Friday, February 27, 2009

Respect – Heart of the Matter Online Meme – February 27, 2009


Today’s Heart of the Matter Online Meme Topic is the following:

Real Life Subjects: What Your Family Does Ordinarily That Teaches Your Child an Abundance of Lessons?

What came to my mind when I read this topic is respect.  My husband and I are often disturbed by how we hear other people speak to each other – friends, family, whatever.  We want our children to learn to speak respectfully to family members as well as other people.  Part of how we teach that is through example.  Mr. Math Tutor and I work hard at speaking nicely to each other even when we disagree.  We also have “Speak Respectfully” as one of the Five Rules of our family.  When the kids get into disagreements, I try to let them work things out by themselves as much as possible, but I do step in if they start to talk disrespectfully to each other.  So far, the results seem to be positive.

Check out Heart of the Matter Online to see what other families teach as they homeschool.

Friday Morning

My children are baking a cake (well, mostly Ga’hoole Girl) while playing ska music (Bunch of Believers – Mission Trip to Mexico) really loud while Wild Man dances around the dining room.  What a day – already.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Just a Quick Note . . .

So my page visit numbers have gone through the roof in the last few days so I checked StatCounter to see what was up.  It seems that I’ve gotten a number of page hits from WFMW which isn’t really surprising.

What got me, though, is that someone mentioned my blog on the Knitty Twitter feed, so I got a bunch of hits on the 24th and 25th from that.  Someone commented about the Doddy ball that I made for my nephew and how much he loved it!  So, welcome to my blog all you Knitty knitters!!  I knit a lot, but only blog about it once a month.  I am a huge Knitty fan, though.  Not only do I love using free patterns, but I’ve started to modify patterns to make things with more of my own style.  No, Knitty did NOT pay me to advertise about them with this post.  I just thought it was really cool how people got to this blog from that one little mention of a great knitting project!!

By the way, I would like to mention one VERY IMPORTANT thing that I have learned in the last year or so of knitting.  My projects turn out much better when I use the yarn that is specified in the pattern.  I used to take the patterns then go to the yarn shop and find something similar (and, usually, cheaper).  Then, I would have all kinds of trouble with gauge, etc.  Now, I’m trying to do a better job of matching the pattern and the yarn if I want the project to turn out the way it looks in the pictures.  Which means that I’m using more online yarn shops.  Which is OK with everything except the budget.  But, we’ll deal with that later.

Of course, after I said all that, I realized that my purse project called for wool yarn and a fabric lining and I actually used cotton yarn without lining.  I also did lots of picking up and knitting to avoid sewing since I like to knit, not sew.  Otherwise I’d be a seamstress.   But, I’m a knitter.  So, I knit.  Get it?  (Oh, and the purse pattern wasn’t from Knitty, but from a knitting calendar that was given to me by a dear friend a couple of years ago.

As you can tell from the rambling of this post, it’s very late, but I had to stay up to finish listening to the chapter of Persuasion on my mp3 player (because my mp3 player won’t fast forward properly).  I have also just gotten over the migraine that came with this lovely winter storm.  Lots of lovely snow=big, bad migraine.  But, if you have to be awake, listening to Jane Austen on mp3 while knitting hubby’s sweater is the way to go.  BTW, I am now working on the second sleeve of the sweater (will start the third one soon – gotcha!!) and will hopefully have it ready for him to wear and to post pictures right about the time the temperatures get into the 80s.  More later.  I need sleep.  As you can tell.  And, if you can’t, you probably need sleep – or better meds.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Grey Flannel Shirt – Works for Me Wednesday

wfmwbannerKRISTEN This may seem a little strange for a WFMW post, but the thing that has been working best for me recently is my grey flannel shirt.  Technically, I think it may be my hubby’s shirt, but I have now taken ownership of it (and possession is 9/10ths of the law, remember).

My husband has been using flannel shirts as an all-around light jacket/wear around the house item since we moved up to The Great White North.  When I was working, I had my lab coat, so I generally stayed pretty warm.  Soon after I quit working, we moved into our new home and have been trying to keep the heating bills under control, so it’s generally 64 to 68 degrees in our house during the day.  In order to keep warm, I have taken to wearing my (remember, MY, not the hubby’s) grey flannel shirt.  It is wonderfully warm and cozy and very easy to take off if I need to do dishes or add a jacket if I need to run out to the mailbox.

When we were down South last week, I even found myself wearing the shirt on chilly evenings (especially since all my clothes were short sleeved).  This is an incredibly versatile clothing item, although it might be a little short on style.  But, it works for me.


So, what about you?  Is there a wardrobe item that makes your life a zillion times easier (and/or warmer)?  Check out WFMW (now hosted at We Are that Family) for more great ideas.


I was supposed to go to the dentist for a cleaning this morning, but had to cancel because I’m getting a migraine. I felt pretty good (you know – pretty good for having a headache all the time) when I got up and showered, but within an hour and a half, I felt the migraine coming on.

This is my life. I’m getting used to it, although I can’t really say that I like this part of it. One of the hardest things about chronic pain is that others really can’t understand it. I tried very hard to be sympathetic to my chronic pain patients when I was working, but I wasn’t really able to understand it. They were walking a completely different path than I was. Now, I am walking that path.

Stacy From Louisville had a great post this week about her struggles with chronic pain. I can very much relate to her experiences. Many of us with pain issues don’t look sick on the outside. It’s hard to explain why I can’t get my teeth cleaned today (lying in the dentist chair for 30 minutes would be agony) or why I only make it to church services about half the time.

I wish I could help people understand how hard it is to think straight when my head really hurts. I want to tell them that I’m really not a total wimp. But, perhaps that’s part of what I need to learn. It doesn’t matter what people think. For one thing, no one has ever criticized me for my pain issues, so the problem of perception is completely mine. Second, even if they are thinking that I’m a weakling, it really doesn’t matter.

I’ve learned a lot from my pain. Mostly, I’ve learned that God’s plans are bigger than mine. My kids are thrilled that I’m home all the time, even if I don’t feel very well. I’m truly enjoying homeschooling, even if I can’t be as compulsive as I would have liked (and we’re probably all better off for it!).

Several months ago, Mr. Math Tutor and I were able to share some of our story with our congregation at church (if you listen to this, the interview starts after about five minutes – the whole thing is about 30 minutes). What a blessing that was. We taped my portion because I was likely to have a migraine that Sunday – and, indeed, I did. Afterwards, I had several people come tell me that they dealt with some of the same issues and that they were thrilled to realize they weren’t alone.

Somehow, in the middle of all of this, God has a bigger plan. The biggest plan, though, is that He has saved us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This Lent season (yes, I know I’m Protestant, but just go with me here), I want to truly focus on the Gospel and what Jesus has done for me. My pain issues pale in comparison to the magnificence of the Gospel.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Knitting Update – I Am Blissfully Domestic

Blissfully Domestic 1

I haven’t updated my knitting in quite awhile, but it is not because I have been lacking in knitting.  In fact, I have been knitting like a wild woman since October.  At first, I was trying to get Christmas gifts done; then, I started working on a sweater for Mr. Math Tutor; finally, I decided to make myself a purse while we were on vacation.  Here are the results with my stimulating commentary.


These socks were made with a sock wool for my mother in law using the Froot Loop pattern from Knitty.  She loves them!





I had a blast making these socks for my sister-in-law.  The yarn is Rowan 4ply    and the pattern is Hedera at Knitty.  She loves wearing them and they were a joy to make.


DSCN0165  I made this ball for my nephew.  I’m happy to say that he loves it.  When we saw him last week, he played with it quite often (and he’s not old enough to do it just to make me happy!).  The yarn is KnitPicks Shine Worsted and the pattern is Doddy from Knitty (again).

I also made the brothers’ and sisters’ families felted mancala boards.  Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of them since I was sewing them together at 11pm the night before they were to be mailed!!  Here’s the link, though.  I also did a pair of socks for my mom but forgot to take pictures.  Here’s the link for that pair.  I do have to say that they were something of a challenge.  I think I started them four or five times before I was happy with the mitered square look.

My most recent project was a purse that I made on our trip South.  I had been working on my husband’s sweater, but all that wool on my lap made me really hot.  So, I pulled out some inexpensive cotton yarn and made myself this cute purse.  Of course, since the yarn is variegated, you can’t see the cables very well.  I added in the inside pouches myself to hold credit cards and my cell phone.  My daughter says the purse is “garish”.  I love, it, though.  It’s not as organized as my 10 year old Wilson leather purse, but it is large enough to hold my pricebook notebook (with which I will finally save money on groceries – yeah, right).  I really like it – despite my daughter’s excessively conservative assessment.



You can’t really see it in the picture, but there are two pSANY1261ouches on the inside of the purse.







So, that’s what I’ve been up to in the Blissfully Domestic department.  If you haven’t ever tried some kind of needlework, I highly recommend it.  I have terrible headaches, including migraines, and I find knitting quite relaxing – and useful.  So, check out I Am Blissfully Domestic for more domestic ideas.


P.S. I’m so sorry, Kim, but I don’t have any ideas for storing or taking care of clothes.  I’ll refrain from giving details of the actual state of clothing in our home!!

Southern Food

TMTTThis is going to be a kind of interesting Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.Instead of sharing a recipe, I’d like to share some of what we ate on our recent trip to Mississippi and, particularly, Louisiana.  I didn’t take as many food pictures on this trip as I would have liked, but I do want to share one of the best things about going to the Deep South – the food.


When we first arrived, we ate at my parents’ trailer.  Roast beef, rice, and gravy, green beans with bacon – YUM!  Breakfast was usually “Grandpa biscuits” – AKA frozen biscuits that he makes first thing in the morning.  We enjoyed them with butter, molasses, or syrup.

In Baton Rouge, we had boiled crawfish and shrimp at my uncle’s house.  Talk about yummy!  And, of course, we had plenty of wonderfully spicy potatoes and corn!

SANY1225 SANY1226

No, I didn’t get pictures of the shrimp – sorry.  Shrimp doesn’t agree with my tummy, but I did manage to down quite a few crawfish before Wild Man got sick and we had to leave and get him some Pepto-Bismol.  Thankfully, he was just overtired so we didn’t have a rough evening.

The next day, we went to Parrain’s for lunch.  Talk about delicious!



This was my fried crawfish/crawfish etouffee platter.  I didn’t eat even half of it, but it was wonderful.



Ga’hoole Girl and Grandma both got fried catfish with hushpuppies.  The next day, we had enough leftover catfish to make po-boys for all of us for lunch.





Ms. Ticker had oysters on the half shell with a shrimp salad.  I’m not a fan of oysters, but she said that they were great.




Mr. Math Tutor got an oyster poboy.  Very nostalgic for him.




And, of course, Wild Man got chicken.  He loved it, though.




Friday’s dinner was at a lovely little restaurant called A Taste Of Asia.  I had a migraine, though, and didn’t take any pictures of our food – although the food was exquisite.  I particularly enjoyed the curry chicken.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of Southern food.  What’s your favorite?  And, if you live down South and get this stuff all the time, keep your comments kind.  Check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesday for some real recipes!!

Catherine Needs . . .

I am going to post more about our little trip down South, but I’m feeling kind of (OK, very) icky today, so I decided to do something fun (or at least more fun than making my pricebook so I can save money on groceries – yuck).  There’s a meme going around in which you type into Google “[your name] needs” and see what comes up.  In my case, several people have already done this, so I’ve weeded out their responses and only included the others (that weren’t totally offensive).  My comments are included in parentheses.

Catherine needs . . .

no. explanations.  (no explanation needed)

a home (ummmm.  I think I have one)

to go shopping (with whose money??)

TLC (hear that, Mr. Math Tutor?)

both good models and bad (this from a site about Northanger Abbey.  I still don’t quite get it.  BTW, the main character is Catherine Morland.)

more awakogens (ain’t that the truth – if they existed!)

to go home (I thought I was home.)

a helping hand (please!!!!!!  I could use about a hundred!)

any work (If I could work, would I be here?)

to do her EE (I thought my husband was the Electrical Engineer in the family)

Henry to live (I guess I want him to live, although I don’t know who he is.)

to be wary of becoming too intellectual and airy, too removed from the personal side of life (what can I say to that?)

So, there’s your touch of humor for the day.  Hopefully, more thoughtful posting will occur later, including a Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday post.  Maybe.  Or I might take a nap.  Or read a book.  Or just stare into space.  We’ll have to see.

Differences Between the North and the South

No, I do not want to relive the Civil War (AKA the War of Northern Aggression). Rebels, get over it – we lost and we deserved to lose. Besides, it was 150 years ago!!!! But, the North and the South are different and several very important ways.

Bathrooms – Northern bathrooms are clean. I noticed this on my first trip up to Wisconsin and South Dakota for residency interviews. They are also heated. Somewhere south of St. Louis, the cleanliness in all bathrooms (commercial and rest area) goes down significantly. I hate to wash my hands in the bathrooms because I’m afraid they’ll be dirtier than when I started. I carry individual wipes in my purse.

Humidity – It is dry up North. I use hand lotion several times a day and still have dry hands. I used hand lotion once while down South. In fact, my feet aren’t even scaly any more. I normally have to lotion my feet every night and still have dry feet. Seven days in the Deep South has cured by my dry feet. However, it has restarted my acne and oily hair. So, there are pros and cons.

Hair issues – In the North, I wash my hair every couple of days. But, I also find that I have to keep it in a ponytail or braid because the the static electricity makes me look like Firestarter (I was going to include a picture but decided that it might frighten small children). In the South, I have to shampoo every day despite having almost waist-length hair because it gets incredibly oily. Just a short walk down the street, and I’m down to oily and stringy hair.

Kissing – Who knew that kissing could be different by location? Down South, where Mr. Math Tutor and I learned to kiss, we had to negotiate the dance of which way to tilt your head in order to not butt noses while kissing. Up North, in the winter at least, there is no head tilting. The best way to kiss is to let your noses touch first to discharge static electricity and then to kiss. Without this vital step, you could blow up – or at least have mile electrical burns to your lips.

Food – Yankee food is boring. They think boiled fish up here is a great. Let me assure you – it is not. Spices are found in “foreign” restaurants like Chinese places and Outback. Northerners (especially in places like Wisconsin) like to steam their food with delicate spices and serve lots of green and yellow veggies. Southern cooking is something different. For one thing, there is no such thing as vegetarian. And, we don’t steam our food – we fry it. And then there’s Cajun food. We had lunch at Parrain’s in Baton Rouge which was delicious enough to knock your socks off. And there was enough left for catfish poboys on the road the next day. Talk about good. And, Thursday night was the annual boiled shrimp and crawfish dinner. Shrimp doesn’t much agree with me, but I just adore boiled crawfish, including sucking the heads. Wisconsinites will tell you that the Northern way of eating is healthier, but I would disagree. The Madison way of eating may be healthy, but the average, rural Wisconsinite wants a large slab of meat perhaps with cheese. I would argue that neither diet is inherently healthy, but that the Southern food is infinitely more delicious. BTW, I will be doing a post with food pictures later this week. Yep. It was that good.

That’s all I can think of right now. I’m sure I’ll add to this later if I come up with anything else.

Cracker Barrel Audiobooks

Yes, I have insomnia.  Let’s just get that out there.  I’m blogging at 1:51am.  I figure I’m my most sarcastic at this time of day.  Probably because I don’t have to set a good example for children or something.

But, I did want to tell you folks who may be traveling in the next few months about a great program set up by Cracker Barrel – yes, the restaurant.  We were planning to listen to The Fellowship of the Ring on our trip South, but we found that the library discs were in worse shape than usual.  Our new plan was to just be bored.  And listen to music.  That we’d listened to a zillion times before.  We weren’t terribly happy.

Then, we had lunch at Cracker Barrel.  Don’t ask me where.  They all blend together after a while.  Anyway, they have a big display of audiobooks, which they’ve had before.  This time, though, they had an advertisement that said that we could buy the book, but if we returned it within a week, they would refund all but $3.49 of the purchase price.  The longer you keep the book, the more of your money they keep.  Still, it’s a pretty fair deal.

We decided to get The Half Moon Detective Agency by Eoin Colfer (author of the Artemis Fowl books).  Yes, it’s another book about a preteen. It’s just as funny as the Artemis Fowl books, although the protagonist is not a genius, and just as family friendly.  We finished this book by the time we got to Baton Rouge, so we then got Peter in Scarlett about Peter Pan, the renewal of Captain Hook, and, of course, Wendy and the lost boys.  This is, apparently, the only authorized sequel to Peter and Wendy.  Yet another winner.  Could we be so fortunate again?

Indeed we were – to a certain extent.  We next got  Endymion Spring, a fascinating book about Gutenberg, Fauste, and ancient books.  But, the nearest Cracker Barrel to our house is in Madison, so we had to return the book after the fourth disc – and we were only halfway through.  So, the book is now on hold with our regular library system so that Mr. Math Tutor can read it to the family.

I enjoy Cracker Barrel’s food rather well, and I find it nice to have a sit-down meal in the middle of traveling all day, but the audiobook rental is a real treat.  They do have more than children’s books.  In fact, there were a number of books that I would have enjoyed that were either not kid-appropriate or just not kid-friendly.  In any case, there are fiction and non-fiction, and just about every fiction genre you can imagine.  So, on your next trip, give it a try.  It really helps the miles pass in the states with so many wheat fields!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Observations on Home

Normally, we take two days to drive South (Southwest MS and the Baton Rouge area) and then another two days to drive home.  This time, we took three days to drive home.  And not because we are amazing homeschooling parents who stop at every potentially historical site so that our kids can be smarter than the public schooled kids next door.  No.  We were tired.  And I had a headache.  It’s not a pretty combination.  So, we drove to Cape Girardeau on Saturday, to LaSalle, IL on Sunday, and back home today.  We got home right around noon, so we treated the kids to Subway.  Even though we had just blown $100 on a hotel room.  But, the $100 was insurance against getting into an accident because the driver was tired or the navigator was barfing because of a migraine.  We’re home now.  And much happier :-)

So, on arriving home, two of the three cats greeted us.  Sassy was happy to see us.  Sophie tolerated us.  Silver hid from us.  They had been well fed and cared for by our neighbors (who had also meticulously cleared our driveway of the four inches of snow that had fallen in our absence – thank you so very much, lovely neighbors).  When cats are stressed, they tend to shed more.  Apparently, our cats were a little anxious.  Or completely terrified of an ax murderer sneaking in now that the humans were gone.  The sofa is completely covered in lovely gray cat hair.  Some people write about how you can spin your pet’s hair into yarn and knit with it.  I think not.  Besides, the critters shed so much that I’m sure their fur is already in everything I knit.  BTW, Silver finally deigned to be in the same room with us.  But, she hasn’t purred yet.  I give her another hour or two before she relents.

The kids had set up automatic recordings for Pokemon.  There are like eight hours of Pokemon shows available now for their viewing pleasure/addiction.  They watched a couple already today – most likely because they know that their TV time is seriously limited tomorrow.  Ugh.  Pokemon is so incredibly annoying – benign, but annoying for anyone over the age of 18.

I have about 14 different blog topics to write about based on the last week.  Some of them are even interesting.  Stay tuned.

We’re Home!!!!

More posting later today!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lagniappe - February 17

I managed to find internet access at a reasonable speed here in southwestern Mississippi. My withdrawal symptoms are easing, although not completely gone. I had over 700 entries in my Google reader, but only got through about 150 before Google kind of seized up and made me stop. But, I got through to Blogger so I thought I'd share with all my bloggy friends what has been going on around here.

  • Our drive was generally uneventful. Our CD of The Fellowship of the Ring didn't work, but we got a book by Eoin Colfer from Cracker Barrel and really enjoyed listening to it - well, the rest of the family enjoyed it. I fell asleep during the last hour or so. Anyway, we'll listen to the last part again on the way to Baton Rouge and then get another book for the way back home (we hope).
  • It is seriously humid in Mississippi. This is not news to me, but I can't say I like it. I don't have to put water in my CPAP machine, but I constantly feel sticky. I am quite thankful for long straight hair that I don't need to worry about styling.
  • Having 10 people in a double wide trailer is loud. Especially when three of them are boys under the age of 11. Thankfully, they played outside some.
  • Ga'hoole Girl and I wore jeans to church on Sunday, but didn't feel nearly as self-conscious as I was afraid we would. My parents go to the big Baptist Church where Sunday morning is THE thing and people dress up. My goal on Sunday mornings is to be awake and clean. Thankfully, no one seemed to notice the disparity in our standards. And, the worship service was quite good. Wild Man really liked the preaching.
  • Yesterday, we went to Natchez to see some Indian Mounds. I'll post pictures and more details later. But, I do have to comment that my mom got one leg stuck in some mud up to her knees. Now that she's safely out without losing limb or apparel, I can say that it was pretty hysterical!!
  • I had a migraine last night and today. I'm here at the library because I needed to get away from the noise in the trailer.
  • My kids are having a blast with the grandparents. They also seriously like the four-wheeler. My parents have a bunch of land, so the kids love riding my uncle's four-wheeler all over the place.

Well, I suppose that's about it. I'm sure I'll have more to say later. I'd have more to say now, but my time is limited and my head is not happy. Hope you all have a great week. I get to eat crawfish in 2 days - I'm definitely going to have a good week!

Lagniappe - February 17

Friday, February 13, 2009

Halfway there . . .

We're halfway to our destination down South. And we are tired. We started this morning at about 7am. No problems till Rockford. We usually don't have too much problems finding our way through the spahetti bowl of highways, but today there was construction. We saw a sign that said SB I-39. How were we supposed to know that SB meant southbound?? So, we went about 20 miles toward Chicago before we got to an exit where we could get off and drive through the lovely Illinois countryside back to I-39.

The other rather large crisis was that the audiobook of The Fellowship of the Ring from the library was so scratched as to be unusable. At dinner at Cracker Barrel, though, we found that we could purchase an audiobook and then return it to another Cracker Barrel and get back all but $3.49. So, we are essentially renting the book. It's called Half Moon and it's by Eoin Colfer (the author of the Artemis Fowl series). So far, it's been a great success.

I got a headache this evening, but not so bad that I couldn't help navigate, etc. Right now we're in a hotel with WiFi. Tomorrow,though, we'll be at my parents' trailer without intenet access. I do need to take some time, though just to read my blogs in my reader. I had 150 posts to look at tonight - I don't read them all, but I do want to mark the ones I want to read later.

I do want to take this time to do some serious bragging on my kids. They traveled incredibly well today. There were very few disagreements and they were managed without fighting. They had wonderful manners at the restaurants. When we stopped at rest areas, they played shipmates on the jungle gyms. It is rather gratifying to see them using what they've learned to enhance their playtime. I am sooooooo incredibly proud of them.

Well, I'll post more later in the week. Let's hope my withdrawal symptoms don't get too bad in the meantime.

This is It!!

We are on our way down South in the next few minutes.  Posting will be sporadic for the next 10 days or so. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Not-So-New Me – February 12, 2009

I have been quite delinquent in posting about my diet and exercise changes over the last couple of weeks.  The good news is that I haven’t been terribly delinquent in the actual practice.

One problem is that I had about two weeks of what seemed like constant migraines, including a trip to the Emergency Department.  Because of that, I have been quite hit and miss with recording things on SparkPeople.

Some things, though, have gone well.  I have started packaging our snack food in zip-top sandwich bags in about 100 calorie increments.  I have also taken to measuring my ice cream so that I get a 150 calorie serving (when I don’t have an ice cream sandwich).  I’ve been eating some fruit and a couple of veggies each day.

Exercise has also been tough.  I did get my complete workout at the health club set up and ready to go.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to actually go and do it.  I have been pretty consistent on the treadmill – I only skip it if I have a really rip-roaring migraine.

We’re about to leave on a week-long trip, so my goals are modest.  Don’t eat everything in sight and try to take a walk every couple of days.  When I get back, I’ll get going on recording what I eat with more diligence.

S.W.A.K. Carnival


Saturday is Valentine’s Day – for those of you who live like ostriches with your heads in the sand.  We will be celebrating that day by driving from the northernmost part of the country to the southernmost part (well, almost).  In a Malibu (i.e. not very large car).  With two children.  Can’t you just feel all that romantic ambience.  No?  Me, neither.

My husband and I don’t do Valentine’s Day very well.  We never have.  That’s not to say that we don’t love and like each other or that we don’t get romantic with the best of them.  We just don’t do the romance thing on February 14.  Right now, we live in an area of the country where we want to hide under a rock through most of the month of February.  February may only have 28 days, but it sure feels like it has about 100.  It’s cold, but the snow isn’t nice and fresh.  And there’s not much sun.

But, not celebrating Valentine’s Day very often (as I mentioned above) does NOT mean that we don’t do romance.  My dear hubby is, in fact, quite a romantic guy.  Let me tell you the story of our getting together and you can judge on the level of romance.

We met in Laville Cafeteria at LSU in the Spring of 1987.  When I first met him, he had a beard and mustache (left over from Dead Week from the previous fall semester).  I thought he looked like all those stereotypical pictures of Arab terrorists, although not as angry and without some kind of head covering – and it just wasn’t a good look for him.  When I next saw him, he had shaved off the beard, but not the mustache and looked much better.  So, our first date was to see the movie “The Secret of My Success” with Michael J. Fox and have dinner at Bennigans in Baton Rouge.  We dated through that semester.  During the summer, he stayed at LSU for summer school and I went home to Florida.  Being the dark ages before complete connectivity, we wrote letters (yes, using pen and ink) back and forth to each other.  We did talk on the phone some.

Here’s the part of the story that’s not so happy.  We planned to meet in North Florida with his mom and then go back to LSU together.  During the summer, I had gotten into my head that I no longer wanted a boyfriend because I needed to get serious about my studies.  Of course, I still had a really high GPA, so I’m now not sure what I was thinking.  Let’s just call it a lapse in judgment.  So, on the beach in Pensacola, I broke up with him.  Of course, we then had to ride back to Baton Rouge together.  Of course, I told him we could still be friends.  Doesn’t everyone do that.

I still saw him at times at school.  Once, I even asked him to go up to my aunt’s house for a visit one weekend.  Yes, it’s a little weird, but I was conflicted.  I did have a boyfriend for five months, but I finally broke up with him when I couldn’t handle anymore that he was jealous that I was smarter than him.  And I didn’t tell him we could still be friends.  During Mr. Math Tutor’s last month or so of his last semester in college, we went out a few times, but they were clearly not “dates”.  How do I know?  Well, I said so.  I said they weren’t dates, so they weren’t.

Then, Mr. Math Tutor moved off to Colorado Springs.  I finished my last semester at LSU then started medical school at Tulane.  During the first semester at med school, Mr. Math Tutor and I talked on the phone a lot.  A little strange to keep calling someone I wasn’t dating, huh?  That summer, I visited Mr. Math Tutor in Colorado Springs.  He met me at the airport with a single red rose.  HOW SWEET!!  We got to his house, and I finally managed to tell him vaguely coherently that I had fallen in love with him.  EEK!  How would he respond?  Would he say he loved me?  Did he love me?  What about his job?  What about med school?

Things went beautifully from there.  We had a very nice week together (if you discount my episode of altitude sickness from going up Pike’s Peak).  He quit his job and moved to Baton Rouge a couple of months later and eventually found work in New Orleans.  He proposed to me in November of 1996 and we got married in June 1992.

Does it get any better than this??  He moved halfway across the country to be with me.  He started over in a new job after the move.  When we moved for my residency, he became a stay at home dad.  He always puts me and the kids first.  No, it doesn’t get any better than this.

And, here are some of the other romantic things he does:

  • He cleans the cat boxes.
  • He leaves flowers from the garden on my pillow in the morning.
  • He buys me chocolate.
  • He emails me love-notes from his Blackberry.
  • He watches Chick-Flicks with me.
  • He goes to the library, pharmacy, and grocery store for me.
  • He puts gas in the car for me.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my dear.  I’m sure we’ll find some time for a kiss in the midst of the travelling.  Not while you’re driving, though.

The rest of you readers should check out the S.W.A.K Carnival for more great love stories

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Trebuchet Links – February 11, 2009

OK, I need a catchy title for posts where I just give links.  Leave a comment with a fun title.  If I choose yours, you get my undying gratitude and a shout-out on my not-so widely-read blog.  How can you pass up that offer?!

Today’s link topic is trebuchets.  If you’ve studied medieval history at all or even watched a History Channel special about medieval times, you’ve heard about trebuchets.  The are seige engines used to knock down the walls of castles.  Amazing, huh?  Wild Man is doing his science fair project on trebuchets, so I’ve done a good bit of research on the ‘net looking for great info.  I decided to be incredibly generous and share my results with you, my reading public.

NOVA Online – Secrets of Lost Empires – Medieval Siege

This site has info on this history of the trebuchet as well as a trebuchet game and a slide show documenting NOVAs building a working trebuchet.

GlobalSpec Trebuchet Challenge

This site allows you to virtually change different trebuchet settings and see what the results are.  Wild Man has had a blast playing on this site.  He’s learned several things that have helped him determine what experiments he wants to do with his trebuchet.  There are lots of things to learn from the trebuchet.  Have fun!

Trebuchet Store

This is where I ordered Wild Man’s trebuchet kit.  We could have ordered plans for Mr. Math Tutor and Wild Man to make from scratch, but we didn’t think that would be such a great idea.  What we got from the company was pieces of wood that had been routed with a CNC mill (according to Mr. Math Tutor) so that Mr. Math Tutor and Wild Man only had to cut the pieces apart using an exacto knife and scissors.  There were a few pieces to be glued, but most of the assembly is by using rubber bands so the configuration can be easily changed.  The kit also came with very nice instructions.

This site has plans and kits for a number of different trebuchets – some appropriate for your office desk, while others are better for science fair projects.  There are nice explanations about the physics of how the trebuchet works.

You can also do some reading about the history of trebuchets, along with catapults and onagers (you’ll have to go read to find out the differenced between these engines).

Experiments with trebuchets

I don’t find this site as helpful for us because he goes into more detail about building the trebuchet as well as the mathematical formulas to help understand the workings.  I imagine this would be better for a high school student than an elementary school student.

So, enjoy your study of the trebuchet.  It’s amazing how much physics, math, and woodworking my son has already learned just from building the trebuchet.  We will be doing the experiments after our vacation.  Pray for us!!

What other topics have you researched online? Anything you want to share??

Works For Me Wednesday – February 11, 2009


We are about to go on a trip down South – 20 hours total of driving in a Malibu.  I’m grateful that my kids travel easily.  I think a lot of it is due to temperament, but I have learned some lessons about making our trip easier.  Today I’m going to share with you one very important lesson – snacks.

Yep, you read it correctly – snacks.  I try to not use eating as entertainment so that my kids don’t develop bad eating habits, but a long car trip is not the time to be dogmatic.  For some trips, I have bought snacks in individual packages but that gets a little pricey.  Most of the time, I buy several bags of sweet snacks (cookies, M&Ms) and several of salty snacks (Chex mix, Goldfish).  I put a small portion into a zipper snack or sandwich bag.  Then, the snacks get all put into a box or basket.  When we had a van, I would keep the snacks with me and throw them back at the kids when they asked.  Now that we’re in a smaller car, the snacks will be in a basket in the backseat.

I also use this technique of packaging snacks in zipper bags at home, but the main intent is portion control.  I measure out about 100 calories worth of snacks in each bag so that I can easily calculate how much I’m eating.  The good news is that the this trick works great for travelling!  I try to get snacks that are crumbly so that a quick vacuuming cleans everything in a hurry.  This time, I’ll also include some apples.  Generally, I avoid fruit in the car because it can make a sticky mess but the kids are getting older and are a little neater.

We also buy bottles of water and let the kids have only water in the car.  If they spill, it doesn’t make a huge mess.  Other things to help the trip go by include listening to audiobooks, making sure the kids have games (video and other), and frequent stops.  Last year, Mr. Math Tutor and I set up a “quest” for the kids on our trip.  They were given a code to break as well as clues to find a treasure.  The kids requested a “quest” again this trip.  I can’t give details, but suffice it to say that they will be quite occupied!

What works for you when traveling?  What other ideas can you share?  Enquiring minds want to know!  Check out Works for Me Wednesday for more great ideas!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Kitty Cats!

I realized recently that I haven’t posted about my darling kitty cats lately.  Actually, maybe never.  I must remedy the situation.  We have three cats, so they are definitely part of the fabric of our lives.

SANY1090Silver is “my” cat.  She loves to come sit on my lap on top of a fleece blanket after everyone else is in bed.  She used to be rather stand-offish, but is now a real sweetie pie.


SANY1091 Sassy is Silver’s biological sister.  She is Mr. Math Tutor’s cat, at least according to her.  She is constantly meowing and trying to get him to pet her.  Of course, she’ll accept love from anyone, but she really loves him.  What’s really funny is that Mr. Math Tutor just barely tolerates Sassy.  Sassy also has really long hair, so we have tons of problems with cat hair in this house.

SANY1103 Sophie is Ga’hoole Girl’s cat.  Four years ago, Ga’hoole Girl saved up her money to adopt Sophie from the Humane Society.  Sophie is a very pretty little black and white cat, but she can be high maintenance at times.  We have to close the door to upstairs after the kids go to bed otherwise Sophie will sit outside Ga’hoole Girl’s bedroom and cry pitifully.  We can’t leave cups of water around because Sophie will knock them over.  Several months ago, Sophie became very thin and listless.  We took her to the vet to find out that the silly cat had quit eating because she didn’t like her food.  That led to a chain reaction of illness and liver problems.  We changed back to the name brand food and the silly cat is healthy again.  She is several years younger than the other two cats but is clearly the dominant cat.  She will torment the other two terribly sometimes.


We don’t need any more babies in this house as long as we have Sassy!!






Constant vigilance!  Gotta keep an eye out for the black cat who wants to come bite Silver’s butt!





There are days when it seems like she’s more trouble than it’s worth.  This was on the very top of a tall bookshelf!




Ga’hoole Girl loves this little critter!






Hiding in the paper bag!  Of course, let’s hope that no one would turn the bag up and trap the cat.  No, no one would even think about that in our house!




Just go away – I’m taking a nap – yes, another one!






Please, let us go outside.  Just for a minute – really!






Like two peas in a pod.  Just give them a fuzzy blanket and they’re happy.