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.