Monday, November 30, 2009

Making Advent Special

Once upon a time, Christmas was in December. Then it crept into November. Today, the stores are filled with ornaments, gifts, and tinsel by Halloween, if not sooner.

While I doubt it’s possible to actually reverse the rushed, commercial direction of Christmas, I do believe we can use these December days to prepare our hearts for celebrating Christ’s birth. In fact, the Church has already mapped out a plan for us—the four weeks of Advent.

Read the rest at Phases of Womanhood.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cop Out or Not?

I'm cancelling this week's Soup Night.

72 hours after a five day trip, it's just too much for me to pull off. I've got youth orchestra tomorrow and a zillion things happening Tuesday, with no time to get to the grocery store and prepare two soups if I want to take care of my true family duties. Something has to give, and this time it's my hostessiness (new word).

BTW, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. We sure did. I even played soccer for two hours with other aging adults and lots of nimble kids--great fun!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


No brainer: It's no fun to suffer.

Not as obvious (to me): It can be gut-wrenching to watch another suffer. It's hard to know a friend is in pain and I am helpless to help. Yes, I'll light the candle to remind myself to keep praying, but that doesn't feel like enough. I want to FIX IT. Oh, well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Um, Yeah, Thanks a Lot

My neighbor friend surprised me with a candy sampler--artisan chocolates. I had already considered myself a chocolate snob; for one thing, I won't eat milk chocolate even if I'm hungry.

Now I'm ruined, possibly for life! These confections are so beautiful and so dark and so delicious that everything else is second (or third or...) best. As my friend said, "There's no going back!" So, yeah, thanks for raising the bar yet again.

At least now I know what to ask for on special occasions. ;-)


One positive aspect of food snobbery is the strengthening of my "just say no" ability. As I try to eat moderately (i.e. without gluttony), it's easier to avoid food that isn't "worth it", even though I do still need to make a conscious effort to be temperate.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What If by Nichole Nordeman

This song really struck me when I heard it on the radio months ago. I wanted to post it here, but couldn't find it on YouTube because I guessed the title incorrectly. Reinspired the other night, I finally located it. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Small Successes

"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

It was difficult to fill out this week's list of three, but here goes:
  1. David and I went "shopping" for some new school pants. He doesn't outgrow them anymore, but still frays the hems, makes holes in the knees, and/or stains them with asphalt. At least he's a dream purchaser--QUICK and decisive.
  2. We hosted company for dinner on Tuesday. I'd pat myself on the back for accomplishing this on a school night if only I hadn't lost so much school time getting ready! Any success was a group effort, too, with significant cooking and cleaning assistance.
  3. This afternoon I tidied my walk-in pantry. Not the whole thing, mind you--just the floor and bottom shelf--but that was the only out-of-control area, so it looks (and functions!) much better now.
I hope your week isn't too frenzied. Be inspired by other moms at faith and family live.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rainbows and Butterflies

Rebecca is feisty, but she can be girly, too. Last year's birthday theme was butterflies. This time Becca requested a rainbow cake. Here's what I came up with:A big thanks is owed to Len, my sous chef, for taking care of most of the decorating while I prepared a rather elaborate early dinner. He touched a round pan to the top of the cake to ensure a symmetrical rainbow, which is made of (semi-sweet, of course) m&m's. The flowers are tiny silk ones just stuck in through the coconut grass. Like the pot of gold?

Below is the picture taken by our favorite photography student:
Since this is not Becca's "party year" (we alternate), she invited a few friends over just for singing and cake. We ensure that folks won't bring presents by waiting until the day of to ask them over.
Another cake note: it's on a board covered with freezer paper (slick side up, taped underneath). It looks good, means I can use any appropriately sized board (no matter if it's a bit grungy), and clean up is QUICK! Great stuff!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Birthday Treat

Rebecca turns FIVE tomorrow! Last night, Lauren called and told her there was a birthday surprise on the driveway...

Lauren is home for the weekend (no classes on Fridays this semester)! Hopefully she'll be able to stay long enough for Sunday's (tomorrow is too full) special dinner and candle-blowing. In any case, it's wonderful to have everyone home.

Last night was treat-time for me--I got to see prints Lauren developed and computer images she created, and hear the latest about her classes. The next few weeks are jammed with projects and papers as the semester winds down. In fact she has a lot of homework even now, but can do it at home since she doesn't need the darkroom this weekend. Lucky us!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Small Successes: the Getting There Edition


"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

This week I've focused on going places:
  1. Monday was my first turn to drive to Joe's youth orchestra rehearsal. It's far enough away that we (the little girls come too, as this is the one evening Len and the teens are not home) need to stay there, and we're gone from 6:00-9:50 p.m.! All went well--traffic was tolerable, the girls watched a movie on Len's laptop, I did my Bible study homework, and we remembered to bring Becca's pj's (even though she didn't fall asleep on the way home). Not my first choice for how to spend four hours, but it worked.
  2. Tuesday we attended an open house at the National Portrait Gallery. It was fun and most of our writing co-op was there, too. On the way home I took a wrong turn and got lost in DC. The small success is that I didn't panic (even though my map was at home on the kitchen table), and was able to find my way back to a familiar street after just a few minutes of driving around.
  3. I successfully made reservations or RSVP'd for a sports banquet, 2 nature programs, and a play.

What's been going right for you this week? Meet and be inspired by other moms here.

Have a great day. I'm off to walk in the rain--a dog makes a wonderful exercise program!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This Just In

Via email: David has been accepted to Christopher Newport University!

The snail mail has yet to arrive, and we don't yet know whether David will be offered scholarships or entrance into the honors program or the President's Leadership Program, but still--hooray!

Our family traveled to Jamestown, Yorktown, and CNU just before Halloween. I'm hoping to post about that trip someday...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


No, not flubber--blubber.

We experienced how an animal's body fat can help it withstand cold temperatures, concentrating on whales, seals, sea lions, and walruses.Each child wore two gloves on one hand, then held it in ice water as long as tolerable. They didn't last long. ;-)It was funny, actually--Rebecca held out more than four minutes, about twice as long as Marianna and Joseph. And she was nonchalant (compared to Joe, above): "Isn't is cold, Becca?" "Not really."

The next stage involved one glove and a layer of "blubber" (we used shortening) covered with a second glove.As you can imagine, installing the second glove was difficult, so when it was the girls' turn, I wrapped their shortening in plastic wrap--so much simpler.Since we used wrap instead of a second glove and were unable to apply identical thicknesses of fat, this was a demonstration rather than a true experiment. Nevertheless, the difference was dramatic.With a blubber layer, the children all kept their hands in for over 20 minutes! Their hands were taken from the water due to boredom and our need to get on with life, rather than discomfort. Basically, Mom said, "Enough already. We get it--time to move on!"Even though we didn't follow the scientific method, I don't think these three will ever forget the insulating property of blubber.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Not for Girls Only

Boys like breakfast in bed, too. :-) Yes, I'm still redeeming summer reading prizes!
Please notice the manly "bouquet" of seasonal branches. I convinced Daniel to eat an egg to help him last through two hours of tae kwon do, but I'm fairly certain the slab of jam cake was his favorite dish. Other nice touches: a tiny dish to hold the sugar cubes, and a fruit salad with fresh citrus sections. Marianna even thought to bring up the Sunday comics (delivered a day early here).

Friday, November 6, 2009

7 Quick Takes


Jennifer at Conversion Diary hosts 7 Quick Takes Friday. As I understand it, the idea is that one can share 7 bits that are interesting but not "big enough" for a real post. I love reading hers, but was sure I'd NEVER try it myself. I usually post a few days a week, and couldn't imagine having SEVEN extra things to write about. Well, never say never...


In a similar vein, when we moved back to Virginia (more than 20 years ago), I remember laughing with disbelief on learninig that the library's limit is 50 books per card! I was checking out a maximum of three at a time so I wouldn't lose track of them. Fast forward to the homeschooling years. Now I manage 7 cards--14 digit account numbers memorized, placing holds and renewing books online, etc. Our record as a family was having over 230 books on loan at once! (And no, I hardly ever pay fines--due dates are on the main calendar and the ability to manage renewals from home makes it do-able.)


It was supposed to go up in October, but yesterday I finally put up my fall wreath.

Speaking of fall, my walking wardrobe has been progressing with the season. First came the jacket, followed by the sweatshirt, jacket, and gloves. Then the hood went up. Now I'm wearing my coziest socks and thermals under my sweatpants. Still to come: the winter coat and scarf/hat combo under the hood.


Yesterday Len was home so I had the privilege of running errands by myself during school hours--bliss! In under two hours (door-to-door) I made it to five stores, returning, shopping, etc. I hardly ever stray from my grocery store/library/kid activity routes, so making it to so many "out of the way" spots seemed like a big deal.


But the biggest deal for me lately is my age. Since I have a September birthday, I tend to look ahead, feeling just a little older than I really am. I subtract my birth year from the current one and think, "I'm almost ____." So I just turned 48 and I am still TOTALLY FREAKING OUT. It feels like I'm going to be 50 any minute, even though it's almost two full years away. Turning 30 was nothing; good grief, I only had one child. Even 40 was no big deal. But 50 sounds OLD-OLD-OLD. Time to take a deep breath...

Fun fact: You know how you can see your breath on a cold day? That's what we notice when a whale is exhaling. It's not spouting water; warm (mammalian) breath is condensing and becoming visible water vapor. I love homeschooling! :-)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Small Successes


"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

Here's what's been going right around here lately:

1. I joined that Bible study I mentioned earlier, and have been attending AND doing my homework. At first glance the questions seem overly basic, but after the requisite pondering and discussion, I realize that the answers are simple yet profound. I'm so glad to be enrolled--"official" deadlines are the best way for me to do what I want/ought to.

2. So far we've tried every activity and demonstration (no true experiments yet) in our science book. Below is the life-size outline of a leatherback sea turtle--it's 9' long. (Can you see? It goes all the way back to the couch.) I have pictures ready for a post about blubber, too. :-)
3. I created and laminated a "What's For Dinner?" chart. As I finalize my weekly menus, I've started copying them onto the chart using dry erase markers. I'm already reaping the benefit of increased sanity, as the daily WFD question no longer needs to be asked of me. Again. And again. And again.
What are your successes this week? Be inspired by other moms here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Where Am I?

Home, but not blogging...

It feels like I haven't posted in years!

These days life is either:
  1. so busy that I can't justify the time to sit down to write, OR
  2. so crazy that by the end of the day I can't string two coherent thoughts together.
I hope you miss me. ;-) I hope I'll be back soon.