Archive for January, 2007

How to Mess with Your Wife’s Head

January 31, 2007 @ 7:22 am | Filed under:

So yesterday I was sitting on the couch between Rose and Bean. Rose was working away at her Latin, and Beanie was absorbed with an old Singapore Math workbook she found last week. It has lots of untouched pages, so she claimed it as her own. It has pictures of bunnies, you see, and pieces of candy for you to add and subtract. I mean, come on, bunnies! Black ones, white ones, and you can add them together and have lots of bunnies, or take some away and sigh wistfully over how few are left!

Jane was off writing a Plutarch narration for me, and Wonderboy was bopping around the house as he is wont to do. There might, after all, be some doors that need closing. Somewhere. A boy can hope.

The phone rang: it was Scott, calling from work. I like it better when he calls my cell phone, because then I can hear the special ringtone I assigned to his number, but this was just the boring land line.

“Put me on speaker phone,” he said. Done.

His voice boomed into the room. “Bean! If you have five bunnies and you take away the three white ones, how many bunnies do you have left?”

Rose, Beanie, and I stared at the couch. How did he know? We are close, this man and I, but telepathically linked? Not so much.

Suddenly I hear a low chuckle from down the hall. The chuckle of a three-year-old who is most exceedingly pleased with himself. A three-year-old who has gotten hold of mommy’s cell phone, and has managed to dial his father, and now even his less-than-stellar hearing is picking up Daddy—in stereo.

I Stand Corrected!

January 31, 2007 @ 6:43 am | Filed under:

Turns out dryer lint really IS valuable! Check out this comment from Jennifer (author of the wonderful homeschooling-on-a-boat blog, S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen):

You don’t save Lint for Clay???
2 Cups Dryer Lint (firmly packed) 1/3 Cup Warm Water
6 Tbsp. White Glue
1 Tbsp. Clear Liquid Dishsoap
Tear the lint up into little bits. Mix everything in a bowl and knead
until workable. Sculpt to heart’s content. Airdries in a few days.

Who knew? (Not my daughters—but perhaps they felt in their bones that it had potential.)

The Fuzz

January 30, 2007 @ 8:53 pm | Filed under:

I got out of the shower this morning to find my dear, sweet daughters embroiled in a bitter dispute over—are you ready for this?—dryer lint.

Seems Rose felt she had first claim to it, but she said, "I get the, um, whatchamacallit," and Beanie said, "I get the lint!"

So Jane gave it to Beanie.

The dryer lint.

From the dryer.

By the time I entered the fray, Jane had attempted (too late, oh yes, too late) to turn peacemaker by tearing the dryer lint into two pieces.

But she gave Beanie the bigger half.

Of the dryer lint.

I found myself standing in a towel, hair dripping, evening up the pieces of lint before I came to my senses and remembered that this was LINT FROM THE DRYER, as in tiny fuzzy fragments of socks and baby sleepers. Not something valuable like, say, a chocolate chip cookie or the last Twizzler in the package.

So I wadded the whole pile of fluff together and—gasp—threw it away. I say "gasp" because they did, my girls, in disbelief. The shock on their faces: you’d think I’d callously tossed out a puppy.

Wait till they find out what I do to dust bunnies.

Why It Takes Me Forever to Answer My Email

January 28, 2007 @ 2:42 pm | Filed under:


I mean, really, could YOU stare at a computer screen when this face was in the room?


Me either.

(Of course, that’s exactly what I’m doing while writing this post, but you know what I mean!)

Poetry Friday: Rigs o’ Rye

January 26, 2007 @ 4:47 pm | Filed under: ,

This lovely old Scots ballad made its way into my first Martha book, Little House in the Highlands. I thought it particulary fitting in light of what little we knew about the real Martha Morse: that she married a man her family considered to be beneath her station, and she went to the New World to marry him and make a new life. "The lad, he was of courage bold; a gallant youth, nineteen years old; he’s made the hills and valleys roar, and the bonnie lassie, she’s gone with him…"

I loved those lines so much I quoted them in the dedication to Highlands.

The Rigs o’ Rye

‘Twas in the month of sweet July,
Before the sun shone in the sky;
There in between twa rigs o’ rye,
Sure I heard twa lovers talking.

    He said, "My dear, I must gang away,
    No longer can I bide wi’ you,
    But I’ve a word or two to say,
    If ye hae the time to tarry.

"Of you, your father he tak’s great care
Your mither combs doon your yellow hair,
And your sisters say that you’ll get nae share
Gin ye follow me, a stranger."

    "My father can fret and my mither frown,
    And my sisters twa I do disown,
    If they a’ were deid and below the ground,
    I’d follow wi’ you, a stranger."

O, lassie, your fortune it is but sma’
And maybe it will he nane at a’,
You’re no’ a match for me ava,
Gie your love, lass, unto anither."

    The lassie’s courage began to fail,
    And her rosy cheeks grew wan and pale,
    And the tears come trinkling doon like hail,
    Or a heavy shower in summer.

He’s ta’en her kerchie o’ linen fine,
And dried her tears and kissed her syne:
"It’s greet nae mair, lass, ye shall be mine,
I said it but to try you."

    This lad he was of courage bold,
    A gallus chiel, just nineteen years old,
    He’s made the hills and the valleys roar,
    And the bonnie lassie, she’s gane wi’ him.


This couple they are married noo,
And they hae bairnies one or two,
And they bide in Brechin the winter through,
And in Montrose in summer.

This week’s Poetry Friday roundup can be found at Chicken Spaghetti.

Super-Fun Geography Studies with Journey North’s Mystery Class

January 24, 2007 @ 8:06 am | Filed under:

As one of my little ones used to say, I’m so a-cited! It’s almost time to begin a new season of happy hunting with the Journey North Mystery Class. Ten classes of schoolchildren around the world have been chosen to be Mystery Classes, and it’s up to the rest of us to track down their location. You too can join in the fun!

Here’s how it works. Every Friday, starting this week, Journey North will release some special information about the ten mystery locations: their sunrise and sunset times. You use this data to calculate each location’s photoperiod (how many minutes of daylight it had that day). By graphing the changes in photoperiod, week after week (for eleven weeks), you’ll be able to narrow down the latitude of the Mystery Classes.

To help with the narrowing-down, you also graph your own local photoperiod every Monday. Don’t know what time the sun will rise? You can find out here.

As the project unfolds, Journey North will begin to send other clues to help you locate the Mystery Classes. One biggie will be the longitude clues. In April, participants from all over the world will share their guesses, and the big reveal is in May.

We did this last year with a group of online homeschooling friends. Each family took one Mystery Class to calculate data for, and we pooled the data for our graphs. We had such a good time! It was so exciting to hone in on the locations, make our guesses, discuss the possibilities with the other families in the group. Rilla was born near the end of the project, but that didn’t stop Jane from maniacally calculating photoperiods and drawing all those lovely colored lines on our graph.

I highly recommend this project, whether your family does it alone or with a group. So. Much. Fun!

Note-Reading and Ear-Training Games Online

January 23, 2007 @ 1:30 pm | Filed under:

This morning, after drilling Rose on musical notes for quite a while (her piano teacher asked her to bone up a bit), I went hunting for some games online that would help with note recognition. Here’s what I have found so far:—Has a simple but good note recognition game. Choose treble or bass clef, and beginner or advanced. You try to read and click on the names of as many notes as possible in the time frame. Rose played for about twenty minutes and drastically improved her score.

There is also an ear-training game in which a short series of notes is played and you click on the piano keys for the appropriate intervals. Pretty cool.

The site also has other musical games and quizzes.
has several games to download, but (alas) none for my Mac—yet.

Music Notes has lots of quizzes on music history, as well as an ear-training game.

In the Novel Games "Musical Notes" game, notes on the treble clef scroll across the screen, and you must click the correct piano key to make them disappear. A variation on the old shoot-the-ducks arcade game. Doesn’t seem to cover more than the basic treble clef notes, though (or maybe I just didn’t play it long enough).

I am really bummed that there is no Mac version of this free Tetris-style note recognition game. If you try it, let me know how it is.

I’d love to hear of other good note-fluency games you’ve discovered!