Saturday, January 31, 2009

i disinfected the counter when he was done


Dissecting owl pellets – fur, bones and other carnage…


Ewww. Sometimes learning gets a little messy.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Boy: "Mom, you're as good as Alton Brown."

Mom: "Thanks, but not quite."

Boy: "Yes, you are. You just don't like to brag."


Boy: (Watching "On Board Air Force One"): "Mom, the press flies on board."

Mom: "Yes, I know."

Boy: "Can you do that?"

Mom: "Umm, no."

Boy: "You should try to do that. Not to the Middle East -- maybe to Florida."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Crafters unite (again)


Felt food made by me. Warning: these items are not approved for sale.

Edited because I should never post before having coffee...

Craft sites all over the U.S. today are reminding folks that the CPSIA deadline is looming.

Please take a moment to contact the CPSC about this issue. The law will take effect as scheduled, but the CPSC continues to clarify the parameters. (If you're interested, read the general counsel's opinions on the CPSC site.) While my babies are older now and their gifts are more likely to come from Japan and be accompanied by a power cord and charger, some things will be a part of our house for many years to come -- good books, art and craft supplies, good books, school supplies (yes, lots of those), Scout supplies and patches, board games, science kits, kids' clothing, camp gear, video games, good books, good books, and more. I love a bunch of little ones who -- without changes in this well-meaning attempt at grossly exaggerated government regulation -- will have to rely on me for handmade toys. (Sad, eh?) And should I ever become adept enough to sell those toys? Here's a sample of what they might cost.

As someone who tries to reuse, recycle and buy used items as much as possible, I am also gravely concerned about the Goodwills and Salvation Armies of the world, who may choose to stop selling used items intended for use by children under 12, rather than risk the penalties should something they sell be found to contain lead. Think that 1960s collectible toy is going to be found on the shelf next to the Scrabble game (just bought a complete one for $1.25 a couple of weeks ago) and the used textbooks? I suspect the entire shelf will soon be empty and those items will be destined for the landfill.

And read this from Forbes (Thanks, Jenny). It is a pretty clear assessment of what might happen come Feb. 10.

According to Forbes, I agree with Ron Paul on this issue. Maybe it really is a sign of the apocalypse.

Monday, January 26, 2009

minding my own


I know you are shaking your head and saying, "There she goes again."

Well, there I go again.

A trip to the country on Saturday resulted in five pounds of beeswax from our friendly neighborhood (essentially organic) beekeeper. There is a learning curve to the filtering, straining and all that, but we did manage to figure out a small batch...


...which ultimately became a trial run of lip balm...


I smell like honey.

Next up: homemade lotion.

Go ahead, roll your eyes. I don't mind.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

i love him

For lots of reasons, but here's one:


He took the boy to see Monster Jam. I did not have to go.


Oh yes, I love him.

(Photos taken by my wonderful husband. Did I mention that I didn't have to go?)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

what makes me happy


Above: Focaccia rising

Below: "Artisan Bread in 5" dough and a batch of cinnamon rolls rising

Photos are from the weekend's "oh my word, it's freezing cold" bake-a-thon...


Good bread, cinnamon rolls and ALMOST getting the Piano Puzzler this morning.

I get precious few moments alone, and even fewer alone in the car. And it takes a miraculous turn of events for me to be alone in the car, during the Piano Puzzler. I live for the Piano Puzzler.

Caller: Hmm...

Me: (driving down the Interstate) Chopin. Say it -- it's Chopin. Say. It. Now.

Caller: I would say that's in the style of Chopin.

Me: YES!

Fred Child (host): Yes, I do hear elements of Chopin...

Me: I told you so.

Bruce Adolphe (pianist): Well, I can see where you might think that...


(Remember, I was alone in the car, careening down the Interstate and screaming at the radio.)

Bruce Adolphe is my nemesis.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

school tube


Some days, you just have to watch TV.


Monday, January 19, 2009

righteousness like a mighty stream

(Warning: Diatribe from a history geek, dead ahead.)

Get thee to the History Channel, especially if you are a homeschooling parent -- or a parent -- or a human being. We recorded "King" yesterday, the new biographical piece about Martin Luther King, Jr. We are still on World War I here, so we have a while before we work our way chronologically to the Civil Rights Movement. My thought was that we would just hold on to the movie for while... We are half-way through it already.

Some would say I am a bad parent for letting my 10-year-old watch news footage of the Birmingham atrocities. Does a kid really need to hear the kind of sewage that spewed from the mouths of people like Bull Connor? Does he need to see a bombed-out church where little girls were slaughtered by cowards? You bet he does.

I feel a little passionately about this, yes? It is deeply personal for me, for reasons I don't care to share today. Suffice it to say that as a parent, I am proud of a number of things my children know as surely as they know the sun rises and sets -- not the least of which is that we all are judged by the content of our character. Skin color is never, ever a factor in that equation.

I kept having to remind my son that those brave people who withstood humiliation and beatings, who never once turned around and punched their abusers in the face (I can't say I would have been as gracious in their shoes), who adopted a mantle of peace and cloaked themselves in the blood of their ancestors -- they did that only 45 years ago.

Our children have to see it so they never let it creep in again. If they don't learn the difficult lessons of history, whether they are from the 1200s, the 1700s, the 1960s or 2001, they may indeed be doomed to repeat them.

Watch the movie. Read "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" to your kids. To learn that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere is a call to action, even if you're 10.

Friday, January 16, 2009

random is the new organized, didn't you hear?

::It's cold -- wicked cold, as my friends from the North might say.


::I could be the fifth cylon. You don't know. I could be. I'm probably not.

::I do not enjoy flying, probably because I have to relinquish control to someone I've never met. (I prefer a Q&A before takeoff: How are things at home? Any medications? Could I have a small blood sample before you head back to the cockpit? Care to do a few field sobriety tests?)After yesterday's events, I'll just ask this gentleman to fly the plane. Or this one.

::Homeschooling is showing me (among other things) that textbooks have giant, gaping holes -- big enough for the Rough Riders to roll through. (The Spanish-American War receives a cursory treatment in the world of elementary school social studies. World War I doesn't do much better.) The omissions are starting to bug me.

:: We need more bookshelves. Soon, the cry for help will be coming from underneath something.

::It's awesome that the verse from our (not a) Christmas card was key in yesterday's Bible study.

::Due to some space issues, one of my editors chose to run a "best of" column this month. It is two years old, but I am happy to report that we still have date nights and we still snuggle on the couch to watch "24." The kids are still grossed out. We still don't care.

:: I welcome advice on scraping popcorn ceilings and using Sonlight homeschool curriculum. If you know about both of those things, all the better.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

in 3-d

MVA_SB_Glasses (2)

Go get your free 3-D glasses before the Super Bowl on Feb. 1. To promote the upcoming "Monsters vs. Aliens" movie (March 27), Dreamworks and Pepsi will sponsor a 3-D commercial break during the Super Bowl. Glasses are free at stores all over, located in displays near SoBe Lifewater.

I just received the press release on this today, so glasses may not be out yet. If you miss them in stores, call 1-800-646-2904 to order a pair.

Back in the day, I remember getting 3-D glasses at the Piggly Wiggly so we could watch "Creature From the Black Lagoon" in all its grainy, black and white glory. It was an event, I tell you.

This will be a drastic improvement in technology, I'm sure.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

why i need a vacation or possibly a staff


Writing work is just to the left of this picture. Above, dabbling in a little paralegal work since I haven't practiced law in years, school stuff (Love that book!) and the ubiquitous Scotty.

Dang it, Jim. I'm a mother, not a Renaissance woman. (Yes, I know that was Bones... He's still in the Pez box.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

and it's winter again, just like that


The trees are confused.


Green was just starting to pop out all over.


But those shadows don't lie...


Neither does my red nose. (Yes, I soft focused my eye wrinkles. It's my blog and I can do what I want to, do what I want to.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

monday, monday


It's alive. I love science in the kitchen. Here, yeast fills a balloon with carbon dioxide.


Unfortunately, this is not the sunrise as seen from my front yard. This a photo of Sunrise Earth, a TV show. Sad, isn't it? A photo of a TV show? Our cable provider added a bunch of HD channels to our regular service as of January 1. My favorite? Discovery HD Theater.

Just look at that. Sunrise over the coast of Maine.

That's reality TV at its best.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

probably not the best month for this story

Or maybe it is. It's no secret that January is my least favorite month of the year. I am sure I have SAD some years, which sometimes makes me sad, so I combat the short, cold days with seed catalogs, vacation planning and baking.

I know. You probably think fresh air and exercise would be better, right?

Anyway, I wrote these stories about mental illness in children ages ago. I am reasonably well informed and I had no idea how difficult it is for kids to get pediatric psychiatric treatment. What I did know is that kids -- especially middle school aged kids -- have a tendency to chew up and spit out anyone who is different. Imagine how hard it would be to be 12 and dealing with the jocks and the princesses, while trying to figure out what's going on in your own head. (Judd Nelson would have wailed on these kids.)

If you know a child who is dealing with this, you can give them hope with this book, written by a local mom. It is self-published, so you will need to find it on Amazon. Don't let the self-publishing stop you on this one. It's well done and beautifully illustrated.

I will try to post something happier later today. Baked goods, perhaps.

Friday, January 2, 2009

you will either love me or hate me after this


We make quite a bit from scratch around here, but homemade chocolate syrup might sound a little over the top, even for a crunchy girl like me.

That's only because you haven't tasted this.

We tried this recipe a couple of years ago, thanks to Alton Brown. It is the holy grail of chocolate syrup. You will never buy Hershey's again. Trust me on this one.

I follow Alton's recipe to the letter, except for the straining. I only skip that because I'm lazy. I highly recommend using the best cocoa you can get. (Whole Foods has some terrific Dutch-processed cocoa. But this is top-of-the-line grocery store cocoa because I forgot it at Whole Foods. It's still good.) Reduce the syrup only slightly -- you aren't making candy. It will thicken significantly as it cools.

Alton has freed me to use butter and Pam and thanks to him, I own and use a coffee grinder, a digital meat thermometer and vast quantities of Kosher salt. He also showed me how to make a mean prime rib. And since I haven't eaten meat since 1992, that's saying a lot.