Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Year Do I Belong In?

You Belong in 1955

You're fun loving, romantic, and more than a little innocent. See you at the drive in!

Book Reviews – December 31, 2008

Here are some more book reviews to end up your year.

The River by Edward Hooper

This book is an ambitious investigation into the hypothesis that the HIV entered the human population through the testing of oral polio vaccine in Africa in the late 1950s.  This book is quite large - 800+ pages – and full of details.  Hooper looks at the controversy from just about every angle – how the OPV was made in the 1950s, what primate species were used to make cell cultures, how the vaccine was given, the geography of vaccination as well as the geography of the early AIDS epidemic.  I found this book fascinating and highly encourage anyone who works in medicine or bioethics to take the time to read it.  Whether or not the hypothesis is eventually shown to be accurate, it is important for people to be aware of and discuss the questions of bioethics and viral and vaccine research that are brought up through this work.  A+

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

This is a novel about Mamah Borthwick Cheney, the long-term mistress of Frank Lloyd Wright.  Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney met in Chicago when Wright was designing a home for Mamah and her husband.  Several years later, Mamah left her husband and two children to go with Frank to Germany.  After their time in Europe, Mamah and Frank both returned to Chicago.  They moved from there to Spring Green, WI, where Frank built Taliesin, a home for Mamah.  The story ends with the stunning brutal murder of Mamah and six others at Taliesin.  I found this a fascinating study of a woman in the early days of feminism.  The author was clearly sympathetic to Mamah, but I still could not fathom leaving one’s children and family to run off with another man (for which I’m sure Mr. Math Tutor is happy).  I recommend this book if you are interested in the early 20th century.  B

Death in a Prairie House by William Drennan

I decided to read this book after I read Loving Frank.  This is a non-fiction account of the Wright-Borthwick/Cheney affair and the subsequent murder at Taliesin.  This author spent more time on Frank Lloyd Wright’s history so I felt like I was getting a better rounded look at the situation.  I certainly recommend it  if you are interested in the topic.  A

Why We’re Not Emergent: From Two Guys Who Should Be by Kevin DeYoung

This is another entry in the anti-emergent books among Evangelicals.  I actually found this book helpful, which surprised me since I often don’t like books written “against” other philosophies.  In this case, I found that the authors were quite fair in their assessment of emergent leaders and often quote extensive passages from those they are critiquing.  They seemed to want to give the emergents the benefit of the doubt as often as possible.  I recommend this to anyone who is considering Emergent theology.  A

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, one of the stories from Beedle the Bard plays a very large role.  This book is a compilation of the stories discussed in the last HP book along with commentary by Albus Dumbledore.  We read this book out loud as a family and very much enjoyed it.  The stories themselves are very much like traditional fairy tales.  Dumbledore’s commentary provides some further insight into the wizarding world created by Rowling.  I very highly recommend this book.  A+

The Minister’s Daughter by Julie Hearn

I listened to this book on my mp3 player – thank you library system!!  This book is called The Minister’s Daughter, but the main character is actually a young woman accused of witchcraft in Puritan England.  The minister’s daughter is her accuser.  I enjoyed listening to this book.  The story is interesting and quite enjoyable.  There are some supernatural elements.  Sadly, the portrayal of Christian leaders in the book was less than ideal.  I was discouraged to see that the pagan elements were overwhelmingly positively portrayed, but the Christian elements were generally negative.  Overall, though, it is a good book, and I recommend it.  A-

That’s it for 2008.  I’m working on some more books to review in the next couple of weeks.  Have a Happy New Year!!!



Good-Bye 2008

It's time to say good-bye to 2008 and welcome 2009.  Instead of a "Top 10" list, I've decided to list some of the high points in my and my family's lives.

  • January - LSU won the BCS National Championship.  Yeah, it was a slow month.
  • February - I learned to knit cables and entrelac this year!
  • March - Our family went to see Body Worlds at the Milwaukee Public Museum.
  • April - Grandma visited.
  • May - I planted flowers (that didn't die).
  • June - I got "progressive lenses" (aka "old-lady glasses")
  • July - Our week at Family Camp.
  • August - We were obsessed with the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
  • September - We saw owls "up close and personal" at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • October - Our Chicago trip!
  • November - My mother-in-law recovered the pillows for my living room.
  • December - We made gingerbread houses!

What about you?  How was your 2008?

Monday, December 29, 2008

More on the Migraine Saga

Well, my headaches haven't really changed much.  I will sometimes have 2 or even 3 weeks with just a few bad migraines but that is often followed by a week or two of almost non-stop migraines.  I did recently try using high-dose oxygen for acute migraines.  I was quite hopeful about this since it is far less expensive and has fewer side effects than Imitrex.  But, it didn't work.  I may have gotten a little bit of relief, but it was minor, at best.  I can't say I'm all that surprised (although I was hopeful) since the literature suggests that normobaric oxygen works for cluster headaches, but hyperbaric oxygen might help some people with migraines.  But, it's not like we can put a bari-chamber in our house!

I recently purchased an ice pack for my head from Amazon.  I was frustrated that I couldn't get my ice packs to stay where I wanted on my head, so I did a search and found that someone has actually invented an ice pack that fits like a cap on my head.  It's soooooo nice.  I can sit and read or knit while my head is being cooled.  (BTW, I look cuter than this guy when I have the ice pack on!!)

The last couple of weeks have been pretty bad on the migraine front.  I've been a little frustrated by it, but I managed to go to Christmas Eve service and have lots of fun on Christmas Day.  We recently got a family membership to a local health club, so Mr. Math Tutor and I have been getting our weight training programs set up.  I missed my appointment with my trainer today because of a migraine.  The health club also has a pool, and I've told the kids I'll try to take them once a week so they can swim.  I've been on the treadmill almost every day, in spite of the headaches, for about three weeks now.  This may or may not help with migraines, but I know that exercise will help me feel better in other ways.

We are going to Winter Camp this weekend.  I'm really glad I've been exercising because I'm looking forward to cross-country skiing!  Ga'hoole Girl is becoming something of an ice skater these days, so she's excited to try out their outdoor rink.  Wild Man and I are also anticipating the tube run - we ride down a really long hill in an inner tube, ending on a frozen lake.  It's super fun!!


I woke up with a migraine . . .

. . . after dreaming about a hippopotamus exploding. I wonder if the two are related?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Gifts!!

Christmas is a big deal around here.  We love all the celebration, music, crafts, food, and worship.  We also love gifts!!  Over the last few years, Mr. Math Tutor and I have worked to help our kids learn to give and receive gifts without focusing on the materialistic side of things.  I think they've learned this well.

My three main gifts from my family were all handmade - and amazing!!


Mr. Math Tutor made me this wooden nativity set by scroll-sawing at an angle.  The figures are then pushed outward about 1/4 of an inch.  It's really cool!

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Wild Man (with some help from his dad) made me this wooden puzzle.  I got it put together about an hour after I got it, but it seems that was a fluke.  I figured it out again last night, and now I think I understand it.

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Ga'hoole Girl made me this dragon out of Sculpey, then painted it in two colors of blue, and then accented it with silver.  I named her Saphira, since she looks like the Saphira from the Eragon books.

Of course, there were other gifts.  Wild Man and Ga'hoole Girl both got Nintendo DS with accessories and one game each from Santa.  Grams and Grandpa also gave them a Mario game to share.  Ga'hoole Girl got the rest of the Ga'hoole books from Grams and Grandpa.  Going with the owl theme, Mr. Math Tutor and I game Ga'hoole Girl a pretty glass owl.  Wild Man has a serious Lego thing going - Mr. Math Tutor and I as well as Grams and Grandpa gave him Legos.  Mr. Math Tutor and I also gave him a book about building with Legos.  The kids also got several books.

I got lots of books - which, of course, makes me happy!  We are all thrilled because I got The Tales of Beedle the Bard!  My dad gave me some old  theology books, including Dr. Watts' A Distinctive Translation of Genesis - how many other women get excited by theology books?  My parents also gave me a mortar and pestle (which was on my Amazon wish list).  I had SilPat on my wish list, as well, so my mom sent me two SilPat that she doesn't use.

Mr. Math Tutor received a gift card to Woodcraft from my parents which he will enjoy immensely!  The kids and I did a "theme" set of gifts for him.  I gave him a video rocker, which he wanted after seeing some at the library.  The kids gave him a GameCube game (Paper Mario) and a wireless controller.  They also had made a blanket with fleece that has pictures of cats and coffee so he won't get cold while playing his video game.

So, how was your Christmas?  Is your living room as messy as ours is still?!  I love your comments!



Enough Snow Already!!!

I like snow.  I figure that if you have to put up with the cold temperatures of the Great White North, it is at least nice that you get lovely snow to look at and play in.  But, I think we've actually had more snow than I like this year.

By Christmas Day, we had had a good three feet of snow already this season.  Then, yesterday, it got really warm and some of the snow melted - mostly what was on the streets and driveways.  Before the water could evaporate, though, it got cold again so the water froze into ice and it snowed.  The forecast was for 1-2 inches of snow.  We got 5-6! 

Mr. Math Tutor was in charge of deciding whether or not to have church services today since the pastors are out of town.  He decided to go ahead with both services.  Then, on the way through town, got stuck in a snow drift!  You see, we live on the end of Main Street that isn't actually a highway.  The plows do all the highways first, then come back and do the regular town streets.  So, they had plowed part of the intersection that Mr. Math Tutor was going through, but left a drift - on top of the ice.  Our poor little Malibu just couldn't handle it.  Mr. Math Tutor got unstuck and came back home.  He got out the snowblower and took care of our driveway then waited for the plow to do our end of the street so he could plow the drift in front of our driveway left by the plow.  He got to church OK and on time for the last half of the second service.  He was supposed to run sound today, but it probably didn't matter for the early service since very few people probably came out in this weather!

The drifts of snow in front of our house are over four feet high what with the snow that has fallen plus the snow thrown by the snowblowers and plows.  It's great for playing!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Love Languages

My daughter loves to give and receive gifts. When she was younger, Mr. Math Tutor and I worried that we weren't being good parents. We were afraid that her desire for gifts meant that she was becoming terribly materialistic. Then, we read The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. In this book, Dr. Chapman describes five different ways that people give and receive love. Most people have a primary and secondary "love language". If you know another person's "love language", it is easier to help them feel loved.

I started thinking about "love languages" again the week partly because of Christmas. Ga'hoole Girl's primary love language is giving and receiving gifts. We figured out that her love of gifts isn't because she just wants more stuff (although she did manage to inherit my desire for expensive things!). She is just as happy to get something handmade or inexpensive as something costly. When she gets a gift, she feels loved. And, it works the other way around. She tells the rest of us that she loves us by giving gifts. She is the child who wants to give Christmas gifts to every person she knows! Ga'hoole Girl also feels loved by words of affirmation. Being verbally uplifted makes her feel good.

Another thing that reminded me of love languages was how Wild Man was acting on Monday. He and I spent hours over the course of the day sitting on the sofa snuggled up together. For part of that time, we watched movies, and for part of the time, I was reading a book. Wild Man's love language is physical touch. He gives and receives love through hugs, cuddling, kisses, etc. In this, he is just like his dad! Mr. Math Tutor also feels loved by hugging and snuggling. I suspect that Wild Man's secondary love language is quality time since he always wants to "be" with someone. He loves for me or Mr. Math Tutor to play games with him or read to him - anything that gives him full attention.

And, me? I feel loved mostly by acts of service, although I also really like words of affirmation. Mr. Math Tutor likes to do things for me that make me feel loved. They are usually pretty simple, like running to the grocery store for something I need to cook with. Sometimes, they are more significant. For example, even when he is working, he tries to make sure to take care of the snow removal around the house. Those things make me feel very loved.

So, what about you? Do you know your love language and the love languages of your family members? Does it help you relate to them? If you haven't read The Five Love Languages, you should take the time to read it. Mr. Math Tutor and I have found that understanding how our family members want and need to be loved is quite helpful. And, it has reminded us that there is nothing wrong with giving and receiving gifts or hearing affirming words. They all have their place in a healthy family.

Icky Weather

We have certainly had a White Christmas around here!  The Green Bay new station said that we have had about 36 inches of snow this year, while the normal is 13 inches.  Then, there were even a couple more inches this morning.  Earlier this week, it was below zero for most of the day.  Today, it's in the upper 30s and the top layer of snow is trying to melt.  And, it's getting foggy outside.

Mr. Math Tutor and I went in the backyard and put on our cross-country skis for a little bit.  We can't really do much skiing - it's more like snow-shoeing in skis - but it gets us outside and used to the skis.  The temperature is so warm that the snow was starting to melt on the skis, making them stick.

I went outside to get the mail, and the ice from the roof is dripping down right by the front steps.  It's pretty icy there, and I slipped.  I didn't fall, but I pulled the muscles in the front of my shoulder when I held on to the railing.

I'll be happy when we get back to normal winter weather.  It is supposed to be back in the 20s next week with a little more snow.  A week from today, we go up North for some skiing, tubing, and general fun at camp.  I'm praying for nice weather and lots of good snow!

What about you?  Have you gotten to play outside lately - in the snow or in the warm weather?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Morning

We've been up since 7:30am.

Gifts are opened.


Ga'hoole Girl is reading.


Mr. Math Tutor and Wild Man are playing a video game.


Lego people are fighting.


Silver is very confused.


I'm sitting and relaxing.

What a lovely Christmas morning.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

  • Migraine better - check!
  • Gifts wrapped - check!
  • House not too terribly messy - check!
  • Showered - check!
  • Dressed with make-up on - check!
  • Car started - check!

What's left to do? 

  • Clear all the snow off the car (we've had almost an inch since Mr. Math Tutor left for church earlier today).
  • Go to Christmas Eve service.
  • Complain that the snowplow just went by, leaving a pile of snow in the driveway - well, maybe I won't complain, but it is a little annoying and really bad timing.
  • Come home from church.
  • Bring presents down and put under the tree.
  • Everyone opens one present.
  • Put out cookies and milk for Santa.
  • Go to bed and await Santa!!!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Gingerbread Houses

The gingerbread houses are done!  And it only took a week!

Ga'hoole Girl worked on one house while Wild Man and I worked on the other.  Here's the construction log:

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Making the pieces.  We did stained glass windows with crushed Jolly Ranchers. DSCN0176 DSCN0180 



Assembly.  Despite the fact that this was the first time to make gingerbread houses, none of our roofs fell off.  Royal icing is absolutely amazing!!



Decorating.  Yes, it was a mess of the first degree!!  But, what fun!  Our general approach to decorating was to put as much icing and candy as possible on the gingerbread and the board.


Wild Man and his/my/our house.

DSCN0196 The front of Wild Man's house.  We made the roof with Triscuits and covered the chimney with TicTacs.   Wild Man made the sled on the left side and Ga'hoole Girl made the mailbox on the right.

DSCN0198 The back side of the house.  I think the round windows will soon be in all new construction!


I thought we should put in a swimming pool until the kids reminded me that it is winter, so we put in an ice rink made of blue sugar surrounded by Lifesavers.


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Ga'hoole Girl's house.  She made the roof with Twizzlers, a path lined with Kissables and paved with sliced almonds, and snow made from Royal Icing.  She used a rainbow theme, so she put rainbows in all her stained glass windows and made rainbow patterns with Skittles on the sides of the house.


The snowman, sadly, is melting.  It must be a rather warm day.

DSCN0206 The side of the house.  Notice the rainbow motif.  On the right, is a sled made from pretzels.

What creative or fun thing have you done with your family this season? 

Monday, December 22, 2008


During prayers tonight, Wild Man said the following:  "Dear God, please let tomorrow go like a jet, the day after tomorrow go like the speed of sound, and Christmas Day go like a slug."

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I'd like to blog right now, but it's so cold everywhere, and especially in my sunroom where the computer is, that I am just going to curl up under a blanket until the temperature creeps above zero - or maybe until summer.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Interview With My Children

Here's a great meme that I found at Behold the Lamb.

What does Mom always say to you?

  • Wild Man - Did you get your chores done?
  • Ga'hoole Girl - No; I love you (in different contexts, she says)

What makes Mom happy?

  • Wild Man - Chocolate
  • Ga'hoole Girl - Knitting, cooking, watching movies, eating chocolate

What makes Mom sad?

  • Wild Man -  . . .
  • Ga'hoole Girl - Us being bad, it being too cold, headaches

How does Mom make you laugh?

  • Wild Man - Being sarcastic
  • Ga'hoole Girl - Being extremely sarcastic or ironic

How old is Mom?

  • Wild Man - 41
  • Gahoole Girl - 41

How tall is Mom?

  • Wild Man - About 5 feet
  • Ga'hoole Girl - 5 foot 6 inches (she's correct)

What does Mom like to do?

  • Wild Man - Knit!
  • Ga'hoole Girl - Knit, cook, eat chocolate, cross country ski

What is Mom's job?

  • Wild Man - Feed me!
  • Ga'hoole Girl - Homeschooling mom

What is Mom's favorite food?

  • Wild Man - Fried fish
  • Ga'hoole Girl - Chocolate; roast beef, rice, and gravy

How do you know Mom loves you?

  • Wild Man - She says it 10 times a day
  • Ga'hoole Girl - Because I do.

Wasn't that fun?  Of course, mine was pretty different than the one at Behold the Lamb since I only have two kids.  It is cool, though, to see what they think about what I like and do!


  • We're getting another six inches of snow today!  I'm still recovering from clearing snow yesterday.  Mr. Math Tutor is going to have to take care of the snow tomorrow.
  • Last year, the children's Christmas program at church got postponed till after Christmas because church services on the Sunday before Christmas were canceled due to a severe winter storm.  The same thing may happen again this year (except that the service will be on Monday).
  • The 1995 BBC "Pride and Prejudice" is much better than the more recent one with Keira Knightley.  I like Keira Knightley's work, but not this particular film.
  • I'm working out at the health club regularly now (more on that another time) and I'm incredibly sore.  Let's hope the soreness passes soon.
  • My son had me color his spritz cookie dough green.  Those are some interesting looking cookies.
  • I think I'm actually tired of knitting!  I didn't know that could actually happen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The kitties are mad at me . . .

I locked them in the basement for the night to protect them from themselves. The kids and I spent all afternoon rolling, cutting, and baking pieces of gingerbread for our gingerbread houses (including put in stained glass windows), and I'm not sure the cats would survive if they broke any of the pieces while the family slept. It's only for a night, and they'll forget all about it as soon as someone starts to pet them again in the morning.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Calendars - Keeping Track of Everything

Blissfully Domestic 1 WFMW I have tried just about every calendar system out there over the last twenty years - Daytimer, Palm, family notebook, Outlook.  When keeping track of my own calendar, I could usually make things work pretty well, but keeping track of multiple calendars (mine and Mr. Math Tutor's) has given me fits.  How could we each have calendars that kept up with events that would affect both of us?  If I used a paper calendar, I had to add to it regularly and generally missed things.  Electronics are ideal, but it's hard to coordinate both my and Mr. Math Tutor's schedules.  We have, though come up with something that seems to work - Google Calendar.

Here's how we make it work for us:  Mr. Math Tutor set up his own Google Calendar then gave me permission (in Google) to add to his calendar from my Google account.  When I am in iGoogle (which I usually am), I can see this calendar which contains all family events.  Mr. Math Tutor just got a Blackberry which he can sync directly with Google Calendar.  We have the Google Calendar set up to automatically sync with Outlook.  I use a Palm and HotSync with Outlook every couple of days.  So far, this works for us.  It was a little effort in the setup, but is pretty easy to keep up with.  Now, we can see where the other person is and what they're up to!