Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dinner This Week

Dinnerouteggplant parm subs, spinach salad
bean burritos, corn on the cob, peach cobblerroasted chicken, acorn squash, roasted potatoesCRAP*pasta primaverapicnic
4 bean salad, crackers, apples
Bread ---French
rye, wheat tortillasdinner rollshoney wheatFrench-----

*CRAP = Clean Refrigerator And Pantry = creative leftovers. Heather of Home Ec 101 calls this "CORN" (clean out refrigerator night), but I think that my term is much more accurate.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Party for a Princess

We believe in civilized celebrations at our home.

This was Agent 004's birthday tea.


Then, on the following Saturday we invited the barbarians for cake and a pinata.

Here is C beating the unicorn senseless.

Look at the hordes swarming the candy!

Here is what was left of the poor pinata once her brother got a club to it. Headless unicorn.

Happy (belated) birthday, Baby Girl!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Updated Book Basket

...but no book post today.

My husband is hogging the computer, or rather, he is working from home today.

There are some really good ones this week, so I hope I get the chance to tell you about them later.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Things a Four Year Old Notices

...but no one else does.

  1. All of her aunts live in towns that begin with "W." She has six aunts in four towns in three states.
  2. The four birthdays in our immediate family are evenly distributed among the seasons. On the first day of fall she said, "It was just my birthday in the summer and now it is fall so it will be your birthday and then it will be Papa's birthday in the winter. It is a long time until Agent 002's birthday in the spring but then it will be almost my birthday again."
I would have never realized either of these factoids. What would I ever do without her?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What's on My Mind

I try to spend 15 minutes per day decluttering.

Today I am trying to get rid of all the thoughts bouncing around in my head.

We'll call it a to-do list


  • Figure out what we own and where it is -- Inventory
  • Organize kids clothes and shoes in attic
  • Set down old rugs to hold in heat
  • Pull out front hall closet
  • Move family book shelves from Agent 004's room
  • Organize books in new home
  • Set up twin size bed for Agent 004
  • Bring down adult winter clothes
  • Figure out what I need for kids' winter clothes
    • Boots -- Size 10 and 13/1
    • Snowpants Sm. and Medium
    • Ski jackets
    • Long sleeve shirts -- Youth S/M (Agent 002)
    • hats/mittens/scarves (probably sufficient supply)
  • Figure out rooming arrangements for future child/ren
  • Pull dead wiring from basement ceiling
Yard and Garden
  • set out logs to mark next year's vegetable beds
  • carry over decomposed leaves
  • pull weeds from between blackberry bushes
  • 5 year plan for patio/flower garden
    • flower beds around edge
    • level center for picnic table
    • choose hardy species b/c snow drops from roof
    • window behind stove
    • path from back door
  • trellis to "finish" back porch
  • refill sensory rice pool
  • set out fall goals
  • see how we did with summer goals
  • draw up "schedule" for Red Room time
  • plan "curriculum" for Agent 004
  • organize shelves so that girls can choose own activities
  • Go over Thanksgiving Dinner plan
  • Find a second whole grain sandwich bread recipe (honey-wheat getting old)
  • Christmas present list
  • Plan for some homemade gifts
  • Inventory freezer for pantry challenge
  • Plan full month with no groceries but milk, eggs, and fresh fruit
  • Find out when local ski sales are (Sizes 10 and 13/1)
This list isn't half as bad as I expected. Let me get cracking on that.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I've got a hard road to travel
And a rough rough way to go.
Said it's a hard road to travel
And a rough rough way to go.
But I can't turn back,
My heart is fixed,
My mind's made up,
I'll never stop,
My faith will see, see me through.
-------Jimmy Cliff-------
It's the hard-knock life for us
It's the hard-knock life for us
No one cares for you a smidge
When your in an orphanage
It's the hard-knock life
It's the hard-knock life
It's the hard-knock life!
Life is hard anyway you cut it
Life is sweet like a berry from a tree
Life is temptation, baby, every single day
Life is hard

Life is funny, I dont mean ha-ha
Its not always sunny when it needs to be
Life is frightening, nothing lasts forever
Life is hard
----- John Mellencamp-----

This week's unplugged prompt had me humming a tune, and it wasn't a pleasant one. There is so much hard in life, why would I want to add some extra hardship to our lives?

Or did that mean hard, like explaining why people have belly buttons, but frogs and chickens do not?**

Oh wait! Maybe Mom Unplugged meant "not soft." That's it! In which case, I will tell you how we spent our Friday afternoon -- working on tactile discrimination. The goal is to find the hard objects hidden among the softer base material.

The classic tactile discrimination exercise is to hide small toys in a bucket of rice. The older child can try to find pennies in a gob of Theraputty. Or, you could set four small children free in the garden and ask them to dig up the potatoes. It is something like finding a needle in a haystack, but a lot more fun.

The children dug and dug. And built mud castles and trenches. And dug some more. After twenty minutes I had a ransacked garden, four muddy children, and a bowlful of potatoes.***

After a "silly shower"**** and dry clothes we boiled up those spuds and had a pre-dinner treat. That is my idea of "unplugged" fun.

Check out Mom Unplugged to see what hard things everyone else did.
* I've been trying not to sing this song, but it constantly comes to mind. I often sing responses to particularly ridiculous behavior. Whenever the "Not Fairs" start flying, this song immediately comes to mind. It is right about the word "smidge" when I remember how completely inappropriate it would be to sing this to a child who lived in an orphanage once-upon-a-time. Even if (especially since) there were people there who really did care more than a smidge about the kids in their care.

** I think I did pretty well explaining about umbilical cords and eggs. How many four year olds even
ask about things like that, never mind comprehend?

*** Don't be too impressed by the bounty of our garden -- they found about two pounds -- but do be astounded by the frugality. The "seed" potatoes came from a bag that my brother accidentally left to sprout in the back of his pantry last winter.

**** Silly shower = a fully clothed shower. For both modesty and mud removal. Fortunately our (only) bathtub is just inside the back door.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

We're Coming into My Season

I love fall.

It is undeniably the most beautiful time of the year in this area. Our yard will soon be awash in glorious reds and yellows.

The morning frost puts a glaze on everything.

The weather is perfect -- going outside is just a matter of pulling on a sweater. No sunscreen or bugspray or mittens or boots. Fresh crisp air. The outside temperature is 38 degrees right now, but by noon it should get up into the 60s. Perfect for a stroll. Or my brother's 40th birthday party (which is where I'll be).

And it is my season:

You Belong in Fall

Intelligent, introspective, and quite expressive at times...

You appreciate the changes in color, climate, and mood that fall brings

Whether you're carving wacky pumpkins or taking long drives, autumn is a favorite time of year for you

Friday, September 19, 2008


Check out the comments to read Julie's take on Mercer Mayer, and mine on the Berenstains.

Remember when I used to tell you about books every Friday?

I forgot too.

Take a peek over to the left (It's okay -- I'll wait while you click through from your feed reader) and you'll see that I actually updated the book basket.

We've been reading lots of Eric Carle and Mercer Mayer with a bit of Angelina Ballerina thrown in for good measure.

I am trying to introduce more poetry. Eric Carle's Animals Animals is a great start. I have a few more out from the library now that I will try to review next week.

Cousin F is currently Angelina obsessed. I let her choose one title per week from the library. Thus far we have read:

Next week we may try out

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Closest We Get to Homemade

I might have mentioned that reading all of these overacheiver Mom blogs makes me feel a wee bit inadequate once in a while. Especially when I read about all of this craftiness and homemade goodness going around in the world. I do not know how to sew, I do not know how to knit, and my artistic sensibility was stunted somewhere around age seven.

But I did make my daughter a birthday present.

Sort of.

I found this doll crib at a yard sale for $5. It was dusty, dingy, and a bit dull, but I knew how much my baby girl would love it.
So I washed it up, sanded it down, and painted every nook and cranny.
Then I fashioned a mattress out of an old foam cushion covered in a pillow case. I "sewed" it up with two safety pins turned in.
Not bad for a less-than-crafty mom!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

500 Word Autobiography

My name is reprehriestless warillever. I am 30 years old, mother to Agent 002 and Agent 004, and wife to mr warillever. The four of us live with our cat Janice in a small New Hampshire village.

I am the youngest of my parents’ five children. My siblings are 6, 9, 11 and 15 years older than me; in many ways my oldest siblings were more like a second set of parents than an older brother and sister. Now that we are all adults it is funny how the age gap has diminished. We all live locally and see each other frequently; my oldest sister has two children younger than ours that spend their weekdays at our house.

We also see my parents frequently. They are very active in their retirement and spend many of their days visiting their six young grandchildren. They have been married to each other for 47 years and obviously love each other very much.

Looking back on it, I had an idyllic childhood. It was an urban neighborhood, but I could ride my Big Wheel tricycle in our yard or explore the large park behind our house. Our house was always the center of activity for entire neighborhood. My mother ran a small in-home daycare, so there were always plenty of children to play with. My older brother’s friends would come over on summer nights to play whiffle ball in a natural replica a of Fenway Park, replete with bases, floodlights, a deep right field fence and its very own Green Monster – a tall maple tree in short-left field.

I loved school. Our parish Catholic school was a few blocks away, and I walked there everyday with my older sister or friends. As a teenager I got a scholarship to attend a prep school, and from there I was off the Ivy League where I majored in Russian language and International Relations.

The year after graduation I returned to hometown as a volunteer with the local immigrant population while mr warillever (whom I had met in college) moved to Vermont to teach. I followed six months later and we spent three years teaching social studies in a rural high school. We then moved to Indiana for graduate school – mr warillever studied law at Notre Dame while I worked in Notre Dame libraries and earned a Masters in Library Science from Indiana University.

While we were in Indiana, we started the process to adopt two children from Russia. Two years later – just as we were in transit from Indiana to our new home in New Hampshire – we adopted a three year old boy and a one-year old girl. Agent 002 is now six and started first grade this year. Agent 004 recently turned four.

I stay home fulltime with the children. We spend our days playing, learning, and hugging. As Agent 002 will recite faithfully, “Hugs first, then work, and we can play after that.” It is amazing to see them grow and discover every day.

Happy 500th-ish post everyone! It has been great sharing our adventures with you.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

We built our first snowman of the season yesterday.

Not our actual snowman
The weather is beginning to turn colder here, but we don't have any snow yet. Just two kids who like doing the unexpected when given the opportunity.

We took a wonderful roadtrip along the Massachusetts North Shore last night, stopping in Newburyport for a fish dinner and Seabrook, New Hampshire to build our "frozen" friend.

Friday, September 12, 2008

What I get for Being a Good Girl

As promised, I have been turning Reader and Gmail off when I am not using them in order to reduce the temptation to check them throughout the day.

There have been some benefits --

  1. I have had more focused time with the children. We have read more books and had less misbehavior at transition times.
  2. I have gotten a lot of things done around the house --
    1. The Red Room is almost ready to be used in a self-service manner for Montessori-like preschool,
    2. The wood is stacked up and ready to go for winter.
    3. We finally mailed of our foster care application.
  3. Using times of temptation as an opportunity, I have been praying more.
  4. I am more conscious of appreciating the moment and contented with the life I live.
But.....I still have five loads of laundry to be folded and I really miss all of my online friends. I would try to catch up this weekend, but we are hosting a dinner for 18 (!) tomorrow night and I still need to prepare for Sunday's religious education class.

So look for my comments on your blogs during my designated 15 minutes on Monday! Or Tuesday or Wednesday or so.....

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Lamest Unplugged Post

So lame, in fact, that I won't even include photos.

Not at all. The Agents created very cute projects, but this is a lame post because I have no photos -- my camera and camera still won't communicate, and that handy-dandy little external card reader is broken. I bent a pin putting the card in upside. I can't even blame the kids!

The unplugged theme is soft. I asked the Agents what they would like to make -- they decided on kittens and lambs (so far, so good -- they know what soft is). We then chose soft materials. Both Agents chose cotton balls. I chose pink sparkly feathers.

Agent 002 drew a kitten, then glued cotton balls all over its body. He called it "Snowball."

Agent 004 chose pink blue paper (the sky), shredded green scraps and glued those onto the background as grass. She glued many cotton balls onto the paper. A Mama sheep, a baby lamb, a cousin sheep, and a neighbor sheep. And then she moved the gluey mass all over the paper as the sheep socialized. By the end she was sticky and her "art" was destroyed, but she had a grand ole' time.

I made a pink flamingo with glittery pink feathers. Maybe I am glad that you can't see our work...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Two Questions and an Advertisement

Shannon is hosting a backwards WFMW today at Rocks in My Dryer. I'll take advantage of this opportunity to tap the wisdom of the internets.

  1. Read-Aloud Suggestions? My husband reads to the children from a novel every night. Thus far they have read Charlotte's Web, Stewart Little, The Trumpeter Swan, Doctor Dolittle, The Just So Stories, and they are currently finishing up the Little House series. We haven't decided what to tackle next. Any suggestions?

  2. Preschool Prayer Songs? We begin "preschool" every day with a prayer. I have only just realized that a song is a good way to do this and get the kids really involved. Cousin F in particular gets into hand motions and spontaneous riffs on well-known songs. We have been singing "He Has the Whole World in His Hands" and "This is the Day." Does anyone know any good Christian songs that a 1, 3 and 4 yo would be able to sing?

  3. Photographs of Nuns? Sr. Mary Martha and her cohert of sisters are organizing a Nun Beauty No Contest to show all of the good work that nuns do around the world. Sr. Mary Martha asked me to advertise this for her, and since when can I say no to a nun? Even in my 1980s nearly secular Catholic school we learned that much! You can read more about the rules (or lack thereof) at her blog.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I Hate Blogs

I have already told you that I love blogs, but now let me tell you why I hate them:

  1. Blogs take up time. Even with a feed-reader, even skimming the nonessential, reading blogs takes time.

    With always connected high-speed internet, I am tempted to read throughout the day, pulling me away from the children that need my full attention.

  2. Blogs make me feel inept. Why isn't my garden as productive as Kate's or Mary's? Why isn't my house decorated as well as Heidi's? Why aren't I crafty like Jo or Michelle? Why don't we have serene preschool sessions like Stephanie? How come I don't write as well as Shannon or Lora Lynn?

    Melissa doesn't let her daughter eat Goldfish becuase of artificial colors....am I a poor parent for allowing them?

    Tanya painted a mural in her son's room. Why haven't I done anything nice like that for my kids?

    Julie is doing such a good job teaching her son core values. Are we doing enough?

    The Pisecos have children near our kids' ages, and they are doing in-depth history lessons. Should we?
Is my reading making me dissatisfied with the wonderful life I have? Is it taking time away from what matters? For the very reason that I stopped reading women's magazines, for the very reason that my children do not watch commercial television, maybe I should stop reading blogs.

Instead of cutting them out completely, I have a plan to moderate my internet reading.
  1. Read fewer blogs. I currently subscribe to 108 feeds in Google Reader. By October 1st, I will reduce this to 50 including news feeds.
  2. Read blogs only during designated times. There is no reason to have Google Reader open throughout the day. When my 15 minutes of computer time is up, I will close the Reader window to reduce the temptation to check.
  3. Be content. I will reread and take to heart Julie's lessons on contentment for her son. I am who I am, my kids are who they are, and we are very blessed to be living the lives that we are.
So if you don't see as many comments from me, now you know why...

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day's Work

Mr warillever had the day off, so he spent it stacking wood.

We could watch him work all day...