Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Wonderful World of Make-Believe

Becca is great at independent play. She'll paint, work puzzles, leaf through books, draw, and arrange the animals on her bed. And then there are her imaginary friends...

A while back, she asked me if she could go to Brianna's house. Encourager of creative play that I am, I asked her if Brianna's mother was home. She had complete control of the answer, but said, "No." So I said, "No," because of course she may not go over if a grown-up isn't home. Cue ten minutes of weeping and wailing!

Sometimes I wish I could enter so deeply into a world of my own making. Don't you?

Friday, October 26, 2007

When the Kids are Holier Than Thou...

Catholics are called to sacrifice on Fridays to commemorate Christ's ultimate Friday offering, and our family follows the tradition by giving up meat. Due to yesterday's party we had meat on the menu in the form of leftover pizza. So we decided to give up our special popcorn for the day instead.

Flash forward to this evening:
Joe: "I think I'm not going to have dessert tonight. I know we're giving up the popcorn, but that's not really enough. I might not have had any anyway."
Mom (to herself, having just consumed a plate of cake): "Wow..."

Penquin Power!

Here's the birthday cake Lauren designed and executed almost entirely on her own for a penguin-obsessed friend . Cute, huh? It's a double batch of cake, made as 12" and 8" rounds. The running joke of the party was that everyone thought the beak was made of cheese! Can you guess what it really is?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How to Find Out Whether Your Husband Reads Your Blog

  1. Back your minivan out of the garage you've owned for 14 years, onto the slightly curving driveway you've used for just as long.
  2. Make a large tire-arc in the rain-soaked, recently seeded grass.
  3. Return two hours to later to find the grass has not yet sprung up and covered your tracks, so to speak.
  4. GET THE RAKE and fluff up the grass so he won't notice it when he gets home.
  5. Don't tell, but write about it to the rest of the world.
  6. Await his comment.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Math Wizzes Strike Out

I love math, and I'm good at it. Daniel has a math talent, too. But today our brains were not functioning in high gear.

Dan's been working through the Algebra 1 Honors Book, and today's lesson was about solving problems with multiple variables. You know, you're given a word problem and need to write the equation(s) and then solve. Knowing how to translate a question into an equation is actually the most important part of this. In math books you can sometimes fiddle around to find the right answer, but in real life the numbers aren't always tidy, so the proper set-up is vital.

Anyway, problem #3 had four variables, and so needed four equations. Daniel tried it, then called for help because the answer was obviously wrong. I helped and it was still wrong. We tried again and it was still wrong. We looked at the solution (thank goodness this answer key SHOWS THE WORK!), and realized we had made the same careless error several times. A truly humbling and time consuming experience. Math was over for the day!

Read on only if you really enjoy algebra:

"Super Suites Hotel has four rates for their 250 basic rooms. Senior citizens pay $35 a night. Businesses pay $45, and coupon-holders pay $40. The standard rate is $50 per night if none of these other rates apply. On New Year's Eve, the hotel's room rates brought in $8640 in income.

The number of rooms sold to senior citizens that night was 10 fewer than the number of standard rooms. The number of business rooms was 8 fewer than the number of coupon-holder rooms sold. Also, the sale of coupon-holder rooms was 10 times less than the number of standard rooms sold. How many rooms were empty on New Year's Eve at Super Suites?"

If you're interested in solving this, put your four starter equations and final answer in the comment section. I'll put the correct answers there later. As a start, we used S for senior, B for business, C for coupon-holder, and R for regular (standard). Our mistake was getting senior and standard partially mixed up--beware!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Loveliness of Apples

In the fall, it's hard to beat a perfect apple--cool, crisp, juicy, and sweet-tart. I rarely venture to orchards or farmer's markets these days, so those apples are mostly fond memories. Really fresh macouns and courtlands are the closest to ideal I've found lately.

Here's a recipe that's quick and tasty to make any time of the year, even with supermarket apples. I originally saw it on Danielle Bean's website, but last fall's archives were lost in a spectacular computer crash. This was submitted to Danielle by "Barb", and I've changed a few ingredients and the technique. It's now food processor quick and friendly.

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

6 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 medium apples, peeled and diced
  • Grease and flour an 8" square or 9" round cake pan.
  • Mix dry topping ingredients in food processor. Add butter in chunks and process. Set aside.
  • Mix dry cake ingredients in food processor. Add butter in chunks and process. Add milk, egg, and vanilla, and process just until combined.
  • Pour over diced apples and stir together. This will be very thick, looking more like apples with coating than a typical batter. Spread in pan and crumble topping over it.
  • Bake at 400* for 20-25 minutes.
  • You can add nuts to the topping. I process them first (about 1/2 cup of walnuts or pecans), then set aside. After processing the rest of the topping, I mix the two together.
  • If the topping is sandy in texture, squeeze it into clumps as you put it on the batter. This will keep the batter from covering it as it rises in the oven.
  • Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples work well.
  • If you want to make more batches, don't add the wet ingredients to the food processor. Instead, after cutting the butter into the batter (Dr. Seuss, anyone?), stir that portion into the bowl of wet. I usually have the diced apple in a bowl of milk, egg, and vanilla (keeps them from browning, too).
  • You can do everything but the baking the night before. Just cover your pan with foil and refrigerate, then bake in the morning. Baking time will be increased.
In case you're wondering, that's a teenaged me at an apple orchard with my baby sister, who is now a grown-up mother herself. :-)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Motto for the Day

I came across this quote from Romans (12:12) yesterday: "Rejoice in hope, be patient under trial, persevere in prayer."

Enough said!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Our Rosary Challenge

We've been approaching the rosary slowly in our family. For several years I've been saying a rosary myself whenever I have the alone time. This means while walking in the morning or on the treadmill or driving alone. I got to the point where I said a complete rosary almost every day, even if not all at once.

Meanwhile, the homeschoolers (The 2 oldest children attend school rather than living in it!) and I have been reciting a decade each weekday. We use this beautiful meditation/scripture book to guide us through the mysteries. But even the few minutes required to gather everyone and pray one decade kept us from managing a whole rosary much of the time. We really celebrated when we managed a complete week!

Well, October is the Month of the Rosary in the Church. The Sunday before, one of our parish priests reminded us of the 90th anniversary of Our Lady's 1917 appearance at Fatima. He challenged us to say the rosary every day as family, and to pray for peace in our homes and the world. He told us what a hard time he and his siblings had given their parents about their family rosary, and about how he came to appreciate it.

Well, we accepted the challenge! So far we've said a whole rosary every day in October.

Only rarely have we all together recited the whole thing (kind of like trying for a family dinner with toddler, teens, in-betweens, and a dad who works late...), but we've usually had a majority. Some days the homeschoolers recite some decades in the morning or in the car, and the rest of the family joins in to finish at bedtime. Tonight we had a home group and a car group get started, and then joined for the end. Once in a while we've all buckled down for a whole rosary together.

I'm amazed at what we've accomplished so far, and impressed that there has been no fussing about this rosary-ing! A whole one with a group takes a good 20 minutes, and that feels like a long time when we're busy or tired. The children are all cooperating to meet this challenge, and it's beautiful to see.

Random thoughts:

One thing I do miss about the "old way" is the meditation book. It has a scripture verse for every "Hail Mary" and "Our Father", which really brings the mysteries to life, but would make a whole rosary last much too long.

Even the nearly three year old is invested--she'll "lead" a decade by saying the first few words of each prayer.

I don't know what we'll do come November. Are some of us just hanging on, hoping to get through this month? I know one child has said he wants to keep this up. Time will tell.

So...are you up for a challenge?