Friday, September 22, 2006

Smarty Pants

A few weeks ago, I was cleaning the bathtub, and I'd asked Evenstar to stay on the carpet in the hallway because of the chemical smell. Well she crossed the line several times and stepped on the tile floor. I reminded her that she needed to stay on the carpet until Mommy was done. Then she turned the light off, which also required stepping into the bathroom on the "hard floor" (how we sometimes distinguish between the carpet and tile). I asked her, "Did you obey Mommy?" "Noooooo." "Did you step on the hard floor?" "Yeeeesss." "Well, then mommy has to give you a spanking because you did not obey." After a little spanking, I went back to finish the tub, and I heard her moving something around near the doorway. I turned around and she had put her stool (which had been in her room) just inside the bathroom door and was climbing on it. "Evenstar..." I started to say. "I'm on the stool. I not on the hard floor!" she quickly countered. AGGGHHHH! She's too young to be thinking this way!!!! The stool was put away and I explained that she was still on the hard floor even if she was on the stool.

Finally, she decided that she might as well give up on the hard floor and went to play in her room. She called me to come see what she was doing, and I found her trying to climb over the side of her bed, which is just her crib converted to a toddler day bed. Since the sides are quite high, I told her that wasn't safe because she might fall, so she needed to get down now. She thought for a second and then said, "Mommy you go back to the bathroom." As if to say, "Nevermind, you just pretend this didn't happen, and I'll do what I want!" Needless to say, she didn't get away with that reasoning either! She got down off her bed.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Negligent blogger & other news

It's been almost a month since I've posted. So much for my short-lived attempt at structure! But I do have excuses, good ones, in fact.

First of all, I'm about 2 1/2 months pregnant with baby #2 (and I'm too tired to think of a more creative way to announce that). Although I've not really had any nausea, I am soooooooo tired. I drag myself through the week only to take 2 hours naps and get 8-10 hours of sleep on Saturday and Sunday so that I can feel halfway normal. I think I'm also having trouble eating enough protein because I feel a bit more alive (for a few hours) when I've eaten a high-protein meal. I'm working on improving my protein intake, but it's not so easy because I don't like eggs and don't usually eat a lot of meat for both lunch and dinner. But I'm working on it. Since the end of the first trimester is only a few weeks away, maybe the fatigue will dissipate on its own.

Second, my allergies are really bad this year. Even though the pollen counts have supposedly fallen in my area, I still can't venture far from my kleenex box. Sinus problems bring their own kind of fatigue, which only adds to what is inherent with pregnancy.

Grandma and Grandpa have returned to the South, so my work schedule and babysitting line-up is a bit more hectic. It just takes that much more energy to get Evenstar and myself out the door by 7:40 am, and even then I'm late for work because there is construction along every major route I take. We miss Grandma and Grandpa - not just because of good babysitting, but because it's just nice to have them around! Hopefully another grandchild will encourage them to stay in the North longer next year; in fact, I think they're already planning that.

So there are my futile excuses. Now a brief description of some of the things I could have blogged about...

One morning a few weeks ago, Evenstar walked out of her room with a book and sadly commented, "I can't read this all by myself." To which I replied, "Well, you have to learn sounds and letters and how they make words, and then you can read. Would you like to learn that?" She brightened up a bit and said, "Yes! Mommy, you teach me?" Ahhhhh, isn't that a beautiful thing, to have a child want to read and to have the privilege of teaching her? I know it will take time, but we already plan to homeschool, so teaching reading is just part of the preparation, as far as I'm concerned. Leading one's children to Christ must be the greatest honor for a Christian parent to experience, but I'm sure teaching a child to read ranks pretty high on the list of "Most Valuable Achievements" too.

Evenstar is quite intrigued with the idea of a baby in Mommy's tummy. She announces the fact randomly and in a variety of settings (none too embarassing yet), but a couple of weeks ago, she followed "Mommy has a baby in her tummy!" with "The baby's going to say, 'Knock, knock, I want to come out!'" She said it so matter of factly that Turk and I just burst out laughing, not knowing where she had come up with that idea, especially since it's not too far from the truth. I checked with the babysitter with whom she had spent the previous day to see if they had discussed the baby coming out, but, no, it's an Evenstar original, and a story that will no doubt become a family legacy.

In other news, the thesis is really almost done now. I spent a whole weekend (about 16 hours over 3 days) at the end of August revising the second half and rewriting the concluding chapter. I only have a few minor revisions to do before I can hand it over to a final proofreader. It is such a relief to have the end of that project truly within sight. It's not that I don't enjoy the studying, deep thoughts, and writing - I really do! But my study skills have not adapted well to having children. I still need long stretches of quiet, uninterrupted time to actually accomplish anything. It takes me a while to get in an academic frame of mind, so if I only have an hour or two, it's just not worth the trouble of starting. I'm sure a good deal of this procrastination is due to the fact that my time is limited because of working and trying to maintain some sort of home life. I've taken a good number of vacation days over the past two years just to work on this thesis because I really had to put the day job aside as well as find the peace and quiet at home to be able to focus.

I still have one directed readings course to finish, which consists of reading 3,000 pages (probably 8-10 books) and writing an annotated bibliography of each book. That won't be as difficult to accomplish as the thesis, though it is still a challenge to find the time to read. I hope to be done with this Master's degree (M.A. in Historical Theology) by December or at the latest next spring before the baby arrives.

By the way, the baby is due April 7th, which is the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. I think it will be significant to give birth during the Passion Week or around Easter, since that is a time to remember our new birth in Christ. Perhaps we will be able to name this baby something pertaining to the resurrection. We'll see. Names are always quite a challenge for us to agree upon. We've had a few discussions already, but have pretty much decided not to spend too much time on it until we (hopefully) know the baby's gender around mid-November. We aren't the type to keep those things secret, so stay tuned for further news.

Well, this post is far too long already. What I lack in frequency, I'll make up for in long-windedness!

Monday, August 14, 2006

MMMMMMMMMMMMMondays!

As promised...

CHOCOLATE COBBLER

6 T butter
1 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 T Dutch cocoa
1/2 c. milk
1 T vanilla
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. Dutch cocoa
1 1/2 c. boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in 9x13 pan in preheated oven. In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, 1/2 c. sugar, 1 1/2 T cocoa, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Spoon batter over butter. DO NOT MIX. Mix 1 c. sugar and 1/4 c. cocoa, and sprinkle over batter. Pour boiling water over all. DO NOT MIX. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

This is one of the quickest, easiest desserts to throw together, and I almost always have all the ingredients on hand. Not only that, it is a chocolate lovers dream, because the butter, sugar, cocoa and water form a thick rich pudding on the bottom, and the batter bakes into a moist brownie-like cake above. MMMMMMMMM!!! When you need a chocolate fix, this is it!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday: Shower Drain Clogs

This is so simple that I'm almost hesitant to post it, but since it really does work for me, and I have no better ideas today, here goes...

Warning: If you are grossed out by descriptions of hair in places other than on one's head, you might want to skip this, but if you'd rather not pull those nasty gobs of hair out of your drain, read on. I didn't try to get a picture of this little trick for obvious reasons!

I think every woman with any length of hair probably deals with shower drain issues. The stuff just falls out, particularly when you're washing it. When my husband started complaining of the tub draining slowly a few months after we got married, and then exclaimed in disgust as he cleaned gobs of hair out of the drain, I knew I had to come up with a solution.

Most of my hair falls out as I'm washing and rinsing it, so it ends up on my hands. The easy thing to do, of course, is to simply rinse it off under the shower spray. But I've found that it only takes a few seconds to gather that hair off my hands and put it in a little pile on the corner of the tub. Then when I'm done, it's only a quick swipe to gather it all up and deposit it in the trash. Thereby, reducing the need to clean the drain to once a year or so instead of every few months. It works for me, and keeps hubby happy too!

Be sure to check out other great ideas at Rocks in My Dryer!

Monday, August 07, 2006

MMMMMMMMMondays!

Here's another attempt at more structure to develop a habit of posting more regularly.

I love to bake. I've decided that I would rather just not bother with other more utilitarian cooking endeavors and devote my time in the kitchen to baking. Yesterday I made a so-so soup, but tonight, I made a scrumptious cobbler. I'm not just tooting my own horn; everyone who's tasted this recipe, even my nephew who doesn't like blueberries, has declared, "MMMMMMMM!!! That's really good!" So I figure I might as well stick with what I do well, which is baking. My family can manage to subsist on quesedillas, burgers, and brats, as long as we have a good dessert now and then. And I'll post my favorite recipes here on Mondays (here's where the structure comes in!). I do have a few good soup & entree recipes, but I imagine most of what I share will be baked goods - 'cause that's what I'm good at.

So without further ado...

MAGIC BLUEBERRY COBBLER

2 c fresh blueberries
2 T. lemon juice
---------------
3 T. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
1 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
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1/2 c. sugar
1 T cornstarch (heaping)
1/2 t. salt
---------------
1 c. boiling water

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 square pan. Spread blueberries in the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle with lemon juice. In medium bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in separate bowl, then add to butter/sugar mixture alternately with milk; mix until batter is smooth. Spread batter carefully over blueberries in pan. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt, and sprinkle dry mixture over batter in pan. Pour boiling water over all. Do not stir. Bake for 45-50 minutes. If top begins to brown too much, loosely place a piece of foil over top of the pan for the last 15 minutes or so.

Variations: Slice 1-2 fresh peaches over top of blueberries before spreading batter. Reduce boiling water to 3/4 c. to compensate for juice from peaches. I LOVE the blueberry-peach combination!

Hint: I tried doubling this recipe in a 9x13 pan and it took at least 30 minutes longer to cook. It was still delicious, but you'd want to factor in that extra time, and it definitely needed the foil cover for that last half hour.

Let me know if you try this and like it or if you come up with any other creative variations!

Stay tuned next week for either Chocolate Cobbler or Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cheesecake.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Works for Me Wednesday: Curling Iron Quick Press

I need a little more structure in my life, or at least my blog, so I'm going to try participating in some of the weekly linked postings. Today will be my first attempt at Works For Me Wednesday, created by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.

I enjoy ironing, really I do, but only if I have lots of time to do it perfectly and nothing else more pressing (pun intended, sorry!). But I don't like to pull out the ironing board, set up the iron, wait for it to heat, wait for it to cool down, and put it all away. If I could just leave everything out, I'd probably have a much more polished appearance. But I don't have room, and polished is not a term I've ever heard applied to myself!

As it is, I'm generally comfortable with a few wrinkles. However, I really don't like it when the plackets of shirts don't lay flat, and they never seem to come out of the dryer in wash-n-wear shape. So I've discovered a quick fix. A well-heated curling iron will work wonders on a crumpled shirt placket. Just place the placket in the curling iron and slide the iron slowly down the length of the shirt two or three times. You have to be a little careful on the side with buttons, because you wouldn't want to melt plastic buttons, but repositioning the curling iron between buttons is a lot less trouble than dragging out the whole ironing board! If the collar of the shirt just isn't laying quite right, you can fix that with the curling iron, too. I've mostly used this trick with 100% cotton shirts, so you might need to test it on the hem of a synthetic or silk shirt to be sure the temperature of the curling iron wasn't too hot. But all in all, it's a quick way to shape up my wardrobe! It works for me!

Find more great tips today at Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Potty Talk Part II

I highly recommend the "cold turkey" method of potty training. The first day was exhausting - I lost count of how many wet panties we had around number 14 or 15 - but the next day we had less than half of that, and most of them were only a few drops, not full floods. Now after 9 days at this, we still are not completely accident free, but we're making good progress. I still put a diaper on her for nap and nighttime, but at least 50% of the time, she's keeping it dry for her 2-3 hour nap.

I have also learned that a 28-month-old is also quite capable of using her powers of manipulation in ways as varied as only going a little bit every 10 minutes or so in order to get more treats (M&M's) or having accidents every 10 minutes when Mommy was busy and not giving her as much attention as she felt she deserved. But Mommy has a few manipulative tricks up her sleeve as well. Incentives are great - not just M&M's, but comments like, "Go pee pee, and then we can go outside and blow bubbles" get pretty consistent results. Setting a timer to give her a time frame for trying (3-5 minutes) was helpful at the beginning, but now it doesn't seem as effective since she will just wait out the timer if she doesn't want to go.

She is quite motivated to be a big girl and keep her panties dry and clean, and on certain aspects of the process, she is adamant that she can "do it all by myself!" Given these variables, it seems to work best when I don't ask too many times if she needs to go potty. Instead, I wait for her to announce, "I have to go pee pee!" and then hustle her off to the nearest potty. A few times today she has followed the announcement that she needs to go with, "Stay there. I do it all by myself." And she did. Grandma and I heard rustling and clattering as she put her potty seat on the big potty and situated herself, and then moments later the sweet sound (to a potty training Mommy's ear) of tinkling in the potty.

She is just as certain that she cannot do other things, such as pull up her panties, and I suppose it is difficult to get elastic over one's butt, even if it is cute and little! All in all, however, we're having more successes than failures, and at last the end of diapers may be in sight!