Saturday, January 29, 2011

Digging Out

Yesterday the kids and I dug out the big van and Bob's minivan. Bob flew back yesterday afternoon, and we had an appointment at 4:00 to drop the big van off at the dealership because it was making a funny noise. Of course that meant we needed to be able to drive it out of the huge snowpile it was in! And if we dropped the big van off, then Bob's van needed to be clear as well, so we could all go to Bible study last night, since we don't all fit in the Sienna! Here you can see what we were starting with:
The snow clumps in the top were so heavy and hard to break up, we just started picking them up with our hands and tossing them! Luke played some rounds of snow basketball.
Even Faith "helped" out. She knew what to do with the shovel, even if she didn't get very much, and didn't toss the snow in the right place! She also wouldn't keep her mittens on, so she (and Grace) again were the first ones inside.

Success! Even a path for the mailman! That bit of shoveling took us about 40 minutes. Then it was on to Bob's van.

Fortunately the minivan is not so big, so we didn't have to shovel as much snow. It was a good thing, too, since we lost most of our helpers! Caleb, Jonathan, and Anna had discovered that they could slide down the slight hill in our front yard and go up on the big snowberm we had just made. Fun! So it was just Nathan, Luke, and me to finish off the shoveling.

Success here too! This bit of shoveling only took us about 15 more minutes. I sure was tired by the end of it all though. No time on the treadmill for me yesterday!
A few months ago I bought 2 new shovels at Walmart, thereby guaranteeing, I thought, that we would get no significant snowfall this winter, LOL. I was very glad we had them the past few days--it meant that Nathan, Luke, and I could each have a big shovel, and the other kids could share the 4 little shovels we have. Very nice! One of the new shovels even has the curved handle, which I really like. I thought it helped a lot with the wet, heavy snow. Of course, what we really need is a Wovel . . .


Here is Luke's bit of insight into the feminine mystique yesterday:

"When the girls are in bad moods, the way to get them happy again is to tell them how pretty they look, or how pretty something is on their dress, like 'Oooh, look at that pretty flower!' That distracts them."

Definitely a good place to start!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Finally!! We have been waiting for a good snow, and finally we got one yesterday. It started off just as rain, and a lot of people didn't take the threat of an actual storm very seriously! I, however, am a faithful follower of the Capital Weather Gang ever since we had all those big storms last February, and they said snow would begin falling between 3:00 and 4:00, and that we would have significant accumulation, although it would differ by region. Well, starting a little before 3:00, it began sleeting, and in another hour, the snow started coming down very heavily--a couple inches an hour. It was the worst time for a storm, right as rush hour started, and tons of people spent hours and hours--I've heard as many as 12 hours to get from downtown out to Leesburg--trying to get home. Our good friend Tim P. left his office at 4:30, and by 10:00 he had made it one mile. So he turned around and drove on side streets back to his office (took half an hour), where he spent the night on the floor of his office. You can read his first hand account (and see all his awesome photography) on his blog here. Bob is TDY this week, however, so he did not have to deal with the commute! I was so happy about that! We all enjoyed the sight of all the snow falling while eating chocolate chip banana bread fresh from the oven! We went out last night after dinner to shovel the driveway, since the snow was very wet and heavy. We measured with a ruler, and we had 9 inches!

This morning everyone was so excited about playing in the snow! We did a little bit of school (amazing how much more motivated everyone is to finish in a timely manner when there is fresh snow to play in), and then they suited up. I am very pleased that 5/7 kids can get themselves completely dressed for snow all by themselves! Very nice!

My goal for Faith was to have her spend at least as much time outside as it took to get her dressed. We ended up being out there 45 minutes, so she was much happier about snow and snow clothes than she was last year!

The boys and Anna spent most of the day sledding at the end of the cul-de-sac with our neighbors. Caleb is looking happy here, but this afternoon he flipped his sled, hit a tree, and now has a lovely goose-egg on the back of his head.

Faith and I took a little walk around the neighborhood, with me pulling her on the sled. Nathan gave her a quick spin as well.

Here is the aftermath . . . tons of wet suits, jackets, gloves, and boots. My friend Kim gave me this great hint last winter--put a felt-lined plastic tablecloth on the floor to catch all the wet stuff. It's a great idea!
Everyone is totally tired and will sleep well tonight!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bad Week For Fingers

So I just finished soaking my middle finger and thumb in salt water for about 30 minutes. Earlier this past week I reached into the dishwasher to stick one more piece of silverware into the basket, and a fork stabbed me under my fingernail! I couldn't believe the flatware was defending the dishwasher, LOL. And then a few days later I was cleaning a big pot that I had used to boil pasta, and a stubborn piece of bowtie pasta poked under my thumbnail!

Starting Thursday, my poor middle finger has been hurting so badly! I can hardly have anything touch it! The whole situation is definitely bringing back bad memories of my staph-infected middle finger back in March 2008. My thumb hurts as well, but I don't seem to use the tip of that as much, so it's not as bothersome. I keep telling myself, "This is surely the worst day . . ." but it's not getting better. So I thought I'd better start soaking it to make sure nothing bad happens. Bob is going TDY this week . . . the similarities are scary, LOL. At least I know to ask for the ER doc for anesthetic if anything has to be lanced--I learned that lesson, LOL. And I'm a lot more careful when sticking things into the dishwasher now as well!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Allergy Follow-up

Back on Dec. 22 Caleb had a scary allergic reaction, and we never could pinpoint what caused it. He had a follow-up appointment at Walter Reed this afternoon. We saw a different doctor, as well as his resident (intern? I always get mixed up, LOL). They were both extremely nice, and they went and consulted with the doctor we saw the last time, who set up Caleb's milk challenge, as well, so we had many minds considering this problem! They all agreed it was pretty unlikely that it was the coffee.

In thinking over the situation the past few weeks, I came up with a few more differences that might have made a difference. For one, Caleb ate a slice of pepperoni pizza that was left-over for lunch that day. We had gotten it from a local restaurant the night before, but he had only eaten pineapple/ham pizza that night. Also, Caleb ate the last of a fruit salad with lunch. The salad only had fresh pineapple and grapes to begin with, and by the time Caleb ate it, there were only grapes left. But they would have been sitting in pineapple juice, and he has had issues with fresh pineapple before. Nothing like this reaction, of course, and only when he ate a lot of it on subsequent days, but still . . . he is a little sensitive to pineapple. Maybe, combined with the increased sensitivity from the dog and cats he was exposed to all day the day before, it was enough to trigger a big reaction?

So we have an appointment for Feb. 28, and we are supposed to bring in some fresh pineapple/grape fruit salad, a slice of pepperoni pizza from that same restaurant, and some of the Folger's coffee, like he was drinking that day. They will do some skin tests and have him eat the stuff and see if there is any reaction. I'm thinking there won't be, and we'll just have to be content to not know exactly what the problem is. But who knows--maybe something will show up.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Flexible Day

Tuesday is our co-op day, but we had a bit of an ice storm last night. The younger kids' morning co-op was cancelled, but we decided the roads were fine, once we got out of our subdivisions, so we would go ahead and have our junior high co-op. We decided we would meet a little bit later, though--10:00 instead of 9:30. I dropped Nathan off at Christine's house, and she drove Isaac and Nathan, along with her 1 year old Elena, over to our church to meet Eric and do history (Theresa, our literature/writing person who usually teaches first, has a big hill in her driveway and absolutely could not get out).

As they were almost at the church, Elena threw up all over herself and her carseat. At the church, Christine examined the situation and decided going home to clean up was the better course. So she picked up Eric and headed back to her house. She was going to clean up Elena, then do about 45 minutes of history. Then I would stop by her house, pick up the 3 boys (and drop off some of my own so we would still all fit in the small van, the only one I felt like I could scrape this morning!), and head over to the church to do science. I had already decided that with the later start, we wouldn't even really go through the chapter--we would just do the lab, which was the frog dissection. Christine would bring everyone else in her van in time to eat lunch. Then we would do Spanish.

A few minutes later, Christine called again. Elena had thrown up again, and she didn't even want to put her back in the car seat (which she still had to clean). As we were talking, the boys came in to inform her that her van was sliding down their driveway! Ack! Time for yet another plan!

So I ran back over (good thing we live close!), picked up the 3 Rivendell boys, and brought them back to my house. We all ate lunch, and then we leisurely did the frog dissection at my kitchen table. It was so nice! I didn't have to lug anything into the church and back out again! Siri came about 1:30, as we were finishing up, and she did Spanish over here. We just skipped memory work (although I will email it out), and Theresa emailed out her assignments for literature. Luke did point out that "It's no fun to just read and not have the discussion" though!

The frog dissection was fun! I was glad I had just done a frog dissection with Lynnea's and Kari's kids a few weeks ago. Their specimens were much larger, as well as dye-injected, so I was a bit worried about how clear everything would be with these scrawny little guys we had today. No worries though--everything was there, just as it should be! The funny thing was that all 4 of our specimens today were females, as well as the 6 specimens I did with Kari and Lynnea! I was hoping for at least one male, but no such luck. The one I did before were all very ready to reproduce, with bellies full of eggs, and really large oviducts. Today's specimens were not at all in that season of life, so no eggs.

Today's specimens did have one thing going for them--full stomachs! All the ones I did the other day pretty much had empty stomachs--maybe because they were injected? Or maybe just a coincidence. Anyhow, when we sliced those stomachs open, we saw nothing interesting. Today, however, the boys were pulling out recognizable bugs from the stomachs! Eric's frog had a caterpillar, and Nathan's frog had not one, but 2 Japanese beetles, one still in prime condition! Isaac's had a bug as well, but it was more digested, and we weren't able to definitively tell what kind it was. I thought everyone would be interested, so I made sure to take a picture of Nathan's beetles. The one in front in the complete one.

And just in case you want to briefly review your high school biology, the liver is the 3-lobed organ near the top of the cut, and the stomach is the J-shaped organ under it, with the small intestine coming off the side. We found lots of other organs and glands, but that's all you can see!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ahhhhh . . .

I am pleased to report that I started out this weekend more relaxed than I've been in . . . well, a really long time. My massage was WONDERFUL! Sooooo worth it. I told the lady that my main problem areas were my shoulders/upper back, and that is what she worked on for probably 45 minutes. It was heavenly. I could just feel the knots work themselves out as she did deep-tissue massage on the affected areas. As soon as she started working, she said, "I can see why you are having shoulder problems!", as the knots were that obvious! I laid with my shoulders flat, but hips turned a little to one side, and a pillow under my belly/one leg. It was very comfortable, and it enabled her to work on both shoulders. I floated home, and in fact, I still feel a bit like I am floating! I slept better last night than I have since I started having these numbness problems with my arms--6 uninterrupted hours!

Feeling more relaxed also allowed me to be a lot more productive yesterday. I systematically went through the bookshelves in the study, which is where I keep all our homeschooling stuff. I have been in desperate need of time to rearrange and organize in there, because I am running out of room on my shelves. Yesterday I took out a ton of material that we simply are never going to use. I can admit it! I think we've been homeschooling now for going on 9 years, if you start with Nathan's kindergarten year, and I pretty much know what works for us for the elementary years. And I have no energy to do anything extra or just try new things for the fun of it! So one big box of stuff is sitting in the middle of the study floor, and my shelves are so much more organized. Hopefully we'll have a used curriculum sale at the end of our co-op this year, like we did last year. If not, it's still going somewhere else!

Unfortunately, all this cleaning did not turn up 2 things that are missing. One is an answer key to the Henle I book we just started. It is mildly annoying that I can't find that book, especially since I know I have seen it around, but no big deal--I have to put in a Rainbow Resource order, so I'm just going to order another one for $5.50. The other big thing we are missing is a library book on apes and gorillas (and lemurs, which is the reason we had it out in the first place). Luke has to do a research paper on an animal, and he picked the lemur. He needed 3 sources by Jan. 4, so right before we left for Ohio, we went to the library and got out 3 books. When we got back home from Ohio, and co-op was starting up again, we couldn't find any of the 3 books! After much frantic searching, we discovered 2 of the books shelved on our bookshelves, along with all our books. Whew! But . . . where could the third book be? We thoroughly searched each shelf on the bookshelves, as well as the usual places--under the couch, coffee table, and beds, behind the couch, in the playroom, etc. Luke and I have both spent quite a good deal of time searching for this book, and it is not in any of the obvious places, nor in quite a few very unobvious places! It's a big, green, hardcover book--you would think it would not have been so easy to lose in such a thorough way! Grrr . . . there is not much that bothers me more than having something missing. Although I will say that it has bothered me less after my massage, that's for sure, LOL. Still, I was disappointed that all this cleaning and decluttering did not turn up at least one of the missing items!

I am hoping to continue using the weekends to declutter. We just have so much extra stuff around, it seems. It's hard to keep things clean, and it's hard to keep track of things we really do need! And hopefully I will continue to have more restful nights, because I am sure I will be more able to actually do things like declutter if I have a tiny bit more energy.

***Update*** Well, what do you know?! I walked into the family room, and I noticed that Grace had gotten some books out of the bookshelf, which were scattered on the floor. On top of the pile was . . . 100 Things You Should Know About Monkeys and Apes. What in the world?! Luke and I BOTH looked through all the books on those shelves! My jaw about hit the floor! Okay . . . well, that gives me hope that other missing things might mysteriously turn up out of the clear blue sky, LOL. And in the meantime, we are all praising the Lord for this little miracle!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Two Unrelated Recipes

I said awhile back that I was going to post the recipe for the sausage/egg/hashbrown crockpot casserole I made for Christmas morning. Well, my brain is like a sieve, and I never got around to it. Until now!

Crockpot hashbrown sausage casserole

30 oz. package plain frozen hash browns
16 oz. sausage, already cooked (or leftover ham)
1/2 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 1/2 c. shredded cheese
12 eggs
1 c. milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Spray inside of crockpot with cooking spray. Dump in the whole package of hashbrowns and spread them out evenly, breaking up any clumps.

In a mixing bowl, mix the dozen eggs with the milk, salt, pepper, and cheese, sausage, green pepper, and onions. Pour everything on top of hashbrowns.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours. And that's it! It's all ready to eat in the morning!

And now, for a second recipe. I am always on this quest to find different ways to use up old bananas, especially when I have an event to which I need to take a dessert! We had our monthly fellowship meal after church last Sunday, and I wanted to take a dessert as well as a main course. I wanted to make some sort of banana cake or bars, so I started hunting around on the internet. I found a recipe for a "chocolate frosted banana cake" that sounded good, so I printed that one off (obviously before our laptop decided to no longer speak to the printer, LOL). It was good! Very moist. It looked really pretty too, although it definitely looked like it would have a very chocolate-y flavor. It doesn't, with the banana in there, so it was a little bit of a shock. But it was very tasty! And it used up 4 bananas. Woo-hoo! (As a side note, let me just say that whoever posted the recipe on the internet needed to take one of Mrs. Harner's technical writing classes to learn how to make directions. There basically were none, as far as how the wet ingredients went together, so I was the one who decided to cream the butter and sugar, and then add stuff. Feel free to do whatever you want!)

Chocolate Frosted Banana Cake

2/3 c. milk
1 T. vinegar
1 c. softened butter
1 1/3 c. brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c. banana, mashed (I used 3 bananas)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. flour
1 c. cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Oil a bundt pan really well. Cream butter and brown sugar, then add the milk, vinegar, eggs, banana, and vanilla, mixing well. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Don't overmix--it should be a bit lumpy. Spoon batter into the well-oiled bundt pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a knife comes out clean. Cool.


1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 melted butter
1/4 c. banana, mashed (I just used almost another whole one)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 T. milk (however much you need to make a good consistency--more if you use less banana)
3 cups powdered sugar

Mix together cocoa, butter, banana, milk, and vanilla. Whisk in the powdered sugar until combined and smooth. Spoon over cake.

Tired . . .

I can tell I am approaching my third trimester, as I am definitely getting more and more tired! Each night, I sit down on the couch with the laptop and think, "I should blog!", but the mental energy needed is simply not there. I still am having some troubles with my arms falling asleep when I sleep, but things are definitely better, now that I am not doing as much as I was before Christmas. Also, I figured out that I just can't sleep on my right side. Something about that side (which is the side where I had my rib removed) is just screwy. I'm getting an early birthday present on Friday that I hope will help even more--a massage at my chiropractor's office!

I still haven't heard anything from the OB clinic about my 1 hour glucose test. Each time the phone rings, and it's a "301" number, my heart jumps though, LOL. I am still faithfully exercising about 40 minutes a day (another reason for the fatigue . . .), so we'll see.

I am finding myself ever-increasingly irritated about little things. We are in this spate of losing things--a library book, the Latin answer key, Nathan's mp3 player, etc. It is driving. me. crazy. I am not dealing well! Also, we have several laptops, but the only one we can print from has decided, for whatever reason (we for sure can't figure it out) that it doesn't want to print. Again, driving me insane. Such little things! I just feel like I am very edgy about everything. I really wish all the kids would go away for a week so I could just clean and organize! (Of course, I don't have extra energy . . . so I'm sure I would actually get anything done, LOL. But it's a nice thought!) It sounds like I'm not 27 weeks, but 37 weeks!

But life is going on, whether I can find things or not. Someday I'll be organized again (right? RIGHT?!). In the meantime, everyone is eating regularly and wearing clean clothes, and we haven't drowned in papers yet. Rivendell is going well, and I also just started teaching Nathan, Luke, Isaac, and Caleb McC the first year of Henle Latin. I know I just need to focus on what IS going well, but when things are getting lost, etc., I feel like the wheels are going to come off at any minute, and I am not doing a good job of keeping everything together! Deep breath . . . hopefully that massage will be really great, LOL. I think my expectations for this one poor massage are getting a little too high!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Happy New Year!

If you aren't a Facebook friend, you might have thought we never even made it back from Ohio! In fact, we made it back just fine, albeit less like the well-oiled machine we were on the way out! We stopped right before the OH/WV border for lunch, at a place where there is a Wendy's and Taco Bell right next to each other. Caleb is not a huge Taco Bell fan, so we always get a hamburger for him first, then go next door and the rest of us eat at Taco Bell. Of course, this was Friday, New Year's Eve, and the strip mall these restaurants were located in was BUSY at lunch time! Both place took forever to get our food, although Taco Bell won first prize. We didn't order enough tacos the first time, so I went back to order 5 more soft tacos. It took them 20 minutes to make those 5 tacos! And there weren't many people in front of us in line, either!

Grace also had some issues there. She "couldn't" go potty, even though we tried twice. Well, I knew she had been drinking water in the morning, as well as at lunch, so I put a diaper on her! She wasn't happy about that, but I didn't want to deal with an accident, and I knew she was going to be uncomfortable later! So later on, she started fussing around in the car. Hmmm. We did eventually make a stop at a rest area, but there's really not that many places to stop in WV or western MD! I could not refrain from telling her, "I told you you would have to go!"

We did not get gas at lunch, because there is no gas station at that exit, and of course there was no gas at the rest area . . . so a little bit later, I happened to glance down and I realized the gas light was on! So we had to make yet a THIRD stop for gas! Talk about fits and starts! At least we were listening to a good book on tape--Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stephenson. Nothing like a rollicking good pirate tale to make the miles go by! I was glad I saved the longer book for the way home. It was 6 hours long, so we didn't even finish it by the time we got home. We had to finish it up on the way home from co-op on Tuesday!

So we did make it home, and we picked up our guacamole and chips and headed over the New Year's Eve party at the L's house. That was a fun time, although I was pretty tired! I slept well that night and did not even remotely consider staying up until midnight to ring in the New Year!

The rest of the weekend I tried to unpack and get organized. I had limited success, LOL. Come Monday, I still didn't feel ready for school to start back up again, much less co-op the next day. And I still have some laundry that needs to get folded. We did a light day of school, and I prepared for Rivendell, where we were doing our first dissection, an earthworm. I also typed up 6 week's worth of memory work and got that all copied, plus 6 weeks of maps for mapwork, at Office Depot, so I am feeling very organized in that one area!

Today I had an OB appointment in the morning, and then I stayed and took my 1 hour glucose test again. I have no hopes of passing it, since I haven't passed a 1 hour one since I was pregnant with Anna, and since we are coming off Christmas, where I ate plenty of toffee and peppermint bark! Oh well. Then this afternoon I did a frog dissection with the kids of my friends Lynnea and Kari. They're the ones I did the earthworm dissection for back in December. That was fun! Frogs are much more rewarding than earthworms, LOL--much more to see and identify! Lynnea and Kari made us dinner, which was incredibly nice, so that is why I am sitting here with my feet up, on the computer--soup is heating up on the stove for us, and there is fresh bread as well! Yum!

So we're right back in the swing of things. Maybe some day I'll feel caught up and on top of things . . . It's always hard to start back up again!