Saturday, May 31, 2008

Have Nerf guns....will party!

Thirteen officially turned 13 on Memorial Day but we celebrated today with some neighborhood and home school friends.  It has been an end-of-the-school-year-recital-laden couple of weeks and so a day at home hanging out with the boys (and Ten) has been a nice change of pace.  It's amazing the glee that a cache of Nerf guns and bags of those spongy, Nerf bullets can bring in the hands of pre-teen and newly teen boys!

I share a birthday with my twin AND with Christmas.  My birthday is December 26 and each year it is celebrated with extended family and Italian Cream Cake.  A dear friend of my parents brings a homemade Italian Cream Cake at the holidays each year and over time it has become the birthday cake my twin and I share.  This year, Thirteen wanted Italian Cream Cake for his birthday.   The sweet kid got the recipe from Mrs. Fabuloso-Cook (not her real name) who was thrilled with the inquiry.  Despite the recital-laden-end-of-the-year craziness I managed to get the thing made (while mourning for the previous years of Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker Ready To Spread frosting).  I must say, it was a bit of a philosophical experience.  Questions swirled in my head like, 'What would happen if I didn't cream the eggs and butter together before adding the flour?  What if I didn't alternate the two cups of flour with the one cup of buttermilk?  What would happen if I didn't separate the five eggs but just cracked them in together?  What would happen if I didn't beat the egg whites until they were stiff and then fold them in, but just added the egg whites?'  I didn't rebel too much on the rules though, and the cake did turn out to be pretty tasty.  A few modifications--I gave the flour sifter to Goodwill a long time ago so whisking the flour had to suffice and the 'maple flavoring' in the frosting recipe had to be found in the large puddle of Mrs. Butterworth's I dumped in.  (The frosting was a little runny--Oh well).   I think Mrs. Fabuloso-Cook will be thrilled to see her cake somewhat successfully created here and graced with Indiana Jones!  

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blog Tag

Deanna tagged me for this blog tag challenge....

1. Write the title to your own memoir using 6 words. 
2.  Post it on your blog.
3.  Link to the person who tagged you.
4.  Tag five more blogs.  

My first thought??  I love the challenge.  My second thought??  Do I know of 5 other untagged blogs to tag?  I'm just going to tag blogs I've checked in on from time to time and hope they don't mind!  My third thought?? I'd better email Deanna so she can tell me how to 'tag' someone and make their name work like a URL.  Thanks for the tech support, Deanna!

OK--I think I've got it.   I would call my memior
 'Afterthoughts:  Reflections From the Quiet Twin'. 

In thinking this over I mused at what my titles might have been in years past.  As a young school teacher in the public school system one title might have been, 'Omigosh September's Coming!  Help!  Help!  Help!'  When I went on maternity leave (from which I never returned) and became a stay-at-home mom to two young children my title might have been, 'Really, Truly--I Went to College'.  Now, ten years later and still home with the kids AND homeschooling, some titles might be 'So Very Thankful to be Home', 'My Educational Paradigm Suffered An 8.0', 'Rebuilding The Ruins of my Presumptions, Crockpot Surprise--Living On The Cheap'.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Crazy Days of May

Thanks, Maricel for the ballet photo :-)

Everyone is busy this time of year.  May seems to be the crazy month when every class, school, club, activity, etc. has an end-of-the-year recital or gathering and on top of it our family has a cluster of birthdays.  Crazy May.  The past eight days have been not been surprising then.  It has been very, very busy...but good.  

In eight crazy days we have... been a part of Ten's ballet recital, packed up and stayed with my folks so I could attend a three day educational training/conference while the kids did a three day Trigonometry Camp, came home for less than 24 hours to unpack/repack/get El Professor, headed back to my folks' to toast my dad for his 75th birthday which included a big, weekend birthday bash with both sisters/brothers-in-law, nieces/nephews, toasted my brother-in-law who also had a birthday, and returned home to BBQ, go to the movies and do a small, family party for Thirteen who, on Memorial Day, turned THIRTEEN!! (More celebrating of the momentous passage to 'teenagerhood' will follow this weekend.)
It's been a memorable eight days.

Friday, May 16, 2008


We spent Mother's Day weekend out in the Oregon high desert where El Profesor grew up.  He grew up on the high desert plateau, 5,000 feet above sea level with long, cold winters and hot, dry summers--'the dry side' as some Oregonians refer to the side of Oregon east of the Cascade Mountains.  I grew up on 'the wet side', in the Willamette River Valley, 500 feet above sea level, in town.  When El Professor first took  me out into the high desert I found it fascinating, marveling at the tumbleweed all along the barbed wire fence lines.  Overall, though, it seemed drab to me--dry bluffs, juniper, sagebrush and blah.

Over the years, I have grown to love the high desert.  When our kids were young we stopped along the road at a little 'town spot' (a store and a lot of wide open space) on the way to El Professor's childhood home and the kids marveled at the sound.  It was The Silence.  It was so very silent that it pressed on your ears, ears so accustomed to the steady drone of town.  

This Mother's Day weekend the high desert was awakening from winter.  Snow was still in the higher hills, but the trees and shrubs were just beginning to leaf out, the daffodils were in bloom and the wild flowers were flourishing in their dusty places.  Away from the hustle and bustle of town, away from the dense, busy underbrush of the Willamette Valley, way out in the desert I experience serenity.  

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ten is ten!

A decade ago I had a lovely Mother's Day gift--a daughter!  Ten was born the morning after Mother's Day, 1998.  This year her birthday fell smack, dab on Mother's Day and she wanted to celebrate the day riding horses out in the Oregon high desert at her grandparent's ranch, where El Profesor grew up. 

Grandpa Rancher has some BLM mustangs and other horses now that he has retired from raising Angus cattle.  He a horse whisperer.  His ranch is 12 miles from a little high desert town where El Profesor's wonderful brother and family lives/homeschools/ministers.  It was with these cousins and family that we celebrated Ten's decade.

My dear sister-in-law orchestrated much horseback riding for Ten and her boy cousins, particularly her cousin, Nine.  My sister-in-law has been giving informal riding lessons to Ten for a few years now whenever we visit the ranch.   They keep horses at the ranch as well, where Grandpa Rancher has neat and tidy fences and maintains the ranch with great care.     

Happy Birthday!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Our Free Cat Update.....

I must admit, after about three days of administering a dropper and a half of infant bubblegum flavored antibiotics twice daily to Our Free Cat, I neglected my duties.  Once he was out of his kitty pain killer induced 'high', he seemed to be doing fine. "He's a cat--he'll be fine," I told myself.  

As we prepared to leave town for the weekend for Ten's birthday, Ten notified me that Our Free Cat's staples/wound area were red and bloody.  I called the vet.  The vet was able to squeeze us in where I was informed that Our Free Cat had developed an infection and needed a little clean up job and another course of antibiotics on top of those I still needed to give him.  He also recommended that the cat be kept in for three days (we were leaving town), possibly with a lampshade thingie to keep him from attempting more staple removal.  I let the vet know the best I could do was to hire the neighbor kids and hope for the best.  

By the time we left for Ten's birthday I had Our Free Cat's wound cared for (I think that was 'on the house' since we have to go back to get the staples removed), more antibiotics (ka-ching$$$), ear mite rinse (ka-ching$$$ complete with much kitty distress), distemper shot (ka-ching$$$) and flea treatments (mega ka-ching$$$ as I 'spaved' and purchased the seven month packet which costs $5 less per treatment than smaller quantities).  I also hired  the wonderful, wonderful homeschool high school neighbor to feed and to attempt to catch/administer the infant bubblegum flavored antibiotics to the cat four times during our absence.  (He succeeded at 3 out of 4!!!)  

The cat is doing much better.  

Monday, May 5, 2008

Kids' Choir

There is a church in town that hosts a  kids' choir that meets for three months in the spring and three in the fall.  At the culmination of those three months the kids perform a song/movement/drama production in a local retirement home and at the church's Sunday evening service.  Ten joined the spring choir and the two performances were over the weekend.  A favorite friend of hers joined as well. 

The director of the choir began recruiting my two kids four years ago when Ten was almost six.  Thirteen was almost nine.  We were participating in a homeschool art class at the 'choir church' when we ran into the director in the church lobby.  She's a die hard recruiter.  By the end of our conversation Almost Six was completely sold on being in the choir and Almost Nine joined as well.  I am thankful for opportunities like this and consider it to be yet another rich addition to the homeschool tapestry--a choir program!  

One fun bit of trivia--it's the director's turn to work with my kids.  At yesterday's performance I had a delightful conversation with the director's youngest son.  He is finishing up his second year at the University and is preparing for a second year of study overseas.  He was in my class when I taught first and second grades.  The director's middle son, who is on the choir staff, was a middle school volunteer in my class at one time.  

Thirteen has had some of the dramatic roles in past choirs, but is now choosing to join us in the audience rather than be a part of the choir.  Even the die hard recuiter couldn't convince him this time around!  :-)  

Friday, May 2, 2008

Spavings and Groan...

Mayday!  Mayday! Mayday!  This is what came to mind yesterday morning , May 1, when I was faced with yet another day in my house.  After my great day of 'spaving'  last week, it has taken all week to get around to putting 'the spavings' away.  

Not pictured...more bags of groceries!  
Last Friday El Profesor and I put all of the perishables away in a very organized manner in the nicely defrosted freezer and, well, that's all the further we got.  One evening when I wanted a box of crackers and needed some pureed tomatoes for a recipe, I just dug through the bags of spavings in the living room.  On the upside, I spent time during the week thoroughly cleaning out the pantry (hunting down The Source of the pantry moths), organizing the pantry shelves, and I threw out several cans that had reached/surpassed expiration.   While this behind the scenes work was progressing (very slowly), the spavings collection in the living room  grew to add piles of my  yet-to-be-listed eBay books, kid toys, laundry odds and ends, and a nice pile of shoes in front of the door. 

Now that it's Friday afternoon, we have somehow managed to get through the algebra lesson (thank goodness for Teaching Textbooks tutorial-based math), the editing of Thirteen's and Ten's history reports, and I have FINALLY gotten the spavings put away!! The yet-to-be-listed eBay books are still yet-to-be-listed, but they are in a basket on my desk rather than all over the floor.   The sink that was full of seriously fetid water/dishes is empty and bleached, the dishwasher is swishing away, Ten swept the floor, and the windows are open to let in the lovely May 2 air. 

Now....I wonder what I'll make for dinner?