Sunday, December 31, 2017

T has a budget

T just said (apropos of nothing): "I'm going to have a budget for my money. I'm going to save it."

Today was budget day for mommy and daddy, we were doing our budget several hours ago, and apparently little pitchers have big ears.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Here's some of what's happening:

  • It's so cold (for TX)!
  • We watched The King and I with the kids. 
  • T got her own tiny, real Christmas tree ($2 just before Christmas).
  • C is working through a book of Star Wars theme music for the ukulele.
  • D was building block castles with T today.
  • We had a nice dinner at Pei Wei, making good use of their BOGO deals (both husband and I are signed up).
  • We all spent much of the afternoon at the local skate/laser tag place, along with three other kids that we'd managed to round up (two old classmates and one current classmate). I believe D managed three rounds of laser tag. There was also a lot of skating. This was T's second time on roller skates, and she had them on about two hours, which is a lot when you're five, even with a skate frame for support. Husband and I accompanied her on loops around the roller rink, making her take a break every loop or two. She took a lot of falls, but was definitely improving and showed a lot of gritty determination. The breaks and cinnamon pretzel definitely helped.  
  • In future, I think we probably should insist on keeping her to 30-60 minutes of skating total, as she gets more accident prone when she's tired.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve

Here's some of what's happening:

  • T has produced a pile of wrapped gifts for the whole family (art projects, I believe). C, D and Daddy each are getting one gift each. T has five gifts for me, and she culled out a bunch of gifts to get it down to five.
  • D made a popsicle stick stable for T's nativity figures. It has collapsed, but I'm hoping it will get stuck together again.
  • C has Latin Christmas carols playing (her class got them from her Latin teacher) while the tree is decorated.
  • C and her community ukulele group did two Christmas performances in December--one at a mall on a Saturday and a slightly longer performance at a nursing home (I sang with them at the nursing home). They had seven people playing ukuleles at the mall and five at the nursing home. The nursing home performance was at the end of dinner. A lot of people had left, but we had a small but appreciative audience. One of the older ladies wanted to know if that was all. Our leader/vocalist said, "That's all we know!"
  • It's a relatively new group (I believe it formed in 2016), but I think it has been gelling lately. C is the youngest member of the group. The other players are middle aged or older, aside the adult daughter of some of the organizers.
  • Husband has been experimenting with 3D-printing Christmas tree ornaments.
  • He also designed 3D-printed a Saturn cookie cutter for a space-loving neighbor/friend.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Wait a sec while I blow the dust off the blog.

OK! Here's some of what's been happening lately:

  • D has been doing some long distance runs while my husband bikes along with him, Rocky-style.
  • T has been loving her Capsela set. Husband has ordered her some more components for Christmas.
  • C practiced hard and performed five Christmas songs with her community ukulele group at the mall.
  • C has very strong grades, except for history, where she's got a 91. 
  • T is still loving school.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


We just brought home two boys.  After some outdoor play with Aerobies and boomerangs, they are now in D's room, happily absorbed playing knights and castles.  C has retired to her lair.  T had to be forcefully peeled away from the boys, but I had the excellent thought that I had a small craft kit in my prize area with fuzzy balls, googly eyes, small bits of shaped foam, and small pipe cleaners.  I gave it to her and she is also enjoying herself.  Yay, bribery!

I told T that she'll be able to play with the boys outside later.  I might also be able to talk them into playing Hot Wheels with her, as she has a nice set. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Three Butterflies

T made a book this morning from college ruled paper, crayon drawings, dollar store butterfly stickers and paper clips.  It's "The Story of the Three Butterflies" and it's about how the three butterflies started as eggs, hatched into caterpillars, turned into butterflies and then started pollinating.  Awww!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thanksgiving break

T looooves school more than any child has ever loved school before.  The kids get a week off for Thanksgiving, which has just started, and T is not pleased.

"I hate break," she says. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Here's some of what's happening:

  • Halloween night was so wet that C bailed.  I took T by car to trick or treat at a friend's (T was dressed as a black cat) and we walked to two neighbors.  We managed to get treats at 2 out of 3 doors.  We only had one set of trick or treaters (our neighbors).  Fortunately, we had bought the good candy, so we weren't stuck with a huge bowl of bad candy.
  • D and his 7th grade class went on a school camping trip for three nights and four days.
  • D's preliminary findings were that a) basic things are much harder to do outside civilization and b) things get dirty very easily.  They also had the experience of having varmints rip into their camp trash and having to pick up the gross scattered debris.  It could have been a lot worse--some of the kids were violating the frequently stated DO NOT KEEP FOOD IN TENTS rule, but nothing terrible happened.  
  • C rode at her horse show and got a 1st prize and a 4th prize.  Her horse did very well in the obstacle course, but got penalized for breaking into an eager canter during a demonstration of gaits.  C's horse this term is SO smart.  
  • D is in training for a 10k.  My husband has been biking along beside him, urging him on.
  • Yesterday, T and I met a mom group (where T met an insta-best friend) and we all fed ducks and geese and then went to the playground.  One mom (with experience of farm ducks) brought lettuce and old spinach for the ducks.  It turns out that urban ducks and geese aren't that interested in healthy living.
  • I somehow caught up 8 days of email last night.
  • T is having pj day at school today.
  • This is also spirit week for the big kids.  D reveled in a homemade retro spaceman costume based on a Star Trek character, C wore her new gold Star Trek pjs to school for pj day, and she wore her Minecraft shirt and carried a homemade creeper on high school stereotype day.
  • All in all, it's been a very fun and interesting week or two.  

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Baby T thinks that the cobwebs that she sees at home are decorative.

"There's a Halloween theme!" she said.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Transitions III

So far, the transition to carrying a lightly-packed medium purse and keeping a backpack with emergency supplies in the car has been a success.

It's been several days, and I have yet to find myself caught without necessities.  Also, it's been much easier to get at my basic stuff (wallet, cell phone, keys).  I also like the large zipper wallet itself.  I may eventually transition to nicer version of the purse and the wallet, but in terms of functionality, this is just about perfect for me.

The new backpack should be here in a few days, and not a moment too soon--the old backpack is disintegrating.


Here's some of what happened yesterday:

  • My husband was away until late evening to a conference, so all three kids and I went to C's therapeutic riding lesson.
  • I hadn't really figured out how to combine that with looking for herbs for D at Home Depot, but there's a well-placed Fazoli's nearby, so the kids and I had lunch there before Home Depot.  We had never been to Fazoli's, although it provides some of the kids' hot lunches, so this was a new thing for all of us.  It's fast food Italian, which is kind of inspired.  It was a little grubby, but the food was good (in fact, the kids gave rave reviews).  We got pizza, lasagna, spaghetti with a meaty sauce, and shared a slice of pumpkin cheesecake.  It was $30 for the 4 of us, which is not bad at all for real food, given that we almost all got drinks.  
  • We went to Home Depot, cruised the entire garden section, and finally found the discounted herb plants.  We got a medium-sized rosemary bush, a small thyme, a small cilantro and a small mint bush for $12.
  • At home, D (the main gardener in our family right now), led the planting of the herbs in our two outdoor pots, which are just about exactly the right size to hold two herbs each.  My primary input was to suggest putting the mint in one pot, the rosemary in the other, and then add a remaining herb to each pot.  My thinking is that the mint and the rosemary are perennials, and if all goes well, they will each eventually need a pot of their own.
  • Baby T got to plant the rosemary and she also got to do some watering.
  • I was very gratified that we managed to do the herb trip for D.
  • The way gardening works in our part of TX, you get a short spring growing season, a summer dead zone, and a short fall growing season.  We're at least a month late doing the herbs (and I fear the cilantro may die on us any minute), but I think we're going to get $12 worth of gardening out of this, especially if either the rosemary or the mint survives the winter.
  • C is determined that we have some herbs to add to our Christmas Eve fish.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Transitions II

The new wallet came in the mail and I've moved into the new wallet (real leather) and the new purse (real plastic).  The card slots in the new wallet are a little snug, but otherwise, it's a nice addition, and the wallet itself is very roomy and suitable to use as a stand alone purse in a pinch.  The wallet closes completely with a zipper, so there's a lot more peace of mind than with a conventional snap wallet.  I've devoted a small zipper compartment of the new purse to shopping lists and coupons and the main compartment is actually rather cavernous with just my cell phone and the wallet in there.  I suppose more stuff is going to creep into there eventually, but at the moment, it's nicely minimalist.  It's a nice feeling.

I'm waiting for the new backpack now, but there's no hurry.


Here's some of what happened today:

  • I went to a parent teacher conference for Baby T first thing in the morning.
  • D did a training run for a 10k race he is planning to do.
  • I rounded up all of the kids (they are on fall break) and went to the doctor's office.  I managed to get Baby T's vaccination record for school but wasn't in time to get a flu shot for C.
  • We hit Starbucks for a late-morning snack/lunch.  I was planning to just look at Fossil purses and check out which of their models would hold my calendar (I have a HUGE calendar).  I found this (Kim Rogers' Evie flap crossbody in cognac) and was smitten, especially since the calendar fit.  I see from the online description that it's not actual leather, but it's a very good size and shape (four pockets and 11" wide x 10" high x 2.5" deep, with very simple lines and details).  I just took out a measuring tape--it seems like this one is more like 10" wide.  It probably is 2.5" at the base, but it's definitely wider higher up, and it stands up.  I also like the strap length a lot--not too long, not too short.  It was labeled $58, which I was willing to pay, but was delighted when it turned out to be on sale and $28 with tax--so I can afford for this to be a mistake.  
  • The main consideration (aside from aesthetics) was purse size.  I'm coming out of years of using a backpack as my primary bag.  This made sense for a long time, as on any given day, I'd be toting around:  cell phone, large wallet, diapers/pullups, wipes, change of clothes for Baby T, spare plastic bags, snack for Baby T, water bottle, hats for me and Baby T, bandaids, Benadryl, Tylenol, sunblock stick, etc.  Now that Baby T is 5, I feel like the time has come to downsize from this type of expedition packing.  
  • As my current backpack is seriously fraying, I've ordered a new backpack (the Columbia Fourmile backpack is $40 on Amazon).  The plan is that I will continue to keep the backpack packed with serious expedition supplies and perhaps keep it in the car, but will move to using my new purse for daily use.  The purse needs to be small enough to be more convenient than the backpack, but big enough to fit basic necessities.  (Because if I wind up carrying the backpack all the time because I can't fit my stuff in the cute little purse, what was the point?  And if I buy a bucket-sized mom bag and carry the same stuff as in the backpack, what was the point?)
  • My current wallet a) has a broken zipper b) is starting to fray and c) takes up too much space.  I've got this (a leather zipper wallet with a wrist strap) ordered and coming soon.  The new purse has a built-in wallet compartment, but I should just move the wallet from purse to backpack, depending on which I'm using. 
  • But here's hoping that I can actually fit the necessities (cell phone, new wallet, ???) into the new purse.
  • This sounds like a huge spree, but all of it (backpack, purse and wallet) cost a grand total of about $101. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Birthday party

Baby T is barely a baby anymore, as we had her 5th birthday party yesterday.  (She needs a few more days to become officially 5.)  Here's some of what has been happening:

  • We invited three other families to an indoor bounce place for a small birthday party last night.  (The location was Baby T's idea--the guest list was my idea.)  There were 10 children total and 5 adults total.  We had pizza (the reliable cheese pizza and pepperoni pizza) and store cake (half chocolate, half white, with purple decorations), a large helium 5 balloon and a small My Little Pony balloon.  Some senior members of the group played Set while the little kids bounced.  (D both bounced and played Set.)
  • Baby T got a charming set of My Little Pony princesses from one set of friends (Princess Celestia, Princess Luna and Princess Cadence) and a fat Richard Scarry book from another set of friends.
  • At home, C gave her C's Hot Wheels car collection and Hot Wheels tracks (a princely gift, as my husband and I agreed) and we parents gave her a clear pink piggy bank and a new Play Doh press (to replace one that broke).  We will be giving more gifts later this week on her actual birthday--she's getting a sparkly mermaid tail plush blanket from Justice and a couple of small LEGO Star Wars sets (x-wings?).
  • D is in training for a 10k.
  • C is in training for the PSAT.  It's not the official one for her (that's next year), but it's a big deal.
  • C is starting to have dress-up school events, as she's now a 10th grader.  As her wardrobe lately mostly consists of a) school uniforms and b) t-shirts, some shopping was in order.  She and I and Baby T went to Old Navy Friday night and made a pretty good haul:  a couple nice tops, a white t-shirt to go under the tops, and a pair of black pants.
  •  C also wanted to know if I was going to follow up on an old promise of giving her some of my jewelry now that she is older.  C's ears are not pierced, so that excluded a bunch of stuff.  I gave her a bracelet, a Polish or Russian gold necklace (grandma?), and an amber necklace (Polish or Russian?) with lots of amber.  I also promised her my stash of amber earrings if she gets her ears pierced.

Thursday, October 5, 2017


Here's some of what's going on:

  • Husband and I just started Taxi Blues (1990) and Kommissar (1967, but released 20 years later due to censorship issues).  I'm not sure we'll finish them, but they are really good.
  • Baby T is doing well at 3-day pre-k.  She really loves school.
  • Baby T is also really attached to me.  She likes to say, "Baby cat loves mama cat!" and similar.
  • D is in youth group now, not CCE.
  • C is going to be performing a Star Trek theme at a school event soon.  Her instrumental music class will also be performing a Tom Petty song together.  
  • The kids did a sibling picture today.  C hates school photos, but I'm really pleased to have a professionally done photo of the three of them.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Preschool Kumon

Here are some thoughts on some of Kumon's preschool workbook offerings:

  • First off, the age ratings on these books are often over-ambitious.  For example, My Book of Numbers 1-30 is rated for ages 3-5.  As a 4-year-old, Baby T has done a number of the dot-to-dot type exercises pretty well, and the concepts are well within her grasp, but she's much less good at writing numbers over and over again (and frankly, we haven't really tried).  In general, I've gotten much less excited than I used to be about the number writing and letter writing exercises for really small children.  We have not finished this workbook.
  • Fessing up here--part of the reason I'm less enthusiastic about some of these workbooks is that they require constant parental supervision.
  • I have ordered Kumon's My Book of Number Games 1-70 to give Baby T some number practice without a lot of copy work--it's basically a dot-to-dot book.
  • Related: Kumon's My First Book of Drawing is also rated ages 3-5.  Baby T did quite a number of drawing exercises by herself at 4 and did a very decent job:  the apple, cherries, eggplant (!), watermelon, kite, etc.  However, she also just scribbled a little on some of them, or treated them as coloring exercises.  (Baby T did a lot of this workbook by herself.)  Some quibbles:  a cupcake that doesn't look like a cupcake, a ladle (what do 4-year-olds care about ladles?) and a very creepy clown.  Definitely not for the typical 3-year-old.  We have not finished this.
  • I last posted on Kumon's pre-k Logic workbook.  It starts with finding a match for an animal in a group of different animals and moves onto matching a cross-section of an object to the object itself and baby animals to their parents.  So far so good.  Things get a little trickier in the next section, where kids need to understand how scales work, and that being lower indicates that the animal or object is heavier.  Then there's a section on choosing which object or animal is faster.  We found this problematic as it's more about real life knowledge and experience than abstract logic.  Why should a 4-year-old know that a bird is faster than a bee?  And I still don't know whether a lion is faster than a rabbit.  Baby T did surprisingly well on the section where kids are supposed to figure out which things in a picture are pretend.  Baby T did well with pattern sequencing (at least as well as her mom).  Object rotation was kind of a pain for both of us.  There was also an exercise where you need to figure out which animal is missing in a design, with lots of obstacles to make it hard.  There were many times where I found myself thinking, "This is for 4-year-olds--seriously?", especially since there were times (like with the pattern sequencing and missing animals) where I struggled, too.  Baby T is very close to 5, so heaven knows how a young 4-year-old would do.  The workbook has really nice full color pictures, but I would say that the second half of it is more appropriate for 5.  Baby T did finish this (with help).
  • We found ourselves much more at home in Kumon's pre-k Spatial Reasoning workbook.  Again, I'm not totally sure that this is a good workbook for a typical 4-year-old, but this one was a very good fit for Baby T.  It contains the following:  drawing lines to connect matching objects (which eventually builds into mazes), multi-stop mazes, matching partial pictures, matching outlines to animals, figuring out which picture shows two shapes smooshed together (really good performance on that), copying more and more complex shapes (with help and some wobbly lines), comparing height (not fooled by animals sitting on chairs) and coloring exercises.  I've ordered the kindergarten version for Baby T.   
  • We're also working on the pre-k Differentiation workbook.  So far, the hardest thing in there for me and Baby T is the mirror image exercises.  
  • All in all, I'm happy to have preschool workbooks that are not primarily about practicing copying letters and numbers and where fine motor skills are not a major obstacle to doing the work, but age-appropriateness is sometimes an issue.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Kumon Logic II

Baby T finished the pre-k logic workbook.  Some thoughts:

  • There are a lot of exercises in the beginning of the book that are more knowledge-of-the-world and less logic (Baby T had trouble with that).
  • In the middle of the book, there are some interesting exercises with trying to figure out which animal is riding a carnival ride.
  • It gets really hard at the end of the book with exercises where you study a pattern and predict the next item in the sequence.  It is not easy, even for big people.  (Baby T was good at those, though.)  
  • I wonder how appropriate this book really is for 4-year-olds, as Baby T is almost 5, and it was challenging.  
  • I have ordered and we are expecting the Kumon "Spatial Reasoning" and "Differentiation" pre-k workbooks.  Baby T is excitedly waiting for them.  I may eventually order the kindergarten "Logic" workbook.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Kumon Logic

Baby T and I have almost finished her Kumon pre-k Logic workbook.  It's SO HARD.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Playroom II

Here's some of what's happening:

  • I finished the playroom (with some input from Baby T).
  • Baby T likes to say, "Baby cat loves mama cat!"
  • She just came over and wiped my hands with a wet wipe.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


I have a very slow, totally non-KonMari decluttering program going.  Here's what I've done recently:

  • moved a bunch of Baby T's clothes from my closet into her new closet (Baby T and D switched rooms this summer)
  • gave away some of Baby T's outgrown clothes
  • decluttered, dusted and vacuumed my walk-in closet (for a closet, I'd say it looks pretty good) yesterday
  • decluttered two linear yards of Baby T's playroom downstairs (the playroom is probably about half done now)
I can only do the playroom about 15-30 minutes at a time, as that's about the point where Baby T's helpfulness gives out.  We've done two sessions so far and I foresee it taking at least another two.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Fall II

It's been a very productive Saturday.

  • My husband and D assembled both the brown IKEA wardrobe for D and big white dresser for Baby T.  (D got paid for the dresser assembly, which took 2.5 hours.)
  • Basically, there was about 5 hours just of IKEA assembly today, with both my husband and D working the whole time.  Baby T came and helped with the dresser, and was actually rather helpful.
  • C got to go to her first riding lesson of the fall.
  • I moved D's clothes from Baby T's closet into his wardrobe and dresser.
  • Husband hung a sun/moon decoration up for Baby T.
  • C hung up Baby T's old My Little Pony wall decals and she and I hung up a Pokemon poster that C bought for Baby T a while back and has been saving for her.
  • D's old room/Baby T's new room has a castle photo mural and D left Baby T his old homemade wooden castle wall (it has hinges, so it can be folded up or made into a square).  The castle stuff combines pretty well thematically with Baby T's new purple princess tent and her My Little Ponies.  This room is not going to get us into the local glossy, but I think it's up to 4-year-old/5-year-old standards.
  • Husband and I also gave D some lighting help, as his room is a bit dim in the evening.
  • All in all, a strong team effort.  Here's what's left to do in those two rooms:  move Baby T's clothes out of master bedroom closet, replace window in D room (waiting for window people), buy D a blind (waiting for new window), and install a lower, reachable rod for Baby T's closet.
  • Down the road, we need to get Baby T an actual bed, mattress, and new bedding (her pick?)--probably in about a year.  We'll eventually (around 10?) need to get her a cork board, desk and bookcase, and possibly repaint, as it will be about time by then.  Basically, we'll just be doing a white version of D's room, with the furniture where D's furniture used to be.  


Here's some of what's happening:

  • We went to a department potluck and Baby T got to see a classmate.  I had a couple of "small town is small!" chats with new people.  (It was mainly on the subject of how you keep bumping into the same people in our town and how the local glossy features people you know.)  The hosts had a big trampoline and a nice swing and D ran around madly with the little kids chasing him, executing amazing bullfighter style last-minute pivots to escape the little kids.  I also (much to D's relief) instituted a one-kid-only rule when the little kids started to swarm D.  There was also marshmallow roasting!  Baby T was probably one of the most socially benefited by the potluck, as her classmate and siblings were there, as was a family of old chums.  There are a lot of kids in the department around Baby T's age.  
  • D and his dad are working on assembling D's new IKEA wardrobe.  D's new room (Baby T's old room) has no closet, so he needed a wardrobe to keep his stuff that hangs.  This was not the cheapest available wardrobe, but I'm partial to the Hemnes solid pine line at IKEA, and I've been trying to move our family away from particle board furniture.  Plus, the solid pine is less fiddly to deal with than particle board when there are assembly issues--less crumbling to bits.  There's also a dresser for Baby T to assemble, but they may not get to that today.
  • I was working on organizing and decluttering Baby T's playroom with her earlier this week.  As I discovered, it's going to take several sessions with Baby T to do the whole thing.  However, I did manage to clean up Baby T's playdoh area (table, large bin, etc.).  Right now, she's playing with her awesome My Little Pony playdoh set and she's making manes and tails with a playdoh press. 
  • It's so pretty right now! 

Friday, September 8, 2017

September Ukulele Club

We had the club today in just about ideal weather.  8+ kids came and one girl said, "I'm learning "Hallelujah"!"

The kids who have been coming have just gotten to the point of being able to learn songs, and they're very excited.

Saturday, September 2, 2017


Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T has made peace with her uniform.  She has decided that the green looks like a favorite character (from Skylanders?).
  • She likes just about everything about pre-k.
  • They get lots of playground time and some indoor physical exercises (which remind me a lot of physical therapy exercises).
  • The academic activities seem very moderate
  • Baby T has suddenly decided that she likes books again.
  • We are currently hosting the class mascot, a stuffed dog with the school insignia on his/her (?) denim overalls.  We are supposed to show the mascot a good time, take pictures, put them in a special album, and send it to school.
  • D is in 7th grade and C is in 10th grade.  C is taking pre-calculus and pre-AP physics.  This is D's first year in the junior/senior high building.  It's a big adjustment for him, but his grades are very good so far. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

School is starting!

School is starting!  Here's some of what's going on:

  • Baby T has had her first day of pre-k!  She is doing a three day schedule (although we might bump it up later if possible).  So far, so good.
  • Baby T is enjoying the company of a little friend at school.
  • She was, however, a little negative about the uniform the day before school started.  That is probably the biggest negative of going to school for her.
  • D is now a junior high student, so he's in the same junior-senior high building as C.
  • D is going to be taking woodworking as an elective.
  • C is in student government again, so she has a better pipeline on school information than I do at this point.
  • The drop-off works fine, but the gap between Baby T's pickup and the big kids' pickup is a bit awkward.  I used it yesterday to pick up cupcakes and pastries at the fancy bakery downtown with the line out the door.

Show and tell

D says that it's sad that when you're a little kid, you don't really have anything to talk about at show-and-tell, but once you're a big kid and have real stuff to talk about, you don't get to do show-and-tell anymore.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Room Switch III

Here's what's going to happen in the current phase:

--new window in one bedroom (originally a non-bedroom, hence window doesn't open)
--wardrobe for room without closet (IKEA black brown)
--dresser for Baby T (white IKEA?)

Somewhat later, we can do the following:

--first big girl bed for Baby T (white IKEA?)
--mattress cover
--new bedding (pastel ponies?)

The initial IKEA run is coming soon.

Yesterday, we were buying shoes and school supplies.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Room Switch II

That was amazingly fast.  On Tuesday, painters painted D's new room (Baby T's old room) and on Wednesday, D and my husband and I (but mostly D) moved D's furniture and stuff into his new room.

The big issue right now is that before we make any further purchases, I need a quote from a window company for a window replacement.  Depending on how that goes, we will make our pilgrimage to IKEA and get some of the following:  wardrobe for D (a must--no closet), bed for Baby T and large dresser for Baby T.

Then we move D's clothes out of Baby T's closet and into D's wardrobe and Baby T's clothes out of my closet into her closet...

There's also a blind to buy.

But it's all very livable right now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Room switch

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Yesterday, painters came and painted Baby T's old room Behr's Linen White (a very creamy white) for D.
  • We moved Baby T's mattress to C's room last night and they had a sleepover.  C says that when Baby T woke up in the morning, Baby T was babbling incessantly about Minecraft.
  • It was kind of up in the air when we'd start moving D's stuff into the freshly painted room (aBaby T's room) and Baby T's stuff into D's old room.  The master bedroom (which is fortunately a large room) was packed with Baby T's stuff.
  • Very happily, D, my husband and I were all inspired today and we got nearly all of D's stuff moved.  (We still need a new wardrobe for him, so his clothes are still in the closet in his old room.)
  • Baby T's room and bathroom have the basics, but we still need to go through her toys together.
  • I got her a sort of mini-papasan from the grocery store today--the cushion is a faux fur in minty green.  Baby T loves it.  (The big kids both have real, full-size papasans.)
  • I have a big to-do list, but we've definitely turned a corner on the room switch project.  The big thing is making inquiries about a window replacement (we realized that a little too late when we already had the painters coming), getting an IKEA wardrobe for D (to replace the lost closet), a blind for D, a couple more plastic baskets for Baby T's shelves, and (if the budget holds up), a new bed and dresser for Baby T, with possibly a new set of bedding.
  • D's new room is creamy white with a lot of brown black IKEA furniture, some cream and tan bedding, and some dusty robin's egg blue accents.  The creamy white walls in the new room goes better with the brown black furniture than the old robin's egg blue in the old room used to.
  • Baby T's new room is robin's egg blue with a wide white bookcase and the minty green faux fur mini-papasan.  She's got D's old castle photo mural on the wall.  Theoretically, we could get her a white IKEA bed, white IKEA dresser, stick up our old My Little Pony wall decals, and call it a day.     

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Birthday Week II

Here's some of what's happening:

  • We had a friend party for C last night.  We had half a dozen visitors (girls and one boy who is a sibling of a girl guest and a classmate of D).  
  • I had the presence of mind to suggest that a former classmate (that C sees rarely) come early to hang out.
  • We had chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing from the grocery store and my husband showed Galaxy Quest.  
  • One of the girl guests drove herself.  WHOA!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Birthday week

Here's some of what's happening:

  • C is enjoying her birthday week.  Among other things, she's gotten a new Kindle Fire (handy for her vast library of Star Trek comics--another b-day gift), a better pickup for her ukulele, a collection of P.G. Wodehouse's Uncle Fred stories, The Hobbit in Latin, etc.  We still need to have a party--it's going to be Galaxy Quest and cake for about half a dozen girls.
  • C is practicing Blue Skies, some Star Wars theme, and the theme from Star Trek's Deep Space Nine that she and her music teacher have been painstakingly working out during her lessons.  She wants to work on the Star Trek Voyager theme after that.
  • Baby T has been enjoying the Wii and Minecraft.  Right now, she's doing watercolors
  • D has been doing indoor rock climbing and reviewing his fencing, as he's signed up for a fencing camp.  
  • The big kids are also rewatching Avatar:  The Last Airbender.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

First ukulele lesson!

C has given Baby T her first five-minute ukulele lesson.  (I've told C that she can give Baby T as many as Baby T is interested in and I will pay $1 for each five-minute lesson.)

C says that Baby T's hands are a bit too small to wrap around to do chords.

Friday, July 7, 2017


Here's some of what's going on:

  • We are gearing up for a room switch between D and Baby T (to provide Baby T an accessible bathroom).  I took ALL THREE KIDS to Home Depot to the paint department and I had D choose some whites/creams.  Then I obtained four paint samples, four little sponge brushes, and a 2'X2' square of dry wall to test paint colors on.  (On this outing, we also got a Toys R Us gift card for a chum of D and went grocery shopping.)
  • When I have a quiet hour, I need to paint the samples and check them against the existing trim in Baby T's room, D's furniture and his bedding, as well as checking if the colors look weird in Baby T's room.  Then, and only then, I should run it past D.  (The reason he is the last stop on the list is that he's color blind.)
  • I have literally never done this before to this level of detail.  The only "renovation" work we did on our house when we bought it four years ago was having the big kids' rooms painted (a buttery cream for C and a robin's egg blue for D), and even so, we went straight off the paper paint chips--we didn't do live testing of the colors.  (We were in a big hurry, but it worked out OK.)  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer PDO and swim class

Here's some of what's happening:

  • My husband and the two older kids just finished up their two weeks of class.  We were afflicted by a bug and my husband missed one day of class and C missed nearly an entire week.  So she wasn't able to do her programming class at all, and only one day of cooking class.  D, however, was able to do his cooking class (first ever for him) and is inspired.  He made some mini-cheesecakes (a very simple muffin cup recipe with a vanilla wafer at the bottom).  I'm lobbying for chocolate mini-cheesecakes some time.  D wants to do some more cooking projects.  Both kids got to do a sculpture class the first week and D got to do computer programming.
  • C has gotten a long reprieve from music practice because of illness, but got back to practice today and did a 30 minute lesson with D.  She's working on a Star Trek theme.  
  • Baby T is enjoying PDO.  It's a once-a-week summer program.  The drive is a bit longer than we're used to for PDO, but the schedule suits us.  
  • I also signed Baby T up for a two-week swim class that starts soon.  This will be her first swim class ever, and she's already started swimming a little, so this is very exciting!

Sunday, June 25, 2017


My husband has fulfilled a long-cherished dream of making racuchy (rah-tsoo-hee) just like grandma used to make.

Racuchy are a sort of Polish yeast (!) pancake.  They're cooked in oil and wind up looking like an extra-fat pancake, but with more heft and less sweetness.  The ones my husband made also contained a lot of diced apple (courtesy of the kids), with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.  My husband says that his grandma's version contained pork fat.

We had ours with raspberry jam, marmalade and maple syrup.  Husband thinks this is a barbarous idea, but it crossed my mind that bacon would be excellent on the side (apple smoked?).  Maybe ham?  I was also thinking sour cream.  As it turns out, my instincts for Slavic food combinations are sound--the Wikipedia article mentions people eating racuchy with sour cream or cream.  (This is probably a thinner version than the sour cream you get in the US.)

We eat nalesniki (nah-lesh-nee-kee) or Polish crepes pretty regularly, with a spiced sweet cheese filling (Baby T is passionate about the ricotta-based filling).  We haven't yet gotten around to it, but we are starting to think about doing savory fillings one of these days (maybe fried mushrooms?).  The big kids have been helping my husband a lot recently.

The big kids have been doing some classes the last two weeks.  They were signed up for the same schedule:  sculpture, game programming, and a cooking class.  D was able to take all of his courses.  This was D's first chance at taking the cooking class, with very gratifying results (he made us a set of mini-cheesecakes yesterday at home).  C, sadly, got just the sculpture class and then was sick for nearly all of the other two classes (4 days out of 5).

Baby T would love to take a cooking class.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

D on Cheerios

D told Baby T:  You can just pretend that they're tiny donuts!

Monday, May 29, 2017


Baby T and C were out scootering together tonight.

Baby T said, "We're sisters, together!"

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Baby T has been doing Wii for DAYS.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Home lesson

Here's some of what's happening:

  • After much procrastinating, I got to the post office (by myself!) and mailed some books to a friend in Russia and went to the bank to fix an expired debit card issue.  Not particularly difficult tasks, as it turned out, but much faster by myself.  
  • My husband and the kids are planning to build a quiz machine at home this summer so that the school's Junior Classical League kids will be able to practice with a machine before going to regionals and state next year.  We have a growing collection of parts.  They were just testing the buttons.   
  • C was teaching D "Amazing Grace" on the ukulele this morning.  

Sunday, May 7, 2017


Here's some of what's happening:

  • We have our water park summer passes!
  • C finally got to the local grownup ukulele club.  There were four people including C.  They played Folsom Prison Blues, King of the Road and Leroy Brown, switching back and forth.  The guy who was leading the group was very engaging and well-prepared--and (surprisingly) an amateur.  I was totally sure he was a professional music teacher, but he's in a completely different line of work.
  • The local grownup ukulele club meets twice a month, which is just about perfect.   They started meeting early last fall and I believe they've done a Christmas performance, but they'd like to work up to visiting nursing homes (maybe quarterly?) which is very nice.  I believe that they're trying to work up a repertoire of half a dozen songs.  
  • We're having our last school ukulele club meeting soon.
  • Everything is starting to wrap up--C's riding, youth group, and D's CCD finish up in the next week or two, and the kids have another three weeks of school.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Kids and phones

Baby T says, "A little girl can have a phone!"

Apparently, she learned this from an informant at preschool.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


We went to Waxahachie's Scarborough Renaissance Festival today as a very, very early birthday gift for me (my birthday is in June, after the Faire closes).  C has been there before for two school visits, but this was a first visit for the rest of us.  Here are some notes:

  • so hard to get into the parking lot!  so far from the entrance!
  • C wore her purple flower wreath from a previous visit to the Faire, a purple shirt, carried a purple foam sword, and eventually picked out a purple painted parasol
  • almost no cell phone looking!
  • so much smoking!  
  • This was a Celtic theme weekend, so there were hundreds of kilted men, including lots of men in the famous Utilikilt (it's like a hybrid between Dockers and a traditional Scottish kilt).  
  • lots of great Renaissance costumes with a sprinkling of non-Renaissance costumes
  • jousting
  • iffy toilets (they told us to put the toilet paper in the baskets, not the toilets--eww!)
  • I spent a lot of time shuttling myself and Baby T to the bathroom. 
  • We saw a falconry show
  • C and Baby T rode a camel together
  • C and D did bungee jumping (they've wanted to try it for years)
  • C and D enjoyed fried ice cream
  • there were also a number of impromptu battles between the kids, as we brought along our foam swords--they got pointers from a kind stranger
I was keeping a particular eye on the musicians, as C has a particular interest in Renaissance music, and there's a possibility that she could eventually play at the Faire.  Going in, I was wondering about what kind of instruments are typical.  I'm not sure if this was typical (it being a Celtic weekend), but I saw a number of harps, modern guitars, a mandolin (?) and a ukulele.  I didn't see an actual lute, as far as I could tell.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Another Saturday

Here's what happened yesterday:

  • My husband drove C and D out to C's horse therapy out at the ranch.
  • I took Baby T to campus where Baby T scootered amidst prospective new students and their families (I did NOT expect that).  We met an out-of-town internet friend and her preschooler and infant, had lunch (also amidst the prospective new students and their families) and then did a loop at the zoo.  It was over way too soon.  They're from the Houston area, so hopefully we'll be able to meet up again in the next year or two.  
  • Baby T has acquired her entire set of 8 Octonauts, and really really really wants a playdate to play with her new set.
  • In general, Baby T has an insatiable appetite for life.  So, we make cut-out cookies (C took Star Trek insignia cookies to school for First Contact Day) and a couple days later, Baby T wants to do it again.  Or we did our zoo outing with new friends and she's clamoring for playdates.  More more more!
  • I haven't planned the summer yet, but we are all hoping to travel to the West Coast in June and there should also be a couple weeks of gifted camp in June for the big kids.  My husband will be teaching some courses.  I have gotten Baby T into a one-day PDO program that promises lots of water play.  Beyond that it's a bit hazy--I do know that I'd ideally like to get Baby T into a swim class, because she's showing a lot of water skills.  

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Ollie and Baby T

So, Baby T has just discovered Ollie, the spherical programmable robot.  She was really using a tablet  to program him.

She was also playing with the LEGO Mindstorms set.

I'm not sure how sophisticated any of this play was, but she is interested.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Here's some of what we have been doing this weekend:

  • D did a 10k race and came in at 53 minutes--a personal best.
  • C did her therapeutic riding.
  • Baby T had been asking for weeks (if not months) for a playdate with a daughter of friends, so we got together last night.  We had dinner with the cafeteria, did frisbee, balls, and scooter on campus, and then went home and did zipline, Connect Four and Hot Wheels.  C also played her electrified ukulele and the visiting mom sang Scarborough Fair while C played.  (C's Renaissance pieces sound very interesting with electric effects)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Help for duck foot

We have a lot of duck foot in the family and I've been having the worst time finding summer shoes for Baby T (when we were in the Skechers store, I'm pretty sure she was registering EE on their foot measuring device).  All those cute little ballet flats are way too narrow for Baby T.  Crocs work well (they're very wide in the toes), but you don't want to wear Crocs everywhere.

I've been wanting a slip on canvas summer shoe for Baby T and not finding it anywhere--not Old Navy, Skechers, or GAP.  The shoes she was trying on were winding up way too long length-wise, but also too narrow!

We had a very lucky find at Carter's today.  Their Mary Janes seem to be just about right.  We looked at a denim-and-white canvas Mary Jane with a velcro strap and a sparkly navy canvas Mary Jane with an elastic strap and ultimately went with the second pair, although both fit fine.  We were both very pleased.  Baby T wore the new shoes home and is talking about showing them to C.  I'm not sure exactly what Baby T is wearing for Easter, but these should work.

Baby T will be wearing Mary Janes as part of her uniform when she starts pre-k, so fingers crossed that the Landsend Mary Janes will serve her as well as they served C when she was that age.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

More D's birthday

We had D's official 12th birthday yesterday.  My husband and the kids made an orange chocolate version of the incredibly fudgy Hershey cake.  I kind of prefer it in the only-chocolate version, but it is very good.  Husband also 3D printed a pixelly "Happy Birthday D" cake topper and a matching Minecraft creeper.  D got some Star Wars figures and a Megablock Star Trek Klingon bird of prey ship.

Quite the birthday week, all in all.

We've also done a lot of trip planning for our summer trip to WA to see family.  We're ALL going this time, which will be the first time we've ever ALL five gotten on a plane together.  We're planning to get hotels and rent a minivan, which should maximize our freedom, sightseeing, and general efficiency.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Baby T on kids

Baby T says:  "I want to be a mom when I grow up.  Kids are friends!"

Friday, March 3, 2017


Here's some of what happened today:

  • Baby T and I picked up D's birthday cake from the store (German chocolate--D's favorite).
  • I loaded up the car with ukulele club stuff (six ukuleles with cases and tuners, probably five books, etc.) and Baby T.  I dropped Baby T off with husband (they do lunch together on these occasions) and zipped over to school.  We had solid turnout (six girls in addition to C) and several girls learned how to play Frere Jacques.  They were very pleased with themselves.  This is the first actual song that they have ever done at ukulele club.  This is very exciting.
  • I returned to pick up my husband and Baby T.  My husband was fortunately free to help set up for D's birthday party.  (The actual b-day is later, but we're running up against spring break.)
  • We had six boys come (four classmates and two younger family friends).  My husband ran some NERF battles with the kids (six guests plus C and D).  I directed new arrivals to the NERF battle zone and then Baby T and I went home to set the table and await the pizzas.
  • We had two meatless and two vegetarian pizzas (the mushroom one was very good), baby carrots and grapes and then the German chocolate cake.  Miraculously, everybody was willing to eat the cake.
  • And then the boys got to do the zipline and D bowed to public opinion and opened gifts.
  • D and I even managed to do our thank you notes.
  • So tired!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Brothers and sisters

Baby T burst into the bathroom to inform me excitedly, "Brothers and sisters can be great friends!"

This is something she had just learned from Bear in the Big Blue House.

Baby T's math

I wasn't around to see this, but my husband reports that Baby T has been displaying some math precocity.

There were a number of different examples.  Baby was asked how many fingers our household has and she said "five tens."  She also calculated the number of eyes family members have by counting invisible dots.

This is all very curious, because Baby T's grasp of the names of numbers above 10 is very shaky.

Dash buttons

I see Amazon wants us to get a Dash button for buying Tastybites microwavable Indian food and Aquila red high G ukulele strings.  Not bad, Amazon.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Scarborough Fair

I can hear something coming from upstairs that sounds a lot like "Scarborough Fair."

Good job, D!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Yet another ukulele II

C put new strings on D's loaner ukulele for him and gave him a tuner.  My husband put a hook on the wall in D's room, and now it's up on the hook.

I'm still waiting for his Hal Leonard Ukulele Method Book 1 to come.  Other than that, he's all set--it's strung, he has a hook, he has a case and he has a tuner.

Valentine's again?

Baby T wants to know when it's going to be Valentine's Day again.

Baby T wants music lessons

Baby T was just telling me she wants to have C teach her ukulele and asked when that could happen.  I told her in a few months (I was planning to try that this summer).

Baby T continued, "I want to go to Guitar Center and have a lesson with C!"  Guitar Center, sadly, does not teach 4-year-olds.

Yet another ukulele

Here's the new ukulele that C bought with a combination of cash and money from her ukulele fund:

We got it used for $99 that at Guitar Center.  C's favorite go-to ukulele is also a Snail and both she and her teacher thought that this one is the best they've seen there.  We don't quite know what it's performance capabilities are going to be, because it's strung wrong.  It's going to be a long-term loan for D so that he has one in his room.

This is our household's 8th (!) ukulele, but you'd be surprised how much use they get.  A friend's kid is borrowing one, this new one is for D to borrow, C often has one at school for music class, and I usually bring 5 or 6 to ukulele club.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pancakes and running

This morning, we woke up to the smell of C frying pancakes.

Later in the morning, D ran a 5k race and came in 2nd in his age class.  This is the first time he has run in a public race, although he has participated in rock climbing competitions.

Friday, February 10, 2017

New stuff

C's kind of between ukulele books at the moment, but she's been working on the Star Trek Deep Space 9 theme and has just started Ondrej Sarek's Jewish Songs for C Tuning Ukulele.  I'm very excited for her to learn Tumbalalaika.

She and D did an hour (!) of ukulele lessons together today.  Apparently, D has started working on Scarborough Fair and Amazing Grace.

Monday, February 6, 2017

New rabbit hole

I found a new rabbit hole by doing a search for "sephardic ukulele" on youtube.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

February ukulele club

C and I did our February ukulele club meeting.  It was going to be outside, but it was so chilly that we wimped out and C begged us some space in the school library.  It's really nice in the library, but probably not going to be a routine thing.  There were only two other girls plus C, but I thought they did some good work.

C asked me to tune up the ukuleles while she made inquiries about the library and I turned a gear, turned a gear, turned a gear until PING I broke the string.  Oops!  Apparently, I needed to turn the gear in the other direction...I've ordered a new set of strings.  (That set was four months old, so it was about time.)

C is also getting ready for a school fine arts night.

She's kind of between books right now (having just wrapped up From Lute to Uke), but we're hoping her teacher is able to find some Star Trek theme music for her.  If that's not possible, I have the following books available:

There are a number of pieces from the Jewish Songs book on youtube.  They have a very interesting sound.  Sarek, the arranger, isn't a ukulele virtuoso, though, so while they get the idea across, he's not a very polished performer.

I've listened to quite a number of the 20 Spanish Baroque Pieces on youtube and they are absolutely exquisite.  Here's a clip of the arranger (Rob MacKillop) performing one.  I'd really like C to try to get a handle of the campanella technique, which produces a harp-like effect.

The 101 Licks book covers blues (it's actually mostly blues), country, bluegrass, and rock.  I think it might provide C a nice bag of tricks for use in her school instrumental music class.  

C also has a Star Wars theme music book she hasn't worked with much yet.

It is usually kind of tricky getting C into a new book.  It is a pretty big commitment, after all--she spent about half a year working through the Lute to Uke book.  

Monday, January 23, 2017

Ukulele Club

C and I did ukulele club this past week at school.  I think we had a total of 9 kids (including C herself) and C said she had fun.  I wish, though, that they hadn't all appeared about 10 minutes before the end of lunch...I think there are two girls that are making progress, though.

C's going to have one last lesson devoted to polishing up her Lute to Uke songs and then it will be time for Lord of the Rings pieces.

C was also giving D a lesson tonight of their own accord.  (Both kids are motivated by the fact that they each get $2 per 15-minute lesson.)

C has only 400 15-minute practices to go until I book the cruise.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Three little kittens house

This morning Baby T finally earned her pink-roofed Little People doll house.  We used to have an almost identical one that Baby T used to keep in her crib, but it had a career-ending accident (don't ask) and we threw it out.  A year or two later, Baby T started to want a doll house.  I showed her a whole bunch of different options (including a couple of adorable Hello Kitty ones), but Baby T settled on one that was almost identical to the old one, but with a basket of kittens that meow.  She got enough potty points this morning to get it.

Baby T has named it the Three Little Kitten house and the kittens have been hosting their Paw Patrol friends.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Baby T on winter

Baby T:  I give up on winter.  That's the season I give up on.

I'm done, too--especially when it's drippy 49 degree days with intermittent thunderstorms in the forecast.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

School has started

Here's some of what's happening:

  • D has had his first week back at school.
  • C has officially had her first week back--but in the form of a big school road trip to Dallas/Ft. Worth.  This is only the second time C has ever done an overnight trip without family (the first time was last year for the Junior Classical League), so it's a big deal.  The kids are on notice that if they accumulate too many class trip demerits, they won't go on the senior trip to Europe (!).  Some trip demerits were accumulated, but not by C. 
  • The electronics rules were so strict that we didn't even bother to send C a phone for the road.
  • One of the class trips is to New Orleans--brave, brave teachers.
  • In DFW, C's class went to a play, visited an art museum, did an "etiquette dinner," visited a botanical garden and (the piece de resistance) the Ft. Worth stockyards, where the kids shopped 'til they dropped (especially at the candy store) and a large number of them acquired ponchos (it was a cooold day).
  • C had several days off from music, but her teacher has officially checked off each of the songs in her beloved Lute to Uke book, which is a collection of Renaissance lute music adapted for the ukulele.  We are taking this week for C to polish her songs and produce a "greatest hits" session for her teacher, and then it's on to finding C Lord of the Rings ukulele tab.  Her teacher is very excited about that.
  • C had been working through the Lute to Uke book since May or June, so this is the close of an era.  
  • We've also learned of a new, conveniently close ukulele club.  It may be disappointing (they have kind of a terrible location and the photos show a sparsely stocked music store), but C is interested, their next meeting is on my calendar, and we're going to try it out. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Scared of baking II

On reflection, that didn't sound like a "baby," did it?

Scared of baking

Baby T (apropos of nothing):  I'm scared of baking when I'm bigger!

me:  I'll put it in the oven.

Baby T:  Thank you!  I'll do the mixing.