Monday, February 27, 2006

Medical emergency disrupts service

According to the usual rules of church seating distribution, all the older folk in our church, after a leisurely breakfast at Bob Evans and a drive ten mph below the speed limit, mosey in fifteen minutes before the service starts and secure the seats in the back. Then the younger families, who have spent the entire morning in a whirlwind of diaper changes, smeared egg yolk, and missing socks, and after following the old folk from other churches who start even later, sneak in during the third hymn and take seats front and center, where everyone can observe their disciplinary techniques and number of trips to the restroom. In our church it makes more sense than in most, because the nursery can only be reached by crossing the podium behind the pastor, so at least one is centrally located to deal with whatever age of child happens to be having the issue.

This Sunday it was D1 who was having the issue. Usually D1 is one of those model children who makes us look far better than we deserve in church--well, except for an unprecedented interest in the ladies' room which is not reflected during times when using it would be less disruptive. Yesterday, she was not. She wiggled. She writhed. She made pathetic little moans. No position was comfortable, not even for a split second. At last the expression of distress on her face grew so great that I took her downstairs to try to diagnose the problem.

We tried a trip to the ladies' room. No help. Next on the suspect list was hunger. I found some stale potato chips and offered them to her, suspecting that her unaccountable lack of interest in pot roast the night before might have something to do with it. She ate them cheerfully enough, but not with the attitude of one famished. Her distress remained evident.

By this time D2 was getting noisy enough that DOB came downstairs with him. We traded children and DOB took over the diagnostic work. We asked her if it hurt, and if so where.

"Beybutton," she said. (A favorite word.)

With an expression of deep concern, DOB laid her down and begin prodding her central regions, checking for symptoms of appendicitis and the like. None of it seemed to bother her.

Not being able to diagnose the pain, DOB decided to try distraction. He started playing with her feet. She burst into tears. A light began to dawn on DOB's face. He took her shoes off. She relaxed. He took her stockings off.

Sure enough, she had managed to outgrow her shoes midway through the service.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Not your most cautious mother

Yesterday the ducklings and I were at the park, as is usual anytime we can avoid sub-zero temperatures and torrential downpours. D1 lately has mostly preferred climbing part of the way up the jungle gym and sitting there, watching the cars go by. But she finally decided to sit down backwards on the top of the short tube slide, perhaps preparatory to turning around and sliding down.

Next thing I or she knew, she had started to slide down as she was. Encumbered with D2, I could not grab her, nor travel very quickly around to the other end. By the time I got down the jungle gym, I was only in time to see her emerge head-first from the slide, do a neat back flip, and land on the ground.

She didn't seem too upset by the experience, nor did she even notice that her face and head were covered with beauty bark. But she was content to climb halfway up the jungle gym and sit and watch the cars go by some more.

I've been reading all about brain development lately. I'm sure there's some essential synapses formed by doing back flips off the end of the slide.

Monday, February 20, 2006

On Cooking

From the Headmistress, at the Common Room

1. How many meals does most of your family eat at home each week? How many are in your family?
19-20 meals. The others are eaten at DOB's parents' house, but I make one of them (Sunday evening dinner, if we're going to evening church). DOB eats lunch and breakfast on the road, but he takes them in his snazzy insulated bags advertising some investment product or other, which he picked up at the last big company shindig. There are four of us, but D2 has not yet started solid food, although the day is lurching uncomfortably close.

2. How many cookbooks do you own?
About half a dozen general cookbooks, half a dozen one-topic cookbooks, and a cereal box or so full of old Taste of Home magazines. Anything that wouldn't fit on my top shelf in the cupboard is destined for Goodwill.

3. How often do you refer to a cookbook each week?
Two or three times. I rarely read a recipe unless I'm baking. Everything else is quite forgiving, and more adventuresome if you don't look.

4. Do you collect recipes from other sources? If so, what are some of your favorite sources (relaties, friends, magazines, advertisements, packages, the internet, etc)
If I want a specific recipe for something and it's not in my cookbooks, I look it up online. I also enjoy very much being part of the Martha blog.

5. How do you store those recipes?
Umm . . . if I get so far as to print them out, they get wadded up and stuffed in the converted cereal boxes with the magazines. I have an empty cookbook ready to receive recipe cards, but never get around to copying them to a suitable size and putting them in. Perhaps D1 can do it when she is old enough . . .

6. When you cook, do you follow the recipe pretty closely, or do you use recipes primarily to give you ideas?
A recipe is merely a theme to invite improvisation.

7. Is there a particular ethnic style or flavor that predominates in your cooking? If so, what is it?
Generally American, a lot of Americanized Italian and Mexican. Alas, I almost never get to fix Asian food, which I love, because DOB is allergic to soy.

8. What's your favorite kitchen task related to meal planning and preparation? (eating the finished product does not count)
Seasoning. Such an adventure, especially if you don't use a recipe or measuring spoons. Mixing up the herbs with shaker tops and the herbs without shaker tops can lead to too much of an adventure, though.

9. What's your least favorite part?
Cleaning up the dishes I didn't get done after the last meal so I have room to work.

10. Do you plan menus before you shop?
I never thought I would, but I have caved in. I just don't have the free brain power to keep improvising. I've made up a four-week rotation and am about halfway through. So far I'm loving it, but we shall see.

11. What are your three favorite kitchen tools or appliances?
Kitchenaid, crockpot, blender. (When D2 starts on solid foods, blender will move to the top.)

12. If you could buy one new thing for your kitchen, money was no object, and space not an issue, what would you most like to have?
A complete, matching set of sturdy, stainless steel pots and pans

13. Since money and space probably are objects, what are you most likely to buy next?
A four-quart pan. (If that's the middlish sized one.) With a lid that fits. So I can fit all our breakfast cereal in one pot without getting out the soup pot.

14. Do you have a separate freezer for storage?
We have an extra freezer, a spare one from DOB's parents, without which my life would be difficult indeed.

15. Grocery shop alone or with others?
If you have to ask, you haven't been around here long.

16. How many meatless main dish meals do you fix in a week??
Two or three dinners, depending on whether the bean dish gets meat added. But since lunches are always leftovers or beans, that number should be a little more than doubled.

17. If you have a decorating theme in your kitchen, what is it? Favorite kitchen colors?
Carrots, naturally. I hope this time I can get things up more than two months before we move out. For colors I use orange and green--though in moderation.

18. What's the first thing you ever learned to cook, and how old were you?
The first thing I remember knowing how to cook was chocolate cake, at about eight.

19. How did you learn to cook?
I think everybody showed me a little something--my mom, my sister, my aunt and great-aunts and grandmas and dad, and even my older brother, who makes the best steak in the Western Hemisphere. A lot of trial and error. I also picked up a fair bit from my former boss. Special mention goes to my former roommate, who put up with a lot from my cooking.

20. Tag two other people to play.
I'm going to cheat:
1. My Weird Aunt
2. All the Marthas. If you want to.

Friday, February 17, 2006

That Old House

Here are some shots of where we used to live. No particular reason, except I only now got the camera and cord together and took the pictures off it.

The living room. If you look closely, you can see that I forgot to move someone's breakfast bowl before I took the picture. I was rather in a hurry to get on with packing.

The nursery. The sunflower curtains and bedskirt were made by my sister, with fabric that I traded in a Baby Looney Tunes crib set for (shudder). Don't get me wrong, I love Looney Tunes, in their place. Which is not in home decor.

The master bedroom. It was neither fish nor fowl, being a blend of carrot things and sunflower things. But at least it was colorful.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Honesty is the Messiest Policy

So I was making a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up milk, because we were all out and I didn't want to wait for the grocery day tomorrow.

And they had a sale on butter, and I wanted to show D1 the fish, and we wound up in the electrical aisle, trying to find a three-way light bulb that would fit in our bedside touch lamp so I don't have to get up and switch it off every night.

One of the rows of bulbs was a little too close to the edge; I brushed it and down it smashed. The best thing to do seemed to be inform the lady we had just seen cleaning the fish tanks and have her come sweep it up. So I did.

Then, of course, the proper thing to do was to take the light bulb up and pay for it, though it pains me much to spend money on things that no longer exist. I picked up the box, which still had shards of lightbulb hanging out of it, and decided such a thing should not be in the cart where the ducklings might reach it. Instead, I put it on the bottom rack of the cart.

We meandered on, as I wanted to check out the clearance sales on clothes, and somewhere in between men's athletic wear and junior's seduction wear the box fell off the cart and shattered more shards of lightbulb everywhere. No salespeople were in sight this time, but I did spot a red phone for assistance, which I used to summon help from Sherry in Jewelry.

A lady appeared from somewhere, produced a broom and began sweeping up the mess. The box still contained shards of lightbulb (who knew one little lightbulb could contain so much glass?), so I explained my predicament and the history I and the lightbulb had together. She left the box in the pile of fragments and said to forget it, with a manner that indicated she could do her job better without interference from lunatics who try to transport lightbulb fragments in the bottom of their shopping carts.

So I gave it up and came home.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

General update

I had some profound thoughts on unrequited love to write, but no profound moments in which to write them.

We have a contract on the house. Rumor also has it that the bathroom has been painted, although no word yet on whether the bathtub drain is working. Now we must get back up and pack up our remaining belongings, which we have been living quite happily without and now must find a place for.

D1 has been having some digestive troubles of some sort or another. We have read a certain few books many, many times. I have done many loads of laundry. I hope I can figure out what it is soon.

Stacks of boxes and a toddler who has just figured out how to climb are a dangerous combination.

By diligent effort, it is possible to get a cheerio inside a pop bead. It is not possible to get it out again. *

D2 has started rolling over again, although it still is quite difficult and sometimes frustrating for him.

*Update to the update: DOB can get cheerios out of pop beads! Fathers are amazing creatures.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

In honor of Valentine's day, an unromantic honeymoon story

Per DJ's request.

For reasons I would rather not elaborate, we were running a little late heading home from our honeymoon. Ordinarily DOB's . . . ummm . . . assertive driving skills would have resolved the problem, but even he cannot drive on water. We missed the ferry boat by three cars. Still, we thought there was hope that we might have time to just make our flight even after the next crossing.

In hopes of expediting our arrival, we swallowed our pride and called His Majesty, who at the time worked at the airport, asking him to meet us at the curb. We got the ribbing we expected, but it was worth it to have some help unloading the four boxes and four bags into which I had crammed the last of the worldly goods with which I had endowed DOB.

But we arrived at the airport only a couple of minutes before the check-in deadline. Thinking all was hopeless, I did not utter the flight number as I alighted upon the curb--it turned out later that had I done so, they could have expedited us to the departing flight. Instead, they hastily rebooked us, checked the four boxes, and provided us with only a half-hour to get ourselves through Monday-morning lines and out to the gate to catch the next flight.

Ordinarily when DOB has to transverse such long distances, he requests a wheelchair. Waiting for a wheelchair in an airport is a very iffy business, and what with it being Monday morning it was more iffy than usual. After fifteen or twenty minutes in which no wheelchair had appeared, we gave up and decided to transport ourselves and four remaining bags on foot. We reached the security lines, which were long and slow.

DOB requested of the gatekeeper that we be permitted to go through the handicapped line, what with him not only having trouble standing, but us being about to miss our flight because we had waited so long for a wheelchair. The gatekeeper was adamant that people without wheelchairs could not go through the handicapped line, no matter how much in need of a wheelchair they might be. DOB was summoning his long-honed debate skills to tell the fellow exactly what he thought of such a policy, and I was in surrender making my way through the long, slow, ordinary line, when a nearly-miraculous intervention appeared.

A lady in our airline's uniform, not clearing five feet even in heels, was marching through the airport calling our flight number. In her wake came a collection of worried travelers, and before her the crowds parted and even recalcitrant gatekeepers bowed in reverence. We immediately joined her entourage and found ourselves whisked through security, through the tram (which under our guide's supervision traveled faster than usual), and to our gate just as they were calling our names one last time before they shut the doors.

We crammed ourselves and our bags in and the flight took off. Thanks to our last minute booking, our seats were separated, but someone was kind enough to switch with us so that we could sit together. Another little change was that our flight went through Detroit instead of Minneapolis. The airline did manage to provide a wheelchair in Detroit, along with a gregarious wheelchair pusher, which was good because as usual our incoming flight was several miles from the departing one, and it left out of air travel purgatory--the unfinished wing of the Detroit airport which contains no seats, bathrooms, or cheery little food places. Fortunately airlines still served food in those days, because we certainly had no time to buy any.

When all was said and done, we made it to Dayton at about the time we had been originally scheduled to arrive.

But we haven't caught our breath since.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Honeymoon is Over

Not the one with DOB--that ended at 11:01 a.m. September 8, 2003, when we arrived at the airport one minute after our flight home departed.

It's the one with the garbage disposal here. I had had so much trouble with my previous relationships, but I thought I knew how to make it work this time. I gave it plenty of water. I made sure its food was always in small pieces. I tried hard not to overfeed it. I apologized profusely the time I dropped D1's fork inside on accident.

Things went along well for awhile. Then I grew bold and careless. I started to take it for granted.

Finally, on a sinkful of sweet potato peels, it had had enough. It chewed and spit and groaned and gave up. The water wouldn't go down. The peels wouldn't go down. When the dishwasher ran last night, it filled the sink to the brim.

Today the maintenance man came out and, with a bucket and siphon and some fiddling unclear to me, restored it to functionality. We're back together again, happy but a little bit wary.

I hope I can do better this time.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Game Over

So another Super Bowl has come and gone, leaving me pondering once again why I dislike professional sports. Not just am indifferent. I really don't want to know. I don't like hearing or watching the game, or even being around it unless I have something else sufficiently absorbing to do. On the other hand, I don't mind listening to people analyzing it once it's all over and I know the outcome.

I have come to the conclusion that it's because I hate the emotional drain involve. It's all skillfully choreographed and dramatized to get you to care; to keep you on the edge of your seat, wondering who is going to win, agonizing with every setback of your team, rejoicing with every turn in their favor. It seems a terrible waste of emotional energy.

But then, I don't mind at all when a book or movie keeps me in suspense, gets me to identify with one side over the other, and makes me care what happens to them. We watched To Kill a Mockingbird the night before, and I didn't feel like it was a waste of emotional energy to cheer on Atticus Finch or to mourn the death of Tom Robinson. Perhaps it is because in a book or movie, there's a reason for caring. Atticus Finch might be fictional, but he's a fictional representation of good. Bob Ewell might be fictional, but he's a fictional representation of evil. Even when the bad guys win, one has the comfort of philosophizing about the difficulties of a fallen world.

In sports, neither side is evil or good; one cheers for one side over the other by accidents of birth or education. There is nothing to really rejoice in victory (they'll probably lose next year), and nothing to learn from defeat, since as a fan one cannot affect the outcome.

DOB does enjoy sports to some degree--he even pondered borrowing a TV to watch the Super Bowl, though he never did. I think it's because he knows enough about the games to enjoy analyzing differences in skill and strategy, which gives it, if not quite a moral component, at least an intellectual one. But I don't know enough, and don't want to bother to learn enough.

Or maybe I'm just annoyed that the Seahawks lost.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Collection of Books

Before they go back to the library:

Suburban Safari: A Year on the Lawn, by Hannah Holmes. I've been trying to get inspired about nature study even here in the concrete jungle (with a few strips of well-tended turf.) This was the book to do it, although the author's overgrown suburban backyard still sounds a lot more wild than mine. Adventures of squirrels and crows, ideas for tracking what's going on out there, incredible facts about plants and animals you thought you knew about, and quite a few laughs. She's an environmentalist, but a reasonable one who understands tradeoffs and human needs. I am inspired. Someday I, too, shall have a Freedom Lawn. (Actually, since it consists of never using chemicals or watering, mowing infrequently, and only weeding out invasive non-native plants, that's exactly what we had before, although it wasn't necessarily an environmental effort.)

The Wild Out Your Window, by Sy Montgomery. Same reason. In some spots more literary in style, but not as much fun. Full of fascinating facts. Did you know that turkey vultures mate for life, as much as sixty years? Perhaps they realize they'll never get another date.

Better than School, by Nancy Wallace. A personal account from the early days of homeschooling. I had forgotten how much we owe to those pioneers who had to explain and defend every thing they did to uncomprehending officials. Also, now I want my children to be older, so they can do cool stuff, too. Only I also want them to stay little.

The Heroes, by Charles Kingsley. Fabulous retellings of the ancient Greek myths. (Carrie, if you ever want to revisit the Ancient Greeks, this is much more cheery than the Iliad.) A bit moralizing in spots; one could hardly expect otherwise in a 19th-century father writing for his children. But oh, such fun. "It is better to die like a hero than live like an ox in a stall." Even the Bowdlerizing is scintillating: "And Daedalus fled to Crete, to Minos, and worked for him many a year, till he did a shameful deed, at which the sun hid his face on high." I can't wait until the ducklings are old enough to listen to it.

Except I want them to stay little and cute.

And a bonus one that's not from the library:

The Lost Princess, by George MacDonald. My favorite book on child discipline: though the methods are not precisely applicable (I don't have a magic room that won't produce dinner until the floor is swept), the heart of the book is. I was reminded again what an awesome job it is to have an immortal soul to guide. And I spotted a few lessons for myself, too. For the Wise Woman still has rooms to lead all of us through.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

D1 and D2 get tagged

By Rose

Four Jobs (We) Have Had in (Our) Life:
1) Floor Cleaner (D1, but D2 is learning)
2) Table Setter (D1)
3) Dishwasher Unloader (D1)
4) Spare Object Holder (D2)

Movies We Could Watch Over and Over Again:
We don't know yet, Mama and Papa always watch them after we go to bed.

Four Places We Have Lived:
1) Wilmington, OH--apartment. (D1, technically. But she didn't get to see any of it.)
2) Wilmington, OH--house.
3) Loveland, OH--apartment.
4) And that's all. We haven't been alive very long, and Mama says that's quite enough for now.

Four TV Shows We Love to Watch:
We don't have a TV. Mama and Papa explain that we'd have to get rid of books to have room for one, and that would be terrible.

Four Places We Have Been on Vacation:
1) Olalla, WA
2) Olympia, WA
3) Corvallis, OR
4) Mama says that was enough places for one trip, too.

Four Websites We Visit Daily (or at least weekly):
1) The Duchy of Burgundy Carrots, to see what Mama's been writing about us.
2) Introducing the World, to see what else Mama has been writing about us.
3) Ben's Blog He's two. Being two must be so cool.
4) The Jones's Blog Stuart and Addie are even older, so they get to have even more fun.

Four of Our Favourite Foods:
1) Milk--but D1 likes it from cows, and D2 likes it from Mama.
2) Bananas
3) Beeeeeaaans
4) Cookies, but it's really tricky getting Mama to let you see where she hides them.

Four Singers We Can't Live Without:
1) Mama
2) Papa
3) Umm . . . Mama is feeling bad because she never plays vocal music for us. She means to do better someday. But the cd player is on top of the china hutch, and it's hard to reach.

Four Places We'd Rather Be:
1) The park
2) Grandma and Grandpa's House
3) The library
4) The grocery store

Too cool

Get your own!


With DOB's help, D1 discovered the slides at the park. After a very little coaching in climbing, and a few rides down in someone's lap, she scorned the short slide put in as a concession to small children and made a beeline for the top of the tall, twisty slide, scooting down on her belly, and hitting the ground running and squealing, "More!"

We went to evening service for the first time in a very long time, and she learned the first step in becoming a good Baptist: A hearty "AMEN!" (or two or three) at the end of everything.

D2, meanwhile, is exercising his fascination with speech to a greater degree everyday. He'll talk to anything now . . . a spare pair of pants, a table leg, a loose pillow. But he did not like B5's clarinet solo, not even with the brand-new professional grade clarinet.

We are still reorganizing the books. It goes very slowly. It wouldn't bother me--what is more fun than going slowly through one's books--except that all the neighbors can see of our house is the big pile of book boxes by the patio door. I want to put up a sign that says, "We're not slobs! Really!"