Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Washing Wear

I've had my suspicions about the washing machine for some time, since it left a rather damp spot on the floor after some loads, but it wasn't until the second load of laundry yesterday--which was admittedly an overlarge one, so perhaps the fault was partly mine--that it gave up entirely. I ran downstairs to switch loads in a lull in the playdough action and discovered rivers of water overflowing the machine and running across the basement floor, right through all the sorted piles of clothes, into the drain. (An unfinished basement is a great advantage.)

I managed to persuade it to stop filling and even to drain out the water that it had, but beyond that I didn't dare to try. DOB's father, who is ordinarily our person to look at uncooperative machinery, is required to stay off his feet for awhile. DOB and I have the practical mechanical prowess of a chimpanzee--we can poke sticks at things, but if the hole to poke isn't obvious, we generally step back and let someone else do it. (Well, perhaps that is a bit hard on DOB. His theoretical abilities are greater. But he hasn't much time or energy left for poking.)

Although there is certainly considerable annoyance at anything not working, there's also a sort of high adventure in it. Every appliance malfunction is a sort of shipwreck, and the more critical the appliance, the more glorious the smash-up, and the more precious every piece of flotsam and jetsam that can be rescued. I was giddy with delight this afternoon to discover that I had managed to get one of D2's shirts in the first load, as well as several socks for myself, and to realize that D1 still has one shirt left that will go with the one pair of her jeans that made it through.

Further, a sail is in sight. DOB has located a repairman who will come by tomorrow, and his mother kindly took the more desparate loads to wash at her house.

Things I Never Would Have Thought of Before Having Toddlers

* Drooling can be a competitive sport. (And if they continue to take after their father, pretty soon they'll have a complex of rules and measurement methods. Three bibs in a morning! Woo-hoo!)

* A trip to the potty is a community activity, requiring the active involvement of all present members of the family, plus a few dolls and/or stuffed animals.

* A piece of broccoli can be the starring figure in a riveting drama. ("The Adventures of Ulysses the Broccoli in the Perilous Sea of Tomato Sauce." I know it was Ulysses, because he always avoids being eaten.)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Homemaking Meme

Picked up second-hand, like most of my furnishings.

Aprons – Y/N? If Y, what does your favorite look like?
I either wear an apron or wish I had. The old, grungy, all-over ones get worn day after day while the cute short ones languish in neglect.

Baking – Favorite thing to bake
Biscuits: quick, homey, and not too messy. And I now have a recipe that represents a reasonable compromise between fluffiness and nutrition.

Clothesline – Y/N?
No, but I do have a couple of clothes racks in the basement.

Donuts – Have you ever made them?
We used to always make them for New Year's when I was younger. I've never made them in my own house, though, as I don't have a deep-fryer. Someday I'm going to try a baked doughnut recipe.

Every day – One homemaking thing you do every day
Dishes. Every hour, really.

Freezer – Do you have a separate deep freeze?
Yes, and I would have a very hard time functioning without it. It's an old one from DOB's parents.

Garbage Disposal – Y/N?
No, No, a thousand times NO! We do not get along. We never have, and we never will. Plus, our current sink has but one hole. We had the garbage disposal taken out and an honest drain put in.

Handbook – What is your favorite homemaking resource?
Well, if it doesn't sound too arrogant, my own head. I like to think about things and figure them out for myself.

Ironing – Love it or hate it? Or hate it but love the results?
I don't hate it, but I wouldn't exactly say I love it. But I can't stand wrinkles, so I do it regardless.

Junk drawer – Y/N? Where is it?
Yes, in the kitchen.

Kitchen – Color and decorating scheme
Carrots, naturally. Right now it's white but I want to paint it celery green.

Love – What is your favorite part of homemaking?
Those aha! moments when I make something new work.

Mop – Y/N?
I plead the fifth.

Nylons – Wash by hand or in the washing machine?
In the washing machine.

Oven – Do you use the window or open the oven to check?
There's a window?

Pizza – What do you put on yours?
Turkey sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, olives.

Quiet – What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
I'd rather read but I usually check the internet because it doesn't require such a commitment.

Recipe card box – Y/N? What does it look like?
No, but I have a random pile of recipes getting bent and spilled upon.

Style of house – What style is your house?
1930sish Cape Cod with mint green siding and white trim. The mint green is definitely not my choice, but I'd rather live with it than change it.

Tablecloths and napkins – Y/N?
Considering how often D2 bonks his head on the table and falls over, tablecloths are definitely not a good idea. Cloth napkins we use, or more often just cheap terry washcloths.

Under the kitchen sink – Organized or toxic wasteland?
I don't like what this question implies.

Vacuum – How many times per week?
1. We only have carpet in the bedrooms.

2. We don't allow food anywhere near them.

3. The carpet is a mottled tan berber that wouldn't show the trackings of the high school football team after a rainstorm.
4. The ducklings periodically decide they are afraid of the vacuum cleaner.
5. None of us are especially fastidious.
6. You guess how often we vacuum.

Wash – How many loads of laundry do you do per week?
Ten to twelve, house on one day, clothes on another, diapers as needed.

X’s – Do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?
No, but occasionally I make a weekly list and get it done by the end of the month.

Yard – Y/N? Who does what?
We have a yard, which we try to avoid because of the killer swarms of mosquitoes. DOB's brothers mow it when needed.

Zzz’s – What is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?
Make sure the bedside water bottles are filled. We're all about proper hydration here.

Happy Things

Looking back over last week's posts, they look dreadfully whiny. Ugh. Lack of sleep is an explanation, but not an excuse. However, the sleep situation has much improved. D2 adjusted happily to his new bed. He likes being in there. D1 likes him being there. I like having him in there. I can sleep now, instead of listening to him breathe.

With him out of the closet, in the literal sense, other Useful Things could go back into the closet, like DOB's ties and our coats, which were all in D1's closet, and soon a grand closet rearranging forthcame. D1 immediately caught onto the idea and gathered up a huge pile of blankets and books to dump on the floor of the closet. She was actually quite helpful when I could remember to give her something to do.

Indeed, D1 is so handy to have around the house, it's a little disturbing. Saturday evening I had just dumped all the vegetables in the stew, and, without uttering a word, was looking around the kitchen trying to figure out where I had set down the spoon. D1 started squealing, "Right there! Right there!" and pointing to the counter. "What's right there?" I asked. "The spoons are right there!" she said, pointing to the utensil crock.

On the topic of stew, although half or more of the family responds with displeasure to squash in any identifiable form, chopped up with carrots and potatoes in a stew or minestrone it passes without comment. This is helping me with my resolve to use more seasonal vegetables and stop trying to make peppers and tomatoes work in the dead of winter. Also, DOB adores steamed cabbage, although the ducklings are still rather skeptical.

D2 had his first haircut this weekend. I could have handled the fluffy blond curls a little longer had they been all over, but the little fringe in the back with nothing on top was looking odd. When DOB uttered the word "mullet," I knew it was time to get out the scissors. It's very uneven, owing to his complete non-comprehension of "hold your head still," and my lack of ideas on how to compensate, but since it's still fine baby-hair it doesn't really show. Next time I give the ducklings haircuts I think I'll make an exception to our usual policies and let them watch a movie. Maybe that will hold his head still for, oh, thirty seconds at a stretch.

It's a good world, even though it's going to be too cold to play outside all week, and the ducklings have too bad of colds to go anywhere where other people might be. If I have sleep, I can deal with it. And if I get exercise every day, I can sleep. And I've discovered that even walking around the outside of the house while the ducklings nap is enough to get the blood flowing, whatever it may lack in the appearance of sanity.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Book I Wish I Had

I wish I had a book. Unfortunately, none of the 1,358 (just a wild guess) books lying around the house seems quite the ticket. Last night was another less than stellar experience in the sleep department (as of RIGHT NOW, D2 is out of our room and sleeping in D1's room), and the brain is foggy. Yet sleep continues to elude me. (Maybe it's not just D2's fault that I don't sleep. More fresh air and exercise would no doubt be helpful, but it's been well below freezing all week, and spending half an hour tracking down lost boots and putting everything on to endure twenty minutes of stumbling around outside in said boots, with tears every ten steps from falling over, and then another half hour of taking everything off once inside--well, it dampens even my enthusiasm for the Great Outdoors.)

So anyway, I want a book. Of course I have three going right now, but none of them are quite the ticket: The Odyssey (MUCH more enjoyable than the Iliad; I'll write more when I finish it); excerpts from Plutarch's Lives; and a book called Science and Creation, a scholarly tome on why various civilizations never got very far in the realm of science, owing to their philosophical allegiance to faulty ideas. All very productive and worthwhile, but not exactly anything to just sit down and while away a nice, long naptime whizzing through.

The nice, long naptime IS an amazing thing. We made much of D2's transition from his former bed (which was technically a playpen wedged into our closet) to the crib in D1's room. After I cleaned out all the blankets and toys which had volunteered to fill the empty space after we gave up on persuading D2 to sleep in there when we first moved in, I let D1 climb in there first and play. This was, naturally, all it took for D2 to be eager to join her. So when naptime finally rolled around, he was not too terrified of getting in there, and only took one reminder to lie back down and half a chapter of Science and Creation before he dozed off. And they are still both sleeping angelically, nearly two hours later.

The bitter, bitter irony is that I have all sorts of books that would be just right awaiting me at the library. But they weren't in there on Monday, when we usually go to the library, and of course I can't go until the kids get up, and once they get up I won't have time to read, and so I might as well wait until the next library day, as on the weekends DOB is handy to while away naptimes with.

Of course, if I actually went in the other room and looked, I could probably find something worth reading . . . just in time for the kids to wake up.

Besides, whining is so much more fun!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Scavenger Hunt

And here is my entry in the Jones' scavenger hunt. Now if only there was an evening of free babysitting to win along with a gift card!

* Shoe
For Christmas this year my hero asked for these boots, to match mine that I’ve had for several years. How romantic!"
Those shoes look equal to any weather, and Rebecca solves the problem of what to wear with them at The Space Between my Peers.

* Tooth
The PrairieFrogs begin a new tooth tradition:

"As the loose tooth season begins, (our eldest is 6) we begin a new PrairieFrog tradition!

Just after bedtime, Kaira's much wiggled tooth finally let go. We let her slip out of bed to put the treasured tooth in a tea cup for the night.

Tomorrow our gap-smiled girl will wake to find a love-note from Mommy and Daddy in her tea cup, along with a tea bag (apple-cinnamon), so she can enjoy the treat of tea with breakfast."

~Tooth in a Teacup

* An odd name
"Stuart has inherited my compulsion to name everything. Some of his more memorable christenings:

* Pinky-pom
* Cholken
* Cracker-Barrel (a cyclops)
* Organize (a mountain giant)"
From The Namer at Keeping Up.
(I think a mountain giant named Organize is exactly what I need around here.)

* Car (fancier the better)

Here's some pictures of a shack on wheels, a hamburger car and a "stilleto car," plus a few more. From Amazingly Bizarre.

* Frightful dilemma
Amy agonizes over the difficulties of grownup life (and more specifically, working from home, which I'm not sure I would have the guts to do):
Today is the type of day I wish I could sit somewhere near a window, read a good book, and periodically look outside at the beautiful falling snow. Unfortunately there is no time for that luxury today. . . . Here’s something for my hall of shame. I still haven’t unpacked from our trip yet!! I’m just now starting laundry. Meredith has been sick and wants to be held constantly. Today is the first day she’s seemed more autonomous. Plus, I have a work deadline fast approaching and that tends to take first priority around here."
From Yearning.

* Discussion of childbirth
"Did you know that giraffes literally drop their babies from a great height at birth? It's too risky to lie down to do it. The babies survive. But imagine if someone at a zoo took a notion that "dropping" your young was too primitive and started a trend of strapping mama giraffes down, flat on their backs. . . ."
Birth, A Surprising History, at The Cappucino Life

* Theological discussion/debate
On the rare occasions when I actually feel like a theological debate, I know I can always find one at Adventures in Mercy:

" . . . c
onsidering how a complementarian rendering of 1 Timothy 2:12 should be worked out in the Real World is certainly food for thought. If a woman is literally not to be in authority over a man, how does that play out in our daily lives? In the church world, what Scriptural justification can be given for allowing a woman to lead worship music but not to preach a sermon? In the secular arena, does it negate submitting to a female leader in politics or on the job? Or does 1 Timothy 2:12 only apply when we walk into the doors of a church building (and if so, how have you come to that conclusion)?"

You can follow the link and read all of the 10 Questions for Complementarians, as well as various people's answers. And what do I think of all this? Don't I wish I knew.

* Funny line, joke, short post
"Me (from my chair in the living room): [Push] The button that says CD.

Emeline: But how is it spelled?

Me (laughing, but trying to enunciate): It’s spelled C D.

Emeline: What letters spell CD?."
Maybe we need more spelling lessons, at A Familiar Path.

* Train
We ourselves see trains at the park from time to time, though it's been awhile since I mentioned it:

"Best of all, our lives have been full of heavy equipment lately. Workmen have been tearing up and replacing the sidewalk near the park, so we've watched Bobcats, cement trucks, Caterpillars and lots of men in hardhats. One memorable morning, a real live train actually went by on the tracks that run through the park. All quite thrilling."

* Hairbrush
At Dewey's Treehouse, a Christmas game involves a quotation that refers to a hairbrush, or the lack thereof:
“That was a wonderful day. It was a treasure, and no mistake! I never saw such heaps and heaps of presents, like things out of a fairy-tale—and even Eliza had a shawl. Perhaps she deserved it, for she did cook the rabbit and the pudding; and Oswald says it is not her fault if her nose turns up and she does not brush her hair. I do not think Eliza likes brushing things. It is the same with the carpets. But Oswald tries to make allowances even for people who do not wash their ears.”

If you want to find out what book that was from, you'll have to look up the answers.

* An appeal for money
Semicolon asked for donations for the Salvation Army during December:

"Last year during the month of December I set up a Salvation Army Red Kettle in my sidebar through which readers could make secure online donations to the Salvation Army. This year I’m doing the same –two days early.

If you’ve enjoyed reading the posts here at Semicolon this year, please consider a small donation (or a large one) to the Salvation Army. You can donate online by clicking on the red kettle in the sidebar."

Of course, it's a little late this year, but maybe you can do it next year.

* Hobby
The First Year Boy at the Common Room has a rather dangerous one, in the manner of small boys.
". . . He has of late enjoyed another pasttime as well, and in honor of the time he has spent in solitary confinement to consider his sins I offer the following:

I shot an arrow into the air
It fell to earth
above the stair
It flew swiftly
and out of sight,
Tis true,
But it landed almost 'zactly
Where I wanted it to. . . . "
From The Arrow, at The Common Room

* Green
Meredith at Like Merchant Ships uses green to make a frog-and-bug bedside table for her son:

Even though I did much more of this project, Andrew still enjoyed participating. We talked about how to make the colors we needed (no black, so we substituted dark green and brown). He would look at the encyclopedia and describe the shapes and details for me. Why do tree frogs have circles at the end of their fingers? How many legs does a garden spider have? Then he filled in my rough outlines with paint."

You really must to follow the links and see the picture; it's the coolest piece of furniture. I want one! Maybe someday I'll paint the old dresser we have in the kids' room.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Paper Tigers

It's been calling my name for some time now, but today the call of the unfiled papers rose to a deafening roar and I succumbed. You know those tasks you put off for months, dreading the very thought of them, and when at last you buckle down and do them, they turn out not so bad?

This wasn't one of them. Half an hour I spent at it (which is an enormous chunk of time when you have two small children busily rearranging the attic while you try to work at it) and only succeeding in strewing vaguely-sorted piles of paper everywhere, pinching a few fingers in the drawers, and coming to the conclusion that, although we have every other receipt from Lands End for the last three years, we don't have the one receipt I need to find.

It will take me weeks to get the mess put away, and I don't know where next to look for the receipt. And I didn't get far enough to feel any noble glow of accomplishment. (Even when I finish, the glow will be miniscule, because even an overflowing pile of paper is only a very small amount of cubic space cleaned.)

I hate filing.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Here's a hint Heloise never recorded: if you have small children, or if you are uncoordinated, and especially both, you will have frequent spills on the floor. Some will be of the wet type, and some will be of the sticky type. If, when you have a wet spill, you use the resulting wet rag to wipe up any recent sticky spills, you can put off mopping the floor for a surprisingly long time.

I have had to relax my lifelong No-Christmas-Carols-After-Advent rule to make an Adorable Toddler exception: When D2 rocks himself back and forth and says, " 'way? 'way?" we are allowed to sing "Away in a Manger."

D1, however, is not so much into Christmas carols anymore now that she has learned "London Bridge is Falling Down." She is obsessed with this song, even without knowing the accompanying game (which we are not quite numerous and coordinated enough to attempt). Naturally I fed this obsession by finding a copy of the Peter Spier book at the library. Meanwhile, I'm working on learning "Oranges and Lemons" before our book of Mother Goose tunes has to go back to the library. (BTW: Why are all the good picture books going out of print? And why are so many stupid ones being printed instead? I've given up on even finding good books by looking at the library; there's too much drivel to wade through. I have to know what I want and reserve it in advance.)

We had snow, real snow, at last yesterday. We weren't expecting it at all, and were most perplexed to be awakened by what we first thought were garbage trucks on a Sunday morning. In the afternoon we were able to go out and play with friends, which is essential for fun in the snow, especially when they have a hill in their yard and we do not. The ducklings did quite well for their first try at winter sports; D1 wasn't too impressed, but she managed a couple of sled rides and pats on the snowman. D2 was thrilled with sledding, and went down a dozen times or more, alone and on his belly, with the greatest of glee, even if he had to spit snow out of his face at the end. The dads, of course, had the most fun of anybody.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Siege of Troy

So I finally finished the Iliad, two moves after starting it. Part of the fault was misplacing it during the moves, but part of it was also getting bogged down in the middle. Homer requests to sing of the anger of Achilles, and it is his anger that structures the story: his anger at Agamemnon for stealing his girl that takes him out of the fight, and his anger at Hector for killing his best friend that takes him back into it. Frankly, Achilles is not admirable for much except his fighting; but that seems to be the primary qualification for a hero for the Greeks.

It is while Achilles is out sulking that the tale begins to drag. Why so much tedious detail on the mode of death and personal history of every soldier? Did Homer fear that if he left anything out, some outraged and heavily-armed latter-day Greek would rise and say, "How could you leave out how my ancester Peneleos slew Iloneous, son of Phorbas, wealthiest of the Trojans, by spearing him through the eye?"

An odd thing, from a modern perspective, is that there is simply no interest in the justice of one side over the other. It's not just that Homer, as an impartial later observer, helps us see the good and bad on each side; it's that nobody involved cares whether or not they are "in the right" in a cosmic sense. Fighting is just something people do, from personal motives, mostly, and because they apparently have nothing better to do with their time. You don't need a grand moral justification for going out and trying to kill other people; it's all the fault of the gods, anyway, who are finding things dull on Olympus and want to stir up a little trouble.

However, even if there is not a great war of good and evil to side with, there is the matter of whether you fight well or bravely, honorably or dishonorably; whether you stand your ground or act like a coward. Even that is not entirely within the power of mortals to control, but we can at least try.

Random Pictures I've been Meaning to Post

Some faces it's impossible to resist, the one picture where we were all looking at the camera, and the ducklings hanging out in their new house.

Ooo! Ooo!

It's a Blog Scavenger Hunt, and you want to play, right? Of course right!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

In Which I Resolve to be Lazier

While there is a side of me that is definitely random, spontaneous, creative, and even (though I hate to admit it) touchy-feely, there is also the other side to me that got me dubbed the designated engineer at my former workplace. I love plotting things out: designing databases, writing curriculum, and making grand, all-encompassing housework plans.

With the new year, I had some lovely changes to make. No more letting dishes sit in the sink overnight! No more leaving DOB's ironing until the last minute! More cooking in advance to make things easier! Actually mopping the floor occasionally! It all worked beautifully on paper. I even resolved to leave the computer off until after lunch to prevent me being distracted during the morning.

Maybe I should have waited until D2 and I had stabilized a bit more after weaning. Maybe I should have just tried one new thing at a time. Anyway, I crashed. Badly. Post-weaning hormones may have had something to do with it, as may a little scheme by the ducklings. I think this is what they're talking about when they seem to be playing sweetly together in the other room:

D2: I'm pretty tired tonight, do you think you can handle it?
D1: I could probably manage two or three potty runs, but then I'll be wiped out. Can you do Monday night?
D2: Yeah, I think I'll do the old whimper-in-my-sleep trick. That's not too tiring and really drives her crazy.
D1: Good. Don't wear yourself out; we have to make sure we don't let naptime last too long.
D2: How long do you think it will take for her to get tired enough to send us to see Grandma?

So, the last two days, I have regressed. The dishes have sat. The laundry has sat. I turn the computer on right away in the morning so that I'll be sure to sit down and waste some time instead of trying to get up and straighten everything up. I'm starting to feel quite a bit better.

I haven't entirely given up, though. I still have plans to cook up six pounds of turkey sausage this afternoon to make future meals easier.

But I probably won't wash the pot today.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Natural Balance, as it pertains to Sleep

It's my theory that in every set of parents there is one naturally gifted with the ability to sleep through an attack of armed bandits, and one who awakens every time the children roll over in their sleep. It is not always the father who is the former and the mother who is the latter, but in our case, it is. That is why I scoff when I hear suggestions about fathers helping out in the night. (Ha, ha!)

It is a far, far easier task to take D1 to the potty and answer whatever questions have been troubling her in the night ("Does Papa have a night-night blanket?"), provide D2 with his requisite 20 ounces of water, repeat all bedtime routines and convince them both to go back to sleep than it is to awaken DOB. I think he would wake up if I told him armed bandits were attacking, but only long enough to run them all through. Then he would promptly fall back to sleep. Whereas if I hear a rustle coming from D2's bed I awaken and lie there, heart pounding, for half an hour, wondering if he is about to wake up.

Now, there is good cause for this, of course. If all parents were sound sleepers, the children would die of anguish in the night. If all parents were light sleepers, the parents would die of anguish after about three days with no one getting any sleep at all. But it is hard to be philosophical about the balance of nature when one returns from the third trip of the night to see a contented log undisturbed in the bed.

However, things are looking up. A bit. D2, upon weaning, often sleeps all the way through the night, at long last. And last night we tried the experiment of leaving his water in bed with him, whereupon we discovered that he can find it and drink from it unassisted when he wakes up in the middle of the night.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Eragon vs. Taran

I read Eragon this week, and couldn't help constantly comparing it, rather unfavorably, to Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, which I read about this time last year. They are both fantasies centered on the theme of a young man facing various trials and lessons which prepare him for leadership. (The Prydain Chronicles are aimed at a younger audience, though.)

Paolini is a young man, and his hero gets what young people think they need to face the world: skills, power, street smarts, and freedom.

Alexander, though, while he puts his hero and heroine through the obligatory battles and magical encounters of fantasy, focuses on some quite different lessons: humility, dependence on others, relinquishing of power, enough self-knowledge to cure one of self-focus, and a willingness to do the dull and unglamourous tasks simply because they need to be done. I'm not very old yet, myself (at least I don't FEEL very old yet), but my money's on Alexander's take on growing up.

Besides, he's a lot funnier.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Frugal Friday: An Assortment of Curtains

I've never done a Frugal Friday before, but since I stumbled across the topic for the week and it was precisely something I wanted to blog about anyway, I proceed. This is one of Wondergirl's many projects while she was out. In the one corner, the living/dining room with an assortment of oddly-shaped windows and white, white, white walls. In the other corner, Wondergirl armed with a pile of identical burgundy rose sheers inherited from our great aunt. I think she may have used a few safety pins, but other than that, adapting the curtains to the different windows was simply a matter of ingenious draping. The white panels I swiped from my great aunt (or possibly grandmother?) at an earlier date. They're considerably shorter than the burgundy panels, but if you tuck them behind, you can't tell. The tie backs are cut from tulle that was on wedding gifts. The only expenditure on this entire project was a much-needed support for the center of the long curtain rod--otherwise, we just used whatever hardware was on the windows and some cup hooks and nails we had on hand.

Someday I'm going to paint this whole room a nice creamy tan, but until then, these have greatly relieved the white.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


It is not helpful, when one is trying to wean a toddler, to have an older sibling who likes to announce the next activity--"D2! You need to nurse!"--before I can stop her and remind her that no, he doesn't do that anymore. Nonetheless, we must really be done since that didn't really upset him, although it did make him exceedingly eager for me to get on the sandwiches (which were peanut butter and banana, even though DOB thinks that's gross).

Yesterday I was making pizza with the assistance of the ducklings, which means I was making pizzas, D1 was standing on a chair occasionally sprinkling cheese on them and more often filching it for herself or D2, and D2 was standing by the table, grabbing anything edible he could reach. The can of mushrooms suddenly fell out of my hand, rolled across the pizza, struck D2 in the eye, leaving a smear of tomato sauce and cheese it had collected, and scattered on the floor. He was completely unfazed and immediately went after the mushrooms. Do not get between that boy and food.

D1 is going through a fascination with Polite Conversation stage. She will go around the dinner table: "Papa, how was your day?" "My day was fine, how was yours?" "Uh, very well. How was D2's day?" "He had a good day." "How was Mama's day?" It's best not to try a long explanation, though, as she'll just keep moving on to the next person. This still hasn't translated into much speech when accosted in public, but I hope sooner or later it will carry over.

D2 is picking up numerous words, but he shines best at "Yeah!" and "Noooo." "Yeah" is default, but he certainly knows when it's time to throw in a definite No, such as when asked, "Do you want to go night-night?"

Monday, January 08, 2007

Reading Plans

As usual, I have far too many. But here they are, in several categories:

Book Club: I'm a member over here, at Bookfest 2006. Which is Bookfest 2007, now, of course, but it would be awfully cumbersome to change the title every year. I didn't dare try last year, when they had four books a month, but two a month seems more doable. The first one I've read from the list this year was highly enjoyable, and not something I would have found on my own. So I'm looking forward to the rest of the year.

Great Books: I'm trying to tackle some of the Great Books on a more-or-less chronological basis. I still have the Iliad to finish, though. (It's suffering from the usual slighting that goes to books I actually own, as opposed to those I have to return to the library.) I'm not sure whether I'll go on to read the Odyssey (which is bound to be more fun) or skip it and go on to some of the others I want to read this year: Plutarch's Lives, Athanasius' On the Incarnation, and possibly City of God by Augustine and Beowulf later on.

Preview Books: I'm working out a curriculum plan for future years, and previewing books as I go. Basically we want to do a four-year cycle: Ancients, Dark and Middle Ages, American History, and Modern World History. I started at the beginning of the cycle when D1 turned two so that we would be ready to start it over when she turned six. I've been reading books and previewing them, trying to find ones that meet my criteria and that are available through our local library. It's been a lot of fun; I wasn't sure I'd stick with it, but I've found it too enjoyable to give up. (Reviews on the books I do find are over at the other blog.) I'm working up a rough plan and book list now and will make a more detailed plan closer to the actual time. I just pulled in a pile of books on ancient Greece, then we'll do Rome through late spring and summer, and the Dark Ages in the fall.

And then, of course, there are the random books that I come across and can't resist. I try to do one on science now and again; I've read a lot on physics and on brain development and function in recent years, and I'd like to branch out, but I'm not sure into what. Chemistry is something I know very little about, but I've read about molecular bonds at the atomic level, and I'd like to learn about what that looks like on the next level up.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The $10 Dollhouse, before and after

Actually, all that paint did cost something, so it's more like a $20 dollhouse afterwards. But that's still a great deal on a two-story wooden dollhouse. It's pretty plain inside, just all painted white, but that just leaves lots of room for upgrades on future Christmases.

History, Etiquette, and probably a few stray things as well

This blog really began nearly a decade ago as a weekly email to my sister, who lived far away. She found it amusing and read it to her co-workers. Some other siblings got word of it and started asking to be put on my list. My grandparents got on the internet and wanted to be included. Pretty soon there were quite a number of people on the list, and it began to get unwieldy to keep track of the addresses, not to mention taxing on my memory to remember all the amusing incidents of the week and write them down at the end of it.

Shortly after I got married, I discovered the possibility of blogging. It was the perfect solution: I didn't have to keep track of the email addresses, I could post things as they happened, and there was a place to store it off my computer, which kept crashing in an un-backed-up state.

I've never made my blog private for several reasons. One is that I want it to be easy to pass on to family members who may not be very comfortable on the internet. Another is that I've never wanted to bother with it. The main one, though, is that I like to meet new people. I've made many good friends through blogging. I even like to meet people who disagree with me, as long as they're civil about it.

What I don't like is people who are rude. Yes, a blog is public, but even guests who come on an open invitation should be polite. It's still my blog. It's like opening up my house for an open house; I'm happy for you to come and nibble at the snacks. I'll even let you use the bathroom. But don't poke in the cupboards. Don't start insulting me the minute you walk in the door, and then act surprised when I am less than gracious in response. (Perhaps I should be. But I am a mere mortal, and even the immortals aren't fond of being insulted.)

Responding to a general post on family events by insinuating that I abuse my children is just rude--particularly when you've never uttered a word on my blog before. I don't need to answer someone's questions when they do that, because rude questions can be politely ignored. Perhaps ignoring them entirely or deleting the question would have been the better course of action, but I have a hard time resisting the urge to dialogue.

So here are some rules for discussion:
If I express an opinion, feel free to disagree. But do so in a civil tone, addressing the opinion and not personally attacking my character or motives.

If I recount an event, feel free to recount contradicting experiences. Be cautious about jumping to grand conclusions about my beliefs or general practices on the basis of an isolated event. At any time, attacks on character and motives are rude.

I decide what rooms are off limits. Some things are private. It doesn't mean they're bad, or that I'm ashamed of anything in my life (I'm not) but there are some things I don't want to discuss in public. The mention of something connected doesn't give people the right to pry. You can ask, politely, but don't get all huffy if I don't answer. Call it self-centered, but I don't owe you anything, including information. It's. my. blog.

I am going to delete the discussion in question. It wasn't getting anywhere. In the future, I will most likely do the same with any personal attacks or excessively nosy questions. I will continue to welcome polite disagreement.

And hopefully now I will get back to the regularly scheduled programming. I have pictures of projects accomplished during Wondergirl's visit, a book reading plan for the year, and musings on some new books. I may even dare to mention the ducklings (whom, for the record, I do not hit, ever) again before too long.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Into the Wardrobe

I hated shopping even before I had small children. With small children, it's just out of the question. If I can't get it at the grocery store, I don't buy it.

But, with my sister here, some much-needed shopping is taking place. I even bought some clothes, which has always been a problematic area for me. Because I go shopping so rarely, and have rather strict requirements in the decency department, I usually feel a desparation to buy something--anything--that seems marginally workable. The end result is a lot of clothes that I don't really like.

So this time I resolved not to buy anything that I didn't love, and that furthermore it had to be workable with my life (i.e. washable and not showing stains) and be a good buy. Much to my surprise, I actually found one skirt and half a dozen blouses that met this standard. I even worked up my nerve to go into a more trendy-looking store--which I usually have avoided because I neither desire to wear hooded sweatshirts nor air my navel--and was astonished to discover some extremely cute striped stretch shirts and ribbed turtlenecks to layer.

In that vein, I've been interested lately by a new blog find, The Space Between My Peers, which is fashion discussion from a SAHM who homeschools. Clothes for real people. And who besides a homeschooling mom would explain outfit balancing with Cuisenaire rods?

I'm still working on what sort of clothes really work with my current job. Plain t-shirts and solid knits in general are seriously overrated--they show stains way too easily. Better to get something with texture and a little pattern (at least heathered) that will camouflage. I like TSBMP's advice to think of wardrobes in terms of tops and bottoms to wear around the house, and accent top pieces to toss over the top when you go out. This also helps cover up the drool. Also, low-riding skirts are more forgiving of waistline changes than ones that ride at the waist. And straight skirts or ones that button just are not going to survive sitting cross-legged on the floor.

So, I'm heading up into the attic, finding blazers that I had thought I retired, and trying them out with more practical skirts and blouses. I'm dragging out all my scarves, which didn't work at the neck anymore, and wearing them in my hair and as belts. I'm casting my net a little wider to find new things to try. I'm trying to put into words what I really like in clothes, so I know what I'm looking for (rich colors, especially red, green and brown, stripes, curved lines, extra stitching and details) and what I'll never enjoy (anything too girly or too bland). It's fun.

I've tried periodically to cure myself of caring about clothes. But I've never quite succeeded.