Sunday, December 13, 2015

Hi, Sarah!

Here's some of what's happening!  (I got a Christmas card mentioning the blog, so I thought I should put up something new.)

  • The leaves have finally started coming down hard, but the temperatures have been oddly high off and on.  I haven't had to wear socks much yet.
  • I forget if I blogged this previously, but C had her class play.  It was a short version of Shakespeare, she had a minor role, and it went fine.  It was a big relief to be done, as the drama teacher had been having the kids do an average of two hours of outside-school practice every single day, including the day of the play when they also had an in-school performance and an after-school performance.    
  • C has been practicing Christmas carols on her ukulele and she and D have tried singing and playing.
  • Very excitingly, it looks like there's an instrumental music class at school next year for the class C will be in then.  The ensemble plays in chapel and C says they are very good.  That will be both a nice music and social experience for C if she gets to play with them.  
  • D continues to enjoy the big college climbing wall.  He's also interested in visiting other climbing walls and a local trampoline park.  It looks like the trampoline park may be offering morning toddler hours, so very excited! 
  • I have some big Christmas plans for day trips/excursions, which may or may not happen:  a climbing wall, a field trip to a big city music store so C can try out ukuleles, the trampoline park and ice skating.  It may be possible to combine some of those.  
  • One more week of school, with a varying number of half-days for the kids (C has several exam days).
  • In a frenzy of Christmas spirit, I ordered a blue large-print hibiscus Hawaiian shirt for C, a red one for C, and then a matching red hibiscus print dress for Baby T.  (I just asked D if he wants one too--NOPE!)  
  • We recently got a recumbent bike (mainly for me) because I had been enjoying using the recumbent bike at the college gym and watching HGTV on my Kindle Fire.  (Yay, capitalism!)  Having had a number of not-so-great conventional stationary bike experiences, I've really been enjoying the recumbent bike--the posture is better, the seat is more comfortable, it's an all-round fantastic product.  We wanted to get the bike for me so I'd be able to exercise over Christmas.  One of the ironies of life just off a college campus is that when you really NEED exercise (Thanksgiving break or 2+ weeks of Christmas break) the gym is closed.  Fortunately, we have a big enough house that exercise equipment doesn't crowd us out.  Both big kids have enjoyed trying out the bike.    
  • With regard to Christmas stuff, I think we have bought just about all the gifts we should buy (which is not to say we won't buy more).  Somehow, between the three of them, our kids have five Christmas parties (two school, one preschool, two (?) CCD).  We're supposed to send something for just about every one, which looks like it may delay our family Christmas preparations quite a lot.  One down, four to go.
  • Baby T's preschool teacher sent home a paper stocking for us to decorate for her.  I subcontracted that out to C.  She didn't do a conventional red and white stocking, but she did ADORABLE Sharpie animals (including penguins and what looks like a winged dragon in a Santa cap) and then Baby T colored it all orange.
  • I haven't seen C draw animals other than dragons and horses for a long time, so it was nice to see her artistic range.    
  • It looks like the big kids will try fencing again in January.  

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Pony birthdays

Baby T asks out of the blue, "Do ponies have birthday apples?"

She noted that, "Horsies eat apples, too!"

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I was having a couple distracted minutes and then went to look for Baby T.  I discovered that she had taken off her old wet diaper, put it into the bathroom trash, then ripped open a new pack of pullup on the stairs and put a fresh pullup on.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Little People go to Starbucks

This morning I went into Baby T's room and found that she had loaded up her pink Little People car with a Little People kangaroo, pig and chicken.  I pointed that out to Baby T and she told me that they were going to Starbucks.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Dumbo and Thanksgiving

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Dumbo is Baby T's new go-to, as well as the only full-length movie she sits through.
  • At bedtime, Baby T likes to talk about what she wants to dream about--for instance Dora, My Little Ponies or Dumbo
  • She also likes to tell me what she wants to do the next day.  For instance, a night or two ago, she wanted to go to the "drive thru zoo" the next morning.  (The drive thru safari was what we did for her birthday about 6 or 7 weeks ago.)
  • For Thanksgiving we had a largely store provided feast, but I did the cranberries and sweet potatoes from scratch.
  • While I was cooking, my husband took all of the kids for an outing to the big wild city park.  Baby T loved the outing (I think this is her first walk in the real woods) but did have a tendency to run off.  
  • I made a full plate up for Baby T for Thanksgiving dinner, but she had me remove everything except the turkey and sweet potatoes.  She liked that, though.  She also liked the pumpkin pie and was dismayed when it was all gone and we were starting the apple pie, which is not her thing.
  • We've been surviving the Thanksgiving cafeteria closure pretty well.
  • On Black Friday, my husband took Baby T and C to the zoo (it was a rainy day, but they did a lot of indoor exhibits), took C and D rollerskating (C tried rollerblades and was very good) and then drove C to a playdate out in the far suburbs to learn to make crepes from a friend's visiting French grandma.  Baby T and I went to the big strip mall in the late morning and it wasn't crazy while we were there (but it was getting that way after lunch).  With Baby T's assistance, I bought a pair of Carter's fleece two-piece pjs with polar bears (on sale AND with a coupon).  She was very pleased and carried it around the whole visit.  Baby T is a phenomenal walker now and we visited stores on the strip mall and then walked back to the car.  She wore the new pjs last night over a pair of normal cotton pjs (long story, but my husband has specially adapted a number of pairs of pjs with velcro panels so that Baby T cannot remove them at night or during naps).    
  • We encouraged the big kids to get to work on their Christmas lists and the Christmas shopping is starting.  We have finally gotten lists from the kids.  C helped Baby T draft one, but I think I will get more usable intelligence from taking Baby T to Toys R Us and observing.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Baby T prefers pumpkin to apple pie.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Drawing Marlin and Nemo

Previously, Baby T had been having me draw many many iterations of Marlin and Nemo.  It's fortunately pretty easy to draw clownfish--draw fish outline and add stripes.

Lately, Baby T has kicked it up a notch--she's still having me draw the fish outlines, but now she wants to add the stripes herself.

My Little Ponies

As I was putting Baby T to bed, she told me that she was planning to have dreams of My Little Ponies eating cookies and being happy.  Awwww!

Previously, Baby T used to talk at bedtime about having Dora dreams.

Monday, November 16, 2015


Here's some of what is happening:

  • D is home sick and missing a field trip to the Big City.  Bummer! 
  • Baby T has her kid table all set up for a pretend birthday party.  She was just feeding me some Melissa and Doug pretend birthday cake.  "Happy birthday to you!" she says.
  • After a year of minimal use, Baby T is really getting into her pretend fruits and veggies.  Her fancy kitchen is also getting a lot of attention.
  • "Clean up!  Clean up!  Everybody do your share!" she's singing while putting stuff away.  Bless you, parents' day out teachers.
  • Yesterday Baby T was telling me that at her next birthday, she will be four.
  • "I'm setting up the animals to have a picnic!" says Baby T.
  • C is now taller than me!
  • A few years ago, the big kids' school instituted a senior trip to Europe.  I went to the informational meeting at the end of C's 7th (!) grade year this past spring.  We've had some talks with C about trip savings.  She's going to need to earn and save $77 a month (!) for 52 months (!) to cover the trip.  She really wants to go but that's a pretty daunting sum for a 13-year-old.  She has a lot of small home earning options that do easily add up to $77 a month, but it's $1 at a time, so it requires a lot of diligence.  The good news is that being 13, C is showing a greater and greater amount of childcare know-how, so her earning power is going to be increasing exponentially over the next two years.  She has the opportunity to do some neighborhood babysitting for a family we know well (probably in about a year) and I think I could be comfortable with her babysitting Baby T by herself in two years.  We've also discussed the possibility of C giving Baby T ukulele lessons in two years for pay.  (C has been chomping at the bit to give Baby T a ukulele but I want to wait another year for that.)  Obviously, a lot of this income for C is going to be coming from us, but we will hopefully be getting good value.  
  • I'd like us to do a monthly check-in with C to see how she is doing, probably on budget night.  
  • I've also ordered C a second piggy bank (it's actually a see-through pink teddy bear) in addition to her current clear piggy bank.  The plan is that during the month, she can save her month's earnings in the pink teddy.  At the end of the month, we need to count up her earnings for the month.  We will bank anything up to $77, but anything over $77 will go into the clear piggy and she can spend it as she likes.  The $77 gets banked and then she starts the next month with an empty pink teddy bear.  A little complicated, but C gets it.   
  • D would like to save for a car instead.
  • I kind of hate to see C sweating away for nearly 4.5 years just to go on a brief trip, but it is her choice, and if she changes her mind, she can do something different.
  • We did have official savings accounts for the big kids, but we're phasing that out, as keeping track of the taxes and passwords for the small accounts was putting a lot of wear and tear on my husband.  The current plan is that we will keep a sort of virtual Bank of Mom and Dad for the big kids.  The sweetener is that the Bank of Mom and Dad will offer 3% interest on their accounts, which is pretty darn sweet these days.  (The catch is that the kids only get to access those funds for approved expenses--car savings, senior trip, etc.)    

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Our weather finally flipped over from a hot fall and we've finally got some morning lows in the 50s.  I pulled out Baby T's turtlenecks from the closet and put them into the playpen where we've been keeping her clothes.  (Not an elegant solution, but the playpen keeps them in one place and she's able to reach all of them.  This is really important, as Baby T's morning clothes selection process involves a lot of trial and error, and I would go bananas if I were taking half a dozen shirts off hangers for her and then needing to put them back on.  We'll eventually get Baby T a wardrobe with hangers at a level that she can reach and manage, but that can wait a bit.)  Her initial try at an outfit this morning was (if I'm remembering correctly), two striped turtlenecks on top of each other, a sleeveless lavender tutu dress on top and some zebra print knit pants.

In a week or two more, I'll give Baby T her corduroy pants.  The turtlenecks and the corduroys are the fun part.  The not-so-fun part is the fact that Baby T is going to need to wear SOCKS soon and putting on socks is a pain.  

Baby T has also gone big into leopard print.  At last count we have:  a pair of leopard ears, leopard stretch pants, a leopard print knit dress and a snuggly faux leopard fur jacket.

Marlin and Nemo

Although Baby T has never been willing to sit through Finding Nemo, she is charmed by the stuffed Nemo that one of the big kids got at Disneyland years ago.  The stuffed Nemo is one of her favorite companions.  She also loves to ask me to draw her Marlin and Nemo (the daddy fish and the baby fish) on scrap paper.  I've drawn them for her in orange and purple crayon--fortunately the clown fish is pretty easy to do a rough version of--draw a basic fish and just add a few stripes.  All done!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Halloween vs. Christmas

C (age 13) says:  I love Halloween!
Baby T (age 3) says:  And I love Christmas!

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Here's some of what's happening:

  • I got the bug that everybody else had earlier this week and am taking today off.  I was thinking of taking off Sunday, too, but I don't think that will be necessary, as my bug is less lingering than the one C had (she was out of school Tuesday-Friday).
  • I've signed both big kids up for a cupcake decorating class!  
  • Baby T has been saying, "I want to get something new from the store every day."  Ooooookay!
  • We are having torrential rains.  Up until now, October had been very dry, and I was running the sprinkler.
  • I used to do the treadmill A LOT, but then had to give it up on my podiatrist's advice.  I tried the elliptical after that (we even bought one), but I got peroneal tendonitis within about two weeks.  Back in the summer of 2014, I tried several more suitable classes (yoga, aquacize and spinning) but having to go to class at particular times was not a good fit for our schedule or lifestyle.  But, at least for the moment, I've finally got something I can do at the gym again--I've been going and doing the stationary bicycle and watching Fixer Upper, the Texas-based HGTV renovation show.   

Friday, October 23, 2015

Baby T wants new boots

It's raining hard outside and Baby T says, "I want new yellow boots because they're yellow"  Then she changed her mind, "just red boots."

Friday, October 9, 2015

Baby T notes

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T says that when she gets bigger, she'll turn into Nemo and swim like a fish.  (????)
  • Baby T and I were tucking D into bed.  Baby T wished him Dora dreams, that being what she enjoys.  (!!!!!)
  • Baby T talked me into buying a set of a dozen Dora the Explorer mini-books at Barnes and Noble today.
  • We got a big cheesecake sampler to celebrate Baby T's third birthday this weekend.
  • C has been doing some very interesting fantasy drawings of dragons in art.  
  • C is very close to being able to buy a very nice (but not top-of-the-line) ukulele.
  • D can walk a little on his hands and is continuing to make progress on the college climbing wall.
  • He made a "Happy B-Day" sign for Baby T out of LEGO. 
  • The kids have all been enjoying My Little Pony:  Friendship is Magic.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fossil Rim

We are splitting up the various Baby T birthday festivities due to some upcoming work travel.  Here's some of what is happening:

  • This past weekend we went to Fossil Rim, the drive-thru safari in Glen Rose TX.  I suspect we could have gotten through quicker on a week day--the people ahead of us were generously feeding the animals.  
  • Lots of deer-type critters.  Wow, there are a lot of different critters with twisty and pointy horns!
  • The European red deer stag is surprisingly majestic--I didn't realize that European deer were so large.
  • Fossil Rim has a nice collection of giraffes and we had a very nice view, including a baby giraffe.  We also got to see the zebras up close and a Przewalski's horse from far off.
  • C was very helpful in figuring out what the animals were from our park brochure.
  • The cafe in the middle of the park has a lovely overlook of the park.
  • There's also a children's center near the cafe.  Kids can pet goats (Baby T was grooming one) and see tortoises and parrots up close.  Not a major attraction, but nice to get out for.
  • Baby T didn't get her scheduled nap and fell asleep in the car just as we were leaving the park and headed to dinner.  We were able to have a nice Chinese dinner in Glen Rose with her sleeping in her stroller.
  • Lately, Baby T has been more and more flexible about her nap time, but she doesn't make it through the day without one.  If we skip it for some reason, she's very likely to fall asleep over dinner or in the car.  
  • In future, it might be nice to do a guided tour.  
  • Baby T's new Schwinn balance bike from grandma and grandpa arrived this morning!      

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ukulele trip plans

As of yesterday, C has $400 in practice credit, so we could go to Austin to do ukulele trying-out any day now.  But, as it happens, it's probably going to need to be sometime during the week before Thanksgiving.  I'm encouraging C to keep plugging away, as I suspect that there may be some good options in the next price range up.  For instance, I see that Martin sells their most basic concert ukulele for $479.  And who knows what may be available used...

Here's what I'm thinking:

  • she tries out ukuleles in Austin at Fiddler's Green (and maybe we should do the Austin Guitar Center, too)
  • if that doesn't work, we order in the more promising options from Guitar Center one at a time and she tries them out
  • if that doesn't work, we go to Austin again in a few months and try again (the stock should have shifted a little by then) 
I've also occasionally seen some good leads in the big city Craigslists.

So, that should keep us busy for a while.

We still have $2400 left from C's settlement (we've only spent about $100 of it).  With $700 for therapeutic riding in the fall and then $700 for therapeutic riding in the spring, that leaves $1000, which is a nice chunk of money for a ukulele.   

Of course, it may be that C actually prefers the sound of something less expensive.  We shall see...

She'll also need a new concert-sized case.  I think it ought to be a hard case for the price ranges I've been mentioning.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fall is coming

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Fall is coming!  Our highs are just barely into the 90s now and I believe we've had some morning lows in the 60s.
  • Lots of little geckos around the house.
  • The current weekly extracurricular load is:  fencing for both kids, CCD for both kids, therapeutic riding for C and ukulele lesson for C.  D also does a lot of rock climbing at the college gym.  We're ducking heavy sports involvement at school.     
  • C has been kind of negative about the fencing but I'd like her to finish out the month.  The fencing coach is also tapering down the schedule from a weekly to a twice monthly schedule.  As we get toward the end of the month, we'll have to figure out whether both C and D or just D will do fencing in October and November.    
  • So, we're several weeks into parents' day out.  I'm not achieving miracles of productivity, but the laundry is mostly caught up, the email isn't a month behind, and I have enough spare time to get ideas and do something about them.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Baby T's plans

Lately, Baby T has started making plans at bedtime and before naps for what she's going to do after she gets up.  Some of them (like "watch Dora" or "watch Blue") are immediately feasible.  Some of them are less so (toy store, zoo and children's museum).  She also talks about how she's going to have "Dora dreams" when she sleeps.

Baby T has also gotten more and more interested in letters.  Her bedtime staple these days is a large alphabet puzzle with an animal for almost every letter (with some cheating for V and X).  She obviously knows the majority of the letters and she knows many pairs (for instance "o is for octopus" and "t is for tiger").

She isn't thrilled about parents' day out (and she's kind of negative about going), but once we're there, she's very content and busy.  And, very importantly, it looks like potty training is well underway at parents' day out!  I plan to gear up after her 3rd birthday.

Long time no blog

Sorry, dear readers!

Here's some of what's been happening:

  • The big kids started school (C is in 8th grade and D is in 5th).
  • Baby T went from one day a week of parents' day out to two days.
  • C has returned to riding at the therapeutic horse place.  
  • The big kids are doing fencing this month.
  • C is working on getting "I'm a Yankeee Doodle Dandy" on the ukulele.  Her teacher wants her to perform it with him at the jam night that they do for students, ideally at 230-240 beats per minute.  (That's fast!)  
  • We have an agreement under which she gets $2 credited to her new ukulele account for every 15 minute practice.  Given that she's been working under the plan for months now, she's getting very close to $400.  $400-$500 will get something nice, although the upper tier of ukuleles is $1000ish and I don't think we'll wait that long.
  • C and I are planning a field trip to Fiddler's Green in Austin.  They have what looks like an amazing range of ukuleles.
  • I had for years been thinking, what's so special about Austin, but now that C has gotten serious about music, I'm starting to understand--there are resources in Austin that I've never seen elsewhere.
  • If we can manage it, we'll try to go to Hula Hut in Austin, which is a "Mexonesian" restaurant. 
  • This is still in the thinking stages right now, but C is thinking of starting a ukulele club at school next year.  If the school OKs it, I think we could do it.  We'd probably need to buy a few extra ukuleles, though.  Probably 2 or 3 $50 plastic ones would be a good start.  (There are ukuleles available for $40 and $50 that are real musical instruments and offer a lot of value for the money.)  
  • D is continuing to do rock climbing.
  • He also is very good at cartwheels.
  • We are gearing up for Baby T's birthday in the next month.  The initial plan is a drive-thru safari trip for the family and maybe cheesecake (Baby T's favorite!) with friends at home.  Simple and fun!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Still a minion!

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T is still a minion.  In fact, she's now a "little yellow minion."
  • I was contemplating getting a really cute $9 or $10 (!) minion soap pump at the store for Baby T, but I'm pretty sure she'd start taking it to bed.
  • Baby T is still on an insane independence kick.  She wants to do everything herself, and if you do anything for her, she'll squeak and start all over again.  But, as my husband suggests, this may mean sweet liberation for us within a year.  It also bodes very well for potty training.
  • Baby T can put on shoes, shirts, dresses (the no-button kind), shorts and she is starting to work on pants.
  • She's starting to develop a taste for frozen treats.
  • She says she is 3, not 2.  (She's 2, but she'll be 3 in early October.)
  • Got to get that party planning in gear!  I'm thinking some sort of drive thru safari type thing (very common in Texas).
  • D continues to shine at the college climbing wall.
  • D's 5th grade teacher threw the class a pool party this weekend.
  • C is starting 8th grade very soon! 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

New minion!

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T wants to be called "minion."
  • C had a playdate with a chum yesterday.  The chum left the kid's school after 6th grade, so this was a big deal.  We had lunch with the chum and the chum's mom, C taught D and her chum how to do cupcake decorating (with beautiful results--a sunflower, some roses, and various squiggles!) and then the kids played Skylanders.  There was not enough time for as much Skylanders as the kids wanted, but it was a three-hour playdate as it was, so...
  • Baby T has been saying a lot of "I love you!" and "I like you!" as well as telling less favored individuals "I don't like you!"  Somehow, being more favored means more diapers to change...

Monday, August 3, 2015

Zoo on foot

I forgot to mention that Baby T did the whole zoo on foot today when we went with friends.

We normally don't do the zoo during the summer, but this morning it was relatively cool at 9 when we met friends.  It wasn't by the time we left!

Baby T wants bed

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Our neighbor and her three big children brought by a slice of something and the announcement of a new baby at their house!  They're doing the rounds of the neighborhood.
  • Baby T asked to be put to bed around 8:30 PM tonight and headed upstairs of her own accord.  As usual she and I dressed several animals in her extra pajamas, dressed her for bed, and did some puzzles.
  • Thank goodness we haven't been reading potty training books at bedtime lately!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

More independence

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T is riding less and less in the stroller and pushing it more and more.
  • She likes to push everything--strollers, grocery carts, her push tricycle.
  • I had a strategic error yesterday.  I thought I was going to push her to Starbucks on campus in the Kettler trike we recently got back and get something to eat there.  She had just gotten up from a nap.  Well, Starbucks was closed and it was super hot.  I had water for her but no food and I didn't have anything to eat, either.  Baby T wanted to push the trike home but kept flipping it over.  I wound up carrying her most of the way home.  Oh, yeah, and I discovered at some point that I'd left behind a favorite sippy, a water bottle for me and a big pack of baby wipes, but there was no way that I was turning back to get them.  (The only regret is the favorite sippy--it was a really nice one spoutless one that the dentist had given us.)  Also, Baby T is able to stick her feet on the ground in front of the wheels and impede motion.
  • So, I don't think I will repeat that trip anytime soon, and particularly not during the summer.  We could take the trike in the van to the campus loop and do that.
  • Baby T went to bed this evening without a snack--her choice.
  • She has realized that she can pull her kid chair over to the light switch and turn it on.  So from now on, we'll need to check her room for lights when we go to bed.
  • We may need to consider a night light.
  • Bedtime for Baby T currently involves first dressing critters in her spare pjs and then her being dressed in the remaining pair.  (She zips the animals into her pjs but I need to do the final snap.)  She tries to do as much as she can during the process, even putting her arms into the sleeves.  She also changes her own wet pullups a lot of the time.
  • She also has a thing for restaurant high chairs now.  Only problem--she likes both getting in and out of them.  She also likes pushing them to our table, which is not a problem.
  • One of today's new experiences was Baby T attempting to manage a paper towel dispenser.
  • She also was filling her sippy from a drinking fountain.
  • I have never seen a child so determined to master the adult world.  But she's so small!  And it's so big! 
  • We went to Petco today and Baby T was out of the stroller, so she got to see everything at her pace.  There weren't any kitties, but she got to visit the ferrets, the birds, the little iguanas, and the fish.   

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New stuff

Baby T is lately very taken by the concept of "new" things.

So, she's been talking a lot about the new ducky and the new Dora and Diego toothbrush she got at the dentist.  We also got back an old Kettler trike with pushbar we had lent out and T has been told that it is for her.  Baby T can see it from her playroom out on the patio and she's very excited about it.  (By the way, I haven't tried it out myself, but the Kettler trike is about 10 years old and is apparently in fine shape.  Yay, German engineering!)

Monday, July 27, 2015

I do myself III

One more thing.

You may wonder, well Xantippe, what about the potty training?  Isn't Baby T clamoring to use the potty by herself?  Not so much.  She still occasional visits the potty, but to no effect.

I do myself II

I forgot a big one.

Up until a day or two ago, Baby T was driving me a little nuts with asking for one DVD or VHS tape, interfering with pressing buttons while I was trying to rewind or whatever, and then repeatedly changing her mind as to which video she wanted.

We've recently settled the issue by me letting Baby T operate the VHS and DVD player herself.  She still needs my help to rewind, but it's a much happier division of labor!

I do myself

Our Baby T is in the middle of a big outbreak of "I do myself."  Unfortunately, not everything she wants to do are things she's either capable of or allowed to do.  On the bright side, her struggles 1) keep her busy and 2) lessen my responsibilities (until cleanup time, of course!).  I need to bear in mind that we need way more time to get ready to go somewhere than we used to.  (Yesterday it turned out that 30 minutes wasn't quite enough time to get Baby T out of the house after a nap.)  Here are some highlights:

  • Baby T graduated herself from the feeding seat a few months ago.  The first sign of the handwriting on the wall was her insisting that the feeding seat was just for her stuffed animals.
  • Baby T has also been insisting that her stroller is primarily for her to push her stuffed animals in.  But I still manage to get her into the stroller, probably 50% of the time.
  • Baby T wants to open the minivan doors and if she finds it already open, she is indignant.  Ideally, I should wait until her hands are on the handle and then push the button to open the door.  She thinks she's opening the door as long as she's touching it.  
  • She wants to do the buckles on both the stroller and her car seat.  She manages the top buckle in the car seat pretty good, but it takes so looooong for her to do the stroller snaps.
  • Related:  If I start doing something for her that she wants to do herself, she has to go back several steps to the beginning and start the whole process again.
  • Baby T is now primarily using open cups at home.  She is very fond of the Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse toddler souvenir cups I bought the big kids when we went to Disneyland 4 years ago that the big kids never really used.  
  • She likes filling her cups up with water herself.
  • She is constantly pushing the stepladder around the kitchen to get at the sink and cupboards.
  • She likes getting her own spoons from the drawer and her own dishes from the dishwasher.  Fortunately, so far she just goes for the baby stuff.
  • She is now able to open the lids on her baby yogurt pouches.
  • She likes opening up packets of crackers.
  • She wants to pour milk and cereal.  I got a Rubbermaid cereal keeper and a quart bottle of milk and provide a little discreet help.   
We've also removed her crib from her room leaving her with the crib mattress on the floor, so she is freer than ever before in her room.  I also often find her asleep face down in the carpet or on a blanket on the carpet. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

So adorable!

Baby T was watching an Elmo segment on soccer.  She went off, got the family soccer ball, and brought it to the living room to play with.  Awww!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Here's some of what's happening:

  • C had her final cake decorating class.  She did a two layer chocolate mix cake with (good) store pudding and Wilton frosting.  She took it to class filled with pudding and iced with chocolate and in class, she added red flowers and green stems and leaves.  Her leaves were really good!  We were all impressed.
  • Ideally, I'd just put C in the cake classes until she finished out all of them, but we are all EXHAUSTED by her cake decorating class.  That sounds silly until you realize that my husband made the famous Hershey's cake on Saturday for C's birthday, C had to take two layers in to class on Monday to ice in class, and on Wednesday she needed to bring in an iced and filled two layer cake.  So, the better part of a week has been consumed with hunting up ingredients, baking cakes, cooling cakes, icing cakes, washing up pans, transporting cakes, icing cakes, and disassembling and cleaning equipment afterwards and then doing it all over again in a day or two.  Hence the mix cake, store pudding and Wilton icing... 
  • But, that said, I think we can pull ourselves together to do a class at least once a year, especially if C is able to take over more of the process.
  • We had a surprisingly passionate family discussion on the subject of cupcakes versus cakes.  I'm pro-cupcake.  C and my husband (who are coincidentally the primary bakers in the family) are anti-cupcake and pro-cake.  We united in deploring the cupcake cake.  Blech!
  • Speaking of cake controversies, C may skip learning to do fondant.  No matter how adorable the fondant cakes on Cake Wrecks are, none of us like the taste.  I hear rumors that a better-tasting fondant is in the works, but I'm skeptical.  
  • Now that D has new furniture, D and I went through everything in his room, bathroom and closet.  It looks fabulous!  I'm so tired.
  • Baby T somehow got a bump during her nap this afternoon, so we removed her crib from her room tonight.  Tonight is her first night with just her crib mattress in her room.  So far, so good.  Baby T first started to try to get out of her crib about a year ago, so my husband sawed the legs off of her crib to make falls less dangerous.  That produced a much safer bed situation and bought us a year.  She's mostly stayed in her bed (even though she could get out), but for the last week or two, she's been coming and going at will.  We've been finding her curled up on her carpet or change table first thing in the morning and at the end of naps.     
  • Once the dust settles, we should get Baby T a twin mattress for the floor and some big girl bedding.  For the moment, we'll also probably get her a large laundry basket to keep her stuff handy at night.   

Sunday, July 19, 2015

More birthday weekend

Here's more of what's happening:

  • We did a huge trip on Friday that included a recon visit to a climbing wall.  It's shorter than our college wall but has more interesting and challenging surfaces.  We also had lunch at our favorite Indian lunch buffet and then did IKEA.  This was a long awaited trip to finish out D's furniture (we got him his first real bed this spring).  There was lots of thinking and figuring and mapping, but I think we got it right.  We got D a massive Hemnes dresser (now successfully assembled by my husband and D!) and a modest Micke (?) desk and a medium Kallax cube set, all in brown black.  The desk and Kallax cube set are still in boxes, but there's reason to hope that they will be less complex than the dresser, which has six drawers.  Up until now, D's room has been dominated by various cheap toddler storage items, so it's going to be a big step up for him.  
  • The climbing place is on the table as a birthday treat for D for next year.
  • Baby T has been very independent the last several days.  She wants to do everything herself, even if it's not at all feasible.  She eventually lets me help, but only after repeated failure.  
  • On the bright side, her self-dressing is improving all the time.
  • She also likes dressing several stuffed animals in pjs before bed (I get to do the snaps).
  • But it takes forever.   
  • C got a mint version of the classic Hershey chocolate cake for her birthday.  It's very fudgy.  
  • C got her birthday gifts today.  We got her several ukulele books and a couple music theory books (the chord wheel, music composition), several t-shirts coordinated to her interests (horses, Minecraft, Star Trek), a Star Wars Storm Trooper water bottle, a LEGO LOTR game (her daddy's idea) and Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2.  The big kids have been playing the LEGO LOTR game, but Baby T has been interfering.   

Happy Birthday, C!

Here's some of what's happening:

  • C is 13 today!
  • Baby T has recently started wanting to put on multiple t-shirts and wear them all at the same time.  She's got two on right now over breakfast.  It just occurred to me that there's method to her madness--after breakfast I can just peel off the top t-shirt and she'll be ready for the day.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Baby T getting stuff done by herself

Here's some of what's happening:

  • The big kids are in the middle of a two-week YMCA swim course.
  • Baby T loves zipping her stuffed critters into her pjs.
  • Baby T has learned to rip her way out of her pjs even with the zipper pulls removed.  We have switched to footless pjs worn backwards.  So far, so good!
  • Baby T is suddenly very independent-minded and wants to do everything by herself with no assistance.  If you start helping her, she'll go back to the beginning to do it right without help.
  • Baby T was actually pretty good at church!
  • She's 2 months 9 months old now.  Woohoo!
  • C has her 13th birthday in about a week.
  • D continues to amaze on the college climbing wall.
  • The big kids washed two BIG windows and a glass door for me yesterday (with materials, instruction, screen help and touch-ups provided by my husband).  My husband also managed to wash the rest of the downstairs windows, including our massive double height entry window.  The kids got $15 each and frozen yogurt.    

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Here's some of what's happening:

  • D continues to cultivate his dill plant outside.  There is talk of planting peppers!
  • Baby T talks about Phineas and Ferb (a popular cartoon at our house) as "Candace," that being her favorite character.
  • C frosted a brownie with the American flag for 4th of July.  It was a nice job!  Last year was the Canadian flag for Canada Day.
  • C had her first buttercream class and came home with a dozen iced cupcakes.  We have some issues with the last two dates of her course, but I'm trying to work it out.
  • C had a ukulele lesson tonight and sounded really good playing the Beatle's Nowhere Man.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

Here's some of what's happening:

  • We're just back from one night at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine (that's near the DFW airport).  This was our second trip--we went last year for two nights for D's birthday.
  • The kids had a very good time in the water park.  D also especially enjoyed the new ropes course with zip line and C also especially enjoyed the Magiquest electronic scavenger hunt.  Of necessity, the big kids had a lot of independence this trip. 
  • I took it easy the first day because past experience is that water parks can be hard on my bad foot.  And this is a very Sad Thing, because I love water parks!  Even in water shoes, all the standing around on concrete in the kiddie pool with Baby T eventually took its toll. (I have some peroneal tendonitis that flares up if I'm not careful.) 
  • Great Wolf Lodge has very generous rules for use of facilities.  So, on a day that you are checking in, you can use the water park starting at 1 and on a day that you are checking out, you can use the water park until closing.  There is some inconvenience in dealing with luggage and wet swim suits and changes without a hotel room, but there is a large pay off--I think we actually managed just about as much fun time with one night this time as we did with two, but it helps to be very familiar with the property now.
  • I started to get some sort of tummy bug our second day, so my husband had to take Baby T after checkout and I just sat in Starbucks and suffered.  That was Thursday and today is Saturday--so there were nearly 48 hours of me not eating normal meals.  But, I think I'm almost recovered.  Not much of a 4th of July, though.   
  • We left Great Wolf Lodge around 2:30 on Thursday and Baby T napped for around an hour in the car.
  • On Friday, Baby T made a "break through" of sorts.  Up until yesterday, she'd been outfoxed by the fact that we removed the zipper pulls from her pjs, so she was unable to take off her pjs and diaper during naps.  (Toddlers invented the nude protest!)  Yesterday, she finally figured it out.  There was no poop-smearing, thank goodness, but everything in the bed needed to be cleaned or laundered.  We also threw out the Little People house.  It was a judgment call.  Technically, we could have submersed it, wrecking the electrical stuff in it, but the ick factor was pretty big.  
  • Current Baby T pj protocol is going to be backwards footless zip-up one-piece pjs.  Recent developments have rendered a lot of her old pjs with feet obsolete...The backward pjs do not fit all that well, but it did stay on last night, so yay!  I'm planning to buy some more footless pjs today if the right store is open.  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Climbing wall

Here's some of what's happening:

  • D is getting really good at the big campus climbing wall.  He has been up to the top many times and is practicing different routes.  He is also working on the bouldering cafe.
  • Baby T is getting her present continuous down.  She says "instead," "not yet," and uses "myself" and "trade" correctly. She likes to pop things out of the VCR.  (We still have a VCR--I have a large library of kids' VHS tapes from the old days.)
  • C was setting up her old Hot Wheels track today.  Baby T was thrilled!
  • Baby T is able to zip her stuffed animals into her footed pjs (and I've taken off the zipper pulls, so that's non-trivial).  She also likes to finish zipping herself into her pjs.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Where did June go?

Here's some of what's happening:

  • We have one more week of enrichment classes left.  The big kids each have a class in the morning and my husband is teaching one in the afternoon.  There are still going to be some logistical issues given that the two kids' classes start and end at exactly the same time, but it's only the morning.
  • After that, we have a much anticipated overnight trip, C's buttercream cake decorating course, a couple of fencing classes for both kids, C's weekly ukulele lesson, an outing to IKEA to get the rest of D's furniture, and a big trip to British Columbia.  If the buttercream goes well, I'll try to sign C up for the next course.  Then we start the usual round of school orientations and meet-the-teacher events...   
  • My husband took Baby T this morning and I did clerical.  I read through the dreaded school summer packets (pass multiplication speed test before school starts!  pass typing test before school starts!  read summer book!), caught up email and went through the Big Plastic Box. 
  • We celebrated my birthday today (it's one with a zero at the end).  Baby T got so much chocolate frosting in her hair!

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Here's some of what's happening:

  • C and Baby T are down sick with a fever.  I had to cancel and reschedule C's cake decorating class.
  • We just finished an intense week of enrichment classes--D went to the morning and afternoon session, C went to the morning session, and my husband taught in both sessions, mostly going early and staying late to get everything working.  Baby T and I got people where they needed to go and spent a lot of time circling parking lots.  Lawdamercy, campus needs more 15-20 minute parking in the worst way.   We have two more weeks of the enrichment courses, but nothing so intense.
  • The kids had a week in WA at the end of May and in a month or two, they'll do a week and a half in lovely British Columbia.  There is talk of a sailing camp in BC...
  • C is doing a ukulele lesson every week and practicing.  She currently has $220 credited to her for a new ukulele.    
  • She will be doing about 8 hours of cake decorating next month.  (And if that goes well, I'll probably put her in more.)
  • Both big kids are doing a couple of fencing classes this month.
  • I'd like to put both kids in a swim course (time permitting) and I'd like to put C in yet another quilt camp (she's done several). 
  • D has been spectacular on the college climbing wall the last week or so--he's like Spiderman.
  • Baby T walks up and down stairs very gracefully.
  • Her grammar and syntax is getting very sophisticated.
  • On the other hand, she's kind of down on pants right now. 
  • I think we'll be getting D the rest of his IKEA furniture soon!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Better late than never, right?

Trying to catch up:

  • We had a week on the West Coast--a couple days in Seattle near Seattle Center with one grandma (thank you!!!) and then the rest of the week on the Olympic Peninsula with other relatives.  The kids and I got to play epic Rook battles with their great-grandpa.  The weather was fabulously sunny.  
  • We had a week at home of downtime and now we're starting three weeks of enrichment classes held on the college campus.  My husband is teaching a computer programming course as part of the enrichment class and discovering why middle school and high school teachers make the big bucks.
  • C is continuing with the ukulele and I've heard her playing We Shall Overcome.  She accrues $2 toward her next ukulele with each 15 minute practice and she now has $218 credited toward the new ukulele.
  • D is taking both a morning and an afternoon class this week.  He has made a big breakthrough with his robotics programming with some help from his daddy.  He's also been enjoying Star Wars novels.
  • Baby T has been shuttling back and forth with me, taking siblings to and from their classes.
  • She is a go-getter in the kitchen.  Today, for instance, I gave her a waffle.  That wasn't enough.  She went to the freezer and helped herself to about half a dozen.  Previously today (I think), she removed at least half a dozen of my Keurig pods from my Keurig pod caddy and tossed them methodically into the trash.  Hey!  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Slate slams Poky Little Puppy

This harsh review of The Poky Little Puppy is 70 years too late, but oh so deserved.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I walk the line

C is practicing Johnny Cash's "I walk the line" on the ukulele.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Summer is coming!

Here's some of what's going on:

  • Baby T loves to stuff every available DVD into a single Netflix envelope.  
  • Baby T is starting to enjoy our train set, but she took apart the looping track set-up that D so graciously built for her.  But Baby T is very good at linking up trains.
  • We're having some hold-ups with summer camp registration.  It's going to be OK, but the kids' main camp is really slow this year in getting out the registration packets, so everything else is backed up.
  • It's such a cold, wet May!  No complaints (it's saving us big bucks on watering expenses), but it is unexpected.    

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Train track!

We have a loop of the train track set up for Baby T.  She is keenly interested.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

D furniture ideas

In the next month or two, we are going to be finishing the furnishing of D's bedroom.  He is currently living mainly with odds and ends that furnished his toddler bedroom when we moved to Texas nearly 8 years ago.  He's got a real bed now (an IKEA Malm with drawers) and a very nice set of large painted shelves we got from our sellers, but we need to replace his small toddler furniture with larger pieces, suitable for the growing tween.  I'm not totally sure what pieces we're going to get, but he needs more book storage, some sort of desk, something with shelves (ideally behind doors), and something with drawers.  And ideally, it would only be two pieces...Tough!

I'm still working through this, but one possibility is to get an IKEA Kallax work table with bookshelf cubes in IKEA brown-black plus a Hemnes black-brown solid pine cabinet with glass doors and three drawers.  It's kind of a dining room display type item and ideally I'd like something with drawers below and shelves above behind opaque doors (opaque because I want a place to keep the less decorative stuff), but it's functionally really close to what I want.  I had the thought today that we can use some of the decorative window film that we've used to such good effect the past few years, stick it on the cabinet glass, and voila--an inexpensive and tasteful solution to the problem.      

I'm hoping to have this all taken care of by July, but no hurry.  I do want to get it done before the new school year, though.  

Thank you, IKEA!

Our family has been struggling to fit onto the sofa my husband and I purchased pre-kids in mid/late 2001.  The five of us do not fit as neatly onto the sofa as we used to as a family of 2 or 3 or 4.  A month or two ago, I had a near-miss at a discount furniture place, where I thought I had found a suitable small leatherish sectional for $850 (I think)--it looked and felt great.  The brand name for the material was Durablend.  I even called my husband in (in the middle of the working day) to look at the find with the thought of buying immediately.  Sadly, when he googled Durablend, it turned out that the material (which larger consists of non-leather stuff) is notorious flaking profusely at around the one year point.  So, that was a no.

I did a little more research and was starting to make peace with the fact that real leather sectionals cost as much as reliable used cars, but that it would be worth the wait.  (Here's a $5,500 leather sectional from Pottery Barn.)

I had previously looked at IKEA and found that their leather offerings were probably too small.  As I recall, the biggest leather sectional in their fleet was a love seat plus a chaise longue.  It seemed logical, since their base demographic is young adults furnishing small starter homes, so mega-sectionals are not their market.  Well, I checked again today online, and IKEA's sectional offerings have been blossoming.  Here's a $2,000 IKEA leather sectional that is pretty much exactly what we want.  This is very exciting, as at this price, we might even be able to get one within the year.  10 year limited warranty!  

Friday, May 8, 2015


Baby T loves C's large stuffed orca, but she call it "okra."

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Here's some of what's happening:

  • C had a ukulele lesson today.
  • Her teacher was talking to her about doing tremolo on the ukulele and talking about his inability to deal with people that pronounce it oo-kulele.  
  • He also quizzed C on her music theory
  • C is finishing up her Hal Leonard Ukulele 1.  I have just ordered her the second book and the first Hal Leonard book of easy ukulele songs.
  • D had a field day today.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Kitchen marauding

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T helped herself so generously to a new package of straws (she stuck a dozen in her water cup) that I've found a new location to keep the straws.
  • Baby T is really savvy about my kitchen stepladder.  She picks it up, takes it to the pantry, and has started helping herself.  She has a very good idea of what are the most promising targets in the pantry--her attacks are very focused.
  • Baby T also likes having several sippies on the table during meals and snacks.
  • I bought some Cadillac pullups (64 cents each), in the hope that they will do the job better.  We've had SO much laundry the last couple days, so it seemed like it was time to move on from the standard pullups and try the ones specifically sold for nighttime use for bigger kids.  There is a dark side to all those fruits and veggies Baby T has been enjoying.
  • C has been home from school the last several days.  She has had an infection and is on antibiotics but is on the mend.
  • C, Baby T and I went to the grocery store today.  It wore C out, but she's done very well with walking hand-in-hand with Baby T at the store.
  • C has about $180 (I think) in credit earned toward her next ukulele.  At current rates of progress, she's within 1-3 months of being able to get a very fine new ukulele.  
  • D took his simple machine project to school today. 
  • Baby T has been enjoying watching Star Trek with my husband and the big kids.  
  • Less than 2.5 weeks of school left!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Summer is coming!

Here's some of what's going on:

  • Baby T continues her program of diapering, dressing, feeding and watering her critters.
  • Baby T LOVES the water table at the children's museum.
  • She keeps trying the potty and reading her potty books, but not performing.  ????? 
  • Three more weeks of school!!!!!
  • We all went to a potluck last night.  Baby T was not terrible (she and I have been sitting out potlucks for a while).  She enjoyed the preschooler host's trampoline and playing peekaboo with the host family's cat.  I encouraged C to bring along her ukulele and the preschooler host kid liked playing on it, too.    
  • C is rapidly accruing credit toward her next ukulele.  She's got $172 (?) accrued and that puts her about half-way, maybe more.  I'm not totally sure how much we're going to wind up spending, but we lean toward solid koa wood, which drives your price up quite a bit.  There seems to be a nice selection on the Guitar Center site, so we will probably order in the most promising looking one, try it out in the store, and then buy or not buy.  Hopefully, it won't take too many tries.  
  • The kids and I had a good hunt at Barnes and Noble and Big Lots today.  We found some 75% off Easter chocolates at B&N and then found some discount organic baby food pouches and candied ginger at Big Lots.  The big kids also had a chance to try out a (plastic) sectional at Big Lots and thoroughly approve of the generous size.  Now, to find a leather one that doesn't cost as much as a car...
  • I get the feeling we should be getting the catalog for the big kids' gifted camp any time now.  My husband is going to be teaching in it again this year.  The gifted camp is always the biggest chunk of our summer, so once we are able to schedule that, everything else ought to fall into place.  There will also probably be some fencing for both kids (part of the summer), some swimming for both kids (with maybe a junior life guard camp for C), a quilt camp for C, music for C, cake decorating for C, and a sailing camp for both kids (hopefully).  That's tilted toward C, I know, but C has A LOT of interests and usually wants to do more stuff, so that's how it works out.  If D wants to do more, he can do more.
  • We also have one night booked at Great Wolf Lodge to celebrate C's birthday.  
  • And there will be some West Coast travel for the big kids.   

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Baby T has been insisting on putting her stuffed critters into pullups.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Articles and prepositions!

We are noticing Baby T using more and more prepositions and we've also heard her use "a" correctly.  And she has started using "and," too!

St. Nicholas?

I just discovered an excellent blog called Darwin Catholic.

This is out of season (it's on Santa skepticism among kids), but it's very funny and I'll forget to post it at the right time:

For the longest time, however, I remained somewhat convinced that St. Nicholas really was the one who put chocolate coins in our shoes on the night before his feast day. First of all, it seemed dangerous to question the actions of a real saint. And secondly, I'd conducted an experiment which proved the existence of St. Nicholas. There were some half-Jewish, half-Protestant kids who lived in the next apartment over and were a source of envy because they celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas. However, they'd never heard of St. Nicholas. Figuring this was a great opportunity so see whether St. Nicholas's presents were the work of my parents or not, I talked up St. Nicholas to them and convinced them to put out their shoes on the evening of December 5th. 
They did, St. Nicholas delivered, and I remained convinced for a long time that he really was the source of candy in shoes on his feast day. It wasn't till years later, discussing this with my mom, that I heard the explanation for this. The neighbor kids had talked up their St. Nicholas expectations to their parents, the parents had been afraid to disappoint them, and so they'd put candy in the shoes. Yet another worthy experiment destroyed by a tainted sample. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dixie cups

I just gave Baby T a whole pack of dixie cups to amuse herself with.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hammock with mosquito netting

We recently replaced a worn-out hammock.  Soon after that, there was a spectacular deal on Woot for a hammock with mosquito netting for around $30.  After some thought, we bought.  (The local mosquitoes are 1) numerous 2) hungry and 3) feeding about half of the year.)

The new hammock with netting arrived and my husband is trying it out this morning with a book.  The hammock with netting looks a little fragile (especially in the netting), but the functionality is so amazing that if this one has a tear, I'm thinking that we really ought to continue keeping a mosquito-proof hammock from now on.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter morning

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Yesterday, D had a birthday party at a video game place, so C and Baby T and I dropped him off and then went off to do Easter shopping.  We got chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs to fill plastic eggs for the Easter egg hunt and some spectacular large metallic plastic Easter eggs.  
  • C made us chocolate almond paste-filled crescent rolls for Easter morning breakfast this morning (from those store brand tubes of crescent roll dough).  I woke up to the smell.  Wonderful!
  • Baby T is sick, so no church.
  • The kids were very helpful with Baby T this morning.  
  • C and D each dyed several hard-boiled eggs.  C did some interesting multi-colored effects.  
  • C loaded up plastic eggs with chocolate eggs.
  • It looks wet outside so C and D hid a dozen plastic eggs in the living room in plain sight and at 3 feet high or lower.  Baby T immediately understood the plan and got about half of the eggs with very little coaching.  (Baby T was very good at Easter egg hunting a year ago when she was about 17 or 18 months old.  This year she's been watching the Dora Egg Hunt video for the past month.)
  • Right now, Baby T and I are watching Dora's Egg Hunt video with her Easter basket and the large metallic eggs in her lap.
  • For lunch today, we will probably have our now traditional hard-boiled egg and sausage sandwiches and a slice of the pineapple pecan fruit cake that we have been saving for this occasion.    

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

DVD player

Baby T succeeded in pressing the right button to get her Dora DVD started again.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Solid wood?

I was just looking at youtube for pointers on ukulele-buying and just came across this.  This guy is strongly pro-solid wood and cautions buyers that if it doesn't say "SOLID" it is a laminate instrument.  He also says some very nasty things about Martin's $300 ukuleles and their build quality.  I sat through 19 minutes of video getting more and more enlightened.  Well.  I'll have to encourage C to be more open-minded about wood types and perhaps more focused on wood quality rather than species.

Koa ukuleles II

I didn't quite finish my thought.

Both C and I are charmed by the pretty koa grain, especially the curly grains.  The koa wood (which is the traditional Hawaiian wood for ukuleles) is supposed to bring a bright tone rather than soft tone of mahogany.

This is provisional, but my current thought is to say that if C opts for a higher end ukulele, we can let the practices accrue credit at the rate of $2 each--so 50 15-minute practices for a $100 ukulele, 100 for a $200 ukulele, and 150 for a $300 ukulele.  That's not final, but it sounds reasonable.

C was able to play a number of songs for her teacher (including the Star Wars theme) and it sounds like he thinks she is almost done with her book.  Her homework is going to involve work with a metronome--it sounds like her teacher is very keen on the metronome.

Koa ukuleles

Today was C's third ukulele lesson ever and her first official ukulele lesson with her new teacher (he's a real string guy and teaches guitar, ukulele, mandolin and bass).  After her lesson, C gravitated over to the acoustic room and was trying out ukuleles.

Later at home, C and I were doing research on Amazon for her next ukulele, which will be concert-sized.  C wanted to get either koa wood or acacia and I think we're now leaning toward koa.  I think she also wants to go with solid wood.  The current plan is that after C has done 50 practices of 15 minutes each, she is entitled to a new ukulele of not more than $100 (she's around 37 practices now).  We're going to talk to her teacher soon in detail about her next ukulele, but based on Amazon, we should be able to get something very nice between $200 and $300.

If we go ahead with this, we'll have to start thinking about humidifying her room next winter.  It's so dry during the winter months.  


My husband and the kids did a lot of work on Saturday on the patio.  This time of year, it's quite idyllic out there--not too cold, not too warm, and no mosquitoes yet.  We've arranged Baby T's sand and water table on the patio.

Oh, and our new hammock has arrived!  (The old one wore out from being outdoors for 2+ years.)  We're going to put up the new one on an as-needed basis near the patio.

My husband really wants to eradicate the English ivy that occupies a ridiculous percentage of our back yard (I suspect that there wasn't originally so much of it and that it has been gradually encroaching on the lawn).  However, the internet says that English ivy is invasive and resistant to being eradicated, so we may need to bide our time.  

Bath duck

Baby T has appropriated her large bath duck for bed.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Matching wallpaper and fabrics

I see that this month's House Beautiful is pushing matching patterned wallpapers and fabrics as being "peaceful."

No, no, no!

Homeowners, don't do this one!  They've got a small sample photo showing a bedroom full of blue and white everything and it looks like the designer was trying to hide the bed and the little love seat.  It's like some sort of upscale version of camouflage.

Don't do it!  

Friday, March 27, 2015

Mopping up

Baby T got the floor under her chair wet during breakfast as she was doing her favorite thing--pouring water back and forth between cups.  That's not the interesting thing.

I gave her a kitchen towel, told her to mop up, and she did.  And then she carried the wet towel off to the laundry room.

Good girl!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Scarborough Fair

C got to perform Scarborough Fair on the ukulele at a school coffee house!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Free book or movie plot!

Here's an idea for science fiction writers in need of a plot:

In a post-apocalyptic world, the only functioning social structure left is the school PTA.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Long sentences for Baby T

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T said, "How about I pee?"
  • On D's b-day she said, "Not D birthday.  This is T birthday!"  
  • She pronounces her name "Tee-uh."
  • From time to time, we've been able to do a playground trip on the way to church.  Baby T didn't go to nursery yesterday and was actually pretty good in church, if a little loud.  Fortunately, the sound system was louder.   
  • She is starting to play effectively with Duplos and is finally getting interested in Little People.
  • My husband took the baby feeding seat off the chair.  Baby T is officially liberated!  (Although she actually liberated herself a couple of weeks ago, when she decided that the "high chair" was only for her stuffed critters, not herself.)
  • After lunch today, Baby T surveyed the debris under her seat and said, "Wow!  Tia made mess!"
  • We are officially halfway through the big kids spring term, so 75% of the way through the school term.  Soooooon.  The number of projects this term has been ridiculous.  Why do we need a quarterly Latin project.  Whyyyyyy?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

New bed!

Thanks to D's birthday checks from various grandmas, D now has a new black-brown IKEA Malm bed with drawers on casters underneath and a new IKEA mattress (bed with drawers, mattress and slats came out to $382 including tax).  My husband and D assembled it today.  This is D's first real bed ever.  He slept in a crib in infancy, it got converted to a toddler bed and he slept there until 6, and then for the next four years he slept on a mattress and box spring that are now 18+ years old.  So, a big day for D!

Aside from the new bed, D's furniture dates mostly from our initial move to Texas, and was chosen with the needs of a 2-year-old in mind.  So, it's nearly all about 2 feet tall, max--a terrible waste of floor space.  Within the next half year, I'd like to get him some taller matching black brown IKEA furniture to accomplish the following:  a place to do homework, a place to store books, some closed storage with doors and something with more drawers.  C has a tall IKEA cabinet type thing with shelves behind doors on top and then several drawers underneath--I'd like something similar for D.  Ideally, we'd only be getting another two pieces of furniture.  C has basically all the furniture she needs until college (I hope).  Baby T only has her crib, but her room has lots of built-in shelves and cabinets (it's technically an office), so the next thing she is going to need will be a mattress (we like to start our little people out with a mattress on the floor).   

I wanted to just put the old mattresses on the curb (eww!).  My husband has listed them on Craigslist and already got four interested people, including one person that offered us five whole dollars to deliver the mattresses.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

School closure

Here's some of what's happening:

  • We've had so many school closures, late starts and early dismissals this winter.  This is the longest winter we've had in Texas and it's not over yet.  We had a closure today.  Fortunately, we haven't had days and days in a row--it's just half a day here, half a day there, and a full day there.
  • Baby T loves Dora.
  • Baby T is getting more and more competent around the house.  She knows where to get straws, forks, spoons, baby dishes, ziplocs, you name it.  
  • We are planning D's birthday party!
  • My husband is ordering fencing gear for himself and both older kids.
  • C's guitar teacher has quit Guitar Center.  Waaah!  She's worked with him for the past 10 months.  On the bright side, C is scheduled to work with a young guitar teacher that also does ukulele (and mandolin and bass), so that could work out really well as I've been planning to switch C over to a 50/50 ratio of guitar and ukulele lessons as of May or June.  Up until now, she's had regular guitar lessons and a total of two ukulele lessons, so hopefully it will work out well to be able to have the same teacher for guitar and ukulele.
  • C is working on "Scarborough Fair" for a school coffee house.
  • C is also working toward a new ukulele.  I've told her that when she's done 50 days with 15 minutes of practice that we will buy her a new one.  I'm thinking a concert ukulele (that's a bigger one).  C took her tuner and was trying out the ukuleles in the acoustic room at Guitar Center.  She says that the more expensive ones are heavier and sound better.  I've told C that our deal does not hold for ukuleles over $100 and that for over $100, we will need to renegotiate a number of practice days.     

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Choosing to stay in

One of Baby T's oddities is that although she is fully capable of hopping in and out of her crib (which is flat on the floor, as my husband sawed off the legs), for the last month or so, she has been in her bed when I come to get her in the morning or after a nap, even if she's awake.

It may be that she knows that the good stuff is in her bed.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Dream on!

Here's some of what's happening:

  • We have had at least two days with snow this week and we may have more tomorrow.  On Wednesday, we had the biggest snowflakes I've ever seen--they were more like falling snowballs than flakes.  C just had an academic event tomorrow cancelled because of the weather--they're anticipating freezing rain all night long, plus some snow.  
  • Sometime this week, I was driving with Baby T and Aerosmith's "Dream On" came on the radio.  From the middle seat, I heard Baby T saying happily, "Dream on!"
  • I showed Baby T her first Dora video today.  It's really good for her age--very interactive and engaging.
  • Baby T has recently decided that straps aren't her thing, whether in the minivan, the stroller, or her feeding seat.  At home, when I try to put her in the feeding seat, she insists on seating her kitty or other critter in the seat and asks for a sippy and cracker for her pal.  Then Baby T wants to sit in a big girl chair at the table (with lots of breaks for running around).  She has also taken to foraging in the kitchen for whatever she needs--straws, sippy cups, dishes from the dishwasher.
  • Baby T also loves (whenever I'm about to do something to her--put on pants, shoes, coat, put her in the stroller or car seat, etc.) to offer her pal first.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

31.5 degrees

Here's some of what's happening:
  • It's been 31.5 degrees this morning, which is a stupid temperature.  We had predictions of freezing rain and my husband had to drive the kids to school.  Baby T and I are stuck at home, as it's too cold to walk comfortably and driving is out of the question, as it's not worthwhile to risk death for a latte.
  • Really enjoying the new Foyle's War episodes!  They're doing a very good job integrating Foyle into the intelligence community and individualizing the personalities of his new colleagues.
  • Baby T is rejecting strapped things.  We're doing more or less OK with her walking rather than riding in the stroller, but her rejection of high chairs and insistence on sitting in a normal chair without straps is driving me nuts, as she likes to sit, eat crackers, walk around (maybe with crackers), go sit back down, eat crackers, walk around, etc.  Also, there's the issue of diet, as the strapless seating seems to go hand-in-hand with a diet consisting largely of crackers.
  • Baby T has also been insisting that her high chair is just for monkey (or Elmo, or whoever her current favorite is).  So she plunks her friend down in the high chair, insists on a cracker and a "straw cup" for her friend, and then sits nearby in a big chair, with no straps.    
  • So many school projects!
  • Summer vacation in less than 3 months!
  • We have our summer West Coast tickets now for me, C and D.
  • I have entered into a deal with C.  If she practices for 15 minutes a day nearly every day for two months, we will buy her a nicer ukulele.  (The old standard was 10 minutes a day.)  C is interested and she's already put in two or three days of 15 minutes.  I heard her playing "Amazing Grace" a couple days ago.  (I have written the terms of the deal on C's calendar and have also been recording her practice times there.) 
  • I've also ordered C a Beatles fingerpicking ukulele book and Beatles CD with their earlier 1960s stuff. 
  • D has history fair soon!  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Four word sentence

Here's what Baby T said yesterday:  "C cut nice muffin."

She was talking about C cutting up a double chocolate Valentine muffin for her.  (My husband made them.  We had them later with vanilla ice cream.)

Friday, February 13, 2015


Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T understands and uses the concept of "two."
  • She's also lately been asking to have things done for her kitty or monkey.  So, if I want to dress her or put on her shoes, I often need to put shoes on monkey or dress monkey before I get to shoe or dress Baby T.  
  • D is getting very good Latin grades!
  • We are in school project hell.  School is HARD.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Big Bird

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T is done with fever but she's very sniffly.
  • We've been working through my old Sesame Street and Elmo VHS collection.  We have to be some of the last people in town with a working VCR...I've been discarding the snowier ones as we go along.
  • Baby T likes Big Bird!
  • C had science fair this week.
  • D's class is studying the American Revolution and they had a tea party at school to see what the patriots had to do without.
  • Baby T and I finally got out on an outing this morning.  We did a little discount rack shopping, visited Petco, and did a little grocery shopping.
  • Blue Bell has come out with Caramel Turtle Cheesecake Ice Cream.  I haven't tried it yet, but thanks in advance, Blue Bell!!!
  • Baby T says stuff like, "Where pig go?" and "Where kitty go?"

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Baby T has been sick, so I treated her to her very first Elmo marathon today.  She loved it!

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Why does there need to be a quarterly Latin project??????  Why?????

This is shaping up to be a very projecty spring term.  Some highlights:

  • major book report with poster
  • science fair (school and possibly regional)
  • Latin project
  • history fair
  • a costume or two for school plays to put together
And that's over roughly the next month.  Oh, and there's also spelling bee coming up.

My husband is the project guy (I mostly hang out with the baby and wring my hands from afar), but this is getting out of hand.  Good thing we are extracurricular minimalists. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Potty Training II

Some updates:

  • No more store brand pullups--it's just not worth it.  The one I took off Baby T this morning was literally leaking through the material (not just at the leg opening).
  • Baby T has the expensive habit when using the potty of taking dry clean pullups, wadding them up, and stuffing them into the diaper pail.  I've had some words with her, but she is unconvinced.
  • We've been watching the Bear in the Big Blue House potty episode. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Great Escape II

Baby T is now easily vaulting out of her bed.  Here's a story that happened today:

I put Baby T down for her nap in her crib (the one with the legs sawed off).  At the time I left the room, there was a childproofing cover on the doorknob on her side.  Some time later, I heard the unmistakable sound of Baby T galloping around inside her room and I saw the doorknob being rattled from inside.  I went about my business.  About an hour later, when it was time to go get the big kids from school, I went to get her.  Interestingly, she was fast asleep inside her crib.  Furthermore, the babyproofing had been ripped off the door knob.

So, to recap--Baby T was able to disarm the babyproofing on the doorknob and she is able to come and go from her bed at will and she puts herself back to bed.

My husband glued the door knob cover on before bedtime tonight.  We also are discussing what to do about her bed.  We can either leave things be (my preference) or saw several bars off of the crib, creating an opening for her to come and go through (my husband's preference).  I hate to mess with success, so I'd like to leave things be.  My husband is concerned about the safety of her leaping in and out.  I think her technique is good and have encouraged my husband to watch her methods.

At some point, she will probably get a plain mattress on the floor.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Great Escape

This morning I went into Baby T's room and discovered that she was running around the room, presumably having finally learned how to escape from her crib.  (My husband had sawed the legs off the crib months ago when she was first starting to try to get out, so it's not that far off the ground.)  She seemed to have been spending her time out of the crib this morning arranging her favorite stuffed animals near the door and rooting around in the diaper and pull-up stash.  I am pretty sure that she was thinking hard about getting on a fresh diaper (I think she had one in her hands when I came in), but with her pj zipper pull removed, she wasn't able to take off her clothes or get at her wet diaper.

I removed a number of items from her room, some less baby safe, some just annoying to deal with if she got into them.

In some order, we eventually need to do the following:

  • make it possible for Baby T to get in and out of bed.
  • new bed or maybe just twin mattress on floor?
  • switch over to 2-piece pjs so that she can easily use the potty when left alone in her room
The last item may take a while to get to, though, as Baby T is potty-interested rather than potty-trained.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Potty training

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T is still keen on potty training and has been asking to go and enjoying many rereadings of her four (!) potty books.  She's even been willing to try public restroom toilets.
  • Baby T has, however, only had one successful pee in the potty since Monday.
  • ??????
  • We've switched to pullups as our undergarment of choice, rather than diapers. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Potty training?????

On Monday, Baby T said something that I've forgotten now that showed so much physical awareness that I decided to do a push for potty training.  Here's what's happened since then:
  • I pulled out two old potties.
  • I pulled out several potty books written for kids and ordered one more.  (As it turned out unnecessarily--there is a lot of overlap in thematics.  Two are enough.)
  • I bought an absorbent waterproof-bottomed machine washable bathmat from Bed Bath and Beyond and installed it underneath one of the potties in Baby T's carpeted bedroom.  (I've never had a child have a potty in their own bedroom, but the bathrooms are so far away from her room that it's going to have to be that way.
  • I bought some more flannel receiving blankets to use as covers for the machine washable bathmat.
  • I installed the other potty in our master bath.
  • I bought several packs of pullups with enticing designs.
  • I bought a Sesame street potty seat that goes on top of the grownup potty and installed it in the powder room downstairs.  (So, that's three officially-approved pottying stations for our Baby T.  I also own a couple of folding seats for use when out and about, but I haven't pulled those out yet.)
  • I purchased two step stools.  One is now in the powder room and the other is now in the master bath.  Baby T has already been enjoying her new freedom and independence with regard to being able to wash her hands.
  • Baby T has done easily a dozen potty visits so far, most of them on her initiative.  We spend our time either reading and rereading the potty books or just me singing "Wheels on the Bus," with Baby T suggesting verses.  (She'll say "cows" and I'll sing about how "The cows on the bus go moo, moo, mo, all through the town!")  I think that several verses of Wheels on the Bus make a good potty timer.  Rereadings of the potty books suggest that Baby T has a stronger and stronger grasp of at least the theoretical side of the subject. 
  • What about concrete results? you ask.  One successful pee.  That's all!  But we are prepared for success, if success is on the way.  I'm also thinking that once warm weather arrives, I can just have Baby T wear a t-shirt and pullup around the house.   

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Baby T's progress

Here's some of what Baby T has been doing (Baby T is now 2 years 3 months old):

  • She's just started having "conversations" with us that go on for several exchanges, rather than just an isolated exchange.  Her contribution is two or three words at a time.
  • Baby T loves asking for cat, dog or bird pictures or videos when I'm on my laptop.
  • Baby T is getting more and more skilled at going up and down the stairs.
  • She's a very good grocery store shopping buddy.  On the rare occasions when she's on foot, she will sometimes run over to produce and start grabbing it to load up into our cart.  She also is very helpful for choosing baby food.  (She used to eat 100% big people food, but then went on a fruit and veggie strike that led me to reintroduce baby food to preserve variety.)
  • Baby T is very particular about her clothing choices.  (I did overrule her for Christmas outfits and I do sometimes overrule her for Sunday, though.  She has some cute dresses I'd like her to get around to wearing.)
  • Baby T is going to parents' day out once a week, and has since just before she turned two.  We started with church nursery for Mass around 18 or 19 months.  This is the earliest any of ours have gone to group childcare, so it's a new experience.  (The big kids had way more babysitters at this age than Baby T, though.)
  • We are enjoying the space age amenities of our 2011 Kia (!) minivan:  a separate mirror for checking on baby and a DVD player (on longer excursions, ours is usually playing Star Wars or Our Neighbor Totoro).  The backup camera is also great for safety.
  • Baby T is a real planner.  When she knows she's going some place (like upstairs or to the car), she often scoops up a big armful of stuffed animals to take with her.
  • For some reason, she's particularly fond of the sippies with straws.  "Straw cup!" is a frequent request.
  • Baby T is suddenly very interested in her kitchen, toy pots and pants, tea set, and play food.
  • Baby T adores the Christmas tree and often demands that it be lit up.  
  • After her nap, I explained that we were going to the cafeteria for dinner.  "Pizza!" she replied joyously.
  • Baby T loves playing with C's Playmobil horse sets.  

Saturday, January 10, 2015


My husband often makes crepes (that we eat with a sweet spiced cheese filling and pie filling) and it's been one of my long-term goals for C (age 12 now) to learn how.

Well, we had crepes for dinner tonight (culinary lavender in the spiced ricotta cheese filling, by the way) and C was learning to turn crepes.  My husband was pouring batter and C was turning the crepes, which worked well.

We are working toward inviting a classmate's family for crepes some weekend.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Cookie houses

Here's some of what's happening:

  • We did a second round of cookie houses with some friends.  We wound up with a charming cookie house village.  After extensive cleanup (cookie construction is very messy), we took the inevitable photos.  I had the inspiration of bringing out some coconut flakes to make snow with.  Baby T ate cookies and watched.  
  • The big girls had an animated discussion critiquing the latest Hobbit movie.
  • The cafeteria is open again (for a little bit), deo gratias.  I told Baby T this afternoon that we'd be going to the cafeteria for dinner tonight.  "Pizza!" she said, in a gratified voice.
  • One of Baby T's new phrases (which she uses very frequently) is "put away."  It's always in the imperative.
  • The big kids are back in school!
  • During break, C had guitar once a week, two ukulele lessons, and daily (except Sunday) brief practice.  10 minutes is fine.  Also, I generally let c choose between practicing guitar and practicing ukulele.
  • Oh, and at C's second ukulele lesson, her teacher (who is also her guitar teacher), had her working on Scarborough Fair.  It's currently a reach, but I had the chance to discover that Scarborough Fair actually sounds surprisingly good on two ukuleles.    
  • I spent this morning with Baby T at school paying the tuition downpayment for the fall, doing a donation to the school capital fund, dropping off a couple of uniform pieces for sale and shopping in the used uniform closet (two pairs of pants for D for $12 total--yay!).
  • My husband had a birthday.  He baked a chocolate cake (the Hershey one) with chocolate frosting (with a little rum flavoring), plus coconut flakes on top.  Very good!!!!
  • I'm hearing that some fencing equipment purchases may be imminent.
  • D's birthday approaches.  It's in two months, but in mommy time, that's the merest blink of an eye.
  • Oh, and good news with regard to D's basketball.  The kids' school has mandatory team sports from 4-6 grade and D is a 4th grader, but we've just learned that the 4th graders are just going to play each other in scrimmages at school four times this term.  Yay!  This is really nice, because in previous years when C was in volleyball, we'd have to run her all over town almost once a week.  This is getting off easy.