All shades of Purple

Because purple is my favorite color.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Obviously, I didn't have time to post a book review yesterday. Nor will I have the time today or tomorrow. Instead of my fascinating opinions and summaries I will provide a source I use for finding good books for the Eager Helper when we visit the library. I look at the literature selections for the younger grades at Veritas Press. It is a very good place to start. They list and carry the same type of books I look for: moral, engaging, intelligent and well illustrated. Of course, Veritas carries books for all ages and subjects and I foresee a long and good relationship between us.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Food Matters

Last week's Lemon Cookies did turn out well. Oh, my! They are excellent with tea. Please come to tea! (Except we've eaten them all by now.) I also made some pita bread to have on hand for houseguests arriving later this week. I adore pita bread! It is great for sandwich-like lunch or piling leftover meat, veggies and sauce in/on for a frilled-up, impromptu, leftover dinner. Last night I made some crepes for a light dinner. We filled them with chopped fresh apples and pureed cottage cheese. Not exactly Martha Stewart, but tasty and creative for a Sunday night dinner, if I do say so myself.
Funny toddler story for the day: I let the Eager Helper watch and assist with the preparation of tonight's chicken and rice. She dumped rice, stirred in cream of mushroom and milk and then provided narration. "Put that piece of chicken over here. They are talking together. They are talking together. They are swimming in the milk. The papa, mommy and baby are swimming. [And then I covered the casserole with foil.] Now they are going to bed. Night-night! They are going to bed. [And then I put it in the oven.] They are sleeping in the crib. I will come with you while they sleep in the crib."
What a disturbing little commentary! Seconds, anyone?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Parenting Survival Tips Bonus

  1. As early as possible, begin narrating your activities for your child. "I am chopping the red tomato for our salad." "We are walking to our car." "I am putting your blue hat on your head." I read this tip in a magazine either while pregnant or in my early parenting days. I remember sagely repeating the advice to my husband. "It is supposed to make your children smarter, more aware, more verbal, etc. Plus, when they start asking about every move you make you are already used to telling them." It works. I didn't think he was paying attention (I dished out a lot of advice back then) but he reminded me of this gem a couple weeks ago when I was complaining that our Eager Helper wanted to know what I was doing if I so much as brushed a stray eyelash off my cheek. "Well!" I crabbed back, "I sure fell off that wagon in a hurry!"
  2. Sing. When you get stressed, just sing. It doesn't matter whether you think you can, your child isn't going to be comparing you to Caroline Ashton. Pick an easy tune like Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush. Throw in your own words "I would like to get some sleep, get some sleep, get some sleep." When the Eager Helper was around age 1, I heard an expert talk about how early a child's brain tunes in to music and how it soothes and stimulates, but I had already found the magic for myself. Do you know what else? You can't scream and sing at the same time. Or maybe you can, I don't know. Of course, the down side of this is that your child will eventually come to believe that you know songs about everything and will expect you to sing rather more frequently than you might be comfortable with.
  3. When (not if) your child begins repeating everything they say, don't lose your cool. Start counting (in your head) the number of times they repeat the word or phrase. This takes your mind off the torture of hearing "Boohoo, what are we going to do?" on eternal repeat and turns it into a scientific activity. Plus, your husband will take you more seriously when he comes home if you say "Did you know that Roger repeats himself approximately 7.6 times?" than if you run sobbing out the door yelling "Roger repeats everything a million times and I can't take it any more!!!"
  4. This tip is one I wish I would have heard before the Eager Helper was born. It is my insane advice based on freakish personal space issues. Before you have children, or as early as possible, have any visible moles or birthmarks removed. Then they can't be pinched or picked at and, most importantly, they can't become security features.
Any other survival tips you would like to share?

Friday Photo

Knitting! I am not at all good at it, but I enjoy it very much. I like to think that if I do it more, maybe I will get better?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What do you do when m&m's don't make it all better

Our offer on the dream house was rejected. Maybe it is only the red m&m's that make it all better. I'll get back to you on that.

Story Time

I try to take the Eager Helper to story time at the local library every other week. She loves learning new songs and accompanying motions and hearing different stories from a different voice. Okay, so maybe I don't know her exact feelings and I should refrain from anything beyond telling you that she is always enthusiastic about attending story time. I like learning new songs and hand motions! Due to some remodeling, they didn't have toddler story time yesterday and we were crushed. Hey, I like to get out too! After drying our metaphorical tears we began looking for new books to take home. And the first book she saw (and put in the bag) was a copy of one we had just returned on our way in. James Mayhew has five (?) wonderful books for introducing children to famous works of art. Katie and the Mona Lisa is my personal favorite. On their days out together Katie's grandma frequently takes her to the local art museum. Adventures unfold as Katie steps inside such paintings as Cafe Terrace at Night, Girl With a Watering Can and Primavera. The books rely on a lot of action and are short on the specifics of art, focusing rather on giving children a basic familiarity with a few works of art and their respective artists. These are fun, colorful and educational books, can you ask for more?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday Food Matters

Good stuff we had this last week:
- The Eager Helper and I made chocolate cupcakes after she failed to recognize a cupcake in a set of toy food. Doesn't that seem wrong? So we fixed that mistake and in so doing I also found that the chocolate frosting recipe on the back of the Hershey's Cocoa box is a good basic frosting.
- Sweet potatoes are in season. I think they are the reason God invented September, if you will pardon the irreverence.
Baked sweet potatoes and meatloaf for dinner every night this month? Maybe. Seriously, it is so good to again live somewhere that they don't try to pass off yams as sweet potatoes. Yams are okay but they are yams, my dear confused Midwesterners! (I know, this sounds like an argument waiting to happen, so go read this before you start in on me.)
- After lunch today we mixed up some dough for Glazed Lemon Cookies out of this recipe book. Sure is tasty dough! They are a buttery refrigerator cookie so I don't know yet how good they are. Will slice and bake them here in another hour while the Eager Helper naps.

stuff we had this last week:
- I made this Dahl one night for dinner and it was just too different for me to like the first time. Nobody at the table refused to eat it though, and when I served the leftovers, my husband was disappointed to get just one helping. I guess I'll try it again and be more careful to ensure that I don't double the cinnamon as I might have done this time. And yet
. . . it seems like a waste of sweet potatoes if I don't madly love it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Last Cowboy Picture

No, I do not believe this is the last cowboy. It will, however, be the last picture of this genre that I post. Maybe Friday Photo could be called No Content Friday, because it is seriously the easiest way to fill this space. If I were a serious photographer I wouldn't say that, right? But if I were a serious writer would I even be doing . . . this?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

One shelf up

I don't remember learning to read or a time when I could not. I think I have always loved to read, and yet I have a memory of my exasperated mother shoving a book into my hands and saying, "Try it!" It was a time when the work of picking out a book was so intimidating and the possibility of dissapointment too great that I fell into this lazy inertia. I obediently read the book offered to me (though I couldn't tell you what it was) and began stumbling into a habit of reading. My literature curriculum gradually started coinciding with my interests more and as a selection caught my imagination I would raid the local library for every work by that author, filling every spare minute immersed in other worlds. Off the top of my head I remember such incongruities as Edna Ferber, Homer, Elswyth Thane, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Katherine Mansfield, Jack London, Elizabeth George Speare, Shakespeare and George Eliot. (An odd, incomplete sampling, I agree!) I devoured author after author as I muddled through junior-high and high-school. College was like a reward of sorts, getting to devote so much of my serious school time to what had only been a hobby and, to a degree, even choosing a substantial portion of the required reading. I read and interacted with the text at hand, my friends read and we discussed it, lived, breathed and argued it. I thought I would always go on like that, reveling in and wrestling with the thoughts of others. But sometime after the birth of our daughter I revisited that sad pre-teen funk of not knowing what I was in the mood for, yearning to read and being frustrated by every book I opened. I missed the stimulation and interaction, the opening and sorting of my mind. Recently I have been challenged and inspired by the example of two close friends of mine who have not let reading fall by the wayside as their own lives are complicated - one with two children, the other with her work. I am re-acquiring the habit of reading and hope to review some of what I read here. I hope you polished lit. types will bear with my terrible punctuation and distracted editing. I will try to get my act together as I go along (and as I someday find my favorite reference books).

This summer I slowly worked through Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson. It is an excellent book that I would have liked to "review" more thoroughly here but as I have been reading other things since then I cannot do it justice without devoting more time to the effort than I have readily available. I would highly recommend it to anyone considering homeschooling or anyone who is feeling hesitant about enrolling their child in public school. It isn't a hyperventilated attack on the public school for teaching evolution or ending school prayer. It isn't an argument for using the Bible as your only textbook, either. I saw two main points to the book:
1. Give your child a classical education. This seems to me a fancy way of saying that we equip our children to learn rather than give them mere "mental dexterity (page 63)" or facts. I like the quote on page 106, "There is a difference between being equipped to do well in Trivial Pursuit and being educated."
2. Give your child a Christian education. Not, as I said above, in the sense that we use the Bible as our only textbook.

The Christian educator's job is not to require the students to spend all their time gazing at the sun. Rather, we want them to examine everything else in the light the sun provides. It would be utmost folly to try to blacken the sun in order to be able to study the world around us "objectively." Because all truth comes from God, the universe is coherent. Without God, particulars have no relationship to other particulars. Each subject has no relationship to any other subject. Christian educators must reject this understanding of the universe as a multiverse; the world is more than an infinite array of absurd facts. The fragmentation of knowledge must therefore be avoided. (page 63)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A new link!

Check it out! I have added a new website over on the sidebar. I can't figure out how to do the link (above) over there so I am posting this note too. I just found this neat resource today and am sharing the treat with you, my vast readership. I can't wait to hit the craft store so that the Eager Helper and I can make this.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday Food Matters

In the Oven and On the Table was beginning to become tedious. In the first place, it was hard to remember what I had made for dinner a week ago (yes, I could have worked on the post throughout the week but would you?). In the second place, as I began to see the repetition in our menus that was already there I thought about how I would be skimming it if I were a reader. So I am thinking I will only touch on highlights of the week or go on fun food rants.
Yogurt. A few weeks back I mentioned making my own yogurt. Today as I was incubating another batch it occurred to me that I might have sounded purist or snobby. Actually, I am a
parsimonious, purist snob - thank you very much! Did you know that (when milk is $2.20 per gallon) I can make a quart of yogurt for fifty-five cents?! A quart of commercial yogurt costs approximately $1.76 around here! I can also tailor the sweetness, fat content and flavor of our yogurt. So that is my reasoning and anyone reading this who doesn't quit buying commercial yogurt is stupid.
Whee! Was that better than a weekly menu? If not, I'll just keep blabbering.
Um . . .
The Labor Day Lemon Meringue Pie that I was so looking forward to was not a highlight. It might have been, except that Meringue Pies do not travel well and it was a Lemon Meringue Soup by the time it was served. My sister and husband most gallantly asked for servings even though my sister's Brownie Pizza was obviously more appealing (and it was tastier too). To give myself credit, I prepared the meringue the day of the party but then it was transported rather roughshod in a vehicle that ended up running some errands before arriving at the party destination. Word to the wise: "Eat your meringue pies at home! Or better yet, buy a can of whipping cream to pipe over it since whipping cream is vastly superior to raw egg whites."

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday Photo

You are dazzled, no? Do you prefer this to a rant about buying a toothbrush for a toddler? I have one if you get really desperate this afternoon.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Shortly after moving this spring, the Eager Helper and I fell in love with our new local library. One of the first books we checked out was Corduroy, by Don Freeman. It is the story of a little bear in green overalls who "once lived in the toy department of a large department store." After the store closes one evening he sets off to search the store for his missing button which he thinks will help him find a home. We were instantly captivated by the detailed lithograph illustrations and imaginative story. For weeks and months after the first checkout, the Eager Helper asked for it each time we visited the library. And the first time we rode an escalator after reading it, she beamed up at me, "I'm riding an escalator just like Corduroy!"

We also enjoyed many of Don Freeman's other books: A Pocket for Corduroy, Dandelion, Earl the Squirrel, Manuelo the Playing Mantis, Gregory's Shadow, Pet of the Met, Norman the Doorman and Beady Bear. (I only linked to our very favorites though they are all good.)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday Photo

While this is a nice idea, don't count on the "Friday Photo" becoming a regular feature. I have so many things I want to post about . . . so many places I'd like to take this blog. But, alas, I am lazy and my priorities are skewed (Food, duh! And maybe clean clothes.). By the way, why are you wasting your time here? If you really don't have anything better to do, let me direct you to some quality sites. Hang on, I can't figure that out with all the help I have right here and now.

Oh, and don't even think about asking for personal pictures. Not gonna happen my friend!

Food? Lemon Meringue Pies and a new French Bread recipe. Breathless excitement! I knew you were secretly more interested in that too.

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