Saturday, February 28, 2009

Potty training update XIX

D now has 18 potty points. If he earns two more, he'll get a stuffed dragon.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Another new listing

There's another new house listing in the historic neighborhood I watch. The house was on Zillow for a long time as a make-me-move for $170k, and now it's for sale for real. It's a 1912 house, 5BR/3BA, and 3400 sq. ft. That's $50 per sq. ft. It's attractively done-up and has a number of very appealing neighbors, but is at the edge of the neighborhood. Still, holy cow! $50 per square foot!

Good news, bad news

Bad news: I somehow folded D's pinkie into an umbrella stroller this morning.

Good news: We got home and I set him up with a bag of ice chips and the new Netflix Sesame Street disc that came while we were out. C's sixth Harry Potter came, too.

The pinkie incident happened at the end of our expedition with my local relative. She and D and I have been walking the architecturally interesting parts of town. We walked two streets this morning and I picked up four house flyers. One house is in violation of the don't-buy-the-biggest-house-in-the-neighborhood rule, but the other three are very promising. They range from $155k to $180k, and from 2000 to 2600 square feet. This neighborhood is one of several genteel islands that float in the midst of general poverty. Trulia.com says that the average house in the city has been selling for $60k. My relative also drove us along another older and architecturally interesting street. Big old stately homes alternated with big old haunted houses, a vivid reminder that real estate doesn't always go up.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

C observes Lent

On her own initiative, C has decided to give up chess for Lent. She says she will still play checkers and Chinese chess.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Potty training update XVIII

D now has 15 potty points, and is 5 away from being able to choose a dragon.

Caterpillar

D is constructing a caterpillar. He has taped together four large paper plates and is using popsicle sticks for legs.

We go to the doctor's office

After weeks of this fever-no fever-fever-no fever business, I took the kids to the pediatrician's office yesterday. They both had no fever, tested negative for flu and tested negative for strep. D has had rattling congestion for the past several weeks, so the pediatrician is deeming it a sinus infection and she wrote him a prescription for amoxicillin. C had a blood test (for infection?) and tested negative. Both kids are cleared for school. Yay!

C has missed a bunch of school lately. She missed Thursday, Monday, and the academic part of Tuesday. We worked on her homework from about 4 PM yesterday until about 9:35 PM. There was a break for dinner and she got short breaks to watch Little Einsteins after 3 pages of math or a page of spelling. I was expecting her to crack mid-way, but she kept on trucking. She did 12 pages of math, 1 page of spelling, 1 short page of copywork and 1 page for her history notebook. The later involved writing a sentence about Texas cattle drives and illustrating it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Potty training update XVII

D now has eleven potty points, with nine to go until he earns a dragon. Now that he has some momentum, I can drop my heart-rending appeals to the dragons in mommy's closet who miss him and want to join their family in his room.

House watch

There's a new listing in the historic neighborhood I watch. It's for $165k. The house is 2200 sq. ft., 4 BR/3BA, and was built in the late 1970s. A nearby house of approximately the same size has been sitting at $200k for months now. I believe the location is a bit iffy, but I welcome all new listings in the $100s.

UPDATE: They don't have any photos up for the new listing, but it is the same house. That's a $35k reduction, which works out to 17.5%.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ties

D: What is a tie?

me: A tie is a fabric necklace for men.

C: Hee hee hee!

Adventures in marketing

My husband just got an American Express offer for something called the "Plum Card."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pecos Bill

It has come to my attention that C is going to need a cowgirl outfit for her part in a short performance about Pecos Bill. Budget permitting, we are going to go whole hog and get cowboy boots, a hat, and a Western blouse. She'll most likely wear an old pair of blue jeans. C feels that since she lives in Texas she should have cowboy boots. She rejects the idea of pink boots. I applaud her purism since I hope to pass the boots down to D.

In other news, my husband finished our federal taxes over the weekend.

More dragons

We hit the kids' section at Barnes and Noble yesterday and the kids each picked out two dragons. The dragons are now in my store. I've told D that each dragon will cost either $10 or 20 potty points. As I mentioned in a previous post, D thinks that if he has four dragons that will complete his dragon family: father dragon, mother dragon, sister dragon, and brother dragon.

D spent just over two months in cotton underpants and water-proof pants before I just couldn't take it any more. He wasn't making any progress, the gas and water bills for all that (horrible) laundry was out of sight, and the changes themselves weren't fun either. Toward the end, D was telling me, "I like wet pants!" and "I like poopy pants!" So he's back in pull-ups. However, the dragons seem to be motivating him. Over the past 24 hours (???) he has racked up six potty points.

King cakes

As part of a fundraiser after mass, the Catholic Student Association was selling king cakes today.

Bleak House on the treadmill

Last year, I had a post on "The Amazing Jane Austen Diet." During spring 2008, I listened to all six Austen novels on the treadmill and lost 15 pounds, as well as earning a Jane-a-lanche from a major Austen blog. Sadly, once I ran out of Jane Austen novels, my motivation suffered terribly. I listened to a novel here and a novel there, but it wasn't the same. I really hit the skids with the Pickwick Papers, a novel that I previously thought I liked. On the treadmill, it became painfully obvious that the novel was going nowhere, that it was just one thing after another, and there were not going to be any interesting female characters. We have LOTR on audio, but C listened to the books this fall and we watched the movies as a family, so it was too soon. I decided to give Bleak House a try.

Anyway, Bleak House was initially slow going, but I'm starting to hit my stride. I did 4.1 miles of the book on Thursday and 4.25 miles of the book last night. Oh, and I've got 50 some chapters to go, each being approximately 30-50 minutes long. Pure bliss.

I will probably do Lord of the Rings next. That's 52 hours, by the way.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jim the Realtor

Thanks to some posts at Kitchen Table Math , I have finally discovered Jim the Realtor. His video tours of California foreclosures are educational and truly addictive--you can't just watch one. If this real estate thing doesn't work out for him, I would like to organize a scholarship drive to send him to film school. His videos are so noir, without even trying.

Juno

We showed Juno last night. Next month will most likely be The Queen.

Credential creep

I fully expect to hear that some college is offering an MA in cosmetology.

Friday, February 20, 2009

C's card for D

I was picking up the living room just now and found a homemade card. It says "happy games day d, I love you too. Bring this card From C." Awww.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

C catches up

D is at preschool today, and I have spent the day flogging (not literally!) C through three days of math and spelling catch-up. She still has to write out 20 spelling words and prepare her covered wagon presentation for tomorrow. She needs 10 pictures of items the pioneers needed to take with them and she needs to explain why she chose those items.

Mortgage bailout

Ace of Spades commentor scrood wants to know, "If I'm paying other people's mortgages, do I get to use their homes like time-shares?"

D on dragons

My husband asked D why he likes to dress up as a dragon. D said that it was so he could be Anything's mother. D is interested in acquiring more dragons. He says with four, he would have a whole family.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

C is sick again

After missing two days of school with a fever, C went to school today. Round about 2 PM, I got a call from school to fetch her. She's feverish again and will be missing school tomorrow. D will be in preschool tomorrow, so C and I will devote the day to her missed work.

D on soup

D: Why does soup need water?

The mortgage bailout plan is here

I was just looking at a report on Obama's mortgage plan.

PHOENIX (AP) - President Barack Obama's plan to tackle the foreclosure crisis will spend $75 billion in an effort to prevent up to 9 million Americans from losing their homes.
The plan, which is more ambitious than expected, aims to aid borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are currently worth, and borrowers who are on the verge of foreclosure.
The initiative is designed to help up to 5 million borrowers refinance, and provides incentive payments to mortgage lenders in an effort to help up to 4 million borrowers on the verge of foreclosure.


For those of you playing at home, that's $8k per distressed borrower. How will that help a borrower who owes $400k on a $200k house? I have no idea. According to my calculations, $8k would be just enough to move and get you set up comfortably in a rental (covering deposits and maybe a couple of months rent).

UPDATE: Elsewhere on the internet, $275 billion has been mentioned as the mortgage bailout allotment. It's still a drop in the bucket.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Renaissance man

I was putting away some items in a drawer when a business card caught my eye. It was from the campus barber who cut my husband's hair last. He is a "barber and bull shipper" and advertises "free advice, marriage counseling & more."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Harry Potter V

C has been home sick from school today and she finished up the fifth Harry Potter in the late morning. We'll order the next book soon. A used hardback Harry Potter plus shipping should run about $6, which is an awfully good deal.

It's that time again

I met an American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) on the patio over the weekend, and another one in the dining room this morning. Both have now gone to their reward. I sent out an email to the property manager asking for an exterior spray and I'm hoping that a guy from Ecolab will come soon. I'm surprised that the bugs are active so early this year since it's been mostly in the 50s outside. The American cockroach is the big, winged Southern variety. It is primarily an outside bug. The situation could be worse--further south they have scorpions.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chocolate chip muffins

My husband is baking us all chocolate chocolate chip muffins for Valentine's.

UPDATE: We all ate ours hot with HEB's Intense Chocolate ice cream. The recipe was the usual muffin formula (half all purpose flour/half whole wheat flour) with the addition of chocolate chips and a couple heaping tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa. Needless to say, it was fantastic.

Salad for a dragon

While deciding what color construction paper he needed, D said, "I'm going to make Anything salad!"

Anything is the smaller gold stuffed dragon.

The New Bungalow Kitchen II

Peter LaBau is generous with reprints of old advertisements. A striking example is the ad on p. 128 for the Hoosier cabinet, a free-standing, highly-functional piece that according to the ad copy "saves miles of steps." A bride with bobbed hair and a bouquet says, "The Hoosier will help me to stay young." Allegedly, "Retain your youthful energy and girlish appearance" is the advice that thousands of mothers were giving on their daughters' wedding days. Time saved by using a Hoosier cabinet also allows a woman to be a better mother, to "give more freely of her time to a happy comradeship with her children." The ad copy refers to the Hoosier as a "scientific kitchen helper" and an "automatic servant." Presumably, the Hoosier was aimed at the woman who had either no or little hired help.

Here are a few more quotes:
  • And while the [Bungalow] kitchen was always kept lighter than the rest of the house, by the 1930s, a more lively color palette was introduced. The black stove and white sink were replaced with cool, pastel colors, often mirrored by the linoleum on the floor and paint on the walls. By 1940, when Bungalow-style houses were going out of fashion, the kitchens had developed a characteristic look, especially with their fitted cabinetry, that would remain the convention for decades to come.
  • At least once a week, the iceman delivered a block of ice, which was kept in an icebox either on the back porch or in the kitchen.
  • Generally, natural wood finish cabinets relate more to the first [i.e. pre-WWI] period of Bungalow design, whereas painted cabinets relate to the second [1920s and 1930s].

The New Bungalow Kitchen

I recently finished reading Peter LaBau's The New Bungalow Kitchen. It's a typical Taunton press production, with lots of rich wood. Labau also talks a good deal about the history of the kitchen, which is getting to be one of my passions. The thing is, unlike the ornate "vintage" kitchens we are used to seeing in magazines, the early 20th century kitchen was typically simple and utilitarian. On p. 22, there's a circa 1920 ad illustration with one flapper in high heels showing a friend her kitchen. The kitchen has a large porcelain sink on legs, a stove on legs, white floor, a limited number of simple white cabinets (nearly all base cabinets, with one set of upper cabinets with glass inset in the doors), a white tiled backsplash, yellow (painted?) walls with two blue stripes running along the ceiling, and blue curtains. It's nearly all right angles, with only the chair, sink, and stove legs showing a hint of curve. You could perform surgery there in good conscience. No heavy dark Arts and Crafts stuff here, nosirree.

I'll pull out some quotes below:
  • The Bungalow style in the United States got its start on the West Coast and spread eastward, the first style of American architecture to do so.
  • As domestic researchers and social reformers provided models for clean crisp kitchens that reflected new awareness of the relationship between dirt and disease, every effort was made to use materials in the kitchen that were smooth and easy to clean. Wallpaper was banished because it was not considered sanitary, and kitchen walls were usually finished with either painted or tinted plaster, which was easy to wash. Wooden wainscotting that had been much a part of 19th-century Victorian kitchens was viewed as being a hiding place for pesky microbes, and so quickly became passe in early Bungalow kitchens.
  • Early Bungalow kitchens did not have the characteristic lush Arts and Crafts woodwork like the rest of the house. For reasons having to do with attitudes about hygiene, original Bungalow kitchens were stark, clean, functional, and usually white. Also, although the classic Bungalow was more or less open space (especially compared with its Victorian predecessors), the kitchen was closed off at the back of the house.
  • Cabinetry in the early Bungalow kitchen was freestanding, fairly primitive, and didn't display the wonderful woodwork that appeared in other parts of Bungalow-style houses...A host of new "kitchen cabinets" such as those produced by the Hoosier Company, were a common sight in the first period and allowed for an efficient way to combine storage spaces and work surfaces. These were the predecessors of the modern "fitted," or site-built, kitchen cabinets that began to show up in the 1920s and 1930s.
  • By 1910, most cities had electricity, although most rural areas did not.
  • In its infancy, electricity wasn't imagined for use to power devices other than lights. Since lights were only used at night, the electric power plants of the time didn't provide electricity during the day. Manufacturers such as General Electric and Westinghouse, which produced early electric toasters, mixers, irons, dishwashers, fans, and other household appliances, were the ones that pressured the utility companies to provide power 24 hours a day.
  • The first electric refrigerators came on the market in 1917.
  • Starting in the 1920s, built-in kitchen cabinets became more popular. "Building-material catalogs of the time show built-in kitchen cabinetry that looks very similar to today's layouts."
  • By the 1920s, most Bungalows had hot and cold running water available throughout the house, so the tall hot-water heater that had once been located in the kitchen was now placed in the basement. The heavy, black cookstoves of the early 20th century were now being replaced by gas ranges (sometimes coated with colored enamel) with accurate thermostats, which meant stoves could be left unattended while meals cooked.
  • Freestanding kitchen tables were formalized into breakfast nooks...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stealth bomber

C just showed me a Lego Stealth bomber that she made all by herself. She based the design on a painted wooden model that D has in his room. I'm hoping to get a photo up.

Staging

I was just looking at online photos of a new real estate listing (a somewhat flippered-up but cute 3BR/1BA on the fringe of my target neighborhood). The family room had three full-size bicycles in it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

C's day off

Today was an unusual day. C was off school, but D was in preschool. You might think (like I did when I was making my to-do list for the day) that that would mean a leisurely and productive day with one child at home. Au contraire. As soon as we were home alone, C was very needy and despairing. She desperately wanted to earn money toward a craft item, but the workbooks were all so hard! I suggested that if that were so, she should rest and read Harry Potter. After a lot of wailing, she got to work on her Kumon workbooks and did some very nice arithmetic and handwriting. Eventually, she had $4 and bought the object of her desire, a picture of a herd elephants that you create by scratching the black surface off a thin sheet of copper.

Later in the afternoon, we picked up D. The kids had a snack and disappeared to their wing of the house. I have barely seen them since.

Obama

On the ride home from picking up D from preschool, C asked me, "Why didn't you vote for Obama?"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

500 Quick and Easy Decorating Projects and Ideas

I liked Country Living's 500 Kitchen Ideas so much that I ordered their 500 Quick & Easy Decorating Projects & Ideas. It's not a bad book, but it's not the show-stopper that the kitchen book is, and it has a lot more of the antiques in advanced stages of leprosy that I remember from the old Country Living magazines. Too many of the rooms look like they ought to be roped off.

On the other hand, it's a fat little book with lots of pretty pictures. I took it to the gym tonight and did 3 miles on the treadmill while flipping through it.

Demitasse spoons

C had her Valentine's tea today at school. It was a formal affair (sailor blouses and uniform jumpers for the girls), and there was a flurry of emailing yesterday to secure demitasse spoons for the party.

Fifth Harry Potter?

A small heavy package arrived this morning for my husband. I suspect that it is the fifth Harry Potter, just in time for C's four-day weekend.

D has an interview

D went in for his prekindergarten interview this morning. While I waited for him, I eavesdropped on the family that was there for the next interview. The mom was reviewing the order of the alphabet with the kid, as well as how to spell his name. D came back with a neatly assembled school bus, made from bits of colored construction paper.

Storm aftermath

The storm has passed over. A number of roofs were peeled off whole, some windows were blasted out downtown, and there are bits of roofing material scattered here and there. Nothing much happened in our neighborhood, beyond lots of purple flickering during the lightning storm and a hail of twigs from our trees.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tornado watch

I heard my first ever real emergency broadcast warning over the radio this afternoon as I was driving the kids home from school. We're on the edge of a big storm system, and there's a chance of tornadoes. We haven't seen much yet besides some rain and occasional wind, but they broadcast a loud but barely intelligible tornado warning at the college gym this evening, explaining that in case of emergency, we could take refuge in the restrooms. The thought of spending the night in a gym restroom was so unappealing that I went home early.

Another new listing

Another listing has popped up in the historic neighborhood I watch. It's 280k, 3/2, built late 1950s, and is about 2500 sq. ft. And it's very, very cute. There are now approximately eight houses for sale in that neighborhood in the 200s, and most of them have been sitting for months. Some have been for sale practically as long as I have been watching the neighborhood. Where is this going?

What Xantippe did before lunch

After dropping D off for preschool this morning, I did the following:
  • started some laundry
  • caught up on email
  • repaired Russian dictionary
  • repaired Mary Poppins book
  • taped up Chutes and Ladders box
  • taped up Ravensburger 4 First Games box
  • put wool sweater to soak
  • did the workbook homework for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University
  • read the Wednesday morning prayers for the Little Office

Noting that the dining room is my most productive space, I moved my Little Office, another prayer book, my Oxford Russian Dictionary, and a two-volume Russian language Anna Karenina to the dining room book case, where they will be sure to catch my eye. My books in the living room have been neglected.

Before pick-up time (which is coming on very quickly), I hope to (at least) finish washing the wool sweater, mend three items, and perhaps hang up some kid clothes. I am not always so industrious, but I think it's helpful to make a list of accomplishments, no matter how small.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Real estate report

Just now, I was combining info from zillow.com, trulia.com, and realtor.com to come up with a list of houses for sale that are at least 3BR/2BA in the historic neighborhood I watch. Here's the current list:
  • 580k
  • 330k
  • 290k
  • 276k
  • 270k
  • 250k
  • 250k
  • 225k
  • 200k
  • 150k

That's ten listings: one in the 100s, seven in the 200s, one in the 300s, and one way, way out in the 500s. The 290k listing has just been cut from 300k, making the 200s an even more crowded field.

D negotiates

D: Can I have a paper plate?

me: Sure.

D: ...two paper plates!

D earned a tube of green sparkle paint this morning, but he played only very briefly with it. Right now, he's using Do-A-Dots on paper plates. Paper plates are a major craft item around here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fractions

While I was out, my husband and C were doing some work with fractions. C knows what 1/2 minus 1 is. She knows what 1/4 minus 1 is, and she correctly reduced 10%, 20%, 25%, 50%, and 100% to fractions (1/10, 1/5, 1/4, 1/2 and 1). 150% stumped her, but after my husband gave her that answer, she was able to figure out that 125% is 1 and 1/4.

Maori wrasse

C just came over with a Dover tropical fish coloring book, wanting me to find an internet picture of the Maori wrasse for her so she'd know which colors to use. The internet is great for that sort of thing.

Potty training update XVI

I laid in a supply of glue sticks and glitter glue yesterday at HEB. I run the company store at home and I'm deeming each individual glue stick or glitter glue to be $1 or three potty points. We've been off the point system for a while (due to lack of interest), but the glue sticks and glitter glue have revived D's enthusiasm. Earlier this afternoon, he earned a fat tube of gold glitter glue and the kids had a very good time with it.

D is two months away from turning 4. Tick, tick, tick. Fortunately, prekindergarten is still over six months away.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Potty training update XV

D pooped in the potty, possibly for the first time ever. (I'm positive he hasn't done it more than once or twice at most, and certainly not within the past six months.) There was much rejoicing.

Telling Time

C just finished her Kumon My Book of Telling Time: Learning about Minutes workbook and is working on her Kumon My Book of Simple Multiplication. C has been doing very well lately with cleaning her room and saving money, and now has nearly $11. She is saving up for a $13 for a Klutz Make Your Own Paper Flowers kit, and I think she'll get it today.

UPDATE: She got it.

Solomon in the living room

The kids and I just finished tidying up the living room, which was strewn with wads of scotch tape, paper plates, a lost teddy bear, and various art projects. The method employed was to inform the kids that I was about to throw the stuff away, so they'd better put it away if they wanted to save it. That settled the disputed ownership issues very quickly. For their labors, the kids got their choice of either 50 cents or paper plates. D took the paper plates. C negotiated her compensation and asked for 25 cents and some paper plates, which was fine with me.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bungalow Kitchens

I'm reading Jane Powell and Linda Svendsen's Bungalow Kitchens (2000). This is the go-to book if you want your renovation be historically correct. Powell offers separate advice for "Obsessive Restoration" and a "Compromise Solution." I'll post quotes as I go.


  • In rural areas, kitchens were at the center of family life, a gathering place for the family and any farmhands who worked for them. By contrast, in urban areas, the focus of family life and socializing was the dining room and parlor.
  • One thing to keep in mind about sinks is that plumbing fixtures change very slowly. It was possible to buy a claw-foot bathtub from 1860 until well into the 1930s, and porcelain sinks on legs were still being offered until the start of World War II.
  • Eventually it occurred to someone that since linoleum held up so well on the floor, it would also be good on the counter.
  • The 1920s and 1930s were the real heyday of tile.
  • A marble pastry slab might have been found in the kitchens of the wealthy or upper middle class, but for the most part, stone countertops were fairly rare.
  • They were still door-happy in the Arts & Crafts period, perhaps a Victorian hangover. Some kitchens had four, five, or even more doors.
  • Baker's tables like this one were one of the first forms of what we now know as islands. Two drawers and two bins provided more storage than a typical worktable.
  • It's awfully hard to get regular ice delivery these days, although it is still possible to pick up block ice fairly conveniently.
  • A fold-down table may serve, and that was a common solution at the time. There were no breakfast bars. All the spaces in these houses were meant to be used, unlike today's houses with their vestigial living and dining rooms, so here's a radical idea: eat all your meals in the dining room.

Dragon candle

While D and I were out, my husband (who is sickish) and C melted some extra white wax, poured it into a small Chinese dragon mold, stuck a green-and-white birthday candle into the dragon (for the wick), and put it in the fridge to set. It turned out beautifully. The only things that I would change would be 1) using a matching birthday candle) and 2) using red wax.

Xantippe goes to a kaffeeklatsch

D and I went to a neighborhood kaffeeklatsch today, the first of its kind in our neighborhood that I've been to. There was excellent turnout: six moms or so and a swarm of kids. The kids roamed between the playroom and the backyard while we drank coffee in the living room, rather than hovering NE-style. We had a chance to compare notes on foundation issues and our mutual landlord, the university. It's unclear when the neighborhood is going to be demolished, but the latest word is early 2011. Previously, I'd planned to buy a house and move summer 2010, but I'm beginning to think that waiting until Nov./Dec. 2010 might be preferable, both with regard to house prices and our ability to put together a downpayment. Whatever the time-table turns out to be, we're supposed to get 6 months notice.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Capitalist decadence

Today, I was looking for a refill for my loose leaf calendar/organizer thingy. We looked high and low on the internet, only to discover that it is more economical to buy a new organizer than to buy a refill. I'm going to buy a new organizer, cannibalize it, and then Craigslist the carcase. Someone will want it.

Kitchen things Xantippe does approve of

1. Fiestaware (especially with white cabinetry)
2. black and white checkered floors
3. color
4. stainless steel counters
5. Blue Danube china (I don't own any, but I'd like to)
6. maple cabinets
7. hardwood floors, reddish or golden
8. pantries
9. cabinets with glass doors, clear or frosted
10. islands

Trendy things Xantippe does not approve of

1. Curtains instead of cabinet doors under sinks. It just looks messy.
2. Slipcovers on dining room chairs. It looks like the family is in Town for the winter, and the housekeeper has the whole estate under dust covers until they come down with guests for some shooting/a murder/the village fete.
3. Large expanses of dust and grease-attracting open shelving in the kitchen, particularly next to the stove top.
4. Butcher block that you're not supposed to chop on.
5. Built-in appliances (fridge, microwave, etc.).
6. Non-kitchen things taking up room in kitchens.

500 Kitchen Ideas

Thanks to Country Living's 500 Kitchen Ideas: Style, Function & Charm, I managed to do 90 minutes and 4+ miles on the treadmill tonight. It's a fat little coffee table book (480 pages), the photos are crisp and generously sized, and it came out in 2008. There are, perhaps, too many white kitchens, but they are very pretty, and I came away with lots of ideas. After I got home, I immediately pulled out a blue enamel bowl that had been living a quiet life in a drawer and put it out on the book shelf with my blue and white china. I'm also planning to bow to the incessant propaganda in favor of keeping lemons or limes out in a bowl on the kitchen counter. Lemons improve just about everything, and we'll be more likely to use them if they are out in plain sight. I do have concerns about fruit flies (our Texas ones are extremely vigorous), but I'm hoping they don't like lemons.

I especially like the book because I remember (back in the late 80s) that Country Living used to push a very fussy style of decorating, featuring spinning wheels, fragile-looking antique chairs and huge dust-gathering collections of ugly dolls. I remember photo after photo where at least half of the items in a room would be unusable antiques. I appreciate their move away from museum-quality homes.

Sick day

C had to come home from school yesterday with a 102 degree fever. She seems fine now, but she's going to be home all day today. I expect her time will be divided between the fourth Harry Potter and homework, with perhaps some time to spare for BBC's Planet Earth. She's about 3/4 the way through Harry Potter. D feels neglected, but I just set him up with some popsicle sticks, some googly eyes, and an old tube of silver glitter glue. "I'm off to work!" he yelled happily as he ran toward the living room. He does needs help with the glitter glue tube from time to time.

UPDATE: C's temperature was 102.9 just now, so she's going to stay home tomorrow and miss a playdate. Oh, and she's done with her Harry Potter.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Philosophical pick-up lines

An old friend thinks that it should be possible to put together a philosophy course where you teach the students just enough to impress girls. My husband has the following contribution to the curriculum: "Sartre said that Hell is other people. But you're not like that."

Late Marriage

Last night, we started watching Late Marriage. It's an Israeli movie about a Georgian-Jewish family of immigrants to Israel. The dialogue is partly in Hebrew, partly in Judeo-Georgian. What, you ask, is Judeo-Georgian? We were looking it up, and Judeo-Georgian is mutually intelligible with ordinary Georgian. There are something like 80,000 speakers in the world, about a quarter in Georgia and about three quarters in Israel. It's controversial whether it is actually a separate language from Georgian.

Back to the movie. The hero is Zaza, a 31-year-old philosophy student. He has been introduced to a hundred different girls, but the matches somehow never go anywhere, to his family's growing despair. Meanwhile Zaza is secretly seeing a divorcee. That's where we left off.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Potty training update XIV

D has had three successful potty trips today, despite the fact that I put him into pull-ups (because he's been sickish).

UPDATE: D made a fourth successful trip.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chinese dragon and hot wax

My husband did two paper Chinese dragon models today: one with C and one with D. C's was further embellished with glow-in-the-dark paint on the eyes. My husband and C also experimented with stamping foreign coins on splashes of hot wax.