Monthly Archives: August 2007
…the kind of folk who buy a ready-made packaged vacation, then plunk the family dog in a kennel, and blithely go on their way with a few bits of clothing in a suitcase.
All that lack of planning and preparation is starting to look really good right about now.
We leave tomorrow for Colorado — three nights in a cabin along the Dolores River in SW Colorado (just south of Telluride), then five nights with my father-in-law, who lives in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
I should publish all my planning lists just so y’all could see what making a 9-day trip for a family of six entails. Add to that the arrangements for someone to stay at our home and take care of our dog (my many thanks to Caleb T.!), which means I need to make sure everything is in tip-top order here on the homefront, as well.
And we’re not even camping this year!! (Though camping adds exponentially to the planning, prep and work, I’ve officially put in my request to The Hub for a camping trip next year; I just love to be out in the wilderness, and I love how my kids love it.)
Granted, with 1/2 of our family on a gluten-free diet, and 1/3 of us being dairy free, as well, it’s likely that no matter where we go, some serious meal planning and food toting is going to be required. Still. It’s a lotta work getting all this relaxation planned. 😀
Thou blind man’s mark, thou fool’s self-chosen snare,
Fond fancy’s scum, and dregs of scattered thought,
Band of all evils; cradle of causeless care;
Thou web of will, whose end is never wrought:
Desire! Desire! I have too dearly bought
With price of mangled mind, thy worthless ware.
~Sir Philip Sidney
Wow. That, on the first page, introducing Chapter 1 of Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. Sayers often puts some bit of verse, or some obscure quote at the start of each chapter of her books. This one really spoke to me; it’s just where I’m at right now, warring with my flesh, attempting to place my very subjective desires under the objectivity of Christ-like life and thought. Mangled mind, indeed.
I have no idea who Sir Philip Sidney is. I probably should know, which brings up another thought I had, upon cracking this book — my 11th by Sayers this year (though a few books of short stories, she had published as individual works; I read them in one large collection.): I’ve read too much junk in my life. I was an absolutely voracious reader as a child. I most loved mysteries, and secondarily, historical fiction, horse stories, and fantasy. Most of it, just fluff, especially the mysteries, which outnumbered all others at least 4 to 1: Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Three Investigators, Trixie Belden, Encyclopedia Brown… Not bad, any of it. But I do wish that my mom (or someone!) had given me just a little bit of direction to broaden my reading horizons, and to challenge me, at least a little bit.* All that time spent reading, my life could have been immeasurably enriched, instead of just time passed almost compulsively reading just what appealed to my base nature.
The last 5+ years, it’s been my goal to read nothing that isn’t worthwhile. “Worthwhile” of course, is a matter of personal judgement. To me, Sue Grafton isn’t worthwhile, but Sayers is. They probably fall in the same genre, detective fiction. But they’re worlds — WORLDS! — apart. Sayers’ works satisfy what seems to be a deep desire in me to solve mysteries, but also satisfies my longing to have my love for (worthwhile!) knowledge grow. Almost any book that I’m reading where I have to keep a dictionary close at hand, to me, is worthwhile. Almost any book that
stirs some… higher thought
sweeps some of the cobwebs from my brain
both challenges and confirms the reasons for my Christianity
has some profound beauty
is thoughtfully written
is, IMO, worthwhile.
To me, silly girl that I am, the “entertainment” part is still important, especially when reading a novel. I mean, I could pull off the shelf any academic, dry book of, say, comparative world religions and it would fit most of my “worthwhile” criteria. But a novel still needs to entertain, to be absorbing.
Another lovely thought from Ms. Sayers:
Tall spikes of delphinium against the grey, quiveringly blue like flames, if flame were ever so blue.
* That’s what I do with my boys, ages 10, 8, and almost-6. They like when I pick out their library books, as I still almost always do. I know they have a need for adventure, for pirates and war and the Wild West and survival and mysteries, too. But, I try to give them a mix of fiction and non-fiction, of books that I know will be a breeze for them, and books that are maybe a little more challenging, which they wouldn’t have thought to pick for themselves, but which, ultimately, they’re glad they’ve read, once finished.
Really, I couldn’t figure out what all the hype about bedsheet thread-count was until last night.
We needed new sheets. I had most recently purchased a set a couple of years ago. I remember agonizing over the decision, trying to get the highest quality for the lowest price (something that I try to do all the time). Turns out, I picked wrong. I don’t remember the threadcount, but they were all cotton, had a teensy bit of nice trim, and I liked ’em. But, they were always completely wrinkly right out of the dryer (and I’m NOT the type to iron sheets). Then, they somehow got big splotches of ink on them, which I never quite figured out. Then, they got a few holes in them, which I couldn’t figure out, either. Then, they started getting threadbare. Then, my hubby shoved his heel through the fitted sheet, which was followed by a big rrrrriiiiiiiiiip! sound. Sheets that go threadbare in less than 3 years? Our “backup” set of sheets is over 10 years old, and while very thin (and very soft!), they’re no where close to being threadbare.
That sheet is now cut up into cleaning rags, and on our bed is a nice new set of sheets.
On Saturday, from Kohl’s, I got five new beach towels, the set of sheets, and a pack of undershirts for my 10yo, all for $50. All of the stuff was on sale or clearance, and I had a $10 coupon. I was very pleased.
We needed the beach towels, too, since the boys left three of our towels in Oak Creek Canyon, and I didn’t notice, being distracted by my baby and my very dear friend, Shellie, and the whole rigamarole of who’s-riding-with-whom. (Really, I’m about the only mom in America — except for maybe Shellie — who can’t multitask. Most moms would have quickly noticed that their children did not come to the truck with the towels they started the afternoon out with. Not me. I didn’t notice until we were on our way home, and a good 30 minutes away from the canyon. Ugh.) I had actually been beach towel-shopping a couple of times, but didn’t want to pay the $10+ sale prices I’d found. So, the boys finished their swimming lessons using bath towels, and my waiting paid off, since all the beach towels are now about $3.25-4.50 at Kohl’s.
The sheets were 300 count cotton, and on clearance. 60% off of $69.99 = $28 for some really nice sheets. They were in a clearance pattern which coordinates with the comforter we already have. The sheets are well-made, have very deep pockets on the fitted sheet, which is elasticized all the way around, so they fit our really-tall mattress perfectly. The sheets are smooth and soft, and I can tell you, I’m very happy to have my nice-quality sheets at a cheap price. 🙂
(BTW, buy your kids’ undershirts, etc. at Target, not at Kohl’s. I should have known. We bought a 3-pack on sale for $5.99, and then went to Target where I saw a 5-pack of the same brand on sale for $5.)
Have you ever known someone (or read of someone) who says something like, “I can complete the Sunday New York Times crossword. In 10 minutes. In pen.” I view such people with a mix of annoyance, consternation, and envy.
I no longer get the daily paper. I like to read, and I like to stay up on current events, but this comes into conflict with my schedule. Being a homeschooling mom of four, newspaper reading has become a luxury that I could no longer afford — from a time standpoint, not a monetary one.
Every once in a while, though, the newspaper person will drop a free daily paper on my driveway, and I take this as a sign from God that I’m supposed to allow myself the time spent on doing the daily crossword. 😀 (The newspaper is the Arizona Republic, but they publish the syndicated United Feature crossword.) As mentioned, I can’t do it in 10 minutes, and I never use pen, but given the chance, I can almost always complete the whole thing with no assistance (no dictionaries, atlases, or asking hubbies for help), working on it off-and-on throughout the morning. Today’s, I filled in every answer, except for two letters. I think I know what they are, but not for certain, so they stay unfilled-in.
Today’s crossword success soothed my sense of being just-shy of illiterate after tackling yesterday’s NY Times crossword. Ugh. We do get the Sunday paper, and nearly every week, I pull out the crossword, thinking — wrongly — that my knowledge and crossword skill has now elevated to NY Times status, and that, surely, I can complete it this time. The best I’ve ever done is about half. And that took me working on it all week.
Last night, after our family spent a fun — but extremely hot — hour and a half in the back yard throwing the baseball, eating ice, and hanging out together, I curled up in the corner of the couch with my pencil, atlas, the dictionary, and the Sunday NY Times crossword, which our paper carries in syndication. (For the Times puzzle, I do allow myself those two helps — the atlas and the dictionary, though, frankly, the dictionary rarely helps.) After a while spent on it, my hubby glanced at my progress, and encouragingly said, “Whaddya got? Four words?” 🙄
This morning, determined to improve on my twenty words or so completed — not four, thankyouverymuch! — I decided to sit down at my computer and do a bit of Googling. Quickly, I got the answers to three words that would have otherwise completely evaded me. I felt a mix of triumph and dissatisfaction. More on the “dissatisfaction” side. It felt a bit… unclean. It felt like cheating.
So, it’s back to feeling beaten by a bit of newspaper, and humbly admitting that I’m not (yet, anyways!) the type who can whip those out with no effort.
I never thought I was particular about my laundry until I took a trip this past Spring. I was in the home of two different friends and two different relatives, and, apparently, among my friends & family at least, I’m more-picky-than-average about how my family’s laundry is done.
Me, well, it seems simple: I want my family’s clothes to stay looking as close as possible to how they looked when I purchased them.
I decided to do a laundry meme to find out what everyone’s clothing care habits are. I really am curious. NO STONES of laundry judgement are going to be thrown by me to those of you, for example, who don’t sort.
Though I’m (mostly) happy with my laundry routine, I’m not saying my ways are best. I have seen, for example, that there are benefits to not sorting. Namely, the laundry always stays done, because everything that everyone has worn for the day simply goes into the wash. My dirty laundry tends to pile up until I have, say, enough reds and pinks for one full load. Sometimes the piles threaten so greatly to overtake the house that one door into/out of the laundry room is completely blocked. That’s certainly not to be emulated.
(I did find one other laundry meme out there, but it wasn’t detailed enough for my taste. And it began with something like “Do you do your own laundry, or do you send it out? What??? Send out ALL OF IT???? Good Lord! Are there people in the world who don’t wash any of their own laundry???? They obviously live in a different world than I do, and this meme is probably not for them.)
There are no rules for the meme. Add, subtract, change questions, tag whomever you choose (or not), credit me, don’t credit me, whatever. I’m just curious about your laundry!!
- In your home, who does the laundry? I do all the laundry.
- Do you sort your laundry? Yes, certainly.
- If you sort, how many different color/fabric type groups do you sort it into? At a minimum, there are 1) very darks, 2) reds and pinks, 3) extreme whites, 4) lighter colors (and that 4th category often gets turned into mediums — like light blues & greens, and lights — like yellows & beiges).
- Do you hand wash anything? I used to handwash a lot. Now, I mostly just put the articles in a mesh lingerie bag and toss ’em in with their appropriate color. Exceptions are made, but not many.
- Are there any articles of clothing that you send out to be cleaned professionally? Yes.
- If you have any clothes cleaned professionally, is that drycleaning? Or regular laundering/pressing? My hubby’s button-up dress shirts get laundered & pressed, his slacks get drycleaned. I have an occasional thing that gets drycleaned.
- At home, what detergent do you use? Any detergent additives that you regularly use? I absolutely LOVE Melaleuca‘s laundry products. They work fantastic and are environmentally friendly. I use their MelaPower detergent and MelaBrite enzyme-based brightener. (I’m not a Melaleuca salesperson. I’ve just used their products for 4.5 years and am very happy with all of them.)
- What whiteners/brighteners do you use? With every load of whites and light-medium colors, I put in OxiClean.
- Do you use any fabric softeners? Nope. When we had hard water, I used to put a cup of white vinegar into the final rinse cycle.
- How do you handle stains? I usually just use Melaleuca’s spray stain remover, but tough stuff (especially baby stains) gets a soak in OxiClean.
- Do you use different water temperatures for your different loads? Yes. Whites and very light colors get hot, light-medium colors are washed in warm, dark colors in cold.
- Do you use a tumble dryer, or do you hang your clothes to dry? Tumble dry, except for the delicate stuff, and clothes that I specially want to stay looking new, and most everything that I need to iron. Usually about 1-3 pieces in every load gets rack-dried.
- In your home, who folds the clothes? Me.
- Where do you fold your clothes? (i.e., in the laundry room, at the kitchen table, etc.) Almost always at the kitchen table.
- Who puts the folded clothes away? I put away all the clothes, except for my 10yo son’s, who does his own. Sometimes my hubby puts his own clothes away, too.
- Do you have a certain day of the week you consider “laundry day”? Sort of. I try to do laundry throughout the week, but if it’s piled up, Thursday is when I hit it in earnest. I try to have all laundry done throughout the house by Saturday night.
- About how many laundry loads do you do per week? About 10-12. There tends to be more in winter, because the clothing is bulkier and simply more clothes are needed.
- Do you iron? Yes. I love the look of ironed clothes. However, I need to get a handle on my ironing habits. My ironing tends to pile up into a *mountain*, then I have a marathon ironing session every six weeks or so. It’s a goal of mine for this coming Fall to get that scheduled better.
Nothing like a pic to jolt one into reality.
Read this post from Steve at Careful Thought, which adamantly underlines the point that the god of Islam and the God of Christianity is NOT the same God.
We have two phones in our house. (Two home phones, that is; I’m not counting mobile phones.) They are
driving me nuts teaching me patience. They came as a set, with a main base that has an answering machine, and a separate smaller base with a charger. We’ve had the phones for about four years, but they’ve been dying for about two. They simply won’t hold a charge, and die almost spontaneously. They give one little “beep” sometimes, then die. If you can hit the “transfer” button before the phone dies, you can pick up the other handset and continue the conversation. We’re rarely that quick, though. Usually, you’ll be having a conversation with me, and hear, “Oh, shoot!” followed by some loud static. On my end, I can’t hear the static, but the odd and troublesome thing is that the dead phone then ties up the line, and no one can make calls out (on either handset) or in for a good 15 minutes. This is less of a problem now that I have a mobile phone, but I keep forgetting that I have it; I only got it in April, and I’m more accustomed to life without it.
We’ve replaced the handset batteries, but it didn’t help.
A few weeks ago, I dropped one of the handsets in a sink full of water. I was rather hoping that the phone would die completely, which would justify the expense of new phones, but it didn’t die; it just now has perpetual static.
This morning, I hear a happy, “Splash! Splash! Splash!” and I look over, and 16mo Audrey has one of the handsets, and is joyfully dunking it into the dog’s water bowl. Several things went through my mind at once, “Oh, I’m glad I saw that Mythbusters that proved you can’t get electrocuted from a cordless handset! Oh, maybe the phone will really die now, and I can get some nice, new phones! Oh, shoot, I should really get the phone away from her.” I take the handset, shake it a bit and lay it out on some dry cleaning rags to drain. Again, I hear a happy, “Splash! Splash! Splash!” as I’m taking care of the soggy phone. I look over, and Audrey is splashing with her hands, now, in the dog’s water dish, sucking on them after each dunk.
Ah, ha! That might solve a little mystery.
I was up last night with my little girl, who kept crying, “Ow-weee! Mah-meeee!” Cough, cough, puke. This started around 8 p.m., and didn’t end until 1:30. She never had the gut-wrenching vomiting action, but as any mother knows, even a little bit of puke is far too much. I comforted. I consoled. I nursed. I changed sheets. I changed blankets. I changed jammies — hers and mine. I tried to put her in bed. Ten minutes later, I’d be back. It was a long five and a half hours.
The whole time, I was thinking, “Where did she get this from?” We are short one vehicle, and haven’t been out much. Audrey, other than daily trips to the mailbox with Daddy, has literally not left the house since church on Sunday. Ethan and Grant have spent time at friends’ houses, so they could have carried something home… but I didn’t think that was likely, because no one else has been sick.
Then, the “Splash! Splash! Splash!” followed by the hand in the mouth, and the moment of (possible) revelation. It is an daily effort to a) allow our dog easy access to her water, especially as this is summertime in the desert, yet b) not allow Audrey to get into it.
Maybe the throw-up sessions came from muck in Tally’s water.
Or, maybe I’m just super-tired from less than 5 hours sleep.
I’m just glad that she’s no longer vomiting, and hopeful that I can get the thumbs-up from Martin to add “telephones” to the Costco list.
Di-Tech has a new motto: People are smart. Every time I hear a commercial by them, it grates against everything in me. Do they really think we’ll be sucked in by such pandering and flattery?? Worse, is that assumption right??? (The assumption that we’d be swayed by their flattery, that is.)
Apparently, I’m not the only one who hates this commercial.
Why I have little hope of a cure for celiac disease ever being discovered/developed in the United States
I found this here, on Jessica Hagy’s blog. Various commenters are debating the names of the companies/people used, but the point is the same, no matter whose name is on the point.
The title is The Money’s in the Treatment, not the Cure:
(Un)relaxed dad actually created a meme along these lines, and tagged me for it a while back. I thought it was a splendid idea, but never did the meme. Hopefully, this makes up for it.
Last week, I found three different lists of 100 must-read children’s books, but found them all somewhat unsatisfactory. Part of the reason is that they were all too broad — from toddler books to young adult novels. Below is my own list of greatly beloved children’s picture books.
I’ve tried to analyze my list to find a connecting thread, and haven’t really found any consistent one. I do love a compelling story, striking and detailed pictures, a bit of whimsy, and thoughtful, humorous, child-centered writing. I did notice that a number of the books have somewhat of a prodigal, lost-and-found or wandering theme. Hmmm…. Many of these books present a gentle moral without being preachy, and many of them picture loving families. Also, in many of the books on my list, the protagonist must independently overcome some sort of mild peril.
This list currently has 24 books, but, of course, I’ll probably add more as I think of them. Other than the first — my all-time favorite — the books are in no particular order.
- One Morning in Maine, written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey.
~This is probably my favorite children’s book ever. The single-color drawings are lovely, the dialogue believeably childlike. Growing up as a girl in the desert, the idea of having to take a boat across the bay to go to the grocery store seemed like a fairytale. I’m so pleased that my three boys have all loved this book, too.
- Blueberries for Sal, written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey.
~Close behind One Morning in Maine is this lost-and-found gem. Make Way for Ducklings is surely McCloskey’s best-known work, but these first two are more deserving, in my opinion.
- Harry the Dirty Dog, written by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
~A gentle lost-and-found prodigal story.
- Aesop for Children, illustrated by Milo Winter
~Originally published in 1919, Winter’s illustrations are perfect. And that Aesop guy was pretty bright! 😉 Even when I disagree with his conclusions, the little stories are perfect fodder for discussion.
- The Story about Ping, written by Marjorie Flack, illustrated by Kurt Wiese
~Compelling lost-and-found story which led us to investigate Chinese culture.
- Richard Scarry anything
~All his books are simply classic, full of detail and humor
- Mark Teague anything
~Mark Teague is one of my favorite illustrators, and has written a number of books himself, as well. His work is funny and fabulous. If you’re not familiar with him, do yourself a favor and click the link. We have read upwards of 20 books of his, and each is a delight.
- John Muir, America’s First Environmentalist, written by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Stan Fellows
~This is an absolutely perfect book — lushly detailed and colored illustrations, a compelling story, and non-fiction to boot! It is a perfect readaloud, detailing Muir’s life from his boyhood in Scotland to his travels across the U.S., ending in the Sierra Nevadas.
- Olivia, written and illustrated by Ian Falconer
~Hilarious. Wonderful pictures, too. It’s the board book version that we’re familiar with. We recently had to return this book to the library; we’d had it for the maximum nine weeks, and had read it several times a day. My 16mo daughter is mourning its loss, crying for, “Blee-bee-ah.”
- Magic Schoolbus series, written by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen
~Nicely detailed, funny blend of fantasy and non-fiction.
- Chester by Syd Hoff
~This is more an early reader than a picture book. It’s my favorite of Syd Hoff’s many excellent children’s books. I named my childhood dog after the title character of this story.
- Parts, written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold
~I’m boggled by those who think this book is too gross. They obviously take themselves far too seriously and need to read MORE books like this to compensate for their lack of a childlike perspective. This book is a hilarious tale of a boy who thinks he’s falling apart because he finds some lint in his bellybutton, something “gray and wet” from his nose, etc. It’s a funny yet reassuring story, perfect for parents to read to their littles.
- Curious George by H.A. Rey
~The original, and still the best. This classic could certainly not get published today; as one Amazon reviewer chastises: “The whole moral issue of the illegal animal trade is ignored. Parents will also probably not appreciate episodes in which George smokes a pipe and engages in other unhealthy or foolish activities.” This wonderful book ignores reality — which many of the best children’s books do — and revels in the absurd.
- Elephants & Emus, collected and illustrated by Philippa-Alys Browne
~This short anthology of rhyming verse is accompanied by Browne’s vibrant and slightly stylized watercolors. Wondrous.
- Katy and the Big Snow, written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton
~This is Burton’s classic tale of perseverance, with an engaging story and detailed drawings. The middle of the book features a map of the town, where the child can match each of the town’s buildings to its spot on the map. (I’m a sucker for maps.)
- Cowboy Baby, written and illustrated by Sue Heap
~WHY is this book out of print??? Fantastic, colorful illustrations, whimsical, gentle story of a little boy who doesn’t want to go to bed.
- We Were Tired of Living in a House, written by Liesel Moak Skorpen, illustrated by Joe Cepeda
~Brightly and imaginatively illustrated book that, at its heart, proclaims, “There’s no place like home!” It appeals to the adventurous, as it follows four children who go exploring as their parents are distracted by painting their house. This is one of those books whose illustrations have their own story going, apart from the text. I LOVE it when illustrators give careful thought to their pictures; it can add immensely to the appeal of a book. I recently learned that this was originally published with illustrations by Doris Burn (See Andrew Henry’s Meadow, below).
- The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit, written by Susan Lowell, illustrated by Jim Harris
~Richly illustrated retelling of the Aesop fable, set in the Sonoran Desert. The fun and lovely pictures are full of actual native flora and fauna.
- Cowpokes, written by Caroline Stutson, illustrated by Daniel San Souci
~Cowpokes features simple, rhyming text, and lovely, colorful illustrations with native desert flora & fauna. There are “games” we discovered in the book, too, such as hidden animals amongst the cliffs, and locating the groundhog on every page.
- Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola
~I’m not really a huge fan of de Paola, nor am I Catholic. But this stirring historical account of the life of St. Patrick is well-worth a read, and another read, and another…
- Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri
~This sweet, almost wordless book, tells the tale of a duckling who becomes separated from his family while pursuing a butterfly. Young children will have fun finding him hiding among the pages, and rooting for the mother and the duckling’s siblings to bring him safely back to the nest.
- How I Became a Pirate, written by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon
~This engaging, colorfully detailed book tells the story of a boy who joins up with a group of pirates, thinking that his parents wouldn’t mind “as long as I got back in time for soccer practice the next day.” It, again, is a “no place like home” story, imaginatively illustrated by David Shannon, who is perhaps best known for his slightly irreverent David series which feature childlike drawings.
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, written by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
~This book is on many a best-of list, for good reason. It’s attractively illustrated, imaginative, and based on the “logic” of children (and mice).
- Andrew Henry’s Meadow, written and illustrated by Doris Burn
~My friend John gave this book to my boys a number of years ago, and it’s since been a perennial favorite. The story follows the young inventor Andrew while he basically builds his own reality. As John wrote in Doris Burn’s Wikipedia entry, “Her distinctive style consists of absorbingly detailed line drawings, often of children matter-of-factly doing extraordinary things.” Interestingly, this book is currently in production to become a movie headed by Zach Braff, slated for a 2008 release.
It took me a few days of working to compile this list and find the appropriate pics and links. If anyone is up for the challenge of putting up your own list — with or without pics & links, etc. — I’d love to see it.