• Down to the river to chill

    So what to do when you are sick and tired of the same old-same old? Load all your little hellions into the van and set off on An Excursion!

    But only after you tell them that you will all be going on An Excursion—they scream YAY!!—and will therefore be missing out on the Sunday night movie—they FREAK OUT WAAAH!—at which point you give them a lecture about if they can’t be flexible with movie night then you’re going to have to NIX MOVIE NIGHT ALL TOGETHER. Because, it’s summer time, guys, and that means that we don’t need to be entertained by that little evil box SO JUST GET OVER IT ALL READY.

    Then be happy when everyone quickly readjusts their attitudes and runs around squeezing into too-small suits and stealing your sneakers because you have been negligent in buying them any clothes because it’s just too dang expensive and you hate squandering entire evenings on kid-centric shopping trips. And besides, you spent all the allotted money for clothing on some yoga pants because how you look is more important than how the kids look because they can get away on their youthful good looks and you can’t, so there.

    When everyone is in the car, take a picture of yourself out the window. Don’t bark.


    Then take a picture of your lap via the flip-down mirror and be happy because it looks semi-hipstamatic.


    Take a picture of the pack in the back.


    Take a picture of the convenience store and the man you married exiting it with a luxurious bag o’ Lays.


    Then tell the kids to cut out all the happy screaming because some paranoid person will walk by and think you don’t feed them. (You don’t really say that.)

    Get to the swimming hole, because that’s what it means to Go On An Excursion in your house, and be a little worried about all the drunk adults running around throwing cups of water on each other, swearing, and—Mom! They’re snogging!—yep, snogging. In your Harry Potter house, PDA is known as snogging.

    The creek is quite high and fr-fr-fr-freezing cold. While the kids go about the business of acquiring blue lips, you entertain yourself with the steller combination of running water and different apertures and shutter speeds.

    You take a crazy number of pictures of your kids looking like drowned rats.


    In between times, you steal pictures of your husband.


    Your son strikes up a friendship with another preteen—your husband even sees them bond with the oh-so-cool fist bump that you know your son has never done before.


    Which is kinda funny because just that very morning your husband had a conversation with some fellow church goers about how homeschooled kids don’t really know how to socialize, though your husband wasn’t saying that, of course. And then your husband says, “Our homeschooled son is out there making friends with complete strangers and here I am, a product of public schools, cowering in a corner,” and you laugh and think to yourself, I need to blog about this sometime.

    Some friends meet up with you, and your daughter begs their baby and enjoys some quality cuddle time.


    As you watch her hold the baby with one hand and eat with the other while observing the creek-side action, and then, when the baby fusses and she automatically starts to jiggle her leg without ever looking at the infant, you think the thought that has crossed your mind many, many times, “Now would be the time to have another child. I wouldn’t have to do anything!”


    Because this seven-year-old child of yours would be perfectly capable of doing everything for the baby, except for breastfeeding—and she’d probably try to do that, too—plus, you have two older kids who could do everything as well.

    At this point in your life, a baby would be a delicious piece of cake.

    But it ain’t gonna happen, so you shake the thought and snap a picture of your friends’ extremely adorable and precocious daughter.


    And then the snoggers leave and your friends leave, and your kids are so frozen stiff you’re afraid they might make like a board and float downstream so you pack it all up and head home.


    This same time, years previous: barbecued pork ribs, fresh strawberry cream pie (I’ve made two already this spring) (And check out the awesome, no-shrink pie crust while you’re at it. It’s awesome.)

  • The saturation point

    Written yesterday afternoon…

    I just woke from a deep, late afternoon nap, the kind of nap that leaves your face streaked with crease marks and your body feeling like it has sunk into itself.

    It’s the kind of nap that I almost never take.

    It’s the kind of nap that I’ve been craving.

    It’s been a little rough around here lately. Yesterday I cried the ugly cry in front of all four of my kids, and at one point—the point where I wailed “You guys are my favorite people in the whole wide world and I can’t stand being with you because all you do is FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!”—the three oldest burst into tears, in unison.

    It was the scene straight out of The Sound of Music where Maria sits on the pinecone at the dinner table and then covers for the naughty children which causes them to start boo-hooing.

    Though in our case there was no mild sniffling. We don’t do anything mildly in this house, not even crying.

    We were a sight to behold.

    I’m not sure if it’s me or the kids, or maybe a little of both. All I know is I’m exhausted, worn out by all the bickering and crying and yelling. I don’t have any more tricks up my sleeve. Nothing works anyway, so it’s probably no big loss, though the lack of options does leave me feeling vaguely desperate and resource-less, like a hopeless lumpy of a mother.

    It’s not that there’s anything big going on here. No, it’s just a combination of little things, the gist of which is that I wake up in a good mood, eager to get to my day, to read to the kids, work on projects, do my cooking/gardening/writing, to just hang with my gang because they are so incredibly interesting and creative and fun. But then my hopeful early-morning expectations get blown to smithereens by this scene, times three hundred and twenty-six:

    *a child has a full-on hissy fit over the size of the cereal bowl or some such nonsense
    *a child scream names (“sexy head” is a new favorite) at anyone who dares to look in her general direction
    *a child stares pointedly at the screaming child who does not want to be stared at
    *a child crouches at the table like a wild animal and drips milk over table and floor

    And that’s all in the first ten seconds of breakfast.

    As I go about putting out fires, separating children, meting out consequences, distracting and directing and redirecting, the wind whooshes right out of my sails, taking all my happy-thought goals and dreams with it, and I’m left drifting, bobbing up and down on the endless sea of attitudes and chores. It’s depressingly disappointing.

    To top it off, my feet have been aching like I’m eight-months pregnant, I pierced the palm of my hand cutting boiled eggs with a curved knife blade (duh), and I’m sick of not spending money.

    And here’s where I reach full siren mode—in my head, anyway. I WANT A VACATION! WAH! I WANT SOMEONE TO ANTICIPATE MY EVERY NEED! I WANT TO GO OUT TO EAT! TO THE MOVIES! TO THE BEACH! I WANT TO BUY SOME NEW CLOTHES! A NEW COFFEE PRESS! A NEW CAMERA LENS! I WANT WANT WANT! WAH WAH WAAAAAAH!

    And since I can’t do or have those things (they wouldn’t fix anything anyway, sniff-sniff), I’m left with much more down-to-earth (though equally highly improbable) wants:

    *I want everyone to talk in hushed tones
    *I want everyone to walk—no, tiptoe through the house
    *I want everyone to come when called
    *I want everyone to do the tasks they’re asked to do the first time they’re asked to do them
    *I want everyone to smile angelically
    *I want everyone to say “please” and “thank you” and such sundry pleasantries as “would you like help with that, dear sister?” and “oh, you want to play with the toy that is mine? But of course you may, dear brother!”
    *I WANT THE CHILD WHOSE VOICE SOUNDS LIKE A FOGHORN TO STOP SOUNDING LIKE A FOGHORN BECAUSE IT IS DRIVING ME CRAZY.

    And no, I am not PMSy. Why do you ask?

    And lest you think it is complete pandemonium and chaos in this house of mine, let me assure you: it is complete pandemonium and chaos.

    And still, we keep everlastingly at it. In the rare moments of calm between the foghorn bellows, marathon name-calling sessions, and flying fists, I make a conscious effort to kiss curly-haired heads and stinky-boy necks. I pin the dishwasher’s hands to her side in a big bear hug. I make eye contact with each pair of blue eyes and smile, if only for a second. This rough patch too shall pass.

    And then there will be a new rough patch, sohelpmegod.

    The sheer intensity of it is enough to lay me flat.

    Shortly after that ugly cry of mine, my son walked through the kitchen where I was getting lunch together, sighed heavily and stated matter-of-factly, “It’s what it means to be a mom.”

    I think what he meant was, You just discovered the toughest part of parenting, Mom.

    Yeah, boy. Did I ever.

    Signed,
    Fed Up to My Eyeballs

    This same time, years previous: the ways we play (ironic, no?), rhubarb tart and rhubarb tea

  • One dead mouse

    Before my story begins, let me say this: mice do not freak me out. Back when I was a pipsqueak, I used to raise them for science. And I don’t mean for my science lessons, but rather for the much broader definition of science—the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment (thanks, wicky)—by selling them to real, live scientists at auctions. I cleaned the mouse cages, fed them, held them, and got bitten by them, no big deal. (Also, it was a much smaller operation than I’m leading you to believe.)

    So see, mice and me are cool.

    However, I do not like mice. They stink up my stove, pee and poop everywhere, and are, in general, totally, absolutely, and completely vile.

    Live mice, in particular, totally piss me off. As in, at the mere sight of one I will whip off my flip-flop and smack them senseless. I’ve been known to bait them with crackers and trap them in plastic bags and then wail the living daylights out of them in the middle of the night (while living in a storage shed in Nicaragua).

    (Also in Nicaragua, I was awakened one night by a mama rat—RAT!—pawing through my hair. I had fed her pack of nekkid babies to a dog and she had come back to haunt me to pieces, I guess.)

    Lately, our phantom mouse, for we do indeed have a phantom mouse, has made several appearances. One night I was sitting on the floor counting money, wearing a bathrobe and not much more, when the little gray demon shot across the rug in my general direction (remember, I was only wearing a robe) and then veered off under the sofa.

    If that mouse had chosen to dive under the terry cloth tent—eeeeee! Makes me tingle all over just to think of it.

    Another time it appeared when I was just stepping out of the shower. I heard John shrieking downstairs so I quickly wrapped a towel around me and ran to save him. (Why do mice always catch me half dressed? What’s up with that?) We, and a not-yet-sleepy Baby Bandaids Nickel, barricaded off the shoe room in an effort to catch the poor trapped rodent and then, neck hairs a-raising, heavy shoes gripped tightly in our hands, we gingerly slid boxes and tins aside until—EEK!—the mouse streaked out of a corner, crashed into the barrier, leaped into the air and scurried off into another corner, John and I, thunking and yelling all the while and never once hitting the darn thing.

    The second time the mouse made a run for it, John knocked down the barrier in his effort to get the mouse, and the little bugger zipped through my legs on its way to the washing machine. I spun around, walloping frantically, and though I thought my slipper once made contact with something soft, it got away.

    Or so we thought.


    This morning I noticed that it was kind of stinky over by my desk. I poked around a little but nothing was to be found.


    As the stench grew stronger, it slowly dawned on me that it could only be one thing—a dead mouse. (So I did whack the thing after all! Hooray!)

    With the smell intensifying by the second, I was left with no choice but to pull the fridge out from the wall.


    With each tug on the fridge, the smell worsened, and when I saw wet spots on the tile floor I realized the dead mouse was indeed stuck underneath and was—how to put this delicately?—smearing every time I gave a tug.

    I promptly called it quits and rang up my knight in muddy work boots.

    “Are you serious?” he said. “You really want me to come home for this?”

    “Um, yeah,” I whimpered. “It’s really bad. We can’t stay in the house. Please?”

    And then, for extra pathetic points, “I feel like I’m going to throw up.”

    So home he came to do the dirty deed.


    He didn’t much complain about the stench—he’s way too tough for that—and instead got right to work jacking up the fridge on wooden blocks and dropping to his knees to investigate in his trademark, no-nonsense manner.


    But when he went to scoop up the rotting mouse in a wad of newspapers,

    a silhouette of John dry-heaving

    he dry-heaved loudly and repeatedly, much to my raucous amusement.


    A few minutes with the vacuum and a bucket of bleach water later, the job was done and my knight hopped into his white pick-up, put on his stunner shades, and took his leave.


    So, to summarize:
    1. I was kidding you when I said that mice and me are cool. I don’t know why I said that. In reality, mice give me the shiver-iver-ivers.
    2. It’s really clean under my fridge right now.

    The end.

    This same time, years previous: strawberry ideas

  • Questions and carrots

    When I asked my son to vacuum the floor the other day, the roar of the vacuum must’ve loosened his tongue because, as he jerked the sucker-thingy back and forth across the kitchen tiles, this is what came out of his mouth:

    “I have one question above all else: how did it all start?”

    “How did we invent things?”

    “How did people get started?”

    “Is the Bible real or was it all made up by children?”

    “Is God real?”


    Then he switched from question spouting to whistling and I, having never made a single peep, scurried to my desk and jotted it all down.

    ***

    Several days ago we had an awful morning that involved the three youngest in simultaneous meltdown mode. It was perfectly horrendous. As part of the rehabilitation plan, after rest time and lunch (note the reversed order), they were told they had to play together nicely for awhile before they could do anything else.


    They decided to make cooked carrots with brown butter.


    They made two batches. Skillets, tongs, saucepans, peelers, and little Beatrix Potter dishes were involved.

    I have a feeling—for I did not supervise the merry mayhem—a splendidly excessive amount of butter was consumed.

    ***

    And there you have it, two disjointed thoughts from the brain of a tired and disjointed mama. It’s all I have to give, so it’s all you’re going to get.

    xo

    This same time, years previous: chicken butchering, a cake for Wayne

  • Deviating from my norm

    When I started pinterest, I was kind of afraid that it would be a huge time suck and that I would sit around all day playing with my virtual bulletin boards.

    And I did … for about 24 hours.

    But then I came up for air, forced myself to close the laptop, and started making art. Art that was inspired by—you guessed it—pinterest.


    My little project is not quite done yet—I’ll show it to you when it is—but I’m zipping right along and have a kink in my neck to prove it. (And I already have another idea brewing for when this first project is finished…)


    It wasn’t just pinterest that inspired me—a lot of the blame gets laid squarely on Amanda of the infamous Soule Mama blog. I’ve been reading her for quite some time now and am impressed by how much art they make. Amanda’s little girl will say, “Mama, let’s make something,” and they promptly head into the sewing room and whip up a blanket.

    I’m not going to be whipping up blankets anytime soon, but her obvious pleasure in making things inspired me to kick back and CREATE. I get so caught up in the chores and cooking and writing (you know, routines and habits, blah, blah, blah)—this little deviation from my norm has been delightfully refreshing.


    It was a chain reaction, too: the older kids, inspired by my artistic dabblings, hauled the roll of newsprint downstairs and broke open a new box of markers.


    Bandaids Nickel learned how to make bubble letters and typed on the computer, and Sweetsie (when she wasn’t on timeout for uncivilized rampages) hovered by my shoulder and alternated between whining and singing (that child!).

    And so passed our sunny morning.


    Where do you find inspiration? What art have you been making?

    This same time, years previous: Aunt Valerie’s blueberry bars, asparagus, goat cheese, and lemon pasta

  • Through my daughter’s eyes

    This is what my seven-year-old daughter sees when she looks at me.


    Or at least it’s what she sees when I’m in a good mood because it’s a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon and I just finished planting the corn and am ready to start in on the beans and I’m feeling nice and benevolent which is illustrated by the fact that I let her hold the camera in the first place.

    If I was grumpy, I wouldn’t be smiling, because I am not one of those mamas that smiles while grumpy. I totally got skipped when the DNA dude was handing out the hide-your-feelings gene.

    Right before Sweetsie took the picture we had agreed that she could take one more picture. (She had already taken a picture of her sister sticking her tongue out at her [which, come to think of it, is probably a pretty accurate portrayal of what her sister looks like to her—tongue out, roll-y eyes, the works] and a picture of her papa leaning on a hoe.)

    So she snapped that picture of me, but then she kept snapping, little bugger, and I had to move in to stop the clicking frenzy.

    She immediately chopped off the top of my head.


    And then she started giggling hysterically and badly blurred me.


    Quick as a wink, she did it again.


    And then I laid hands on the camera and rescued my image from further tainting.

    I learned something though. I learned that my kids can take half decent pictures (when they’re not giggling) and that it’s kind of fun to see life on their level. I may have to try it again sometime.

    But only when I’m in a good mood, of course.

    This same time, years previous: chocolate-kissed chili, ranch dressing

  • Savoring Saturday’s sun

    Yesterday’s sun was just what the doctor ordered.

    *laundry on the line
    *blossoming mock orange
    *tomato plants galore
    *my workman (he takes off his hands and stuffs them in his back pocket when he’s not working)
    *readying the chicken tractor, thanks to a surprise gift of 29 2-pound chickens from our neighboring chicken farmer
    *playmates and MP3 player novelty (the kids are growing up!)
    *looking skyward, lots of yellow, green, and blue
    *extended porch-sitting time

    Of course the whole garden didn’t get planted, but we made a valiant effort. I was so exhausted that I opted for bed over my much anticipated rhubarb-rosemary daiquiri. Imagine!

    How did you savor Saturday’s sun? Or, if the atmosphere didn’t provide any (I’m so very sorry), make some for yourself?

  • I’ve fallen hard and I don’t want to get up

    It rained all week.


    I went a little crazy.

    Tomorrow will be sunny and I’ll work in the garden all day long.


    (Except for when I won’t, of course.)

    My goal is to get the entire thing planted.

    I’m so good at setting realistic goals for myself. It’s one of my gifts.

    But for now, for now I’m sunk deep into pinterest.

    Yes, I took the plunge and I haven’t come up for air yet. I’m trusting the rush will fade, so I’m allowing myself to frisk about with wild abandon, and to all hours of the early morning, yes indeed.

    It’s splendid fun (all questions can be answered here). I’d love for you to join me!

    This same time, years previous: the boring blues (obviously, I didn’t have pinterest), fowl-ness (a butchering tale)

  • My day with muffins

    It always amazes me how when spring rolls around each, um, spring, there is a whole new slew of rhubarb recipes that crop up right along with the elephant eared-topped red stalks that shoot up out of the ground, and I can never seem to get to all of them. (The recipes, that is, not the rhubarb. I can get to the rhubarb, no prob.)

    A number of conclusions can be made regarding this rhubarb phenomenon:
    1. I like rhubarb.
    2. I read lots of recipes.
    3. I cook lots of rhubarb.
    4. I ought to grow more rhubarb.

    Numbers one through three are constants and will not be changed. I’m working on number four, but it’s been a struggle since five of my six new plants died upon planting. They confused their planting with a burial, I’m afraid.

    So I’m picking my rhubarb patch heavier than I ought to be, probably, and we are enjoying rhubarb all sorts of different ways.


    Today I put a bunch of rue-barbies into muffins. I got the idea from Deb, but then subbed in my standard muffin recipe which is, by the way, THE BEST MUFFIN RECIPE EVER I kid you not. And I will defend my claim till the day all my teeth fall out and I can no longer bite into a muffin WHICH WILL BE NEVER because the muffins are so tender and moist that I’ll be able to gum them just fine, though I might have to pass on the hard add-ins like chocolate and nuts.

    Good grief, what is this post coming to? I’m supposed to be talking about delicious, springy rhubarb and instead I’m yammering on and on about burials and my teeth falling out. I am so very sorry. Let’s press on, shall we?

    [inhales deeply, squares shoulders]

    So I got the idea for the muffins from Deb, yeah. I used her streusel recipe which turned out to be absolutely fantastico, crunchy crumbly and not too sweet. My daughter asked if I could just bake up a pan of the streusel so she could eat it straight up. Which makes me think, now that I pause to think, the baked streusel would probably be an excellent topping for oatmeal or as an add-in, along with some dried fruit, for a bowl of cornflakes.

    And I’m thinking of signing up for pinterest. (Oops. I should’ve given you a heads-up that a Random Thought was brewing. Sorry. Again.) Anyone out there a pinner of interesting things? Ought I do it? Is it a waste of time? I’m asking for a little feedback here. Do oblige me, please.

    This post is kind of like my day with these muffins has been. I set up the stuff to make the muffins, I slept, I baked the muffins, I fed the kids, I ate a muffin, I read to the kids, I ate another muffin, I oversaw chores, I ate a muffin (but just a half this time), I fancied up my toenails, I made lunch, I ate lunch, I ate anther muffin…

    See, the muffins are the background for everything else that’s going on, just like how the bits about the muffins are background for all my other random thoughts.

    I even gave up my afternoon donut to have a muffin. (Which was the muffin I ate after lunch, lest you think I ate TWO muffins after lunch, which I didn’t.) (Yet.)

    If anything could speak highly to these muffins, that last line is it. In fact, I probably could have scratch the preceding gibberish and just written that line and you all would get the message loud and clear.

    So let’s try again:

    Blog Post Take Two

    Look at this muffin, will ya? Do you see it, a-way down there? Yes?


    I gave up my afternoon donut for this muffin. Yes! It’s true! I wanted a whole-grain MUFFIN over a devily delicious DONUT!

    Wow, and the end.

    Except it’s not (sigh) because I have to say one more thing. These muffins are really the perfect breakfast muffin because they’re packed with oatmeal and whole wheat and only ever-so slightly sweet. The touch of tart from the rhubarb and the crunch from the streusel put them over the top.

    And they put anyone who tries to talk about them over the top, too, as evidenced by this wacko post.

    Love you lots,
    The Muffin Lady


    Rhubarb Streusel Muffins
    Inspired by Deb (the streusel recipe is hers, only slightly tweaked)

    Streusel:
    ½ cup flour
    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    3 tablespoons white sugar
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    pinch each of salt and nutmeg
    3 tablespoons butter, melted

    Combine the dry ingredients, add the butter, and stir with a fork. Set aside.

    Mix up one batch of my basic oatmeal muffin recipe and stir in 1 1/4 cups chopped (fairly small) rhubarb.

    Divide the batter between 12 greased, or cupcake-lined, muffin tins and top with the streusel. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    This same time, years previous: caramel cake

  • My favorite things

    Skipping School
    This blog has rapidly become my number one source for homeschooling inspiration. It’s written by a girl named Kate who was unschooled, along with her brothers, for all her growing up years. She is passionate, opinionated, and articulate about unschooling, and she pulls it all off with a gracious maturity that far exceeds her twenty-odd years.

    But then, I’d expect no less, seeing as she’s homeschooled and all.

    Just KIDDING!

    Seriously, it’s rare, too rare, that we get to hear homeschooled kids-grown-up reflect on their experiences. Her candor and insights are refreshing.

    Whirley Popped Popcorn
    I don’t have one.

    I want one.

    I’ve been scouring the thrift stores (or rather, thrift STORE, because I only go to one) and telling every other thrifter I know to keep their eyes peeled for the innocent looking pot that makes such fabulous popcorn.

    I used to always make my popcorn in a stove-top kettle, but then my popcorn popping skeelz took a turn for the worse and I had to give it up and go with the tasteless, dry variety (but at least it’s not burned) that you get from an air popper.

    No, she hasn’t turned into a Simpson. Her hair is just wearing a blue towel.

    We borrowed my friend’s whirley popper for the family reunion and I spent a good 45 minutes communing with the little contraption while I turned out batch after batch of the crispy kernels. Now the guests are gone but, despite having washed it clean and set it aside to tote back into town, we have yet to return the popper. And somehow, every night it makes it’s way back to the top of the stove.

    Do you think my friend would notice if we returned an air popper instead of the whirley popper?

    Our water pressure
    For five years we’ve had horrible water pressure. It would trickle so slowly that we could wash stacks of dishes without the sink ever filling up, and it would take entire minutes before the hot water would start to run.


    Then this passed weekend my uncle went out to the well with my husband, jiggled some gauges and knobbies, chanted a few incantations (walawalawalaBAM), and now the water thunders out of the faucets. It’s glorious.

    This post on homeschooling
    It’s the exact opposite of Skipping School, but still, I loved this post. Ann thoughtfully and carefully speaks about her family’s decision to homeschool. She is so NOT bumbly and loud and sarcastic like Yours Truly. People like her are easier to listen to than people like me.

    This little nook
    The kids spend hours here.


    It is one of the smartest decorating choices I have every made.

    Ted.com
    I’m sure you’re all familiar with this never ending selection of mini-seminars that cover such a wide-range of topics. It’s a great source of entertainment for the bored or curious and an excellent resource for the homeschooling family.

    Yesterday we watched one about a National Geographic photographer (and, qué sorpresa!, it actually overlapped with a National Geographic movie we had watched earlier in the day). (It was a rainy day and rainy days warrant excessive National Geographic screen time.)

    Another fun talk we watched awhile back was about a guy who tried to make a toaster from scratch—as in, he had to go out and dig up the ingredients to make the plastic. And so on.

    Here the kids are watching a show on juggling while John and I race around the house doing
    last-minute clean-up before our guests arrive.

    Making cookies on a rainy afternoon


    I had my oldest son mix up the dough and then we ate them fresh from the oven with cold milk.

    My daughter’s quotes


    Here’s one: “When we were riding down the road we passed some goats and sheep and they were all having a little church service.”

    If you are at all familiar with Biblical references or this book, you’ll get the humor (not that she got the humor).

    Read Alouds


    I’ve been reading a book to the kids called Remarkable Children by Dennis Brindell Fradin. Each chapter is dedicated to a young person who did something incredible, be it a discovery or an intellectual or physical feat. Some of the young people are Shirley Temple, Anne Frank, Zerah Colburn, Mozart, Hilda Conkling, and Cassius Clay. It’s inspiring. And I find it intriguing that many of the great kids turned into more-than-normal adults. Something to ponder, no?

    I’m also reading The Hiding Place to the older two children. It’s such an incredible book and I look forward extra much to our night-time reading. But, at the same time that I’m loving it, I’m also feeling all heavy and sad because I am choosing to teach them about the horrible side of humanity. It is a weighty thing, this ending of their innocence.

    Of course, they already know about a lot of unpleasant stuff (rape, eating disorders, poachers, suicide, the ozone, etc), but the horribleness of the Holocaust is on such a monstrous level that it leaves us reeling. The children are shocked, I think. And indignant, too.

    When I was reading about Anne Frank in that first book I mentioned, the one about remarkable children, I sobbed my way through it. I cry a lot more when I read to the kids now than I used to. I think it’s because I’m finally reading stories that really hurt.

    So to sum up, when my kids grow up they’ll remember our nighttime readings as one big ol’ sobfest. Boo-hoo.

    Leftover donuts
    We had two bags left over and every afternoon I faithfully trot down to the basement to fetch a donut to go with my afternoon coffee. After 20 seconds in the microwave, it is almost as good as fresh.


    While we normally dig into the donuts while they are still hot, many of the adults (not the kids, though—the kids were like sticky-fingered vultures) waited for their salad to settle before indulging.


    We all agreed that the donuts are best eaten fresh, as in within first hour after frying, but after—and this is key—they’ve had a chance to cool completely.


    When the donuts have had a chance to set up there isn’t need to wildly contort your face while you wonder whether or not they are under-done or just very squishy soft, and the glaze hardens up into a thin shell that shatters with each bite….

    Oh my. I do love me some good donuts.

    My mother being alarmed that perhaps her donut isn’t fully cooked.
    Isn’t she cute?

    My son getting weepy over his piano lessons


    Not because he hates to practice, but because the melody for the new song he is learning is so hauntingly beautiful that it moves him to tears. So sweet.

    Mud Babies


    It’s been ducky around here lately and my kids have sprouted webs between their toes to go with the weather.


    They splash and slip.


    Mud oozes between fingers and toes.


    Then mud balls get thrown and kids start to beller and I call it quits and loudly issue a proclamation that NO ONE MAY GO NEAR THE MUD HOLE FOR THE REST OF THE DAY.

    And then they all come inside to get baths before lunch, but even after showers and hair washes, I still find mud in their ears and clinging to their hair.


    Tis the season…

    This same time, years previous: Garden tales, part two, talking points rained out, cinnamon tea biscuits