Archive for February, 2007

What’s Going On Today?

February 28, 2007 @ 9:34 am | Filed under: ,


Hubby has thrown out his back again. Arrrgh. And yet he is determined to get to work today. Publishing, you know, it’s a deadline business.

Beanie is feeling penguiny. Her words. Our Sunday family movie was March of the Penguins, and it’s been Antarctic Central around here ever since. Bean’s thoughts on the film: "Mommy, I feel so happy ever since we watched March of the Penguins. I mean, I was happy before, but, but, it just makes me feel so enjoyable!"

Jane is deeply absorbed with the Journey North Mystery Class. She and her pal spent all yesterday afternoon updating their graphs. Love! This! Project! We’re doing it as part of a group with some friends from the 4Real forums. The boards are taking a short break during the first part of Lent, so we’ve set up camp at a temporary Mystery Class blog. I didn’t make it a public feed for fear of giving away the answers to Google-happy schoolkids around the globe, but you’re welcome to drop in and see how we’re getting along. There’s a link in the sidebar to a fantastic collection of useful links put together by MaryM.

The baby has two new teeth (sloooow dowwwn!), the boy has a New! Consonant!! (very exciting, let me tell you), and Rose has perfected the swirliest of swirly cursive Rs. And I, I invented a soup! Sort of! I cobbled together an amazingly yummy (well, I was amazed) Chicken Corn Chowder with Green Chilis, using ingredients from the various recipes I found the other day, and substituting some salsa verde for diced green chilis since it turned out I didn’t even HAVE the main ingredient I was craving. It was really good. I’m so proud. Made cornbread and everything. And last night I used the rest of my roasted chicken in some chicken fajitas, mmm, and there’s still soup in the fridge for lunch, and did I mention I’m so proud? And how awful is it that my poor, poor husband couldn’t enjoy the soup for lunch or the fajitas for dinner yesterday because neither dish is one that can be eaten lying flat on your back? And how TYPICAL is it that the week I get my culinary act together is the week my poor, poor husband can’t benefit from this rare flash of kitchen wizardry?

In the ‘Sphere:

The Carnival of Homeschooling will appear at The Homeschool Cafe later on today. I missed the deadline (more deadlines!) but I have no doubt there will be many fine posts to enjoy.

The Carnival of Education is live at Dr. Homeslice. You can read posts by teachers, parents, homeschoolers, and other folks with opinions about edumacatin’ our younguns. Much of interest there!

It’s Wednesday, which means…another fabulous collection of household hints and other advice at Works for Me Wednesday, appearing weekly at Rocks in My Dryer. Love it. And I finally remembered to add the link for my own WFMW post (written weeks ago, doh!).

Sometimes It Is a Surreal Life

February 27, 2007 @ 8:45 am | Filed under:

Yesterday evening, as I was scrolling down the TV programming guide to see what was on the Food Network, the name of a show on the Entertainment Channel caught Jane’s eye. It was called: "E! News."

Asks Jane, "Mom, why is that news show called E Factorial?"

Pencil Grip Update

February 27, 2007 @ 7:31 am | Filed under:

A while back I posted about Beanie’s preference for gripping a writing implement with her whole fist. She was 5 1/2 then, six years old now, and I wanted to let you know that in these past few months, she has made a fairly seamless transition to using the proper pencil grip without much intervention on my part. All I did was continue to give her occasional (and honestly, "occasional" is code for "infrequent") practice sessions with small pieces of chalk or crayons which forced her to grip with her fingers instead of fist, and she played a lot with the Handwriting Without Tears Magna-Doodle thing I mentioned in that post.

I did not do regular daily handwriting lessons or anything like that, in keeping with my convictions about delaying the beginning of formal studies until age six at the very earliest. I let her keep on coloring her pictures with her fist grip, because she adores coloring and I didn’t want that very pleasant pastime to become a source of frustration for her. A couple of times a week, I asked her to practice her "pencil grip" (our name for the correct hand position, as opposed to "fist grip"), and gradually she switched over. Now she uses the pencil grip almost all of the time when coloring, and always when writing words.

Recently, Rose started working on pretty, swirly cursive writing with the Getty-Dubay Italic cursive book (what eight-year-old girl doesn’t leap at the opportunity to learn fancy writing?), and this got Miss Beanie all fired up to have a handwriting book of her own. I’m seizing the moment, therefore, and she’ll be starting the Getty-Dubay Book A pretty soon.

(A side note about handwriting programs: I have taken a pretty unschooly approach to penmanship, allowing my kids to use workbooks when they wished, but not requiring it. So far, all three girls have wished it. I buy Getty-Dubay Italic for the totally self-indulgent reason that I like the way the writing looks.)

Anyway, just wanted to share the news of Bean’s progress in case anyone else out there was worried about a fist grip. There are some helpful suggestions in the comments of that first post, too.

Cookbook Open Thread

February 26, 2007 @ 1:50 pm | Filed under: , ,

What is your favorite cookbook? Especially in regard to making regular old weekday family dinners?

I like the Leanne Ely books—Saving Dinner, Healthy Foods, and Frantic Family Cookbook—although I’ve never been able to make the Saving Dinner plan work for us on a regular basis. Picky, picky children here. And hubby doesn’t eat beef or most kinds of cheese.

As long as we’re talking recipes, what are your favorite cooking and meal-planning websites? I had a good time playing around at the interactive Robin Miller’s Quick Fix Meals toy at Food Network, but there aren’t many recipes there; you have to click over here to find the archives.

This week’s edition of Carnival of the Recipes is all about slow-cooker meals, hosted by (appropriately enough) the Slow Cooker Recipes blog. I love my crock pot. Speaking of which, I have half a roasted chicken in the fridge awaiting crock-pottish inspiration…I’m envisioning some kind of chili-chicken-corn chowder, but I don’t have a recipe. Winging it in the kitchen is not my special gift, let me tell you! Time to cozy up to my pal Google…

UPDATED: Found this and this. This one looks tasty. This one too, but Rilla can’t tolerate my having cream. (Wah.) Still, between them all I think I can come up with something.

UPDATED AGAIN to add the Loveliness of Baking fair. Yum!

Letters from Thailand: the Third

February 26, 2007 @ 7:53 am | Filed under: ,

Feb. 12, 2007

Dear Beanie,

Thailand is called "The Land of Smiling Faces." You, my sweetie, would fit in here rather nicely. People do seem happy here. Maybe because the sun is always shining. It shines so hard many people use umbrellas to keep in the shade.

One thing I’ve enjoyed seeing is the folk dancing. The Thai dancers wear beautiful long dresses in vivid red and gold colors. Their head dresses look heavy. They are very graceful and it’s beautiful to watch.

There are many places to shop for food in Thailand, but my favorite has been the Floating Market. This market is not in a store, but it’s on the river! Shop keepers load up long wooden boats with fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, & seafood. As they float downstream they can stop and sell their goods. You can sit on the river bank and watch everything you need for a delicious dinner float by! I wish you could be with me on that river bank.


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Sometimes I Don’t Know Where to Post Things

February 25, 2007 @ 1:40 pm | Filed under:

Such are the hazards of having more than one blog. This post over at Bonny Glen Up Close (a dopey title, I know, and I keep meaning to change it) is much more on topic for this blog than that one, but it was written in response to a question in the comments over there, so that’s where I put it. Confused yet?

(Up Close is my informal daily-notes journal, of little interest to anyone except homeschooling moms who like to see what other homeschoolers’ real days look like. I use it in lieu of a record book—the blog platform suits me much better than any kind of book I’ve tried. It is a rough, scattershot record, but it works for me. At one point I was playing around with Vox as a platform for the daily learning notes journal instead, but I never did more than play. "Be Like the Bird" is a much better blog title, though.)

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Saturday Hodgepodge

February 24, 2007 @ 2:39 pm | Filed under: , , , ,

I have an in-box full of email (again), a file full of posts-in-progress, and a head cluttered with a bunch more post ideas. I think I’ll declare today a cyber-decluttering day and just cram everything into one big messy post.

The Lucky Scrotum Matter, Revisited

I liked Monica Edinger’s post on the subject at educating alice. She told her class of fourth-graders about the controversy and read them the "offending" page.

When I reached the dreaded scrotum passage there was no reaction
whatsoever… no confusion, no giggles, no questioning. I kept going to
“….he killed that snake even though it bit him in the place where it
hurts the worst for a male…” (3) where there might have been a smile or
two, but no more. After a few more paragraphs I stopped. Eager hands
went up. “It is about the drinking, right?” Others nodded. Finally, one
said, “It’s about what happened to the dog?” The two who already knew
and I nodded. And the kids all said they didn’t get it. That they see
dogs with scrota every day after all. That it was no big deal.

She links to another Times piece on the book (this time an editorial) and some letters to the editor.

Chocolately Goodness for the Ears

I pulled into the library parking lot yesterday morning and put the minivan into park, only to be met with an aggrieved "Mommy, how COULD you???" from Rose—who was the child who begged me to take everyone to the library in the first place. My crime? Turning off the ignition, therefore cutting off Eric Idle in midsentence.

See, we are listening to Charlie and The Chocolate Factory on CD, and Rose isn’t the only one captivated by Eric Idle’s performance. He makes a deliciously funny book even funnier. The voices, oh, the voices! It’s Monty Python on a serious sugar high. I had to play some for Scott, just to watch him weep. He yelled at me too when I turned it off.

We actually did bail on our library trip yesterday. At the girls’ impassioned request, I just drove around for a while so they could keep on listening to the story. We had about twenty minutes to kill before our next appointment, and it would have been tough to squeeze a library visit into that short span of time anyway.

Speaking of Appointments

Yesterday afternoon, Wonderboy had an appointement with a neurologist. Our new pediatrician wants him to make a new-patient visit to all the subspecialists he was seeing in Virginia. This, on top of his speech therapy and audiology appointments, makes for a dizzying amount of running around. I’m tired of it, and we have barely begun.

At least the children’s hospital (where most of these sub-specialties are located) isn’t too awfully far: it’s about a 20-minute drive on San Diego’s fabulous freeways. I adore the freeways here. Have I mentioned that? There are a million of them, more or less, all over the place, and unless you have the misfortune of needing to travel at rush hour like my poor hubby, driving on these highways is positively zippy. Zip, zip, everywhere. And the road signs say exotic things like "Los Angeles, right lane" or "Mexico, keep left." Zip!

But yesterday, it just so happened that I was running a teensy bit late. Not VERY late, just a little. I suppose I should count my blessings because it’s possible that if I’d been on time, I’d have wound up IN the accident that brought traffic to a standstill on the I-8 just minutes after we zipped onto it. Stand. Still.

I knew I was now going to be late to the neurology appointment. I made a frantic call to Scott to tell him to call the doctor’s office and explain that I was ON MY WAY. He was happy to oblige, except for the tiny complication of his not exactly being in the office at that exact moment. I’d caught him on his lunch break, in line at the grocery store. He promised to hurry back to work and make the call. I’d have done it myself but I didn’t know the number by heart, and digging through my bag for my Wonderboy Medical Records Notebook isn’t something I was in a position to do at that moment. Nor was dialing the phone. I can punch Scott’s speed-dial with my thumb, but more than that I dare not do while driving, even at non-zippy speeds.

I arrived at the neuro’s office 20 minutes late for our appointment. The waiting room was empty and I figured they’d taken the next patient already. No problem, right? Oh so wrong. The receptionist sort of jumped when I gave her Wonderboy’s name.

"You didn’t hear? We canceled your appointment."

"Oh no!" I cried. "My husband called to let you know we were going to be late! Accident on the 8!"

She hadn’t caught the details, just the "going to be late" part. Shrugging apologetically, she informed me that the doctor had already given our slot another patient, and after that he had a meeting, but he could see us at 9 a.m. Monday morning.

I could make this a very long story, but without a nice happy ending, I don’t have the heart. Here’s the nutshell version: the doctor wouldn’t see us. Even though the next patient wasn’t due for another 20 minutes. Even though Dr. Neurologist was sitting alone in his office on the other side of the wall. He needed forty minutes for a new patient app, he insisted, and he’d already moved the 3:40 patient to come in at 3:00 and then he had a meeting at 3:40. My pleas to just squeeze in a quick 20-minute app fell on deaf ears. Well, actually they fell on the receptionist’s fairly sympathetic ears, but I could hear her relaying them to the doctor and HE was certainly not responding in a manner indicative of having heard with compassion or understanding.

I turned down the Monday-at-nine appointment, much to their surprise; I told them I had no more openings in my schedule until April.

"Really?" blinked the receptionist.

"Yup," I said, loudly, assuming that if I could hear the doctor through the wall, he could hear me. I explained that my son sees a number of other subspecialists and has consults stacked up through the end of April. There’s always the possibility the doctor will realize he missed out on the chance to pick up an unusual case, and next time maybe he’ll be a little more open to making creative adjustments for unavoidable delays. Slim possibility, but I’m an optimist.

(Hmm, look at that, I did make it a long story anyway.)

A Much Pleasanter Subject

Wednesday’s mail brought a serendipitous conjunction of treasures: a pile of nice fat letters from our dear friend Keri, who is in the middle of a year-long wandering in the Far East, and a copy of Richard Halliburton’s The Royal Road to Romance. The latter is Halliburton’s engaging account of his own Far-East travels. We savored Keri’s letters over breakfast Thursday morning—they are gems, and I am sharing them over at Lilting House—delighting in the soft, petal-strewn, handpressed paper and the colorful descriptions of Thailand penned in Keri’s friendly handwriting. And then of course we had to dive right into the Halliburton book, skipping directly to his Bangkok chapter and comparing his route to Keri’s on the globe. We’ll go back and start at the beginning when I figure out how to make time for one more book in our daily-reading pile.

I’m in My Junior Year of Blogging Now

GottaBook’s Gregory K., inventor of the poetry form known as the Fib, shares a fib in honor of his blog’s one-year anniversary. This reminded me that I missed my own two-year blog anniversary in January. Here’s what I started with:

"You really have your hands full."

This is what I’m always hearing from people, variations on the
theme. Either I have too many balls in the air or too much food on my
plate, or maybe it’s PLATES I’m supposed to be juggling instead of
balls, and I guess in that case any amount of food would be too much.
And it’s true, I’ve had plenty of days when it seems like the
metaphorical spaghetti is raining down upon my head. Especially this
past year, since the baby was born.

But I’m of the mind that a little pasta in the hair can be a good thing, metaphorically speaking.

Full hands are a blessing. Juggling can be exciting. A plate heaped
with food is generally considered something to be thankful for.

And oh boy am I thankful. Sometimes I’m dizzy with thanks. Other
times I’m just dizzy—life whirls by so quickly. What’s on the spinning
plates is a blur. So I thought I’d write about what’s on each dish, the
whole savory smorgasbord.

Happy to say nothing has changed (despite everything having changed this year). I’m still dizzy, and thankful, and savoring the feast.