Friday, August 31, 2012

College fashion update

I have started to notice a lot of young college women wearing neon-colored athletic shoes.  There is no effort made to match with the rest of the outfit, but it looks fine.    

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bumbleride Indie

The ruby red Bumbleride Indie jogging stroller arrived this afternoon in a small (for a stroller) box.  The kids hauled it in for me and then later in the evening (when I was out grocery shopping) they helped their dad assemble the stroller.  When I came home, it was all ready and a teddy bear was being given rides.  As the internet suggested, the air pump included for the tires for this model doesn't work.  We're going to need to visit a bike shop or similar to get appropriate equipment.  The stroller is, however, light enough for C to pick it up by herself.  We've got it parked near the front door now.  The new car seat will also need to be unpacked and checked in a few weeks. 

I saw the doctor this morning and we're on track.  I'll see her again in two weeks and then every week after that.      

C started her afterschool Spanish this afternoon.  It's a half hour informal thing.  C had her last year of Spanish in 3rd grade and then started Latin in 4th grade.  At the time, she wasn't interested in doing extra Spanish, but now that she's in 5th grade, she wants to do it.  The group meets every day, but of course the kids have other afterschool activities, so there will be many days when she can't make it.  C's other activities will be therapeutic horse riding (on the weekend), school volleyball games (practices during PE, games after school) and CCD (religious education).  We'll see how much of that we can actually manage after the baby is born.  D, meanwhile, only has CCD and may possibly be doing speech therapy at some point.  He will also be starting mandatory school sports in 4th grade, which will be here soon enough.     

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Week 33

There was a good price on a ruby red Bumbleride Indie stroller, so my husband placed the order.  Here's some of what remains to be done for pre-baby preparations:
  • get Pack N Play with bassinet and change table and put in master bedroom
  • get crib (the crib we had up until last year was recalled), assemble and put in office
  • make space for baby clothes storage
  • pull out and launder old baby clothes and sundries
  • pull out and clean old infant equipment
  • make babysitting arrangements 
  • make prenatal appointment with lactation consultant, find out what the current favorite is with regard to bottles, nipples, etc.   
  • do hospital tour with family (already scheduled) 
  • pack hospital bag for me and set out go bags and sleeping bags for kids  
We still haven't done C's room and closet.  The problem is, to do it properly (looking at every item and finding a place for every item), I'd be huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf.     

Monday, August 27, 2012


We've signed the contract for the house we're supposed to buy in May!  There's some fine print now about financing and so forth, but we've paid our earnest money and there's nothing to do until spring.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bumbleride vs. Mountain Buggy

This was the day of my long-awaited pilgrimage to Buy Buy Baby (my favorite baby store ever since we lived in suburban Maryland).  We have several different Buy Buy Babies that are roughly the same distance from us, so I made some phone calls yesterday and found that that the Plano, TX location has the best selection.  I can look at strollers and reviews online, but it's a major investment, so I wanted us to be able to handle the strollers in person.  The whole family went along, the kids being well-supplied with Nova documentaries on my Kindle Fire and Magic Treehouse stories on C's Kindle.

The first of our two contenders is the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle (a compact three-wheeled city jogger).  I wasn't able to see one today, but I've read about and wanted Mountain Buggies for years.  Our second contender (a surprise discovery at BBB) is the Bumbleride Indie.  It's likewise a compact three-wheeled city jogger.  It's 20 pounds (that's astonishingly light!), has a huge canopy (very important) and is good for up to 45 pounds of baby.  For the Bumbleride, I would need to get a parent caddy/cupholder, though.  The Bumbleride's underseat storage is also pretty minimal.  From what I gather from the store and the internet, the Bumbleride Indie weighs 20 pounds, the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle weighs 24 pounds, and the Jeep jogger we also looked at today weighs 30 pounds.  For round-the-neighborhood use, that doesn't really make a difference, but the weight will matter if I am taking the jogger in and out of the car trunk regularly (for instance, for zoo outings).        

On the whole, I think we lean toward the Bumbleride Indie, but I might feel differently if I had had a chance to lay hands on a Mountain Buggy.  I've put both into my Amazon cart to remind me of their existence. We're not buying anything anytime soon, as our apartment is already pretty snug and will feel snugger the more baby stuff we pull out from storage (the office/nursery is going to be nearly impassible within the next couple months).  I'm hoping to use a car seat with our old universal carrier as long as possible and then when that starts to give out, we can start thinking about the question of Bumbleride vs. Mountain Buggy.        

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Unpacking progress

I organized my office in the living room this morning and finally located my laundry markers and checkbook (the latter had been missing for a couple days).  I sharpened a bunch of pencils for kids' homework, organized mending supplies and arranged board games accessibly for the kids.  This means that the living room is now done.  My husband also put away some puzzles in the master bedroom, so we are all unpacked, except for C's room and closet.  I'm not sure how to tackle C's room, but that's the next step.  

Fish sauce

This first day of school got off to a bumpy start, beginning as it did with D coming to our bedroom around 6:35 AM and announcing that he'd broken a bottle.  It turned out to be the large bottle of fish sauce that we kept in the fridge door.  The fridge door shelf had somehow come loose and the only bottle that broke was the stinkiest possible item.  There was a large bottle of rose water on the same shelf, but did it break?  Nope.  My husband managed about 80% of the cleanup (I'm not very good at bending over these days--31 weeks!) and I fetched stuff.  It will be interesting to see how lingering the odor will prove to be.      

I think I will never again purchase any but the smallest bottle of fish sauce.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

School starts tomorrow

Here's some of what's happening:

  • The kids have been making sashes (like Girl Scouts have) and coming up with origami paper badges to put on the sashes.  There are some for paper airplane making and other skills.  I expect the sashes are inspired by the Fireside Girls from Phineas and Ferb.
  • D was working with his train track this morning and created a complicated multiply looping configuration with two bridges, one on top of the other.  
  • School starts tomorrow.  C was determined this morning that today would be the best day of the summer.  We have so much stuff to set out tonight!
  • The kids met their new teachers and inspected their new classrooms last night.  
  • On Saturday, the kids and I went over to the home of a friend with a 1-year-old.  Our mission was to help make paper roses as decorations for the baby shower my friend is helping to throw for me.  I've never had a baby shower before (we were new in DC when we had our kids), so this is pretty thrilling for me.  C made a number of creditable paper flowers.  D struggled a bit, and then went to entertain Baby W, which he did very nicely.  C eventually joined them.  The shower is going to be the week after Labor Day.       
  • It turns out that one of C's closets contained a number of boxes that belonged elsewhere.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that C doesn't have nearly as much stuff to arrange as we thought she did--one closet is actually pretty bare.  So the current list of areas to unpack or rearrange is:  one box of puzzles in our bedroom, games and my office supplies in the living room, and C's room and closets.  It's not that bad, although C's room is going to require 2 or 3 hours of some very finicky "do you need this?" and "do you need that?" work.  I won't be able to do it without her, either.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

New Kumon line

From browsing Amazon, I see that Kumon appears to be launching a new line of workbooks.  Here are some of their newer titles:
  • Kumon Focus on Reducing and Calculating Fractions
  • Kumon Focus on Multiplication and Division with Decimals
  • Kumon Focus on Speed, Proportion & Ratio
Those three titles are all marked as coming out in June 2012 and being for kids 10 and up.  I had been concerned that C was about to outgrow Kumon's product line, so it's nice to see that it's growing with her.  C says we have enough workbooks right now so I'm not ordering anything right now, but I'm definitely intrigued by the Speed, Proportion & Ratio book.       

Grade 6 Fractions

C has finished her Kumon Grade 6 Fractions workbook.  It is a very challenging workbook, with adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing practice.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chocolate Oreo ice cream

My husband reports that the chocolate Oreo ice cream that he and the kids made is REALLY good.  We have at least two quarts of it in the freezer.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Grade 5 Geometry & Measurement

This morning my husband was giving some graduate students an exam and the rest of us were left to our devices.  I planned the whirlwind errand run I blogged earlier today and the kids chose to do Kumon workbooks (they haven't worked on them for a long time).  I am very proud of C, who finished her Kumon Grade 5 Geometry & Measurement book today.  It's a very interesting and challenging workbook.  Today C did work on area, volume, conversions between different units of volume (cubic meters vs. cubic centimeters), volume of oddly shaped figures and four pages of review.  It was a very impressive effort.  Just now, she was working on her Kumon Grade 6 Fractions book.  We haven't touched it for months now, as the last time I was correcting it for her, I discovered that I was having trouble myself getting answers that matched the ones at the back of the book.  My husband went through those four pages with her this evening.  She's very close to the end of the Fractions book.        

Laundry and dishes

D was expressing an interest in learning to do laundry and dishes.  His reasoning was that he has  complaining about it and he wants to see how bad it is.  The kids both helped put in laundry and D had a go at the dishes this evening.  D is still a bit short for both laundry and dishes, but he did what he could.  


We had a ferocious errand schedule this afternoon.  Here's what we did:

  • bought two PE bags at school
  • returned library books
  • picked up fired plates from the kids' last summer camp
  • picked up a few more school supplies at Office Max
  • tried Mardel's for the remaining item (orange plastic folder with brads)--no joy
  • bought D new shoes for school
  • picked up immunization record from pediatrician
  • tried a different Walmart for the orange plastic folder and windshield wiper--success at last! 
All of that somehow happened in barely two hours.  It took a total of four store visits (including two different Walmarts) to secure all of the school supplies

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ice cream and dry ice

Here's a report on two attempts to make ice cream using dry ice and a Kitchenaid stand mixer.

  • My husband was able to buy dry ice at Walmart.  Unfortunately, you can only buy it in large quantities (he bought about $8 worth--about 7 pounds), so that expense alone moves this project out of the "food" category and into the "entertainment" category, because for just the price of dry ice, you can buy some pretty nice ice cream at the store.  He was able to do two two quart batches on successive days along with some "science" experiments (shattering broccoli, making fizzy limead, etc.).  The dry ice kept fine in our cooler for nearly 24 hours.  The internet directions my husband and the kids were working from said that the dry ice/stand mixer process works with any ice cream recipe.  Bear in mind that some ice cream recipes call for raw eggs and do that or substitute (for instance pasteurized egg product), according to your risk preference.
  • The first batch (mint Oreo from a Ben & Jerry's recipe) was prepared yesterday.  They pulverized the dry ice to the consistency of coarse snow.  As they discovered (when the mixture bubbled over onto the counter, cabinets and floor) it is very important to add the dry ice slowly to the mixture in the stand mixer.  That said, the stuff that stayed in the mixing bowl was fine.  You know you're done, because the mixer literally stops mixing.  The CO2 from the dry ice percolates through the ice cream, making it fluffy and frozen (and too cold to eat immediately) right in the bowl.  The texture is very light, which I value after my previous ventures with the salt-and-ice machine, which tended to produce brick-like ice cream.  An additional issue is that the ice cream is initially fizzy and has a soda flavor that may or may not be desirable.  I don't like it myself.  For best results, leave uncovered in the freezer until the fizz dissipates.  It will be tastier the next day.        
  • My husband and the kids did a second batch today.  They used a chocolate ice cream recipe from the Ben & Jerry's book, adding the leftover Oreos.  The mixture bubbled over slightly onto the counter, but there were no major disasters.
  • We are talking about inviting over another family to make ice cream with us (they would need to bring a cooler and containers).  
  • One issue of possible concern is that the process may make different ice cream flavors taste very similar (namely soda-ish), but determining whether that is so or not will require further research.            

Monday, August 6, 2012

Clerical work

I just had a long morning getting up-to-date on my email, locating the school supply list in my junk mail folder, reading through the end-of-year packet that got sent home in May and recording important upcoming school dates in my calendar.  My brain is so fried.  I don't think we've missed anything important, although we didn't do the summer read-aloud book (it was mentioned on the very last page of the packet that I haven't opened in two months) and we have at least one dubious uniform item (there have been so many changes in the uniform code over the past several years that I've got uniform fatigue).  There is a large chunk of my brain currently devoted to the minutiae of the school uniform rules (green sweater vest for D on Tuesdays between Thanksgiving and Easter, school spirit shirt and jeans on Fridays, pack PE clothes on Tuesday and Thursday for D, pack PE clothes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for C, etc.) that I'm hoping to reclaim some day.  I can't argue with any individual rule, but it requires way more of my brain than it ought to.  And every few years, the kids graduate into a different uniform category, requiring new items and new rules for wear.  

Here's what minimally remains to be done before school starts a week and a half from today:

  • buy D black or white tennis shoes
  • purchase school supplies and label
  • buy two PE bags from school
  • label uniforms (I'm waiting on my Landsend order to come in before beginning)
It's all either tasks that require an outing or tasks that require stuff I don't have yet.  There's also a parent orientation night and a meet-the-teacher night just before school starts.  I think we can manage this.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday II

Here's some more:
  • After two days of rest in plastic bags, the kids' tie dye shirts from art camp have been rinsed out and are soaking in a bucket with lots of salt and vinegar.  The next step is to launder and dry them.  There was something about using fabric softener when washing, but I looked online and it seems like that is probably optional.  We don't keep fabric softener at home, so I'm going to skip it.  Give me a yell if that's a big mistake.  The other issue with the process is that the directions say to use cold water during the rinsing step.  Well, in early August in Texas, there is no cold tap water, so I just used the coldest water that I can get.  
  • My husband came across a recipe for making ice cream in a stand mixer with pulverized dry ice (they say it freezes beautifully in minutes, with the dry ice making for a very nice texture).  After some discussion, we've settled on a mint Oreo recipe from the Ben and Jerry's ice cream cookbook (we'll be using pasteurized egg product rather than the raw eggs that lead to so many cases of homemade ice cream salmonella).  We have a conventional ice-and-salt ice cream maker that has been untouched for half a decade.  I made several batches when I first got the machine in DC, but 1) the quantities are huge and 2) it doesn't freeze very hard in the machine, so it comes out as soft serve and then turns into solid ice in the freezer.  We had a second smaller much machine that you put in the freezer, but I guess our freezer wasn't cold enough.  I gave it away a couple years back.  If the dry ice method works as well as the internet says it does, I may well give away the ice-and-salt machine, too.      


Here's some of what has been happening:

  • I forget if I mentioned it, but our home parish now has an Indian missionary priest as pastor.  The college chaplaincy also has a new pastor.  The Nigerian missionary priest who was here for several years is going off to graduate school and the new pastor is an American with a Chinese surname.  We went there this morning for mass and there were incense and new vestments for the married deacon.   
  • We saw a family at mass that have been gone for a year to the frozen north and took them out for fajitas at our favorite quick-service Mexican place. 
  • The kids had a jolly time helping my their dad make orange jello and sticking fresh mandarin slices in it.  We don't do a lot of jello at our house, so it's a novelty and they are quite willing to accept that it as a dessert.    
  • C has been doing LEGO Mindstorms this afternoon.

Decor uber alles

I got the September 2012 House Beautiful in the mail a couple days ago and have been enjoying it very much.  It's the color issue and the cover photo has a very interesting silver and blue velvet color scheme. Inside, there's a very striking article about a Santa Fe, New Mexico kitchen in a 1919 adobe house.  The kitchen has rough beams and is painted a dark yellow (or light orange) to set off an extensive collection of rustic pottery.  It's more a museum than a kitchen.  As the homeowner herself says, "I'm not big on cooking.  My kitchen is really a pottery expo."  Nonetheless, she's got a $7k Viking stove in the kitchen.    

Saturday, August 4, 2012

D's closet

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Our old rental house is gone, as is the entire old neighborhood, aside from the larger trees.
  • Around our new neighborhood, I notice that several small older houses have also recently been demolished, probably with the goal of turning them into student rentals like the one we currently occupy.  
  • The trashy downstairs neighbors have moved out!  There are sounds of maintenance going on downstairs and I've told C to play her recorder to her heart's content.  (Her previous downstairs neighbor was known to tap on the ceiling for playing the recorder during what would normally be perfectly neighborly daylight hours.)  
  • This morning, my husband, D and I rearranged D's closet, working on accessibility.  This is one of the final steps in our unpacking.  The remaining to dos are:  unpack and arrange my office stuff in the living room (a small job just for me) and work on C's room (probably a job for my husband, C and me).  C has been unpacking by herself, so we need to sift her room and also go through all of the boxes in her closet and arrange stuff according to how accessible it needs to be for the coming year.    
  • C is snowboarding on the Wii.  
  • School is coming very, very fast!  I got in a final Landsend uniform order yesterday.  There's a lot to do in the next week and a half.