Saturday, October 31, 2009


Some years are better than others when it comes to Halloween; this year turned out to be a good one. We hooked up with another family and walked around with them and enjoyed chatting and getting to know one another better. A few of the neighbors with kids joined up with us at various points, tagging along briefly then branching off on their own again. We met some new folks which is always a good thing. We went to an afternoon block party that is turning into a yearly tradition; we enjoy it more every time we go. They have games and activities for the kids that are so much fun. This is the one time of year when all the neighborhood kids are out and about at roughly the same time so my kids enjoy making new connections. The Eldest goes around with her friends now; yes, at 16, she still enjoys trick or treating. The weather cooperated for the most part; it was hot but it didn't rain. After Wilma a few years ago we had lovely weather but the kids had to go out early due to all the debris! This year they were able to go out when it was properly good and dark, so that aspect was fun.

They trick or treated for UNICEF and have a nice amount of change rattling around in their little orange boxes; I'll let you know how much we collected in a future post!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Scares, a Little Early

I took The Middle Child and a friend of hers (I'll call her Friend for this post) to a local Safety Expo tonight. It's the kind cities have all over; the fire and police departments come out to show off their stuff, which is pretty cool, and all sorts of local vendors hand out candy or other little freebies along with their brochures for some cheap advertising. They had several bounce houses there and the girls went in one of them for a few minutes. All of a sudden the thing started to collapse on the kids! It was sheer chaos from that point; the kids all panicked and tried to get out at once. As we learned from things like the Station Nightclub fire, that's not the best way to get out of a panic inducing situation. The Middle Child managed to get out pretty quickly but Friend was still inside. I couldn't see her; the roof was on top of the kids by this point. Parents were all around the entrance trying to deal with what was going on; I tried to yell to the kids to move back but no one heard me. Finally I saw Friend's head emerge from the entry, then she got an arm out so I grabbed her under her armpits and PULLED. She came out like a cork out of a champagne bottle! I stood her up and she ran off to The Middle Child who was a little way off; I still didn't know if she was OK, but she was moving around so that was a good sign. She was making noise, too- but was she laughing or crying? I couldn't tell! I caught up to her and, huge sigh of relief, she was laughing. I, however, was NOT laughing. I approached a kid who looked like he worked for the bounce house company and asked him what happened. He said the generator that pumps the air ran out of gas. So not cool. I fussed at him and made him all defensive, then asked what company it was and he wouldn't tell me. There was another guy I'd seen him talk to earlier so I ran over to him and sweetly asked him the name of the company, which he was only too happy to tell me, then I let him have it. (I'm PMSing, OK? I don't deal well with a crisis when I'm in this state.) He had the nerve to say he was doing this as a free service for the community and he hoped I was enjoying all the free stuff they were giving out. The NERVE!! I mean, who the heck cares about a bunch of pamphlets and some candy when a kid gets hurt? He was all "well, what am I supposed to do about it? Generators run out of gas". You know what, that is unacceptable. Like I'm supposed to tell him how to safely run his business. HE is supposed to be the expert and HE is the one who is supposed to come up with ways to keep his patrons safe.

I'm still shaking I'm so mad.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wear Pearls on Halloween

I am proud to be a part of Girl Scouts as a leader for The Middle Child's Brownie troop. I've been more involved in the past taking on other volunteer positions that involved a lot more work, but I've scaled back this year to focus on homeschooling. I'm still a big believer in Girl Scouts, however, and what they stand for and have the greatest admiration for Juliette Gordon Low, the woman who brought Girl Scouts to the United States back in 1912. She was a Halloween baby and so that day is a special holiday for Girl Scouts of the USA. I just read an article on-line about Girl Scouts who wear pearls on October 31st to honor her memory. Why pearls? Because at one point as she was trying to get Girl Scouts off the ground, Juliette sold her valuable pearls to fund the movement. It is representative of her sacrifice and tireless work on behalf of girls everywhere. I plan to wear my pearls, OK, my faux pearls, on Saturday, even over my Halloween T-shirt!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Pyromaniac Among Us

My son, my darling boy, tried to burn the house down today. He was engaging in that ever popular kid sport, playing with matches. No actual harm was done to anything except his finger (which is blistered on the tip) but the potential is scary beyond words. What the heck do you do for that? What consequence can you mete out to let him know how very serious his behavior was and that he is never, ever to do that again?

And then to top it off, he lied over and over to me when I confronted him with the evidence. He said he didn't have any more matches but the entire box was stashed in the garbage can in his room; he also lied about where he found them in the first place. (He got them from a cabinet over DH's computer which he KNOWS is off limits, a cabinet I thought was safe. Obviously I was wrong. Nothing is safe from that child.) I can NOT tolerate lying; one of our top family values is honesty so I am upset beyond belief at that aspect of all this.

So now I have to come up with consequences. He's missing a festival Friday night for the matches and we're probably not going to let him trick or treat on Halloween for the lying. I am heartbroken; I love taking the kids around to trick or treat. I think this is a definite case of "this is hurting me more than it's hurting you".

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

SPIDERS, Beware!

I take a walk around our neighborhood almost every day. When I walk during the day there aren't too many bugs, but as it gets cooler at night I compromise and walk at sunset but keep a watch for the buggies. Today I walked in the late afternoon since I had other things to do during my regular walk time and gave no thought to bugs at all. Big mistake; big, huge. The spiders around here are trying to catch humans, and they've figured out there are more of us during the day. I was walking along minding my own business, actually I was trying to remember the names of a bunch of new people I met last night and doing a pretty darn good job of it, when WHAP; I walked into a HUGE spider's web that spanned the distance from my head to my waist. Eeeew eeew eew!! The webs are bad but WHERE WAS THE SPIDER, more importantly, was he ON ME????? I looked like someone in a movie who ran into a spider's web in a haunted house; I hope no one had a video camera. Shudder. I had to make sure that darn critter wasn't on me, though, so I was jumping around like a loon. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Spider wasn't on the part of the web that was still on me, so I'm safe at home now.

I'm traumatized, though.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I didn't get a post in yesterday, so that's 2 days missed for the NaBloWriMo challenge. Well, I gave it a good try, and we're nearing the finish line so I'll make a last ditch effort to get a daily post in between now and Halloween. It's been interesting! Most days were pretty easy but there were a couple where it was difficult to find something to say and the motivation to say it.

But this one is short and sweet; my bed is calling 'cause I'm T-I-R-E-D.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Middle Child Cooks!

The Middle Child cooked dinner for the family for the first time yesterday, almost entirely on her own. She made Pasta and Bean Soup, a vegetarian meal, which turned out perfectly. Keep in mind she's 8 years old, just so you're properly impressed. (OK, she'll be 9 next month, but still.) She's always enjoyed cooking and helping in the kitchen to the point where it's difficult to keep her out of there when I'm trying to cook. We had to teach her how to use a knife safely or else she'd cut things up anyway, risking life and limb, and especially fingers. When she cut herself trying to wash my favorite knife a few weeks ago, I sat down with her to watch the Good Eats episode on knives and cutting techniques. (I'm happy they aired that particular episode right when we needed it!) Alton Brown put a lot of emphasis on safety and demonstrated how to wash a knife by laying it against a cutting board in the sink, which is how she washes her knife now. And oh, yes, she has her own knife. The adult knives were too big for her so we found a chef's knife in a smaller size that suits her perfectly; she is so proud. She loves cutting up veggies!

She's been making scrambled eggs for a while now. That was another example of her determination to cook. She bugged me to teach her how to make scrambled eggs for the longest time but it's not something I make often so I put her off. Well, that didn't stop her. When I left her with our babysitter she asked the sitter to teach her. Our sitter is a love and has a hard time saying no to things like that, so she taught her, and for the next month she was making scrambled eggs left and right. I bought an Egg Genie, the kind that hard boils eggs, and she learned how to use it and now makes deviled eggs. She also decided she wanted to make guacamole when I had some avocados and now has that recipe down pat. Her guacamole is pretty good, too, I must say. With all of her practice on eggs and the other recipes she's learned to make on her own, she was ready for a full meal. I'm so proud!

I told her the other day she's a foodie, that's all there is to it. She likes to eat good, healthy food, (she's the least picky of my children), she likes to cook, and she likes to cook for other people. She's curious about food and recipes and wants to learn how to make new things. I'd say that's the very essence of a foodie!

PS: I'm adding Spatulatta, the kid's cooking website, to my list of websites I like in honor of The Middle Child. If you have a budding cook in your family that's a good website to check out.

Friday, October 23, 2009


The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, was a jerk to another kid in our homeschooling group today. Sigh. I'm still not clear on the details, but it seems my son and another boy banded together to bully one of the other boys in the group, apparently taking his prescription glasses and threatening to throw them or break them or something. He sat in time out the rest of the time we were there and totally missed out on petting the horse that came by, let me tell you. There was also a serious amount of talking about the issue, much to his chagrin, and even the other boy's mom fussed at him.

Where do they get this stuff? That is so not OK, and something DH and I work on all the time with him. He's basically a sweet, tender-hearted kid but he is also impulsive and strong willed and just doesn't think about consequences. He is easily led by his peers, unfortunately, and thinks that inappropriate, sometimes mean, things are funny. (And I'm not saying he was just following the boy he banded with in this case, I don't know who had the bright idea to be mean, it's just a trait of his.) He's also quick to use his physical strength to solve his problems (he's a moose) since he's the youngest in the family; his sisters boss him around all the time and that's how he copes. It's important to kids to feel a sense of empowerment and, as the youngest child, I recognize that he feels powerless too much of the time. I do what I can to combat that by taking him out with me for occasional one to one time and giving him choices as much as possible. I want him to know that his opinions matter in our family just as much as his sisters. He is important.

On the whole he is improving; today was a definite step backwards, but hopefully something he will learn a lesson from. I was very disappointed in his behavior and saddened that he upset the other child as much as he did, then I had to figure out what the heck to do about it, which is the hardest part. Sheese.

Sometimes being the mom sucks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I have decided I absolutely love quesadillas. We've made them several times lately and it's like our version of taco night. Everyone gets to make their quesadilla their way, and we all have very different ideas as to what constitutes "perfect". I like to throw mine in the frying pan so the tortilla part gets all toasty, golden brown, and crispy. DH likes to microwave his so it gets all chewy. The kids... well, whatever. The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, will make himself a PB&J sandwich for some crazy reason, but he does that a lot and I try not to look. The Eldest can usually con The Middle Child into making one for her, toasty like mine, then The Middle Child makes one for herself, and hers are different every time. For fillings, we can make this a vegetarian meal (which we did last night to make up for eating chicken on Meatless Monday) by heating up a can of vegetarian refried beans, or we can use whatever leftover meat we have on hand. For additional fillings I like caramelized onions and sauteed portabella mushrooms along with whatever fresh veggies DH chops up. DH likes just the fresh veggies for his, diced bell pepper, shredded carrots, diced onion, zucchini, tomatoes, whatever we have on hand. Then we top it with cheese, of course. I picked up some quesadilla cheese at the grocery store yesterday (didn't know they made such a thing until yesterday when I was considering the Queso Blanco cheese) and we tried that; it was pretty good! (In the past we've also used Colby Jack or cheddar; whatever cheese floats your boat.)

To assemble, I first spray my tortilla with a canola oil spray on both sides then throw it in a non-stick frying pan to start toasting. (I used to use butter but didn't want the extra calories, so I tried the spray and it worked beautifully.) Once I get the first side warmed up (I don't completely toast the inside) I flip it and put on my fillings, starting with the refried beans, which we heat beforehand, then the onions and mushrooms, then any other veggies, throw on the cheese, fold it over, then flip as needed to let the cheese melt and the tortilla finish toasting. (I use one tortilla, fillings go on one half then fold over; you could also use two tortillas, fillings go across the whole bottom tortilla and top with a second tortilla, but you'd have to partially toast the second tortilla before you get started, I'm thinking.) (And it would be quite a challenge to flip.) DH assembles his on an uncooked tortilla then zaps it in the microwave. (His way is a lot easier, but I love that toastiness from the frying pan so it's worth the extra work.) I cut mine in half and savor every delicious crunchy, gooey, yummy bite. When we make it with the refried beans, this is one of my all time favorite vegetarian meals. As long as you don't go too crazy with the cheese, this is also a super healthy low cal meal, too. Can't beat that!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nature Encounters and Eyeballs

I took The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, to the eye doctor today. He grabbed my reading glasses last week when we were going over a lesson and said he could see better with them on so I made the appointment toot sweet. What an ordeal! It was like we were trying to kill him when the assistant put the drops in his eyes, for Pete's sake. I had to set him on my lap and wrap him in a full body bear hug so she could get the drops in, and he's a strong little kid so it took everything I had. They went in though, and a little later he was ready to see the doctor. Sure enough, the doc said he could use a mild strength lens, weaker than my reading glasses, if it would make him feel better. (He came short of using the word placebo, but that's the basic idea he got across.) ;) So we looked at the eyeglasses they had there. $200.00. FOR READING GLASSES. Umm, no, thank you. I went to the local grocery and picked up a pair there for $20.00. Luckily TWC has a big old head just like his momma and a small pair of grown up glasses fit him just fine. He's been wearing them since, silly kid. You can't see far away with reading glasses, you ONLY need to put them on when you read or do things up close. You do NOT need them to play outside!! Hey, whatever. If he's happy and it's not hurting him or anyone else, more power to him.

Then we saw something cool on the way home. It was like National Geographic right in our own front yard! We were almost to our house when I saw an ibis take off from our neighbor's lawn with a small brown SNAKE in its beak. Eeesh. The snake put up a mighty struggle and sure enough, the ibis dropped the darn thing IN OUR YARD. Then there was the stand off. The ibis tried to grab the snake again but that critter was having no part of it. He was fierce! He looked like a cobra rearing up and threatening to bite the bird. The ibis was still trying to make a grab, but was backing down when Daddy Ibis flew over. Daddy Ibis was a much bigger bird and he approached the snake, but that little snake was still showing his fangs. The ibis, and there were several of them now, all conferred for a while then decided to let this particular morsel go on its way and flew off. So now they left the darn snake in my yard, stupid birds. I parked the car (we were watching from the street) and we jumped out to see if we could see where the snake went but it disappeared in a matter of seconds! We didn't walk out in the grass or anything, I didn't want to get bit, but there's not a lot of cover in our lawn. We couldn't spot him though so we, like the ibis, went on our way. I say again, eeesh. I hope he slithered on out of our yard!!! It was cool to watch, though.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Meatless Monday Update

Meatless Monday is proceeding well. We don't starve on our meatless days, on the contrary we have found filling meals that leave the whole family satisfied. We failed yesterday, though, I have to admit, but it was in the name of not wasting food. I added too much chicken to chicken soup I made over the weekend and it was either eat it on Monday or throw it out. Either way, the chicken was already purchased and cooked so it wouldn't help anything (or any cause) to waste it. (We got 3 meals out of that soup.) I think that maintains the karma of the Meatless Monday challenge, as long as we don't do that regularly. We'll make up for it with an extra meatless meal later in the week so things will balance out, consumption-wise, and that's the whole point. Reduce meat consumption for the good of the planet as well as the good of our own bodies. You don't have to give up meat completely, just open yourself up to the wide variety of meatless choices out there. Check out Food Gawker's vegetarian section if you don't think meatless food is appealing!

Monday, October 19, 2009

This Just In...

DH uploaded the pictures from our Halloween event; here are a few of them. The first one is The Eldest as a zombie in one of her "Thriller" poses; the rest of them are of the younger ones on the bungee jump thingy. The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, was in heaven when he was bungee jumping; there was pure delight on his face the entire time!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cold at Last!

We're finally getting a break from the heat! A chill came through last night while we were at our Girl Scout activity and continues today; we all took a family walk at sunset and enjoyed the change in the weather. (Except The Eldest, who is getting sick. She stayed home in bed, poor baby.) The sunset was gorgeous, as it is more often than not down our way.

For my first year of college, I attended a school in North Carolina where I saw snow for the first time in my life. (I've come to learn it wasn't much of a snow and barely counts. I didn't even get to make a snowball, sadly.) While the area was lovely, I missed my Florida sky. Most of all I missed the sunsets; we get a light show almost every day here. I try to take my walks around sunset just because it's so lovely; it's my reward for getting out there. (Plus it's cooler then, but not as buggy as it is when it gets completely dark.) We watched the sky change colors today as we walked. There weren't any clouds and the sky to the west was saturated with color that changed if you blinked. First pink, then peach, then a brilliant orange, with the blue layered on top of that. The houses and palm trees across the lake we walked next to were all in silhouette against the colors of the sky, with a few lights on here and there to add some sparkle. The kids walked along with DH and I and chatted about nothing and everything. It was one of those moments to treasure forever.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Girl Scout Activities

The whole family went to a Girl Scout Halloween event tonight. The Eldest went with her troop and volunteered at the event; the rest of us went with The Middle Child's troop. We had a lot of fun but spent a LOT of time waiting in lines. We got to go on a hay ride and put "wish boats" in the lake, although the wind kept blowing out the candles on the little bark boats before the girls could get them anywhere near the water. I made a wish that The Middle Child's troop will stay together until the girls graduate from high school!

As a leader, I'm so happy with The Middle Child's troop; I think of this as my "reward troop". I've led troops in the past that just didn't gel for one reason or another, like the moms didn't want to pitch in to help out, or they pushed for the troop to do too much when I was at a time in my life when I was limited by my two younger children, (couldn't go on overnight trips when I was nursing, for instance), or the moms didn't want to do any activities at all outside of meetings, or the girls were, umm, challenging to manage, or whatever the problems were. Not this troop, though! The moms are all great, they help out, they follow through on what they say they'll do for the girls, we all like each other, and the girls! The girls are all absolute sweethearts, every last one of them. I couldn't have put together a better troop if I'd hand picked every one of them, but I didn't. The girls all came to The Middle Child's troop from different sources. We recruited one girl through The Middle Child's pre-school program, a couple of the girls are the younger sisters of girls in a friend's troop, I recruited one girl and her mom at a grocery store when we were selling cookies and then they brought in a couple of friends, one came to us through Round Up, and one was referred to us through our council. I only knew one of the girls before she joined the troop, come to think of it. Wow; this has really worked out well for us! Here's hoping the girls stick with it through thick and thin, all the way to 12th grade. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

How to Torture a 7 Year Old

I bought these cheap little "finger lights" at the grocery store for Halloween the other day. The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, found them and has been absolutely BESIDE himself wanting to open them and check them out. I won't let him since they are for a Halloween event we are planning to attend. You would think he was dying with all the drama! PLEASE Mom, please, we need to test them before we go, he says. Can we just try them just for a minute? Please? And so on and so forth. I am standing firm, however; he must learn to deal with delayed gratification. He really is making progress, though; he's respected my "NO" and hasn't opened them anyway, so he's maturing a little bit. There's hope for my boy, there's hope!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What to Make for Dinner??

Some days are harder than others when it comes to menu planning. This WEEK has been a tough one; I just don't feel like making any of our old stand-bys, but I can't find any new recipes that look appealing, either. Yesterday Deep Dish Taco Pizza from Cooking Light came to the rescue; you can't get much easier. I even increased the health factor by using half the meat called for in the recipe and adding a can of rinsed and drained pinto beans. Today I have no idea what to make, and here it is almost 10:00 pm. Granted we eat late, but I should be cooking by now! Instead I'm blogging, which is so helpful. ;)

Well, dinner isn't going to cook itself, so off I go.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

200th Post!!

This is my 200th post! Ta da!

Monday, October 12, 2009

3 Days and One Aching Back

3 days; it took 3 days to clean my son's room, but it's done. For the moment, anyway. My children are slobs. (They get it from their dad, although I'm obligated to mention that he did fold at least 5 baskets of laundry over the weekend. And worked on the kitchen. I love that man.) They all 3 live in absolute pigsties and seem to like it that way and yes, I realize I'm an enabler because I don't have the energy to keep after them to clean everything up on a regular basis. I know there are some moms who are good about daily clean ups and so forth but I'm not one of them so the messes get out of hand and they get overwhelmed, then forget it. Part of the problem is an excess of toys, especially the toys with a zillion small parts, which are a nightmare to clean up. Most of the time I was working in his room was spent sorting. There's just no other realistic way to do it, though. He has a huge toy box but it doesn't hold everything, and even if it did when it's all piled together he can't play with, say, Legos because he can't find enough of them to make anything.

I actually took a garden rake in there at one point to gather everything into one pile to make it easier to sit in one spot and sort. I'm happy I was able to get things organized, though. I took away a whole container full of Little People toys, much to the dismay of both The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, and The Middle Child. They don't play with them anymore, which I know because most of them were among the only toys still put away, and I'll use them as a bargaining chip. (They can have them back if they keep their rooms clean for x amount of time. They'll forget about them then I can ship them off to Goodwill in a couple of months.) That container is now holding a Geo Trax set. Some of his containers were broken and several new toys didn't even have a place to go to begin with so I got that all straightened out. Luckily there were some spare containers which I've now put to good use and everything has a place to go. At final count, I got rid of about 6 bags of trash and two contractor sized trash bags to go to Goodwill, and probably another 3 or 4 loads of laundry from all the dirty clothes he had laying around his room. All in all, I'm happy it's done even though I know it won't last.

I went into The Middle Child's room and did the same thing a month or so ago, only I didn't finish up and left one teeny tiny little pile of toys to sort in the middle of the floor, one innocent little almost done baby pile I was sure The Middle Child could handle, and the next time I looked in her room it was as if I hadn't touched it. I think she dumped almost every single toy container out again; ARGH!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Well's Run Dry...

Day 11 of Nablowrimo and I'm not feeling particularly wordy. It's not that things aren't happening, they are, I'm just not up to the eloquence required to write about them. It's a focus issue; there are so many things to write about I'm having trouble narrowing it down. I guess I could tell you about "Thriller" practice today. The Eldest is participating in a Halloween event through Girl Scouts and her troop will be wandering around performing "Thriller" at random times and locations during the night, kind of like a flash mob. She recruited the younger two so they've learned the dance, too. It's too cute to watch them practice together. (And of course, I forgot to take my camera when they were rehearsing today; ARGH!!) They'll be ripping up old clothes and smearing themselves with fake blood in preparation for the performances; I won't forget my camera for that! (I hope.)

Or I could write about the delicious dinner DH made tonight. It's one of our favorite recipes, Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Tenderloin. I'm trying to get away from eating a lot of meat but this is one recipe that will be hard to give up! He's started making glazed carrots as a side dish and they are also most delish. He puts freshly ground cinnamon in the glaze along with brown sugar then cooks them until they are tender. I love carrots any way I can get them, but this way makes them taste like dessert. We've eaten really well this past week!

I could also write about my attempts to clean my son's room yesterday and today, but that's rather traumatic so I won't go there.

Actually, what I need to be doing instead of blogging is getting The Middle Child's troop nut orders in order. Can you say procrastination...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Project Bubble Wrap

The Eldest is now volunteering at a local children's museum. Parents were required to go in today to meet the staff and see who their children are spending their time with, which is a good thing. They also told us about the recycled art show the teen volunteers are putting on. This has been a regular event for many years, but now they are using it as a fund raiser for the first time. The Eldest wasn't going to participate (she missed a mandatory meeting while we were out of town) but they said they need more entries and gave the kids another opportunity to sign up. She decided to go for it and will be making her design out of bubble wrap. She's been looking at pictures of bubble wrap dresses on the internet and found an amazing wedding dress. I found a link to pictures from a recycled fashion show in Portland that are really cool. I swear, human ingenuity never ceases to amaze me; we are one incredible species.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dang, That Was Good!

Do you ever say that about something you've cooked? I've said it about two things recently. I made what we now refer to as Jamie Oliver Chicken two nights ago and I have that recipe DOWN. There are all sorts of little things to do to push that recipe over the top*, and the stars aligned for me this time and it turned out perfectly. It was one of those meals I'd pay money for in a good restaurant.

*What I do to this recipe: I roast whole heads of garlic, just the way you would oven roast them, in the pan with the chicken by cutting off the tops and drizzling with olive oil then sticking them down in amongst the other ingredients. That's in addition to the garlic cloves called for in the recipe. I also add 3 cans of beans, 2 of cannellini and 1 of dark red kidney beans. I cook the recipe forever with NO LID, stirring at about the halfway point, and possibly once more toward the end of the cook time. It cooks for over two hours, closer to two and a half. The house smells A-MA-ZING the whole time!! I serve it with a loaf of naan bread, which we rip apart and smear with the roasted garlic.

The second thing was today's afternoon snack. I was at our local grocery store when they announced fresh baguettes, hot out of the oven. I went over and asked for two; while I was waiting for them to be bagged up a woman said she was planning to have hers with some Brie when she got home. Ooooh, that sounded good, so I ran back to the deli cheese area and grabbed some Brie, too. When I was ready for my snack I cut a section of the baguette for myself and sliced it almost in half. I opened it up and toasted the inside in a pan with some walnuts, then made an upscale cheese sandwich with the Brie, some honey, and the toasted walnuts on the baguette. When the cheese was melty I pulled it off the heat and onto my plate along with some fresh red grapes and a cup of Irish Breakfast decaf, sweetened with free trade sugar and the honey that stuck to the spoon. It was like I was back in Europe!

Happy sighs.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


The Eldest is homeschooled and has never attended public school. She's now in 11th grade and starting to branch out into other academic settings, among them the college art class I've written about before. In addition to her years with her piano and Spanish teachers she's recently started with two new tutors for SAT prep and Algebra II. We met the Algebra II tutor for the first time today and he gave us the smack down- OUCH!! She worked through Algebra I two years ago (geometry last year) so she's rusty. He went over some basic Algebra I concepts and found holes, of course. I mean, it's been two years. So he was flipping out, then he branched out into science, and why don't we have her working in a formal text for biology, for instance, and how do we expect her to get into college without those courses? Sigh.

OK, she's NOT working from a formal text for biology or science, but she has her own subscription to National Geographic (which she asked for) and reads it avidly, (which is social studies, but it covers science concepts, too) and we also get Discover and Scientific American magazines, and we read those and discuss the articles, and, I didn't mention her television viewing to him, but she watches things like Mythbusters which is all about the scientific method, testing concepts, and designing experiments, and shows on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel. She's pretty well versed in science and social studies, probably more so than the average 11th grader because she LIKES those subjects. Wow, did it sting, though. On the one hand I wanted to be all defiant and tell him he could just keep his lessons, but on the other hand he worked well with The Eldest and she appreciated that he made the concepts clear for her. I could see that he meant well, too; he wasn't trying to make me feel bad, he was concerned and trying to help.

It's such a fragile thing for me, though, the confidence in our choice to homeschool. Most days I'm so sure we've done the very best thing for our children, then there are those other days when I question everything. I've decided 100 times over that I'm going to enroll them in a private school first thing Monday morning, only to change my mind again at the last second each time. See, it works for us, this homeschooling thing, even with my occasional doubts. The Eldest is an amazing young woman and I know she wouldn't be the person she is if we had sent her to regular school. Our family has a unique rhythm that we wouldn't be able to sustain in the face of the grind of regular school. For the most part we are relaxed and happy without all of the pressure that's placed on kids and families these days. DH is free to work a schedule that suits his nocturnal bio-rhythms (and allows him to avoid rush hour traffic, as a side bonus). We set our schedule instead of someone else setting it for us, a rare luxury these days. We can travel without worries about missing school, which The Eldest and I took advantage of this past May when we went to Europe for 19 days. There are other advantages, too, but these are the big ones for us.

The downside is there might be some holes in our curriculum. Well, you know what, there are holes in the public school curriculum, too. I can attest to that based on my experiences several... just a few...ahem... years ago. I was an honors student for middle and high school English, which meant I took literature classes. The only problem was no one ever covered grammar at the honors level; I guess they assumed we all knew grammar already. I never saw a sentence diagrammed until well after college when a teacher I was going to sub for showed me how to do it. I learned the parts of speech when I taught them in the hospital school I worked at for a time. (Students would come in for hospitalization but were well enough to complete school work, so my job was to keep them on track with their classes at their regular school.) I knew the basics, nouns, verbs, etc., (thanks to Schoolhouse Rock) but not in any depth, and it never hampered me in any way. If I needed to know it, I learned it, and I know The Eldest can do the same thing. She'll be alright in spite of my doubts, so I know I need to stay the course, and if she needs a biology tutor then we'll get her one. (Even with all of the tutors, it's still less than private school tuition!)

On another note, The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, lost another tooth today, on the bottom so it doesn't show much. His top two front teeth are in so he's not all snaggle toothed when he smiles. I love snaggle toothed grins; I had to rush to get his pictures taken at a photography place when his top front teeth were out just because it was too cute.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Family Tradtions

We've started a temporary tradition for dinner on the nights The Eldest has her class. We discovered a new eatery that is open until 10:00 p.m. and has a great salad bar along with other menu offerings the kids like, plus I can get a take out sandwich for DH. We've gone over there two weeks in a row now and I think we'll probably do the same for the rest of the semester. The best part is that we can walk over to the bookstore after we eat, always a favorite activity for a family full of bookworms. A little dangerous to the budget, but I can just cut back on groceries, books being way more important than food, after all. (We saw a bag for sale at the bookstore with one of my favorite quotes: "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes" -Erasmus.) I was able to pick up my new book club book, Shanghai Girls, along with several books for the kids. The Eldest just bought a load of books and wasn't planning on finding anything but then found a section on Steampunk. I told her I would buy one but she had to pay for the other three!!

As to my cookbook addiction, I didn't buy any new ones. I got those out of the library earlier in the day. (And you know it's been a good day when you get to go to both the library AND the bookstore!)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wedding Pictures

Here are some of my favorite pictures from my cousin's wedding:

The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, and The Middle Child:

The Middle Child:

Love a man in a kilt!

We made sure the get away car was properly bedecked; The Eldest lent a hand:

One of the things I like best about weddings is all the hugs!!

My mom and my cousin:

My aunt and DH:

The Eldest and DH:

The Middle Child and the newest member of our family, the Radiant Bride:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Of Book Clubs and Brownies

Today was a busy day, what with a book club meeting this morning and a Brownie meeting this afternoon. This was the second book club meeting I've been to; our book was The Help by Kathyrn Stockett. I'm excited to be part of a book club; it's something I've wanted to do for quite some time. I tried to start a Mother/Daughter book club when The Eldest was The Only but it fizzled after 2 meetings, which is one of the things that made me realize I'm not great at organizing groups. (Girl Scout troops being the exception.) I based my Mother/Daughter book club on the book titled, oddly enough, The Mother/Daughter Book Club. We read Because of Winn Dixie and had a party at my house complete with food from the book, including a very large jar of pickles, and Harriet the Spy, and that was the end of it. I was sad it died out since I thought the two meetings were really great, but die it did.

So fast forward to now, and when a friend of mine invited me to her book club I was thrilled! These ladies have been getting together for years now and I'm so honored to be a part of their group. I've enjoyed the first two meetings immensely and I'm looking forward to more of them in the future, and next month's meeting covers a book I haven't read yet. I read both books for the meetings I've been to months ago so they weren't as fresh in my mind as I would like for a discussion; for our November meeting I'll be up to date. We're reading Shanghai Girls: a Novel by Lisa See. It's on the New York Times best seller list, so I'm hopeful that it will be a good read.

Then there was the Brownie meeting. I think it went over well, although not all of the girls were able to make it. (This isn't our regular meeting day.) We worked on several messy science activities and welcomed a new girl into our troop so there was a lot going on. DH and the kids helped with the prep work yesterday- cleaning the house, (the troop meets in my home), stopping by the craft store with me to buy supplies, drilling holes in baby jar lids, and so forth. I knew I wouldn't have a chance for any last minute prep today due to the book club so it had to be done yesterday, and it was, so it's all good.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gardening with The Youngest, aka The Wild Child

I purchased a Topsy Turvy tomato planter a while ago along with some tomato seedlings and The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, has been bugging me to go ahead and plant them already! Well, it was complicated. I had to get DH motivated to put the hooky thing up on our patio overhang, and that took some time. He finally got around to it yesterday and The Youngest and I planted two of the seedlings today; he was tickled pink. Now we have an upside down tomato plant at our house, but I'm still not very optimistic that we'll get actual tomatoes. I've tried to grow veggies in the past but it never works out. We're all motivated to start out with, then we become forgetful and neglect the watering, and we never remember to fertilize, (and what are you supposed to fertilize with anyway; everything from the garden center sounds so... chemically), and they get bugs, but we don't want to spray pesticides in our yard, so we never get any output. Sigh. It's fun while it lasts, though!

Full credit to the photographer, The Wild Child himself!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sunny Days

The weather yesterday was gorgeous! Sunny and warm with nary a rainstorm to be seen, which is a big switch this summer. (I know, it's autumn, but it's still hot and summery here.) The kids and I met with our homeschooling group at a local park for crafts and hanging out, including some time at the park play area. It's one of their favorite playgrounds since they have several giant play structures set up around the perimeter of the park. (Most playgrounds have one structure and call it a day.)

Now that I look at the picture, I'm reminded of a line from Real Genius, namely, "always clean your optics". I think some sunblock got on the lens, but I like this picture of The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, and The Middle Child anyway.

Friday, October 2, 2009


NaBloWriMo stands for National Blog Writing Month, and I've missed the deadline to have my blog listed on the sponsoring blog, but I can still participate on my own! I wrote a post yesterday, after all, and here's today's, so I can totally do this. If you enjoy blogs but get tired of waiting for updates (and some of my favs have been abandoned lately... ah hem, Dog's Breakfast...) then check out the links at the NaBloWriMo site. You can start with Use Real Butter, one of the blogs I follow on a regular basis and where I heard about NaBloWriMo. (Love her photography and stories about living in Colorado, and all of her adventures! And then there's the food. She spends more time on cooking than I do so I don't have any plans to actually use any of her recipes, but I still love the food photography and her writing.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What I'm Reading: You on a Diet

I'm smack dab in the middle of the book You on a Diet by Drs. Roizen and Oz. I've been having trouble getting off the 9 pounds I gained in Europe and felt I needed a recharge so I took You on our trip to NC. (We drove; there was lots of time to read.) It's been languishing in my "to read" pile for months now; DH gave me both You on a Diet and You, Staying Young (by the same authors) for Christmas last year. I have to say I am impressed with the topics covered in this book. The docs are going over the physiology of eating, why some people gain weight while others don't when they eat the same things, viral and hormonal causes of weight gain, how we digest our food, what makes us get hungry in the first place, and so much more. It is fascinating; I would enjoy it even if I didn't need to lose an ounce.

One particular fact stood out for me in the very beginning of the book. 95% of dieters who have lost 50 pounds or more are unable to maintain the loss after two years. I lost close to 50 pounds (I didn't weigh myself when I started out; didn't own a scale at that point but I know I was around 180) and it's been two years; yipes! I'm reading this book just in time, and I'm hereby recommitting to losing the rest of the 9 pounds from Europe (I've already lost 6) and keeping myself in that 5% of dieters who are successful at maintaining. It is a daily fight; if I let up at all I gain weight so easily. This book is a good recharge, though; there is so much vital information that will help me continue to be successful. I recommend it highly for anyone who is struggling with weight issues as well as for anyone who wants to be healthy for life.