For a Quick Reference

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Joke Journal entry

We overheard this conversation between Matthew and Daniel-

M- Daniel, what's 5+5?
D- Eight!
M- Wrong. It's 10. What's 5+5?
D- Eight!
M- No! It's 10. What's 5+5?
D- Eight?
M- Nope! It's 10. What's 5+5?
D- Four?
M- Arg! It's TEN! What's 5+5?
D- (pause) Ten?
M- Woohoo! You're right!

We've long had suspicions about Daniel. We now have conclusive evidence that Daniel doesn't listen to what we say.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

tech kids

This morning Daniel asked if he could play educational games on the Internet. He does this for a few minutes each day when I take my shower. I'm always surprised about how well he navigates on the Internet and uses a track-ball mouse. Today he said, "Mom, take me to PBSkids dot com!" It was strange to hear a three year-old requesting a website.

Matthew also knows how to use Google, and the spell checking feature will often help him out when he can't spell his topic correctly. There is a small problem though, Matthew spells according to his own pronunciation, and he has a speech impediment. The results that I find in our search boxes are cute. Instead of 'Feed Freddy', he spells 'Feed Fwedy'. Instead of 'Tooth Fairy' it's 'Toof Fawee'. 'Playground' is 'Plae gwownd'. There's only so much Google can do to correct spelling, some of Matt's attempts confuse their system sometimes.

Sarah is very adept at using Google's search engine, so she'll think up a topic she wants to learn about and then she'll Google it and read lots of websites about that topic. She loves learning about animals (their habitats, life cycles, diet, behaviors, etc) in particular.  She'll ask me, with almost tangible excitement in her voice, "Can I please Google? PLEASE?" I'm thinking it's time for us to invest in a family internet filter so she doesn't pull up trashy sites accidentally.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Joke Journal entry

Sarah was working on a poem for school today. It's the type of poem where the author writes down an adjective for each letter of their name. Sarah was having a hard time thinking of another adjective that began with the letter 'A'. Nathan pulled out the dictionary and began scanning, coming up with 'Abject', 'Abominable', 'Abrasive', 'Absent', etc. From the other room Matthew piped up: "Hey Sarah! You can write 'absent' and MAIL the homework to your teacher tomorrow!" We all had a good laugh.

Picnic and Poetry

My children were playing pretend this morning. They packed a picnic basket and set off for an adventure upstairs. I intercepted them along the way and inspected their luggage, for safety's sake. They had a meager collection of dishes and imaginary snacks, but carryfully nestled among this was a key ingredient to a memorable picnic: "The Collected poems of Byron, Shelly, and Keats".

Nathan and I love poetry and it's masterful grasp of language and emotion. I don't know if this was a coincidence....perhaps it was the first book they could reach on our bookshelf to pack along. Whatever the reason, I was delighted to see that our children consider books to be good companions for any outing. My life's work of teaching them to love books and love learning may be bearing the first tiny green buds of fruit.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Background: Matthew was playing a game that involved several sailing vessels from different time periods. One of these is a Viking boat.

Matthew: Look at this! It's my own Hiking Boat!
Sarah: No, that's a 'V'. VIKING boat. The people on it are Vikers.

Real ladies wear gloves, right?

Do you remember seeing old movies that show ladies wearing gloves when they drive the car? Or gloves when they go shopping? How about gloves to church on Sunday? I think it makes them look so dignified and elegant. It bespeaks of a lost age of refinement.

I decided that I want to start wearing gloves. I want my kids to remember me as refined. I had a problem in buying them....modern stores don't usually carry kid-skin leather gloves for ladies. They have leather working gloves. (Which are also special, but they have their own place: the garage). On our trip to Fredericksburg this week, Nathan and I stopped at every antique store we found. The ladies gloves would fetch prices as high as $30. Hmm....not so neat. My enthusiasm to wear gloves wasn't fading, but I was resigning myself to some online hunting to find some affordable gloves. I also found a pattern so I could sew my own gloves, but who really wants to spend so much time on one glove? All the piecing would take over an hour for one glove.

On our way home we spotted one last antique store next to a gas station. While Nathan refeuled our car, I peeked inside the shop. Lo and behold! What met my eyes? A large wooden box filled to the brim with gloves, and priced at $1/pair. WooHOO! That's cheaper than I could make them myself! I went through the dozens of gloves and bought every pair that wasn't stained or ripped. Some of them have beading and needlework. Boy am I excited!! I wore the gloves the rest of the way home.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jane Austen Tea Party

For our book club I hosted a Jane Austen tea party night. I completely forgot about taking fun pictures, so these are the only pictures I have of the evening. It was good fun and we enjoyed discussing Jane Austen's books and the historical traditions surrounding British tea time. My friend Ashely came dressed in a Regency gown, with her hair in period curls, and shared some of her neat knowledge regarding Jane Austen's life. She also cooked a bunch of yummy tea treats using the recipes from the Austen family cook's book. It was SO delicious! We had a variety of scones, muffins, clotted cream, fruits, cakes, cookies, and candies. YUM! It was so fun to have a girls' night with good friends.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sarah's pantaloons and shift

Nevermind the fact that this is completely modest, Sarah was mortified when she learned that I wanted a picture of this. Just the fact that it's considered undergarments was enough to pique her modesty. I won't tell her I posted it online. I just wanted to show you what it looks like so far, and you wouldn't see these items under her dress anyway, so this is the only way for you to see what we've been creating. The pattern for the shift is so easy and so comfortable to wear. Sarah and I are planning on making some lightweight summer dresses for her using the same pattern. She never ever wears pants and this would be a perfect play dress for the heat of summer. Just imagine it in bright colorful patterns. Fun!


What to do when the house is on quarantine for a week? I decided to teach Sarah how to sew. She's been begging me to do it for several weeks.

Our first project is a pioneer dress with the pantaloons and shift to go underneath. I've been really interested in doing historical reenactments as a family, so I'd be making this dress in the next couple months anyway. I figured we might as well start it when we're bored at home and it's raining outside so we can't play in the backyard.

Sarah loves researching things (we have that trait in common) so we had a delightful morning spending hours looking at authentic pioneer dress patterns and studying fabric design. We turned it into a history lesson with questions like: Why did they only have 2 dresses? Why didn't they use expensive fabric? Why did they wear aprons and pinafores? Why did they wear bonnets? Why isn't there a lot of lace? Why did they wear neckerchiefs?

Sarah picked a pretty blue fabric that compliments her eyes. I was a bit worried to begin, since it's been a couple years since my last sewing project. It took a few awkward minutes to get reacquainted with the machine and relearn it's quirky personality (like it's inability to do buttonholes). I had to make a buttonhole by hand-stitching it, but it was actually fun. I imagined our ancestors sewing their clothing without any sewing machines, and that made it so much more enjoyable to do this little task that no longer seemed a hassle. Can you imagine stitching all the seams by hand?

As we sewed, she said, "It would be so much easier to sew a dress if pioneers had a lot of sisters. Then one girl could make the apron, another could work on the dress, and another could sew the undergarments." She thought she was pretty clever until she realized that having more sisters meant they'd also have to make triple the number of dresses, so no work would be saved. After that, she thought she was very lucky to be an only girl.

 I realized something interesting about the pantaloons. They have 4 rows of horizontal tucks along the calf (these were a DEVIL so sew!). I almost altered the pattern and just left the tucks out entirely, but I realized that there is wisdom behind this madness. When Sarah grows taller, I won't need to sew another pair of pantaloons from scratch. We can just let out one pleat and they'll be 3 inches longer. Perfect! She can use these for several years! 

I also learned something to remember when I make future patterns (we hope to do several reenactments from a variety of historical eras, so there will eventually be lots of costumes around here). I should buy the patterns online for cheaper (we paid $15 just for the pattern!) and I should buy fabrics in bulk whenever they go on sale. Armed with this knowledge, I need to decide exactly what colors/fabric types we'll be using for the rest of the costumes and go stock up on them.

I found the NEATEST historical reenactment group. It's called "We Make History".  They are based in Arizona, and they host real balls several times a year and they teach the dances of that time period and everyone dresses in costume. They especially emphasize the gentility and time-appropriate manners. This is the big selling point for me. The SCA is a group that does medieval reenactments, but the manners are appalling, for all their pretense on nobility. After growing up attending SCA events, they have no appeal for me. Honestly, who wants to glory in the Dark Ages? The group in Arizona is focused more on the refining characteristics of society and works to educate young people on how to really be gentlemen and ladies. I love it! They focus on the arts in particular, and the time periods are from the 1700's-1800's.  We are making plans to travel there for their biggest festival in November. Yes, I will be checking my kids out of public school for the week and we'll disappear from Texas. Anyone who wants to come along and carpool in our van is welcome!  You can learn about this group here:
At this point we are finished with the shift and pantaloons, and we start the 'pretty' dress today. She is very excited, and I've really enjoyed rediscovering the joy of sewing.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Double Ug.

Sarah has pertussis (whooping cough), so we are instructed to avoid public places for 5 full days until she is no longer contagious.

Our county has a massive outbreak of pertussis this year. There are more cases of pertussis this year than has been reported since the 1960's, so this bug is getting around. Our doctor told us this morning that out of all the cases of pertussis in the US this year, a whopping %10 of them are occurring in our county. The CDC doesn't know why this is happening, so they are taking extra samples from patients for further testing. Sarah has been completely vaccinated, but still caught it. We are being interveiwed by the Health Department so they can try to figure out what correlating facts there are between our case and others. No fun.

The next step they advise is for our entire family to take antibiotics since the disease is so contagious. Ug.

On the bright side, it does make me so thankful for the access we have to modern medicine and health care. I'm SO thankful we have a warm home and beds to rest in, and plenty of home school material so we don't turn into brain nush. Sarah will have missed 2 weeks of school before she's back, so hopefully I can keep her on par with the class work.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


So, the deal is off. I was so gung-ho about our month of no grocery trips, but we've all gotten very very sick last week. All bets are off. Really, how could you explain to a child that they can't have comfort foods like applesauce when they have the flu, all because of some arbitrary goal the mother set? I couldn't deny them in their hours of sickness. And, YES, I feel like a failure.

Add that to the fact that I myself have been sick as a dog, so that really took away any motivation I had for...well...EVERYTHING. I spent yesterday delirious and only sometimes coherent. I couldn't even get out of bed.  I'm so sorry to the people that called me on the phone last night. I have absolutely no memory about our conversation, and I have no idea if we made any plans together. I'll be calling all the numbers on my Caller ID back today to find out what we discussed so I don't break any promises I might have made when I was barely conscious.

I am SO THANKFUL for such a sweet husband. He made the children popcorn and put on a slew of movies for them downstairs so they could have a party, then he tirelessly stroked my face and hair and comforted me while my body was racked with pain and fever. He rubbed my sore muscles. He was so kind to pile on blankets when I was chilled, only to cherrfully remove them 15 seconds later when I was feverish. Then I'd want the blankets again and he'd tuck me in again. It was an endless cycle all night. I tried to order him away so he could do something he would find enjoyment in, but he stayed by my side all night, ministering to my every need. I know this was all difficult for him, for he himself has been very sick and I'm sure he wanted to just curl up and sleep. What a priceless companion to be blessed with! I LOVE YOU MY DARLING!!!