Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I speak Geek, but I'm not really one...

We have embarked on a new epoch in our parenting--an era of sharp objects, nearly invisible to the naked eye, that will be stepped on in the dark. That era of developing fine motor skills, beginning engineering, and even Good versus Evil.
In other words, The Boy 1.0 got Star Wars Legos for his birthday. I've been dreading this day, but I knew it would come. So far it's been worth it. I haven't stepped on any pieces yet.

Anyway. This is a Geek Question for Star Wars fans/purists.
Which movie should the kids see first, Episode I, Phantom Menace or Episode IV, A New Hope? I mean, if you start with 1 Darth Vader's admission at the end of Empire Strikes Back is anti-climactic--you already know. But if you start with IV, you're out of chronological order.
I know the Bible's books aren't in chronological order, but this isn't the same. I may have already made the decision by showing IV first, but I can switch.

And really. I don't ever test higher than 35% Geek on the tests. Maybe I should ask my brother which he started with...

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Seen on a T-shirt

"Sometimes I wonder, 'Why is that frisbee getting bigger?'
Then it hits me."


Monday, February 25, 2008

So what's in the crock pot?

Mondays we have dance class. You may remember that from a few weeks back. Classes start at 4:45 and end at 5:30; they're roughly half an hour away. I really don't want to start preparing dinner at 6 or later, which is where one of my cookbooks comes in handy.

This is adapted from Fix-It-And-Forget-It.

Split Pea Soup
3 cups dried split peas
2 quarts water
1 pound frozen carrot coins
1.25 pound ham steak
1 cup chopped onion--frozen is fine. This week we're out so it's dried minced, about 2 Tbls.
2 chicken boullion cubes

Put it all in on low for 8-9 hours.

The original recipe called for only 2 cups of peas; it was a little thin, I thought. I've also used Canadian bacon and these ham lumps he brought home. They had the bone in.
Since I'd never even had split pea soup before I made it, I'm pretty impressed.
And the color is a request from the newly-minted five-year-old boy around here.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

I woke up with cramps...

five years ago today. They're just cramps, they'll go away, I thought. I have to go in to work. April my sub is going to be there so I can go over where we are before my maternity leave starts Wednesday. I couldn't be in labor; I was only 38 weeks. Besides, I was going in to be induced in 36 hours. Not in labor.

At least it was earlier than usual. I was calculating when I could leave and arrive after Chuck the custodian; he's the one who would unlock the doors. I didn't want to wait in the car. I ate my Mini-Wheats while Madeleine enjoyed her handful of Cheerios on her tray.

The cramps weren't going away. I had to stop and hold on to the table for one of them. Wow, they were something. From the shower, my beloved called, "Are you really going to be able to teach with those cramps like that?"
Fine, you win. We'll go in. I called the sub line and said I'd probably be in by lunch time. Madeleine went to her usual daycare at her godparents' on schedule.

When we arrived at the hospital, I informed them of the induction and, just in case, that I wanted an epidural if I was in labor (which I still didn't believe). They took all of that down. We went to a triage room and I got ready. When the doc came in to check me, she had news. "You're effaced 100% and dilated to four. You're in labor!"

Oh. I guess those weren't just cramps.

Our beautiful baby boy arrived at 1:00 PM that day, no pitocin needed. Can you imagine how exciting that would have been if I'd gone in to school? It would have been me, the two health teachers, and Chuck (he had been a volunteer firefighter and had delivered half a dozen babies).

Happy birthday, Huckleberry.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

This is just cool.

For some incomprehensible reason, this post on My Ideal House is very popular. Especially in eastern Europe--Romania, Latvia, Ukraine, Russia. Really. I have no idea why it gets so many hits but it seems to be being passed around like some kind of chain letter.

Anyway, that's not the cool part. This is: Here it is translated into Italian. And if you roll your cursor over part of it, Google translates that sentence or phrase back to English. I don't know how that was done but it impressed me.


UPDATE 2/25/08: Here it is in Spanish.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Finally, I got something I wanted.

Way back, I had Mrs. Simpson for first grade. She was okay, I guess; I don't remember any particular traumas. She didn't make me read We Feed a Deer more than once, if at all. I remember being curious about it, though.
Another thing I was curious about was this set of... blocks. We got to play with them once, maybe. Must have because I remembered their value. Long orange ones were ten, little white ones were, well, one. The red ones were three and black were two. I think the green ones, four. I contented myself with my brother's Legos, but more than once I looked at that box of bright colored wooden objects on the shelf at school and sighed.

What on God's green earth am I talking about? Cuisenaire rods, of course.

When I saw them in the Kolbe catalog, that may have been the moment I fell in love. With homeschooling, with Kolbe, with teaching my kids. With the idea I might enjoy teaching math, of all things.
We didn't get them for Madeleine, though. We put them off. Maybe we can get by without them, we said. Maybe we don't need them.

Finally, with the enrollment of Dale in kindergarten, we got them. The puzzle book to go with them, too. And I am happy.


Boys break things.

I've had one for almost five years and I've finally figured that out. [Shelly, you can quit laughing now.]
It's not malice, either. "How fast will this go?" "How many times can I hit this with that?" "How far will this stretch?"

They leave off the rest of the sentence: before it breaks. Try it.
"How fast will this go... before it breaks?"
"How many times can I hit this with that... before it breaks?"
"How far will this stretch... before it breaks?"

See what I mean?

They aren't trying to be destructive, they're just testing limits. While the girls are content to play with things quietly, or gently, boys want to see what it can do. They're natural experimenters. when it breaks, they know where they should have stopped. Never mind that it's broken.

All toddlers test their parents' limits, I know. And yes, I can see all of those sociosexual dynamics and learned gender roles and all that coming out. Right.
But where I live, it's the boy who puts every toy through its paces. Sometimes, they break. Sometimes, they just move faster than he thought, or stretch farther, or sustain more hits. Once in a while, Mom stops him before real damage is done. The rest of the time, I see the wheels turning, planning his next test. "What will happen if..."

Maybe it'll break.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hope from France!

If I say, "It's because they're Catholic!" it's no big deal. If I say, "It's from the bishops!" it becomes quite a big deal.
A legal status for embryos. Hm.

Oh, and I think this is a good idea, but given the demographic projections of Europe (and of course France in particular), it won't last long.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

What's for supper? Chicken noodle soup!

This is one I made up myself.

Chicken Noodle Soup
3 half skinless boneless chicken breasts
5 chicken bouillion cubes
5 cups water
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp herbes de provence
2 cups whole wheat egg noodles (uncooked)
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

I use my nonstick Fry-Daddy kettle so I don't need any oil.
1. Cut up the chicken into cubes, bite-size pieces or so. Into the kettle with the garlic to cook until you don't see any pink, stirring occasionally.
2. Add water and bouillion cubes. Wait until it's boiling, then add noodles and herbes de provence.
3. When it's boiling again, add the veggies. When it boils again, it's ready.

It's almost more of a stew than soup it gets so thick sometimes, so you might need more water. All of the amounts are tweakable, of course. I like the mixed veggies best for the color: green beans, peas, and carrots.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

For future reference.

Heather wants this as an easy index for the kids.

I concur.

And the classic "Rabbit Seasoning":


Saturday, February 16, 2008

How much stuff to keep?

This is now an issue. How much stuff do I keep from one year to the next? I mean workbooks, tests, that kind of stuff. How long do normal people keep spelling tests, for example? Books that aren't written in will be saved for the next child, of course. But we really don't have the room here to keep all of their workbooks. Grammar, math, phonics per child per year. You can see how it would add up pretty quickly.
I mean, my mother saved nothing from our academic years. Zilch. I don't know if she saved our report cards, even. I remain relatively unscarred by that.
Wait, I think she has the clay dog I made once upon a time. Still not much.

They do finish their workbooks, too. You find me a public school teacher that gets through all of the material she plans before the year ends. I'll line her up with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Fun with Amazon's datamining

Our recent orders have included:
Rikki Tikki Tavi/Yankee Doodle Cricket, White Seal/Cricket in Times Square, and The Hobbit on DVD
The Greenleaf Guide to Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, Famous Men of Greece, and Children's Homer
Reliance of the Traveler, by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri
Four of Mike Venezia's Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists: Michaelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli, and El Greco
The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, by Judith Herrin

We're expecting the next recommendations to be something like, "We recommend Haldol by the turkey baster. The only reason we have the stones to say this is because we know they have your house surrounded."
That or we'll hear about their system crashing...

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Conversations with Madeleine

"Madeleine, the next time you forget to put Louie's diaper in the pail, you're not allowed to change it for a week."

"Mom, is this gum?"
"What does it say on the wrapper?"
"Not intended for retail sale."

"Mom, I think you should have more babies."
Catching my breath: "Why?"
"I want more brothers and sisters to play with."

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Random trivia

My husband tells me that this place is open late today. Why am I not surprised that he knows this? I laughed out loud when he told me. Hey, I dated a guy who didn't celebrate Valentine's Day or Sweetest Day. Wouldn't even say "Happy Sweetest Day," like it would break his jaw or something. Not a Jehovah's Witness, either. I hope he's over that now...

For Johnny Cash fans, this is pretty cool.
In 1953, as a G.I. intercepting Russian Morse code transmissions, Johnny Cash became the first American to learn of Josef Stalin's death.
via Mark.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Kolbe review?

I was asked about whether or not, and if so when, I would be posting a review of Kolbe's first grade. Even though we're not quite done, I suppose I could put it up. It has been a while since I posted about school.

Easy ones first.
Rachel likes school. She has some supermarket workbooks that involve counting or letter recognition that she likes. Or she uses some of our laminated placemats for tracing her letters or just scribbling. She's happy, we're able to work. It's all good.

Dale has finished the MCP kindergarten math workbook. [Brag bit: he'll be five in a few weeks.] We got the first grade one some time back and he paraded around the house with it, just tickled. He's decided though that he likes phonics (still in kindergarten) better now. I don't understand why; the concepts haven't gotten very tough at all. It's been counting and writing the numbers so far.
And he admits he's reading, too. Finally.

Madeleine is almost done with first grade. She's not really fazed that Dale is in the same math book as she is; she knows she's got a couple hundred pages on him. I've put most of her second grade subjects on the back burner since I want to finish the first grade ones by May. Math is the one I see as the only potential problem to that; science and grammar will not be a problem.
We're almost done with the first grade grammar book and I haven't needed the teacher's manual at all.
I love, love, love the new science series (Harcourt). Since you use it for two years it's worth every penny. The science experiments really aren't that tough to manage, either. The most recent involved colored water, three containers, a marker, and a measuring cup. We can do that. Kolbe's course plans don't involve the workbook at all even though they sell it. I like to have it for those times when we haven't been able to do the experiments due to time constraints.

Does that help?

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Monday, February 11, 2008

New feature?

You regular readers--and those who know me in real life--know I can't ever do something without an explanation or background story. I get it from my mother. Though it drives me nuts when she does it, I can't stop myself. Husband has learned to live with it and I've actually gotten better about it since college.

This new feature I'm thinking of has the working title of Menu Monday. I've never done anything like this, but Danielle Bean has her "Your Turn" weekly questions and Milehimama has Works for Me Wednesdays, Friday Fun, and Montessori Mondays, so why not?

I like to think I'm a pretty good cook; my kids all tell me so. I have a fair share of cookbooks as well, though not a whole bookshelf like SFO Mom. Mine have titles like The Four Ingredient Cookbook, Campbell Soup's Simply Delicious, and The Fix-it-and-Forget-it Cookbook. Yeah, I have one on French cooking, one on Indian cooking, and a soup one with a recipe that involves saffron strings, but those don't get used much.

Anyway. This whole idea is inspired by Shelly telling me I should put up a recipe a week from the first one up there, and as long as I credit it, it's not violating copyright laws. Like an excerpt or something. Just in case, I'll just start with a four-ingredient one inspired by Coffee and Cale.

Heather's Crock-Pot Chicken
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 pound baby carrots
1 pound brussels sprouts
2 cans Italian tomatoes--diced or stewed, your choice

Put all of it in your crock pot on low for the day, 8-9 hours. You can use frozen or fresh on the first three ingredients, and if you want it juicier use chicken thighs. Even if you don't like brussels sprouts, the tomato flavorings seep in and they're actually quite palatable.

Anyway. Tell me what you think of the recipe or the idea.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

I owe an apology.

A while back, I posted a list about homeschooling. I copied the list from a friend's blog; she got it from someone else's, I think. It just seemed like something making the rounds, as it were. I never bothered to wonder if it might have been something from a magazine or such. I just posted it without regard to its background.

That was wrong.

For the original list, go here. For her story behind it, go here.

Don't bother going to my old post about it; I've edited it and and linked to the full version here.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Finally, the Book Meme.

Book Meme Rules

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

It's from Teresa Tomeo's Noise.
How can a reporter or editor do what is right when he or she is being told in writing to favor one candidate over the other by ignoring mistakes or exaggerations? On November 1, 2004, just days before the election, the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) issued an alarming study about how the media coverage, especially the major broadcast news operations, blatantly favored John Kerry. CMPA said that Kerry received the most favorable network news coverage of any presidential candidate "since CMPA began tracking election coverage in 1988."

Wow. Good thing that book is out-of-date, eh? That kind of thing could never happen again. And honestly, I think everyone I know has done this one, but if you haven't and want to, that's what the comments are for.

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New skin?

L'Oréal can grow human skin in a dish.

Donated from cosmetic surgery. Avoids animal testing. So it's ethical. If it's environmentally-friendly too, it's got a clean sweep.

I wonder, too, if it would work for burn victims. Makes me want to go buy some lipstick or something...


Monday, February 04, 2008


It's been a while since Shelly and I had a chance to just chat about whatever and follow all of the tangents our trains of thought run to. I've kind of missed that.
Apparently, someone else thought I needed that, too.

Today is Monday--dance class. It's a 35-minute ride up a seven-lane thoroughfare and I like to have that allowance since I don't like to rush. I was feeling so proud of myself getting out the door. Dinner had been in the crock pot since midmorning. I'd loaded the third bag of donations into the minivan earlier and would stop at the St. Vincent de Paul store on the way home. Madeleine was changed for ballet, Dale had put on sweats (he takes tap), Rachel was ready. I'd remembered the pretzels left from yesterday's snacks for the ride up. I'd even showered. Lou was fed and grumping in his car seat, impatient for the motion to lull him to sleep. The dog was in her cage and she even had water.
As we're loading up, I check for my keys. Not in my pockets. Not in my purse. Not in the diaper bag.


They were still hanging on the hook where I'd put them. Inside the house. I'd noticed that as I was buttoning my coat. "You'll have to grab your keys, since they're hanging up."
I tried calling Dear Husband, who given his schedule at work lately would not be able to rescue me. I could not get in touch with my mother--the other person with a spare key.
Merciful Heaven, Shelly was home. Where else could I go?
So go we did. She was having a crazy day and having a seven-week-old infant to cuddle helped her relax. Not having that infant demanding my attention relaxed me. We got to chat about this CVS money saving deals and the value of quiet time for kids (and parents). The kids being able to play was a treat for them. Madeleine even turned down the offer of their van for transport so as to stay and play. Oh, and a certain little boy got to meet his newest neighbor.

And you know, I think I needed the visit more than anyone needed dance class.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Has any reader ever donated...

breast milk? Seriously.

I've never lacked for supply, to word it tactfully. Dear husband has jested that I could put out small (or not so small, depending on how brave he's feeling) fires. He's exaggerating, but not too much.
I've donated blood before, upward of four gallons. With the kids, though, I've had to defer that.
And there was all of the trouble Lily's mom went through trying to nurse her last year.

I've found a couple organizations that can help but I have no frame of reference. Sure, they sound easy. This one sends a quarter of donations to Africa, which is fine with me. They are involved with another company that seems more research-oriented and I'm curious about that.
This one keeps all of the milk here in the States, to go to babies in the NICU--also laudable. They even provide a pump. I already have one of these, though, so that isn't really a factor. Mine is six years old but I'm the only one to have used it.

Anyway. I imagine La Leche League would help but this is kind of short notice for their next local meeting. This isn't really a time-sensitive issue, so you can do your research. Thanks for the input!

Side note: The fact that this poor woman has to specify for whom the milk is NOT is sad.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Hey, we're homeschoolers!

We could do this and count it as phys ed!

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