Monday, May 31, 2010

Books, books, books

The summer reading program has started at our library, so let me jot down the books I read this spring BEFORE the program started.

Gator A-Go-Go by Tim Dorsey. A crazed serial killer as the hero, lots of bad language and drugs, senseless violence --gees, I love these books about Serge. And this is one of the better ones. I also loved the little alligator going up and down along the bottom of the pages to make the novel into a flip book (pity the people who read this in electronic format -- they totally miss out on this).

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Although I'm not a runner, my interest was piqued by a post on embarrassing your kids over at Nurtured by Love. The shoes seemed a bit over the top for a non-runner to purchase simply for the pleasure of seeing the look on Thalia and AnnaBeth's faces, but the book was fascinating. The author did a great job of presenting factual information in an entertaining format (although I had the impression he was cherry-picking his facts at times). After I read it I started cruising web sites on barefoot running. Oooooh, physiology of running -- I love weird stuff like this that has nothing to do with my life!

Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed. I loved this book. I got it out of the library, and dearly wanted to highlight passages and stick post-it notes all over it. I might need to buy it so I can fulfill these fantasies. It's all about the importance of practice; also, lots about how important failure is (yeah, this is the book that got me started on THAT binge). I wasn't so excited about the chapter on drugs in sports (sorry, don't much care, plus it read like a high school research paper), and the chapter on genetics (interesting stuff, but not what I was reading the book to learn about).

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. Such a good author. And we visited Memphis soon after reading it! Which could've been really cool, except it wasn't. More about THAT trip coming up soon.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

More Performances

Spring 2010 Recital.

AnnaBeth played Minuet from Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach by C. Petzold,

Perpetual Motion III by Robert Vandall,

and Hedwig's Theme.

Thalia played Bach's Two Part Invention in B-flat Major and Royal Gardens by Francis Wapen.

The next day they had their class production for drama class -- And Then There Was One -- which was a spoof of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.

AnnaBeth played an empty-headed blonde, Heather Starlett

And Thalia played the butler

who started out the show in disguise.

Regrettably, I didn't get a shot of AnnaBeth in her glittered-up shower cap, nor of all the cast holding their squirt guns up like they were on the set of Mission Impossible.

Next week: a feis and a musical.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pool Weather

The temperatures have suddenly risen to the 90s with high humidity, so we set up an inflatable pool in the back yard under some trees. We used a hose splitter to fill it from our clothes washer hookup, thus using warm water.

That tarp over to the left covered it last night. AnnaBeth is using it as a deck today to avoid stepping on so much tree-generated trash.

Indoors the rats have been enjoying a little pool action of their own:

We had frozen peas on that plastic lid floating on the water. We tried just putting the peas in the water, but they all sort of sank before the rats caught on they were there. After they caught on to the peas-in-the-pool concept, though, Callie (the all-grey one) was ready to scuba dive to look for more.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This Week in Home Improvement: The Family Room

Backstory: When we moved in the family room was a dark cave with no windows.

So the first thing we did was cut a hole in the wall to put in a window.

Which was a very popular move.

Then we painted the dark woodwork a creamy white to further brighten up the room.

Took down the striped vinyl wallpaper which was sort of peeling off the walls of its own accord.

And painted the walls pale yellow.

Then we needed to replace the carpet, which was old and beyond disgusting. This was a tricky one, since the room has a slider from the backyard and also a major walkway into the kitchen, so lots of traffic with sometimes dirty shoes.

Last week we ripped up the carpet and pad (which could've been an advertisement for why you never want carpet in your house -- GAH! DISGUSTING! STINKY! DUSTY! WEIRD SCAREY STAINS!). The kids pried up all of the staples (child labor at its best) and Rick fixed all of the many, many, many squeaks in the floor, because not only was the floor icky to walk on, it was noisy.

And this week we got a wood floor.

It matches the wood in the entry that we put in when we first moved in. As a matter of fact, we had the same people put it in (Prestige Flooring -- I highly recommend them). So now the entire first floor is carpet-free. Wow, does it feel so much cleaner in here!

While the guys were laying the floor, we spent the day upstairs reading The Red Pyramid (fantastic book -- you need to read it if you haven't already) and teaching Thalia and AnnaBeth how to crochet. Then the crew moved upstairs and did the hallway while we headed out to some classes.

Today we have a lovely, quiet day at home planned.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Catch-Up Blogging

We've been busy (well, duh, I bet you never guessed that), and I keep thinking, "Oh, I should/could blog about this," but haven't gotten around to it. Obviously.

So, here's a quick rundown of some highlights, since later today we'll be going unplugged until sometime Wednesday-ish (which means if you email me I'll have an excuse for not replying, unlike the past couple of weeks during which I didn't reply because I just didn't get around to it).

Let's see, we had our spring semester Court of Awards for Girl Scouts. AnnaBeth got a bunch of badges:

and some cookie incentives. Except we didn't have the Gift of Caring badge when we took this picture. Also, we've discovered that different Councils give out these incentives for different levels of sales. Did you know that? So something we earn here for selling 60 boxes you might earn for selling 10 boxes or 110 boxes.

Shoes Thalia wore to the Court of Awards. I used to wonder who bought shoes from the Goodwill. Now I know that if they're crazy high heels, they're purchased by 14 year old girls.

Another opening of another show. We filmed the duet our friend was in, but I don't know if we've ever even watched it.

Eighth grade homeschool graduation, featuring a 1960s Barbie doll dress in royal blue (they selected royal blue and silver for their class colors) from Simplicity 4070:

(Updated picture of Simplicity 4070 fit and styling looking less dumpy here on Dec. 31, 3011 post)
The parameters were that she needed a knee-length or longer dress that wasn't strapless, spaghetti straps, or a halter. Of course, this meant that we had to test the limits, fulfill of letter of the rule rather than the spirit, etc. etc. So she came up with a strapless dress with a lace overlay. I ended up doubling the lace on the front bodice so no one got too weirded out by it; some of these people took this whole thing very seriously. And, in the end, no one batted an eye. She really wanted lace gauntlets to match, but we ran out of time.

Picture that includes feet:

Another Goodwill shoe purchase of the much-needed Barbie doll shoes to go with the Barbie doll dress, showing off the silver nail polish:

Gratuitous tippy picture featuring ripped out woodwork next to her left shoulder (more on that later this week, assuming we get the computer plugged back in -- ooh, a cliff-hanger!):

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Meme Time!

Ami over at Ami.Mental. passed along a meme in which she got to make up the questions herself. I have dutifully answered them, mostly so y'all can see what the questions were and ponder what sort of person would ask THAT. Except it took me several days, and probably everyone else involved finished this last week. So these questions are no longer a surprise. Oh well.

The questions were in purple and the answers in black when I copied and pasted from Ami's blog to my word processor, but Blogger has erased Ami's charming color coding (Ami always colors her blog because she's creative like that). Alas, I'm too lazy to go back and insert the colors.

You see a small kid riding a bike in the street. No helmet. Does that bother you?

No. But seeing tiny kids climbing around in shopping carts in stores drives me batty -- falls from shopping carts are a major source of head injury. I figure it’s the same families doing THAT who later let their kids go without helmets, and it’s natural selection at work.

Someone else read your newspaper before you did and mixed it all up and didn't fold it properly. How do you feel?

Umm, this isn’t an issue for me. As long as I can find the comics I’m okay. I can read the rest of it online if I need to.

You're almost done with the laundry. You're on the last load, which happens to be a load of dark clothes. One of your kids brings in a bunch of white socks. Toss them in with the jeans or put them in the hamper to wash later?

In with the jeans. Are there people who do it the other way? Really? For that matter, do kids ever express interest in the dirty socks strewn about the place, going so far as to pick them up and request they be washed? Really?

You're out shopping with a relative or a friend. You brought a bottle of water, he did not. When you open it and drink some, he wants to have some, too. Do you hand him the bottle and not drink any more out of it yourself? Share it and drink after each other without a second thought?

All my friends and extended family are too prissy to even ask. Immediate family shares without question.

Actually, this came up at a Scouting event -- AnnaBeth had a bottle of water and her friend didn’t. They eventually worked out a way to both get water without having to drink after each other, which was pretty good problem solving. Is there a badge for that?

You're out to dinner with a girlfriend and there's a very famous male celebrity seated just two tables over. What do you do, if anything?

Probably don’t notice unless it’s someone who was famous during the 1970s and he still looks EXACTLY the same. It would help if he was wearing a large sign that said, “Hello, my name is ....” I’m amazingly clueless about stuff like this.

You just found out your 48 year old best friend is pregnant. (oops)
Do you tell her that you're really, really sorry or do you start celebrating immediately and try to make it seem like it's a good thing while inside you're saying 'I am so glad it's not me' ?

Celebrate! Also, is this question a lead in to something you want to tell us, Ami?

If you could plant your whole back yard with flowers, what kinds would you choose?

Wildflowers and weeds.

Do you like chocolate milk?

I don’t drink milk. But there’s a small organic dairy farm with grass-fed cows in Indiana that has amazing chocolate milk; if I found some of THAT around I’d have some.

Are you afraid to shop or pay bills online?

I’d order EVERYTHING online if I could, and never set foot in a store again.

Are you a cat person?
Why or why not?

Okay, I know Ami doesn’t like cats, and therefore am intrigued that she’d include this question.

Yes, I’m a cat person. It seems to be an inborn trait. But through the years the reason I’d give for liking cats has varied. For example, there have been times I’d cite their tendency to snuggle up with you when you’re sick or sad. Right now at this time in my life I’d point out their ability to use a litter box and COVER up the stink, and also their ability to keep themselves clean and relatively odor free even when wet -- weird smells (including animals) have been on my mind a lot lately.

Mostly I like their attitude. They really don’t seem to care what you think about them. Except they can usually pick out the person in the crowd that absolutely does NOT want to be around a cat and thinks cats are stupid animals incapable of thought, and will make a beeline for that person. Hee.

If cats could talk I think they’d say snarky things that would make me laugh.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Weekend -- Notes

Earlier today we were trying to remember what we did last weekend -- all we could remember was being really busy and that it was obviously vitally important to our lives consider we can't even remember what it was one week later. And it occurred to me that I've been jotting down our general weekend busy-ness here and I could look it up. (Really, though, we managed to remember it all by our own brain power, which was a triumph; but it's nice to have a backup here.)

So here are this weekend's notes so that next weekend when we can't remember what was so all-fired important we have the option of looking it up.

Friday -- dance show. This seemed like a great idea, and Thalia skipped her choir stuff that she was supposed to do in order to go to the show. It was a lovely venue. It turned out to be ... awkward. And if I have to say anything else about it my head will explode, since I can't think of any other neutral terms other than ... awkward. Ask me about this in about 6 months when I've calmed down.

Saturday -- get Thalia to the bus by 7am to leave on her choir tour. Mix up concerning her hoodie, featuring Rick chasing the bus. Crazy.

Then the 60th Anniversary party in the afternoon.

Somewhere in there the front lawn got mown, the rat cage got cleaned, I finally put away the Easter decorations, I stared at a dress pattern for awhile.

Sunday -- mission day at church. After services everyone (pretty much) went on various mission projects, ranging from building a retaining wall at a local charitable organization to writing letters to service people overseas -- something for just about every age, ability, and interest. It was way cool. AnnaBeth and I made craft project packages to distribute to kids undergoing treatment at Cardinal Glennon (that would be a great Scout project, by the way -- I need to find out the contact person), Rick worked on a community garden.

PIcked up Thalia from the bus; she wanted to go to youth group, desperately needed to call friends, etc. etc. Over the weekend while she was away a relative had asked if she called us while she was gone. Call us? A 14 year old girl? Heck no, at that age you need to tell everything to your friends; I'm just glad we're not paying for texting capacity.

And now we plunge into another week ....

60th Wedding Anniversary

We saw family members we haven't seen in a couple of years

and others we see more often.

The guests of honor, plus their son:

All the kids, along with most of the spouses:

A member of the wedding party, Gloria:

We haven't seen a bunch of these people for a couple of decades:

More family photos. By the way, you can click on any of these to make them bigger.


Same old discussion about who's older and who's taller that they've been having for all these years.