Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Sock Thief

We have a thief in our home - a thief of socks. No, it's not the dryer. We do occasionally lose socks to the dryer, but the sock thief of which I speak is Ga'hoole Girl's cat, Sophie. Sophie is a cute black and white cat who has been part of our family for 4 years. We got her when she was a kitten and our other two cats were about 3 years old. Sophie quickly established herself as the dominant cat. She is still dominant, but she doesn't terrorize the other cats too often these days. Her hobby now is to pick up socks and carry them around the house. I have learned to get the socks folded soon after they come out of the dryer, or single socks end up all over the house. Lately, though, Sophie has taken to going into our closets and getting pairs of clean socks which she then carries around the house and drops randomly. We were out of town for less than 48 hours and came home to find at least 5 pairs of socks scattered around the living room, dining room, and stairwell. She's really crazy, I think.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Arepas on "Throwdown with Bobby Flay"!

I LOVE arepas! Arepas are the national dish of Venezuela and our family was introduced to them several years ago when we visited the Lighthouse Ranch near Caracas. The staff there made arepas for us just about every morning for breakfast. The next Christmas, Mr. Math Tutor bought me an arepa cooker so I can bake arepas instead of frying them.

What are arepas? you ask. Arepas are small cakes made from corn flour and water that are then fried or baked. They can be eaten with just butter, but are usually filled with something. In Venezuela, we filled arepas with scrambled eggs. Here at home, I like to fill my arepas with taco seasoned ground beef.

I'm so excited to see that Bobby Flay is making arepas on his TV show, "Throwdown with Bobby Flay". He is going up against some Venezuelan women who run an arepa restaurant in New York. How cool!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ahhhhh, Quiet.

On Friday, we left Wild Man with my parents in southern Illinois. They drove back down South for him to spend 10 days fishing, shooting, and generally being a boy. It's so quiet around here. Of course, I'm sure it's pretty loud where my parents are!

Ga'hoole Girl and I have some plans to cook and try to finish painting her room this week. She also wants Mr. Math Tutor to take her fishing. It may be quiet around here, but we'll still be busy.

I realized as I was packing Wild Man's clothes that he has very few pairs of socks and underwear. How had I not noticed it before? I do wash his clothes. He does wear undergarments. Apparently, though, he doesn't always wear clean undergarments. So, Grams took care of the problem and bought him some socks and underwear. She also bought him some dress pants and shirts since I sent him with just jeans because we go to a casual church and he never wears dress clothes. But, now he has them if he ever gets the urge to be a GQ kind of guy.

Have I mentioned how quiet it is around here?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday - Travelling with kids

Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer hosts Works for Me Wednesday

With summertime vacations approaching, I decided to share a few tips on travelling with kids int the car. My kids have always been good travelers. I'm sure a lot of that is that they are naturally just easy-going kids, but it also helps that they are used to lots of car trips (we went halfway across the country when Wild Man was two weeks old) and because I've developed a few strategies that I use even now that they're older.

1. Plan for stops. We don't try to be heroic and drive six hours without stopping. We usually start early in the morning, so we try to go a good 2 or 3 hours while the kids are still asleep, but then we stop every 1 to 2 hours. For one thing, I'm a big believer in heeding the call of nature - KWIM? Mr. Math Tutor drinks coffee to stay awake, so he needs regular stops. And, I don't limit my kids' drinking water. It's also really good for everyone, but especially little kids, to get out and run around. Now that I'm older, I like to walk to prevent my legs from getting swollen - yuck!

2. Audiobooks. We don't have a DVD in the car for the kids and I don't plan to get one. Part of the joy of travelling is watching the scenery - we've enjoyed watching cropdusters and balloon festivals over the years. But, audiobooks are great. On our last really long trip, we listened to Eragon on the way there (2 days) and Eldest on the way home (2 days). We have also listened to most of the Focus on the Family Chronicles of Narnia radio dramas as well as all of the Jungle Jam CDs. (Jungle Jam is hysterical for kids and adults - you can get the CDs at CBD.) Remember, though, that the library has tons of audiobooks, so don't feel compelled to go out and buy them since they're pretty pricey.

3. Snacks. What kind of snacks can you eat in the car without making too much of a mess and spending too much money? I generally stick with crumbly, but not very greasy, snacks. That way, clean-up just involves vacuuming the car and not shampooing the upholstery. I buy a bag of crackers, a bag of cookies, and a container of nuts. Then, I put everything into little ziptop sandwich bags that are easy for me to hand out when the kids ask. It is also automatically made into little portion sizes.

4. Clean-up. Who wants to end their vacation with the kids and car a total wreck? I don't have all the answers, but here are a few suggestions. We put one trash bag in the front of the car and another in the back so that no one should have an excuse to put trash on the floor. I give each kid a paper towel whenever I hand them a snack. Kids can only have water in the back seat - it's not sticky like juice and isn't very messy if they spill. (Grownups, of course, can drink what we want, because we're the ones who end up doing the cleaning if we spill!) I also make sure we have at least two containers of wet wipes in the vehicle.

5. Prevent carsickness. Wild Man tends to get carsick, so I've learned what to do to help prevent his getting queasy. When we are on twisty roads or in stop and go traffic for any length of time, I have him use SeaBands. He doesn't really like them, but they seem to help. If he does get queasy, then I go right to Dramamine. He'll sleep, but at least he won't throw up. I don't let him do much reading-type activities in the car unless we're on a straight interstate. I encourage him to listen to the audiobook or put his headphones on with his mp3 player.


I just haven't been able to sleep tonight. It's 1:30am and I'm sitting at the computer doing crossword puzzles and listening to old Rich Mullins music.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Birthday Dinner

Ga'hoole Girl is about to turn 13!!! We had her birthday dinner last night - herb and garlic encrusted lamb chops, stuffed tomatoes, mashed potatoes, root beer, and chocolate mint truffles. Frankly, I think a girl who is already a foodie like this should seriously consider a food-related career. How many other girls her age request such an elaborate menu? It was a fun evening for everyone!

Friday, June 13, 2008


Over the last several years, we have done a lot of downsizing in our lives. We have gone from a 2100 square foot house to a 1500 square foot house. We have downsized our income. We have downsized our spending. Now, we have downsized our bed.

Mr. Math Tutor bought our queen sized bed more than 16 years ago when he moved back down South so we could get married. That bed has gone from the Deep South to the Great White North and is starting to feel like it. It takes up most of our bedroom in this house (remember the downsizing!). So, we are downsizing to a double bed. Last night was our first night and was much better than I expected. Most of the time, when we sleep on a double bed, it's in a hotel room or someone's guest room, so the bed itself is not always high quality. We were pleasantly surprised last night that this bed is quite comfortable even for two grown-ups who have become quite accustomed to their queen sized bed.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thankful Thursday 6/12

Today, I am thankful for flowers. Not just the flowers I planted, but all flowers. On cloudy, dreary days, I love to go outside and look at my lovely petunias. When I woke up on my anniversary, Mr. Math Tutor had left a fresh petunia blossom on the pillow by my head. It was so sweet.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A successful summer morning

This morning, we dropped Ga'hoole Girl off at church to go to a water park (57 degrees this am - she's going to freeze!), then went to Herrschner's Warehouse Sale. Is there anything better than spending an hour picking out obscenely discounted yarn?! I had a blast. For $75, I bought a bunch of yarn, mostly stuff to be used for embellishments. They didn't have any wool for felting and very few other sweater-type yarns that I liked. Of course, I'm getting picky about yarn these days. I prefer wool and cotton to most man-made yarns. I have been making socks from some nylon yarn and getting very frustrated because of how my hands get so dried out. I also got a couple of big spools of 100% cotton for making dishcloths and other kitchen items. From the retail store, I picked up some wool yarn for felting and some nice cotton blend for making baby items, but that stuff wasn't part of the warehouse sale. The rest of the day today, I get to sort out yarn and figure out what I want to use to make what projects. Joy!!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Mr. Math Teacher becomes Mr. Math Tutor

Mr. Math Teacher has spent most of the last school year in the classroom, as both a student teacher and a long-term substitute teacher. Now that it's time for him to get a "real" job, he has decided that the classroom isn't the place for him. He is going to start his own tutoring business and work one-on-one teaching math. The benefits of this are huge. Mr. Math Tutor (notice the name change) loves to work individually with people. He also likes having a more flexible schedule than the school system provides. There are a few downsides - namely, the financial aspect. We actually aren't really worried about benefits because we all have good, affordable insurance and savings. The main thing is that it will take a little time for things to get off the ground.

So, now Mr. Math Tutor doesn't go into work everyday. Instead, he is researching how to start a business and all the details thereof. It's quite exciting for all of us!

Stormy Weather

It finally didn't storm today so I don't have a migraine, but I'm sure recovering from a headache-y weekend. Before I had the headaches, I loved storms. At least, I loved them if I was inside, and if there was just enough wind to make noise without uprooting trees, and if there were no tornadoes. You get the picture - I wanted to see just enough of nature to enjoy it, but not enough to actually be in any danger. The storms this weekend were just that kind around here. There wasn't significant damage, but lots of wind and rain. Sadly, they're harder to enjoy when my head is pounding.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Fun Facts about our Wedding

Since today's my anniversary, I've been thinking about our wedding day, sixteen long years ago. Here are some interesting things about that day.

1. Yes, we got married on D-Day. It was the only Saturday available that summer for a wedding. Also, I figure that if we forget our anniversary, we'll remember when we see on the news that it's the anniversary of D-Day.

2. My gown was made my my matron of honor's mother. It was heavy satin with a beautiful lace bodice.

3. My flower girl is now married and finishing college. My ring bearer is now in college. EEK!

4. I chose lovely flowers for my wedding that did not include carnations. Unfortunately, the florist ended up including a bunch of carnations, including carnations with the edges colored which I really don't like. But, my bouquet was white roses and ivy and was beautiful.

5. My cake was almond pound cake except for the top two tiers which were chocolate. I also made my own wedding cake topper using the figures that my mom and dad had on the top of their wedding cake.

6. The DJ had called to ask me about music for dancing and I told him which songs I wanted. At the reception, he told me that he didn't have the songs (he could have mentioned this sooner) so I picked Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Nevilles' "Don't know much (but I know I love you)" not because it's so special but because I was pressed for time and figured an Aaron Neville song was good since we were in New Orleans.

7. The pastor who married us was wearing a robe. This was never something I had thought would happen at my wedding. I was born and raised Southern Baptist and was sure I'd be married and die as a Southern Baptist, but Mr. Math Teacher and I were married in a Presbyterian church, hence the robe. And it was lovely.

What lovely memories. I don't think I could picture a more perfect day.

How We Schedule - Heart of the Matter Meme

How do we schedule? Good question. Mostly, we don't schedule much these days. It has taken me two years, but I think that I have learned to be flexible because of my illness. Here are the few schedule-type things that we do.

We use Sonlight. I don't use the daily schedule that they give, but I keep up with the readings by the week. We tend to get ahead on the read-alouds because we enjoy them so much, so we add in extra books for bedtime reading. I also have a list of movies that go with each week. We watch those every few days, particularly when I have a bad headache.

The kids do math and Spanish on the computer almost every day. Wild Man reads to me every day and does either Explode the Code or spelling a couple of times a week.

On Sunday afternoon, Ga'hoole Girl and I make a list of what she wants to do during the next week. She tries to follow the list and it gives me an idea of what she's up to. It also lets me plan since she often wants to cook. Each night, the kids and I make a tentative plan for what we'll do the next day. This is always dependent on how I feel.

When I was more of a stickler about schedules, I was using Homeschool Tracker Plus. I can't say enough good stuff about this program. I will probably use it again when I have to keep track of Ga'hoole Girl's stuff for a high school transcript.

So that's our "schedule" for the time being. It may change tomorrow - you can't ever tell.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thankful Thursday 6/5

Today I am thankful for my (almost) sixteen wonderful years of marriage to Mr. Math Teacher. Tomorrow is the official wedding anniversary (yes, it's D-day). Sixteen years ago, in Metairie, Lousiana, Mr. Math Teacher and I were married in a small Presbyterian church. Since so much of our family is from the South, we had lots of family members there for the wedding. After the wedding, we had a lovely reception. Being in Lousiana, we had wonderful Cajun and Creole seafood. And, when it was all done, Mr. Math Teacher and I spent our first married night at Nottoway, a historic plantation home on the famous River Road. Three days after our wedding, I took the USMLE Step 2 (medical licensure examination). The day after the test was done, we went to Walt Disney World for a week-long honeymoon.

The last sixteen years haven't all been easy, but I am so glad that I have spent them with Mr. Math Teacher. During our marriage we have changed states twice and houses three times. We now have two lovely children. We have gone from being a family with a professional mom and a stay-at-home dad to being a family with a soon-to-be entrepreneur dad (more on that later) and a stay-at-home mom. But, the entire time, Mr. Math Teacher and I have been completely committed to each other and to God.

Thank God for sixteen wonderful years of marriage.

New Glasses

Got my "progressive lenses" today. They're not really bifocals because they have three separate areas of vision. So far, things are going OK. I do have a little trouble with feeling like the ground isn't level. I've also noticed that my effective field of vision for the computer and reading is pretty small, but the optician said that it would increase. I suppose that means that my brain will adjust to it, because the glasses themselves won't change. In a few days, I should be seeing like I did in my teens.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The post that was supposed to be here . . .

Today, I was going to write a post about "redeeming the time" (Ephesians 5:16), particularly for those dealing with chronic pain. I was going to write about all the great stuff I've learned about pacing myself to keep my pain from getting too far out of control. Then, last night, after I had a very busy and productive day (an unusual event in itself), I decided that I should mop the kitchen floor. Talk about not pacing myself. It's no surprise that I woke up with a migraine today. I'm not quite ready to talk about good use of time yet. Maybe next week.

Works for Me Wednesday - Easy Dinner

Rocks in My Dryer hosts Works for Me Wednesday again today. My post today is a recipe - kind of. My parents gave me a pressure cooker for Christmas, and it has become one of my most used and treasured kitchen possessions. One of the easiest things to make for dinner is a meat and rice/barley dish that my family loves.
I start with about a pound of cut up beef or venison, often frozen. I put this in the pressure cooker and then add 1-2 cups of rice or barley. Then, I add water or broth - about twice as much liquid as rice or barley. Next, I add some spices and onion soup mix. If I have some, I put in one or two cans of cut or french sliced green beans. I then cook it under high pressure for about 40 minutes if the meat isn't frozen to start with, for an hour if I started with frozen meat. It does taste better if you brown the meat first, but that adds complexity, so I rarely do it. When it's done, serve in bowls. That's it. Really simple, but it works for me.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Recital 2008 is Over!

This year's recital is finished - finally. The kids were wonderful and they had a blast. We spent all yesterday just relaxing and today cleaning up. I think we're finally all recovered.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

One down, two to go . . .

Dance recital shows, that is. The first show was last night and was just wonderful! Ga'hoole Girl is dancing to Hairspray with her Theater Dance class and King of New York with her tap class. Wild Man is dancing to Land of a Thousand Dances with his jazz class. They both did a wonderful job, on stage and off. There are two shows today, one this afternoon and one this evening.

One of the really cool things this year is that the kids pretty much take care of themselves. They both packed up all their costumes and necessities - and no one forgot anything! Ga'hoole Girl did her own makeup this year. She also used the older dancers dressing room and didn't request my help for anything. Both kids took care of getting themselves backstage at the right time. What a change from the first couple of years when Mr. Math Teacher and I had to keep track of the costumes and make sure the kids were in the right place at the right time. It's scary, but they're growing up.