• the quotidian (9.17.12)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace 

    Painted piggies.

    Chilly mornings: this little guy got to light the first fire.

    Picked without permission, but so pretty I couldn’t bring myself to care.

    My newest (and cutest) student: so far, she’s learned her name 
    and the commands for sit, stay, and down
    Next, to teach her not to jump up (my biggest doggie-related pet peeve).

    The perfect bar for whenever I need something sweet, and fast.
    Lately, I’ve been making these with alarming frequency.

    Supper, foraged.

    Proof that we are completely uncivilized.
    (Yes, that’s the dogs’ water bucket.)

    How he’s supposed to do it.
    (The little sinker.)

    Playing hard: at our annual church retreat.

    Retreating, of a Sunday morning: crisp and bright, fresh donuts, friends.

    When it’s over: heading home to recuperate.
    (Backstory: how the bumper got its hole.)

    The look I get when my husband realizes that he’s doing all the work 
    while I’m standing around snapping pictures.

    Of her own volition: I now have a clean fridge!

    Summer evenings: after supper, I dole out ice cream cones
    and we head out to the porch to lollygag … and wrestle.
     Always, to wrestle.

    Golden, my evening writing time: sequestered in my room.

    This same time, years previous: goodbye summer, hello fall, a new day dawningGreek pasta salad

  • September studies

    We started our book learning early this year. With no garden to obsess over, I honed in on the kids, poor dears.

    It took us a couple weeks to get up to speed, and we’re still not quite there yet. Workbooks are arriving in the mail every other day, and I’m eagerly awaiting my one big splurge—three different magazines from Cobblestone. I know I could check them out of the library but don’t want to bother. I want to read these magazines out loud at our leisure. So there went nearly a hundred bucks, ouch.

    Our schedule is pretty full. I’m sure I’ll relax as we get into the year, start cutting corners and all, but for now, we need the structure. I’m being all sorts of strict, operating under the mantra that declares new teachers should never smile at first. Or something.

    I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying myself. I get bored sometimes, but I’m figuring out how to balance the tedious with the games (this one’s the current favorite), videos, and fun read-alouds. At the end of the day I feel like I’ve accomplished something important. It’s a nice feeling.

    study breaks: he’s making a serious dent in the log pile

    But for the details! Oh, the details!

    What’s it like to homeschool four high-energy children, you ask? How do I juggle different grade levels and abilities and curriculums and minuscule attention spans and bad attitudes? How do I work in meals and cleaning and puppy training and blogging and business phone calls and walks and movies and a newspaper column? It’s simple, really—

    a lesson in getting along


    It’s not simple, not at all. Oftentimes, I’m like a not-funny clown in a really bad juggling act—the kind that drops balls and gets hit by balls and finally, in desperation, hurls balls against the wall. I get irritated and grumpy and then I bite my husband’s head off when it’s not even called for (sometimes it is), like yesterday morning when I came downstairs to discover that all the laundry he had folded was still sitting on the table in neat little stacks.

    “How am I supposed to teach the kids when the table is covered in laundry?” I snapped. “If you’re going to do something, do it all the way. I’m sick of following through with the kids—don’t make me have to follow through with you, too!”

    He, in turn, has been bemoaning the lack of anything edible in the house. The other morning, he asked, “Where’s all the food we canned this summer?” When I looked up from my writing, there he was, standing by the jelly cupboard, a confused, peeved look on his face.

    “Um…in the basement?” My voice dripped sarcasm. “I haven’t had time to bring the jars up. Obviously.”

    We’re not always at each other’s throats. Just sometimes. No need to stage an intervention. Yet.

    Anyway, back to homeschooling. Where was I? Oh, right. The details.

    studying up on his US history

    They are as follows: studies all morning, lunch and rest time, a few more random studies, supper, reading, and bedtime, with play and chores scattered throughout.

    Old Yeller, one of our favorites
    (she’s not crying, just tired) 

    I know, I know! That was entirely unsatisfactory. Maybe one of these days I’ll take minute-to-minutes notes of my day. It’d probably make me look ADD, though. Or schizoid.

    our suppertime reading material

    But maybe I’ll see if I can work it in.

    This same time, years previous: whole wheat jammies, coffee fix ice cream, ricotta cheese, and pesto torte

  • cinnamon sugar breadsticks

    My newspaper column ran yesterday. It was about cinnamon sugar breadsticks.

    I had to sit on the recipe for more than two whole weeks while I waited for it to be published. It was agony. I was all squealy-giddy over it and there I was, stuck. With no way to tell you. It was food blogger purgatory. I thought I’d die.

    But I didn’t, and now I can finally share the recipe. Thank goodness.

    I’ve made these breadsticks on three different occasions. First, I made them on the day that I invented them (duh). Second, I made a double batch when my husband’s sister and her five kids were visiting. Third, I made them this morning immediately after I brought in the paper. I had to push my husband aside while he was reading the column so I could see the ingredient list.

    The kids weren’t thrilled that we were having oatmeal for breakfast, but when they heard that we’d have a mid-morning study break with fresh cinnamon sugar breadsticks and milk, they perked right up.

    They devoured the whole pan in two shakes of a rat’s tail. I knew they would.

    These remind me of cinnamon buns, fresh dinner rolls, and donuts, all rolled into one. They are so easy to make that they’re practically mindless. In fact, they’re almost perverse in their simplicity—no recipe this slapdash should ever be so rewarding.

    But hey, I’m not complaining.

    Cinnamon Sugar Breadsticks

    2½ teaspoons yeast
    1 cup warm water
    3 cups bread flour
    3 packed tablespoons brown sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup oil
    4 tablespoons butter, melted
    ½ cup white sugar
    1 tablespoon cinnamon
    1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
    ½ teaspoon vanilla
    milk or half-and-half

    In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water. Set aside for five minutes.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and salt. Stir in yeast and oil. Knead until satiny smooth. Flour the bowl. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a cloth, and let rise until doubled.

    Grease a large, sided baking tray. Roll/press the dough so that it covers the bottom of the pan. Cut the dough down the middle lengthwise and then crosswise about 11 times, aiming for about 24 sticks. Cover the dough and let rise for 30-60 minutes.

    Bake the breadsticks at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. Brush the hot breadsticks with the melted butter and sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar (you will have some leftover).

    Combine the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to make a runny icing. Drizzle it over the breadsticks. Serve warm.

    Updated March 2014: 
    The overnight version: mix up the dough at bedtime and put it straight into the refrigerator in an airtight container. At 3-4 am when you get up to go to the bathroom, put the container on the counter, remove the lid, and cover the dough with a cloth. When you get up for real, roll the dough into the baking tray and follow the recipe as specified.

    This same time, years previous: camping, lemon butter pasta with zucchini