Friday, July 30, 2010

Eleven Months

A real supermom would have done this yesterday, on the day Caroline turned eleven months old, but that's why I'm a wannabe.




We're on the road today, but even with iPhone pictures, it's obvious Caroline is growing up. She's pulling to a stand. She's beginning to cruise on furniture, though she's cautious and unsure while doing so.




She is done with baby food and eats mostly what we all eat along with nursing about three times a day.



We call her Monster, much in the same way you might call a fat person Tiny. She is, personality-wise, easygoing and delightful. I simultaneously and paradoxically feel as if she's been a part of our lives forever and yet am unable to fathom that she is almost a year old.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Boots







People often complain about Murphy's Law, and I am certainly not above whining about things that don't go my way.

But.

I've been whining a lot about the flood last Thursday and its aftermath and I thought it was time I highlighted something that went right that day, namely these pretty pink rain boots.

I have wanted, but been too cheap to purchase, rain boots for a few years now. Thursday afternoon-- well before the rain-- I came across these boots for $11. I reasoned I'd never find such cute rain boots at such a price again, and I snatched them up. Then, because I was taking Madeleine to riding where people often wear rain boots regardless of weather AND because it was supposed to rain, I actually WORE them and had them on when, later that night, I had to wade home in deep water.







So, yeah, my basement was wet. But at least my feet were dry. And well shod, if I do say.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Update





Hm. Just a week ago my kids were watching TV and playing down here. I'm still feeling very whiney and sorry for myself.




By the way, we would NOT have gotten to this point without all the help we've received. Thank you to parents helping haul out garbage, tearing down paneling and doing our laundry. Thank you neighbors for allowing us to use your washing machines and offering up a beer when needed.


Still no phone or Internet. Please call cells if you need us!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, July 23, 2010

Water Update

Many of you heard about the storms that hit Milwaukee last night. We were deluged. Water, water everywhere. Lots of damage to take care of today. I'm taking pictures for the insurance adjuster, and I'll try to share as I have time. We're all safe, though, and all damage is stuff that will, generally speaking, be easy enough to take care of.

UPDATED PICTURES:





Thursday, July 22, 2010

Morning Conversation

We had a few technical difficulties with the subject trying to attack the photographer, but overall you get an idea of Caroline's babbling abilities. I'm still not certain the "mamas" are intentional, but they're cute and heartwarming nonetheless.

video

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Zucchini



It should not surprise me that on this day last year I posted about zucchini. July in Wisconsin is rife with the squash. If you don't grow it yourself, someone else you know does, and zucchini plants are prolific.

And, so, my zucchini supply is bountiful. Just as I use up the last of my supply, more appears.

Last night it was zucchini pancakes, my absolute favorite way to use zucchini as a dinner component.

Today, though, it was time to move onto sweeter fare: a chocolate zucchini cake from an issue of Bon App├ętit. The cake is fabulous and with the substitution of whole wheat flour, I can almost believe it's healthy. Healthy or not, it's a perfectly moist chocolate cake. If you can, enjoy it warm!



Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2 1/2 medium)
1 6-ounce package (about 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Beat sugar, butter and oil in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions each. Mix in grated zucchini. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lazy Days of Summer



I usually like to spend spring choosing the materials we will need for the next academic year. This consists of evaluating current materials and assessing the kids' strengths, weaknesses, and interests. In a perfect world, my materials for the following fall would be ordered before the school year ends so that I can spend the summer pouring over the new materials.

I did not do that this year. Just last week I received my big box from Rainbow Resources and am completely overwhelmed with how much work I have ahead of me.

I need a schedule. Structure. I need to know what the halfway point is in our chosen texts so that I can see if we're staying on track. Not in an obsessive way; if we fall behind because the kids are stuck on a concept and need more time or because they're interested in delving into something more thoroughly, that is fine. More than fine, in fact; those are two big reasons we home-school. But, generally speaking, I like to know that we should reach or be near a certain chapter by a certain point; those types of goals help me sleep more easily at night.

I like to be familiar with what the kids are learning the following year, especially now that Madeleine spends so much time on her own with minimal help from me beyond oversight and tracking her comprehension of what she is learning. If she, say, has trouble identifying and labeling pronouns used as subjects, direct objects, predicate pronouns or as the object of a preposition, like she did this past year, then I sure as heck better reintroduce myself to the concept so I can explain it to her if or when she struggles.

The other day someone said to me, "I'm done with summer. I wish it were fall already."

I am not ready to wish away these lazy summer days.

And I find I am calm about what I first saw as my lack of preparedness, academically speaking, because this summer has recharged me, psychologically-speaking. Sleeping in. Lazy mornings at the pool. Vegging with friends. Playdates at the beach.

The books are there. And they'll still be there on a rainy day when we have nothing to do. And I find, amazingly, that I am OK with that.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Running



I hate to run.

Or, at least, that's what I always thought. Until a few years ago I would shake my head is disbelief when someone would express that not only did they run, but that they enjoyed it. I assumed, at worst, they were lying or, at best, they possessed some sort of running/exercise gene that I sorely lacked.

My first career as a runner was short and dismal and, really, more of a coerced occasional hobby than a career. It lasted from grade school through high school and it is this stage that I blame for the psychological issues I currently have with running. I can still vividly recall reaching the running unit every year in school and hating gym class during those times with a hatred I am unable to adequately articulate. I remember huffing and puffing and feeling somehow inadequate because not only could I not run a mile in the times the guidelines said I should be able to, but most years I couldn't even finish the mile without some degree of walking involved. This happened year after year and, after awhile, I felt like a total running loser, and assumed there must be some running/athletic gene that I lacked. After graduating high school, I didn't run on purpose again for twelve more years.

A few years ago, I realized I had to do something, exercise-wise. I felt out of shape and yucky. Somehow I read or heard about Cool Running's Couch to 5K program and I decided, grudgingly, it was time to give running another chance. I did my best to dismiss all my running prejudices and give it a fair chance. In this second running career of mine, I started out slow and on my own terms. It hit me about five weeks in: I loved to run! Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) consistent running showcased some health issues I had not previously been aware of. I could barely muster up the energy to climb out of bed most days, let alone think about running. Sadly, I hung up my running shoes.

And now, here we are almost three years after my second phase of my running career. I have a new primary doctor who I love, I feel fantastic and I am running again, and running more than I ran during the second phase of my career. I am knocking out two miles (or longer) routinely now and, like before, I love to run. Not only that, but I am good at it. My endurance is growing. I am shaving time off my mile. Most importantly, I feel fantastic.

Still, though, there's that little voice from my childhood there, in the back of my head, at the start of every run. It always doubts whether I'll be able to finish my run without slowing to a walk, as if I am somehow incapable of running as far or as fast as other runners; my former insecurities of being a loser at the game of running are hard to shake.

But shake them I will. Those running insecurities took thirteen years to engrain themselves, and then twelve more to fester and compound; I figure I will have these running insecurities for a long time to come.

But, the real point of my post is this: if I can do it anyone can. Really. If you've ever felt you lack some sort of running gene or that you too are a running loser, I'm here to tell you that you're not. If I can do this, anyone can. I am still so thankful for the Cool Running Couch to 5K plan for making me believe that.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Elisabeth Rides a Two-Wheeler



Elisabeth has had zero interest in learning to ride her bike without training wheels until Saturday, when two other kids on the block to their training wheels off their bikes. At that point Elisabeth insisted that her training wheels come off too and, from what Joe said (I wasn't home), she was whizzing along unassisted in no time.



To suggest that she is proud of herself might just be the biggest understatement of 2010; she has been blurting out, "I CAN RIDE A TWO-WHEELER!" to anyone within earshot for the past five days.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Madeleine the Mom

Madeleine loves younger kids; younger kids in our social networks flock to her like a moth to a flame, and Madeleine reciprocates the adoration.

Yesterday was Joe's and my goddaughter, Delaney's, third birthday and it was no surprise to me when Madeleine noticed the birthday girl's shyness with the large crowd assembled and was able to draw her out. It didn't take long before Madeleine was giving piggy back rides.



And later, when it was time for cake and Delaney didn't want to sit by herself with everyone snapping pictures and singing "Happy Birthday," Madeleine jumped in and sat with Delaney, making both the birthday girl and Madeleine very happy.



It always warms my heart when I see Madeleine mothering and nurturing younger kids, but it's especially neat to see her with Delaney. Joe and Delaney's dad met when they were four or five years old and now, thirty some years later, their oldest daughters are playing together and enjoying each other's company. I think that's pretty neat.