Monday, September 29, 2008

Budget

Thanks to a couple of Starbucks trips and C's new-found enthusiasm for doing workbooks, I now have $5 left in the family budget for tonight and tomorrow. And I see that C has just pulled out her Kumon Telling Time workbook and has 20 minutes available before she has to go to bed...No milk tomorrow, I think.

On the bright side, we saved the downpayment amount we planned to and left unmolested $150 for Christmas and travel, $320 for Clare's physical therapy, $50 for home maintenance, and $25 for car maintenance. This was our very first month of saving, rather than paying off debt.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

C rereads The Hobbit

C is rereading The Hobbit. Right now the dwarves are escaping from the forest elves in barrels.

Zoo

After church and lunch, we all four went to the zoo to meet a chum of C's, her parents and little brother. We did just over two hours at the zoo. The two girls were fascinated by a small and very aggressive baby alligator (???) who was swimming back and forth as if chasing other tank residents and periodically opening his mouth to show his tiny fangs. There was also an enormous and very ugly alligator snapping turtle.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

D sounds out words II

D sounded out ROOM, ZOOM, HIT and YES for his dad while C and I were out.

3rd bike outing

C and I were out again on our bikes and did 5 loops this time, at C's request. She has a very positive attitude about her riding and tells me that she is getting better with practice. We're both more practiced riders and can now handle the tricky bits where we need to go up and down an angled sidewalk handicapped ramp without dismounting. C did have one fall and a couple near collisions, but she took them in stride.

C says: The only thing prettier than our bikes is us on our bikes!

Gift shop

The kids and I went to the children's museum this morning for a short visit. On the way out, we hit the gift shop to stock up on items for my store. Both kids chose a flexible music tube (one of those things that you swing to produce an eerie woo-woo noise), D chose a blood-shot wind-up eye-ball, and C picked a Dover dinosaur sticker book. C has already purchased her musical tube, and she really wants D to get his wind-up eye-ball.

And I almost forgot--I told the kids that they would need to clean up the living room before we could leave for the children's museum. It took a long time (the living room was in a state), but they did it, and each got fifty cents for their work.

Friday, September 26, 2008

2nd bike outing

Tonight was my second bike outing with C. She did four big loops (probably a mile) on campus, and transported her bike to the riding area with the minimum of fuss. Her attitude was really excellent. She wanted to do a fifth loop, but I wanted to make sure that she'd have enough steam to get her bike back home, so I said no. I've told her that if she has a good attitude, I will be happy to bike with her, but if she doesn't, I will go to the gym instead by myself.

Now I'm starting to think about how great it would be to do the easy bike trails at the big city park--they have them graded according to difficulty, with the same kind of signage you see at ski resorts (black diamond, etc.). Of course, for that we'd need a bike rack for the car.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

D sounds out words

This evening, D sounded out DOG, CAT, HAT, POP, DAD, ZOO, MOM, BAT, RAT, MOO, SUN, UP, STOP, SAT, SIT and FOOD for his dad.

Chess talk

This afternoon, my husband gave a short talk on the rules of chess to C's class. My husband set up at a big table and the kids gathered round. C was too excited to pay attention, but four or five of her first grade classmates had question after question about chess moves. Smart questions, too, with lots of moving of pieces around the board to set up the situation they were asking about.

Extracurriculars

This morning I was speaking to a woman whose almost 8-year-old daughter is enrolled in classes for four different dance styles.

Baby gates

Both kitchen baby gates have been taken down, and the only remaining gate blocks a door to my husband's office. We have entered a new era.

Grocery store

Today was the first time that I have ever gone to the grocery store by myself by car and gotten groceries. That expedition leaves September's budget with $57 for gas, $49 in my husband's fun budget (probably destined for some sort of star-gazing gizmo), and $14 for miscellaneous. Rest easy, dave s., I probably won't be going to Starbucks for the rest of the month.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bubble tea

As a housing bubble watcher and future homebuyer recently relocated to Texas, I've been disappointed by the lack of blogs devoted to Texas bubble issues. I was just googling "austin bubble blog" (Austin being one of the most clearly bubbly markets in Texas) and it turned up an assortment of national housing bubble blogs and several blog posts on bubble tea.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

13 blocks

After lots of shuttling back and forth between school and home, I'm getting more confident about my driving. Today I also drove downtown before pickup and also took the kids to Starbucks after school. This is a big step forward for me.

This was my first opportunity to walk the historic neighborhood I'm interested in. I walked 13 blocks in and 13 blocks out, which was about 50 minutes. I'll definitely need at least several more hours to devote to walking up and down the streets and checking things out. The historic neighborhood has a few Victorians, some colonials, some Mediterranean style homes, a bunch of Craftsman homes, some massive plantation style homes, some storybook cottages, a few "English" cottages and some houses that look vaguely Prairie-like. My favorites are from the 1920s. There are a number of houses that I would hesitate to describe as "midcentury modern," as well as a huge home whose owners are deeply mistaken as to the desirability of vintage 1980s architecture and decor. It's priced about $135k higher than any other house in the neighborhood. I'm not an architecture expert, but the neighborhood has some of the most beautiful homes I have ever seen. It is bounded on three sides by seedy commercial areas and busy streets, and downtown (which is walking distance) has a lot of homeless guys. The question is, is it safe and orderly enough, and will the neighborhood continue to hold up? The town has a number of formerly grand neighborhoods that have not held up as well.

Monday, September 22, 2008

C finishes Kumon Uppercase Letters

C just finished the last 11 pages of Kumon's My First Book of Uppercase Letters. We have quite the library of Kumon workbooks, and she had last worked with this one over a year ago. C is on a roll.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

C finishes Kumon Lowercase Letters

Today C finished her Kumon My First Book of Lowercase Letters workbook. She did 50 pages. That's $10, but I won't pay her until Monday, since we avoid commercial transactions on Sunday. Even 20 cents a page gets very expensive when one is dealing with a determined child.

Orange jello and bunny salad

My husband and C just mixed up some orange jello and put it in the fridge. Right now, C is reading a reprint of a 1955 Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook. It was a fifth birthday present from her DC friend P, and C is really enjoying it. My favorite recipe is the "Peter Rabbit Salad." It's made out of pear halves, marshmallows, cloves (to make the x-ed out eyes) and maraschino cherries, and it looks like a dead bunny on a lettuce leaf. We are deeming this C's homework reading.

C stands up for D

At the playground yesterday, a boy referred slightingly to D as a "little guy." C bristled. "Who are you calling a little guy?" she said. "In three years, he'll be six."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tommy Fox

We finished listening to The Tale of Peter Mink (our last car audiobook) and started The Tale of Tommy Fox, which is also by Arthur Scott Bailey. Tommy is a carnivore who is learning to hunt from his mother, so there's a lot of violence directed toward other cute woodland animals. However, Tommy has a lot to learn, and his prey occasionally turns the tables on him.

C and I go biking

C and I had a moderately successful bike outing this evening, my first on my Wal-Mart single-speed La Jolla. C was a bit too tired. She only managed two loops, she had a crash and there was much lamentation on the way back since I had my bike to manage and C was in charge of hers. However, I haven't had a bike in years, and I found it delightful to feel the wind (and evening bugs) in my face. I could have biked all night.

C on Spanish grammatical gender and phonetics

C: The way you can tell feminine words in Spanish is they have an "a" at the end.

me: Are there exceptions?

C: Sometimes, but not many. There is no "a" [she made the vowel in "cat"] in Spanish.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stuff White People Like, part III

This post is devoted to Stuff White People Like quotes and commentary as needed.

  • On foreign travel: "That's right, by going to a country, riding around on a bus or train, staying at a hotel or hostel, and eating, they are doing something for the world."
  • On the urge to renovate: "All white people dream about buying an older property ("with character") in a city, and then renovating it so the insides look all modern, with a stainless-steel fridge." There are a lot of these on San Francisco's socketsite.com, I'm sorry to say.
  • Landers' "Typical White-Person DVD Rack" is Mulholland Dr., Donnie Darko, Rashomon, Sixteen Candles, Pulp Fiction, Clerks, Juno, Fight Club, Memento, Apocalypse Now, Garden State, A Clockwork Orange and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I've seen only five of those, but the list doesn't sound very ambitious to me. I guess that means I'm an advanced white person. Yay!
  • "It is a poorly kept secret that, deep down, white people believe that if given money and education, all poor people would be exactly like them."
  • On water bottles: "Previously, the gold standard was the Nalgene bottle, but recent studies have shown that the plastic can leak toxins into the water. Currently, white people on the cutting edge are really into metal bottles of water with twist caps." Here, Lander is being a big tease by not giving the name brand. The metal bottles he's talking about are Sigg bottles. The reason I know that is that my parents sell camping gear, and now I know what to ask them for Christmas.
  • On the imperative to raise multilingual children: "Languages such as German, Spanish, Swedish, or Italian are also acceptable, but are considered to be poor substitutes, especially Spanish...There is only one way to use this information to your advantage: speaking another language means that white people are more likely to want to have children with you. It is seen as a cheaper alternative to language schools." My husband and I are shirking teaching the kids either Polish or Russian, but our oldest started Spanish in kindergarten. I'm a little nervous that she is going to acquire a Peggy Hill Spanish accent from her teachers.
  • On hating corporations: "WARNING: When engaging in a conversation about corporate evils it is important to never, ever mention Apple computers, Target, or IKEA in the same breath as the companies mentioned earlier. White people prefer to hate corporations that don't make stuff they like." I suspect that one of the main reasons Wal-Mart has become such a bogeyman is that poor people shop there.
  • I did Landers' "Autobiography: A White Life" and scored in the Bruce Willis range, just a few points away from the bottom score, which is Eminem. That was a close call! I highly recommend the test, which is a stereotypical upper-middle class white life with blanks for you to fill in details.
  • On natural childbirth: "Modern white birth is essentially an extreme yoga class with more screaming, and it only ends when a child pops out."
  • On high school English teachers: "The high school English teacher is instrumental in leading white people toward art degrees and eventually careers in law, nonprofit, and media, or as high school English teachers. The latter course represents the "white circle of life.""
  • On eating outside: "...when eating in a cafe make sure that the white person you are with has appropriate levels of shade. If the sun moves significantly during the course of your meal they will likely ask to leave. It is not a good idea to say, "If you like shade so much, there's this entire place called 'inside' that has nothing but shade." Later at night, you might notice steels obelisks that sort of look like little umbrellas; these are propane heaters. They allow white people to enjoy the temperature control of an indoor environment without the heating and energy efficiency traditionally associated with being inside. Again, it is not a good idea to question why white people do this."
  • On hardwood floors: "It is a well-known white fantasy to purchase a home or apartment that has disgusting carpet and then to pull it up to reveal a beautiful hardwood floor underneath."
  • On therapy: "...any time that a white person succeeds it is entirely because of their hard work and natural talent...On the other end of the spectrum, every single white failure can be attributed to parents."
  • On public transportation that is not a bus: "...it's best to understand that white people do not recognize public transit as a viable option until a subway line is built that runs directly from their house to their work. Until that time, public transportation is a luxury only for New Yorkers and Europeans, sort of like opera."
  • On self-importance: "The life of every white person is worthy of a memoir. Being born into a middle-class existence, having some difficult experiences in college, and taking a year off to teach in Asia/work in the Peace Corps/volunteer with Teach for America are all life stories realized only by a select few. Unfortunately, the publishing industry can only put out so many books each year and white people have had to turn to an alternative means: blogging."

Stuff White People Like, part II

I finally finished Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions and now it's time for a semi-confessional listing of areas where Christian Lander has my number. This is not going to be exhaustive, since I'm skipping a number of sensitive/too personal items. Here we go:


  • coffee
  • film festivals
  • nonprofit organizations
  • tea
  • gifted children
  • international travel
  • being an expert on your culture
  • Manhattan (and now Brooklyn, too!)
  • not having TV [in our case we've got the TV, but no cable, just Netflix]
  • architecture
  • renovations
  • Netflix
  • Asian fusion food [I actually don't think I've ever had the stuff he's talking about, but I figure that Pan-Asian food is close enough]
  • liberal arts degrees
  • vintage [I'm stretching this to cover used books, for instance 1930s birth control manuals]
  • irony
  • kitchen gadgets [I'm taking a break from buying new ones (and from cooking), but I've got a fair number]
  • documentaries
  • bicycles [I bought my first bike of adulthood this spring from Wal-Mart but haven't used it yet. I love the idea of a bike, but at some point I realized that riding a bike on the road alongside traffic is a guaranteed ticket to the morgue.]
  • expensive sandwiches
  • study abroad
  • bottles of water
  • musical comedy
  • multilingual children
  • modern furniture
  • graduate school
  • bad memories of high school
  • outdoor performance clothes [I'm from Washington state--I was born in Gore-Tex]
  • dinner parties [on hiatus]
  • pretending to be a Canadian when traveling abroad [I don't, but my husband is a Canadian citizen, and that should be good for a couple of points in this category]
  • high school English teachers
  • trying too hard
  • subtitles
  • reusable shopping bags [hopelessly untrendy ones from HEB, but very practical, and only 99 cents]
  • The Simpsons
  • not having cash
  • expensive strollers
  • singer-songwriters [but only Russian ones--extra white person points, please!]
  • books
  • hardwood floors
  • bakeries
  • public transportation that is not a bus
  • self-importance [blogs are the example Landers gives, so yeah]

That's 43 items out of a possible 150, but I could probably bump that up to 50 without too much of a stretch.

C knows about trees

On our walks to and from the cafeteria tonight, C was talking about ginko trees, sycamores, and crepe myrtles. She identified a sycamore and a crepe myrtle. My husband and I were impressed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stuff White People Like

I finally got my copy of Stuff White People Like in the mail today. It's a sort of cooler, meaner remake of David Brooks' Bobos in Paradise.

Item #48 is Whole Foods and Grocery Co-Ops.

These stores are excellent places for taking children, as there is nothing that they actually want.

"Oh, Mommy, look, chocolate!"

"No, Joshua, that's carob."

"I want it."

"OK."

The child will then take a bite and realize that nothing in the store can be trusted.

Norwegian fairy tales

C started reading some Norwegian fairy tales for her 15 minutes of required reading tonight. At dinner this evening, she was telling us about Norse explorers and their voyages to Greenland and Vineland.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

C's Wednesday

Wednesday is C's monster day, with both an afterschool activity (ballet) and an after-dinner activity (CCD). After she got home, we did a double dose of homework, since C was home sick yesterday. She had some Singapore Math and some spelling words. Theoretically, she should also have done some reading, but we are deeming her listening to Peter Mink in the car as fulfilling that assignment.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

C's sick day

On her sick day at home today, C did 18 pages of her Earlybird Singapore Math 2B and 6 pages of a Kumon Rhyming Words and Phrases workbook, earning a total of $4, plus 50 cents for her share of cleaning D's room. With some financial help from D, C was able to buy a Dover Native American designs stained glass coloring book from my store. D was happy to give her advice on color choice. The 2B math workbook is the one she used last year in kindergarten, but the material is slightly more advanced than the stuff she's been doing in her 1st grade Singapore Math workbook. I know the Singapore math curriculum ramps up pretty quickly, but at the moment it feels slow. I suppose what's going on is that basic math facts are being beaten into the kids' heads, one adorable little cartoon graphic at a time.

C says ballet is too hard, and she'd like to just do CCD (religious education) on Wednesdays. My plan is to wait until the end of the month and check in with her again.

All in all, it was a productive day. I even had time to read D a couple sea life books, including his favorite with the detailed treatment of the reproductive life of coral polyps. D and I even got in a nap while C was watching The Incredibles. The only regretable thing about being home with the kids by myself all day is that it leads to mindless munching and finishing off of half-eaten plates of high-carb kid food.

Grits

Baby D (echoing his sister): Grits look like couscous.

Leadership

C is home sick today and I'm keeping D home from preschool to avoid the drive. C's plan is to pool her earnings and D's and buy a Dover snowflake stained glass coloring book. D agrees, but I'm skeptical that this is a fair deal. C says she'll color, and D can tell her which colors to use.

C is sounding stronger and more energetic every minute.

Monday, September 15, 2008

C finishes Ozma of Oz

C finished listening to Ozma of Oz this evening. It's pretty good. I'm especially fond of the Hungry Tiger, who suffers from both a scrupulous conscience and a large appetite. C has already listened to the next Oz book (which I don't think much of). I looked at the Wikipedia outlines of the two books that follow, and I'm not sure they're worth listening to. At some point (and it's hard to say where), the Oz books get really psychedelic.

Fall begins

Last night we had the air conditioning off and several windows cracked. It was genuinely chilly in our bedroom this morning and the temperature outside has been in the high 60s. I've been waiting for this for a long time--fall has begun.

D works with his magnetic letters

Out of the blue, while working with his magnetic letters, D says, "P-O-P spells 'pop.' What is 3 plus 3?"

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vikings for MH

MH, if you are about, have you ever seen The Vikings (1958)? It's got Kirk Douglas (with unconvincing blonde hair), Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, and Ernest Borgnine. I do not recommend the plot or the script (and I have just bailed out and left my husband to watch it alone), but it has lovely shots of a viking long boat and real fjords.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike

We're far inland in Texas and have so far seen little of Hurricane Ike. The local weather prediction was 30 miles per hour wind (with gusts to 50), up to 8 inches of rain and scattered tornadoes. I don't think we got that predicted 8 inches of rain, but we've had significant wind. We stayed home practically all day today.

Last night we were scheduled to show Kieslowski's Blue, and we did. Two undergraduate guys and one graduate couple came, and we had very good discussion. One of the undergrads was hosting his family from Houston that night. We'll probably show another movie in a month.

Ozma of Oz

C is now listening to the third Oz book, Ozma of Oz. Dorothy and a yellow hen have just landed in a mysterious country where lunch buckets grow on trees.

C learns about nouns

This morning we are hunkered down to stay out of the weather (wind and rain) and C has been singing the noun song that she learned at school:

I am a noun
Floating around
Names a person, place, or thing [whispers] or idea
With a knick-knack, paddy-whack, these are English rules!
Isn't grammar fun and cool!

Friday, September 12, 2008

We cut the summer electric bill

Our most recent electric bill was for $204, and I our biggest summer bill this year was $260. For comparison, last summer we had three bills over $400 in a row. What changed? Last summer we had a lot more incandescent bulbs. They throw off a lot of heat and (adding insult to injury) during the summer all that heat has to be AC-ed away. Earlier this year, we switched most bulbs to compact fluorescent, with the exception of the kids' rooms (out of concerns about breakage and mercury contamination) and areas where the lights are on only briefly. We've also got an inside/outside thermometer that allows us to pay closer attention to the temperature and adjust the thermostat and windows as appropriate. Later in the fall, we won't have to use either AC or heating.

I'm very pleased to have been able to rescue $150-200 a month from the electric company this summer. There are so many more pleasant things to do with money.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Marvelous Land of Oz

Our latest car audiobook was The Marvelous Land of Oz. It's very clever and inventive, and it follows the adventures of Tip and his companion Jack Pumpkin, as they escape from the witch who brought Tip up. Meanwhile, the Emerald City is invaded by an army of girls armed with pointy knitting needles and who loot the sparkling gems from the city and commandeer the city's kitchens to make fudge.

Homework

Now that the school year has started in earnest, C is now doing about five minutes of addition every night. Tonight she was doing number families/number bonds for the number ten, which means that she was working with pairs of numbers that add up to ten. The other part of C's homework is 15 minutes of reading. Her current book is Moominvalley in Midwinter.

Coral

D and C remain fascinated with the reproductive life of coral polyps.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mexican Hot Chocolate

I've recently become a fan of Juanita's Chocolate Mexicano, which the package says "you'll be convinced that it was prepared just like your grandmother used to make it in Mexico." The main difference between Mexican hot chocolate and standard US hot chocolate seems to be the addition of cinnamon. Our HEB stocks a number of different brands of Mexican hot chocolate, including one called Abuelita. I'm going to have to experiment and see which brand we like best. At least with my current brand, the cinnamon taste is fairly subtle. I also tried Juanita's Champurrado, which is a relative of the Chocolate Mexicano, but I think the starchy flavor of the masa flour interferes with the chocolate and the cinnamon flavors. However, after reading the Wikipedia entry (which recommends having it with churros for breakfast), I feel like I owe champurrado at least a second try.

In other HEB news, I've also become a convert to instant lime chicken cup of noodle soup. I don't ever remember seeing it up north, but it's a standard flavor here, as is lime shrimp cup of noodle.

Microscope + digital camera

This evening, my husband had the bright idea of putting C's digital camera on top of her microscope. C liked the idea, and immediately set to work making photographs of each of her prepared slides. The results were very good. Later, my husband tried to use the camera with his telescope, but the results were less exciting.

Moominland Midwinter

C was home from school today with the sniffles. Moominland Midwinter arrived in the mail today, and she read the whole thing. She also listened to a lot of The Marvelous Land of Oz from the Librivox audiobook. I had a dentist visit this morning and a numb jaw for much of the day, so I appreciated it a lot.

Caribou Barbie

I don't usually go into politics on this site, but it occurred to me this morning that I do want a Caribou Barbie for my oldest. Why isn't anybody making one yet?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Quail's eggs

My husband was just wondering where we could get quail's eggs. He had them occasionally as a treat as a kid in Eastern Europe. I can't say as I've ever seen them on sale in the US.

UPDATE: Now that I think about it, I think I did have quail meat once as a kid. And, with the help of google, I found something called www.texasquailfarm.com. It looks like it's mainly a canned hunt place, but they also sell quail eggs.

Mean mommy

To cut down on their consumption of art supplies, I make the kids buy their consumable supplies. This evening, after I got home from the grocery store with a pile of treasure for the kids (two packs of paper plates, two rolls of scotch tape and a pack of puffy stickers), Baby D came running out of his room with a pile of dollar bills and some change (no doubt after some encouragement from his sister, who spent all her money earlier today). He bought a roll of scotch tape and a pack of paper plates for $3. I am a mean mommy, but if I weren't, we'd go through literally hundreds of paper plates a week.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Last driving lesson

I had one last driving lesson left today (I took two four-day sessions), and used it to practice some of the drives I hope to do routinely. We went to HEB (the big Texas grocery chain), the children's museum, the kids' schools, the public library, Walmart, Target, and the zoo. At each stop, I practiced parking lot parking. The big commercial strip near Walmart is a bear to navigate (lots of ugly left turns), but for the most part, this was a big confidence-builder. Later on, when I've had more practice, I'll need to work on the Interstate and the other major highways, which will mean that I'll have independent access to our parish and outlying shopping centers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Conscience

C just got back from CCD. My husband reports that she was telling him that she hears the voice of her conscience in her head, and it sometimes sounds like him.

Cicadas

D just told me to look up on the computer how cicadas make their sounds. I did, and it turns out they have a specially constructed chamber in their exoskeleton for creating their song.

First day of ballet

I picked up C from school by myself (my second solo car trip) today and suited her up for her first day of ballet: pink tights, blue leotard with lacy skirt and pink ballet shoes. I was told earlier that the teacher is very big on hair being done up properly, so I was concerned, that not being an area I have much confidence in. Fortunately, this early in the term they take a pretty liberal and helpful attitude, and C returned to me with her hair sprayed and done up with bobby pins and pony tail holder. I anxiously questioned the teachers about how to do the bun, and I'm planning to do some hair accessory shopping soon. Both C and I have very heavy, fine, straight hair, and hers is slightly too short for a bun. I was wondering how C would do in class, and how long she'll stick with it. She was elated as she came out, and was demonstrating leaps to me in the hallway. She also told me how much she would like to have the ballet shoes with the wooden tips, the kind real ballerinas use to go en pointe. C has some issue with balance, coordination, and lower body strength, and I'm hoping that ballet will help her. She'll probably also do a couple sessions of physical therapy a week later in the fall.

CAT-RAT-PAT-SAT

D decided to spell out CAT with magnetic letters, but needed some help with the order. I provided him with a bunch of words that rhyme with CAT to sound out. He also wanted to spell out CUP. Later, while I was out with C at ballet, he and his father watched youtubes of robots.

Homonyms

D says: The past tense of eat is ate. Eight is a number.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

House watch

I was doing my usual prowl through realtor.com's listings this evening, and learned two things. Firstly, there's a new listing (no interior photos) of an undistinguished 1950s house in a good location for $175k. Secondly, a cute recently restored house with a fringier address has gone from $250k to $225k. It's a good start.

Going solo

Today was my first solo drive to pick C up from school. D and I were so early to pick her up that we circled once, then parked and walked over to get C. Parking is not my favorite thing, and I was primed to just drive through the pick-up zone, so there was some stress. At least for now, I'm going to have to learn my drives (school, preschool, children's museum, zoo, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, library, etc.) one at a time.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Phantom Tollbooth

Tonight C finished reading The Phantom Tollbooth. It was very helpful for her to have to do homework reading before bedtime to get into the habit of reading. We read some of it to her too, but she read the bulk of the book by herself.

C plays chess

My husband tells me that one thing is holding C back as a chess-player. She enjoys playing the game, and derives just as much enjoyment from his winning as from her own winning.

We go to the Czech festival

On Sunday, we were planning a day trip to the big Czech festival. With the festival in view, our pastor preached a short second sermon after mass against drunkenness and drunk driving. We drove to the festival, bought $20 worth of carnival tickets, sent the kids twice on a dragon ride, sent them into a moon bounce manned by a serious pre-teen with a timer, sent C through an obstacle course, refreshed ourselves with sausage on a stick, kolaches, and lemonade, watched festival-goers of all ages polka, and (impoverished by now) retired to the free children's area, where C and D played with Megablocks and enjoyed a sandbox, both sponsored by a Ford dealership. We saw lots of people coming and going in elaborate embroidered folk-dancing costumes, but didn't go watch the organized folk dancers, who (I see now from the program), had come from all over the state, to represent Czech, Hungarian, Norwegian, Mexican, Ukrainian, "Alpine" and Texan dance styles, as well as clogging. This year, it was fun enough to see crowds of average people in street clothes polka-ing with style and/or enthusiasm.

Division and square roots

At the grocery store, C informed me suddenly that there are three 8s in 24. While we waited for our ride home, I put her through her paces in figuring out how many 11s are in 33, how many 12s are in 36, as well as having her do all the possible factors of 24 (except 24 and 1). My husband was doing something similar with her at bedtime with square roots. She was able to come up with 5 as the square root of 25 and 10 as the square root of 100 after the concept was explained to her.