Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday's Feast : Up Too Late

Appetizer: How are you today?

Splendid. And you?

Soup: Name 3 television shows you watch on a regular basis.

I honestly watch very little television. The only show that I make a point to watch is Gray's Anatomy, and I am not certain that I will bother with that this season. The kids watch Curious George about once a week, and I catch glimpses of that.

Salad: What’s the scariest weather situation you’ve experienced?

Driving to a job interview in a pre-dawn snowstorm, I spun out my car. I backed the car back onto the highway and waited for a plow to come by. I managed to follow him at a safe distance for the rest of the trip, which made for much better conditions.

Main Course: If you could wake up tomorrow morning in another country, where would you want to be?

I honestly don't think that you can beat New England in the fall, so I will pass on this one. But if it were winter, I think I might want to escape to somewhere warm for a few days.

Dessert: What do you usually wear to sleep?

Shorts and a t-shirt.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ooooh! Pretty!

I have toned down the design a bit. I hope y'all like the more subdued feel of the site.

Daily Magic : The Simple Things

Once upon a time, I used to feature posts about what I was grateful for on that day. Never one to forsake tradition (even traditions I only recently created myself), I am re-instituting the Daily Magic feature on this blog. My newly-found sense of reality tells me that I won't recognize magic every day, but I do think that I can come up with something each week. Or else I'll have to make something up......

I am grateful for:

  • little kid questions. Agent 002 is the king of questions. A typical conversation with him goes like this:
    Agent 002: Is today Monday?
    Saintly Mama: No, today is Thursday.
    Agent 002: Is today Sunday?
    Saintly Mama: No, today is Thursday.
    Agent 002: Is today Wednesday?
    Saintly Mama: No, today is Thursday.
    Agent 002: Is today Friday?
    Saintly Mama: No, today is Thursday.
    Agent 002: May I have some candy, please?
    Saintly Mama: No, today is Thursday.
    There are occasions, however, when his questions are incredible insightful:
    • Is heaven far away, like Grammy's house?
    • Is Brooklyn in the United States?
    • Can Jesus hear me laughing and banging and crashing and splashing in the pool?
    • When I die, would Jesus wake me up?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Where Do I Start?

This has been one of those weeks where there is so much going on that I haven't had anything to say.

Mr warillever's uncle died on Tuesday. He went into the hospital the week that Ant M died, so mr warillever and his brother visited him while we were passing through on the way home. The three of them had a nice visit.

I first met this uncle a year after mr warillever and I started dating. I was outside playing in the leaves with the nephews, and happened to spring out of a pile of leaves just as he was coming up the walk. He looked up, startled, and asked, "What is that, a @#*-ing leprechaun?" I have never lived that down (at least as far as mr warillever's brother 7 is concerned).

In other news, the agents have discovered a new game -- slapping whiffle ball bats on the surface of the wading pool to soak each other. Yes, it is the last week of September, in New Hampshire, and the kids have been swimming every day. Blame global warming. Oh wait -- we had snow on the ground in May this year, so the seasons must just be a bit behind schedule...

My internet service has been spotty (and we'll be out of town for a bit), so you may not hear from me for a few days.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday's Feast

Appetizer : What is your favorite type of art?

Poetry. But if you are asking about the visual arts, I like a little bit of everything. In other words, I do not know enough to discern well. My favorite artists are Ilya Repin (especially the historical pieces like Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan), Albert Bierstadt, and Norman Rockwell. I do not like portraits.

My favorite painting is Alexander Ivanov's Apperance of Christ before the People.

Soup : When was the last time you got a free lunch (or breakfast or dinner)? Who paid for it?

Aren't they all free lunches when you don't have a job?

Salad : On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how emotional are you?

Three. I dare any of you to argue with me!

Main Course : Approximately how long do you spend each day responding to emails?

Under 15 minutes.

Dessert : To what temperature do you usually set your home’s thermostat?

55 degrees except for a half-hour for showers in the morning and an hour for bathtime in the evening. But the with the woodstove the temperature in the kitchen and play area are in the mid-60s during the day.

I dare you to join in!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

WFMW: Reading to Baby

It is Wednesday again, which means that it is time for me to pass on a tip about those things that make my life easier, but you have already been doing for years. f you have a great tip, join in the fun at Rocks in My Dryer.

We all know how important it is to read to young children, but in the rush of everyday life, we never seem to have the time to drop everything and read.

Fortunately, in our house, we have a little guy who makes us drop everything. When Baby P is hungry, he wants it NOW. So I have co-opted P's hunger for everyone's benefit. As I grab a bottle, I instruct the others to choose a book to read to Baby P as he eats. Then all five of us snuggle on the couch with a stack of books. P has his hunger satisfied, and we all get some books, cuddling, and downtime.

It's been working for us for six months now.

If you can't get enough of my bloggity goodness, you may want to check out some of my other recent posts.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Girls' School

I had no intention of "doing school" with the girls this year, but we have fallen into it and are having a great time.

After our morning Bible activity we have an early lunch, then see Agent 002 off on his school bus. Cousin P is usually sleeping at this point, so it is girl time.

We finish reading whatever book we started while waiting for the bus, then one or two more books. Then we go into the "red room" (our art room) for school.

Some days we start with a game like ABC Bingo or Go Fish, but the girls usually want to get right down to work. Work, to them, is done with crayons and paper.

Agent 004 has a goal in mind; she is determined to write her name. I typed it up in 300 point dotted letters for her to trace, but as she mangled that (and got quite frustrated), I realized that she didn't know how to form the letters. I decided that she may as well learn how to write them correctly now, before forming bad habits.

I put stickers on a piece of paper as guides for each letter. For "K" I put a bug sticker at the top of the sheet and at the bottom along the left, then put a yellow star further right along the top with a matching yellow star in the middle left for the diagonal, then a blue star in the middle left, and one on the bottom right. She needed to make a line from the dot to dot, then yellow star to yellow star, then blue star to blue star. Voila! a "K."

Cousin F colors happily while Agent 004 writes. She chooses one page from the coloring book then rips it out to give to her mommy in the evening. Her coloring book is excellent -- the pictures are simple, but interesting -- but I can't give y'all a link because it is something I bought in Russia a few years ago.

When their attention wanders (after 5-10 minutes), the girls can choose any one activity from the red room shelves, which they can do for 10 minutes. F frequently writes on the chalkboard, and 004 does a puzzle or play dough.

Once the red room is tidied, we use the bathroom, then head upstairs for two pre-nap stories.

All told they spend about 20 minutes in "school," which is more than enough at this age. The best part is that they are both excited about it.

Recipe Haiku:Toddler Snacks

This week's prompt at One Deep Breath is "recipes." Here are the recipes (in haiku form, of course) for three of our favorite afternoon snacks:

Pour sauce into bowl.
Add raisins and nuts to taste.
Applesauce sundae

Boil eggs; cut veggies;
Legs of carrot; beans for arms --
Hard-boiled egg people.

Freeze a banana;
Blend with yogurt and berries.
Nutritious smoothie.

Monday, September 17, 2007

An Armada of Arks

You didn't know that Noah had My Little Ponies and plastic zebras on the ark?

I'm not sure that there was much Bible-learning going on this morning, but there was a whole lot of splashing. And giggling. And more splashing.

Anybody have any ideas for a rainbow activity as we continue to read about Noah's ark?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Saturday's Feast

...or Friday's Feast a day later....

Appetizer: When was the last time you visited a hospital?

I dropped mr warillever and his brother off at a hospital last night to visit their uncle, but stayed outside with the Agents. I went to see another uncle at the hospital a month ago, and got there just in time to walk him out to his wife's car as he was released.

Soup: On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how ambitious are you?

No negative numbers allowed? If ambition is measured in effort to gain higher position, then I don't rate on the scale. See previous post for more on this topic ;)

Salad: Make a sentence using the letters of a body part. (Example: (mouth) My other ukelele tings healthily.)

Even silly old papa has a great underwear shortage.

Main Course: If you were to start a club, what would the subject matter be, and what would you name it?

PMS: Praying Mom's Society

Dessert: What color is the carpet/flooring in your home?

The first floor carpets are blue, brown, sand, gray, and maroon, which coexist with beige vinyl, white tile, slate, maple, and pine. On the second floor we have wide pine floors in the old section and wall-to-wall teal plush carpets in the ell. Oh yeah -- and plywood in the mudroom.

Invisible Woman

In my email today:

It started to happen gradually.

One day, I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand, and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, 'Who is that with you, young fella?'

'Nobody,' he shrugged.

'Nobody?' said the crossing guard, and I laughed. My son is only 5, but as we crossed the street I thought, 'Oh, my goodness, nobody?'

I would walk into a room, and no one would notice. I would say something to my family like, 'Turn the TV down, please,' - and nothing would happen. Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, 'Would someone turn theTV down?'


Just the other night, my husband and I were out at a party. We'd been there for about three hours, and I was ready to leave. I noticed he was talking to a friend from work. So I walked over, and when there was a break in the conversation, I whispered, 'I'm ready to go when you are.'

He just kept right on talking.

That's when I started to put all the pieces together. I don't think he can see me. I don't think anyone can see me. I'm invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not! No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible.

Some days, I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude -but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She's going-- she's going-- she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip, and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
* No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
* These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see
* They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
* The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes
of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam! He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.'

And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.'

That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

By Nicole Johnson

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Mess in Eden

Amber likes to see my kids do messy things, so here goes:

We have been reading about Adam and Eve this week, so the children made a Garden of Eden. Not a tropical paradise as I have always pictured it, but a northern forest, because that is what they think trees should look like.

We used our arms as stamps for the tree trunks (see directions here), then painted in leaves and sky.

I taped the completed scene to the refrigerator, and then used stick figures to tell the story. Here is the snake convincing Eve to eat the forbidden fruit:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Would Jesus Wake me up?

In typical five-year-old fashion, Agent 002 asks a gazillion questions. Mr warillever and I attempt to answer as fully as possible. What better way to learn than about those things that pique your interest?

His questions cover a lot of ground, and as a result he now understands our heating system from top to bottom ("The oil makes a small fire and then the water gets very very very hot and then it goes up a pipe and in the radiator and then my room makes it cold and it goes BANG BANG and then it goes down a pipe to get hot again.") and he can describe the entire digestive process ("I chew with my teeth and break the food apart, and then it goes down a huge pipe -- the sophogus -- then it goes to my stomach and then to my testines and then I poop and then it goes in the septic truck.").

A few months ago, his topic-of-interest was death. Looking at family pictures, he asked about Grandpa. Without skipping a beat, mr warillever told him that Grandpa is dead, and that we hope that he is in heaven.

Then my brother's dog died. My father, in not-so-21st- century style, told the kids that the dog was sleeping, and would be gone for a long time. Agent 004 (remember, she is two years old) said, "you mean, he's dead?" Grampy explained that the dog was very old and very sick, and had, in fact died.

The dog's death (followed quickly by the death of another beloved dog) led to more mealtime conversations about death, heaven, and Jesus. We determined that dogs, who lack a God-given soul, do not go to heaven, but that people do.* If you love Jesus, and try really hard to do good things, you will be with Jesus when you die.

But then we get back to Grampy's "sleeping" explanation. Agent 002 asked me if he would die when he went to bed. I reassured him that this was highly unlikely. Then he wanted to know if he would go to sleep when he died. I explained that it is kind of like sleeping, only it is forever. He looked down, pondering the situation, and then asked, "Will Jesus wake me up when I die?"

I sure hope so, kiddo.

*For more discussion of dogs in heaven, Ask Sr Mary Martha has a great post.

Out of Town

We're heading "over the river" again, so posting will be light for a few days.

Mr warillever's godmother passed away yesterday. She has been sick for a long time

The next post (about death) has been in "draft" status for weeks, but this morning's chat with the agents brought it back to my attention.

A cute aside -- We visited Aunt M in July, knowing that it might be the last time that we would see her. She completely spoiled the kids, giving them about seven lollipops each, without insisting that they eat the lunch she had prepared for them. When I told them that she died, the Agents wanted to know if Jesus will let Aunt M give them lollipops when she is heaven.

I'm glad that they have a good memory of her.

WFMW: Ready for Tomorrow

Ready for Tomorrow
Originally uploaded by warillever.
It is Wednesday again, which means that it is time for me to pass on a tip about those things that make my life easier. Join in the fun at Rocks in My Dryer.

There is no doubt that setting clothes out the day before makes the morning run much more smoothly.

Since the bathroom is so far from our bedrooms, however, laying clothes out on the dressers just wasn't working. The bathroom is our first stop in the morning and our last stop in the evening, it just made sense to store the clothes and pajamas there.

As we put away laundry each afternoon, we choose clothes for the next day. Agent 004 likes to choose her own outfit; Agent 002 is willing to comply when asked to do so.

We each have our own drawer in a three-drawer storage tower. Our pajamas are in the front of the drawer, and even my adult-sized clothes fit behind the jammies. The kids know just were to go to find their clothes, and they are starting to get themselves ready in the morning without adult intervention.

It simplifies my life, and gives the Agents responsibility. Works for me!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday's Feast

Appetizer: Using only one word, how does grocery shopping make you feel?

Soup: What is your favorite part about the season of Autumn?
Cool breezes. Going outside without mittens or bug spray. Wool sweaters.

Salad: Have you ever had any bad experiences online?
No. Should I have?

Main Course: Name three things that make you happy daily.

  1. The 1st cup of coffee.
  2. The kids' smiles when they create something or accomplish some great feat for the first time.
  3. Falling asleep next to mr warillever

Dessert: What one household cleansing or organizing item would you not want to be without?

My calendar. I broke down and purchased one this year (for $1) instead of using the free ones from church or the oil company. Instead of pictures, it has extra-large boxes. I LOVE it. I think that I may splurge on a desk blotter next year.

Sample some more feasts

Thursday, September 06, 2007

In the Beginning

....God created the Heavens and the Earth
In the BeginningHeavens and EarthSun and Moon

We have been reading the Bible each morning this week, and then depicting what they read.

All God's Creatures

Oh, To be a Cat.......

Happy Cat
Originally uploaded by warillever.
If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer.
Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Motherhood is a 10 Letter Word

Two-and-a-half times more profane than anything on cable television, yet infinitely more satisfying.

MommaBlogga has a group writing project on "Motherhood is..." this week. Join in on the fun!

WFMW: Brand Loyalty

I am a frugal shopper, but there are some items that I do not compromise on:

  • King Arthur flour
  • Joseph's pita bread
  • Heinz ketchup
  • Hunts tomato sauce (which also happens to be the cheapest option as well)
  • Nabisco Wheat Thins
  • Huggies diapers
There are other items for which we have a strong brand preference, but can't justify the price differential:
  • Stoneyfield yogurt ($3.99/pint vs $1.69 for store brand)
  • Maple Grove salad dressings ($3 vs $0.99 for Ken's)
  • freshly ground parmesan cheese ($7.99/lb vs $5.49 for Kraft)
  • Pampers wipees
....and on the rare occasion that I buy a cup of coffee instead of making it myself, I buy it at Dunkin Donuts. I just can't understand why anybody pays $4 for the *&^% they sell at Starbucks.

Otherwise, I buy as cheap as possible, as natural as possible, and as local as possible.

If you want to see which brands other people are loyal to, check in on Rocks in my Dryer for Works for me Wednesday.

I've been adding as I remember more products that I am snobby about.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Our Alphabet Book

Alphabet book
Originally uploaded by warillever.
Over the past few months, we have worked on one letter per week. As a general plan, the kids color the letter (downloaded from Hubbard's Cupboard) while I show them a list of words starting with that letter. The words are glued onto a sheet of poster board and hung from the kitchen island for the week. At the end of the week we punched holes in the poster board and formed all of the previous letters into a book.

Here is the completed book. The kids can now use it to review their letters, and I can look at it to see how far they have progressed in coloring and cutting.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The August that was

In August we celebrated a birthday, visited with old friends, traveled to Canada, attended a music festival in the Catskills, toured a museum, hiked, stacked our firewood for the winter, continued a home improvement project, went to the state fair, and still found the time to write two books. Agent 002 also wore his first necktie, started kindergarten, and rode the school bus.

It was a big month.

No wonder I barely posted on this blog.

I am Nice

...or at least Amber thinks so. She has given me a "Nice Matters Award."

See me blushing?

I do try to be nice here (I have even posted about it), but it feels good to have someone else recognize me for it.

Here are some bloggers that I think are nice: