

What next? I'm telling you: you folks who read my blog, comment on my blog, follow my blog (ahem) - you're some of my favorite things in the world.

You'd better hide, 'cause things I love are taking a serious hit these days.

Schoolwork With Sweet Pea

One of my favorite questions about homeschooling (right after, "What about socialization?") is, "What do you do with your other children?"

My initial response to this is, "Do? I'm supposed to do something with them too?" Don't worry. I hardly ever say that. I'm usually more polite than that in person.

My younger girls are usually kept busy by "doing" school with us. They listen to the same books, they color while we write, they watch our projects (and sometimes help) and sometimes they do their own thing (puzzles, dolls, or any of the other 54,731 toys we own).

However, sometimes they don't want to do the above activities and then I have to go to Plan B. Which, in our case, involves some new activity, usually Montessori inspired. Here's what I came up with last week:

This is Sweet Pea earnestly dropping toothpicks into an old spice container. (My apologies for the picture quality. I've promised myself a new camera someday soon!)
She was fascinated and wanted to do it over and over. Which was fine by me, as it kept her busy and let Polly finish her Math in peace.
Cost: nothing!

Benefit: priceless.

Here are a few of the blogs that have inspired me to get together some learning activities for Sweet Pea:

Chasing Cheerios

The Wonder Years

So, what are favorite ways to keep the younger set busy?

And don't forget to check out more great frugal ideas over at Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Hodge-Podge

Can't quite type...disjointed thoughts about to be dispersed all over the blogosphere...can't resist...

Sorry. I seem to be having trouble with coherency. Maybe it's because we're off our regular routine. We had very special guests for the past two nights. Fun was had by all but at the end you realize no one had enough sleep and wow, it really does matter that Sweet Pea stay on her regular routine, for the good of us all.

Now my three girls are recovering from their junk food imbibing -grandparents to play with and show off to - presents to open binge. They're down for their regular nap, although Tigger is in bed with Polly (so far, so good, fingers crossed). And even our borrowed baby is napping away peacefully. So I ought to be catching up on the seven baskets of laundry that are clean but not folded. Or changing the sheets (hence Tigger camping out in Polly's bed). Or putting away our school books. Or any number of things that must be done on Wednesday.

But instead I am sitting here reading all the blogs I didn't have time to read in the past few days. And wondering if it is going to snow Saturday. And wishing that book I just finished had been better. And dreaming about our upcoming anniversary trip. (We bought the tickets last week!)

And lamenting the fact that, despite my friend Kelly's intervention, I am back down to 13 followers. (le sigh) Maybe if I could think of something worthwhile to talk about. Didn't I used to have opinions about things? Or theories to expound on? Or...something?

Not to worry. I'm sure one of the girls will have some sort of escapade soon. I just hope it's blog worthy but not something that requires a trip to an emergency room. That kind of story I can do without.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Confidential Birthday Greeting

Dear Brother-in-law,

I hope your birthday has been wonderful. I'd say your check card is in the mail, but that would be a lie, so I won't say so. But it will be arriving posthaste. (Albeit belated)

Having known you for nearly 24 of your (now) 25 years, let me just say that you have enriched my life in so many ways. And you've turned out much less annoying than I expected.

Love you much!

Many happy returns of the day,

Your honorary (or just plain ornery) big sister

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Thank You Note

Dear Kenzie,

I know Kelly put you up to it. But thank you, so much.

And thanks to you too, Kelly. (No, I haven't thought up a good nickname for you yet.)

Love,
Karen

Updated thank you note:

Dear Kelly,

Now I know our friendship is one for the ages. But I'm not sure about yours and Makenzie's.

"If someone should thank you..."

Yes, I saw that message on Facebook.

Remind me never to get on your bad side. You could crack all my top secret codes.

Love again,
Karen

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Special Day


Twelve years ago today I was probably trying to find some way to fill the time before the church Valentine Banquet that night. I probably didn't eat much that day either, considering how fluttery my stomach was acting.

Why all the angst? This really nice boy from church was actually taking me to the dinner. Sure, before then we usually sat at the same table anyway. And we were friends. But, well, he was driving me there. And bringing me home. It was - or was it? - a date.

I probably shouldn't have worried about it so much. It was, I believe, certifiably the worst date in the history of dating. Or at least in my history of dating. (Which is not extensive, I grant you.)

I'll spare you the gory details. (OK, I've forgotten some of them) Suffice it to say, neither of us really enjoyed ourselves. Although we did win a prize because we finished a crossword puzzle before all the other adults in the room. You can find words on a page pretty quickly when you're not looking at each other.

And the ride home was worse. I think we were the first ones to leave the banquet. I remember thinking, "I guess this is it." And it probably would have been but somehow we ended up sitting on my front porch (my parents weren't home yet) and talking. And then everything was better. He said he thought Pastor Dad would kill him if he dated me. (Maybe, I thought. But he had asked Pastor Dad permission to let us go on this date and it had been granted, right?) That little hurdle managed, we discovered we really did like each other in a friend way and a more than friend way.

Then my parents came home and agreed to let me go with him and his friends to watch a movie (I know, I know, my parents are really great). Which ended up being pretty much the worst movie I've ever seen. (It was just that kind of day, I guess.) That horrible date and awful movie started the rest of my life.

And one year later - at the same place where we'd had that disastrous first date - he asked me to marry him. He had placed the ring in a box of candy conversation hearts. I didn't notice at the time, he showed me later - hey all I saw was the ring! -but all the hearts said, "Marry Me". (As if there were any doubt that I would!)

Now we sometimes go to a Valentine Banquet, like we did last night. But we usually spend our Valentine's days with our girls. We make a special dinner, we light candles, we all talk. Sometimes we watch a family movie. And every year is the best Valentine's I can imagine.

Happy Valentine's Day to you all!

Friday, February 13, 2009

How Do I Love Thee?


You know the rest, right?

"Let me count the ways". And, despite the fact that the movie 10 Things I Hate About You (based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew) used that quote, it's actually by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Whom you ought to read today and tomorrow in honor of Valentine's. Seriously. She's that romantic.

Over at Heart of The Matter Online folks are talking about why they love their spouses. It's supposed to be in video format but, well, I don't do video format. So I thought I would link to my post in which I describe "Why I Call Him Prince Charming".

Just so you know, I could list a lot more reasons. But I'll save those for another time.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

That's My Girl

Today we sorted out Polly and Tigger's "commissions" that they earned last week. Tigger divided her $0.41 up along the usual lines but Polly deliberated over her grand sum of $0.53 for a bit longer than usual.

She set aside 10 percent (in this case a nickel) in her "Give to God" jar. Then she thought some more.

"OK," she said. "Put these three pennies in my spending bank and put all the rest in my savings."

"Are you sure?" I asked. We only require that she save 10%.

"I'm sure. I'm saving for college. I will not be getting student loans," she informed me.

So chalk up $0.45 more for Polly's college fund. It's coming right along.

Polly is a dedicated Dave Ramsey listener, in case you haven't figured that out. Who knows? She may grow up to have emergency funds for her emergency fund.

*Picture credit: Polly's Pop or Mem. I'm not sure who took this one.*

Small Successes Thursday

I haven't participated in many things like this lately (WFMW, Frugal Friday) but Small Successes Thursday looks nice and there aren't so many links you can't possible follow them all (my main problem with WFMW or Menu Plan Monday).

1. Did I mention I've been on a de-cluttering streak?

2. I gave three piano lessons this week: one boy from church, my brother, and Polly just started. Polly's my most enthusiastic student, naturally.

3. I finished two non-fiction books and one fiction and stopped reading one fiction book that was seriously not edifying. It's hard for me to stop reading a book that is entertaining but ultimately unwholesome, but I did it.

What successes have you had this week?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In Which I Grumble

My favorite store is closing all stores in our area. Yesterday I went there but it's already looking pretty bare and the real bargain prices haven't been posted yet. Where will I do my Christmas shopping now?

Thrift stores have started throwing out older toys and books, in order to comply with the horrendously misbegotten CPSIA. When I read a story yesterday about this I actually felt physically ill. An overreaction, perhaps, but I love books and the thought of books just being thrown in a landfill because they might have lead (they don't and do you realize, even if they did, how many a child would have to eat to have any ill effects?) just hurts my homeschooling-book loving soul.

The country is going to have an equally terrible "Spend You Must" bill passed on us which has plenty of pork but few solutions (sorry, let my politics out there for a minute).

I want to wake up from this bad dream or go home or whatever feeling of loss I'm experiencing right now to just go away. (le sigh)

And I have to make and decorate 24 cupcakes today but I don't have cupcake liners because we usually don't use them but these cupcakes are for our children's program at church and can't possibly be used if they're not in cupcake liners. (le sigh again)

Now, to get on with the business of the day. If I can just make myself get up out of this chair.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In Which I am On An Organizing Kick

You know how Dave Ramsey advises people trying to get out of debt to "sell so much stuff the dog starts hiding and the kids think they're next"? Things have kind of been like that around the Charming household lately.

No, we're not trying to get out of debt. We're already out of debt except for our mortgage (Praise the Lord, we have never had consumer debt!). And we've got savings. Prince Charming says I have emergency funds for our emergency funds. (He says it in an amused and loving way, lest I be offended.)

So this purging of possessions is not about money. It's about sanity.

I believe I've mentioned that the Charming Cottage is about the size of a postage stamp. I'm not complaining, you understand, I like our house, but facts are facts and this place is small.

Occasionally I feel like all our "stuff" is threatening to take over the house and leave us no room to actually, you know, live. And, as I am not a huge fan of cleaning (neither do I dislike it, I'm just ambivalent), I think it best to keep our possessions to a minimum. Winter (after Christmas) always inspires me into a frenzy of organizing, tidying, and cleaning. I've never been much of a spring cleaner but my winter work makes up for that.

I've been organizing my kitchen, my book shelves, the basement, and I even organized all my bookmarks on my Internet browser. (I'm just itching to do Prince Charming's too, but those are his and I really shouldn't bother fix them without his permission. "Must.Not.Organize.Them." I keep telling myself. "Look away.")

So what has exited our humble abode during this organizing frenzy? Well, just in the last week we removed:

- 1 big bag of (perfectly good but superfluous) toys to our church nursery
- 2 big bags of books to Half Price Books. Where they pay a ridiculously small amount of money, but hey: they are outta here. All the better to make room for the new to us books we plan to buy. We're homeschoolers, what can I say?
- 3 big bags, 2 small bags, & 1 box of miscellaneous "stuff" (sheets, towels, clothes, toys...) to VVA, who come here and get my donations, thereby making donating to charity quite easy and therefore, more likely to happen
- several trash bags full of trash (Why was I hanging on to this stuff?!)

We don't have a dog but I think the girls are trying to keep a low profile these days. Even better, they're trying to keep their toys under control. 'Cause if it's not being played with or put away properly, I've got a nice big box just waiting.

I really should mention that I am very grateful to the Provider of all good things that we are so blessed. But I'm also grateful that our abundance spills over and can go bless someone else.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sunday School Lessons

Yesterday in Sunday School I had an "Ethan" moment. Ethan is a friend of our family (and the High Hill Family). He's around Polly's age. A few months ago his family visited our church and then went to the High Hill house for the afternoon. At which point Ethan had opportunity to opine, "What about that 'guests go first' rule?!"

Which has, as you can see, become legend in the High Hill / Charming families.

To set up my story you should know that the Sunday School class Prince Charming and I attend has breakfast together one Sunday a month. We take turns bringing it in and we eat during the lesson.

So yesterday was our teacher's turn to bring breakfast. Which he did: huge bagels from Panera, cream cheese, fresh fruit, juice & milk. It looked amazing. Several of our class members were not in class yet (including Prince Charming who had responsibilities elsewhere) but our teacher decided to go ahead and bless the food anyway. At this point there were three other grown men in the class and one other woman besides me.

As our teacher said, "Amen" (and I think the "n" sound had hardly left his lips) those three other men converged on that table like a pack of lions on a wildebeest. The other lady in class looked at me. I looked at her. We shook our heads slightly.

Once these men retreated to their seats she turned to me again. "All clear, you think?" She asked. We then approached the table, after ascertaining that the men were, in fact, seated and not planning on round two.

And this was my oh-so-Ethan-like thought: "Whatever happened to ladies first?"

We had a challenging Sunday School lesson yesterday from the book of John. But the bonus lesson I learned: never get between a man and his breakfast. Especially if bagels from Panera are involved.

I don't think it's going to be widely applicable but I'll never forget it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Tigger-Ism Concerning Clothes

Today as I was helping Tigger get dressed we had the following conversation:

Me: "Do you want to wear this blue shirt?"
Tigger inspects the shirt.
Me: "Well?"
Tigger: "Yes, if you turn down the neck turtle."

Polly used to describe these shirts in the same way. Only she wouldn't wear them no matter how much I turned down the "neck turtle". And no, I don't correct them. I like talking about "neck turtles".

Friday, February 6, 2009

Just A Day in the Life


*Warning: homeschooling heavy post forthcoming. And it doesn't concern the above picture. I just threw that in for free*

Today we:
- worked on our scripture passage for February (1 John 4:7-11)
- worked on our poem for this week
- wrote out Polly's letters for today (Rr / Ss)
- sent Tigger back to bed for excessive fussiness
- finished a math assessment
- let Tigger up
- put Sweet Pea down for disorderly conduct (I jest, but she wasn't. And she therefore won a ticket straight to bed)
- finished math page & time sheet
- read two books for History - we were in a chapter about China this week, which Polly loves. She can even find Beijing on the globe. And who knew that the Olympics were held there? I mean, Polly only told me that every day during history this week.
- worked on a Space Shuttle paper for Science
- did picture study of Sunflowers in a Vase by Van Gogh
- released Sweet Pea from solitary confinement
- wondered how on Earth I was going to manage to read our Shakespeare story for this week
- utilized my new best friend, Librivox

This is how amazing Librivox is: my three girls, yes, all three, sat in my room coloring papers while listening to a very lovely British voice reading from Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night's Dream, a favorite around here) for..wait for it...fifteen whole minutes. Together. In a row.

I know, I didn't believe it either. But it happened. They all sat at my desk (on two chairs. Sweet Pea likes to overlap both big girls) with their own papers and the good colored pencils (they can't be expected to use Crayola - these girls hold out for the Prismacolor every time) and listened to a classic story while I did other things.

OK, really I was switching laundry and cleaning up the kitchen, but I managed to do it without anyone screaming for my IMMEDIATE attention, RIGHT NOW, "No we cannot possibly wait five seconds and oh my word you are not going to believe what Sweet Pea just ate. HURRY!"

Librivox is my new best friend.

Have I Ever Mentioned

That I'm superstitious. I know, I know: someone as relentlessly logical as I, ought not to be. (Please, hold your laughter. You wouldn't want to hurt my feelings, would you?)

I don't avoid black cats, walking under ladders or spilled salt on the table. And the worst thing about a broken mirror is just cleaning it up without getting tiny shards of mirror embedded in my fingers. I do knock on wood when talking about bad things. It's silly, I know, but words and ideas are powerful and I don't like to dwell on negative things.

And still...

Right now Candid Diversions has 13 followers. You can guess what I'm hinting at here, right?

Come on out and join the club! It's an easy way to keep track of which blogs you read and then I don't have the number 13 greeting me every time I open my blog.

Not that it, you know, bothers me.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Picture Tag

Amy over at Buffaloes and Butterfly Wings tagged me for this fun photo game. You're supposed to go to your picture files, open the 6th folder and post the 6th picture in that folder. I cheated (a little bit). But at least I'm telling you, right?

We have so many picture files from all Prince Charming's projects, blogging, school files, etc. I was afraid the sixth picture would be some intricate game diagram that only Prince Charming can decipher. So I just opened the file we call "Family Pictures" and then found the sixth file in that and the sixth picture in that sub-file. (Yes, we have files for our files around here. We're that important.) And the picture is:

Let's say it together now: "Awww."

It's my sweet baby Polly, way back in the olden days of 2002. That's her great -grandparents' (one set, anyway) house in the background. But who's looking in the background? Look at those eyes, those cheeks, those chubby little hands...

Sorry. I just had very sweet "Polly is still a little baby" daydream there for a second. Not that I don't enjoy her as a seven year old, because I do, but it's just not the same.

And if I hadn't cheated, this is the picture that would've won the picture lottery:


That's my brother Bear studying away at our church's teen camp last year. Almost makes me want to say "Awww" again. I guess my worries about school worksheets or game diagrams were unfounded.

Now I command sweetly request that the following people consider themselves tagged:

1. Mom
2. Lisa
3. Kelly
4. Cousin Amy
5. Tarah
6. Ginelle

Thanks for tagging me, Amy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

An Actual Conversation

Tigger, in full blown "whiner-extraordinaire" mode:
"But I want to do it my way."
Prince Charming, in "just about had enough" mode:
"Well, you're not Frank Sinatra."

I wonder if the other parent (in this case: me) laughing quite loudly in other other room negates the discipline aspects of conversations like this...

Books of 2009 - January

Another year, another stack of books...

1. What's a Cook to Do? cookbook by James Peterson. Interesting. I peel oranges differently now, because of this book. It's that life-changing. (/sarcasm)

2. Good-bye, Piccadilly. Non-fiction by Jenel Virden. Book about British WW2 war brides. Somewhat helpful as research, but I have the feeling I've read it before and just don't remember it.

3. The Unschooling Handbook. Non-fiction by Mary Griffith. I've already blogged about this elsewhere. Suffice it to say, I very much do not agree with 98% of this book.

4. The World According to Bertie. Fiction series by Alexander McCall-Smith. My only complaint is that there wasn't enough Bertie. These books are easy to read and I thoroughly enjoy them.

5. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Fiction by Alexander McCall-Smith. Mma Ramotswe is a character for the ages. Loved this.

6. Do Hard Things. Non-fiction by Alex and Brett Harris. Truly life-changing. I really wish I could've read this book when I was a teenager but alas, it didn't exist then. So instead I'm recommending it to everyone I know and I think it's already been ordered for The Bear.

7. Unfortunate English. Non-fiction by Bill Brohaugh. Humorous look at the origin of some English words (the unfortunate ones).

8. Miracles. Non-fiction by C.S. Lewis. I wish I understood more of this book, but what I did understand was challenging and helpful to me in my spiritual walk. Plus, Lewis is just downright funny.

9. The Mill on the Floss. Fiction by George Eliot. Prince Charming and I quite by accident, read two different Eliot novels at the same time: he read Silas Marner, I read this.) The author has an amazing command of the English language: her prose often reads like poetry. Don't look for any happy endings and the ending felt abrupt after such a long story, but it is worth reading, at least once.

10. Marshmallows for Breakfast. Fiction by Dorothy Koomson. Despite the cover and title, this is not chick lit. Great narrator.

11. Set-Apart Femininity. Non-fiction by Leslie Ludy. I suppose this book could have been helpful but I was too distracted by the author's constant spiritual one-upmanship and bragging. Maybe she should read a book on humility before presuming to tell the rest of us how to fix ourselves. (For example: what difference does it make that she taught her two year old all the states and their capitals?!) Not to mention the fact I'm not at all sure she actually knows what "the gospel" is. (Hint: it doesn't involve works.) Read Do Hard Things instead.

12. Happy Endings. Fiction by Trisha Ashley. Mildly funny but nothing special. The letters about writing are a hoot.

13. Time and Chance. Fiction by Sharon Kay Penman. Ms. Penman has a true gift for making history come alive. I've enjoyed everything of hers that I've read. This book is mostly about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine - truly fascinating subjects.

14. Home Learning Year by Year. Non-fiction by Rebecca Rupp. Essentially a secular overview of the K-12 years. Lots of book suggestions. (Warning: heavy on humanistic science.)

15. Acedia and Me. Non-fiction by Kathleen Norris. Part memoir, part scholarly study of the difficult to define acedia. Ms. Norris chooses each word carefully, with a poet's precision. Lots of great quotes too.

Fiction for January: 6
Non-fiction for January: 9

Monday, February 2, 2009

Do Not Adjust Your Screens

There have been a few questions over the past few days about the look of my blog. (OK, they were all from my mom - Hi, Mom! - but she asked a few times so...)

It seems that sometimes my blog is all green, sometimes all white, and sometimes it looks like it's supposed to look, that is: white in the middle, lime green down the sides. Whither all the permutations?

It's snowing in space.*

OK, not really. But it's so much more complicated than that, and it is related to snow and ice, so let's stick with that answer. If you notice my blog looking wonky, please let me know. It's possible my mom hasn't informed me yet and I'm just blissfully going about my day thinking my blog is call cute, green, white, and three column-y, when it's really an Oscar the Grouch monstrosity with no contrast that not even the youngest and best eyes can read.

I'll try to fix it quick like. And if that doesn't work I'll whine beg until Prince Charming checks it out. And, if that doesn't work, I suppose I could call my fantastic brother-in-law whom I love so dearly (Hi, Stephen) because he's like the "Computer Whisperer" or something and if he can't fix it then my blog is truly doomed.

Random thought: Why doesn't the English language differentiate between "my sister's husband" and "my husband's brother"? Instead we just get "Brother-in-Law" which is so non-specific. That bugs me. Words should be precise. (Same problem with "sister-in-law" only I don't have any of those yet.)

You may now go on about your usual blog business. Thank you very much.

*Bonus points if you can name where this quotation comes from.*