Friday, October 30, 2009

Soccer Update

It's the night before the last day.

The boys are all tucked into bed and - presumably - sleeping, in anticipation of being out the door by 7:10am, on our way to the first soccer game of the last day.

It's cold.

It's pouring.

And it's really, really windy.

And if I think of anything else to whine about, you'll be the first to know.

Lord Have Mercy

I gave the boys a few caramels for dessert.

Wyatt stuck his together, put one end in his mouth, and began chewing slowly with the other end sticking out of his lips.

Tate immediately began to snort and giggle.  I think tears were actually coming out of his eyes.

Wyatt!  It looks like you have a turd in your mouth!

Wyatt jumped up and ran from the table... to the bathroom, to look in the mirror.

Because, really, who could pass up the chance to see what you look like with a turd in your mouth.

*eyes roll*

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Last. Soccer. Practice.

Yes.  The last soccer practice of the year.  (Yippee!)

Why am I celebrating?  I mean, I'm not the one that has to go run around for an hour and a half, when it's 42F and raining.

Exhibit A:  Wyatt, before practice.

Exhibit B:  Wyatt after practice.
From the front...

... and from the back.

He got the "Muddiest Boy at Practice" award -
a candy bar from the coach.

I'm living in a Tide commercial.

That will be all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Storm Clouds

First snow on the hills around the lake.

The days are shorter and the nights darker. 

Summer nights, here, never seem to get completely dark.  A little bit of bluish twilight seems to hang on all night.  But no more.

A storm rolled in yesterday.  Well, it had been raining on and off all day, but around 5pm it got dark.  Really dark.  Rain, hail, thunder and lightning.  Tate's 5:30 soccer practice was - thankfully - cancelled.  Even if there hadn't been lightning, it was getting too dark to see.

As I drove several miles north, to a rehearsal, I finally got out from under it.  I didn't take the photo below, but it was a dramatic difference, like this:

But here's the weird thing...  the bottom of the cloud looked kind of like this:

Only a lot darker and nastier.  Yes, I turned that photo upside down on purpose!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Summer Chili

I'm not on a mission to use my crock-pot everyday, (like Crockpot 365), but it does seem to be getting a work-out at my house lately.

I think soccer madness has a lot to do with it. Take Thursday... Gunnar had practice at 4:30, Wyatt at 5:00, and Tate at 5:30. By the time we got them all back home it was going on 7! And it's not like I have a lot of time to make dinner in the evening, with three drop-offs and three pick-ups.

So... I made Summer Chili. Here's what you do:

1 small-to-average onion - chop
1 or 2 cloves garlic - mince
1 to 2 t olive oil

Cook the onion and garlic in the oil on the stove-top until it's all tender. I like the onion just starting to brown. Add

1 - 2 cups chicken broth

Except, I cooked a turkey last week, so I used turkey broth. Whatever.
It will probably look kind of like this.

Season with

2 t chili powder
1 t cumin
pinch black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
1 T honey

Okay, for my ultra-non-spicy family we adjust this. Do what you like.
While that simmers, prepare...

1 to 2 C dark red kidney beans - I used canned; drain and rinse.
2 - 3 stalks celery - chop
2 -3 carrots - chop
2 -3 C summer squash and zucchini - chop
1 red or green pepper (or both) - chop
2 C mushrooms - slice
1/2 - 1 C tomato - chop or crushed
1 can tomato sauce - small can for thicker chili, large can for more "soupy" chili

Put it all in the crock-pot. It will look something like this. (The beans are underneath.)

Pour in (carefully!) the onion/garlic/broth/seasoning mixture and stir it all up.

Turn on the crock-pot and forget about it until dinner.

* I put mine together in the morning and left it on low for about 8 hours. You could probably half that and cook it on high. Or cook it on the stove-top (higher heat) for a couple hours.

* I used lots of broth and a large can of tomato sauce to make mine more soupy, and served it with cornbread. We love to throw the cornbread right into the bowl of soup. Because we're classy, like that.

* Now that I look at the pictures, I think I added corn, too.

* I used a large (5Qt) crock-pot. If you have a smaller one, adjust the amounts of veggies.

Yes, the recipe is rather vague. I've used winter squash in the winter and varied the amounts of just about everything. Sometimes I add meat (cook it with the onion and garlic). You can't go far wrong. :0)

Simple Woman #33

FOR TODAY October 26, 2009

Outside my window... Good thing I took those leaf pictures last week because after the wind and rain we've had, the dogwood is nearly bare. Sometimes the branches shake and catch my eye, and I see a squirrel or a blue jay. (Okay, if you're a purist, they're really stellar jays, but they're blue and they're jays, so we call them blue jays.)

I am thinking... soon, soon, turkeys will go on sale, and I will buy two. Or three. At least. And fill my freezer with turkey pot pies.

I am thankful for... work keeps trickling in for Kerry,( and we keep praying for more.) To God be the glory.

I am praying for... Wyatt and my brother and sister to stay healthy for their trip, and my Aunt Myrna, recovering from pneumonia.

I am wearing... well, duh... my "winter uniform"... blue jeans, t-shirt, sweater, wool socks.

I am going... in circles?

I am reading... still reading "Little House on the Prairie" with the boys, and reviewing a book that a friend of mine is writing. Exciting!

I am hoping... for one more Saturday without rain. Pleeeeaaaaaase!

I am hearing... clothes flopping around in the dryer. Too cold and damp for the clothesline. Darn.

I am remembering... sweating in our summer heat wave and wishing for cool fall days.

From the learning rooms... King Charles I lost his head, working with ratios and rates in math, two eggs soaking in vinegar - testing the effects of flouride toothpaste, spider-webs going up on the walls, and the famous (Leutze) painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware to discuss for art.

Around the house... lots of leftovers in the kitchen (which is good), piles of clean laundry in the laundry-room (which is half good... when they're put away, then it'll be all good), and in the living room, a basket full of fall books, like The Spider and the Fly, One Dark Night, and a perpetual family favorite, The Runaway Pumpkin, because we all like to say, "Thumpety-bumpety, thumpin' bumpin', round and roly, runaway pumpkin!"

On my mind... we found a chair for the desk :0) Well, it almost fits. It's about a quarter of an inch too wide. But that's nothing Kerry can't fix with a saw and sandpaper.

Noticing that... the days are getting really short. Still dark when we have breakfast at 7am, and dark again by about 6pm. I love changing seasons.

Pondering these words... A friend (who?) of Hudson Taylor's encouraged him with these words. "Not a striving to have faith or to increase our faith, but a looking at the Faithful One seems all we need." Trying to keep my focus in the right place :0)

One of my favorite things... Handel's Messiah.

A few plans for the rest of the week... the last soccer practices of the season. Hallelujah!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

The sunrise, Sunday morning, taken from the boys' bedroom window.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Vocabulary

Oh my.

I think Gunnar learned a bad word.

At least he thinks he did.

I could hear him arguing with Wyatt and then Gunnar came stomping out into the living room with storm-clouds over his head and gave me stink-eye. With all the self-righteous anger he could summon, he announced:

Wyatt is a BUSTER!

Me - Um, Gunnar, what is a buster?

A really mean person who never keeps his word!

I'm trying not to laugh, because I'm sure there are at least two little savages who need some wise parental discipline.

And I'm wondering if he made that up himself, or if he actually did hear a bad word and he's mispronouncing it.

But I don't want to ask.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Two Weeks

Two weeks. From today.

My oldest will be going on a trip.

Without me.

You may, or may not, have noticed little Stitch relentlessly marching across the Pirates of the Caribbean 'ticker', on the sidebar.

We've been counting down since he found out.

And here's the thing:

Swine Flu is everywhere. At church, in the soccer teams, at the grocery store.

And I'm not paranoid about it. We've probably all been exposed, and we may get it. And we're generally healthy so I'm not all freaked.

But, please do me a favor.

Please pray for Wyatt, and my brother and sister, that they'll all be healthy for their trip.



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Morning Thoughts

The boys are allowed to come into our bedroom in the morning for a snuggle, if they want. It's kind of a little boy thing, although Wyatt will occasionally come sit on the foot of the bed if he wants to talk about something.

Gunnar comes almost every morning. He wiggles down under the covers and is like a little furnace. He'll lay (lie?) there quietly for a few moments, and then he'll say something. The first thing out of his mouth in the morning could be anything. I love this about little boys.

These are actual "first words" of the morning:

Mom, want to hear three amazing things about the octopus?

Mom, where do potatoes grow?

Mom, mornings are the bestest times!
(Me, feeling all warm and cozy, thinking this boy is referring to the snuggle time, but no... he continues...) Because I get to have Grape-Nuts, milk, and brown sugar! I love Grape-Nuts, milk, and brown sugar!

Mom! Veggie Tales are all food! Talkin' food! (Yes, well, hence the name.)

Mom, do you know how flies taste? (Fear and disgust fill my mind.) With their feet!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Catching Spiderwebs

Dewy, foggy fall mornings are the best time to capture spiderwebs, because the dew makes them visible and easier to find.

Here we are with our materials.
You will need:
dark construction paper
white flour
something to spray

We've usually just used a mister with water, but hair-spray (sticky!) or white spray-paint (also sticky) works great. Watch the overspray...

When you find a web you want to collect, spray it. If you're not using something sticky, be sure to get it thoroughly wet.

Carefully slide a piece of construction paper behind the spiderweb and slowly pull it toward you.
It helps to bow the paper a bit, toward the web, so the web drapes over the paper.

Quickly, while the web is still wet, sprinkle a little bit of flour on it, and gently shake it around.

Here are some of our finished products!

Simple Woman #32

Simple Woman

FOR TODAY October 19, 2009

Outside my window... still beautiful fall leaves, but there are less and less of them. The grass is green again (after going brown for the summer), and covered with red and yellow leaves. Foggy this morning... might be a good day to go collect spider webs.

I am thinking... how much I love this time of year.

I am thankful for... two more weeks of soccer, two more weeks of soccer, two more weeks of soccer... and a warm, dry house that doesn't leak, so I can sit smugly inside and watch the rain - bucket-loads of rain. Rain so loud we woke up in the night to listen to it. So much rain falling we couldn't see across the lake. Which may help you understand why I'm so thankful we have just two more weeks of soccer. :0)

I am praying for... friends in Africa (missionaries) with flu in the house.

From the learning rooms... we've just started our "All Saint's Day" devotions, leading up to Halloween All Saint's Day. We're studying India this week, and the Taj Mahal, as well as all the usual... What a great coincidence that one of our saints/missionaries is Amy Carmichael, who served in India.

From the kitchen... Ha! Kerry is making dinner tonight, for himself and the boys, as I will be OUT. I'm guessing the menu will probably feature something from the "Top Ramen" family.

I am wearing... jeans, purple hoody, thick socks

I am creating... more science experiments.

I am going... to Moms In Touch today.

I am reading... "Little House on the Prairie" with the boys. They love it, even though it's about girls. Gunnar said, "Mom. It's okay because they're not girly-girls, and adventures happen to them." Like traveling in a covered wagon, and being surrounded by enormous wolves, and almost being washed away while crossing a creek that was more of a river. So that's all okay.

I am hoping... to find a chair for the desk I got for the boys' room. Looking for a small chair, probably wood (ie "paint-able") that will fit into a 16" opening.

I am hearing... Wyatt blowing into a piece of PVC pipe. He claims that he and a neighbor boy are communicating with Morse Code. Right.

I am remembering... Still need to get some craft projects organized and moving forward.

Around the house... New batches of books from the library, and a basketful of seasonal books I set out for the boys, (mostly) clean bedrooms and bathrooms, and my "pumpkin spice" candle, half burned.

On my mind... we are getting closer to Wyatt's Disneyland trip. Excitement is building!

Noticing that... if you don't know us IRL, let me remind you that Wyatt is oldest, then Tate, and then Gunnar. Wyatt is barely taller than Tate and for the last couple of years Tate has out-weighed him, much to his chagrin. Well, with Wyatt's recent gains and Tate losing (I think about 8 pounds!) in the hospital... I weighed them the other day and Wyatt is a good five pounds heavier than Tate.

Oh my.

I think in his (Wyatt's) view, the world is now back on its axis.

Pondering these words... "Having boys is just God's opinion that your house is too neat." *sigh*

One of my favorite things... autumn evenings, after dinner, reading stories together in the living room.

A few plans for the rest of the week... oh heavens... Wyatt and Tate both have Dr appointments and ortho appointments, MIT, soccer practices, soccer games, AWANA, piano lesson... and I need to get to WalMart. Don't hate me, I love WalMart.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

Yes, I posted a picture of this same tree, just down a few posts. But the lighting was so dramatic, I had to take another one.

We had rain, yesterday. Buckets and buckets of rain. It was a monsoon.

And, of course, it was soccer day...

Sunday, October 18, 2009


You would think my boys lived in isolation if you saw how excited they get when company is coming. Good grief. It could be someone we see frequently... or not. Doesn't matter. And we have company pretty regularly, so I don't know why they get so giddy.

Maybe it's because they have a fresh audience for all their silliness. (There's something to be said for the old, "children should be seen but not heard"...)

So we had company last night. Actually, overnight. Two missionaries - young guys, therefore "cool" in the eyes of the boys. By the time they arrived I had already put the boys to bed. Gunnar and Tate have little resistance to the warm comfort of their bunks, but Wyatt - I suspect - kept himself awake, listening for their arrival.

And as he waited, squirreling around and looking out his window, he noticed some other visitors...

One was resting on a branch, like a fat little bear,

and these two were trying to decide whether to go up higher to find a sleeping place, or if all the lights being shined on them were just too annoying...

Our human visitors...

arrived just in time to see the wildlife and take the photos for us :0)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blitz-It Friday

One of the nicest things about blogging is meeting new friends. I've "met" several other moms of Deaf/HoH kids, and a lot of learning and encouragement goes back and forth :0)

I've "met" other friends with great ideas and fun humor. One of them blogs about homeschooling, family, life in general, and - something else that's near and dear to my heart - being organized. One of her tips is a Friday Blitz, and with not much school work to do today, the boys and I blitzed :0)

We started in their bedroom, which wasn't too bad, because I wanted their dressers cleaned off (mostly) and wanted a quick success to encourage us all. Here they are with their tidy dressers. Soccer trophies and models get to stay... for now.

This end of the room wasn't too bad either, but they've straightened up their beds and the tubs of stuff underneath.

Here's where we had our work cut out for us... the Family Room. They call it the play room, and you can see what happens after a busy week or two. Sometimes it gets so bad I don't even want to look in there.

Books, blankets, toys, CD's, games.... all in a heap.

And so much stuff piled in the closet, and on the floor, that it was hard to put anything away properly.

But when we all got down to it, it only took about a half an hour to get things organized. The futon is upright, with blankets folded...

... the book are back on the shelves, CD's neatly stacked by the player, and the games are in the cupboard...

... the books are all tidied up...

... and I can go in the closet without a nervous breakdown...

... all the way to the back corner, with the vacuum stowed after Wyatt went over the floor.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Re-Weirds of Parenting #5

Tate asked me to put this on the blog.

It's the boy and his sandwich.

First of all, let me note that there were other things on his plate. Healthful things like carrots and apple slices, that he had already eaten. Just so you know. (Because I need for you to know that.)

And then there's his sandwich. He prefers creamy peanut butter and honey, open-face.

Which he accessorizes. With goldfish crackers, when we have them.

Then he carefully eats the crust off, all the way around.

And the bumpy part, in the middle? Saving the best for last. He scrapes a mound of pb&h into the middle and stands a few fish in it for good measure.

I did not teach him this.

In other news...

Gunnar has discovered product. He got rained on at soccer practice, and had no time for a shower before AWANA. Not a problem.

"Mom, I want my hair to look like I was electrocuted!"

Except he says it, "electric-shooted," which always cracks me up, so I don't correct him. I think he got it from Tate, so it may be a HoH thing.

"So, you got any sticky stuff for my hair?"

And just for the record, it was not Crazy Hair Night, because we already had that. It was Yellow Night. But my boy is confident and secure in his appearance, and off he went.

Out My Window

It's cloudy today and these would be more beautiful in the sunlight, but by the time the sun shines again the leaves may all be gone, so here you go :0)

The dogwood out my office window

The ??? tree behind the house

Do you know what this is? I've been told it's a pecan tree, which wouldn't be native here. It doesn't get any nuts. But I love it, especially in the fall. It makes me think of the Lord of the Rings, when they visit the woodland elves that live in the trees. :0)

The Boys of Science

Okay, honestly, home schooling isn't always exactly a bed of roses. That could qualify for the "Understatement of the Century Contest", if there were such a thing.

But today was good. Today we were in the groove. So, I bring you our adventures with carbon.

We began with A Feast for Yeast, the classic yeast/sugar/warm water in a bottle, experiment.

Talked about yeast being a living organism (a fungus), and how it eats the sugar and gives off carbon dioxide, just like we do. While it did its thing we also talked about the carbon cycle and moved on to the different forms of carbon.

Using the pictures in our book as a guide, we attempted to make models of the carbon atoms in different forms. The pictures, however, are somewhat cartoonish, so our models may not be 100% accurate.


This is the carbon in your pencil "lead". The atoms are spread out in flat sheets that can slide around.


We couldn't tell very well from the picture exactly what the 3D structure was supposed to look like, but we're pretty sure it begins like this. Looking online later, we found a better representation. We were on the right track...

The carbon atoms are all connected, making diamonds very strong.

And, lastly, we bring you the rare and elusive

Our materials wouldn't hold the soccer-ball shape we were going for, so we settled for a partial model of the buckyball, but here's a cool one we found online.

Wyatt thought that draping it over his face would help give it the curved surface area he was trying for!

We didn't bother trying to make a model of the carbon found in charcoal because it's basically disorganized.

Well, maybe we did. When we put the pieces back in the box!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Projects and Blue Paint

Don't ask me. Maybe it's genetically programmed. All three of my boys play defense (at soccer.) Oh, they'll happily play offense, if asked, but defense is their forte. They all take it quite personally when the opposing team scores. (Still working on that "this is a team" concept...) But they take their responsibility on the field very seriously.

Tate proudly wears this, which we made together, to practice:

My other project is this:

a Craigslist find for the boys' room. I'm hopeful that it will help Wyatt be less distracted and able to work more independently. And that I can have my table back in my office for projects.

Still looking for a small chair that will fit into the 16" opening under the desk...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I'm pretty sure there's a Calvin and Hobbes books called "The Days are Just Packed". Well, that's how I feel lately. I know that soccer has a lot to do with it, and there are three more weeks. Hallelujah. I love it for the boys' sake, but I love when it ends :0) What makes me really nuts is that, since the (wonderful, generous, talented) coaches are all volunteers, most of the practices are in the early evening, when they get off work. In other words, right at dinner time.

The combination of all our comings and goings and the fall weather sends me running for my crock pot, so I'm stepping into new territory here and posting a recipe. (Don't faint. This one doesn't have hot dogs in it.)

You know how when you have a new baby your friends, your really good friends, will bring you dinner? Well, my friend Dee Dee brought this to me. Oh. My. So good and so easy.

So dig out your crock pot, and get ready. Here's what you do:

Beef Stroganoff

* 2 1/2 # Boneless Beef Top Round, trim fat, cut into 2" pieces

But here's the great thing about a crock pot: you can use just about any cut of meat and it will come out tender and delicious. Grampa Grasshopper hunts and we often use venison or elk instead of beef.

* 3 little cans mushrooms

Seriously? Canned mushrooms? Do people use those? I use fresh.

* 1 medium onion, halved and sliced or chopped
* 1 T beef boullion
* 3/4 t pepper
* 1/8 t nutmeg

Yes, nutmeg. With meat. Do it.

Combine, mix well, cover, cook in crock pot on low, 7-9 hours.

15 minutes before serving, mix:
* 1/2 C sour cream
*1/4 C flour
Blend well, then add:
* 1/3 C hot liquid from slow cooker
Mix well, add to beef mixture in slow cooker.

Cover and cook 10 more minutes (or so) to thicken.

Serve over noodles, or rice, or in pita bread.

Seriously, your mouth will thank you. Go, make this. It's what's for dinner.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Simple Woman #31

October 12, 2009

Outside my window... rain is forecast, but I have a perfect fall day out my window :0) Frost this morning, trees scattered across the "ROY" end of the ROY G BIV spectrum, (see my red dogwood in the photo above), and - once again - laundry on the line. Though the temps were below freezing this morning (maybe it will freeze-dry?) I have faith that the clothes will eventually dry. :0) Every time I hang a load out I find myself wondering if it's the last load to go on the line for this year. I love the way my clothes and sheets bring in the fresh, outdoor smell.

I am thinking... that I'd love to just cancel school and play today, but after taking two days off last week I'd probably better not.

I am thankful for... a good time yesterday with friends. We invited another family over for lunch, kind of last-minute. Their kids are all younger than ours, but that was just fine. Gunnar, especially, loves little kids. All the kids (except their baby - so cute!) played outside quite a bit. We live on a corner and although there's not much traffic I reminded my boys to keep an eye on the littler ones and keep them out of the street. "Don't worry, Mom," Gunnar assured me, "I adore Steele and Adia!" And Xochi, too.

I am praying for... a time warp, so I can get everything done. *sigh*

From the learning rooms... look at the post below and you can see the school room... before we started school for the day!

From the kitchen... beef stroganoff in the crock-pot. My mouth will be watering all. day. long.

I am wearing... jeans, layers, thick socks. Loving fall :0)

I am going... staying home today, except to run Tate down the hill to soccer and back. Wyatt to a check-up tomorrow. And the library. I really need to get to the library.

I am reading... Little House in the Big Woods with the boys, Keep A Quiet Heart for myself.

I am hoping... the rain holds off until the end of soccer season. Ha ha ha ha ha.

I am hearing... the boys playing pirates again. I don't know how he does it, but I've gotta tell you, Gunnar does this voice that sounds just like Bobcat Goldthwaite did in the movie Scrooged.
I don't know where he came up with it, but it's his pirate voice.

Around the house... fall decoration (pics a few posts down), boys and legos, candles, pumpkins (thanks Gramma and Grampa!), and laundry comin' out my ears. Kerry "let" the boys help him with a project yesterday that involved fiberglass. That resulted in boys coming into the house repeatedly saying, "I'm itchy!", throwing all their clothes into the wash and taking a shower. Multiple times. You'd think somebody would learn...

On my mind... Christmas. Well, presents, specifically. And how to manage that this year.

Noticing that... the quiet(er) noises of boys playing happily are escalating, so it's time to wrap this up.

Pondering these words... Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts. Wendell Berry

One of my favorite things... fall, fall, fall!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

From the hike :0)