Sunday, December 26, 2010

Fall

St Nicholas Day Tea Party













Thanksgiving




































Since we didn't carve our pumpkins for Halloween, we decided to make a pumpkin/Thanksgiving centerpiece. :)






Outside my window: Snow and Cold. Winter.




What I am Thinking: Looking back on some of my posts, I wonder why I post what I am thinking. ;) Well, at least it makes sense to me. Sometimes.




From the schoolroom: Pressing on! Very glad for a bit of a winter break.




From the Kitchen: I'm back to reading "The End of Overeating" so I don't want to think about my cooking. Sugar+Fat makes you want to eat more Sugar + Fat. Let me carry that thought into the New Year. After NY's eve, of course. ;)




What I am Reading/Watching/Listening to:


I just finished a little gem of a book called "Hannah Coulter" by Wendall Berry. Just a short tale of a woman's life, but packed with so many things to think about and nod your head in agreement with. Beautiful!


The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova.


This novel had a few loose ends in it, that I, if I was an author :) would tie up, but overall very good. Funny, I started reading "The Historian" by the same author ( which is her more acclaimed work) and I just couldn't get into it. This one I really liked.


Listened to:


Crimson Rooms by Katherine MacMahon


Not a great ending, not exactly sure where she was coming from in a few places, but mostly a riveting tale. I tend to wonder if there will be a sequel.


Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotoy


This one was mostly set in Stalinist Russia. Very well done.


Watching:


I started watching the series "Foyle's War" and I am truly getting into it. Love Micheal Kitchen.




Around the House: I did go on a bit of a sewing spree ( which seems to happen quarterly). My head now fills with New Year plans for home improvement. Painting plays a large part!




What we will do this week: Dad is off work. Huzzah! Too many plans swirling about in my head. Hopefully, we will make a loose schedule and make the most of the time. A trip to the mall (never made it before Christmas), some visits,a museum trip, swimming at the Y, & a family out to dinner all hope to be included. And we have a very special baptism to attend this weekend.































Sunday, November 7, 2010

Reasons the blog has been neglected......









(Yes, just about everyone, from the second grader to the college folk do some or all of their schoolwork on the computer these days!)

Outside my window: These brisk days have reminded me that winter is just around the corner in all it's chilling glory.

What I am thinking: Recently I was listening to a radio program about the history of women's right to vote. Well, it does seem pretty silly that women weren't allowed to vote in the past, so I have no qualms there. It was just a statement made by one of the participants that caught my ear. " ALL women were trained to do ( in the past) was to take care of their home and children" ( or something to that effect). I do realize that the aggravation in her statement was caused by the fact that women in times past didn't have a choice to do other things. Yes, I get that. It just struck me as ironic that even though women have won many freedoms and have a great deal of choice these days, the choice to be a stay at home mother ( who cares for her home and children full time) still seems to get little respect. On one hand, no one would argue that it is easy or a fluff job, some will even say "The most important job in the world", on the other, there seems to be an undercurrent of "women who stay at home are just doing so by default ( ie: they can't think of anything better to do) or until their children are raised and they can do something REALLY interesting and important. A scenario comes to mind: Here we have a group of mothers at a party discussing their daughter's future plans. Mother A "My daughter is going to Yale to study medicine!" ( oooo----ahhhh!!_) Mother B "My daughter is going to Stanford to study law!" ( oooo-oooo-ahh- ahh) Mother C "My daughter is getting married and wants to be a stay at home mother" Dead silence. :)

The poor stay at home mother. Perhaps throughout the ages taken advantage of ( which gave rise to feminism) in recent history, domesticity is maligned as an inferior choice to what is available out there for feminine occupation.


From the schoolroom: School has pretty much overtaken our lives, but not in a bad way. We started a new program ( the three middle boys) and it is a lot of hard work, but something I think we all needed this year. No matter how much boys rail against routine and accountability, they do seem to thrive under it. Not to mention it has been very helpful to me, since most of it is so well planned out and user friendly. Even George, who was mightily struggling at the beginning of the year said "I see now that this program isn't so bad. I'm getting into a routine and it's not a big deal". That mostly sums it up right now. :)
From the kitchen: It seems like the cold weather brought about a cooking spree this week! It felt like I was constantly baking or rustling up some type of comfort food and I printed out reams of recipes. Choc chip cookies (we found a super, duper recipe that includes kosher salt...adds an unbelievable yumminess!), spinach pie, chicken linguine (baked) Alice Springs Chicken, hummus and pita, the list goes on and on.
I still have a pile of recipes to try. Maybe next week!

I am reading,watching and listening:

Let me think of the highlights of the past couple months.

Reading: "Men at Arm's" by Evelyn Waugh. This is part of a trilogy Waugh wrote about WW2. I'm not really a *war* person, as in "it's -not-a-big-interest-of-mine", but Mr. Waugh very entertaining writer and it was a good eye into the realities of soldiering during the second world war. I always find his slant on life thought provoking.
I watched a movie based on this trilogy "Sword of Honor", which was pretty good and left me wanting to read the whole story.



Watching: The best movie I watched was called "A Woman in Berlin"....which was a German movie. What was interesting about this movie to me was that of all the many, many movies about WW2 and the Holocaust, you nearly never read/watch anything from a German point of view. This was based on a true story written by a women who lived in Berlin at the time the Russians invaded. It was a bit more disturbing than most movies I like, but it wasn't gratuitous. We are so far from the horrors of war ( well, most of us in America) these days I think in some ways it is good to be reminded about how * it was*.

(Hmmm...war, war and more war..... do I see a theme here? :)

Listened to:

I've listened to a lot of A.S Byatt's work recently. My very favorite was "Possession" ( and I watched the movie by the same name which was also good, but needed a bit of casting help....the actor who played Roland.....tsk tsk tsk....Jude Law might have been a good choice :)
A.S Byatt is intriguing to me because a lot of what she writes delves so deeply into the academic literary world. If I ever thought about going back and getting a degree, literature would be right up there as a choice. Maybe not so much after reading Ms. Byatt. I see politics ( on both sides of the spectrum) invade that world as they do so many others. And another annoyance....literary criticism, which I suppose makes me sound even less sophisticated. I really sometimes grit my teeth when my children are asked in their school curriculum questions about a certain poem or story they've read. I do understand that most writers write with a point in mind. And it is not a bad exercise to try and figure out what that point is, but sometimes I'm not sure that SO much thought has to be put into what the point is. Why can't the *point* just be whatever it is to you, whatever enjoyment or connection you feel to the story or characters? Well, I am really digressing here.
Back to A.S. Byatt. Can't say I 100% agree with her worldview, but there is no pablum in her writing. It's challenging and entertaining at the same time. She also has a wry sense of humor about certain things which I appreciate. I suppose that comes from being a 76 year old woman.

Another good one: "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion. While this book was heart-rending, the writing was so engrossing it kept me in rapt attention. Like a good meal or a gorgeous painting, an example of someone who knows and executes their craft so well is a delight to read even if the subject matter was hard to listen to at times. Not only that, but I think just about everyone can relate to her thought processes while enduring tragedy. It is like there is one part of you that can step back and identify that the crazy thoughts coursing through your head are nonsense, yet another part of your body responds to them as if they were gospel truth.


Around the house: Finally got the bathroom painted, although it needs additional help since the tool to remove the wallpaper chewed up the wall in places. Cleaned out the shed. That's it folks! :)

What we will do this week: It seems like good old Dad has been working away from home for months. ( Maybe he has?) But this week, he is here. Hallelujah! And it looks like a nice week weather wise, so hopefully some outdoor projects will get accomplished. Certain members of the family are heading to Texas for dear cousin Abigail's wedding. The rest will do school and attend meetings, birthday parties and try to survive without them. Sniff :( :)







Sunday, September 5, 2010

The end of summer 2010

Dyl and Naomi found a turtle on the road while out running and brought it back for us to check out.

I love to see Jed out swinging ( although he mostly a swing- hog, much to the consternation of his siblings :) because it reminds me of my younger days when I would spend hours out on our backyard swing. Complete with my cherished "tomato" radio sitting next to the tree waiting for "Kung Fu Fighting" or some other popular song to come on. Thankfully, Jed usually listens to a "Redwall" book on cd.
Black Eyed Susan's stolen....er plucked from a neighboring field.
Summer sewing projects; purse A
clutch ( which I will use for jewelry when traveling...since I travel so often! ha ha)
apron made from a thrift store sheet
Purse B for Naomi
Somewhat lame attempts at face painting, which I thankfully didn't have to do much of at the festival!


more clandestine wildflowers. Well, to assuage my raging conscience, I tell myself that this path has almost no one ever on it but us, and is SO overgrown it is almost unpassable at times...so who would miss a few bunches of flowers? Still, I nearly cringe on the way back to the car hoping no one will come by and yell at me.



Outside my window: Very chilly and fall -like. For how long? Who knows? I thought I saw it is supposed to be near 90 in a couple days!

I am thinking ---- The ironies of life. One day this week I was on my way to "Papa Joe's", a gourmet market in town. I was listening to the news and of course, there was some big story on the gloom and doom of the economy. It seemed so funny to drive into a parking lot filled with shiny, new, expensive cars and stand in line with a crowd of people waiting in line at the deli to pay 10.99 a lb for turkey breast right after hearing that. (Of course, I wasn't paying that! heck no! ;) I just wanted some coleslaw and feta, which, of course, were reasonably priced....cough, cough ;) It felt very surreal to be in this fancy market, as if on a different planet than the one touted in the news story. Quite a different *scene* from a graduation party we recently attended where there was story after story of people/families struggling to get by. Not many shiny new cars lined the street of that get-to-gether. I don't really know what all this means ( well, I have some ideas), but it has crowded my thoughts lately.
From the schoolroom: I am struggling to get school together for it's big start on Tuesday. It doesn't help that I am not feeling well, but you can't expect life to make everything easy for you ( although I always do ;) I must say I am more nervous about starting this new year and new program than I have been in a long while. Deep breath. One day at a time!
From the kitchen: I made some eggplant Parmesan this week for the first time in a while. I realized why I don't make it that often is because I am the only one who will eat it and I am not fond enough of it to keep eating it day after day.

I am reading,watching and listening:

Read: The Island Under the Sea by Isabelle Allende

This was a good read. I do like I. Allende because she usually writes historical novels about somewhere in Latin America. Sometimes she gets a little, uh, I don't know, melodramatic? Kind of a funny word to describe a novel. If you can't be melodramatic in a novel, where can you be?:) I like this quote from it. "Walking and walking across the world he will gradually find consolation, and one day, when he is too fatigued to take another step, he will realize that he cannot escape sorrow, he will have to tame it, so that it doesn't harass him."

Started: Fathers and Sons by Alexander Waugh. An autobiography/biography of a few generations of the "Waugh" men. Specifically the father/son relationships ( hence the title! ;) So far, I am finding it very interesting and informative.

Listened to:
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

This was a charming book. Probably not one I would have picked had I just read the description, but I had heard good reviews. A lovely story of finding love later in life, of rural life in modern day England and the struggles with prejudices they deal with there. (It really wasn't as hokey as I make it sound :)

Watched: "House of Eliot"
which was a British mini series from about 10 years ago. It focused on two sisters working in the London fashion industry in the 20's ( side note: how I would love to see "20's" style back in vogue. Feminine and pretty but with a bit of flair !) At times a bit cheesy, but it hooked me and I plodded through all 500 episodes ( not really ;) before it ended with a thud. Apparently they didn't know the show was to be canceled so it was a bit of a cliffhanger that will leave you eternally hanging. :)

Around the house: Tried to start painting the bathroom but that didn't really ever get off the ground.

What we will do this week: Well, besides starting school...what else is there? :) 3,000 soccer practices and games ( I am a bit prone to exaggeration today) An equal number of birthday's. ;) and perhaps a get-together or two.
















Saturday, August 14, 2010

Daybook July-August :)



Outside my window: Enough with the hot, sticky weather already! This is Michigan, not Houston! ;)

I am thinking ---- I have decided I have to work of thinking only what is really right in front of me or I am going to be in big trouble. :) Too many gi-nourmous tasks (some a possibility, some for sure) face me in the coming weeks and months.
From the schoolroom: First load of school books came this week. New school books always bring a sense of excitement to start school. For about 10 minutes. :) No, I am looking forward to getting back in the swing of things. Haven't really been through the books yet, but a quick once- over leaves me impressed.
From the kitchen: While I didn't plant any zucchini, a friend at church was giving some away which made some luscious fried zucchini ( not the best dinner choice when so many around here struggle with weight-- :) and zucchini bread. For me, sometimes I "know" things and then I KNOW them..... for example I read the book "The End of Overeating", (David Kessler) which of course points out that there is an epidemic of obesity in America and the reasons why. But it made me think of how the more...More...MORE mentality of eating has crept into my thinking and cooking over the years. Large and extra portions, abundance = good. I more and more notice that you are barely able to walk a yard in the grocery store without being assaulted by some tempting food ( sometimes it seems all they have are tempting foods there)! There are SO many places to eat and buy food. We just don't really need THAT much to eat. Much less than we think. How to feed my family nutritiously and adequately ( especially for the littlest who are dependent upon me for that) runs through my thoughts lately.

I am reading,watching and listening:

This has definitely been the summer of Kate Atkinson. Her novels are not comedy but are about the only ones I --L(laugh) O (out) L(loud) at. Probably because her humor is wry and British. ;) Latest read and almost favorite ( tie between "Behind the Scenes at the Museum) was "Human Croquet".

Listened to:
1000 Acres by Jane Smiley

This was supposed to be a modern day interpretation of "King Lear". I found it a moving meandering through the disintegration of a family. Where it started, where it ended, and all in between. I am impressed with Jane Smiley as an author. Also read "Private Lives" by her, which was also good.










Watched: Zelary- which was a czech film. It was a lovely story, but sad. 5 stars in my book.


Around the house: Well, this month was a bang up month for re-arranging things with the arrival of Al back to the old homestead. Gabriella moved in with Naomi, George and Jackson came upstairs, Noah, Dylan and Al went downstairs and Jed and Manny moved across the hall. It was a good clean up and clean out. The garden has yielded some great things. Lots of cukes, plenty of sunflowers, cilantro, basil and parsley. 2 green peppers ( one from each plant) which was a dud from a financial standpoint since I paid about 3.50 each for those plants. Tomatoes are starting to ripen in abundance. Sadly, I don't know if our pumpkins and melons will produce as some sort of rot has taken hold of things ( perhaps from all the heat and humidity? a certain insect?). Overall, the garden has been well worth the effort put in.

What we will do this week: Prepare for a family visit. Try to finish some projects as the end of summer looms LARGE! Soccer practices will probably start this week ( sigh :) Hope for some cooler weather so we can enjoy the outdoors!




Virginia

Swimming in the hotel pool was a popular past-time.
American Civil War Museum


Mountains!

We were blessed with a little unexpected trip to Richmond, Va. We were able to travel with Tim on a work project. It is a beautiful and historic place. Funny, we lived about an hour and a half away from Richmond for a year or so and only visited once. And it was for a conference, so I personally didn't tour through it besides the convention center.Oooh it was hot, though. That put a bit of a damper on touristy plans ( ie: I really wanted to visit Jamestown but I am glad I didn't) This estate was called "Maymont" and we had to walk about a half a block to get to the house. Since the thermometer read 102 that short walk was tortuous.
But, a beautiful place. Even the littles were impressed!

G taking a breather! :)


Manny in front of the turtle aquarium at the Maymont Nature Center.
Jackson in front of a statue of his namesake; Stonewall!
St John's Episcopal Church where Patrick Henry gave his famous "Give me Liberty" speech! This neighborhood was particularly charming. Almost like you were stepping back in time.


Streams of consciousness from a mother of 10 who usually can't collect her thoughts and finds commas a nuisance.