Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Claire: Hey, Mom, I know what idols are.
Me: Oh, really?
Claire: Yes. They're something you want to be a god.
Me: That's right.
Claire: In Alair's book, the people made a golden calf. They wanted it to be their god, so it was an idol.
Me: That's right. But it was a pretty crappy god, wasn't it?
Claire: Yup. You could hug it or sit on it or do anything you wanted to it, but it couldn't do anything for you. Idols are kind of dumb, aren't they?

Dumb, indeed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Natalie's Question

Natalie is very afraid of the devil. This fear goes back to VBS this summer, when she heard the story of the temptation of Jesus. She asked Troy and me the other night if the devil was going to die. I asked Pastor Mumme his thoughts on how I should explain this to her.

 His response:
"The devil is a fallen angel, and angels (fallen or holy) do not and will not die.  Rather, on the Last Day they will be locked up forever in the prison house of hell, never to tempt or afflict the children of God ever again.  In Matthew 25:41, Jesus says to the unbelievers on Judgment Day, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."  This tells us that hell was not originally prepared for human beings, but for the fallen angels.  And since its fire is eternal, the devil and his angels (and all who die without faith in Christ) will eternally suffer there.  This is made explicit for the devil in Revelation 20:10: "And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."
This is a hard conversation to have with a little girl!  I would just assure her at this point that when we die (and when we rise again in glory on the Last Day) we will be forever free from the devil.  He cannot harm us who believe and are baptized now, and he will not be able to harm us then either.  I hope this helps."
After I told this to Natalie, she thought about it and then said, "So Jesus makes it so the devil can't come to our house?" I told her, yes, that was pretty much true, that Jesus makes it so the devil can't hurt us. She was thrilled and said, "I'm going to tell my sister, and Grandma and..." I told her she could tell everyone she wanted about that.

Tonight's Supper

Claire absolutely loved this meal. She wants it again tomorrow night.

Sloppy Potatoes

4 large russet or sweet potatoes, scrubbed and dried

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 Tbs. cumin
1 Tbs. coriander
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs. light brown sugar
1 Tbs. cider vinegar
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup tomato puree
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Prick potatoes with a fork all over. Bake the potatoes in a 425 degree oven for 1 hour, or cook in the microwave.

Cook the meat in a skillet over medium heat until browned. Add salt and pepper, cumin, coriander and chili powder. (*I did not have cumin, and do not like coriander, so I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons of BBQ seasoning with the chili powder). Add onion (I used dehydrated) and garlic and cook until softened, about 2-4 minutes. Add brown sugar, vinegar (I used red wine vinegar), Worcestershire sauce, and puree (I used a can of tomato sauce). Simmer over low heat to develop the flavor.

Open the potatoes and spoon meat mixture on top. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and serve.

Serves 4

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

9/11 According to Claire

"So Mom," said Claire as we arrived at her school this morning. "Mrs. Cram told us yesterday about something."
"Oh, yeah?"
"Yeah, it happened 20 years ago..."
"Well, sweetie, it actually happened 11 years ago."
"Okay, 11 years ago. There were these two towers, and some bad guys crashed a plane into them. The bad guys took over the plane and crashed it into the towers. And this happened in St. Paul."
"No, honey, it happened in New York City and in Washington, D.C."
"Washington, D.C.? That's near where I was born."
"That's right."
We were at school by then, and so the conversation had to end. I'm interested to know what else she learned about 9/11, and how she interprets what she's learned. I'll have to remember to tell her to ask her dad to show her and Natalie his piece of rubble from the attack on the Pentagon. I'm sure the girls will find that fascinating, if not really understand the whole meaning of it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

School, Muffins, and Natalie's Stories

Claire started school this past Tuesday. She is the only kindergartner at Trinity Lutheran School, North Morristown, but she doesn't care in the slightest. She was so excited to start school, so she could learn things like Alair.
For the first day of school, I decided to do like Anna (the housekeeper) in the Betsy-Tacy series, who always makes muffins for breakfast on the first day. I made King Arthur Flour's Chocolate Breakfast Muffins

2/3 cup (2 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa
1 3/4 cups (7 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups (9 3/8 ounces) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter, melted
coarse pearl sugar, for topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend; there's no need to beat these muffins, just make sure everything is well-combined.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin; the cups will be heaped with batter, and the muffin will bake into a "mushroom" shape. Sprinkle with pearl sugar, if desired.

Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven, and after 5 minutes remove them from the pan, allowing them to cool for about 15 minutes on a rack before peeling off the muffin papers or silicone cups. Yield: 12 muffins.
We've enjoyed the muffins each day this week, and I do want to make first-day muffins a yearly tradition.

I was somewhat concerned about Natalie's reaction to being left at day care while Claire started school. That was a waste of energy. Natalie is doing just great. She's now able to come out from her sister's shadow and let her own personality come out. She is an enthusiastic storyteller who has a 3-year-old's tendency to blend fantasy and reality. She chatters to anyone who will listen (fortunately for her, almost all of the adults in her life DO listen) about all her doings each day. My dad will chuckle and tell me that she's the most fascinating child. 

We now have bedtime on school nights at 7:30. Growing (and learning) girls need lots of sleep, and so far, Claire can't be bothered to have her quiet time in the afternoon. There's too much to do! Evenings are still kind of tricky, with tired and cranky girls adjusting to our new routine, but I figure that will improve over the next few weeks.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Summer of Crazy. And Heat. And Happy.

Let's see, I last blogged in the beginning of May. Wow, has life gone crazy since then.

May saw the end of the second school year since I've been at Cannon Valley. Making sure all the seniors graduated with enough credits in the right classes, grading all the online classes, and getting the air conditioner put in the window of my office were the main priorities. I played with the band for graduation and went with Hannah to a bunch of graduation parties. So fun! Hannah and I also went out for a girls' day, seeing The Avengers and going shopping. She goes back to her parents' farm in North Dakota in the summers, so I won't see her until the beginning of August.

June was all about Vacation Bible School, working on the wedding gift I was making for Erik and Ashley...and a new relationship. I started seeing Troy, a guy I've known since childhood who goes to my church. He's divorced with two kids, too, although his kids are older than Claire and Natalie. His daughter, Carsen, is 15 and his son, Adam, is 10. Carsen was Natalie's youth leader at VBS, and we started sending messages on Facebook, which led to chatting on Facebook, which led to one date and then another and so on. He is just about the polar opposite of the girls' father, and this has been, really, one of the happiest summers I can remember.

July had the hottest Independence Day on record, so naturally I was working in the hamburger stand at the North Morristown celebration. Uff. Da. You know you're sweaty when your jean shorts are damp all the way through! Then came all the last-minute preparations for the wedding in the out-of-control heat. But the weather cooperated marvelously for the wedding itself. This was such a fun day! Claire and Natalie were very well-behaved and had lots of fun at the reception. I also had lots of fun at the reception, enjoying the free wine (4 glasses) and the great music at the dance.
We just came back from 4 days in northern Indiana, where we saw Touchdown Jesus at Notre Dame and went shopping in Shipshewana at all the Amish places. It was fun, but the drive was a little too long for the kids, and we are happily getting back on our routine.

The girls will go on vacation with their dad the first week of August and then we'll be getting ready for school to start! It has really been a crazy summer.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Review

Heroes come in many shapes and sizes. Dragons come in even more. Fantasy fiction is an extremely popular genre among young (and not-so-young) readers today. Parents may be concerned about the value of some of the fantasy literature their kids are reading, but not know how to determine said value. Enter Andrew Boll’s The Hero and the Dragon: Building Christian Character through Fantasy Fiction. Andrew neatly weaves together many of the elements commonly found in fantasy fiction and discusses them in relation to aspects of a Christian’s life. He also demonstrates how the elements may help build upon the foundation of the Gospel or how those same elements, in another author’s hands, can tear that foundation down.
Andrew starts with a chapter that students who have taken his Introduction to Literature class will recognize: “The Hero’s Journey.” Nearly every adventure story or epic quest will feature some, if not all, of the steps outlined in this chapter. While I was reading through this chapter, I found myself thinking of Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, and many other stories I’ve read in my life. Andrew references a lot of classical literature such as The Odyssey and King Arthur, as well as contemporary works like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Star Wars. Readers will enjoy remembering a favorite hero or heroine’s journey while reading this chapter.
The rest of the book is devoted to common themes or elements found in fantasy fiction. Are you worried about your child reading stories of “magic” or “wizards” or “vampires?” These chapters will guide you in figuring out if a particular story will be damaging or uplifting.
Of course, since we are all on our own journeys, Andrew points out how goblins, elves, pixies, and zombies exist in our own world, and how to wield the Sword (that is, the Word of God) to defeat our own dragons. You’ll find ways to seek the light, even when the way seems dark.
The Hero and the Dragon: Building Christian Character through Fantasy Fiction by Andrew Boll is available for purchase at Cannon Valley Lutheran High School in Morristown, Minnesota. The print book is $19.95+tax, and the ebook is $9.95. Andrew will donate $2 for each book sold at CVLHS to the school. You may also purchase the book through Andrew’s website and blog,

Of the Electric Slide, Macarena, and Other Party Dances

The CVLHS prom was this past weekend. Since Claire and Natalie were on a visit with their dad, I got to help chaperone. Boy, was it fun, for a laundry list of reasons.

1. I got to wear the black and gold bridesmaid dress I wore for Andy and Christine's wedding in 2009. Not only am I no longer nursing a baby, I've lost a bit more weight than when I wore the dress then, so it fit me much better. Also, I had no idea the dress was so beautiful. At the time I wore it, I was still grouchy at the obnoxious saleslady at the bridal shop for complaining that it didn't fit me (never mind the whole 14-weeks-postpartum-and-nursing-a-newborn thing). Also, I was 14 weeks postpartum and nursing a newborn, so putting on a formal dress, complete with spanx, strapless bra (HAHAHAHAHAHA), pantyhose, and heels was absurd. Then add a cranky 2 1/2 year old daughter and (now ex) husband just back from military duty and in the full throes of his PTSD who had to rent a tux and be an usher, and it's no wonder that I have limited memories of that day. Well, I ROCKED that dress on Saturday night.
2. I got to dance my feet off and not care how I looked. That's the great thing about helping at a school event. You can look dorky and NO ONE CARES!
3. I remembered the Macarena. Oddly, everyone expected that I would know this dance. And I did. Even though the last time I danced it was around 15 years ago.
4. I taught the crowd the Electric Slide.
5. I got a hat (that matched my dress perfectly, BTW), a Tshirt, a keychain, an enormous glass mug, and a free picture of myself and Hannah, the math teacher, who also looked fabulous in her formal dress.
6. I helped Hannah at the post-prom party with the games and prizes, and realized how nice it is to have a best girlfriend who seeks your friendship, help, and opinions, and tells you that you're valued.

Yup. I had a great time at prom.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Cool Fix

This weekend one of my projects has been to go through my 6 years of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazines (I recently let my subscription run out) and tear out the pages featuring recipes I would like to make at some point. The magazines are taking up a whole shelf of my bookcase above my desk, and since I am not in the habit of going through them, I figured it would be more time and space saving if I had just the recipes stored in a binder.
So as I'm going through the magazines this afternoon, I came upon a great tip for fixing makeup that's broken up in its compact.
I recently bought a compact of pressed powder, and upon getting home and opening it, I noticed the powder had become loose (the compact was otherwise intact). I just shoved it in the cabinet and forgot about it.
The tip I discovered today told me to drip rubbing alcohol into the powder until it's softened, and smooth it out with the back of a spoon. Leave it open overnight, and the alcohol will evaporate. Voila! Pressed powder as it should be!
I tried it. It took a lot (several medicine droppers full) of rubbing alcohol, but I was able to smooth the powder out with the spoon. It's now sitting out on my kitchen cupboard, drying.
What a great tip!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Strawberries & Lemon Custard in Meringue

This is one of my very favorite desserts.

Meringue Crust
4 egg whites (reserve the yolks)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie plate. Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until frothy. Slowly add sugar in a slow stream, beating constantly, and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Spread in pie pan over the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides. Bake 1 hour until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

4 reserved egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream, whipped
2 cups sliced strawberries, sweetened to taste

Place yolks in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat, until the mixture is very thick, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Stir occasionally as it cools. Gently stir in half the whipped cream. Spoon into the meringue crust. Refrigerate at least 6 hours.

Spread half of the strawberries over the filling. Spread the remaining whipped cream over the berries. Top with the remaining berries. This pie is best eaten the day it is made.

Serves 8.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Armory

The former administrator of my school (who is also the brother-in-law of one of my high school girlfriends) has started a blog of his own, called The Armory. It features daily devotions (he just went online last night, so there's only one devotion so far) and information about his first book The Hero and the Dragon: Building Christian Character through Fantasy Fiction.
Andrew has asked me to help spread the word about his blog and his book, so click the link and help spread the word yourself!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Baking Today

Today's a baking day. We're making Grandma Schumacher's White Bread and Rolls (not my grandma; it's from a restaurant cookbook) and Irresistable Peanut Butter Cookies from Favorites of the Little Red Hen (a cookbook by my parents' former AAL lady).

White Bread and Rolls
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water
10-11 cups flour
2 eggs, beaten slightly

1. In a large saucepan, heat butter, salt, sugar, and milk over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups cold water.
2. In a small bowl, combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water. Let sit 1 minute.
3. In a large bowl, combine butter mixture and 3 cups flour. Add yeast mixture and eggs, mixing well. Add remaining flour 2 cups at a time, mixing for 1 minute after each addition. Place dough on pastry cloth or floured surface and allow to rest 5 minutes. Knead until smooth, elastic, and small bubbles appear, about 10 minutes.
4. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. Punch down dough; let rise again. Divide into thirds. Shape dough into 3 equal portions. Place in greased 9x5 loaf pans and allow to rise another hour, or until doubled.
5. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans and cool on racks.

To make into cinnamon rolls:
Take one of the portions of dough. Roll out into a large rectangle. Spread with softened butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Starting with the long side, roll up the dough. Cut evenly into rolls (I made 16). Place in a greased baking pan and allow to rise until double. Bake at 375 until golden, about 20 minutes. Glaze while warm and enjoy!

Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup shortening
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl, and beat until well-blended. Add eggs. Beat just until blended. Add dry ingredients and mix until blended. Drop by teaspoonfuls on a cookie sheet and flatten with a fork. Bake 8 minutes until set and just beginning to brown. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet 2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Makes 5-6 dozen.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Soundbytes by Natalie

Recently heard in our house, by my younger daughter...

"Mama, I wanna Skeep (Skype) Daddy"

"Uno, dos, watcho, cinco, joes."

"Mama, I need a yidda help."

"Mama, I thirsty." "Well, we're having supper shortly, and you can have some milk then." "But my foots are freezing!"

The girls watch Dora and Diego when they're visiting their father, and they like to show off their Spanish speaking. This morning, they were arguing over which of them was "arriba" and which was "abajo." (Forgive me my terrible Spanish, if those are wrong. The extent of my Spanish ability, despite 3 years in high school and college, consists of being able to count and the word "peligro" which anyone who watched Sesame Street in the early 80s can tell you means "danger.")

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Life Right Now

Claire was busily sorting out the birth order among myself and my siblings. "Okay, Mom, you're the oldest. And Emily is the...medium-est. And Allison is...a little medium. Who's next? Oh, Andy. He' And Erik's smallish-medium. And Alair's the smallest."
Claire, Natalie, Alair, and Evelyn received a stern talking-to (which is to say, shrieking-at) about the dangers of crossing the road at Mom & Dad's house. Since the weather's nice, they were all playing outside before supper last night. And naturally, where's the ball going to go? ACROSS THE ROAD. So the two little ones start trucking their merry selves to retrieve it. The two big ones come running to the house to get a grownup. I informed them all (loudly) about how to handle this situation in the future. DON'T CROSS THE ROAD WITHOUT A GROWNUP.
I did something (unknown what) to my foot on Sunday and now I'm wearing running shoes for the best support, even to work with my nice khakis. I'm limping and just wishing I could go a couple days without some sort of injury incapacitating me. In the last month I've boiled my hand, yanked a muscle in my back while bowling, and now this.
Maybe I'm just getting old.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Crime in My Kitchen

I am so glad I halved the following recipe. So is my budget, so I won't be stuck buying all new pants after eating them all.
Peanut Butter Balls
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
3 cups Rice Krispies
2-4 cups chocolate chips
Melt peanut butter and butter in a saucepan. In a large bowl, mix Rice Krispies and powdered sugar well. Pour peanut butter mixture over and stir thoroughly. Roll into 1-inch balls and refrigerate until firm. Melt chocolate. Dip the peanut butter balls in the chocolate and refrigerate until set.
Half the recipe, using a tablespoon cookie scoop to make the balls, resulted in 20. I also used a whole package of chocolate chips.
That is all.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Have you ever had an egg mug? This morning I made one for the first time, and wow, what an easy and fast breakfast!
Spray a microwave-safe coffee mug with cooking spray. Crack 2 eggs and a little milk into the mug and beat well with a fork. You'll want to make sure the yolks are broken up.
Microwave on HIGH for 45 seconds, stir, and then microwave another 30-45 seconds until the eggs are set.
You can obviously change this up to suit your tastes, adding salt and pepper, or other seasonings. I cut up a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese (thanks Hungry Girl for this suggestion) and added it before microwaving. You can sprinkle some bacon or sausage or other cheese in it. Just be careful of the proportions, since you've got a rather small container to work with.
I've also read suggestions that say to cook the egg mixture on a saucer, then you've got a perfect, flat egg to make a breakfast sandwich with.
I liked this because of how fast and simple it was. It only took about as long as making a bowl of instant oatmeal, which is the breakfast du jour most days in our house. We like to eat a hot breakfast most often, since I think it stays with you longer and is more satisfying.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Smithsonian Corn Muffins

This is my favorite recipe for corn muffins. It really does come from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. This makes a large amount (36 muffins) but is easy to cut in half. Also, the dry ingredients are measured by weight. This recipe was the reason for me buying a kitchen scale.

12 ounces yellow cornmeal
12 ounces flour
10 ounces white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
24 ounces (3 cups) buttermilk
6 eggs
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup corn, optional

Whisk dry ingredients together.
Combine liquid ingredients.
Add liquid mixture to dry and stir until combined; the mixture should be a bit lumpy.
Spoon into greased muffin cups.
Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

To make a 9x13 pan of cornbread, cut recipe in half and bake for 25 minutes.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

More Goodreads

Well, I have succumbed to not one, but two book crazes. I recently finished reading the Twilight saga, and surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. Yes, it's written for the YA crowd, but this was still good to me. I wasn't so much interested in the supernatural aspects, which is to say, the vampires and werewolves/shape shifters, but the story itself.
See I tend to enjoy stories about journeys, whether physical ones like in The Lord of the Rings or The Dark Tower, or internal ones like, for example, Twilight. Bella starts out as a misfit new girl in school and then falls in love. Her journey, choosing between Edward and Jacob, becoming a mother, and really deciding what's the most important in her life, was fascinating to me.
I'm Team Edward, by the way :)
The other book craze that caught me is The Hunger Games. It's not so much that there's a movie coming out soon, but I've seen several friends on Facebook recommend it, and several members of an online book club I belong to also liked this trilogy. Well, I'm now in the middle of the third installment, and it's such an exciting story.
Katniss lives in a far-distant future North America, where the government rules with an iron fist from the Capitol. There are 12 outlying districts. To prevent another uprising like the one that happened years ago, resulting in the obliteration of a 13th district, the Capitol forces each of the districts to send a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 each year to the Hunger Games, a nationally televised event where the 24 teenagers are locked in an arena, which changes each year, and forced to kill each other, until only one remains. Katniss' younger sister is chosen, so to save her, Katniss volunteers to compete in her place.
It's a violent story, but also compelling. You know Katniss will survive, but how? How will she go on afterwards? Katniss eventually becomes the symbol of national rebellion, reluctantly. I liked the second book, Catching Fire, just as much as the first book. So far, Mockingjay is interesting. I haven't gotten to much action yet, but it's obvious it's coming.
I'm hoping to finish Mockingjay tonight.
I would recommend both of these series to my friends and family who enjoy reading. Even though they're written for a younger audience, I know many people my age and older who have read them all.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Today's busywork

Claire and Natalie are gone until Wednesday on a visit with their father. To keep busy today, I've done the following:
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Change bedding on all 3 beds
  • Wash said bedding
  • Fold and put away laundry
  • Bake brownies for the concession stand at the all-male melodrama in Morristown tonight
  • Vacuum entire downstairs
  • Wash and put away dishes
  • Clean out the girls' dresser and closet
  • Clean out my closet
Tomorrow after church, Bible class, and dinner at Mom & Dad's house, we're going to start a Twilight marathon. My mom and I both recently finished reading the Twilight series (she's Team Jacob, I'm Team Edward) and I bought the first four movies with what remained of my Christmas money. We're going to watch Twilight and New Moon tomorrow afternoon.
I have Monday off for President's Day, so that day I'm planning on mopping the kitchen, cleaning the bathroom, getting all my papers filed, scrubbing the walls where Brinkley "happy tail"-ed all over, and any other cleaning that might occur to me.
I also want to catch up on this season of Grey's Anatomy, which I've been recording on the DVR, and finish Claire's cross stitch bookmark. The evenings get long when Claire and Natalie are gone, so I'm likely to achieve most of this stuff.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Answering Questions

My pastor's daughter recently spent 3 weeks in England. As I was reading about her trip on her blog, she was tagged to answer questions and then ask people more questions. Here are my answers to her questions:

1. Do you write mostly in print or cursive?  Mostly a mish-mash of the two
2. What was your favorite movie as a little kid?  Home Alone
3. If you had three wishes, what would you use them on?  1. To know I wouldn't develop Alzheimer's (or similar) when I get older, 2. To have CVLHS get enough students to remain open indefinitely, and 3. (shallow, I know) to lose all of the baby weight I've gained and not yet lost with Claire and Natalie
4. Who's your favorite LotR character? Eowyn
5. Center or Centre? Center
6. Can you say the alphabet backwards? Yes
7. What's your least favorite song? Any songs by The Cure
8. What book genre is your favorite? It's not specifically a genre, but I love big epics, like The Dark Tower by Stephen King, LOTR by Tolkien, and the like.
9. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Right where I am now.
10. What made you choose your blog's name? My dad would read to us the Old Mother West Wind stories, and one of the "characters" in the stories was The Merry Little Breezes.
11. How many times do you run your dishwasher in a day? My dishwashers are my own two hands, and I try to wash dishes every day, but I don't always succeed.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rite of Passage

I got a text from Claire and Natalie's father this morning that his maternal grandmother had passed away. This was not an unexpected passing; Grandma Joan had suffered from a lung condition (I can't remember what it's called) for the past several years, and she had been on oxygen even before the divorce. Claire and Natalie had gone to see her around Christmastime.
This will be the first funeral the girls will attend. I'm glad they're able to go, since I think it's important for kids to see that death is part of life. I'm expecting to answer a bunch of questions from Claire, and maybe from Natalie, about this. I'm sure their dad will also get lots of questions, and he's usually pretty good about answering them.
I've explained to the girls about heaven and dying before, especially with the death of dogs, and watching Bambi, and other times the discussion has come up. Great-Grandma Joan is the first person they've known who's died, so I don't know how/if this will be any different.
Claire and Natalie will probably be fine at the funeral itself. They've obviously attended church all their lives, and the service, while different, will also likely be a traditional service and follow a liturgy (Great-Grandma was Catholic). The girls know how to sit still (mostly) in church, plus they'll have lots of relatives around which will be good. I wish I'd be there, but I really don't think that would be a good idea. So I'll wait for the girls to come home and hear their thoughts and questions and hope everything goes well. Which it almost certainly will.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Good Reads

I just finished reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is truly one of the greatest books I've had the pleasure of reading. The choice of narrator is nothing short of genius. The narrator was fascinating. The use of foreshadowing is usually something that drives me crazy (do you hear me, Stephen King?), but because of the narrator, it worked.
It also helps that this book takes place during World War II, an era that has always held a particular fascination for me, in nearly every aspect. I've enjoyed books (fiction and non-fiction) about the European Theater, the Pacific Theater, the Holocaust, the Home Front, books from American points of view, German points of view, etc.
Several of the books I've read in the past year have been set during this era. Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff, Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay, and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford are all great books from differing points of view and in different settings. I would recommend all of them to anyone who likes reading.
I wonder, with Stephen King's wild (and often freaky) imagination, how he would write a book set during WWII. It would probably be one of the scariest and interesting WWII books written.
I'm in the middle of re-reading Stephen King's Dark Tower series. I'm halfway through #6, Song of Susannah. I've only read this one, one other time along with the final book The Dark Tower. The Master of Horror has another Dark Tower tie-in coming out in April that takes place between #4 and #5, and I'm really excited for it. I am so glad, for a man who retired in 2004, that he's kept writing and publishing his stories.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Home for Insomniac Children

Last night Claire and Natalie fell asleep pretty easily and were tucked in their beds between 8-8:30 like normal. Natalie woke and called for me some time later, so we cuddled on the sofa and we both fell asleep there. I woke up at 1am and carried her back to bed. She woke a little, fussed a little, I got her to sleep again, but then she woke up at a little after 2am. I tried to get her to fall back asleep by telling her I'd come back in 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc. But around 2:40, I heard her get out of bed (no small feat for her, since she has a full-length bed rail on her bed) and she informed me it was time to get up. Claire was also awake by this point. Since I was exhausted, I tucked them both in with me. But it took them SO long to fall back asleep. Neither was particularly impressed when I got them out of bed at 6:15 this morning.
Claire is learning the verse with the fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22, 23. This one is challenging to remember all of the said fruits.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.
Natalie is learning 1Thessalonians 5:16, 17. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.
Now that we know where Claire is going to attend school next year, I've started telling her more about it. Right now, the part that excites her is riding the bus with Alair. I'll be driving her to school in the morning, since I'll be dropping Natalie off at day care the same as always, and I drive past North Morristown on my way to work. But Claire will take the bus home to Dama and Bapa's house in the afternoons with Alair. "And I'll do that every day, right? Except for Saturday and Sunday?" Otherwise, "school" is still a fairly abstract concept for her.
Claire does enjoy watching Alair do her worksheets in the afternoons, and we have a couple of little workbooks for her, and she gets a real kick out of doing them. She is very eager to learn to read, and is constantly asking me "what does this letter say?" "What's this word?" Claire's writing is also coming along by leaps and bounds. She is able to write almost all her letters, and they are quite legible.
It will really be a new experience when Claire starts kindergarten for all of us. Claire, obviously, will be in her new environment and learning all kinds of new things. But Natalie will be on her own at day care, and that might take some getting used to for her. Natalie has always had Claire around, and to have that change will probably be difficult at first. I know they'll adjust, since they've adjusted to everything else, but it will take some time and undoubtedly try my patience for a few weeks!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

I am so glad that regular TV is back. No more re-runs or boring filler shows. Castle (my favorite TV show. Ever.) is back tonight. American Idol starts sometime this month, and then "Dancin' And The Stars" (as Claire calls it) comes back in the spring. I've finished watching season 7 of Grey's Anatomy from Netflix and will be catching up on all the season 8 episodes I've recorded on the DVR.
Claire memorized the entire 23rd Psalm in December, and now we're working on Luke 11:9 Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.
Natalie is now insisting on having her memory work, too, so last night we learned Psalm 100:1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
The discussion has been had, financial compromises have been made, and Claire is going to be enrolled at Trinity Lutheran School at North Morristown! I am so excited. This was a long-dreaded discussion, and it was really heated at times, but we've got it sorted out. I am thrilled that Claire will get to go to school with Alair (they are BFFs after all) and they will do just great there.
Life is pretty good :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Just a Couple of Resolutions

So apart from the obvious, cliched resolutions to exercise, lose weight, and save more money (all of which I do hope to accomplish this year), here are my resolutions for 2012:
* Read all the books on my TBR (to be read) shelf. I have about 48 books on this shelf. This is just books in paper edition. I don't really want to think about all the books that are TBR that are on my Nook. That will be a resolution for another year.
* Make at least one new recipe each week. Once upon a time in my former life, this would not have been a resolution. Because it was a rare week that I didn't use several new recipes. But now, that I'm cooking for just myself and the girls, I tend to go with tried-and-true. I will still have much that is tried-and-true this year, but maybe I can try out all the new recipes I've been printing off, and all the cookbooks to be tested.
* I would also like to stay more on top of my housekeeping tasks, like getting laundry folded and put away more quickly, and not letting dishes stack up too often. But if these fall by the wayside, so be it.