Archive - January 2007

Who Are You?
Trying Out Notebooking
Chores, Revisited
Family Cookbook
I am a Kanga
Well, It’s About Time!
You Say It’s Your Birthday?
Shameful, Shameless Plug

Who Are You?

My blogging well of creativity is running dry.  Perhaps it is from the
Sudafed I’m taking for this cold that has me run down.  In any case, in
the absence of anything important/funny/noteworthy to say, I give you

Which Classic Heroine Are You?

Maid_marian_112I am Maid Marian

Beautiful and strong-willed, Lady Marian Fitzwalter is the lady love of the dashing outlaw, Robin Hood. She is skilled with a bow, but can match the manners of any lady of the Queen. She waits earnestly for the day when King Richard will return and wed her to Robin.
Which Classic Heroine are You?

I have no idea how these quizzes manage to so accurately describe me!  So who are you?


I was reading my favorite blogs this morning and remembered that I completely forgot to blog about Boo’s First Confession! So here it:

We have a very small parish, with only about 12 children in the second grade religious education class. The children’s first confessions were spread out over 2 weeks, with 3 or 4 children scheduled every half hour each day. At the parents’ meeting, we happened to sit in the back and so we had to take the last day available, but got the first time slot.

Boo was well prepared, having learned most of the standard prayers long ago. The Act of Contrition was new to him and he was most worried about freezing up during it. We had assured him as best we could that Father understood all about little boys and would prompt him if needed. Boo is very easy going, so we were also able to tease a little bit about going to confession. We’d say, “I sure hope Father blocks out a whole hour for you!” and he’d say, “Oh yeah, ’cause I’ve got a list!” There is no way we’d be able to tease Pumpkin Girl like that, but Boo took it all in stride.

So the appointed day and time arrived and we, as a family, presented ourselves at the chapel. We were met by Miss Lynn,the religious ed director, who chatted with us while Boo tried to make himself disappear. We were standing off to the side of the room used for confessions and a little further down the hall was where Father was getting his vestments on. When Father came out, Boo spied him, grabbed me and proceeded to turn me around so that I was between him and Father. However, he was unable to escape his fate and Miss Lynn led him away. Boo got smaller and smaller with each step until he literally disappeared into the room. After several minutes he came bounding out, all smiles, and wanting to go back and do it again next week!

Then it was the rest of the family’s turn. Knowing that I would have an opportunity to go to confession myself had weighed on me for a while. I felt that this was something I really needed to do, if not for myself, then to set a good example for the boy. I have seen some discussion among non-Catholics about the validity of confessing to a priest. I understand the other point of view, but I have to say that going to confession really is such blessing. Preparing yourself with prayer, asking the Lord to show you what he wants you to seek forgiveness for, is very powerful. I found Him revealing things to me that I needed to forgive myself for. And while you can indeed go right to the Lord himself for forgiveness, there is something cathartic about speaking those words out loud and owning up to those dark spots on your soul. And what beauty there is in actually hearing words of forgiveness and receiving a blessing.

And speaking of blessings, after we all had our chance at going to confession, we stood together as a family and received a blessing. Then we went out and retrieved Subway sandwiches (Boo’s choice) for dinner. A very special day indeed.

Trying Out Notebooking

Funny how the Lord lets you know when he wants you to change direction.

Not too long ago, Boo let it be known that he didn’t like science days because that meant he had to do science worksheets. This has been the first year I have required that he complete the worksheets that came along with our science curriculum. I didn’t really give them much thought, I just figured that they would help reinforce the material we’re learning. Then last week, during the chapter review, I was surprised at how little information he’d retained.

Coincidentally (or not), also last week I read this post –Notebooking With Sonlight – over at Falling Like Rain. I realized that Boo must feel the same way about those very same Sonlight science worksheets. He, too, struggles with drawing (which is a whole other post) but is good at narrations. I started wondering about notebooking. I had read about it in passing, but I think I was confusing it with lapbooks. I’ve seen examples of lapbooks, and holy cannoli! I just don’t have that kind of time or energy. Maybe when my children are older, but not now. But after doing a little more research of my own, I realized that there is a difference between lapbooks and notebooking and that notebooking is far simpler than I had originally thought.

I looked into all the notebooking templates that are available to buy. Most of them seemed to be some variation of blank spaces to draw in with some lines for writing. I didn’t think really feel like buying something that I could create myself. I also didn’t feel I needed all the extra graphics, borders and hoohas that were being offered. Plus, for the number of pages I’d be printing out, it sure seemed like I’d be going through a lot of printer paper and ink. Frankly, I just wanted Boo to draw a picture of what he’d learned on any given day and write a few sentences about it. Depending on what the rest of his workload looked like, maybe I’d do the writing. That’s when I found paper with a huge drawing space on top with lined handwriting paper on the bottom. (Picture Story Pads) Exactly what I was looking for.

It’s funny that I hung on to our science worksheets for this long. They were really the only busywork in our school day, and they just didn’t provide enough interaction with the material. I’m hoping that creating science notebooks will really drive the information home.

Both Boo and Pumpkin Girl enjoy history, especially when we get out the map. They particularly enjoyed discovering that their daddy was cruising all over Mesopotamia in his tank during the Gulf War and was probably very close to the garden of Eden. We’ll be doing notebooks for history, too, so they can track what they’ve learned and connect it all together. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to report on the success or failure of our notebooking efforts.


riderless-horse.jpgWe have been blessedly untouched by the fatalities from the war in Iraq. Yesterday, we found out that someone we knew had been killed in the Blackhawk crash on January 20th. He wasn’t really a friend, not even an acquaintance. Not a co-worker or a neighbor. He was the commander of the hospital in Yongsan, South Korea when our Rebecca died.

While the rest of the hospital gave us the run around, passed the buck and otherwise treated us quite poorly, COL Brain Allgood did the opposite. He invited us to sit down and talk with him personally about all that had happened. He made sure we were kept informed throughout the investigation. He told us to call him if we needed anything. In many ways, he was just doing his job, but in those darkest weeks of our lives, he showed us a compassion that was lacking in the lower levels of the hospital administration. A few months later, when a good friend’s daughter needed emergency surgery and blood transfusions to save her life, COL Allgood was again the voice of calm and comfort. He went out of his way to make sure that things were handled correctly.

Our remaining time in Korea without Becca was a series of struggles with the hospital. We did have to call COL Allgood for help and he immediately fixed the situation. I don’t know much about him, other that he leaves a wife and a young son. If we had ever seen him again, I knew I would thank him for all that he had done for us in Korea. So in some way, by writing this all in my blog, I am able to thank him now.

Chores, Revisited

In my never ending quest to produce well behaved, self sufficient adults, I have updated the children’s daily chores.

Boo (8 yo)’s morning chores are:

  • Make bed
  • Clear breakfast dishes and load dishwasher
  • Wipe placemats
  • Get Nicholas’ schooltime snack ready
  • Sweep and swiffer kitchen, dining room and entrance way
  • Brush teeth
  • Shine bathroom mirrors and sinks

His afternoon chores are:

  • Return his water cup to the table (he often takes it to his room during quiet time)
  • Put napkins on the table
  • Fold the blankets in the living room
  • Make sure all the coats are hung up in the closet
  • Help put away the baby’s toys
  • empty out his blue basket
  • Clean the playroom (all toys in their bins, dress up clothes in basket, crafts away, legos and blocks in their tubs, magazines and books on shelves, fold blankets)

Pumpkin Girl (6yo)’s morning chorese are:

  • Make bed
  • Open the blinds in the bedroom
  • Brush her hair
  • Clear her breakfast dishes
  • Clear off and wipe dining room table for school
  • Brush teeth
  • Clean glass storm door and sliding glass door

Her afternoon chores are

  • Return her water cup to the table
  • Put forks or spoons on table
  • Fold blankets in living room
  • Help put away baby’s toys
  • Empty out pink basket
  • Close the blinds in bedroom
  • Return all the toys in the bedroom to the playrom
  • Put her books and dolls on the proper shelf
  • All of her stuffed animals on the animal tree
  • Clear off the dresser
  • Empty out the “Pit of Never Return”
  • fold blankets

Their pink and blue baskets are small Rubber Maid totes that sit on the staircase. When they leave a toy out, I toss it into the appropriate basket rather than having them stop whatever they are doing to take care of that item. They use the baskets too, if they are done playing with something but don’t want to take it all the way upstairs right then. It’s an easy way to try to tame the chaos.

Because they tend to bicker, I only have them working together on chores while folding blankets and putting away the baby’s toys. I also tried to put their morning chores in a particular order so that they are not both trying to brush their teeth at the same time.

I have been using the Managers of Their Chores system, but the chore pack holders are still missing from our move. I got tired of waiting to find them, so I improvised by just writing out their chores on an index card. That seems to be working out fine. I only listed the chores that they won’t think of doing themselves. Some things they do without being told, like getting dressed and getting breakfast for themselves. Having their chores all written out, step by step if need be helps me not have to nag them. Just a quick reminder to “start your chores” and they are off. I could go on and on about chore training, but if you’re interested, I highly recommend the MOTC book.

Next I’ll be working on giving them weekly chores. I’d like Boo to start vaccuuming and bringing in the trashcan and recyling bins and maybe getting the mail. We have one of those community mail boxes, so I have to check to see if he’s tall enough to reach our box. Actually, I guess getting the mail is a daily chore. I’m not really sure what sort of weekly chores I’m going to have Pumpkin Girl doing. Part of the problem is that so many of these things I can get done better and faster, but that’s not the point. They need to learn to do these things for themselves. And I need to let them.

One huge benefit that I found from having the children doing chores, especially at a particular time, is that I can do my own chores at the same time. Some of my own chores tend to be follow ups to their chores. For example, after Boo has swept and swiffered, I check to see if I need to mop.

I’d like to say that our home runs smoothly and is neat and tidy all day. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. We’re still trying to sort through the moving boxes and just get all that stuff put away. We’re making progress, though, slow as it may be. And at the very least, we are all getting the basics done every day.

Family Cookbook

Being an Army Family, we move quite a bit.  Not counting our recent emergency move, we have moved 9 times in the last 14 years. That’s a lot of living out of boxes and ordering fast food.  After about a week, the eating out/ordering in thing gets old.  As much as I dislike cooking, I start looking forward to getting back to some healthier, home cooked meals.  The first few times we moved, I would pack my recipe box into our car.  Then once our kitchen was unpacked, my recipes would be readily available and I could start cooking whenever I was ready.  At some point we decided that we were carrying too much stuff with us in the car and I let the recipe box get packed with everything else in the house.

That worked out fine for a couple of moves, until we moved to Fort Leavenworth.  Almost the entire house was unpacked and I couldn’t find that recipe box.  I was able to put together some meals using the cookbooks I have, but we were really missing our favorites.

I couldn’t imagine where the recipe box could be.  We pulled things out of the outdoor shed, we double checked closets.  Nothing.  I tried with minimal success to find recipes online.  I found similar things, but not exactly what I was looking for.  Of course, I kicked myself for not just hand carrying that darn recipe box.

Finally, after about a month, one little box in the guest room caught my eye.  It was labelled “Living Room papers.”  I had seen the box several times, but never opened it because the recipe box had not been in the living room.  It was in the kitchen, of course.  But I couldn’t figure out what they meant by “living room papers.”  So I took a peak.

Right on top – my recipe box.

If you’ve ever had so called professional packers pack up your house, then you know exactly what happened.  For the most part, they do pack the contents of one room all together.  However, when they need just one last thing to fill up a box, they will go into other rooms to find just the right sized item.  And they don’t bother labeling the box in a way that you’ll know to look for your recipes in a box from the living room.

So it was that year that I started our family cookbook.  I bought a very nice cookbook from Hallmark along with matching recipe cards.  I started the painstaking task of writing out every one of our family’s favorite recipes.  Yes, I could have typed them into the computer, but I was, in part, trying to create a keepsake.  I wanted the recipes to be in my handwriting for my children.  I also included our favorites from other cookbooks.

When I came to a recipe that had been given to me by someone else, I included the person’s name, where and how I knew them and any special circumstances surrounding the recipe.  Having moved around so much, I have recipes from the friends I had made all over the world.  Some of the stories behind the recipes are simple, like Patty’s Spinach Dip that she served at Thanksgiving in Sierra Vista, AZ while we there for the Military Intelligence Advance Course.  Others are more amusing, like the bean dip that my friend Melanie and I loved so much that at every get together, our other friends would know to make 2 plates, one for Melanie and I, and one for everyone else!

My Family Cookbook and Lost and Found Again Recipe Box
 I actually hope to make a family favorites cookbook for each of my children when they leave home.  But if somehow that doesn’t happen, at least they will have this one book to fight over treasure. My current family cookbook is getting full, in fact, it’s not going to hold many more recipes.  As much as I don’t want to, I may have to find a bigger binder for it.  I don’t really want to rewrite all the recipes again, so I’m going to have to look into a way to preserve the recipe cards while moving them into a larger, sturdier binder.

If you would like to start your own family cookbook, I would recommend starting off with a pretty decent sized, no frills binder and a pack of sheet protectors.  Type out the recipe into any word processing file and print it out from your computer.  This way, the recipe itself will be easily read.  Hand-write any story that goes with it, even if you hate your writing.  Future generations will cherish it, even if you don’t!  If you can, take a picture of the person who gave you the recipe and include it on the page.  Even better, try getting a picture of the person actually cooking the recipe or holding the completed dish!  This is how I plan to create each of my children’s cookbooks.  Depending on your time and motivation, you can embellish your recipe pages with all sorts of scrapbooking supplies.

I now have two copies of all our favorite recipes, one in my personal cookbook and one in my recipe file. If a recipe card gets misplaced, which does happen on occasion, at least I have my family cookbook to fall back on. Now when we move, I let the packers take the bulkier recipe file and I carry the binder with me. When we moved to Korea and needed to fly there, I actually put the cookbook in my carry-on because it would be just my luck to have my luggage lost!

Well, It’s About Time!

It’s finally snowing!  We’re not going to get much, but it’s something!  I love the cold winter weather, especially the snow.  In all our years in the Army, we’ve always lived right on the edge of snow country – we get some, but not alot.  The last couple of years have been sparse, barely enough to go sledding in.  We were hoping for some substantial snow this season, but it’s been unseasonably warm until now.  My children are outside of course, attempting to make snow angels in the whole quarter of an inch that we’ve gotten.  The temperature is dropping and I admire their enthusiasm.  I might be out there with them if I knew where my snow boots were!

You Say It’s Your Birthday?

It’s my birthday, too, yeah!

Suffice it to say that I’m still in my 30’s. 

One of my birthday presents arrived last night, one of them new-fangled iPod Nanos.  I’m so hip and happening, I can hardly stand it.  We actually went to the PX on Wednesday to buy one, but they were still all cleaned out from the holidays.  We looked at other MP3 players.  Actually, I looked at them while dh went on and on about gigabytes and storage and what I did and did not need.  I just smiled and looked pretty.  When he stopped talking, I asked him if these very nice, tiny little things were iPods.  Then he decided that I was pretty clueless and therefore, did not need an iPod.  We sent in search of socks while he very patiently explained to me that iPod is a brand name, like Kleenex and Walkman.  And that these iPods play music (which I knew). 

Back at home, I did some research, figured out exactly what my dh was talking about, discovered that indeed, an iPod (the brand) was what I wanted, found a good price and bought it.  Even got one-day shipping for $1.99.  Then I bought a shiny pink iPod case on eBay.

Yesterday, while waiting for the UPS to arrive with my present, I uploaded all my favorite songs from my best of the 80’s CDs on to my computer.   The iPod arrived right before we all left for our Cub Scout Pack meeting, but I had time to plug it into the computer and get it all charged up and ready for use.  I’m actually looking forward to my workout this afternoon.  It’ll be nice to listen to Songs From My Youth instead of watching myself in the mirror.

So anyway, it’s my birthday.  My grandpa will be happy to tell you about the night I was born and that my mom went on and on about how beautiful I was and how he thought I looked like a drowned rat. LOL!  Grandpa’s – gotta love them!

Shameful, Shameless Plug

Is there a blog you love to read that doesn’t have a huge following?  One that deserves recognition?  Well,there is a new award, just for these undiscovered gems.  Here’s the deal:

Announcing the First Annual Hidden Treasure Blog Awards .  The idea is simple; to recognize blog authors of excellence, with deserving posts which may go unnoticed. 

of us have our favorite blogs, the ones we read faithfully.  They are
dear friends, like a comfortable pair of shoes, perfectly broken in. 
But, we can also find ourselves in a rut, reading the same blogs week
after week, and overlooking those hidden gems which may require a
little more digging.  But, as my mom taught me, anything worth having
is worth working for.

So, if you’re up for an adventure I invite you to join me in a treasure hunt.

The Rules

Step 1:  The Treasure Hunt

mission is to scour the mommy blogosphere for hidden treasure.  Read
through archives, visit new blogs and find that well-written gem.  This
can come from a favorite blog which you already read or a blog you’ve
discovered during the treasure hunt.  But, the idea is to find
well-written posts which are off the beaten path. 

The categories are:  Children & Family, Faith, Marriage, Motherhood, Homemaking, Humor, Current Events and Life.
No profanity, questionable or offensive material is permitted.  Keep a
list of the hidden treasures you find for submission in the next step.

Step 2: Nominations

will open on February 1, 2007.  Everyone may nominate a single post in
each category.  The three posts with the most nominations will advance
to voting.  So, if you find a great post feel free to pass the word.
Nominations will close on February 7, 2007.

Step 3:  Voting

will open on February 8, 2007.  One vote per category.  Voting will
close on February 13, 2007.  Winners will be announced on February 14,
2007  The nominated post with the most votes overall will be awarded Best In Show.

I believe Jules at Everyday Mommy will be taking the nominations on her site.  From now until February 1st, just bookmark your favorite posts so you can find them easily when nominations open.  Now, I’m not saying you all need to nominate me or anything.  But look! I just happened to add a list of my more memorable posts right there in my sidebar.  How handy.  Actually, nominate any post, mine or someone elses, that you feel is noteworthy.

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