Friday, January 30, 2009

Don't Eat The Yellow Snow

That's just one of those things you don't think you really need to tell your kids. But when the neighbor kid tells them it's actually "lemon snow," you will really wish that you had at least mentioned it. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mundanity and Melody

I didn't realize I had only posted twice this week! Sorry about that. I know, you were all irate. You can't go for more than a day without reading about the mundane details of my life! Well, cheer up, I have more mundanity. Hey, look at that, mundanity's a word! You can't make it possessive though. (I wasn't trying to, actually; I was trying to make it a contraction.) 

I did think it important to let you all know that the car is drivable. Hurray! It already needed repairs to be legit, and I don't think the slippery sequence of events made things any worse. So, good news. 

I also thought I'd put up a poll for our puppy's name once we narrow it down to a few good, solid choices- well, unless in doing so we get real firm about one in particular. We are still toying with Heidi, Cotton (just because so many of you have actually said you liked it), Gretta (Nathan's suggestion- we like it!) and Matilda (you know, like in Zoolander- "Is it alright if I call you Matil?"). There's a new idea every twenty minutes around here, so don't worry if you think all of those qualify as cruelty to animals. 

In other news, we are no longer snowed in. There are still several inches of snow on the ground, but the driveway and the roads are fairly clear. We had an errand marathon today to make up for lost time, but I still don't know how homeschool moms get anything done. We missed a naptime, ate dinner at eight o'clock, and never even did homeschool! Plus, I didn't even go to the grocery store! Y'all, how is that even possible?! I am the worst with time! I did manage to make it to Bible study at church this morning and to Amabel's basketball practice tonight at least. In the future, I shall have to remember that Thursdays are busy enough without trying to go to the mall, Michael's, Target and consignment stores all in one day. Here I am at 10:45PM with a new eye pencil, two Valentine's cookie cutters, and $170 of who knows what from Target (I know! I was shocked at the total too!-- diapers, TP, PTs, Lysol wipes, puppy treats, jeans for E, Valentine's candy/cards, gift wrap, Kleenex, dish soap, shampoo, body wash, toothbrushes... it adds up!), but an insanely messy house, a dishwasher and sink full of dirty dishes, and piles of laundry all over the floor in my bedroom. Tell me this is not just me! 

The only other thing I have to say is that I heard "Human" by the Killers four times on various radio stations as I did my errands. I decided what many other people before me have also decided, the lyrics make no sense. So I looked it up. And I found out some interesting things- well, interesting to me. I have already been dull enough for one post, but I have to at least say that I love love love that song. It is delicious. I really enjoy the Killers; I have ever since I first heard "Mr. Brightside" (not G rated, just so you know) and got goosebumps. It's like the music you always hoped was out there, and then you hear it, and you can't believe, and almost can't stand, that it's really real. I felt the same way the first time I heard U2's "Elvis Presley and America." That is a perfectly wonderful song that you really should hear if you have never had the pleasure- like honey or wine in musical form. Does that even make sense? I may be creeping everyone out at this point. And if so, sorry about that.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snowed In

If I had a digital camera, I would post a picture of me first thing this morning, unbrushed hair that hasn't been cut since July, in PJs and unmatching (also super cute, monogrammed, and brown) robe, wearing my husband's boots untied over bare feet, placing my daughter's ruler nearly eight inches down in the snow in front of our home. (I hate having my picture made except, ironically, when I look my worst. First thing in the morning? Pregnancy? Bring it on! Because what do you expect?! Otherwise, I feel like I should look better than the camera says!) It's hard to tell exactly how much we really got, as I seem to get a different reading depending on where I stick the ruler. But it is lovely, as you can imagine. And it was mesmerizing as it came down. I could sit and watch snow fall for hours. And I sort of did. I have all sorts of poetic things I could say about how it looked like rivulets of crystals as it wafted down, sparkling as each facet of every flake caught the artificial light from the lamp post outside, but I stink at that sort of thing. Didn't that sound horribly contrived? And I'm not so sure that rivulets can also waft. Anyway, I was up watching the snow last night because of the following:

George had one of his double duty days where he left home at 6AM and worked until close at the Home Depot. He left after ten, with a thirty minute drive ahead, but soon discovered that the road that leads to the house on the hill was closed due to hazardous conditions. He then considered detouring to a road that would likely take him an extra thirty minutes to get home, but found a nearer route that, to me (because I am familiar with both passages), seemed like it should have been closed before the first as it is more prone to danger even without seven inches of snow.  But for whatever reason, it was not closed which implied that it was clear. But when George was nearly fifteen minutes from home, and through what most would think would be the worst of it, he slid sideways off the road into a darkened abyss (more poetry- I'm thinking maybe I just need practice ;) ). After his slip, two other cars followed in suit, and some lucky tower made $204 from their distress. Hey, one's man's disaster is another man's paycheck... Isn't that how it goes? 

This puts an end to, or maybe just a pause in, my bragging about the St. Louis preparedness for snow and how no one ever has to worry about a big snowfall because of all the quick work with salt and plows. Even with these few inconveniences, it is still nothing to Nashville where the regular and singular annual snowfall leads to a massive outbreak of panic and hysteria year after year. I think it is because it really isn't cold enough for snow in Nashville. They get icy snow in the night, it melts significantly, but not completely, during the day, but then freezes again at night, creating a sheet of ice over the city that weighs down power lines to their breaking point and turns streets into a multi-vehicular slip and slide. Good times. And I never was actually able to play in the snow like we can here in the Lou. It was too wet, and then too hard. Anyway, George got home sometime after midnight due to the encounter with the ditch and the half mile hike from the bottom of the hill where he parked upon arriving back home. He promptly called in "stuck" for work in six hours. Stuck or not, he would have been sick getting up in time for that hour commute (after he has been maintaining this type of pace for over a week- without the extra fiasco that is skidding into a ravine on black ice). And evidently, the van needs to be checked out to see if it is drivable (here's hopin'!). I can't imagine there are a whole lot of people at the offices he cleans today anyway. 

I, on the other hand, waited up for him but still had to get up for a whimpering Miss Puppy (not her name, still don't have a name....) who is fighting the house training hard at this point, due to the fact that there is seven inches of snow where I want her to go, and she is only about eight inches tall. Not that being home with three kids who spent large portions of their day playing out in the snow and house training a reluctant puppy is anything like working fourteen hours in addition to more than two hours worth of commuting and an icy off-road caper. I'd much rather be here! I have been baking and reading and running (and doing the minimal, but still sufficient enough to check off the day, homeschool)! Let's stay snowed in all week! 

Still need a puppy name. I have been thinking of ironic names like Snowflake because she is black, but nothing I really like. Then, last night, I looked at George and said "what about Cotton?" He looked stunned. Yeah, stunned, which was weird. He said, "what made you say that?" And I said, "I don't know; it's ironic. And you're eating biscotti- and I guess I was doing different takes on that word." He was like, "That is so weird, I was just thinking Cotton too." But now I am wondering if that wasn't just midnight madness. Keep thinking....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Red Wine Recap

As I sit here with a glass (from Ikea! given to me by my sweet friend Jennifer) of Trader Joe's Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon, aka Two Buck Chuck, I feel okay about sharing. It has been a truly wretched week in the life of Abby Edema, y'all. 55 hour work weeks after weeks and weeks and weeks of 15 hour work weeks will surely bring joy in two weeks when the checks are printed up, but during this first week, seven, five, and two year olds, not to mention thirty-one year olds, have a hard time adjusting. Something about stress and sadness is exhausting, isn't it? We did not expect the sudden employment, but we are, again, very grateful. However, an, in the end, untimely trip to Nashville had already been planned in which George was to meet friends and load a trailer with some more of our family's long lost belongings. (Little by little...) George is just now back from his weekend trip and a new 55 hour week starts tomorrow. But for now, peace. We are very grateful for the income we will soon have from George's new job. And even now, there are boxes in the garage waiting to be opened and unpacked. Possessions long forgotten will now reenter our daily lives and make us feel that much more at home during this time of displacement and uncertainty. 

And there is more. You may have been embarrassed for me with my pathetic little 9 sitting over there, showing the world that I have not run in over a week. It was a little embarrassing, I'll admit. Although, I have no idea how I would've gotten to a gym seeing as how I have been lucky to get homeschool finished before five and dinner on the table before nine any day this week! But I knew something was on its way that would make it easy to catch up to my goal. What could it be? I'll tell you. My mom's treadmill! She has offered it to me several times over the past few years and I never have been able to figure out a way to acquire it. That is definitely a silver lining in this whole thing, a way to pick up the treadmill! A small silver lining, but I'll take it. 

And there's more. "More?" you ask? Why yes, there's more. A puppy. A puppy?! Yep, that's what I said. Years ago we promised the children a puppy "after Daddy graduates." Little did we know, Daddy would graduate and be unemployed for eight months and wind up a janitor. But anyway, for obvious reasons, we haven't rushed out and found us a puppy. However, when George's good friend Matt had two free, inoculated, six week old lab puppies fall into his lap, we really couldn't think of a reason to say no. They tried to convince us to take both, but we decided that would just be too much. We may be crazy, but I'm not sure how much the puppy has to do with that. Anyway, I am not sure which puppy is ours in this picture, but maybe once I get to know her, I'll be able to tell. She's a little girl, and we have no idea what to name her. Any ideas? Since I'm making boscotti anyway, how about biscotti to whoever picks a name we like? Sky's the limit! 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Once Again, Ebay Makes Abby Angry

It's time to talk about something. I have issues. It's nothing new. I've made posts about it before. But I need to talk about something different this time. I mean, it's been a problem for a while, but it is really just out of hand now. Ebay. I am about ready to just block it out of my life altogether. I mean, what is the deal with the ads at the top of the page? When did that start? I think it has been that way for a while, actually. But it is usually the spastic dancing alien/Barrack Obama ad, or the ones where you actually have to run your mouse over them to get them to move. But there is currently the flabby jiggling belly ad grossing me out, annoying the heck out of me, at the top of every window. What in the world?! Who thought of that ad? Who on earth is going to see that ad and think "Gosh, I reckon I should see what that's all about!" No one. No one wants to see that! Even if their belly looked like that, I am sure that it doesn't do the constant pulsating that the one in the ad is doing, and whether it does or not, I can't imagine the ad enticing them to click on a picture of it! I tried to figure out how to block the ads and it doesn't appear to be an option. Oh well, shopping on ebay is, and with shipping price gouging what it has become, it's probably a better idea to steer clear anyway. Although, one of my good friends did just win a Kitchenaid stand mixer for a hundred bucks. A hundred bucks?! Beautiful! But seeing as how I already have a Kitchenaid mixer and mostly just look for clothes for my kids on ebay, I think I may just bail.

Because WHY, when a tag and store clearly say Baby Gap, do you list the item in the kids clothes section? Seriously? It says Baby Gap and has a T after the size, T for toddler, and you're not going to list it in the "infants and toddlers" section? And you're not going to even mention the T? No, you're going to waste my time, clicking on your auction in the kids section, "boys size 5 GAP" just to find hidden in the description somewhere "purchased at Baby Gap" or "size 5T." 5 and 5T are not interchangeable, people. They're just not the same thing. You actually go back to a 4 in kids after you grow out of a 5T and then progress onward to a 5. They're nowhere close to the same thing. Honestly! And furthermore, why are some people listing kids sizes in the infants and toddlers' section? It's a reverse problem but I just don't understand how they expect their item to sell. Plus, because I know people do this, I have to search both sections "just in case." I think people must get confused because some Baby Gap and Gap Kids stores are combined. I would find this an acceptable excuse if the name of the line were not clearly printed in the label of each item of clothing. They sell both Ralph Lauren and Levi's at Macy's and I don't see anyone mixing those up! 

Well, you might think this is a dumb thing to be upset about. And it is. But it drives me batty. This is the second child I have had cross over into the kids sizes from toddler sizes, and shopping is already time consuming enough for three children without people listing their items in the wrong category. And why do I continue to shop on ebay? Because the alternative is to put three kids in the car and drive around from consignment shop to consignment shop hoping to find something. I shop brand names because it narrows things down to a manageable, browsable amount, and because I can trust name brands. If I were in a consignment shop and could look at the quality for myself, I wouldn't care who made the stinkin' outfit. The happy thing about ebay is that it is one, big, national, open 24/7 consignment shop. But it is a disorganized consignment shop, run by crazy flabby ab ad people. I just needed to vent. Now, what was it I was after? Gap madras shorts size 5? Yes, yes, that was it, just trying to get some good prices before the spring rush. Ugh...

Friday, January 23, 2009

As Promised, More Fun With Citrus

Rebekah's giveaway is over and you did not win. Sorry. It's okay, neither did I. And cheer up, I have another really cool grapefruit recipe for y'all. It is similar to the other, a savory grapefruit dish with a vinaigrette, but it is a little different. I am down to my last two grapefruit, but I plan to try at least one more recipe. If it's another keeper, I'll let you know. In the meantime, this is very yummy.

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad (or Salsa, as the case may be)- this is an Ina Garten recipe. She makes it all wedge-y and slice-y and salad-y, but I chopped it up and made it a salsa and served it with Trader Joe's blue corn tortilla chips. Obviously, you could use any colored chip- blue, white, yellow, red, or what have you. We all really liked it that way.

4 avocados
2 large red grapefruits
1T dijon mustard
1/4c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. good olive oil
-peel, seed, and slice or dice fruits, be sure to remove all inner membranes from grapefruit, and place in a bowl (or arrange on plates if making salads).
-mix mustard, lemon juice, and olive oil to make dressing. pour dressing over fruit, but not all at once- it seems to make a little more than you need, but this could vary on the size of your fruits. sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Give a Little, Get a Lot

Alright, keep the crafty ideas comin' if you got 'em. There is biscotti at stake! Speaking of giveaways, my dear friend Rebekah, who, with her husband, is pursuing adoption, has the cutest little etsy shop you ever did see. All of the proceeds from her shop are used to fund the adoption process. Rebekah is having a giveaway on her blog for anyone who leaves a little comment (the "give a little" part) telling her their favorite item from her shop. The prize is (what else?) your favorite thing from her shop! (Well, I suppose you could choose a different item than your favorite; she simply says "an item of your choosing.") It's not all stationery; I just picked some of my favorites, which all happened to be cute stationery. There's lots more though; check it out! And feel good about buying lots of stuff (that's the "get a lot" part) and helping a precious family give a child without a family a loving home! Hurry up, the giveaway ends Friday at 8:00pm CST! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Paging Martha Stewart

Alright, remember how I just said that crafty blogs are totally not up my alley? And nevermind that I went and fell in love with a vintage Valentine wreath craft. Well, I am just wondering if any of y'all are crafty. I know some of you are. Like I said, I am not a big fan of most kids' crafts. It seems like you have to help them a lot to create something that has no use and may or may not look like anything in the end. On the other hand, I am a sucker for homemade Christmas ornaments, leaf rubbings or the iron-y wax paper-y leaf things, and anything with pom poms or clothespins or pipe cleaners and googly eyes. Well, maybe not anything. What I am not a big fan of is most things made with adhesive foamy cutouts, most hats (because do we have to keep it with the toys and watch it get smooshed and trampled and eventually void of any resemblance to the original project before we can finally throw it away?! why yes, we do! i realize that only takes like three weeks, but it still bugs the tar out of me), anything made with toilet paper tubes, or things that are trying hard but mostly look like trash (like things made with toilet paper tubes). And I abhor clip art! I want them to do it themselves. But I want it to be simple enough that it can still look nice- like watercolors. Watercolors always look great! Even a two year old's watercolor is perfect. In the same way, Martha Stewart's foamy cutout picture frame would not be cute. Because foamy cutouts are ugly. And the pipe cleaner/pom pom craft is so classically kindergarten, how could you not love it? See, it's the medium, I think. 

I loved art as a kid. I begged my mother for art lessons regularly. One of my more memorable art projects from when I was Amabel's age was one where we dropped a really long, wadded up piece of string and placed a piece of paper over it and did a crayon rubbing. We then had to find a picture using the lines from the rubbing as our outline and color in the appropriate spaces to make an image. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I did two, "A Lady Yelling" and "A Duck on a Stool." They both made it into the art show! We also made candles in sand with melted down crayons one time. My class made purple ones, but I felt bad for Rachael's class, theirs were all a nasty brownish green. Anything that later went into a kiln was also great fun. But there were definitely some lame ones. I think it depended on the school. I went to six different elementary schools, meaning, of course, that I had six different art teachers. I had Mrs. Husband at one point, who somehow made pillows with first graders! The pillow is still at my parents' house, and while I don't remember the classes in which it was worked on, something tells me all we did was put in the stuffing. Later I had Mrs. Short, who often let us work with clay or oil pastels. She was awesome. She was also responsible for the string art and another project where we did a sort of Word World type thing (twenty years before Word World) and made the letters of our chosen word into the image. Being the brilliant, abstract thinking eight year old that I was, I chose the word "broken" and carefully cut each letter to look like a break would in some sort crackable pottery, and then also arranged the letters so that the word looked broken. I know, it was genius! I got that one in the show too! 

Now, lest I sound like a horn tooter supreme, let us not neglect the fact that in the ninth grade, I enrolled in Mrs. Henderson's art class and had no idea what I was in for. I, naturally, sat between two of my best friends in the class, Matt and Evie. And if you know Matt and Evie, then you are already laughing. Because Evie is a professional artist and art educator now, and is more gifted than you can imagine. And while Matt has chosen to pursue performance arts by trade (after scholarship and education and um yes, Broadway), he is no less of a visual artist. These things often surface in high school, and I had the pleasure of sitting between the two as their genius became widely known, whilst my attempts were routinely (and good naturedly) ridiculed by one and all. It was quite humbling to go from having been the star in elementary school (or at least I felt that way) to the absolute worst in high school. But it is no one's fault- except maybe my mom's for not giving me those lessons! (wink) I did turn out a rather lovely oil pastel rendering of Georgia O'Keefe's Red Poppy with Matt's helpful suggestions, but I do not know what has become of it since. I also managed to sneak back into an art class during my senior year, after making sure it was one that Matt and Evie had already breezed their way through, of course! 

Anyway, all of that is to say that I enjoy art. I truly do. But I have not mentioned some of the more dreadful "crafts" I endured in the name of art. Most of the really bad ones were done all at the same school, a school I only attended for one semester... but the artwork was so bad that it seems like an eternity. (Y'all know I'm kidding with that line, right?) We did one where we traced our hands on construction paper and then also made our faces out of construction paper. We then glued our hands over our faces with a Kleenex in between. What?! Who thought of that?! We also cut out construction paper penguins and glued them on light blue paper. Then we cut up styrofoam coffee cups to make an iceberg for the penguin and glued them flat on the paper as well. That was it. I mean, y'all, that one is bad. Once we just cut up magazines, only they were more like catalogs for SMC (you know, the Tom Bosley knick knack pyramid scheme thing), and glued the pictures we liked on construction paper. It was all like porcelain statues and flowers- maybe a wishing well here or there... I can't be sure. 

Point (of this post) being, I don't want to do 90% of the junky crafts on the internet, because most of them are not even as good as the coffee cup iceberg one. But I don't have time to sort through them all to find the really cool ones. If you have all quite forgiven me for my jabs at crafty blogs from before, I would love your help. Here are my upcoming units that I would love to work some sort of art project into. I promise I won't make fun of your suggestions (well, at least not to your face or on my blog-wink-please tell me the winks are understood without having to be printed by now!), so let me know if you have any cute ideas. If I use yours, I promise I'll make you cookies! Ooooh, or biscotti! Thanks!

Birds- oh man, anything birdish would be great! 
American Icons/ Presidents- Uncle Sam, Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, Flag, Mount Rushmore, George Washington, Abe Lincoln, etc.
Groundhog Day (shadows, not groundhogs, but I am thinking of doing something with sausage. you know, because it's ground hog? hee hee!)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

24 Days Until Valentine's Day

Well, today I had no time to continue my funk. I should have just done school yesterday to sufficiently distract myself. But with friends leaving and it being a holiday and all... Anyway, today I have set about teaching again as well as planning some fun things for school to look forward to. I saw a darling little Valentine's wreath craft on someone's blog the other day. I know, I know, Valentine's is totally a consumer holiday, but I'm trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps here, people! Anyway, it was after the fashion of the one in the Williams Sonoma catalog, which I didn't particularly like (and also costs $40). But I loved the one from the blog, the difference being that the Williams Sonoma wreath was done with Victorian era reproduction cards, which I think are hideous (slight overstatement), and the blog one was done with mid twentieth century style reproduction cards, which I think are super cute. I had actually seen a really sweet little book of punch out vintage Valentines at Borders recently and wondered if it was really something I should spend $5 on. I figured we won't have many Valentines to pass out this year without classroom parties, so I passed. But when I saw the wreath, I thought of it again instantly. I found it today on Amazon, the same one from Borders and from the blog I believe, and it is by Little Golden Books. So, of course, it's bound to be the most charming craft ever. Okay, wait, I found the blog (quite a feat if you realize how many blogs I looked at yesterday), it's called Deep Fried Kudzu. I borrowed the image from there to let you see what I am talking about. I hope it's okay to do that?

But that's not even why I'm posting. The point is that I was on Amazon and thinking about Valentine's Day (and needing $25 worth of goods to get free shipping). We traditionally give our children a "happy" for Valentine's Day, usually a book or video. As we have no TV reception at the house on the hill, I decided to check out some TV on DVD for my little ones, something along the lines of Backyardigans or Wonder Pets. But while those are great for August and Elspeth, Amabel is rapidly outgrowing Nick Jr. and Playhouse Disney fare. It seems the next big leap is Hannah Montana and the like, and we are not ready (if we ever will be) for that. I was trying to think of something wholesome and entertaining, appropriate for a seven year old, and it was really rough! Let me know if you have any suggestions. I thought of a couple of movies that we don't have. I looked at ordering The Incredibles and was surprised to see it for $20! Twenty bucks is a little high for a video, don't y'all think? The next one that came to mind, probably because of the association with a certain sweet little friend of ours, was Disney's Alice in Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland was always a favorite with me. At one point I think I had the Mad Tea Party completely memorized. Anyway, it's currently unavailable or something. 

But I discovered something else. There is a new Alice in Wonderland coming out early next year. It is being directed by none other than Tim Burton, and so I am sure that you can guess that it stars none other than Johnny Depp (as the Mad Hatter). Another educated guess would have you rightly placing Helena Bonham Carter in the cast; she plays the Red Queen. The White Queen will be played by Anne Hathaway. And another exciting casting decision is Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar. I do so love Alan Rickman. Snape, Colonel Brandon, The Sheriff of Nottingham- he's fabulous; don't you agree? Anyway, this did nothing to help me with a Valentine for Amabel, but I thought it was blog post worthy, nonetheless.  I have a truckload of requests in at the library to preview some videos that might be good for her, but feel free to suggest something if you have any ideas. Do bear in mind that I am anti-romance at this point (in regard to DVDs for a seven year old, not in general), unless it is a very minimized subplot as in Ratatouille. Call me crazy, but I just don't want to get started on that. Amabel has never seen any of the Disney princess movies, and that's the way I like it (that's the way I like it- Hey Jon and Annie, that should totally be your next family band song! You just need a toy piano!), so pleeeeease.... um, just no romance movies. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sick

You have no idea how many drafts I have written today. I am in some sort of funk. It's an I-feel-like-an-idiot funk. I have finally decided I better not make myself feel like more of an idiot by being overly sharing about it. Let's just say that I feel weak. Weak and immature. Weak and immature and unusually sinful. It's disgusting. Add to that self loathing, an icky aspect of narcissism, because I feel oh so unlovable too. Gross. Plus, I ate way too many Valentine's M&M's. Valentine's M&M's always were my weakness. They're pink! And not only did I eat too many M&M's, but I didn't eat anything besides M&M's since breakfast. No wonder I feel so gross. But it's more than that. I feel lost. I feel the fear of the unknown heavily. And why? Why would I feel it on a day where my husband actually has work? Right after a cozy weekend with the dearest of friends? I think because they didn't make it better. The job is good. Friends are good. But there is still this uncertainty and unrest. Where will we go? What will our lives look like? Who will our neighbors be that we will love and serve and be loved and served by? What will home be like? I wondered these things aloud on the way home from our country church interview last week. (I cannot tell you much about that day. It is still the source of much ambivalence for me. It shows me that I know so little about myself; and maybe that I have at least matured enough to have let go of my very narrow idea of what life should be like.) As I went over these questions out loud, my seven year old overheard. I was not inclined to receive her response, as it seemed a very know-it-all thing to do, to respond to one's mother's existential quandaries with such a confident and simplistic answer, but it was after all, said most cheerfully and encouragingly, and moreover was actually quite sage- "wherever we are is where God wants us to be." 

I have to say, I am sick of these easy answers. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Good News

I haven't posted because everything "routine" has kind of stopped while we have had our good friends in town. I haven't done laundry or homeschool, and I haven't run or read either. I have just enjoyed our friends. It's been really nice. They will be leaving us tomorrow, and we are sad to see our nice long weekend come to an end. Then it will be back to Latin and cursive and multiplication and Psalm 136, and all of our other second grade endeavors here at home. But I wanted to share that we are very grateful that George has found a full time job through a cleaning company that he has worked for from time to time over the past several years. They contacted him late last week about being a "daytime porter" at a company they have a contract with. The hours will be something like 7 to 3 which will enable him to keep his job at Home Depot as well. One does not often celebrate eight years of school leading to work as a janitor, but at this point, we do. We are just thankful that he has found anything in this economy, and are still prayerful that he will find a job that suits his pastoral gifts and training better. Anyway, he starts tomorrow, and we are grateful. We know so many of you are praying for us, and we cannot tell you what an encouragement that is. This is definitely an answer to prayer. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold, With a Chance of Chili

It is 3 degrees right now in St. Louis! I think I will never get over the amazement of single digit temperatures. I almost think temperatures below zero would sound less strange. It's just funny to have a one syllable temperature- not "ninety-four" or "thirty-three," your typical three syllable temperatures, just "three." That's chilly! And speaking of it being chilly, I forgot to post my chili recipe this fall. I remembered because I made chili for the first time at the house on the hill tonight. We have guests! Our dear friends, the Fittses, are in for the weekend from Birmingham. It wasn't such an elegant meal to welcome them with, but I figured it would warm them up! It's nothing award winning with fancy booze or choice cuts of meat or anything, just a good solid, basic, salty-not-sweet chili that seems to please most. I found it the first year George and I were married in that old RTS cookbook I may have mentioned before. It's just this great old cookbook I got way back in my days of being an RUF intern from the RTS Jackson bookstore. It has a recipe for everything under the sun from one dear seminary wife or another who shared her favorites. Anytime I think about trying out a new recipe for a general dish (lasagna, waffles, chocolate chip cookies, etc.), I check my RTS book. I almost always find several samplings! I have grown out of it in some ways, moving on to Joy of Cooking and Cooks Illustrated as more "sophisticated" choices (if they even are- what do I know?), but I still find it quite the handy resource, and have yet to find a chili recipe that is quite so straightforward and palatably plain. Here it is, only slightly changed from how it was found nine years ago:

Kickin' Chili (that's what it said)
2 lb. ground turkey or beef
2 large onions, chopped
2 16oz. cans beef broth
4 14 oz. cans petite diced tomatoes (or whatever kind of tomatoes y'all like)
4 14 oz. cans kidney beans
1 small can of chopped green chiles
1 tsp. oregano
1T paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
-brown meat and add onions to soften. add the rest of the ingredients and simmer 1- 1 1/2 hours.

Sour Cream Cornbread (this from the cookbook from our church in Birmingham) I usually double this and omit the corn, which will require a longer cook time, but as you like it.
1c. self rising cornbread
1c. sour cream
1/2c. oil
2 eggs, beaten
1c. cream style corn
-mix all ingredients
-bake at 400 until golden brown about 20 minutes.

As I go to hit "publish post," I notice that the temperature is now "one." I can't help but chuckle.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In Search of Reading Materials

Does anyone read blogs anymore? I guess maybe everyone subscribes to them and no one comments? I went looking for blogs this weekend. I find that most of the ones I read have been suffering from a serious lack of posting. I want something to read, y'all- something light, but interesting, something witty and intelligent, but not laboriously so, something like if Nora Ephron had a blog. Does Nora Ephron have a blog? No, I don't think she does. Too bad. Anyway, none of the blogs I looked at had any comments either, except the ones that had twenty-something. I found a couple of those on the sidebars of some of my friends' blogs. That is mostly where I looked, links from someone else's blog or Gmail's recommendations. I enjoy the fact that Gmail gives me blog recommendations. 

I will tell you, there are a whole lot of boring blogs out there. (None of them belong to my friends though ;) !) Type number one is the type where it is all pictures of someone's children. And while I love hearing about my friends' children, I don't want to hear about children of parents I don't know. Is that awful? Well, if it is, sorry. I tend to think that those sorts of blogs are only for the grandparents and family anyway. I can't imagine my parents knowing how to look up a blog. In fact, they are the only people I don't want reading my blog. I am pretty sure I am safe in that regard. Although, in hind sight, I do have memories of my mother knowing things she could only have known from snooping around my room. So, for all I know, she is a Pretty Funny for a Girl lurker extraordinaire. Anyway, the other thing about these sorts of blogs is that while everyone is likely to mention their children at one time or another if they are being at all personal, most of the non-boring blogs will have a variety of posts about a variety of things. I have several friends who put lots of pictures up of their kids, but they also post about what is happening in their lives, or about some sort of project they have been working on, or recipes, or interesting thises and thats. This also ensures that when their children are mentioned, it will be for interesting things, and not just for daily photo ops on the kitchen floor. 

I also saw a lot of boring blogs about all the stuff that people want or have just bought or want to have bought or have that they wanted and bought. Do people have no shame? Yes, I did just post about a CD and a super cute owl mug. But you know, all things in moderation. I remember our pastor in Birmingham teaching on contentment and greed and reminding us that there are some stores and some catalogs we know better than to go in or look at. That is why the Kelly's Kids catalog has lain on the floor of our van unopened for several weeks. Notice though, that I have not thrown it away in all this time, in spite of several sweep throughs to get out all the trash. So, I'm guilty, totally and completely. Which is why I cannot imagine going as far as publishing a blog devoted to greed! They don't think it is greed; they think it is fashion, whether for the home or the child or the woman or all of the above. But it is what it is, daily posts about stuff- it's embarrassingly American.

There are also a lot of craft blogs. I can enjoy the occasional rainy day kid's craft. I guess these are nice resources. And maybe that is all they aim to be, resources. I just can't get into the daily consumption of crafty ideas. But I suppose, that is just my personality. Because I can very much get into the daily consumption of cooking ideas. I make a note of the recipes I want to try, and then I'm on my way. So, I relent. Bravo, crafty blogs. Because some people really like crafts. Okay, I shouldn't start on this here, but I have to ask, what do people do with crafts? My kids' crafts inevitably end up in a drawer. Drawings are nice, they hang on the fridge for a while, they fit nicely in a manilla envelope or scrapbook, or they can even be framed. But I never know what to do with the sponge painted lunch bags, the popsicle stick baby Jesus in the manger, the three dimensional tissue paper flowers, or the "instrument" made from recycled toilet paper tubes. But it is nice for a while, I suppose. I'm sure I'll be glad I saved everything some day. But what about adult crafting? Decoupage is an absolute mystery to me. 

Then there is the spiritual blog. Oh dear. I know that I reference what I believe often, and that I expound on the things I have been hashing through. I really have no problem with anyone doing this. If you are a Christian, the topic is bound to come up every now and then. And there are some blogs that are always devotional or theological and that's the whole point. Here, we know what we're getting when we check in and fully expect something deep or devotional or whatever. It's the nominally personal ones that are really more often ambushingly (that's right, "ambushingly") preachy or even prayery (yep, "prayery" too) that kind of rub me the wrong way. I shouldn't mention this without being able to expound on it. It could be something as self centered as if I don't agree with the views of the author, I don't like it. And I'm probably guilty of that. I think though, that the blogs I'm talking about have something else in common, a kind of self importance, a "hey look at me!" quality that seems kind of hypocritical. I joke with George about these kinds of bloggers being "horn tooters." Well, I really shouldn't have even brought this up; I can't really communicate what I am trying to. Give me a holler if you know what I'm getting at though. 

So what is left? There's the humorous blog, the non-boring personal blog (non-boring because you know or have something in common with the author) and the recipe blog. What else am I missing? There are truckloads of good blogs out there; I'm sure of it. Let me hear about your favorites. But no horn tooters, please!  ;) 

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Writing Achilles Heel

I feel compelled to post. The post I have been working on is not finished though. And dare I bore you all with the details of my most recent workout? I should say not. Breathe a sigh of relief! I will say that I was very grateful when George came home today with a two week free pass to the Y for me! They are sorting out the details in our request for a membership scholarship, but in the meantime were gracious enough to give us a pass! This is fantastic because the short days and the cold were really hindering my commitment to mileage. Now I can run in the warm indoors well after dark! No worries though, I am staying well away from the accursed elliptical machine!  This is a different Y from my previous one, and it is not as cozy and friendly feeling at first meeting. But I am sure we will be good friends in no time. 

Wow, a lot of exclamation points in that last paragraph huh? And now, that sentence was a fragment. But it's how I would say it. I like to keep my "voice" when I write. I have a hard time with thank you notes though. When I write a thank you note, I find myself using lofty words and sounding like a Jane Austen wannabe. It is revealing though; it shows I don't have strong thanking skills. I gush. I mean, I am the classic Southern sorority girl when it comes to receiving anything. "Awww, aren't you sweet?!" " Thank you so much!" It's all in the inflection and the nonverbals. (And evidently, nonverbals is not a word. It is now.) But one cannot write a thoughtful and sincere letter using these type of expressions. It is ridiculous. I'm sure if I had a video tape of me singing thank yous to people, I would be completely embarrassed. And besides, how would one pen such nonsense? You can't write "delighted squeal" or "sheepish, smiley face contortion that also indicates gratitude and admiration" like stage direction. 

Another thank you note problem is vocabulary. I don't like to say "thank" again and again. So I mix it up. I usually throw in a "grateful" or an "appreciate," but then I'm at a loss. So I use different forms of the word, "thankful," "gratitude," "appreciated," "appreciative." I also struggle with another word for "generous." That's another time where you have to throw in the forms of the word, "generosity," "kind," "kindness," "thoughtful," "thoughtfulness." "Bountiful," "abundant," and "benevolent" just feel over the top. Who says those words anymore? I would feel like Mr. Collins (of Pride and Prejudice) or Anne of Green Gables or something (she is pretty annoying, you have to admit). But just about every time I write a thank you note, it starts coming on, "La la la la la la la la la la, la la la la la la la la la la, la la la la la, la la la la la, you've been so kind and generous, I don't know how you keep on giving. For your kindness I'm in debt to you." And you can't get those la's out of your head! The rest of the lyrics are great; I just always feel like I'm plagiarizing! 

So now, when you get a thank you note from me, you will not take it sincerely because I have let you in on my struggle for words and originality! But please believe that I am thankful, grateful, and appreciative, for all of your kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness, even if I wrote the same thing last time and to everyone else every other time. Or maybe I should just burn "Kind and Generous" on a bunch of discs and mail a copy out every time I want to thank someone? Or, I could just play the odds that everyone has forgotten that song by now and copy them word for word. Nah, I'll keep going with my attempts to be genuine in spite of a poor vocabulary and an unfortunate inability to forget lyrics (and la's!) of a song released over ten years ago.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sunnybrook Farm May Not Be Fictional After All

I reckon no one really reads on the weekends. And I am really only posting because I have run out of Food Network footage! My car is in the shop and I am nursing a little bit of a head cold today. This came in extremely handy when my seven year old got sick at 1am and didn't quite make it to the toilet. Bless her heart! I felt very fortunate as I cleaned. I couldn't smell a thing! And therefore, no gag reflex! Perfect! She is fine today; I am 99% sure it was something she ate. No one else has had even a tinge of nausea, and she had no fever. Also, she was the only one who had a burger yesterday where we all had chicken. Anyway, this is horribly gross. Sorry. I just thought I'd point out, mostly to myself, that there is blessing to be had in even the yuck of life. In this case, the yuck being my head cold. Also, what's up with it snowing all day and not sticking? A cold, wet, gloomy day with no return?! Actually, seeing the blue jays on the grey limbs of the trees with the white snow flurrying around is the stuff of greeting cards, only real, so lovely rather than hokey. But other that the occasional glimpse at the beauty of nature, this day has been rather uneventful at the house on the hill. But then, you were all wondering about yesterday weren't you?

Well, I can't really sum it up yet. It was a lot to take in. I will say that it was a really cool experience. We drove way out to the country, y'all! I mean, yes, we are sort of in the country now, but still close to a really nice grocery store and a place that sells swanky coffee drinks, and not too far from a really big city. We did see a coyote as we were coming down the driveway. That was kind of cool. It was in the neighbor's horse paddock. We see deer often, but this was the first coyote. On our way to the country though, we saw a lot more critters. We got a nice little helping of dead skunks, but no live ones. We saw a beautiful bald eagle soaring over the Osage River as we crossed. Once we turned our eyes to the skies, we saw several red tailed hawks as well. We saw one little critter darting into a hole that George thought was a cat, but I think it was something much more critter-like and much less pet-like. Among the "pet-like" animals (or shall I just use the vocabulary of a normal person and say domesticated animals?) we saw were cows, horses, donkeys, mules, pigs, goats, sheep, geese, ducks, and even llamas. I know that these are just regular farm animals that you read to your children about and teach the sounds of and sing the songs for, but they really are out there on somebody's land! When Joyce,  the lady that was riding in our car with us around the area to tell us how to get from one place to another, said that she and her husband were farmers, she might as well have told me that she was a princess and that her husband was a knight who fights dragons! I think that farms really are just kids' stories in my mind. I know there used to be profitable family farms, but I reckon I was under the impression that there were just like a hundred giant farms out there that were completely commercial and impersonal and stretched for dozens of miles. Well, I don't really know what I thought. But I don't really think I thought about a couple owning a modest but profitable farm all their own and raising cattle and growing soybeans in the middle of Missouri and them pointing their cows out to me as we drove by- just a few dozen cows, not a few thousand on a massive ranch somewhere. I mean, people in Nashville have cows, I just don't think of them having income from cows. Then again, why else would they have the cows? So I will have something to point out to my kids on the way to the mall, right? 

Anyway, the thing was, there were lots of farmers. Farmers are real. The country is real. People live in "towns" that have only a couple hundred people in them. And not towns that are actually suburbs of some larger place, towns that aren't actually towns, that don't have grocery stores or a library or even a McDonald's, that are 15 minutes away from all of that, and 45 away from one with a Walmart or Target or Panera Bread. Please don't misunderstand me, this is not me turning my nose up, this is me amazed at my limited idea of what the world is like. This is me excited that something I thought was a romantic and archaic notion of farm life is actual farm life. Whether or not that life is for the Edemas remains to be seen, but it was a charming little snapshot of rural Missouri. 

Thursday, January 08, 2009

This Gets a Little Scary Toward the End

So I have been doing a little sprucing up. I have so few pictures, and I know that is not ideal. So now you all have pictures of the books I have read so far this year. Get excited! Also, note the puny 6 miles so far this year. I will confess that I walked 2 of them today. Well, I walked two after I ran two. I decided tat they count. If I just go out and go for a walk one day, I'm not going to count it, but while I am still trying to build mileage, I am just going to say that any walking done in the same outing as running counts. Otherwise, I know I will get really discouraged if I have to take any kind of break while I'm working my way up. I'm sure you can all understand. 

Tomorrow, the fam is driving across the great state of Missouri for a job interview. That's right, folks, a job interview! Well, an informal job interview, but an interview nonetheless. I don't want to get into it now, but I will fill y'all in after it's all over. However, any of you who have been praying for us during this eight month span of unemployment would be so appreciated if you remember us especially tomorrow. I will say that I emailed some close friends tonight with some of the details and found myself articulating something I hadn't completely realized yet, that I have really kind of lost hope of our current situation being temporary. Eight months just doesn't seem "temporary," especially when you have no idea how much longer. I've as good as forgotten about most of our things, packed away in storage for six months now, and have quit expecting or even hoping to hear of any promising opportunities any time soon. I know, it's the world's smallest violin, and it's playing for me! I really don't mean to sound whiney or despondent, though I know that is exactly how I sound. I just had a moment of clarity and wanted to share. It's like, I had no idea I had taken this this hard. And so many people are so eager for me to not take it hard. So I think it was somewhat imperative, for a people pleaser like me, to stamp a happy face on the situation, or at least just get comfortable with it. On the other hand, there gets to be a point where you don't have any emotion left for a situation, where you really do realize that crying or complaining will get you nowhere and you just need to do what you have to do to keep going. 

I hate to compare this "season" to losing a loved one, because it's not nearly so severe, but my counselor has reminded me that I have lost my home and my life as I knew it and planned it to be, so it is a legitimate and somewhat significant loss. And what comes to mind is Sam in Sleepless in Seattle answering the radio host about what he's going to do in spite of his devastation over his wife's death, "Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out all day long..." Okay, so I definitely have a flare for the dramatic. But that's what I've done. I'm not sure if y'all remember me sharing about my good friend whose husband died right before Christmas last year. I have talked to her about what she's going through and it is not at all unlike what Sam said. Sometimes what I say to her about how I feel about our situation gives her the words to describe her own, much more painful situation. She jokes about people telling her she's handling it so well, just to keep keeping on, but she wonders what the alternative is. She remarked (with the usual goodnatured laughter in her voice) that she could "just curl up in the fetal position on the floor in the corner," but that she certainly couldn't stay that way forever, nor would it do any good. And we both recognized that that mentality helps us get through the day to day, but that every now and then we look up and have kind of a realization of where we are and what we have or haven't dealt with. Well, please forgive the vulgar comparison of a healthy, loving family of five with supportive church family and friends who just happen to be having a rough go of it lately to someone who has lost their beloved.  I know it's not the same. I think I am doing it more for myself anyway, just to give myself license to recognize the sadness of our situation and to be sad about it- even if it won't do any good. But that certainly was not what I set out to do. I really just meant to say we had a tiny possibility on the horizon. And hey, I've run (sort of) six miles this year!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

An Epiphany of My Own

My sisters and I have a very dear uncle and aunt who send us each a huge box of citrus fruit for Christmas every year. As Christmas approaches, we all begin to look forward to the arrival of the fruit, and often ask amongst ourselves if anyone's coveted citrus has arrived yet! When we were growing up, just the one box came to my parents' house, and it seemed to be a good amount for five of us. But then we all got married and the same sized box was kind of a lot for just two people in each household. So over the years, we have gotten the hang of planning how to use the oranges and grapefruit before they even arrive. I will clip recipes that call for citrus all winter so that the next Christmas, I will have some new things to try. I have tried candied citrus peel, which did not work out of me at all, some sort of orange shortbread, which also failed miserably- though I think that time it was the recipe's fault, marmalade, which I can't remember so it must not have been too bad- or too good, for that matter, and various salads, one with mint and yogurt and I can't remember what else. At this point, August and Amabel are old enough to chip in with an appetite for a nice sectioned orange and those are gone without me even thinking about it. So the "problem" becomes how to use the grapefruit.

My mother-in-law really likes grapefruit, so I often give her a few. This year, she seemed to feel bad about taking any and refused them. I explained to her that Amabel and I are really the only ones who care much for grapefruit, and she wanted to know why August and George didn't care for it. I explained that they couldn't get past the sourness. So she sent me a link to a bunch of recipes from allrecipes.com which called for grapefruit. This was very thoughtful and sweet of her and I really appreciated it. But just between you and me, I am not a fan of allrecipes.com. I feel like it has a lot of low-end recipes put out by a bunch of amateurs. It's just the place to go for a cream of mushroom soup recipe! Maybe there are some good ones on there, but I just don't have the patience to sift through the bad. I feel the same way about looking for clothes at TJ Maxx. Anyway, the idea was a good one, look for recipes online that will use the grapefruit in interesting ways you have not tried yet. It isn't much of a leap from clipping them from magazines, I know, but it's more of the whole not wanting to hunt for things thing. If it's right there in front of me from a trusted source, like a magazine I subscribe to, then okay, fabulous! But it doesn't often occur to me to go looking for things, or if it does, I cringe because it seems like looking for a needle in a haystack. However, if I were going to look for a recipe, and I couldn't find it on Cooks' Illustrated, or on their website, where would I go? Food Network, of course! There may be a lot of junk on their website too, who knows, but I know which chefs I like, and because the chef's name is by every recipe, and every recipe has a rating and reviews, I find it pretty easy to pick out a winner (and in a reasonable amount of time). I found a lot of appealing looking grapefruit recipes on their website from chefs that I have copied before. They have a handy little device called "my recipe box." If a recipe looks interesting to you, you don't have to print it out or make a note of it, just click "save in my recipe box." Fantastic! I am way behind the rest of you, right? Y'all all knew about this feature didn't you? It's probably on every recipe archiving site on the web. Well, it's new to me, and extremely handy.

So last night, I decided to run on over to foodnetwork.com and "my recipe box" and give Giada's Grapefruit, Onion, and Basil Salad a try. If it sounds weird to you, just think about if you put lemon juice with the ingredients in the recipe- it would go perfectly. And I have to tell you, the recipe is truly fabulous. I have made it two nights in a row! I even emailed it to my sister who recently confessed to giving many of her grapefruit away because she doesn't really like them. I had told her what I will tell y'all, just in case you don't know, you have to get the fruit completely out of the membranes, even the thin ones between the segments- that is where the bitterness comes from. If you use a sharp serrated knife, it's a piece of cake, and it tastes much sweeter! And now, I am adding to my previous grapefruit wisdom. I realized that this recipe is so brilliant because it puts the grapefruit with savory things, which pulls out the sweet. I usually put the grapefruit in a dish that uses oranges as well, presumably to make the grapefruit seem sweeter with the sweetness from the other fruits. And I think that is a mistake- the oranges are so sweet that they actually highlight the less sweet flavor of the grapefruit. But put the grapefruit with something more savory, actually salt the grapefruit, and you are on to something! I will be trying several more grapefruit recipes with this in mind over the next week, and will let you know if I find any other winners. In the meantime, this one just has to be shared!

Grapefruit, Onion, and Basil Salad from Giada De Laurentiis and Food Network- I believe I used more grapefruit to less of everything else, but as you like it

2 grapefruits, trimmed of skin and sectioned
1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 c. pitted, chopped black olives
1 bunch of basil, leaves thinly sliced
2T chopped chives (I had green onions, so I used those instead)
3T balsamic vinegar
3T extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
-toss everything together in a bowl.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Christmas is Over, Officially

It seems I am finding my way back into the groove after all. We had a less choppy school day today and even managed to start Latin! I am going to go ahead and say that this has much to do with the fact that I actually went to bed before 1am for a change, and the additional fact that we had caffeinated coffee back in the house today after a three day absence (and a dreadful three days it was!). And I am going to go ahead and assume that everyone has been feeling like me more or less because of the total lack of discussion on the past three posts. I know that y'all are used to much less posting from me, and that there is not a whole lot to say about the random things I choose to write about. But zero comments three posts in a row is a first on here. Anyone dropping in for the first time might wonder if anyone even reads this drivel. And honestly, why do y'all?! 

Today, as you must know, was Epiphany. And as we had misplaced Old Befana on Italy day before Christmas (confession- I think I claimed to have read it on the right day, but I wrote the posts as I planned the lessons and neglected to take that part out when we couldn't find the book), and it was already way overdue, I figured today was the perfect day to pull it out and read it. If you are not familiar with Old Befana and her story, she flies around on January 6th each year  bringing toys to little children as she searches for the Christ Child whom the wise men were seeking. I also decided to make my children watch Amahl and the Night Visitors. If you are not familiar with that, it is an opera about the wise men stopping one night at the home of a poor, young crippled boy and his mother.  I had a particularly rigid music teacher in elementary school who made us watch it every year. I don't think I liked anything but the "this is my box" song when I was a kid. But somehow I retained a lot of it, and I had an urge to see it again. Amabel seemed to really enjoy it, and August and Elspeth watched good chunks of it interestedly. We ended up watching two different versions of it because the first one we tried, while less formal and more in touch with the humor in the story, was very hard to understand in a few parts. We switched over to a different version which was a more "professional" production; and the voice and picture quality, as well as the placement of the camera, made it easier to understand. Both were low budget productions, but worth your watch if you are interested. 

And now, I suppose I should think about taking my tree down. Everyone has remarked on how cozy and homey the house is this past month. I have felt the same way, but I am convinced it is because of the tree and the Father Christmas letters on the wall. We still have none of our things, you know, so I am afraid that without the Christmas decorations, everything will feel sparse and cold. Maybe that should be my project- figuring out a non-Christmas-y way to decorate without all my stuff. Because the tree is bound to start drying out eventually!

Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year's Stupor

Well, we did homeschool today. It was a very lurchy return to academia. I need a project. I cannot imagine wading through the next semester just doing the same thing every day. As much work as Christmas Around the World was to prepare, it really was fun. Amabel wanted to know which country we were going to do today. I was relieved and a little sad to tell her we were all done with countries. But now I have a major case of the Januarys. I don't know what it is really called, but it is that feeling you get after being in someone's wedding where it has been busy busy for a while, and especially for the last week, but now it's Saturday evening, the wedding is over and the happy couple is off on their honeymoon, but you are in your yoga pants and don't have anything to do until Monday. It's nice to have a break, but it's also a little depressing. This is what January is like every year, after the holiday rush and the great time with friends and family. Nothing. It's nice to have a break, but, a little depressing don'tcha think? Plus, it isn't a break. It's homeshcooling. Well, and everything else. I get this way every year. At least it's not summer SAD though eh? 

Well, I'm not sure if this is even worth posting. I have been on kind of a roll though lately. I'm thinking that if I get out of the habit of writing every night that I will have a hard time going back to it. You may think this makes no sense, but if you knew the effort it takes for me to make a meal plan (or just one meal for that matter!) or run laundry because I have gotten out of the rhythm of it all during the last month, you would see why I am eager to have one consistent activity in my day to day life. It would be much better if that were something like running or getting up at a reasonable time, but we'll just hold on to whatever semblance of routine we have and try to build off that. That, at this point, being flossing and blogging. Yeah, no one could ever accuse me of being an organized person! How about y'all? Is anyone else feeling as wiped out and turned around as me? 

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Books- Getting Reacquainted

About this time last year, I began a short lived endeavor to read all of Jane Austen's shorter works. The problem with Jane Austen's shorter works is that most of them are unfinished. I lost interest pretty quickly after I got really into The Watsons only to have it end abruptly in the middle of the story. The other problem was that Amazon was unable to procure one of the titles that I requested. (More perfectionism revealed-) I then decided that if I couldn't read all of her shorter works, I wasn't so interested in reading the pieces I did have. And, like I said, I just don't read as much as I should. Homeschooling has reminded me that there is such a thing as a library. And there are these things called books at the library. I recently checked to see if the St. Louis County Library had the title that Amazon was unable to obtain for me, and they did. So these first four days of the year, after finishing Brighton Rock, I have been occupied by reading the pieces I set out to read this time last year. While it is disappointing to not have the story  one has invested oneself in come to some sort of happy and tidy conclusion, it is always enjoyable to read anything by Miss Austen. 

And I tried to make some sort of fun little list over yonder to show y'all all the books I have read already this year (you'll be so proud), but I cannot get the book cover images to load to be the same size. And well, that is just unacceptable. I will have to keep trying to figure it out. But I hope to have a nice little list for you sometime soon. Right now, it's too late for such trivialities. And I need to get some rest tonight for sure- homeschool begins again tomorrow! Maybe... Isn't that so like me to say something emphatically and with exclamation, and then the next second to be uncertain? Ha! Also very like me, and not at all unrelated, is the putting off of things until the last minute. Have I so much as looked at the shelf where our textbooks and teacher's manuals reside? No. Tomorrow's school day should be haphazard at best, if even existent at all! 

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Eating Crow

What was that I said the other day? Something about not yelling as much? Something about maturing and  being less impulsive? Hmmmm..... Was that what I said? Because if you had been at my house this morning as I barked orders and rebuked each of my children for every tiny misstep, you would not think it possibly could have been. And if you had been at my house later this evening while I made dinner, you would know that surely this grumbling, scowling, surly hag could never deceive herself into thinking she had, in some way, overcome her unpleasant habit of shouting and hollering at things like pecans and two year olds and spatulas and people who are not actually even in the room. Lovely. How many times did Mommy have to humbly apologize to her three nervous children today? Too many. Ugh! Put it back on the list! Because I am weeks away from being able to blame it on PMS!

Friday, January 02, 2009

A Really Nice $5 Day

Today, we had a little bit of time without the kids. George's sister Katie and her husband took the children to the Magic House. I think it was quite the trip. My children are pooped! Nice, eh? They're watching a video and I am enjoying the fruits of a short shopping trip. We had thought we would look for George some clothes with some gift cards he had received, but by the time we dropped the kids off and swapped car seats and all of that, we didn't feel we had quite enough time. I had a gift card to Panera Bread so we went and got some lunch first. I had a chance to tell George about the book I have been reading, and we had a nice little lunch. After that, George felt inclined to go to Borders as we had been talking of bookish things and we had credit there, plus a five dollar off coupon. In the end, we got me a Christmas CD, Sara Groves' O Holy Night, for nothing because of the credit and the coupon and the CD sale they have on now. I felt bad that it was his excursion and I was the one getting something. But I think he was pleased with the choice after listening. He said he likes it a lot. 

I will save the full blown review for next Christmas when people are checking into new Christmas music again, but I just have to at least say that this CD is amazing! I love it! The cover is beautiful, very classic, but also a nice turquoise and brown ("...so hot right now!"). And that just starts you off right. And her voice is really cool. I don't really have good words today, sorry. But I am just really digging this! I mentioned in the comments from the post about Christmas music that I didn't want the same old songs sung the same old way. And that is what is so beautiful on this album. It's the lyrics to Christmas carols that I really love, and Sara herself has created lovely new tunes to "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," "Angels We Have Heard on High," and "O Holy Night." She has three really nice original songs as well (and one that is quirky and comical but sounds exactly like the "Nothing Ever Happens on Mars" song from Waiting for Guffman). But my favorite, my reason for discovering the album, is "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." 

George and I cannot stand this song. It is, as I'm sure you know, originally from a really downer scene in Meet Me in St. Louis and sung by Judy Garland. Gag! So it is this song sung through tears about trying to cheer up even though everything is falling apart and try to have a happy Christmas. I am just not sure why everyone likes this song so much; there's nothing merry about it. I read or heard someone say recently that it's like it's sarcastic or something, almost a jeer. I feel the same way about "Happy Xmas (War is Over)." But anyway, I got in the car sometime last week and heard this really lovely, cheerful version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." I didn't want it to end. They never tell you who sings what on the Christmas stations so I did a little research. I found the list on Wikipedia of all the people who have recorded it, which, as you can imagine, is a lot of people. I narrowed it down to women who have recorded it in the last couple of years, because I figured it couldn't have been around for too too long without my hearing it. And to hear it is to remember it. Then I went over to Amazon and played samples of all the different ones until I found one that sounded right. At first, I was somewhat convinced it was Sarah McLachlan (that was my first inclination upon hearing it on the radio), though it wasn't quite what I remembered. But then I saw this name I had skipped over because I wasn't familiar with it, Sara Groves. I am not exactly sure that her version is the one I heard on the radio, but I am certain that hers is the most pleasant and enjoyable version of that song that I have ever heard. And while it may not be the best song on her album, it is charming, as is the entire album. 

After going to Borders, we didn't have much time left at all before kiddo pickup. We decided to run over to Target and take a look at the wine glass situation. They were mostly sold out and they were surprisingly expensive, as in, about the same price they are at Williams Sonoma, so we didn't actually buy any today. But oh my gosh, y'all, have you seen the owl Valentine's stuff at Target? I want it all! It is so so cute! Pink and owls? You've got to be kidding me! I think I am going to change my blog colors to match. Because I need to put the picture up of the one thing I convinced George I really had to have. There it is. It's so cute isn't it? Don't you imagine you'd just want to jump out of bed in the morning to pour coffee into this? And you can pour lots of coffee into this- it's a 15 ouncer. For a mere $4.99, you too can buy yourself a little pink piece of happiness. Life is good. 

I would end on that note, but I cannot get the pictures to upload any way but XXL and that leaves a whole bunch of trapped white space at the bottom. Trapped white space is a major no-no. Did you know? I suppose I can use the space to mention that my run this morning was really dreadful. But it's just one day, right? I also plan to start a new book this evening. I think I may do some work on the sidebar while I am changing things around, maybe one of those lists of books that other people have to keep reading on my mind. We'll see. And does anyone miss my links? Sometimes I do. But I just have such a hard time deciding what is link-worthy. Oh dear, perfectionism revealed. Anyway, this should properly fill the space. It's too bad, I liked ending with "little pink piece of happiness."

Thursday, January 01, 2009

All is Quiet on New Year's Day

I always think of my friend Sara on New Year's Day. She always hated New Year's because it was this horribly long day of football, and the malls were closed! It's true. We don't have TV reception right now, and George is at work anyway, but I definitely find myself feeling like I have no use for this day. On the other hand, I finally did get to balancing the checkbook, paying some bills, and writing thank you notes. And thank heaven for my sister Sarah who lovingly taped two 6 hour VHS tapes of Food Network for me and brought them at Christmas! I am all cozy in my PJs (at 4pm!) with Ina Garten cheerfully instructing me, hot cider and biscotti beside me, the tree lit up, and the computer warm in my lap! So, not such a useless day after all! But yes, it's very quiet up here at the house on the hill. And I know this isn't the first quiet New Year's because I have definitely thought before how the first line and video to the song seem appropriate. Well, I mean, the song and video have all this Polish political stuff going on, but just the whole four guys alone in the freezing snow part, and the quiet part. Not so much the wars being waged part. Or the part about riding horses to be with someone.

Anyway, until last year, we had gotten accustomed to spending New Year's with our good friends, the Fittses. I miss you, Fittses. Not to despair, I think we will be seeing them again in the next month. I really did just knock on wood. We pile into the big house on the river and build fires and play games and eat fantastic food prepared by Rebekah, our hostess who is an amazing cook. It is a winter imperative, even if it hasn't hit exactly on January 1 these two years. 

Another thing about New Year's is the resolutions. For the past two years, if you will remember, I have adopted my friend Annie's resolutions from 2007. And this year, I'm proud to say, I've grown. They were roughly this: read more, walk more, sew more, bake bread more, learn something, get rid of what you don't need, yell less (hers was at the dog; mine was at people and inanimate objects- we don't have a dog). Last year, I felt like I had adhered somewhat to some of these resolutions. This year, I feel a little triumphant! Well, reading. Yeah, I really need to read more. So keep that on the list. But walking. Walking? What about running? I ran my butt off this year! Except that I didn't! So discouraging. But I did run. And I shall keep it up, even if I keep my butt (and thighs and tummy and huge fat face) too. Is it okay that I keep saying but? Anyway, I have considered giving myself a mileage resolution, like 365 miles. That translates to a mile a day, or just 2.3 miles 3 times a week for 52 weeks. This is extremely doable. I usually run more days than that in a week and hope to be running more miles than that in a day, but I sometimes take whole weeks off during busy stretches or if I get sick. I am trying to figure what it would be if I had to take time off for pregnancy though. Maybe I'll just deal with that when the time comes? Anyway, sew more. I think I technically did sew more, but I still didn't sew much. I'm keeping it on the list. Bake bread more? I did, indeed. I still didn't bake much bread though, so that is staying on the list too. A triumph, nonetheless. Learn something? I think it's safe to say that recently, I have been learning more than I ever wanted to! But I think she meant academically. Well, homeschooling helps with that too, even if it is just second grade. I feel like I am on my way to becoming a more learned person all the time. Hurray! Get rid of what you don't need? How about most of what you have? Well, no, I still have it, just not access to it. But before I packed it all up, I purged. I feel very good about this. Check! And yell less? I feel pretty good about this one too. I feel much less impulsive. It's part of all that learning or something. So check again. 

So how about keeping up the bread baking, the sewing, the learning, and the running- taking it all up a notch, if you will. And then just the reading. Goodness sakes, it is shameful how little I read most of the time. It should suit the house on the hill though, solitary, quiet, no TV reception, light only by lamp. I feel like reading already! First up? Brighton Rock by Graham Greene. I actually started it a couple of days ago, but I'm only 70 pages in. Why Brighton Rock? Because it's about the guys in "Now My Heart is Full," a song by Morrissey that I love but makes no sense to me. I have little hope of it making sense to me after finishing the book, but I decided I would at least know who he is talking about. Anyway, anyone out there have any interesting resolutions? And again, Happy New Year!

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