Thursday, November 29, 2007

getting those veggies in

My sister-in-law sent me a book a few weeks back called Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld (yes, wife of Jerry Seinfeld).

Here is some background as to our home food wars.

Jessica gives meal and dessert recipes using pureed veggies and fruits to give children the nutritive value of these foods without letting the kids know there is anything amiss. While she gives detailed directions on how to steam and puree fresh veggies, I have found that it is easy to substitute a jar of baby food, such as carrots or sweet potatoes without all the mess and waste involved in doing it all from scratch.

So far I have made pasta sauce with cauliflower, spinach, and carrots, brownies with spinach, chocolate cupcakes with spinach, and pancakes with beets. Even I couldn't tell the difference in most of the foods and like pulling a fast one on the children. I have spooned jar after jar of veggies in their mouths, only for them to turn up their noses once they hit the age of 2. Using these recipes and supplementing boxed mixes of cake and brownies I can give them some of the vitamins and antioxidants they need to grow strong bodies and brains.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

active and nonexistent imaginations

Last evening's conversation with the 5 year old:

Maggie: "Did someone just go outside?"

Mommy: "Daddy just went out to get my keys out of the van. We wouldn't want someone to use them to let themselves into the house while we are all sleeping."

Maggie: "You mean someone we don't know... like a giant or a bear?"

Yesterday Will's loose tooth came out and he left this note under his pillow, along with his wallet, and the ziplock baggie containing a nugget of ivory:

please leave the money in my wallet and put (the money in wallet) it in ether of the top drawres of my desk.
thank you.
your son,
It didn't help the tooth fairy's cause to forget said tooth, so around mid-morning I found a note on the night stand with a small drawing of a tooth underneath:
Hopefully I won't be so exhausted this evening, but since I practically collapse into bed every night around 8pm, a friendly reminder is a good way to ensure a dollar under the pillow.

Monday, November 26, 2007

books, books, and more books

This week I have been ignoring my looming Saturday deadline for a writing assignment and retreating to the bedroom to read and eat Special Dark chocolate bars. The stack comes straight from the new book selection at the local library. Usually when I go trolling for books I have exactly 15 seconds to look at the cover and flap before I pop it in my tote or shove it back on the shelf. After every book I have to scan the children's section and count little bodies before I go onto the next title. Tim often asks me after flipping through the selections, "Why on earth did you bring this home?" He doesn't understand the multitasking that go into getting any grownup books home at all while I am surprised that I end up with so many good reads.

American Food Writing by Molly McNeill, a 700+ page anthology of foodie writing and recipes from Thomas Jefferson's adventures with ice cream to a snippet of Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. My favorite chapter was one I had read before by food critic Ruth Reichl when she found an exquisite sushi place by following a Japanese fashion plate and asking the waitress to bring her, "whatever she is having." While I doubt I will ever try eating beautifully presented raw fish, Garlic and Sapphires is a wonderfully written account of her job dressing in disguises and eating in the most famous restaurants in New York City.

Good Little Wives by Abby Drake, a murder mystery set in upper crust trophy wife suburbia land.

I Wear the Maternity Pants in this Family by Susan Konig, a cute, but shallow look at life with 4 children.

The Other Mother by Gwendolyn Gross, an okay, slightly interesting read about 2 mothers in suburbia land and the stresses each has, one as a stay-at-home mom of 3 and the other as a working mother of an infant.

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr, a image-rich view of living in Rome for a year with newborn twins right around the time that Pope John Paul II died and the election of Pope Benedict XVI. It took me right back to our first few months in Naples, especially since we arrived in Italy with a baby the same age as the Doerrs. The food, the noise, the customs, the contrast of decay and exuberance that typify Italy was shown in a thoughtful and introspective way. This was my favorite of all this week's books and if you want to transport yourself to those sad, yet historic days try to find this one at your local library.

Okay, now that I have had my reading escape from needed tasks, back to writing words children might want to read.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

gifts from the grave

Last week a large package arrived from Virginia with the girl's names on the front. We tore open the brown paper to find two items, a very large doll and a small stable complete with 4 horses. A note from my stepfather said that he had found these while cleaning out Mother's things and as soon as he saw them he knew that she had bought them for the girl's birthdays before she was diagnosed and got sick.

Mary is my horse-crazy girl and has slept, played, and eaten with the horses constantly since they were unwrapped. Maggie is no less enamoured of her present, an enormous Groovy Girl doll which stands at the same height as the 5 year old and can wear her clothes. Maggie insists that Sally, the doll, change into jammies every evening and a tshirt with corduroy overalls in the morning. "I already get two little boys dressed and nag the rest of y'all to get dressed every day, not to mention telling all of you 800 times to brush your teeth and hair and make your beds. Why should I have to get someone else dressed too?"

However, Sally doesn't fuss or run away, she just lies there and smiles. I think these were the perfect gifts and it makes me glad that they will help the girls continue to have fond memories of their Grammie.

Friday, November 23, 2007

justifying abortion to "save the planet"

I recall when I was about 17 and didn't know much about the world that I never wanted to have children. Bodily fluids and pain sounded horrible and if they could rip it all out so I would never get my period again then so much the better. I listened to NPR and read Organic Gardening magazine and thought that the Earth was going into an Ice Age and humans were doomed. I twisted both these thoughts together in my mind and turned my disgust and misinformation into something virtuous and selfless. But I grew up. I read more books. I learned that God is in control, not us.

After reading this article in the Daily Mail, I was struck by how the two women interviewed and photographed had that same twisted logic. Humans are destroying the planet by merely living on it and if we stop existing then the world will be a better place. It is misplaced religion, as we have shifted from to a post-Christian culture people have turned to worshipping the Earth. Read of how one of the women justifies her abortion to satisfy this "god":

"I didn't like having a termination, but it would have been immoral to give birth to a child that I felt strongly would only be a burden to the world.
"I've never felt a twinge of guilt about what I did, and have honestly never wondered what might have been.
"After my abortion, I was more determined than ever to pursue sterilisation.

The other woman who was interviewed justifies her decision to undergo sterilization for the planet's sake, because she says if she became pregnant then it would be a hard decision to keep the baby. Guess it would be impossible to save face after spouting off to the entire world how you think children are so horrible.

Most young girls dream of marriage and babies. But Sarah dreamed of helping the environment - and as she agonised over the perils of climate change, the loss of animal species and destruction of wilderness... "I realised then that a baby would pollute the planet - and that never having a child was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do."

Mark adds: "Sarah and I live as green a life a possible. ... we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint. But all this would be undone if we had a child.
"That's why I had a vasectomy. It would be morally wrong for me to add to climate change and the destruction of Earth.
"Sarah and I don't need children to feel complete. What makes us happy is knowing that we are doing our bit to save our precious planet."

No, I don't think every married couple should have 8 children just for the sake of being able to, folks have different emotional and financial limits. But not having children because you want to personally "save the planet" is silly and immature at best, and likely just trying to put a politically correct spin on being selfish and egotistical.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Thanksgiving Week's carnival is hosted by Homeschool Buzz.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

my first 8K

This morning I woke at 6am to head out for a Gallop and Gorge 5 mile race. You would think that the early 8am start on Thanksgiving morning would result in low turnout, but there were over 800 runners. It was a chilly and wet start, warming up quickly in the bright sunshine. My time was 38:55, which roughly averaged a 7:45 minute mile. I felt good the whole race and passed people up until the end. Running up and down hills on local trails has improved my stamina.

The turkey is in the oven and everyone is playing chess, cutting out pictures from catalogues, or reading. I spent a little time googling a wrist GPS I saw someone wearing this morning. It tells you how far you have run, as well as your time and pace. At only $200, I think it would make a great Christmas gift!

With a clear conscious I can now eat 2 helpings of everything this afternoon and later eat 3 pieces of pumpkin pie. I already ran off all those calories!

Happy Thanksgiving

"In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast which is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. This harvest meal has become a symbol of cooperation and interaction between English colonists and Native Americans. Although this feast is considered by many to the very first Thanksgiving celebration, it was actually in keeping with a long tradition of celebrating the harvest and giving thanks for a successful bounty of crops.

Historians have also recorded other ceremonies of thanks among European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Berkeley Plantation, Virginia. At this site near the James River in December of 1619, a group of British settlers led by Captain John Woodlief knelt in prayer and pledged "Thanksgiving" to God for their healthy arrival after a long voyage across the Atlantic. This event has been acknowledged by some scholars and writers as the official first Thanksgiving among European settlers on record. Whether at Plymouth, Berkeley Plantation, or throughout the Americas, celebrations of thanks have held great meaning and importance over time. The legacy of thanks, and particularly of the feast, have survived the centuries as people throughout the United States gather family, friends, and enormous amounts of food for their yearly Thanksgiving meal."

We are reading a great many Thanksgiving books this week and reminisce about past Thanksgiving celebrations. Here is a snippet of last year's post:

One of my aunties used to rent an apartment in the barnyard at Berkeley Plantation, back before it became a popular tourist site. I always delighted in trips there and have wonderful memories of that historic farm. When our family drove up for a weekend we would spend an hour or so hunting in the corner of one of the fields for long brown beads the settlers used to trade with the Indians. They were scattered around where only sharp eyes could find them, because they were the same color as the dirt they had lain in for 300 years.

On the weekend before Thanksgiving we would be invited to the annual oyster roast near the river, where long grills were covered in gray, bulbous shells ready to be pried open with curving knives. My younger brother and I each would slurp down at least a dozen of the hot oysters during the evening. It was quite a party with music blaring from a boombox, but no matter what the weatherman predicted, it was always necessary to bundle up against the cold wind coming off the river and stand as close to the roaring bonfire as possible. Early mornings I would go for a run alongside the fields, sucking up every bit of beauty with my eyes and every molecule of country air before we had to return to the suburbs. Thanksgiving Day always reminds me of those trips and makes me grateful I had the experience. Hopefully, our summer trips up to Maine give my children similar happy recollections and perhaps one day soon we will go and live on our own farm.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

fun vocabulary quiz

I don't know if the United Nations actually donates any rice to poor people through this website, but the quiz is fun to take. You can play as long as you want so just quit when you have had enough. I donated over 1000 grains of rice and got a vocabulary score of 40 this morning. Try to beat me!

what a blog is, and what it is not

I have been accused of censorship by moderating comments because a disgruntled atheist wants to write nasty things on MY blog. Sorry, a blog is a combination of diary, letter, newsletter, and photo gallery, it is not a government entity or a newspaper. I do not have to present both sides in any debate whatsoever. If you want to express your opinion and it is not something I want to be associated with I suggest you get your own blog.

(again I don't want this to be a debate board, there are plenty of those out there in internetland. This is a place to express my thoughts and to participate in the exchange of ideas among other moms who have large families, homeschool, are Catholic, or just like to read about our lives.)

thanksgiving trimmings

The past few years we have hosted Thanksgiving dinner with Mother and my stepfather and grandmother. Worried that I would ruin dinner and trying to help make things go smoothly, Grandmother would insist I buy a boxed dinner at Kroger and give me a check for the amount. I did insist that I could make my own mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato muffins, and the world's best secret ingredient pumpkin pie. It was always a wonderful meal and evening, and having the premade gravy helped out a great deal. With Mother gone and being 3 hours away we decided to keep the day simple and focused on the blessings God has given our little family. We aren't football fans so if you walked up to the front door and peered in the glass you would find us playing board games, scooping turkey and mashed potatoes onto plates, and spooning pumpkin pie into Timmy's mouth. This year I planned ahead, trying to reduce our grocery bill, so I think every item on our table this year was bought combining sales and coupons.

turkey: bought 3 weeks ago (frozen) when on sale for .19/lb
stuffing: onions were on sale $3 for 2 bags and chicken broth was on sale with doubled coupon for .45. I have been cutting up leftover bread for weeks and putting in freezer too.
green beans: on sale and doubled the fried onion coupon
potatoes: 10 lb bag for $3
pumpkin: on sale for .79, bought 6 (I do so love pumpkin pie)
Parker House rolls: 2/$5 and with doubled coupon for $1.50
yams: on sale for $1.25

The only thing I need left is some whipped cream and milk from Whole Foods. We will do school today and start baking and cooking in earnest Wednesday morning. Thursday I am going to run an 8K at 8am so the turkey will go in the oven when I get home.
I will post my Thanksgiving memories of childhood later this week, but mostly we will be spending time together, not blogging.

May God shower us with many blessings, may we thank him for all he has given us, and help us thank each other for the love and kindness we have received. Amen.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

what love for God and neighbor looks like

A Russian couple who fled their homeland when doctors insisted on aborting at least two of their unborn quintuplets have seen all of their children delivered safely in an Oxford hospital.The procedure required a team of 18 doctors Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital working in teams of five, each delivering a baby and then rotating to the next team.

The couple, Dimitri and Vavara Artamkin, decided to come to Britain when doctors repeatedly refused to handle the quintuplets' delivery unless the couple agreed to abort at least two of their unborn children. They are Russian Orthodox and reject abortion as immoral."Our families are very religious people - Varvara's father is an archpriest - and the church teaches that abortion is murder. Varvara and Dimitri wanted all their babies and they would not agree to such a condition," Dimitri Artamkin's grandmother told Britian's Daily Mail.

The couple had connections in Britain through Vavara's father, but were unable to travel there until they received a generous contribution from a group of Russian benefactors who have remained anonymous. The donors will pay for the care of the children and their parents until they return to Russia. The babies, who were born 14 weeks premature and weigh roughly one to two pounds, face serious risks, but are receiving intensive care at multiple hospitals."For me, that they were born alive was a miracle. It was all in God's hands and I was elated. We will go to church and light a candle for each baby," said Dimitri's sister Maria.
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

dinner and dancing

Last night Tim and I got dressed up and attended our first date in over a year, the local Marine Corps/Navy Birthday Ball. The girls helped me get ready, first watching me put my hair up in curlers and then deciding they wanted to dress up too. By the time the babysitter arrived, even Charlie was wearing a dress and halo over his footed jammies. The evening was hosted by the local colleges ROTC groups so there was less gold ribbon and certainly more cleavage than I am used to seeing at these events. I wore a pretty black Liz Claiborne beaded collar sleeveless dress I had found at the consignment shop a few weeks ago. Tim, in his dress uniform and with all his mini-medals lined up on his fitted dinner jacket looked very dashing.

The main speech was given by some Admiral who spoke about the Navy and Marine Corps these seniors are entering into, "Our nation might not be at war, but our men and women in uniform certainly are." He spoke of sacrifice, of a willingness to give for country, for something bigger than oneself that most of their fellow college seniors are not. We chatted over dinner about tours in Okinawa, France, and Italy, ship port calls all over the world, plane and helicopter squadrons, and duty stations we had all seen. It was a lovely evening and when we arrived home we found all the children asleep in their beds and a good report from Gwen, "No problems." The evening certainly gave me hope for the future, in more ways than one.

Friday, November 16, 2007

bedtime ritual

Charlie and Timmy go to bed around 7pm, both requiring a last gulp of milk or water before hitting the hay. Usually I give Charlie his cup of water and kiss him goodnight before shutting off the light. Lately though he has insisted, "Sit down, wait for me," before he hands the cup back, "look at the stars." It is not something I normally do these days, life in a family with 5 little ones to bathe, read to, and put to bed does not encourage star gazing. But Charlie's bed backs up to the window giving him ample opportunity to count dots of light while he drifts off to sleep. I find it peaceful now to sit with him in the dark and look up and then down in wonder at two of God's creations.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Carnival of Homeschooling

Nerd Family is hosting the carnival this week with an I am Thankful theme.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Want to make it to 100 years old?

If you want to live to a ripe old age of beyond 100, then take up farming, have lots of children and stay trim but not thin.
That is the advice for men who want to live long lives, from the husband and wife team of Leonid Gavrilov and Natalia Gavrilova at the Centre on Aging, University of Chicago, who are about to present the results of a survey of centenarians they conducted to pinpoint how people can live a long and healthy life.

They found that living beyond 100, which was only managed by around two or three in every 1000 born in America at that time, was linked with the following factors:

A trim figure, most of all. In fact, those who were obese at the age of 30 were almost three times less likely to become centenarians.

"It is very good to be a farmer," said Dr Gavrilov. "This result is consistent with our previous findings suggesting that children raised on farms (boys in particular) had higher chances to become centenarians.

Having more than four children at the age of 30 significantly increased the chances of exceptional longevity, trebling the chance over average of reaching the age of 100.
Perhaps they help people live long because children "care for you when you are old," he said.

instant justice?

MICCOSUKEE TRIBE INDIAN RESERVATION, Fla. (AP) - A man who jumped into a lake to flee police was killed by an alligator more than 9-feet long, officials said Tuesday.
The man, whose name has not been released, was allegedly burglarizing a vehicle in the
parking lot of the Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center on Thursday. He ran when police arrived at the scene, said Dexter Lehtinen, one of the tribe's police legal advisors.

A sign at the lake warns people: "Danger Live Alligators." Wood said in other alligator habitats, signs also warn people not to feed the creatures.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Is this how I sound?

Mommy: "Anyone up for a book?"
Mary: "You don't need to read to us. We are busy playing school."
Maggie: "stories?" (a hopeful expression on her face as she looks up from writing ABC's 20 times)
Mary: "No time to play, get back to your work Maggie!"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

drawing the line

Since becoming Catholics, Tim and I have done our share of parish-shopping. We didn't have a choice the first few years in Italy, it was the base chapel or a local Mass in Italian so we just went to the elementary school cafeteria with everyone else. We liked the priests, but enduring the screech of folding chairs, posters of food groups on the walls, kneeling on dirty tile floors during the Consecration, and the overwhelming odor of french fries made it a bit lacking. "When we get back to the States we will find a real church again," we told each other. Then we got back to Virginia and would attend Mass in one parish for a few weeks before we attended one too many liturgies that grated us the wrong way. One too many homilies with sports or movie themes combined with a denial of some Catholic teaching that we knew hadn't been eliminated from the Catechism.

We ended up bopping around 5-6 parishes in 3 years before finding St. Benedict's Chapel, offering the Traditional Latin Mass and priests who really taught the Faith. We spent 4 years there, making many friends and happy as could be in a truly Catholic community. Now we are in liberal la-la land in North Carolina and have started the parish shuffle yet again. We have cringed through the two local parish Masses and struggled through the TLM an hour away. That priest has many issues, one of which is a lack of charity toward those parishioners with small children. After being chastised yet again for Timmy's chatting I don't wish to return.

Today we went to the Cathedral and it was pretty good, the only issues being loud clapping at the end for both new folks and the choir and that the priest ran out of hosts just as we came forward for Communion, leaving us to receive from the lay person, which I feel strongly is wrong. Now all this leaves me in a dilemma: I know the arguments for attending your geographical parish, but there is a line in the sand that distinguishes between a priest's duty and a parent's. Yes, a priest has the responsibility of caring for the souls of his flock and if they stray because of him then he will answer for that. But a parent has those same souls in their care and have a greater responsibility to make sure they are properly educated and nurtured in the Faith. (The same case can be made by parents who homeschool their children and don't send them to the local Catholic school.)

But the problem is where is the line? Is before or after:

invalid Consecration (bread with extras in it, added words...)
ideas contrary to Catholicism offered during homily
co-Consecration with non-Catholics
multitude of lay women in skimpy outfits distributing Communion
teens giving the homily
folk tunes sung during Mass
improper respect given to Blessed Sacrament (in a multitude of ways)
Mass treated as entertainment rather than sacrifice

Every parent, given their different background, will likely draw the line in a different place. Of course many Catholics today find all of the above acceptable, which is the reason we have so many liturgical abuses at all, but that is for another day. Today we are just trying to find a church home that brings us closer to God and sustains us through the week. My last idea is to call the local Catholic homeschool group and see if there is one parish many large families attend. It is likely that that one would be more orthodox than the others, but if we just have to spend the next 8 months ignoring everything around us in Mass except for Jesus we will do so. There are many places in the world where martyrdom and torture make it much harder to be a Catholic than just having to endure a poorly executed Mass.

On Veterans' Day

Thank you to all who serve our country to help keep it free, no matter the personal sacrifice. May our country honor you and may God bless you and your families.

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mist of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
’Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner, in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our Trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

glory days

This morning, as I picked up my bib for the 5K sponsored by a local fraternity, it was obvious that I was the only competitor over the age of 20. But I had something that those young nubile things did not have: a large cheering section.

On the last turn, 100 yards before the finish line I heard, "Go Mommy! Run faster!"

One spectator counted heads after the race and looked me up and down, before asking me in an incredulous voice, "Are they all yours?"
I don't think I exactly fit her preconceived notion of a mom, especially since I beat a great many of the college girls (and boys).

Final time: 22:08 (best adult time ever)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me...

Tomorrow I am running a 5K sponsored by a college fraternity to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House. Tim seems concerned that being surrounded by a bunch of cute college guys will make me decide that being a homeschooling mom of 5 is not my cup of tea any more and run off.


1. I really like my life, I am fulfilled, loved, and busy. I have many freedoms and responsibilities and am grateful for both.

2. No dumb frat jock could tempt me away from my husband. He is wonderful and I am so grateful for his love and friendship.

3. I AM 37 today. I can't compete against anorexic, silicone-enhanced 19 year old girls with the money and lack of modesty to buy skin tight clothes and the time to do their hair and makeup just so, and I don't WANT to. I have earned these wrinkles, stretch marks (small though they are), bad feet, and the nursed-out bosum.

stop complaining

LONDON, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- The average British gasoline price hit $8 a gallon Wednesday and more increases are on the way, Britain's Automobile Association said.British motorists are paying an average $14.65 more to fill up a car now than they were at this time last year, the association said..

And I thought it was bad when we were in Italy and gas was $4 a gallon (2100 lira/liter if you want to figure it out yourself, but factor in inflation and the change from lira to euros). American military families got gas coupons so we could pay the tax free price of about $1.20/gal.

So... perhaps Britian and the other European countries with over 50% taxes added onto the cost of their motor fuel could LOWER the tax rate the poor drivers could get some relief.

I don't think they will either.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

changes in family dynamics

These days I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. We have started a new 9 weeks and the books are stacked on the table in 3 neat piles, an sight that will lead to much wailing and gnashing of teeth after the kid's little vacation. Parts of the house look like a bomb exploded with toys and books strewn everywhere. I could spend an hour picking it all up before the children awake, but it would return to the same state an hour after breakfast. I'll let them pick it up later. But the big issue is that Tim has recently switched rotations and instead of slaving away 12 hours a day, he is now writing mostly from home. I like running together in the afternoons and having dinner at a decent hour, but the change has thrown my schedule and autonomy out the window. If I leave the dishes in the sink for Mary to wash or spend more than 10 minutes on the computer I can sense his disapproval. He doesn't understand that one of the few indulgences of being a stay at home mom is the independence. I don't get to go shopping and "lunch" with the girls. But if an activity is in the house or involves the children then I don't see the problem of letting the laundry wait. I feel a bit stifled. It reminds me of when Tim came back from deployment. I was thrilled to see my best friend, my love, but the balance between the responsibility of caring for 3 children for 9 months alone and the freedom of eating chocolate for breakfast was upset. I had another adult to talk with and help with bathtime, but had to give up reading in bed until midnight.

Marriage is a slow dance between two people. There are lots of stepped-on toes at first, even doing the box step. As the dance gets more complex the couple has had enough practice to even attempt a few dips without falling. Finally by the end of life are they able to smoothly glide with perfect form. The trick is being more concerned about your partner than yourself. I'm trying to do that, which is why I haven't been posting much.

Let's dance!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Carnival of Homeschooling

Principled Discovery is hosting the Homeschooling U themed carnival this week.

Monday, November 05, 2007

65% off

Today Tim asked me if I really needed to go to the grocery store. "After all," he said, "the pantry and pie safe are stuffed full and I can't even see what is in the freezer it is packed in so tightly." Yes dear, you see these dozen items are on sale and I also have coupons, which means I can practically get them for FREE. As for room, we have plenty of space under the bed.

So, after school work was finished I chased Timmy around the house shouting, "shoes, let me put your shoes on little boy," before grabbing my bag and coupon box and pushing them all in the van. Six stops later... after CVS, Kroger, the dentist office to pick up a left-behind library book, Staples, Whole Foods, and Burger King for a little sustenance (for me, though I did toss a few fries into the back seat) I showed Tim my Kroger receipt and crowed, "I saved 65% off all this stuff (and it is stuff we use)! That's the best I've done yet!" I think I even saw a smile on his face when I told him about his new stash of shaving cream.

My friend Genna is so enthusiastic about this shopping system that she gives talks about couponing/rebating at churches and women's groups. Her husband made her a spreadsheet with which she keeps track of her savings. Amazingly enough, in the 9 years they have been married she has saved $27,000 at the grocery store. I called her this afternoon to tell her my awesome score, she said I really need to get a freezer in the garage. If I can keep Tim well supplied with Breyers ice cream on sale he will get on board the savings train.

Toot toot!

reader quiz

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Literate Good Citizen
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Saturday, November 03, 2007

our home library

Yesterday afternoon Will and I headed over to the local library to pick up some books the friendly and helpful librarian found for us on classical music. Unfortunately for Will he couldn't find any more old Hardy Boys books and he didn't want to read anything else so he left empty handed. Later when he complained that he had nothing to read, I said, "Will, you must be kidding. There are literally thousands of books in the schoolroom that you can pick from." Then I went through the shelves pulling out "boy" books he might enjoy, just like the helpful librarian. We went through the selections together, discussing the merits of everlasting life in Tuck Everlasting, the differences in the movie and book Charlotte's Web, and his dissatisfaction with the dryness in Swiss Family Robinson. I shared how Danny the Champion of the World and My Side of the Mountain were some of my favorites from childhood.

Later in the evening Tim whispered for me to come look at what Will was doing. He was hunched over a drawing pad copying a picture of a birdhouse out of the book Learn How to Draw and was even using an architectural scale to get it exactly right. He went on to draw a bowl using perspective and shadowing. I have to admit that it looked better than some of my art class projects in 7th grade (this from a member of the Nat. Art Honor Society).

While the 3 bookcases full of picture books have been read and reread to the point of falling apart, I am finally beginning to see some fruit from my 10 years of searching and scouring used bookshops for quality "big kid" children's books. While part of me never thought the children would really ever be old enough to read real books, I wanted them to have instant access to all the classics and my old favorites. Even if they don't enjoy every tome, I hope by the time they grow up they will have at least skimmed every book on the shelves.

Friday, November 02, 2007

kids need sleep

I found this article in NY Magazine facinating in that after reading it it struck me how these studies promote the homeschooling lifestyle. When Tim tells me about the kids he sees waiting for the bus at 6:30am driving into work I feel sorry for the poor children, wrenched out of a cozy bed and the poor mothers who have to get them out the door. Perhaps my main reason for homeschooling is that I love my sleep, the little boys go to bed around 7 and the older kids at 8, leaving us all plenty of time to snooze.

According to surveys by the National Sleep Foundation, 90 percent of American parents think their child is getting enough sleep. The kids themselves say otherwise. In those same surveys, 60 percent of high schoolers report extreme daytime sleepiness.

It has been documented in a handful of major studies that children, from elementary school through high school, get about an hour less sleep each night than they did 30 years ago. While parents obsess over babies’ sleep, this concern falls off the priority list after preschool. Even kindergartners get 30 minutes less a night than they used to.

There are many causes for this lost hour of sleep. Overscheduling of activities, burdensome homework, lax bedtimes, televisions and cell phones in the bedroom all contribute. So does guilt; home from work after dark, parents want time with their children and are reluctant to play the hard-a** who orders them to bed.

The surprise is how much sleep affects academic performance and emotional stability, as well as phenomena that we assumed to be entirely unrelated, such as the international obesity epidemic and the rise of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A few scientists theorize that sleep problems during formative years can cause permanent changes in a child’s brain structure: damage that one can’t sleep off like a hangover. It’s even possible that many of the hallmark characteristics of being a tweener and teen—moodiness, depression, and even binge eating—are actually symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation.

Suratt notes: “Sleep disorders can impair children’s I.Q.’s as much as lead exposure.”
Convinced by the mountain of studies, a handful of school districts around the nation are starting school later in the morning. The best known of these is in Edina, Minnesota, an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, where the high school start time was changed from 7:25 a.m. to 8:30. The results were startling. In the year preceding the time change, math and verbal SAT scores for the top 10 percent of Edina’s students averaged 1288. A year later, the top 10 percent averaged 1500, an increase that couldn’t be attributed to any other variable. “Truly flabbergasting,” said Brian O’Reilly, the College Board’s executive director for SAT Program Relations, on hearing the results.

While the neurocognitive sleep discoveries are impressive, there’s equally groundbreaking research on how sleep affects metabolism.
Sleep loss increases the hormone ghrelin, which signals hunger, and decreases its metabolic opposite, leptin, which suppresses appetite. Sleep loss also elevates the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is lipogenic, meaning it stimulates your body to make fat. Human growth hormone is also disrupted. Normally secreted as a big pulse at the beginning of sleep, growth hormone is essential for the breakdown of fat. All the studies point in the same direction: On average, children who sleep less are fatter than children who sleep more. This isn’t just in the U.S.; scholars around the world are considering it, as they watch sleep data fall and obesity rates rise in their own countries.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

bits and pieces

Here is an excellent article in the American Thinker about why conservative women are NOT likely to vote in masse for Hillary, just 'cause she's a fellow chick.

The 96th Homeschool Carnival is up at Sprittabee, but since going to the site makes my ancient computer seize up every time I try to go there I will give you the Why Homeschool link if you want to risk it.

My time in the 4K Pumpkin Run this past week was 19:20, no pumpkin for 1st place, but it was a fun run with lots of kids and even one Olympic athlete. Having the babysitter come every afternoon has increased my running frequency, I logged over 80 miles in October!

After attending Mass today with Will at the local parish (everyone else was coughing and not feeling well) I am glad I don't send the kids to its school. All the students were in attendance and it sounded more like a pep rally than Mass. Maybe I'm an old fuddy-duddy, but I don't think children older than 2 should wear shorts to Mass and Catholic school teachers shouldn't wear revealing clothing like this to work, much less Holy Mass.