Friday, December 28, 2007

I Love My New mp3 Player!

Yes, I got an mp3 player for Christmas - not a fancy ipod, but a very servicable (and pretty blue) SanDisk. It turns out that everyone in our family got an mp3 player for Christmas - we're quite digital around here!

After a little false start, I have been able to get music from CDs, music from Rhapsody, and audiobooks from the library onto my new device. I'm sitting here at the computer listening to some classic Newsboys songs.

What I'm really looking forward to is that the kids can put on their headphones (the grandparents gave them around-the-ear headphones - not the expensive Bose ones, but nice nonetheless) while they do schoolwork and listen to music. Of course, I'll probably have to check that they're not listening to audiobooks while they're doing schoolwork - Wild Man would probably do it if he could get away with it! But, they are pretty acoustically insulated from the rest of the world when they have the headphones on, which is nice. Of couse, I have to wear ear buds so that I can still hear important sounds from the rest of the world - like kids asking questions, the phone ringing, etc. Then again, maybe I'll get some around-the-ear headphones, after all. I could stand to be acoustically insulated.


"Mousetrap! I wanted to play Mousetrap! You roll your dice, you move your mice, nobody gets hurt!"

Those of you who are Veggie Tales lovers (as we are in this family) will recognize the quote above as being from Bob the Tomato in "The Toy that Saved Christmas". Back when Ga'Hoole Girl was 3 or 4 years old, she would act out that section of the scene. She would turn upside down like Bob was in the snowbank and then say that line just like in the movie.

We now own the game Mousetrap - yippee. Wild Man got it from a friend on Christmas Eve. He wants to play it all the time. The deal with mousetrap is that the mice travel around the board, building a mousetrap the whole time. At the end, the players try to get each other on a certain spot and trap them under the trap. The trap is kind of like a Rube Goldberg machine. My kids love it, especially since they love the Mythbusters episodes where they build something like this.

Ga'Hoole Girl got a new Zelda game from her grandparents. She had requested it, so I sent the info to the grandparents. What I didn't realize is that this game, which has three games from the old Nintendo systems and a trial version of the first one for GameCube, is something of a collector's item. Ga'Hoole Girl is just thrilled with her new game. She and Wild Man have been playing frequently over the last several days. They're going to be in for a rude awakening next Wednesday!

A Tale of Two Adventures in Domesticity

It was the best of time, it was the worst of time . . . . Oh, wait. Wrong beginning. This Christmas season, I have had two polar opposite cooking experiences. I like the call the first one "The Tale of the Three Meat Thermometers." Perhaps not the catchiest title in the world, but it's descriptive.

The Tale of the Three Meat Thermometers
On the day after Christmas, we celebrated with a big Christmas dinner. I started up the turkey, like I do every major holiday. Now, I usually do a pretty good job with turkey - the white meat comes out moist and everything. After the requisite four hours of cooking, the meat thermometer hadn't moved a bit. I decided it was probably broken. Mr. Math Teacher had a meat thermometer on the grill, so he chopped it out of the snow and cleaned it up so I could use it. After another 30 minutes, the temperature was only 140 (was supposed to be 18). I had asked Mr. Math Teacher to go to the store and told him not to wait for the turkey since it was clearly not close to done. At the store, he picked up a new meat thermometer for me. By now, I was starting to suspect that there was a problem with thermometer #2. So, I put in thermometer #3 to find that the meat temperature was actually above 190. I made lots of gravy. I have no idea how moist the white meat is because we just all put tons of gravy over it.

The Tale of the Cool New Pressure Cooker
The next night, I decided to try out my new pressure cooker from my parents. We had some venison stew meat that we expected to have to cook for a couple of hours, so I decided to try a venison and barley soup. I browned the venison right in the pot - part of why this is such a cool toy! Then, I added some onion soup mix, beef bouillon, spices, and barley. After the 15 minutes that I tried at first, the meat was good, but the barley wasn't ready. After another 15 minutes, the meat was wonderful, but the barley was a little chewy (it's not pearled barley). After only 10 more minutes, the dish was ready. Wild Man looked at it with some trepidation, but consented to try it. He pronounced it "delicious"! And there was only one pot to cook. A happy family and minimal clean-up. Does it get any better than this?!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The three day Christmas

This year, we decided to make our Christmas celebration three days long. And it's only partly because I had a migraine on the 24th and 25th.

December 24th, Christmas Eve, is the day we did the religious celebration of Christmas. Mr. Math Teacher was at church for rehearsal then all three services (he plays bass guitar). Wild Man went with him and "helped" in the nursery (the children's director says that he wasn't causing problems). Ga'Hoole Girl and I relaxed around the house until time for church. We went to the third church service since Mr. Math Teacher had to stay the whole time anyway. After church, we each opened a gift and then Mr. Math Teacher read the Christmas story from Luke 2. Then, off to bed to await the coming of Santa.

December 25th, Christmas Day, was our gift-giving day. We got up relatively early - we actually had to wake Wild Man at 7am - and spent the next hour or so opening presents. Instead of working all day to clean house and cook a fancy dinner, we decided to spend all day playing with our new presents. [Yes, it was also partly because I still had a migraine, but we all liked getting a whole day to play without having to cook.]

December 26th, the day after Christmas, was our day to celebrate with a big meal. Our meal was rather simple this year, but delicious. We had turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, iced tea, and sparkling grape juice. It was a lovely meal.

I think we enjoyed our time a little more this year since we didn't feel pressed to get a bunch done in a short period of time. We still have until January 2 until we have to get back to "real" life. Until then, more playtime!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

White Christmas!

One of the nice things about living this far up North is that we usually have a White Christmas. But, I think today's snow was a little much, even for "The Great White North". They are predicting that we will have 8-12 inches of new snow by the time this storm passes. Church was even cancelled this morning - not a frequent occurrence. But, we will have nice, fresh, white snow for Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Your Christmas Spirit Level: 75%

Your Christmas spirit is almost as big as Christmas itself. Christmas is definitely your thing.
You celebrate Christmas with enthusiasm. You love every minute of the holidays.

Your Christmas spirit is inspiring to everyone who runs into you during the holidays.
You make everyone's day just a little bit brighter. And that's what the holidays are all about!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Christmas Turkey

As of two days ago, our frozen turkey was moved to the refrigerator to thaw. Why is this a big deal, you may wonder? Doesn't everyone put their frozen turkey in the fridge a week early to thaw? Well, actually, no. I have not always remembered to thaw the turkey, so there have been several years (Thanksgiving or Christmas) in which I have been trying to thaw a turkey in a sink of cold water the night before I need to cook it. What a mess! And, we don't have a big sink that holds an 18 pound turkey any more. So, I am quite proud that Mr. Math Teacher and I remembered to put the turkey in the fridge this year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Christmas Dress

It's that time of year again - time to buy the kids dressy clothes. Now, you must understand something. My kids rarely wear dressy clothes. Our church is rather casual, so Sunday wear is just regular clothes, but clean. Wild Man did go through a period a few years ago where he really enjoyed wearing dress clothes, but now he tends to wear jeans since he's usually angling to go to a friend's house. Ga'Hoole Girl likes to wear dresses, but she's been growing so much lately that she only has a few dresses.

But, Christmas is different. Both kids are happy to dress up in fancy clothes for this time of year. The problem, though, is finding clothes. It's pretty straightforward for Wild Man. We picked up a shirt and pair of pants at Penney's with no problem.

The issue comes with Ga'Hoole Girl. She's 12 years old and is out of girls clothes. She is a size 6 in Juniors or Misses clothing. But, most of the Junior clothes are inappropriate or downright sleazy!! Not only do Mr. Math Teacher and I not want her wearing such things, but she doesn't want to wear them. So, how to find an outfit that is pretty, covers everything, but still stylish. I was prepared for a long, drawn out shopping experience this week, but was pleasantly surprised. After a quick stop at Barnes and Noble, I said, "Let's stop over here at Dress Barn and see what they have." Ga'Hoole Girl really wanted to go to Coldwater Creek, but that's in the mall and their prices are much higher. But she agreed to Dress Barn. And, would you believe it, she loved the first thing we found - and it fit! She got a black velvet skirt with a flared bottom and a silver and green sweater. Can you tell that I'm thrilled?! No more Christmas shopping. We're done. And, no trips to the mall!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My favorite blogs

Part of my daily routine has been to check out my favorite blogs, so I figured I would share them with you - several of them are linked on the side of the page. Now, you need to understand that I do not always agree with everything that is said by these bloggers. I am interested in a variety of viewpoints, so don't think I've become a 5 point Calvinist because I list a couple of reformed blogs. I hope you find some of them interesting as well.

1. Internet Monk - this is the personal webspace of Michael Spencer. He reviews books and blogs about various "post-evangelical" topics. Today's post, for example, is about how we need to be far less interested in whether other people are Christians and far more interested in how to be better Christians.

2. Writing and Living is written by another homeschooling mom. She reviews books, but also just writes about life as a mom. Her blog is really funny, too!

3. Making Home is another blog written by a homeschooling mom. Her posts are about theology, life, family, etc. Her posts can be rather challenging for me.

4. Crunchy Con is the blog of Rod Dreher, a fellow LSU alum and a writer for a Dallas newspaper. He is the author of the book, Crunchy Cons, which I recommend. His posts are usually about political and social issues. He posts several times each day.

5. Smart Christian is a site that contains all kinds of content for Christians. I usually read the main page which contains links to sites of social, political, and religious interest.

6. Thinking Christian is the blog of Tom Gilson. His articles are usually of religious interest. Check out his good set of articles about "The Golden Compass".

7. Old Earth Creation Homeschool is a blog by a homeschooling mom who is interested in teaching children science from an Old Earth Creation point of view. She lists useful links and articles. She is currently on hiatus because she is taking a class and involved in writing papers and taking tests herself.

8. The Evangelical Outpost is an evangelical blog (as it's name implies!). My favorite part is the "33 things" on Mondays, which is a list of 33 interesting links. Check out this weeks, particularly the first item, which is a YouTube video.

9. Dr. Mohler's Blog is part of Dr. Mohler's website. I don't always agree with his conclusions, but I appreciate his thinking about lots of social issues.

10. Challies Dot Com is the website of Tim Challies. Tim is a reformed thinker who writes on social and reformed topics as well as doing book reviews. Good site.

These are the ten that I check most regularly. I hope you enjoy the list.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Reviews - December 16

I have been on something of a kick on reading about 16th century England. I've already blogged about Innocent Traitor, a historical novel about Lady Jane Grey. That was what kind of got me going on this tangent. So, here are my current reviews:

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
I really enjoyed this book about Mary Boleyn, the sister of Anne Boleyn. The author took some liberties with the historical information. For example, Mary is believed to be the older sister of Anne, but the book says that she is younger. In addition, Mary was known to be quite promiscuous when she was growing up in France, but Ms. Gregory has Mary spending only some of her childhood in France and being much more virtuous than history suggests. But, the book itself is quite interesting and a real page-turner. The downside is that there is much s*xual content, not all of which was necessary to the plot. That being said, the plot itself is necessarily rather s*xual, being about Anne Boleyn. I recommend this book if you enjoy historical fiction and the s*xual content doesn't turn you off too much. It is certainly, though, an adult-only book!

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
Ms. Weir is the author of Innocent Traitor. This book, though, is an historical account of Henry VIII and his wives (she has also written other books about this time in history). The book is quite thick, but I finished it within about two weeks. It is absolutely fascinating. Naturally, there is lots of information about King Henry VIII himself. He is much more complex than I had realized, and was quite interested in theology. She also includes lots of other historical information about England and the rest of Europe.

The history of the wives of this king is also the history of the Reformation in England. Henry VIII established the Church of England during his lifetime, partly because of his desire to annul his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, partly because he wanted to consolidate power, but partly for theological reasons. Several of his wives had theological interests, which affected Henry and his rule. After Henry VIII died, Edward took the throne, and he was interested in Protestantism. After his death, though, Queen Mary was determined to make England Catholic once again. She executed so many that she earned the nickname "Bloody Mary". Elizabeth, though, brought England back to Protestantism when she took the throne. I learned from this book that much of Elizabeth's (and Edward's) education was from tutors who were interested in Protestantism - tutors that had been selected by Katherine Parr.

My favorite queens were Katherine of Aragon and Katherine Parr - and not because we share a first name! I appreciated that Katherine of Aragon stood up to Henry VIII. She believed that she was truly married to him and she refused to be bullied by him, even though she knew that he had the power of life and death over her. She also stood up to him because she wanted her daughter to be legitimate. Katherine Parr interests me because she was such a thinker. She actually had two books published in her lifetime - quite a feat in the 16th century! Much of her thinking was on religious topics, which almost got her into trouble with Henry VIII. She had a tendency toward Protestantism, but kept it generally secret until Henry died and Edward became king. But, she influenced Edward and Elizabeth toward Protestantism by choosing their tutors.

I thought this book was fascinating and would recommend it for anyone who enjoys reading history. It was well-written and interesting.

From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
This is a book for children that the kids and I listened to during our recent vacation. The premise is that two children decide to run away from home (in the New York suburbs) and stay in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During their stay in the museum, they come across a mystery about a statue that they feel compelled to try to solve. The story is funny and sweet. We listened to it on audiobook, which was a good way to enjoy it. The writing is excellent, and the reading was also quite well done. I strongly recommend this for about age 8 and up.

Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange
This is basically Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy's point of view. I absolutely loved it! It is a pretty short read, but very interesting. It is written as Mr. Darcy's diary entries from the time just before Mr. Bingley leases Netherfield until the first Christmas after his marriage. Ms. Grange does a nice job of getting into Mr. Darcy's mind. The additional plot that she adds is plausible and interesting. It all helps to develop Mr. Darcy's character. This is a must-read for any Jane Austen fan. Anyone who enjoyed Pride and Prejudice will probably also enjoy this.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Nativity sets

I'm not a big one for collecting things, but I do collect Nativities. I just love all the different ways that people have come up with to remember when God broke into history for our salvation. So, what kinds of Nativities do I have? Here they are:

1. Plastic Nativity set that used to belong to my parents and that we used for many years when I was a child. Technically, it now belongs to my daughter.
2. Cloth mache and resin set given to me by my husband the Christmas that we moved up here.
3. Porcelain set that sets on a wooden base that I bought somewhere (that I don't recall).
4. Porcelain set with stable given to me by my mother.
5. Wooden set (2-dimensional appearance and very blocky looking) that I bought at a Pregnancy Center sale.
6. Plastic set bought for the kids as a playset.
7. Small resin set painted gold that my husband gave me one Christmas. We were staying at a local B&B for the night and the set was on the nightstand sitting on a mirror. I commented on how pretty it was, and my husband said that it was mine. He had set it all up!
8. Stuffed set with velcro on the bottom of the pieces with a stable/storage box given to me by a friend. This is not a toy, but a beautiful Nativity set.
9. Nativity Advent calendar which is cloth. The pieces have velcro on the back and there are pockets along the bottom. The kids put one piece on the top part each day with Christmas day culminating with putting Baby Jesus in the manger.
10. Beautiful blue nesting boxes, each with a lovely picture of part of the Nativity. I take the boxes out and stack them up, smaller on larger. It's quite interesting.
11. Nativity scene painted on a feather given to me by my mother.
12. One piece glass Nativity that I got at an arts and crafts sale.
13. Heartwood Creek Nativity Christmas ornaments that I purchased at a gift shop a few years ago.
14. Christmas windmill. This is a contraption that has three levels: the Holy Family and the Wise Men on the bottom, the shepherds and sheep on the second level, and the angels on the top level. There are candles around the bottom with blades around the very top. When you light the candles, the blades turn which makes the Wise Men, shepherds, and angels turn. The whole thing is made out of wood. My husband gave it to me for Christmas one year.

My mom has a Nativity that is carved out of a gourd - that is really cool. I'm always looking for new Nativities, although I don't have much room for display any more. But, it's a fun hobby.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Now, I don't post recipes very often because I don't do much adventurous cooking these days. That being said, Mr. Math Teacher and I watched Alton Brown on Food Network's "Good Eats" show. The particular show was about garlic, which I love, despite my Southern (and, prior to that, Irish and English) roots. He did a recipe called "40 Cloves and a Chicken". Yes, you cook a chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. Then, you serve the chicken with the garlic cloves as a side dish and the olive oil in which it was cooked as a dipping sauce for French Bread. The garlic cloves are soft enough that they can be spread on the bread instead of butter. Of course, you need to eat this with the entire family, or you'll be stranded in a room by yourself for the rest of the night (or week).

Here's the link: http://,,FOOD_9936_16200,00.html



We recently got cable again so that I can watch TV while I knit. This is really nice to distract me when I have my headaches. I mostly watch documentaries, although I will also watch movies and "Monk" when I can catch it. The kids watch documentaries and some movies with me. They're generally limited to less than an hour a day (unless there's a football game on).

My problem with watching TV is commercials. Now, I understand that their job is to convince me that I need to buy whatever it is that they're selling. I also understand that part of that includes trying to create in me a need that didn't previously exist. But, some of what they are trying to tell us is just nuts! Here are some of my least favorite commercial types:

1. Electronic educational toys - Now, the toys themselves are not bad things. My kids enjoyed several different types and did learn from them. But, the commercials strongly imply that your child must have these in order to learn and develop properly - and, of course, we all want our kids to read by age 3. If you tend to succumb to this type of commercial, remember that children developed (and continue to develop) quite well without having every educational toy on the market. Use good judgement and buy toys for kids to enjoy and don't worry that they are always learning - because they are, whether you plan it or not!

2. The mini-van that brings families together - with electronics. The one that comes to mind most quickly shows the entire family spread out around the house watching TV, playing computer, talking on the phone, etc. when Mom drives up in the van and invites them all to go for a ride in the van. The announcer then tells us about this great van that brings families together. But, they show all the family members in the van engaged in individual electronic activities. Dad is playing with the electronics up front, the kids are watching DVDs or playing video games. Only when they show how everyone can sit around the table in the back and play cards is there anything resembling family activity. My frustration is that they try to sell something that doesn't remotely bring families together by telling us that it does bring families together.

3. Commercials for upcoming shows. This is mostly a problem on channels like USA (which has "Monk") and Oxygen (which has an occasional good movie). I get very distressed when I have to actually turn the TV off (not just mute it) during commercials because of the s*xual content. Oxygen has some show about girls being bad with commercials that are just atrocious. It's especially bad when I'm watching with the kids! Ugh!

4. Commercials for prescription medications. Some of this is probably because I'm a doctor, but some of it is just common sense. For example, how is a patient to know whether Lipitor or another statin is the best for their cholesterol? Just because Lipitor advertises on TV! The same thing goes for sleep medications. My favorite is trying to explain impotence medications to my 9 year old son (who doesn't like me to say "have s*x" when we're discussing things like the Virgin Mary!). I think that the companies must just be trying to get people to discuss the idea with their doctors and then hope that their brand gets prescribed. For example, Lipitor is the most commonly prescribed statin, so just getting more people diagnosed with elevated cholesterol will get more Lipitor prescriptions. But, I'd really prefer if patients and doctors could make their own (relatively) unbiased decisions in this department.

OK, now for some good commercials:

1. Geico Insurance - I love the gecko, especially his Aussie accent. And, when I was considering and insurance change, I checked them out. (Didn't change to them, but my point is that the commercial was reasonably effective.)

2. The beer commercials a few years ago with the frogs. I don't remember the brand, so I'm not real sure how effective the commercial itself was, but it was funny.

I'm sure I'll think of more that I like later on. What do you think? Which ones do you like or dislike?

More Snow!

I really like snow - when I'm inside and it's outside. When we moved up here, I kind of thought that I'd take care of the job thing and Mr. Math Teacher would take care of the home thing, including all the snow issues. Well, now that roles are reversed, it appears that I get to take care of some of the snow issues.

For those of you who are Southerners - you know who you are - here's a little primer on how things work up here where it snows for several months of the year. After it snows, the snow plows come out and plow the roads. In big snow storms, the plows will be out during the storm clearing the major roads. We live on Main Street (which is also the route from the local nursing home to the hospital), so we get plowed pretty quickly. In the morning (or when it stops snowing, whenever is convenient), people come out and snowblow our driveways. There are a few die-hards who shovel (like our next door neighbors), but the rest of us prefer the gasoline fumes and ear-splitting noise of a big snowblower. But, after you blow the snow, you still need to shovel the walkways. And, if the snow plow comes by after you've already cleaned your driveway, you still probably have to go out again and clean the end of the driveway because the plow leaves drifts when it goes by.

So, for the 10 years that we've lived up here, the most that I've had to worry about has been to clean snow and ice off my car and to occasionally help Mr. Math Teacher by doing some shoveling. But, we had a couple more inches of snow Thursday night and Mr. Math Teacher has a cold, so he didn't get the driveway blown before he went to school Friday am. I wanted to let him take care of it after he got back from school that afternoon, but I knew he had a cold and leaving it for him would be crass, to say the least. Then, the snow plow went by, leaving a drift that the poor little Malibu would not be able to traverse. It was time for me to brave the snowblowing task!!

The first trick is to start the snowblower. Ours has an electric start, but it is still a little tricky. It is also self-propelling - but it tries to be self-thinking as well. Suffice it to say that I had my work cut out for me. I got the driveway and sidewalk blown with moderate difficulty. Then, it was time to clear the drift that the snow plow left. I had to do that with the shovel. Not too bad, I figure.

I may yet adjust to living in the Great White North. Even if I do prefer it when sitting inside with a cup of hot tea.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Family Bed

We don't sleep together in one bed. No one would get any sleep at all!! When we were down South a few weeks ago, Mr. Wild Man slept with me most nights. Talk about a wild sleeper!

Two days ago, Mr. Math Teacher came home from student teaching very tired so he went upstairs to lie down. After about 30 minutes, I went up and lay down with him. After about 10 minutes, Wild Man came and lay down on the side of Mr. Math Teacher and curled up. A few minutes later, Ga'Hoole Girl joined us. For about fifteen minutes, we all four curled up together on our bed. It was a lovely time. It was too soon that we had to get up and get dinner on the table.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


The first snowfall of the winter occurred last night! We got about eight inches, but then we got some freezing rain and sleet as well. Thankfully, we didn't need to go anywhere last night. This morning, Mr. Math Teacher got out to snowblow the driveway. He got the part done that he needed in order for him to get to church. Unfortunately, I had left some Christmas lights on the front walkway (which we usually shovel, not snowblow) and Mr. Math Teacher decided to snowblow the walkway next. Suffice it to say that the kids and I couldn't have gotten out of the driveway to go to church even if we had wanted to this morning. The lights got all caught up in the augur of the snowblower. Thankfully, Mr. Math Teacher was able to fix it all this afternoon and blow off the other side of the driveway so I can get out tomorrow.

We watched Christmas movies and read books while we were snowed in. I made homemade tomato soup on Friday, so we ate lots of warm soup while we watched the snow fall. Does it get much better than this?