Friday, December 17, 2004

A flurry of preparations

So Advent is the season of preparation for Christmas, or, in Godly Play language, the time of getting ready to enter the mystery of Christmas. The church focus is that it's a time of reflection, quiet, simplicity. A sort of "clearing the decks" for the celebration of Christ coming as a human to be among us. For me this year that apparently means that I don't do any Christmas preparations!

Well, not quite, but I did realize yesterday that my reluctance to get the Christmas stuff out is because I have to declutter in order to add Stuff. OUT! go the magazines I've been meaning to recycle. OUT! go the newspapers that have piled up. PUT AWAY! go the various things that have found a resting place in the living room but really belong elsewhere. BACK! to the library go the neglected and finished books (to be replaced with fresh library book and our collection of books for and about Advent, Las Posadas, Christmas, Three Kings, and Epiphany). AWAY! go the papers to be filed. I also swept every nook and cranny, and will probably have the boys dustmop and also dust with our fun static dusters. AWAY! will also go the contents of some boxes I've been ignoring.

Then I'll be ready to put out various Christmas and winter decorations, and pin the stockings to the bedroom doors -- just like my parents did when I was little. Put the electric candles in the windows. Fix up the strands of multicolored lights along the tops of the kitchen cupboards (they're soooo pretty at night, lighting the lower edge of the cathedral ceiling that lifts away from the kitchen end of the main living area). Tomorrow we'll buy our tree, just a couple of days later than usual, and put it up on Sunday.

Right now, though, it's time to check on the bread I'm making for our parish Advent Quiet Day soup-and-bread lunch today. Most of today will be devoted to dropping in on the meditations, attending the Eucharist and lunch, taking Son2 to school a couple of blocks away, and returning for prayer stations based on the Great O Antiphons of Advent, and the final meditation time. A still, quiet break in the midst of busy-ness and deadlines (gotta order those gifts for the nieces and nephews TODAY) (gotta address the Christmas cards and make a decision on whether to write a Christmas letter) (etc.). Stillness. Quiet. Maybe the contrast is enough to be my Advent season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Monday, December 06, 2004

Happy St Nicholas Day, and cookies

Today, December 6, is Saint Nicholas Day. I always want to put some sweets and cookies in my sons' shoes the night before (wrapped up or something of course -- eeew!), but don't actually do it. Today I'm planning to make cookies, though!

We already have some flour resident on the counter. I made biscuits last night to go with dinner, and yielded to the boys' request to have some flour to stir. They measured out a cup of flour each into their own bowls, commenced with stirring, and then began to request various additions. Cinnamon, ground cloves, salt, dry milk, baking powder, and I added some cardamom and ginger -- and we smelled everything before adding it to their bowls. They stirred their flour mixtures and played with it in the bowls... and after I got my biscuits in the oven they received permission to dump their flour on the counter. Woohoo! They spent the next 45 minutes, I think, pushing their flour around, making shapes, making roads, using their spoons and the biscuit cutter to do stuff. They got the okay to leave their flour until this afternoon; I amazed myself by being okay with that.

Son2 (nearly 5) has revisited his flour pile this morning. He spent some time filling the biscuit cutter to the handle, lifting the biscuit cutter, and declaring, "Volcano!" as the flour slumped down. Heeheehee! -- very fun. He even swept up a bit of a flour spill with our little brush and dustpan.

After school I hope to have a plan for making some cookies. Probably some sugar cookie recipe with spices added. Cookies are a lot easier when the kids make whatever they want and put it on the pans themselves -- and I put the dough in the fridge when I want to stop. Yay! The end of the tyranny of the multi-batch dough! Normally I completely avoid making cookies because the baking takes forever (whine, whine), but it seems doable this year. Maybe we can make shortbread sometime. We will definitely make biscotti for teacher gifts -- it's very easy and yummy, and went really well last year.

After today's cookie making, we will need to wipe up the (finished concrete) floor to actually get ALL of the flour up. Very easy for kids to do, so I am happy :)

MUSIC: Xmas music currently playing
A local radio station that's playing all Christmas music until Christmas. I can't find my Roches Christmas CD :(

Lilypie's countdown tickers!

Our second son is growing fast!
Lilypie Baby Ticker

Monday, November 29, 2004

Buy Nothing Christmas, and St. Nicholas

Stumbled across this:

Buy Nothing Christmas: Alternatives page

Already knew about this:

St. Nicholas Center: Discovering the truth about Santa Claus. Around the world: Saint Nicholas traditions in many countries. Celebrate: resources for families, churches and schools. For kids: games and stories and other fun things.


(FYI, personally I'm just recovering from the Thanksgiving mega-weekend and December just around the corner, but those sites are good.)

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Christmastime music at our house

I am a Christmastime music junkie, as dear husband will attest, but I hold off until after Thanksgiving unless something happens such as my husband pointing out the release of Barenaked Ladies' Barenaked for Christmas a week or so ago.

The first post-Thanksgiving Christmastime music to be played in our house was a dilemma. Some years I want to sing along, so it's the Penn State Glee Club's 1992 recording, P.S. Merry Christmas. Most years I really want to hear one of my favorite medieval Advent/Christmas recordings, and that was my intent this year. Yet, while pulling out my armload of Xmastime CDs and venerable cassette tapes I found myself humming "In Dulci Jubilo," so obviously I had to find that somewhere in my holiday collection.

I thought I was going to find it on A Renaissance Christmas, part of a boxed set from the Boston Camerata (with A Medieval Christmas and A Baroque Christmas). But no.

Now playing: Christmas with the Cambridge Singers, conducted by John Rutter. We finally got to "In Dulci Jubilo" and it's much too slow! C'mon, pick it up, step lively!

I will definitely switch to medieval Christmas music for Christmas CD No. 2 of the season. I'm missing my fix of Nova, Nova and Nowel, Owt of Your Slepe with obnoxiously fun krumhorns or whatever.

Here's a well-worn and -loved cassette that inaugurated the season for me for many years: Sing We Noel: Christmas Music from England and Early America, from the Boston Camerata. I still play it, but it's a bit slow in spots from stretched-out tape.

Later I'll probably cheer up my lovable humbug-Mr-Grinch husband with Christmas Island, by Leon Redbone. We also have Amy Grant, street musicians, hammered dulcimer, Glenn Miller band, Frank Sinatra et al., a Rounder label compilation, the Roches, the Miserable Offenders, and a bunch more.

A year or so ago I got Music for Little People's A Child's Celebration of Christmas for the kids to enjoy -- fun versions of Rudolf etc.

What Christmas music do you love to play? Did you add something different recently for some reason?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Advent, Christmas, Epiphany with kids

I updated my Web site, Faith at Home, to focus on Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany.

If you want to get a kid-friendly nativity set, look up Advent wreath resources, or find a great new Advent calendar, check out the resources pages under Advent, Christmas, Epiphany. It has all of my favorite online resources!

Comic strip: Mom's Cancer

If you have a family member with cancer, go read this comic strip: Mom's Cancer. This is soooo good.

Lost or at least out of it

Looking back, I guess that epic Halloween post was a final blowout before taking an unexpected break from my blog!

I took a cybersabbatical. The election was somewhat all-consuming and I didn't want to go on about it here, so I didn't.

Now I have lots of stuff to blog about, but just want to say... I'm reminded that late fall and winter in Oklahoma can be awfully wet and cold. We were possibly going to have snow tonight, but now they've changed the low temp forecast so that's less likely -- we're just going to get tons of rain on top of the already sopping wet week we've had.

That's fine with me; I still need to get my tropical (ie, house) plants into the sunroom before it actually freezes around here. I'm stuck waiting on planting my new bulbs from Old House Gardens because they'll just rot, I think, in sodden soil. On the other hand, thanks to my dear husband I'm listening to bits of the new Barenaked Ladies Christmas CD on my handheld -- fun! I even broke my no-Christmas-music-before-Thanksgiving rule for this, heehee.

See ya sooner this time around!

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween, All Hallows' Eve, All Saints, All Souls

Our town declared Saturday to be the trick-or-treating night, thereby making my and every other local family's Halloween plans a whirlwind of activity in two short days (Friday and Saturday), with a day to recover before Monday arrives. This was the busiest and most fun Halloween with the kids ever, for us. We are also ever so tired!

I resist switching the kids' fun from October 31, but there were unexpected plusses this year. The blessing of an extra hour of sleep when we really needed it 'cause the time changed back as we slept after trick-or-treating. Beautiful fall weather on Saturday night, but rain all day and evening Sunday. Grudgingly I admit Saturday night worked out very, very well. Except for the craziness of being unable to find my box o' fall decorations all week, until 4 pm before trick-or-treating!?!


On Wednesday morning Son2 (age 4) and I attended a MOMS Club Halloween party. His costume was ready, 'cause we arranged to pick it up -- a loan from the party host -- when we came to the party, LOL! An extremely cool/cute dragon padded costume. Horns, spikey stuff down the back, tail. He loved it.

On Thursday we actually paid money for a costume for Son1 (age 8 nearly 9): a Bionicle costume at 30 percent off, whew. He really wanted something storebought after all, and amazingly we were in and out of the Big Red Double Circle store superfast, finding and deciding on his costume and our trick-or-treaters candy in a flash. I was stunned and relieved.

On Friday the kiddos went to school in costume. Son1's costume soon had detachable/detached parts; apparently he dealt with it fine; by class party time he seemed cheerful anyway (first I heard of the detached thing). Both boys' parties were fun (I went back and forth). Highlight of Son1's party: dry ice in water in a deep container, making lots of "smoke". Highlight of Son2's party: the candy haul from insane parent donors, and, for me, seeing all the little kids in very cute and imaginative costumes. One four-year-old was a lamp -- with a light bulb filament shape painted onto a white t-shirt, and a lampshade on his head! LOL!

Son1 had a basketball game Friday night. Probably contributed to his wiped-out-edness on Saturday (new word alert! hahaha).

Saturday morning I tried to walk my precinct to get out the vote, but I kept missing the guy who was going to give me my info. We threw in the towel when I only had an hour left to volunteer. Then it was time to costume-up the kids for an afternoon family Halloween party, which was very fun. For parties Son1 decided to wear an alternate costume from a previous year -- a hand-me-down Batman that's still nearly too big! We had fun, then headed home where everyone vegged except me. Sadly, I wigged out.

I unearthed the box o' fall at last, after looking for it all week. Then I got all frustrated at the cool post-Halloween-sale stuff I had but didn't have time to use, dumped a bunch of stuff back in the box, deleted multiple items off my to-do list, and then got a grip. I put up my favorite kid-made decorations, some silly fake pumpkins in the living room, and a little tableau in the dining room of fun and silly things. Good enough.

Somewhere in there we got the kids to eat something with peanut butter. And milk. In a last-ditch effort to insert nutrition into children before the candy-to-come froze their minds and appetites. It worked okay.

A good friend of the boys came over with his dad for joint trick-or-treating, and all of the guys headed out to walk our long block. I handed out treats and welcomed home the tired crew quite a while later, with their buckets heaped full with bounty -- apparently our street was generous! We kicked back for a little while as the kids revelled in their candy. Then the friend and dad headed home and we headed out to another party. Last year I skipped this party, but I had such fun this year that I vowed to come along every year!

At this post-trick-or-treating party we know a lot of the parents and the kids from the boys' school and our former extended neighborhood. It was sooo enjoyable to hang out and enjoy conversation with the adults while the kids had extended battles and peacemaking with play swords etc. in the back yard and the house. Son2 nearly fell asleep on the way home (10 minutes)!

We got the kids to bed, tucked the house in for the night, dear husband settled back with a movie or something, I changed all the clocks and checked my email, and then I went to bed. At "9:40" pm. Ahhhhhhhh.

This morning I got up just before 7 am. I love getting up even just 15 minutes before the kids. Usually it's the opposite, and as soon as I make an appearance the kids want to know, "what can I eat????" They aren't impressed that I can't think and just want to blink and make some coffee and gradually wake up. Fat chance, LOL. Anyway, this morning I prepped for my Sunday school class (adult class about prayer and spirituality), the kids got up, and we had a couple of nice hours and then got to church early, with boy hands scrubbed, boy teeth thoroughly brushed, and boy bodies wearing church clothes!! And they were good in church!! This afternoon we vegged and fussed a bit and vegged some more, and I started catching up on the things I've put off since Thursday. Tonight is actually All Hallows' Eve, and a rainy one it is.

Tomorrow will be extremely busy. I'll try to do some laundry, but mostly it'll be getting the car tag renewed, meeting some friends for early morning coffee, going to the monthly MOMS Club meeting, walking my neighborhood/development/precinct to get out the vote, fixing as easy and fast a dinner as possible (meatball sandwiches? chicken nuggets, biscuits, and green beans?), and maybe going to an evening church service to celebrate All Saints Day on the very day (Nov. 1). Some friends have planned the service and are really excited about it, but we have single-car coordination problems (Son1 has basketball practice) that I will need to work out first.

Tuesday, All Souls' Day, I'm expecting to spend walking my precinct (pretty much the same as my development). And voting. And then watching TV that night. My poor dear husband -- though he's as interested as I am in the results at the state level and nationally. Perhaps he'll vote early on Monday? The line was over an hour long Saturday morning, I'm told. Wow.

My plan for Wednesday? Laundry. Maybe some weeding of the terribly weedy garden beds. That sounds nice. Perhaps a bit more fiction reading. And keep up with my ACTION folder in my household central; my Cheerios-box file folder system is working really well so far -- I speak the truth, I promise!

I'm heading to bed. I really want to get up before the kids tomorrow and keep that going. Obviously I needed to write this all out for some reason. Thanks for reading this far, if anyone did!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Ready, set, vote!

Let's say you're registered to vote and plan to vote. You could vote early to avoid any lines -- call your local election board to find out how to do that. In my state we can vote early, even this Saturday and Monday.

Maybe you're not sure where your polling place is. Find it at

Maybe you're not sure what will be on your ballot (which local races, etc.). Look yours up at Democracynet.

Educate yourself by reading your local newspaper's coverage, going to your state election board's Web site, finding the candidates' Web sites, etc.

Go out of your way to make sure you vote. Exercising this hard-won, precious right to vote is worth taking some time out of your day to figure out how you want to vote and then do it.

(I pick up my sons from school and take them with me to vote. Apparently kids who go to the polling place with their parents are more likely to vote when they are adults. Good thing, as I'm gonna do it anyway!)

Monday, October 25, 2004

On the cheap, fast food loses its appeal

We've been squeezing our pennies pretty tight this month, which enabled us to do some other things early in the month. Now I'm five days away from payday and our typical delivered-pizza dinner. But... I want it to be GOOD pizza. Not the cheapest (which sometimes is quite yummy but other times, eh). Don't want to spend for the best. I just want it to be a pizza dinner to enjoy.

Upon reflection, I realize that whenever we cut our dining-out spending to nearly nothing, those meals out (usually fast food) aren't as enjoyable as when we're free with our money. When it's more of a big deal to eat out, any little problem becomes especially disappointing. BurgerWhatsit is normally a nice treat, but when we've chosen that as, say, one of two dinners out that month, I am less satisfied when the place is messy, the order mixed up, or the food not up to par. Then I ask myself, "Why did we buy dinner out?"

Sometimes we go to a family-friendly sit-down restaurant with waiters and such, and spend maybe two fast-food dinners on one nice dinner. That definitely feels worth it, but that feeling fades when we want to grab a fast dinner between here and there some night.

Sometime this weekend we will probably get dinner from our favorite mid-priced pizza place, and enjoy the treat. And yet, I might use the equivalent of the next dinner out to buy some fixings for a bunch of quick dinners, and stash them in our freezer. The next time there's a good price on chicken breasts, I might make homemade chicken fingers and freeze them for another time. At the very least, I'll buy some frozen potatoes, maybe tater tots, and some precooked breaded chicken and fish pieces. Yum yum says the family!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

One successful thing before dinner

Doesn't the Queen in Alice in Wonderland say something along the lines of, "I like to do three impossible things before breakfast"? That has come to mind a lot lately, for no reason I can figure out.

Today I met a different goal: one successful thing before dinner, LOL!

I cut down big Cheerios boxes into file folder boxes, pulled out my box of file folders, and organized the piles of family papers. Then I put the two file boxes on the shelf below the phone, a/k/a Household Central. Now I can file kids' activity info, garden ideas, bank statements, ACTION items, and more -- before adding them to a purposeless pile. I can put my fingers on the pizza delivery coupons, the after-school checklist for the kids, the current MOMS Club calendar, and that ACTION file. Woohoo!

Extra bonus, it decluttered about four piles into nothingness; a lot went into the paper recycling, of course. I also found enough artwork from Son2 that it is clear I need to rig up an artwork clothesline in the playroom.

Dinner will be pizza from homemade pizza dough I froze last time I made it, with a simple red sauce and Mozzarella. The kids shape and top their own mini-pizzas, which makes them much happier to eat it! I don't think I'll serve green-and-yellow beans again, because it would be the third night in a row that we'd have eaten from our co-op batch of farm-fresh beans. Instead, ears of corn from the co-op. Maybe I'll put out veggies for pizza toppings, too: bell pepper slices from the freezer and an onion thinly sliced (mostly for me). That'll do.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Whoops! Time flies

This week sure flew by! We've been out EVERY evening -- extremely unusual for us.

Monday night, Son1 had basketball practice and I had moms night out with my MOMS Club. Tuesday night, I extravagantly went to my stitching group. Wednesday night, dear husband had bowling league and Son1 had basketball practice again. Thursday night, we all went to the library and Son1 learned a bit of sign language in the weekly program for kids ages 7-12. Tonight is Son1's first basketball game, and after the kids are in bed dear husband may head out for poker with friends. With one car, some nights it's tricky to do what we need to do.

Amazingly, every night we've eaten at or from home (sandwiches to go, once), and it hasn't all been boxed macaroni and cheese, heehee. Even more amazing is that last night we even had Italian shredded beef (slow cooker) heaped on thick slices of homemade Cuban bread (1 hour 15 minutes from flour to baked bread). Unfortunately I completely forgot to pick up my co-op food last night! This morning I'm meeting my food here in town and will then get to enjoy yellow and green beans, fresh corn, and Cushaw squash this weekend and so on.

The weather is poised for change from the several days we've had of highs in the 80s, high humidity, and morning fog. The line of storms is steadily approaching and soon I'll be switching my shorts for jeans or a long skirt, flipflops shed in favor of Birks, etc. Another back-and-forth Oklahoma autumn! I really want to bake more bread, and I want to roast some of the squash, too. Come on, cool weather and cold nights!

Monday, October 18, 2004

What to do to avoid a huge church quarrel

Why, read yourself silly in the Television Without Pity forums on the new TV series Desperate Housewives, of course! If you want to read a LOT of viewers who have strong opinions about a show, head on over to the TWoP forums! Here's the main TWoP page for Desperate Housewives. Be warned, they do mean without pity. By the way, is it just me, or does anyone else think they lifted a whole lot from the book "Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons"???

What's the church quarrel? I'm Episcopalian, the Windsor Report was released at 6:30 am my time this morning, and my church-related online communities are buzzing. This report from an Anglican Communion commission offers guidance on how we can be in communion with other Anglican Communion national churches even though we differ hugely (on women's ordination, remarriage after divorce, homosexuality, and other tough topics).

What amounts to one percent, I think, of Episcopal Church in the USA parishes have left our church due to disagreements, and some regional groups (dioceses) are acting as though they'll do the same. Very scary for people in those places who don't want to leave; some are now the remnant of their parish that remains in the Episcopal Church. Fairly awful upset for all of us who love the Episcopal Church and/or Anglicanism.

There is much uproar among those interested or directly affected. I will read its 96 pages at some point tomorrow, probably (I have Farscape to watch tonight!). The report details why we should bother to remain an Anglican Communion of related national churches and calls for reconciliation and living together, with forgiveness and hard work toward understanding on an international level, among national churches, and all the way down to the parish and individual level.

So... time for some brain candy.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

We love Farscape!

Dear husband and I caught the first half of the Farscape miniseries tonight, Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. It was superb! It was oh so clear why we loved the series. I can hardly wait for tomorrow night's concluding two hours.

Posted by Hello

Farscape on the SciFi channel

Books all over again

I haven't posted for a while because, shock of shocks, Web design clients were keeping me busy AND I was prepping to be gone overnight. THAT was busy!

I was gone Friday night at a Daughters of the King retreat in a rural part of the state and came home late Saturday afternoon. I had a wonderful time and felt rested and upbeat. After thoroughly enjoying that time with women mostly in their 60s through 80s, I stayed up late last night and read about another set of relationships among women. I read the entire book Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons last night, and it was such a treat! My friend has supplied me with the next two Thursday Next books, so I'm poised to start Lost in a Good Book, and I need to finish The People of Sparks 'cause it's due this week. I'm still grinning like a fool about all of this fiction lately!

Son1 and I had a good library visit on Thursday evening. Here's Son1's stack (he's 8 1/2).
Mossflower, by Brian Jacques (the prequel to Redwall)
Stepping on the Cracks (1944; kids at home in the USA)
The Deltora Book of Monsters
Prince Caspian
The Borrowers
Will's Story: 1771
Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, part 2
Rowan and the Zebak
He picked out some great books (and Captain Underpants... certainly tickles his funnybone), so I don't know if he'll get to The Borrowers or Will's Story, which I picked out for him.

Son2 (age 4 1/2) refuses to borrow any books from the public library unless it's a chapter book with hardly any pictures. Sometimes it's a Star Wars book, other times some odd volume he pulls off a shelf. Currently it's a Harry Potter book. He "reads" his book in the car while Son1 is absorbed in his own reading. Son2 occasionally announces, "I'm on Chapter 7!" or some such thing.

At some point I suppose Son2 will become interested again in actually learning to read some words, and we'll pull out the Bob Books and the sweet Little Stories for Little Folks from Catholic Heritage Curriculum. For now, though, he seems to be completely happy to scan his word-filled chapter books, turn the pages, use his bookmark, count with the page numbers, and announce what chapter he is on. Too funny! The librarians are so accepting when he checks out these books with his library card (with me right behind him) -- I hold myself back from telling them he can't actually read the books, so I wonder WHAT they are thinking :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Political signs as targets

As we drove up to our home yesterday, dear husband and I noticed it at the same time. The Kerry/Edwards yard sign was Not Right. The candidate for senate, fine. The candidate for county clerk, fine. Upon closer inspection, the Kerry/Edwards sign clearly suffered the insult of a kick that ripped it away from the side supports and pushed it and the top support upward and completely out of whack.

I was half-expecting this. As some news reports have said for such things elsewhere, it's typically disinterested teenagers, who love the partisan blame game after they wreck campaign signs. So... I don't blame any local Republicans. Especially since a glance around yielded the information that a local Republican candidate's sign diagonally across the street is very diagonal today, if you know what I mean. Equal opportunity destruction, eh?

I fixed up our sign. Dear husband is more open to my idea of a slightly bigger Kerry/Edwards sign on the back of our back fence; our property backs up to the neighborhood park. I still need to get signs for a couple of other local candidates. And if my fix-it job doesn't last, I'll get a replacement Kerry/Edwards sign. Still need to get that bumpersticker for the car's back window, too.

And to think, this is the first time I've ever put campaign signs up.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Wheee! Fun reading

Perhaps the thought has crossed your mind -- how in the world can she read those serious books? Never fear, my Self tends toward balance.

After finishing The Bone Woman yesterday, I cast about for something else to read, and picked up a book lent me by a friend with her guarantee that it was a fast, fun read. Yes indeedy! I read it today, start to finish, and grinned and chuckled the whole way through.

The Royal Treatment, by MaryJanice Davidson.

The library has Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons waiting for me, so I'm picking it up tomorrow. And I think I'll disturb my long-dormant bookmark in Diana Gabaldon's second book in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber. If I'm still on a roll at that point, I'll return to said friend and borrow another of the fun books calling to me from her shelves.

Wheee! Fun, fun reading!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Is everyone you know like you?

Last night after the second presidential debate, at one point MSNBC spent a few minutes on a live interview with two Missouri women who we were told were of completely opposite world views, had been brought together by NBC over the last few months, and had gotten to know each other. Afterward Chris Matthews on Hardball/MSNBC asked if the (supposed) "two Americas" dichotomy -- red vs. blue or conservative vs. liberal or whatever -- is perpetuated because "regular Americans" spend their lives only around people who are very much like them. I beg to differ!

My personal experience is that I go to church with people with many different perspectives on and beliefs about the world, politics, etc. At my children's school I meet other parents who, again, have a broad variety of perspectives. I have gotten to know many at-home moms through MOMS Club and have gotten to know some pretty well over the years, counting them as friends, even though we gradually have gotten a sense of each others' approaches to life and sometimes discovered they are very different.

Some of my friends are dyed-in-the-wool Republicans. Democrats. Environmentalists. Gun owners. Beef eaters. Vegans. Baptists. Episcopalians. Catholics. Unitarians. Atheists. Trekkies. No-TV families. Attached parents (attachment parenting). Early weaners and baby schedulers. Homeschoolers. Celebrate-all-day-school-ers. Pro-war. Anti-war. Military families. Hard-to-imagine-the-military families. Adult children of hippies. Adult children of corporate executives, and of working-class parents. At-home moms whose children and mine are similar ages, and who graduated high school within a year of me. Similar at-home moms who were preschool age themselves when I graduated from high school -- making me approximately the age of their mothers! Gulp.

I find it much harder to make broad generalizations when the others in the conversation might not necessarily agree. I have to consider the other perspectives as possible or, perhaps, reasonable -- even if I think it's wrong. That keeps me from closing down and hardening my responses, and that's a good thing, even if it takes more effort.

I have some other thoughts but that's enough for now. Some thoughts connect the above to this being the first time EVER that I've put political signs in my yard. Other thoughts connect the above to the book I just finished: The Bone Woman: A forensic anthropologist's search for truth in the mass graves of Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, by Clea Koff. Hmm.

Does your circle of friends include people who are fairly unlike you?

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The sweet end of the day

After a busy day or a hectic evening with kids activities, or perhaps a flurry of things to think about or simply having stayed up too late, my latest very favorite thing at the end of the day...

not the penultimate, but the ultimate, final, last thing to do...

the sweet final act...

after having peeked at the sleeping boys, kissed my husband, and climbed the stairs, gotten all ready for bed, lights out, door now closed to any activity, noise, or light in the rest of the house...

is to throw myself across the bed, and simply BE, sprawled crazy on the bed, in the still darkness and quiet.


Then climb in and nod off.

Sweetest end to any day.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be lighted.
- Plutarch, heard on "From the Earth to the Moon"
We were able to see Tom Hanks' 1998 HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon" for the first time last weekend when TNT ran it over Friday and Saturday, and then in a marathon on Sunday. Dear husband is two years older than me and was old enough to notice and follow the space program in the late 60s and early 70s. Not me! So I learned a lot, and it was really, really interesting.

Wives, housewives, homemakers, stay-at-home moms.

The next-to-last episode of "From the Earth to the Moon" was about the wives of the original nine astronauts. Absolutely fascinating to see their side, their lives as part of the space program. After the last episode Sunday night, I watched (recorded) the first episode of "Desperate Housewives."

Big contrast! The show on the astronauts' wives was more firmly rooted in a fascinating reality, as it ought to be. The Deperate Housewives show was definitely unreality TV, but it had some fun stuff that I could recognize in my own life. Not the adultery, though. Eh. Looking back, my favorite part would be the mom wading, fully dressed and in high heels, into the swimming pool at the wake to drag her three young sons out of the pool and march them home. Only a stretch of degree, not kind, from my life!


I'm actively reading:
Deacons and the Church
The Practice of Prayer; I'm leading a Sunday school class for adults on prayer. This is a great book.
The Theology of Worship; the worship committee members are reading this book.
Waiting for the library to reserve for me: Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons, for new MOMS Club book group
Son1 is reading:
The Silver Chair (Narnia) in a very nice edition put out by HarperCollins; nice wide margins, and well-spaced lines make it very readable.
Son2 likes:
Night Ride, a great picture book about a family going on an all-night car ride, and all of the things they see. I remember as a kid nighttime car rides being so fascinatingly different from daytime.

Allergic reaction update.

I filled my steroid prescription at Wal-Mart on Saturday afternoon. Even on Claritin and benadry I had hives all over my legs and was itching on the soles of my feet. Now I'm on the next-to-last day of the tapering doses of the steroid, and continuing with the Claritin and benadryl. Weird to have these drugs in my usually drug-free system. Unfortunately the hives keep threatening and yesterday morning they showed up my legs for about an hour or two before the morning meds kicked in (I hope). I wonder what will happen when the steroids are done, sigh.

New two-wheel rider.

Son2 (age 4 1/2) requested the training wheels be removed from his bicycle last weekend. He has spent the last few days tackling the new skills he needs, and his stops, starts, and turns are really good now. He spends a lot of time on his bike now, and the guys apparently went for a bike ride around the neighborhood yesterday evening while I was at a meeting. Wow!


My meeting finished, unexpectedly, in time for me to hear the beginning of the vice-presidential debate last night on my way home, and then I watched/listened to the rest at home. Taking Son1 to school today, I parked behind a car with a bumpersticker for the president, and made a mental note to pick up a Kerry/Edwards bumpersticker for our car. Oklahoma is pretty much Bush country, so my hope is to add to the visual clues to other voices in our community, our neighborhood, our church, our school.

Fall's fallen.

Today is such an autumnal day! Gloomy morning but mild, a spritz of rain, a sideways dash of sunlight mingled with windchime-ringing breezes, and the prospect of thunderstorms and heavy rain this afternoon. After Son2's bike riding time this morning, he came in declaring his need for hot cocoa. Perhaps that's because he was wearing shorts and sandals with that long-sleeved shirt?!? Over the summer he had asked for hot cocoa several times, but in midsummer I was not willing to make a quintessential winter drink for being "chilled" in the sprinkler on an 80F day no matter how windy! Today, at last, I fixed the first cup of hot cocoa since last winter.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Rx R Us

You know, I always thought I could tolerate itching fairly well. I suppose I can -- if it's a lowly mosquito bite or seven. But this subtle, steadily increasing ultra low-level itchiness that gradually turns into a realization that I can't stop touching my skin... Aaaaaaah! I usually gut it out and try to ignore itching, but with this I eventually find myself rubbing or smoothing the itchy skin. I rarely actually scratch an itch; I worked on stopping that habitual reaction years ago. But this -- it's really, really hard to think coherently when you're itching like this!!

At bedtime last night I took another dose of benadryl. This morning, all morning, my palms itched and were blotchy and my ears itched. Can't see 'em, don't know about redness. I really wanted to go without the benadryl and see if the Claritin would be enough (clue: no, it wouldn't).

A pretty funny thing happened this morning at Panera Bread (we met friends there): Son2 reached for the honey dispenser, wanting to smell the honey, and my reaction was to stay far, far away from it out of self preservation. I am NOT interested in tasting any honey at all right now. Too funny.

My palms and ears itched very slightly all morning. At noon I took my day 2 Claritin. An hour and a half later I realized I was rubbing my palms and knees an awful lot. By the time it was time to pick up the boys from school, aaaaaaaah!!! We went directly to the drugstore, I bought the store brand benadryl, and I took one then and there in the car. A couple of hours later the itching was completely gone, sweet relief.

I acknowledge that I may have to fill the prescription for the steroids in order to more fully knock down my body's response to whatever it was, honey or whatever. I almost never take prescription drugs, and the combination of Claritin (maybe) and benadryl makes me tired and sort of buzzy and feeling unwell for the first 2-3 hours. I can only imagine how fun it will be to have a steroid romping around in me. But I don't want my body getting into this whole reaction thing; I want it to relax! and cut it out!

I just took my bedtime benadryl -- I realized just beforehand that my ear lobes are itching, and my knees, and a spot on the front of my right leg, and of course my palms, and... aargh. I'll be going to bed soon. Benadryl, tire me out, take me away...

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Misery wants company

I've taken a dose of benadryl, and had a nice shower. I'm actually not in a near-frenzy of itchiness at the moment, though I was right before my shower. My eyelids are swollen and I have red splotches all over my body. I woke up like this two hours ago.

My only hint was yesterday morning, when my hands got slightly itchy and red, and then swelled up enough that I quickly worked to get my wedding ring off and then took a dose of benadryl. It subsided, but today the itchies were at my hands when I woke up and spread pretty much everywhere, and my feet and legs started getting red splotches, probably hives. It's really hard to think clearly when you're itching everywhere! This has never happened to me before.

But I think it's sort of better now. Feels like it's calming down -- at least the itch. The red splotches are still around. I'll keep up with the benadryl because one thing I do remember (from a couple of years ago when Son1 got the hives twice) is that getting your body settled down quickly with an antihistamine lowers the likelihood that it will happen again or often. I sure hope so.

I wonder if it's a bug bite. I am not allergic to anything that I know of, other than a mild seasonal allergy thing that's developed over the last few years.

I just wanted to share; misery wants and loves company!

I called my doc's office to talk to the nurse about this, and they sent me to the urgent care clinic. The doc I saw thinks it's food related because my reaction is all over my body. I headed home with a plan to take Claritin (which we have, rather than filling a prescription for similar Allegra), benadryl at bedtime, and if this persists for a couple more days, I can fill a prescription for a tapering dose of a steroid. Dear husband thinks, and I agree, that the culprit may very well be the local honey I had yesterday morning. So, no more of that particular batch as far as I'm concerned. All in all, I'm still feeling puffy and red, but I Am So Glad not to be itchy. I can tolerate a lot of itching, but that was driving me bonkers awfully quickly.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Time for some liturgical embroidery

My mind is running a mile a minute with thoughts of silk threads of various weights and twisted or multiple strands, metallic threads, blending filaments, tiny silk ribbon, satin stitch, split stitch, other types of filling stitches, applique approaches, ground fabric types and weights, and so on.

I'm working with a designer on a priest's stole for the statewide level of the Daughters of the King, an organization of women in the Episcopal church dedicated to prayer, service, and evangelism, with the emphasis on prayer. The stole will be used by our chaplain at statewide DoK assemblies, Quiet Days and other retreats, and our annual All Saints Day Eucharist service. It will also be available for admission services (into the order) and for our funerals.

The designer will create the stole in a "crazy quilt" style, using a wide variety of gorgeous fabrics -- silks, silk velvets, linen, perhaps a bit of very old cloth of silver, and some others. The ends of the stole will be a very deep, rich blue and the colors will lighten going up the stole through medium blues to pale blues and finally creams and whites.

My part is to embroider a 3 1/2 inch version of our order's cross (a modified Greek fleury cross; see the DoK Web site) in grays and silvers, and applique it to the lower part of one side of the stole, and then to embroider a small version of the cross on the stole where it passes in back of the priest's neck.

I'm excited! and nervous! and excited! The first task is to explore and then decide how to attach the large cross to the stole. Invisible applique? Normal applique, with the edges covered by satin stitch or by something simpler? That will dictate the weight of the ground fabric. That in turn will help me decide what to use to fill this rather substantial, plain cross area. We won't include the wording, but I do want to represent the bars across the ends of the arms before they separate into three parts.

I'm certainly doing some small test pieces first, probably of the end of the cross's arm, the center of the cross, and a trial or two of attaching it to something similar to the stole.

This is quite a switch from the small counted cross stitch pieces I've been working on, especially the rustic sorts of things. Yet I've always wanted to do liturgical embroidery, especially altar linens. I never thought I'd have the opportunity to contribute to a stole, but here I am. Everything I've ever learned, enjoyed doing, and read about is dancing around in my brain, overjoyed to have their drawers and cupboards opened and rifled through. Time to pull out my old favorite resources.

One of the first books I pulled out was my copy of the recent reissue by DMC of Therese de Dillmont's Encyclopedia of Needlework. Go back a hundred years to see some great diagrams of serious needlework!

Hmmm! Hmmm! Oh boy!

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The City of Ember

Son1 borrowed The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau, from his school library last week. I finished it today, and it was great! A tale about two 12-year-old kids in a city beyond which all is dark, lit by many lights powered by a generator. The city is running out of supplies, the lights go out for a few minutes more and more often during the "day," and the readers are told early on that the city was meant to last for about 200 years. Great adventure tale, and the back flyleaf says the author is working on a sequel. Good! But the story stands very well on its own. I recommend it! (2003, Random House)

Heirloom tomatoes

Heirloom varieties of fruits, vegetables, and flowers have been around for many years without genetic fiddling to "improve" them somehow. Thanks to my recent food co-op order that included some heirloom tomatoes, yesterday I ate a wonderful big fat ripe picked-that-morning red Sioux tomato, and on my windowsill are: a big Cherokee Purple, a small red Sioux, and two pinkish-red Arkansas Travelers. Yet another reason I'm glad I made bread earlier this week: I can have big hearty tomato sandwiches and the bread can stand up to it!

I also ordered a "sweet orange essential oil stain stick" with lye and stuff in it, for my tough laundry stains. It's about the same cost as the storebought stuff, so -- like my herbal bug spray purchase in June -- why not try the non-petrochemical stuff. Of course lye is pretty strong stuff, so this isn't exactly a kinder/gentler alternative. As I was rubbing it on my dampened-as-directed test clothes, I thought briefly that this is essentially what the women before me used, before petrochemicals changed our laundry system. I'll let you know how it works!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Wherever you go, there you are

Been thinking lately. Often I get all interested in and excited about some pursuit and yet it's difficult to pull together the materials or the money or the... whatever. I see that I can't do it the way I wanted to, so the impulse sits for a while. Very, very, very often it occurs to me that I can accomplish the goal with what I have on hand.

Impulse: buy stamps and cardmaking supplies to make homemade cards.
Goal: enjoy making a small card-as-gift, save money, expose the kids to a new craft.
Be here now: get out what I have -- it is enough -- and make simple cards.

Impulse: create a grand chore scheme for the kids.
Goal: gain their help with the household upkeep, and teach the kids to handle responsibility.
Be here now: give the kids appropriate help-me-now tasks, and today I might do up an after-school list of what I tell each boy every day (!).

Impulse: afterschool the kids in a relaxed yet Classical/tridium way, including history, Latin, and plenty more.
Goal: give them a foundation to better understand and think about the world and their own lives
(Hahahaha! The oldest is in school all day! The youngest is in school for the first time! They come home ready to decompress!)
Be here now: decompress with them; enjoy a snack, play some games. Send them outside to play. Offer plenty of fun, good books to the oldest. Be intentional about exploring what interests us. Maybe once a week read a chapter of The Story of the World (we're still on the ancient world). At some point, maybe buy Lingua Angelica and play the CD in the car.

Impulse: find some great faith instruction resources for the kids.
Goal: help them know and understand our faith and develop their relationship(s) with God.
Be here now: use the catechism in our church's Book of Common Prayer. Go ahead and set up a prayer/faith shelf, and practice my Godly Play presentations with the kids.

I'm off to make that after-school To Do list.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

She's in the kitchen

I'm waiting for the oven to heat up so I can bake the three loaves of white-but-now-part-whole-wheat bread, using my yummy, local, stone-ground whole-wheat flour from the food co-op. I want good bread, so I'm making some!

Once the counters are clear, I'll put together a Mexican casserole, layering my homemade southwestern rice from the freezer, black beans and their broth that I made yesterday (maybe I'll puree some to take the place of refried beans, hmmm), and plenty of tortilla chip pieces (we have a lot, after our homemade guacamole and salsa fest a couple of weeks ago!). I'll top it with chip pieces and a sprinkling of Cheddar, and stash it in the fridge until it goes in the oven later.

Since the kiddos often, yet unpredictably, turn up their noses at these mixed-up foods, I will make cornbread too -- using my local, stone-ground cornmeal from the co-op!

I'm really glad I decided to make black beans yesterday. We had them over rice cooked with some diced kielbasa, and now I have a great stash of delicious meal bases in the fridge. Hehehe.

My husband is probably in shock; I've barely wanted to cook all summer...

UPDATE: 'Cause I hate cheese and cream sauces (my deprived husband doctors up his portions) and am happy to skip their fat content as well, my casseroles depend on broth or tomato sauce to be moist, flavorful, and stick together as they should. The casserole wasn't moist enough 'cause I grabbed the ultra-spicy little can of "salsa fresca" sauce rather than the sort-of-spicy; my mistake. I used a bit, diluted with black bean broth, but... "eh." The grownups liked the casserole well enough, but, as predicted, the kids weren't thrilled. The cornbread was an all-around winner, though. My guideline is: if you're going to serve an experiment or a non-family favorite for dinner, serve something they love along with it. Homemade bread (even biscuits or cornbread) always works.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

In the moment, even when I'd rather not

Yesterday we went to a big picnic/grill-fest at a large local lake. The kids had a great time, ate goodies and drank soda, played at the water's edge with other kids, and ended up spending a couple of hours with several other kids building a two-level dam/pond thing from the lakeside mud/sand stuff.

We kept a relaxed eye on what they were doing and eating. They ate some grapes, a few chips, and a skewer each of the chicken sate or whatever that they really liked. Other than that, we think they mostly ate chocolate chip cookies and other cookies with chocolate, but they also spent a lot of time at the beach building project. All seemed a little decadent but not too bad. At the time.

About 11 pm we discovered that Son1, age 8 1/2, surely ate more cookies than we realized. He abruptly threw up all over himself and the bed, and it smelled of vomit and chocolate. Sighhhhh. Dear husband and I cleaned it all up, bedded him down on the floor in a sleeping bag, and set the washing machine to work rinsing and then washing the bed linens, light comforter, and stuffed animal "pals." This morning I set everything to soak again 'cause the pals were somewhat chocolate colored still.

Upon checking after church, I was pleased to find the pals no longer looking awful, but actually pretty good. Later, after a full wash cycle, I moved everything to the dryer. It quickly became apparent that, as usual in these cases, I needed to shake (twice washed) food pieces off each item. I did, into the washer, and the bed stuff and pals are drying in the dryer even now.

Once I got that going it was necessary that I spend some time leaned over the washing machine picking up each and every piece of twice-washed food off the bottom, sides, and agitator to throw away. I hate everything to do with vomit, even the thought of it (though I soldier through when necessary). My main thought, all I could think during this odious task?

I'm so thankful these bits are washed and don't smell. I'm sooooo thankful.

Gives new meaning to the directive to pray continuously. Or to be in the moment. Or "hands to work, hearts to God." Sighhhh.

Oh, Son1 is completely fine today, and Son2 had no tummy trouble. Whether to police the cookie consumption or simply let him learn from this is a choice that's hard to make. We waver.

Mid-Sunday reflection

Maybe it's that I rarely got myself and the kids to Sunday service in the summer (my particular struggle). Maybe it's that I was praying and thinking about prayer and personal spirituality a lot over the last two weeks in preparation for the class on prayer I began leading today. Maybe it's that I "turned over a new leaf" by releasing all of those good, but becoming a burden, library books last Thursday. Maybe it's that I read a thoughtful essay on today's Gospel reading over at Dylan's lectionary blog and then Father D. took another tack in his sermon that enriched it further.

Whatever it may be, for me this morning the service actually, surprisingly, was a time for being present to what was taking place and to the sermon. That would be, in between juggling kids on my lap, silently refereeing elbow-throwing, and encouraging some participation (stand, sit, kneel, find the hymn). I managed to participate in "Lift up your hearts / We lift them up to the Lord" throughout the service until about two minutes before the "sending forth" blessing. In a pause, Son1 nearly lost control of an item that would have clattered very loudly, and I lost all patience with my wiggly kids thanks to my lack of breakfast. Arrggggh! It's okay, this happens, and I breathed deeply for a bit. We headed home and ate lunch. Much better.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Book stack winnowing

I released almost all of my library books to the book drop last night. A relief! For some reason reading them was becoming a burden. Ergo the fines I will have to pay once they're calculated; I was ignoring most of the books and anything related to them.

I borrowed two books: a kids' book on the Days of the Dead that I plan to read to the kids, and a small volume called Mudhouse Sabbath, by Lauren Winner, a convert from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity. It seems to be about the rituals of her Jewish upbringing informing her faith even after conversion. It appeals to my weary brain.

I'm still determined to finish How Cities Work, and read Gilgamesh the Hero and the final Young Underground books.

I picked out Redwall by Brian Jacques for Son1, in an effort to entice him from his Bionicle- and Goosebumps-type fluff books at least a bit.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Future race car driver?

Son2 (age 4 1/2) has always been VERY interested in the driving of the car. We've noticed this keen interest and drilled into him that he's not allowed to drive a car until he's a very big kid, at least 15, and learns all of the safety rules. I still worry that he'll put together all of his observations and try to drive the car one day. One consequence is that I don't let the kids EVER play in the car. If I'm out, they need to get out. They got in trouble once for messing around in the car in the garage. I just think this kid... well, let's not give him any extra opportunity to consider any possibilities.

Ever since he started to talk, a short 2 1/2 years ago, he has commented on and asked questions about the steering wheel and turning, the mirrors, the speedometer and who's driving fast vs. slow around us, the turn signals and whether other drivers use them, the hazard light button, and, today, the stick shift. He can see what I'm doing fairly well from his rightside-back-seat carseat location. Lately he's also been very interested in the white lines and yellow lines on the road, and whether people are following the rules. He points out when we or other drivers are crossing the yellow line, and I had to explain about intersections. I feel like I need to review the state driver's manual to answer his questions!

Over these many months the thought has occurred to me that he may continue this keen interest the rest of his life. Race car driver? Semi driver? Police officer? Stunt driver? Hmm, I can't think of any mom-won't-worry options!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

PDA woes

I love my PDA, my handheld computer. Received it as a gift from my dad several years ago. Well, actually, that was a Visor Edge, and the motherboard failed after a year. At that point I was able to get a hand-me-down Visor Pro, which I was extremely happy about because after three days sans handheld, I was stressing!

Now I'm in a similar but not as tough of situation. The Visor is ignoring the stylus. This started creeping up a couple of weeks ago, but now it's full blown. I can still do data entry in the calendar, addresses, memos, and to-dos on my desktop computer and sync them, but I have to navigate the handheld using the buttons. Time to put a new one on my Christmas list. I wonder what's available out there that's a Palm OS, full featured (no $50 "electronic address books" for me, please!), yet fairly inexpensive. Then, shall I browse eBay? Amazon marketplace? Dunno.

Favorite apps:
1. The native ones (calendar, address book, memos, to-dos)
2. HandyShopper (databases, and I have a TON!)
3. Fitaly letris (popup virtual keyboard)

Any other at-home parents or home-biz owners love their handhelds?

UPDATE: I did some online research, and discovered this is "Mad Digitizer Syndrome"! I downloaded an app that might help, but I also did a hard reset and recalibrated the digitizer. I should've done the hard reset days ago, of course. So far it's not getting weird on me; I hope this is a long-term good thing so I don't pine for a new handheld (any more than usual, anyway!). My favorite amount of money to spend is $0 :)

Sunday, September 12, 2004


This week flew by! No blogging since Tuesday?!? Whoops! All week long we had activities some mornings and most evenings. We ate out before Tuesday's PTA meeting, I think we bought cheap takeout pizza Wednesday before dear husband's bowling league, on Thursday the guys dropped me off at home and went out to eat before a kids' program and the library while I went out with MOMS Club friends, and Friday Mark's academic unit at the university had a big back-to-school picnic. And there was stuff during the day, and... Whew!

Despite the busy schedule, I couldn't figure out why I was feeling stressed, until on Thursday I wrote out what turned out to be my List O' Panic! I wrote down all of the major things I needed to do outside the family, and realized I wasn't even paying attention to a couple of big things yet. The list was: (1) Mail a couple of copies of one volunteer newsletter; possible now that the laser printer is back in business. (2) Figure out how to lead a 9-week Sunday school class for adults on prayer and personal spirituality while (3) preparing for a new year co-leading my Godly Play Sunday school class! (4) Actually start the consultant work for a friend. Not to mention, get back up to speed on family finances, inventory food supplies, make a two-week meal plan, and provide class snack for both boys, one on Friday and the other on Monday.

By today, three days later, I have gotten quite a bit done.

On Thursday afternoon, because I silently refused to go to the store just for a class snack, Son1 and I made my special oatmeal cookies for his class snack -- and our after-school snack; multipurpose! Cookies go a lot faster when someone else (Son1) is actually putting the cookie batter on the baking sheets, and he loved it. Yay!

I don't even remember Friday, except that I hunkered down with the computer and worked on urgent stuff. Somewhere between Friday morning and Saturday night I started to figure out the prayer class and how to support in absentia my co-teacher, who will be the primary teacher while I'm doing prayer. I worked out the lesson schedule for both Godly Play classes. I created parent handouts for today's Rally Day see-the-classrooms event at church, one answering "What is Godly Play?" and the other on general ways parents can support their children in Godly Play. I went to a church-related meeting on Saturday and, afterward, spiffed up our classroom for today's Rally Day.

Today at church we had Rally Day. So fun to see the kids and their parents in the Godly Play classrooms! Several of the kids didn't want to leave the Godly Play materials for Rally Day ice cream sundaes in the courtyard, too funny! Then at home, I started trying to figure out how to migrate my Handspring Visor info over to a hand-me-down old Sony Clie -- tricky. This is becoming necessary as the Visor's stylus recognition fails more and more often. We went discount shopping en famille and were reasonably impressed with a local discount grocery store, coming home with huge bell peppers, wonderful fresh corn, guacamole and salsa fixings, and some other stuff. So, on the spur of the moment, we invited some friends over to dinner: chips, homemade guacamole and salsa (love our Tupperware gadget!), grilled chicken and onions and peppers, tortillas, homemade Mexican rice, corn on the cob, and they brought dessert -- yum!

Tomorrow morning Son2 and I will make the other half of the oatmeal cookie batch for his class snack. I will print the newsletter and send it to those who need a printed copy. I'll email the lesson schedule to both Godly Play teachers (my co-teacher and the other class's teacher). I'll work on arranging doorkeepers and substitutes as needed for my co-teacher, so she'll have a good sense of support and direction for this first part of the year; I'll be back in the classroom for Advent and she'll have a break. I need to turn my attention to that consulting project and the family planning stuff as well.

As I told some friends at church, I do all of this (church) stuff up front so when life gets really busy and on a roll, it's all done. The Godly Play-related stuff is challenging, enjoyable, and electric on lots of levels for me, and I spin off all sorts of ideas once I turn my attention to it. All part of the reason I am more and more confident it's what I need to be doing.

I think I'll look through that new slow-cooker book I borrowed from a friend on Friday. It may be just the ticket for some good busy-day meals this week and next. Hmmm. Best to head to bed before "The Patriot" sucks me in and I stay up too late!!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Girls love trucks

This is for my two sisters-in-law (of three) who drive a pickup or have in the past.

A sticker I saw recently on a shiny late-model big pickup truck in our truck-heavy Oklahoma town:
Silly boy
Trucks are for girls!

Love it!!

Monday, September 06, 2004

Live a life of learning!

The last 2 1/2 years of falling in love with homeschooling have brought me to the realization that a life of learning is a wonderful way to be a family. This fits right in.

Certificate of Empowerment by Sandra Dodd

Thanks to Sarah who got this from Melissa

As bearer of this certificate you are no longer required to depend on the advice of experts. You may step back and view the entire world - not just your home, neighborhood, or town, but the whole earth - as a learning experience, a laboratory containing languages (and native speakers thereof), plants, animals, history, geology, weather (real live weather, in the sky, not in a book), music, art, mathematics, physics, engineering, foods, human dynamics, and ideas without end. Although collections of these treasures have been located in museums for your convenience, they are to be found everywhere else, too.

This authorizes you to experiment; to trust and enjoy your kids; to rejoice when your children surpass you in skill, knowledge or wisdom; to make mistakes, and to say, "I don't know." Furthermore, you may allow your children to experience boredom without taking full responsibility for finding them something to do.

Henceforth you shall be neither required nor expected to finish everything you start. Projects, books, experiments, and plans may be discontinued as soon as something more interesting comes along (or for any other reason) without penalty, and picked up again at any time in the future (or never).

You may reclaim control of your family's daily life, and take what steps you feel necessary to protect your children from physical, emotional, or social harm. You have leave to think your own thoughts, and to encourage your children to think theirs.

Each person who reads and understands this is authorized to extend these privileges to others, by reproducing and distributing this certificate or by creating another of his/her own design. Those who don't feel the need to obtain approval to experiment, to think, or to do things they've never seen others do are exempt, as they didn't need permission in the first place.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Media: Hurricanes vs campaigns

What if the Weather Channel covered hurricanes the way that CNN covers political campaigns?
ed fitzgerald's unfutz

Hehehehe! (Friends, family, and neighbors work in meteorology; this is a bit of a meteorology town...)

Deeper stuff

All of this "life of me" blog stuff lately doesn't really show that I've been following closely the horrible hostage situation in Russia and its awful end, as well as the ponderously slow approach and sweep across Florida of Hurricane Frances; reading A Theology of Worship (Louis Weil, "The New Church's Teaching Series") and finally beginning to explore why in the world I get all reluctant to attend Sunday church services; adapting every movement of my hands and arms to ease the pain in BOTH of my wrists -- this is worrisome; and getting a little anxious about the start of church/Sunday school in two weeks -- I do not feel ready to welcome our Godly Play kids yet.

That stuff continues underneath and knit into the dailyness.

Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.
~ Compline service, the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church

Out with old stuff, in with new (places for) stuff

1. This was a week or so ago. Stuff sorted, including lots of now-empty bags (on right), trash bags (on left), sorted stuff since put away (far left and center) and WAYYY too many magazines, which are still To Be Dealt With. A big step forward with that pile o' stuff, though. Posted by Hello

2. Last week my husband put together the bookshelves we bought from friends (getting excited!)... Posted by Hello

3. Today the new shelves are in place! Please ignore the disarray throughout the living room -- I have to figure out new places for some things. It'll take me a week or two to figure out what really needs to go in these shelves. Lots of thinking and looking at what's already in the living room (four tall bookcases), and I'll explore the garage book boxes too. The chair on the right is next to the kiddos' computer desk (camouflaged by a map draped over the monitor, whoops); that won't last, I'm sure. Posted by Hello

4. This evening, the contents so far. Dear husband says, "What is this, game central?!?" I pulled together all of the games from throughout the house, except the large fancy Scrabble game of my husband's I discovered; it won't fit on any shelf we own! The kids' board games still fill the bottom shelf of an adjacent bookcase. I haven't even gotten books out of boxes yet, except some large-format Time-Life books that are out of sight on the bottom left shelf. This is so fun -- such possibilities for organization and enjoyment! Posted by Hello

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Fun with kitchen gadgets

Friday evening was do-it-yourself time in the kitchen, thanks to a couple of new Tupperware gadgets we bought recently. End result: yummy homemade salsa made by dear husband, and individual chocolate milk shakes made by each son for himself. Courtesy of T-ware's hand-crank little food processor, and their venerable 16-oz shake-and-mix gadget. My husband remembers making milkshakes with his mom's back in our personal ancient times (that would be according to the kids).

I'll admit, I made myself a mini milkshake with one scoop of ice cream, a bit of milk, and a good drizzle of chocolate sauce. Everyone shook up Mommy's shake, thanks to my wrist pain lately (another blog another day). Yumyumyum! Thank you, Tupperware.

This evening I'm making guacamole, and dear husband want to try another salsa. I guess it's one way to get some of our vegetable servings for the day!

The Ultimate Frugal Haircut

For ultimate frugality in the haircutting realm, I suppose you could keep your hair long, but I really really prefer to keep my hair short. My ultimate frugal haircut is to do it myself! I've been cutting my own hair for a year, and despite moments of frustration, I'm quite pleased about doing it myself.

By short hair, I don't mean chin-length, or some sort of bob. Nope. My hair stays well above my eyebrows, above my ears, and off my neck, and I like it fairly short all over. Two inches would be great, but my DIY cuts come in around three inches all over. Also, I like the hair at the nape of my neck extremely short. When LikeWowMom mentioned cutting her own short hair, I realized there was someone else in the world who did this!

It's taken me a while to figure out how to cut my hair myself. It started with a sharp pair of hospital-origin scissors, my bangs getting in my eyes, and being too busy to get to my latest frugal haircut shop, SuperCuts (10 bucks). Last fall, with a little careful trial and error, I learned to cut my bangs and sideburns. Then I worked out how to more or less trim around my ears. But the rest of my hair kept growing and lengthening, and got to be too heavy for me. Over the months I figured out a way to lightly scissor-texture my hair, which at least kept the whole thing from becoming a "bowl" type of hairstyle.

Finally I figured out a way to scissor-texture my hair quite a lot, which created a really nice shortshort haircut. I even worked out a way to make the sides work out well, above/around my ears. My remaining struggle is how to keep the nape short. One way is to let it grow annoyingly long so I can hold it with my fingers and cut it shorter. The other is to keep on top of it and simply scissor-texture it frequently enough that none of it gets too long. I did have to give up truly shortshort hair; I can't really cut it evenly all over by myself -- as I learned by trying it -- so I texture it until it seems generally short enough. Much safer!

I cut my hair yesterday, including the whole nape thing (I'd let it get too long, but that did make it easy to cut), and today I did a bit of touch-up. It looks quite nice! Better than some of those cheap haircuts I've gotten in the past. If I put some money aside and bought some clippers, I'd be less frustrated about the nape, but still: I'm in charge of my own hair, and not victim to whatever kind of cut the shops I can afford impose on me, grrr. Freedom! Independence! A quite decent haircut for my favorite cost: $0!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Projection of progress

Early returns are projecting a bit of progress...


Volunteer project no. 1 still has a tiny bit of wrap-up, printing and mailing a very few copies, but it's okay; I have a much better grasp of the end than I did on Tuesday!

Volunteer project no. 2 is ever so close to done. A couple of phone calls, some editing, a quick email for delivery, and that should do it.

They're both newsletters. One for my local chapter of MOMS Club (at-home moms) and the other for my statewide (really, diocesan-level) Daughters of the King organization (Episcopalian women doing prayer, service, and evangelism). I am very happy that most of the delivery is by email, with just a few receiving by postal mail. If I'm lousy at completing projects I can email, and yes, it is my weakness, I'm absolutely terrible at preparing mailings. Better to give that part to someone else. Someone to whom I can email the document!!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Project progress

One project is out the door (well, delivered via the 'net). Hurrah! Tomorrow I have some legwork to do for the other, add the finishing touches, and then it can go by email to its destination as well. Yahoo! The chocolate ice cream helped my mood, too, I must admit.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Bedtime prayer songs

Our bedtime routine as I tuck each of my sons into bed a few minutes apart is to sing some songs of their choice from our current bedtime repertoire. Songs that are prayers, parts of our church service music, or easy hymn refrains. I introduced this a few years ago when the older son began resisting bedtime prayers. Over the last month or so our younger son, age 4 1/2, has been asking lots of questions during his songs, and tonight was quite a time.

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
- Mommy, what's 'might'? (before I could answer) oh, that's being strong (makes strong-man arm motions)

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
(On to our next song, which I often sing after Holy Holy Holy)

Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.
- Where is God? God is all around us (we'd talked about this before, and that was the best I could come up with!). Is Father D--- God?
[Me] No, Father D--- is a person. God is... God, and is with us all of the time.
[Son] Is God with all of the people?
[Me] Yes, God is with all of us all of the time.
[Son] God is right next to us, right?
[Me] Exactly! God is right next to every one of us.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks...
- Mommy, what is 'worship'?
[Me] It's giving honor; we worship, we honor... (I didn't know how to explain it off the cuff!)
[Son] (thoughtful silence, I hope)

...we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world...
- (I knew this was coming) Mommy, what is sin?
[Me] Sin is when we do what we shouldn't do, the opposite of what we really should do, what God wants us to do.
[Son] Like when people hurt someone or kill someone
[Me] That's right, or when we say or do things that hurt people
[Son] Hurt their feelings, or hit them like this (mimes hitting!). That's not good.
[Me] That's right. That's sin. We should choose what's right.

...have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father...
- Mommy, what does that mean?
[Me] It means Jesus is in a place of honor next to God the Father. He is God too, they are God together (arrgh, what have I gotten myself into!). (Now, mindful of the next phrase in the song) Jesus hears our prayers in a special way and brings our prayers to... to God. (mumble mumble)

...receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.


I had an inkling that this song might teach my kids something of the faith, but I had no idea it might go like this -- all in just a few minutes!

By the way, our current repertoire is
  • "Holy, Holy, Holy"

  • "Glory to God in the Highest"

  • "All Things Bright and Beautiful" refrain

  • "Our Father/the Lord's Prayer" to two different tunes (published one I learned in another parish, and our current organist/choirmaster's composition)

  • "The Lord Is my Shepherd, I'll Follow Him Alway"

  • The children's prayer, "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, bless this bed I lie upon," set to a charming tune.

Each season of the church year I try out a few new songs. The songs must be fairly quick to memorize, as there's very little light at bedtime in their room, and I don't want to mess with that for the sake of reading music or words. I'm reminded that I'd like the boys to sing with me again, at least more often.

Bedtime song as catechism tonight, I guess!

Political, believe it or not

After watching the TV coverage of the Republican National Convention last night, I did something I've never done in my LIFE. I stopped at the local party headquarters and picked up yard signs for our front yard. My husband was okay with it, the several times I asked him. We'll see if we get any drive-by or walk-by "embellishment" to our signs. They are:

1. Kerry-Edwards / A Stronger America
2. (Our Democratic candidate for Senate)

It's a pretty weird feeling letting my colors show in any forum whether here, in face-to-face conversations, or in our front yard. Yet I'm a lifelong Democrat and voter.

And that's all I'll say about that. Other than:

— Exercise your hard-won right and VOTE —

Project pressure

Today I feel time/project pressure. I'm not exactly sure how to wrap up two volunteer projects that are due, launch a for-pay longterm task, and stay focused on my kids, home, and ministry. Arrgh. The answer ought to be to keep the focus steady and do the baby-step thing with the due projects, and quickly they'll be gone from my days. And then deal with the longterm task and whether I really ought to be doing it.

I think I'm getting mixed up between my struggle to complete projects, which is typical me, and my doubts about doing the longterm task that would bring in some money. My feeling of being under pressure will ease when I force myself to actually complete the first two projects -- they're very close -- so I need to at least deal with those two.

I'd much rather read.

Or stitch.

(Or blog, LOL!)

I could use those as incentives. After 30 minutes of project finish work, hang out with the kids and read a little chunk of any book with a bookmark in it or do a small section of either needlework project :) Somehow. Today. Between people errands (a/k/a chauffeuring), someone's dentist appointment, and planning dinner.

Hmm. Enough stalling. Gotta go!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Schoolish and schedule stuff

Both boys started school last Wednesday. Son1 (8 1/2) started his fifth year -- third grade -- and Son2 (4 1/2) started his first experience of school -- pre-kindergarten, 2 1/2 hours each afternoon. Both are enjoying school. Son2 happily tells us all about whatever caught his interest each day. Son1 seems relaxed and interested in his school stuff, a good sign, though not very talkative about it, as usual.

But -- on the third day of school Son1 already had a bad interaction with a kid who has been a bully in past years and was gone last year, but is back in Son1's class this year; I need to email the teacher today with a heads-up about the incident. We will NOT let this kid bully ours. Sigh.

Life was hectic this past week, and I give us all another week. Then I think the kids and I will be more adjusted to the new constraints and routine. I'll bring back The Story of the World at after-school snack time again, and offer some Cuisinaire rod work. Perhaps a bit of Miquon or Family Math from time to time -- or play more card games! If Son2 is still interested, we'll pull out the Bob Books again and alternate with "Little Stories for Little Folks" from CHC/Catholic Heritage Curriculum. Son1 really enjoyed those when he was first learning to read.

We have one car and are a transfer family to the school that used to be our little neighborhood elementary until we bought a house last year. We're now about 10 minutes' drive away, in another school's area. We transferred to keep the boys at that little school where we know many of the families and we know and like most of the staff, their morale, the way they teach, and so on. This means that I'm now puzzling over my driving schedule: drop off Son1, return home; take husband to work (10 minutes away too), return home; take Son2 to preK, return home; pick up both boys, return home; pick up husband from work, return home. Aack!

My goal is to do errands or MOMS Club activities or go to the library with Son2 most mid-mornings between dropping husband off and dropping Son2 off at noon. That way I can go home during preK and do whatever I need to do, yet preserve my reluctant-chauffeur sanity for the day. What's really funny is that the dropoff/pickups are only 10 minutes each way, but it's a big deal to me.

Re. homeschooling, I will only say that I would LOVE to do it, and 2 1/2 years after my homeschooling "aha!" I have become deeply resistant to being enmeshed in the schoolish way of life. And yet, here we are. Schedules, structures, constraints... that enable teachers to work with a large number of kids at once and try to support the kids who don't have enough or any support at home. Apparently slow support for my son where he is advanced in subject areas (far ahead in math and way ahead in reading). A typical self-preserving organizational hierarchy that goes all the way up to the school district. Et cetera. Things I don't like about any organization, and this one has my kids and, therefore, us. Thanks to homeschooling I know my family doesn't need this and can untie ourselves from this if we dare. That's all I'll say about that.

Son1 is interested in a couple of activities this fall: the upper elementary strings program offered by the university music education folks, and the city parks and rec league basketball program. Dear husband and I are keeping an eye out for announcements of the swim club tryouts, because we think he'd actually love the swim club. We'll see; they're all monetary commitments as well as time, and we had always said we'd limit the kids to one sports, one music, and one church activity. Yet with just one child involved it can have a huge impact on family life. I see why some parents direct their children to the same or similar activities.

The plan is to get more info on all of the above activities, we parents and Son1 discuss, and then we parents make the decisions. He's not quite old enough to acolyte at our church, so that's out at least until he's nine. Decisions, decisions.

Anyway, that's what's up after the first three days of school in our neck of the woods.

Friday, August 27, 2004

15 minutes, card games, book toss

When I have more than the 15 minutes I just used writing this, I want to blog about: the kids starting school / schedules and possibilities / not home at once and together / guilty pleasure of TIME. And Stuff again (progress! good!).

Card games

We're all about Go Fish at least three times a day with some combination of Son2, Son1, and me. Fun! They were playing War just before breakfast this morning. I've also taught Son2 (age 4 1/2) a type of solitaire where he removes pairs of matching cards in an array of eight cards; he really likes it. I taught Son1 (8 1/2) to play the same game but to pair the cards that add up to 13.

Yesterday Son2 and I learned a clock solitaire game and Son1 told dear husband and me that he learned a "really cool" card game in school. On hearing his description, I decided it ought to be called Addition War; each player lays down two cards at a time, and the player with the highest combined face value wins the hand. They also played it with three cards at a time. I want to play this with Son1.

This morning I told them about Crazy Eights. This card stuff is fun! I don't think they've learned so many games in so few days before, LOL!

Book toss

I'm returning a bunch of library books this afternoon, using my "get rid of it!" Stuff attitude. Son1 received Harry Potter 5 from Grandma and Grandpa last week, and then checked out HP2 from the school library (he owns it!?! what's that about??), so he's simultaneously rereading both books. And the 2nd in the Wrinkle in Time series. And the 7th in the Young Underground series. And The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Narnia). Yikes. This is looking like my stack of books. The books on the ancients and the Olympic games have slipped out of favor, and all of the Bionicle books have been read, so back to the library they go.

I'm returning some of my books as well. I really enjoyed Suburban Nation, and How Cities Work is also extremely interesting. I thought it'd be redundant, but it's a different approach entirely.

I'm also going to pick up Running Out of Time, by Margaret Haddix, thanks to a blogger's mention of it in the same sentence as M. Shyamalan's (sp?) The Village...

Monday, August 23, 2004

Shuffle those cards, and deal

The book of family card games has waited patiently for nearly two months of the summer. Tonight was the night. I told the kids we were going to learn card games, and learn we did.

We learned that 7 pm is too late for a 4 1/2 year old to both recognize the Jack and be able to shout "Slapjack!" before his cardshark older brother. Or maybe there is no time of day at which this is possible, and tears are always the result. We moved quickly on to learning "Snap" -- like Slapjack except we look for a match between cards. We learned that this game still does not make a happy 4 1/2 year old when the cards go against him or big brother is lightning quick and gets many of the matches.

Aha! Mom thumbed further into the War chapter and decided to try War for Three. It worked pretty well for a while. Son2 (the 4 1/2 year old) caught on quickly, and happily this game depends completely on the luck of the draw. There were no tears... and then, after initial success, the game began to drag on and on. And on. Or at least that's what Mom forsaw.

Okay, Mom found a reasonable stopping place and pulled out the book again. The three cardplayers finally founnd just the right card game. Not too fast, not too slow; not too hard, not too easy; just right. In fact, Mom thinks we might actually play this again tomorrow.

Go Fish.

"Minnow"-style, with a twist. In Go Fish for Minnows, according to the book, all of the cards are dealt, and the aim is to collect pairs. I changed that to dealing out 9 cards each and having the "fishing" draw pile in the middle. Happy cardplayers! The youngest had fun, the older son began to catch on to some strategy, and Mom enjoyed it too. It is possible we will be able to move from collecting pairs to collecting 3 of a kind and, ultimately, to the book-stated four of a kind. We shall see.

Of course, the kids thought we were going to learn poker, thanks to dear husband's enjoyment of televised poker tournaments lately!

I'd nearly forgotten that dear husband and I used to play Hearts with others, cribbage together and, sometimes, Spades. He enjoys Euchre and taught me once. He plays poker with friends. I used to play Gin Rummy all the time. The kids have no idea!

Now they are long asleep and I'm off to play some actual, physical, non-virtual, non-Microsoft(tm) solitaire before bed.

Hospitality redux

I continue to mull over hospitality. Two more elements have popped up from the deep waters.

The More With Less Cookbook, by Mennonite author Doris Janzen Longacre, is a wonderful resource for cooking from your food stock, eating simple yet delicious frugal foods, and welcoming others to share a meal together. Over the 15 years or so I've had this cookbook, I return to it again and again for the first two reasons, but the third is starting to resonate with me now.

Open Heart, Open Home: The hospitable way to make others feel welcome and wanted, by Karen Mains, has been on my bookshelves for many years. I think I read part of it in my mid-20s, but I have no impression of it now. Recently I've heard it mentioned again. Though I'm sure my copy is not the most recent version, I'm going to crack it open and see what she says about "a biblical and spiritual approach to using your home to care for others."

Saturday, August 21, 2004


The last few days just flew by, and along the way I got some lessons in hospitality.

On Wednesday morning we went to a MOMS Club playdate at a good friend's house, and my boys and I ended up staying until late afternoon! We had a great time. Her two kids and my two played and played, and my friend and I chatted about everything under the sun. At first I couldn't believe the kids and I didn't have to be somewhere else or do something else, and that it was really okay to stay. It was! We had food, and coffee, and plenty of room for kids of varied ages and two moms for an afternoon. The two of us moms even rocked on the porch swing and enjoyed cool breezes! It was so relaxing, such a pleasure.

Beginning Thursday evening, my family hosted another family to help them out of a tight spot. The mom was having outpatient surgery very early Friday morning, and the dad couldn't get out of work until later that day, so we figured out that their two kids would stay overnight with us, and in the morning I would pick her up and deposit the three of them at home.

Oh, but it didn't work out that way. Instead, at 7:55 am Friday morning, about 15 minutes after I'd gotten up — as I was about to start measuring and mixing up my Busy Mom's Coffeecake — her nurse called and said she was ready to be picked up in 30 minutes. Um, er, the surgery center is across the next town from us, 30 minutes from my house. And the kids and I are not dressed. Well, I did my best and we got there in 65 minutes, she checked out, and we bundled her into the van and headed back to our town. The kids and I hadn't actually eaten, so I suggested we all head to my house and eat breakfast.

It turned out to be the best thing. She dozed and relaxed on my sofa all day while our kids played and I kept her supplied with water and crackers... and chitchat when she was awake. (The pain meds really knocked her out at first.) The kids played really well together all day, both inside and outside. The next-door neighbor kids joined the outside play a couple of times. I remember reading at the dining table for a little while as the kids played. A friend came over for our regular playdate (with a phone call heads-up on the situation) and added another kid to the mix and that went well; all three of us moms enjoyed ourselves, too.

The whole day was remarkable for me. I used to actively avoid these situations, sure that I'd be too frazzled hosting other kids for a significant amount of time and that I wasn't very good at hosting gatherings. But over the years in MOMS Club I've learned to host playdates better; we've started having annual parties in winter (Twelfth Night, Jan. 5) and summer (Independence Day, July 4); and in this new house we're starting to have more people over (say, two families at a time) more often.

This went really well! I was fairly relaxed and yet kept a good eye on the kids. It was what my "outpatient friend" needed. Everyone was reasonably well fed. Conversations and such were good. There was enough variety in play ideas & locations and food and company that no one got to the irritable stage.

Of course, after we said goodbye to everyone and had our family and house to ourselves, I was tired! We ordered pizza, I treated myself to a beer, and I went to bed a bit early.

I'm still thinking about the hospitality thing. Hmm.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

It's GONNNNNNE! Time for the evil laugh the kids have been practicing: Mwa-ha-ha-haaaaa! Posted by Hello

Stuff on its way out

I did it! Three boxes and four grocery sacks of decluttered Stuff from the garage, a big box of more didn't-sell-at-the-garage-sale Stuff from the house, and it's all sitting in the entryway for a charity to pick up. WOOHOO! They better leave the dogwood tree alone, heehee, as it's not labelled for pickup. Posted by Hello

Now I have that look, the one that scans every nook and cranny of the house for more Stuff to get rid of. Time to put the true junk in the trash can, finish sorting the kid detritus for the keepers and toss the rest in the trash, and fill the car trunk with recyclables. Then I'm bagging up magazines for the boys' school's paper-Stuff recycling drive. We're gonna clear out the corners; she's on a roll!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Milky Way vs football season

It's August, and the Very Big Lights for nighttime practices and games in the Local Big University's football stadium are on most nights now. As they will be until December. I can see them from our upstairs windows looking north about 2-3 miles. Besides the blinding experience this provides when we drive -- frequently -- on a certain street near the stadium at & after dusk (I use the sunvisor to block the lights!), my main thought is: will this light wash out my chances of seeing the Milky Way this fall? Maybe it's not a problem; our backyard is on the opposite side of the house, and the biggest light pollution (!) is the single light on the street near the park, a yearround thing. I'm still delighted to have seen the Milky Way from my backyard.

Book Stack Changes

Yep, another library trip. Yet again Son2 got some novels (Star Wars) despite my efforts to steer him toward books with pictures! He loves to "read" in the car just like big brother, and announce things like, "I'm on Chapter One, page two!" He also practices his counting to 100 with the page numbers.

Son1 (and I!) picked up the requested Book Six in the Young Underground series; I got mixed up so we checked out books 7 and 8 last week and are impatient for book 6. More fun in post-WW2 Denmark with kids' adventures and a little faith mixed in, very nicely and with a light touch despite my doubts. We're both hooked on this series.

Son1 also got two more Bionicle "novels," and the second and third Wrinkle in Time followups, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I read the first and second books as a kid, but not the third. I'll be reading these too.

My requests and interlibrary loans arrived! I waited for a while for Bill Clinton's My Life. I wonder how many people requested it -- they have nearly a hundred copies in the regional library system! I used to read autobiographies and bios all the time, and this summer I've picked it up again. If I'm still up for it, I'm planning to try George and Laura again after W.J. Clinton's book.

Interlibrary loans: How Cities Work: Suburbs, sprawl, and the roads not taken and Suburban Nation: The rise of sprawl and the decline of the American dream. Yep, I really like urban planning, smart growth, community stuff. I heard an author interview on public radio awhile ago with some great discussion about suburbs. After some Amazon wandering and the library catalog, I found these books in the system.

I also borrowed Edge City (sort of about suburbs becoming their own economies), but I'm going to wait on that 'cause the nonrenewable ILLs go to the top of the stack.

Only now, upon blogging about it, do I search the Diane Rehm Show archives and find what I heard was the second hour of the June 29 show, with David Brooks, author of On Paradise Drive. A request has now been placed via the library's online catalog.

Two of the ILLs' back cover blurbs refer to Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which I loved when I read it long ago. I may or may not be able to concentrate enough to read all three of these books over the next few weeks, but we'll see.

Oh, and I returned From My Mexican Kitchen (just couldn't get into it right now).