Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bathing Beauties

We joined a pool for the first time this summer!

Being the strange person I am, I am keeping a mental tab of how many times we go to see if we're getting our money's worth. So far we've been ten times, so it's cost us thirty-six dollars per visit. Hm, I guess we need to go more!

Rachael loves the pool more than anybody.

Some of you may remember that, from babyhood until she was four and a half, she would scream hysterically and without stopping if she even saw a pool. Then it just disappeared on its own, as if it had never happened.

There's a lesson there somewhere, I think.

Here's Rebecca!

They wanted these bathing caps, but stopped wearing them after about five minutes. Too bad, because they sure looked cute in them!

I will not be posting any pictures of myself in a bathing suit.
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Me and Robert

Robert had been complaining that all our pictures were of the kids, so I asked my dad to take these.

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Dancing Beans

My parents are generous enough to pay for dance classes for both girls, and their recital was at the beginning of June.
My dad took these pictures before we all went.

Rebecca takes a ballet/tap class.
They did a ballet routine for the recital to the song "Tomorrow we go to the Fair."

Rachael took jazz this year. Her routine was called "Roller Coaster Girls."

Afterwards we stopped at Publix and got ice cream and toppings, which we ate here. By then it was starting to get dark outside, and was really nice and pretty. Robert's co-worker Michelle, who baby-sat Baby Ben during the recital, joined us. It was a lot of fun.
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A math argument

Rachael came to me this morning and said, "We're having a little argument, so we need to ask you a question."

"Yes?" I said.

"What is one hundred plus twelve?"

"Hmm ... well, first you tell me what you each say."

One girl said, "One hundred twelve!"

And the other girl said, "One hundred and twelve!"

I said, "Guess what? You're both right! That's two different ways of saying the same number!"

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Unconscious Mutterings

Don't know how interesting it is to read someone else's answers, but it is fun to play!

Silence :: golden
Wall :: Pink Floyd
Killed :: gun
Wishful :: thinking
Poodle :: French
Sullen :: sulk
Do not disturb :: sign
Philadelphia :: Tom Hanks
Anticipation :: Carly Simon
Sidewalk :: chalk

Breakfast for dinner

I'm sure everybody already knows this "trick," but it's a good one and sometimes I forget, so it's worth repeating:

Try to have breakfast for dinner about once a week.

Actually, we did it twice this week. Tonight I made cheese omelettes (which Rachael loves) and bagels and cream cheese (which Rebecca loves). Strawberries on the side, juice and milk to drink. Works on all levels.

The other night I did something unusual I should maybe do more often: set the table with bowls and spoons, put out several boxes of cereal, including raisin bran, Total, and granola, set a jug of milk on the table, and made a plate of assorted fruit. I think everybody, especially my husband, enjoyed that more than if I'd spent a lot of time making a casserole or some meat and potatoes something.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rachael's sending fan mail!

I just came down to the computer and found it open to a "Hannah Montana" site where you can send an e-mail message to one of the characters.

The screen was filled out with Rachael's name, age (7), and state.

The message was to Jackson, Miley's brother on the show.

The message itself said:

you gest crac me up

I thought that was hilarious! I went ahead and clicked the "Send" button for her.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kids who hate to learn

Several months ago, for some odd reason, I was quickly flipping through a James Dobson book at the store. In a chapter about Education, there was a comment or quote that said something like, "Saying that all children love to learn is as incorrect as saying that all children love baseball. Sure, some do, but many don't."

During the school year I was talking to a woman at the park whose child was in the GA lottery-funded pre-K program. I asked if her daughter liked it.

"Yes!" the woman said. "She loves it, because she just loves to learn. She's completely the opposite of my three year old son."

I laughed and said lightly, "Oh, he hates to learn?" thinking she would realize how ridiculous that sounds and clarify what she really meant.

Without any humor, she explained that she tried to get to play educational games on the computer and he wasn't at all interested.


This week I was in the car listening to some talk radio person named Joy Brown. The "topic" was about some school who was giving away some sort of prizes for good grades.

I thought this was really weird that this even a topic for discussion, because don't schools do this all the time in form or another?

Anyway, at one point Joy Brown said to a caller, "but out of your three children, I'll bet you had at least one who was a good student and at least one who wasn't interested in learning."

The caller said, "Yes, but the one who wasn't a good student is the only one who later went on to get a Master's degree."

"Oh," said Joy Brown, "so you're saying that eventually she grew and learned to love learning."


To be very blunt:

What the hell is wrong with all these people?

I think every child loves to learn. In fact, I think it's the same as saying "every child loves to breathe."

How could anyone even think otherwise? Have you ever watched a toddler in action? All they do is learn! Either they're learning a new way to reach the cookie jar (or in my son's case, the various light switches), or they're learning how to walk, or climb, or learning something new about speech and language, or learning what kinds of sounds they can make by pushing buttons on their book, or on my piano ...

They're learning constantly. It's a drive. It's natural, normal, healthy.

Obviously people are confusing "schoolwork" with "learning." How sad.

I bet that poor three year old boy has all KINDS of things he loves learning about every day, whether it's how to build more intricate things in sand or memorizing the names and nuances of all of Thomas the Tank Engines' friends. But none of that counts, because it's not "educational software," so gee, he's just a kid who has no interest in learning. Let's either give up on him or nag the hell out of him throughout the years until he gets a clue.

Here's what I have to say about a kid who has has little or no interest in a class they're being forced to take:

Good for them!

Who Rachael is these days

Rachael (age 7) was watching Hannah Montana yesterday and saw an ad for the "Kit" American Girl movie coming out next month (with Abigail Breslin).

She decided to "be Kit." She put together an outfit that sort of looked like what Kit wears in the book, and we've been reading some of the Kit books.

You never know what's going to be "the thing" around here at a moment's notice.

This morning she brought me a piece of paper that was folded up and said


I opened it, and it said:


If you're wondering why in the world an American Girl movie would be scary, it helps to know that Rachael has never seen a movie in the theater (her choice).

Actually, that sounds pretty fun. I myself have been to the movies exactly four times in the seven years since Rachael was born, so that would be great if Robert could stay home with Benjamin and I could go to the movies with the girls.

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Sneaky Chef stuff

I am just on a "cooking kick" of sorts.

I made a double batch of "Fortified French Toast" (with sweet potatoes and carrots) from The Sneaky Chef. The only one of us who doesn't like it is Rachael, who doesn't like pancakes/waffles in general.

I also made cocoa chocolate-chip pancakes, which has wheat germ, whole wheat flour, apples and blueberries. Robert said they were too chocolate-y. Rebecca ate them, but didn't want them the next day. One afternoon I offered them cold, as a snack, like a brownie, and they got eaten that way, although nobody begged for more. I'll probably make them again and try to sell them more as cookies than breakfast pancakes.

I also made "Breakfast Cookies" with Total cereal, wheat germ, and ricotta cheese. They were okay, but no one really raved about them.

I've been stirring wheat germ into Rachael's oatmeal every morning. I haven't told her, and she hasn't noticed anything different.

Recovering after VBS

The girls went to Vacation Bible School at our church last week. It was a good thing. Rebecca was reluctant, but I think she enjoyed it. They liked the songs a lot, and they enjoyed seeing their older friends (and adult friends) throughout the day as teachers and helpers.

But man, did it wear me out! We were late every day, no matter how hard I tried to leave with extra time. Then I barely had to run an errand or something with Benjamin, then it was time to go get them again ... then some days one or both girls seemed to need to "decompress" a bit and were cranky ... oh my gosh, I'm glad they did it, but I'm so glad it's over.

Yeah, yeah, I know, "you get used to it when it's a regular thing." Well, maybe. But I think I would just self-combust after a few weeks of that.

This morning we are recovering.

Rebecca slept til 9:40 am. I lifted some weights while watching Hannah Montana with Rachael. It's almost 10:30 am and I guess I need to shower and get dressed when I'm done typing. Our "big plan" of the day is to go shopping for a friend's birthday present. That's enough.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Rachael's Reading Skills

Last weekend we went to Target and Rachael brought "Hillary Knight's Cinderella" into the car with her and said, "I'm going to practice my reading skills."

I thought this was really funny. Practice her reading skills? Where has she heard that??

Today she asked me to get all the Judy Blume "Fudge" books out of the library again "because I want to work on my reading skills."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I found a letter for the Tooth Fairy

I'm always finding interesting things around the house.

Yesterday I found this next to the girls' beds. Rachael (7) must have done the actual writing, although I imagine Rebecca dictated it to her:

The paper was folded up, and on the outside it said:



and on the inside it said:



It made me feel kind of sad that they got no response. :(

Being thankful I made it to another birthday

Many of you know that in May of 2006, about two weeks after Benjamin was born, I woke up one morning and instantly realized I was having trouble breathing, with sharp chest pains on my left side.

Without getting bogged down in details, an hour or two later it wasn't better, so I called my doctor and was told to go to the ER.

It turned out I had something called a Pulmonary Embolism, which is the sudden blockage of an artery in the lung. I was admitted to ICU and wasn't even allowed out of bed for several days. I had to use a bedpan and everything. I had permanent damage on a spot of my lungs, but obviously survived.

I had never heard of a "PE" until I had one. Months later when things were a little calmer and less surreal, I did some research and found thing like this:

At least 100,000 cases of PE occur each year in the United States. PE is the third most common cause of death in hospitalized patients. If left untreated, about 30 percent of patients with PE will die. Most of those who die do so within the first few hours of the event.

and this:

Massive PE is one of the most common causes of unexpected death, being second only to coronary artery disease as a cause of sudden unexpected natural death at any age.

Approximately 10% of patients in whom acute PE is diagnosed die within the first 60 minutes.

The diagnosis of PE is missed more than 400,000 times in the US each year, and approximately 100,000 patients die who would have survived with the proper diagnosis and treatment.

Kind of striking, no?

It puts having a birthday (today, June 7, and yes, I have the same birthday as Prince) in a new perspective.

I'm grateful that God let me live that day. I'm thankful He wasn't willing to have a five year old, three year old, and newborn premature baby lose their Mommy.

My birthday gift from my daughter

Today's my birthday! :)

Rachael (AGE 7) made me a gift. It's a piece of paper folder up into quarters. On the outside it says:






On the inside she drew a little comic strip of the two of us.
Then she drew some empty squares and wrote RIT MOR COMIX HER with an arrow pointing to the empty blocks.

Then, underneath that:


Friday, June 6, 2008

Celebrating my birthday with free food

Tomorrow is my birthday!

I'm afraid to post how old I will be, because I'm afraid all of you will say, "Really? You look a helluva lot older than that!"


A few months ago I signed up with a bunch of places that give you free food for your birthday. Wednesday I went to Firehouse Subs and got a free sub which is normally over five dollars.

Right now I am printing out coupons for a free burrito at Moe's, a free cone at Baskin-Robbins, and a free creation at Cold Stone Creamery.

I also got a coupon for a BOGO entree at ... Brookwood Grill? I'd like to do that, but it will take some planning. I need to check the expiration.

Yummy veggies in the French Toast!

I got a book out of the library called The Sneaky Chef.

I found out about it because Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry's wife) was on Oprah discussing her own book, Deceptively Delicious. The concept is that she gets her kids to eat vegetables by pureeing them and adding them to anything from brownies to meatloaf.

I did a little research and found out that Missy Lapine (of The Sneaky Chef) did this first, and apparently better, so I decided to give her book a try.

Last night I made franks (yes, nitrate-free) and beans, with a little ketchup and pureed sweet potatoes and carrots stirred in. [Being "The Lazy Chef" as usual, I used jars of baby food instead of peeling, boiling, and using a food processor.]

It took about three minutes to put together and another four minutes to microwave it. So, basically, instant dinner. Rachael said it was really good. Interestingly, Rebecca asked me to take the hot dogs out, but she liked the beans. And Baby Ben ate it up too.

This morning was even better; I made "Fortified French Toast," also with sweet potatoes and carrots in the batter. It was really good. Rebecca said she "loved it," and asked to have it again later as an afternoon snack, and again with dinner. (I think she had a total of six pieces of it today.) Benjamin had a piece and then sort of sang, "More ... more ..." I liked it too, and it was not difficult to make (since I cheated and used baby food.) I will definitely have to make that one again. Maybe I'll double the recipe next time so it lasts longer.

The next things I plan to try are: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with the sweet potatoes and carrots spread on the bread; cocoa pancakes; and a few cookies that sound really good.

I may have to break down and actually buy this book.

Oh, and you're probably all wondering if I told the kids about the secret ingredients. No, I didn't.

Typical Rachael Interaction

Yesterday I was making dinner when Rachael (who is seven, and homeschooled) came into the kitchen and said, "Mom, I'm a nine year old, and I'm just coming home from school, so when I walk into the kitchen, you say, 'How was school today?'"

"Okay," I told her.

Then she left, and walked back in, and I said, "How was school today, Rachael?"

She sighed, flopped wearily into her chair at the kitchen table, and said, "Boring!"

I thought that was really funny. :)

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Master Planner!

One of my blogger buddies, Julie, just put together a Master Planner!

It's got pages to write out budget plans, meal plans, medical record charts, movies and videos to see, master grocery lists, etc.

It also has articles about crockpot cooking, frugal homeschooling, read-alouds, etc.

She is having a contest that she'll give a free copy to one person who blogs about it. So here I am, as usually, trying to get something for free! :)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Renewing my love affair with my crockpot

I'm one of those people who loves my crockpot.


I love everything into in the morning and then going about my business. I love being able to go out in the afternoon (although we don't do that much) and know that when we come home, dinner is right there ready to go. I love how quick it is. I love how it makes the house smell nice.

Anyway, like everything in life, I go through periods when I use it more than others. Just this week I've used it three times, and it was great each time.

A few days ago I tried cream cheese chicken, which was great because you literally just grab the frozen chicken and slam it into the pot. (Well, I guess you don't have to actually slam it. You could place it carefully and calmly into the pot, and it would still taste the same.)

Then yesterday I made A1-Dijon Steak (from the same blog), which was very tasty and took less than four minutes to prepare.

In about an hour we are going to have one of Robert's favorites, crockpot spaghetti, before we head downtown for the girls' dance recitals!

You put three cups of tomato juice, a small can of tomato sauce, and a packet of spaghetti sauce mix into the pot. Brown some ground beef with onions and add that to the pot. Cook on low for about six hours.

Thirty minutes before it's time to eat, break up ... about 4 oz of uncooked spaghetti and stir it in and switch the pot to High.

Out of the three recipes, this one is actually the most involved, which is pretty funny, because there's certainly not much to it! And I love that you don't have to cook the spaghetti separately.

Am I the laziest cook in the world, or what?

Lazy or not, who cares? It's yummy! :)