A Long Post about a Tiny Creature

We took a 15-minute break (Recess) from our school work yesterday afternoon so that the kids could run around outside and burn off some of their energy. They were only outside for a few minutes when Eli started crying. Now, another main goal of Recess is for me to spend 15 minutes NOT in the same room as my children. (come on, homeschooling can get kind of intense!) So, I checked to make sure that no one was bleeding and counted to ten.
The crying stopped and I went on with my power-relaxing. About 60 seconds later, I was joined by Lila who insisted that there was a giant butterfly outside and I just had to see it. I told her, basically, that I really didn't feel like coming out to look at a butterfly. She went back out. Five minutes later, Eli came inside to tell me about this giant butterfly and how I had to come see it. I took a deep breath and told him the same thing I'd told Lila. He went back outside.
Once our Recess was finally over, I went to the back door to call the kids in to the table. I saw that they were both crouched down and examining something on the ground. I decided it was time to be a good mom and go see the butterfly. I'm so glad that I did! There was the butterfly, just hanging out in the grass. I thought it was pretty odd that this insect was just standing there and letting my kids get so close to it. I put a hand out and it crawled right up!
We all took turns holding the butterfly and exclaiming over its beauty. Since we were curious about why it did not fly away, I decided to do a little research. Lila noticed that one of it's wings was slightly torn (which you can see in the photo) and she hypothesized that this was the reason it didn't fly. But no, we read that butterflies can even fly with half a wing missing. I wondered if the cold weather had something to do with it. Bingo! Sure enough, butterflies cannot fly if they get too cold!
They are insects and, therefore, cold-blooded creatures. This little beauty was grounded by a cold front and a cloudy day. None of us were willing to leave the poor thing out in the cold, so I spent 15 minutes searching the house for something we could use as a butterfly cage. I finally happened upon a mesh laundry basket that I had completely forgotten about. For once, our Ridiculous Stash of Crap in the garage came in handy!
We made a little habitat for the butterfly and brought it inside. It only took Cookie about 30 seconds to spot the enticingly-fluttery-object-that-needed-to-be-eaten, so we moved it onto the dining room table where we could keep an eye on it. We really didn't know what to feed our little friend, so I put a slice of old orange and a tiny dish of sugar water in the cage. Lila added a pretty yellow flower. We had an amusing discussion about what to name it, but no one could agree.
Eli wanted to name it Beautiful because it was so beautiful. Lila wanted to name it Escape (ess-kah-pay) because it was looking for a way out of the cage. We finally decided that we could each call it whatever we wanted and then got back to our school work. We did not get all of our work done because of this diversion, but we learned a few things and had lots of fun. It's ironic that God had to beat me over the head with this teachable moment before I finally let go of my need for control and embraced it.
Our general plan was to keep the butterfly in the house for a day or two, until the weather warmed up and/or the sun came out. Doug and I were both a little worried that it was going to die, so we each tried to prepare the kids for that possibility. I was particularly worried since I never saw it eat anything and it didn't move much after the first couple of hours. And then there was the concern that we would take it out into the warm air... and it still wouldn't fly away.
However, I am pleased to report that it survived 25 hours in our care and we were able to return it to the wild this afternoon. Once Lila got home from school, we took the cage outside, found a bit of direct sunlight, and took the top off. The butterfly just sat there and basked for a while, so I put my hand out. It crawled up onto my fingers and then flew... to my face. It crawled around on my face for a while, which I choose to believe was a Tiny Butterfly Thank You.
It fluttered down to my chest, which I could only tolerate for a few seconds. It may be pretty, but it's still got 6 little insect legs and prickly feet! I tried to get it onto my hand so that the kids could hold it, but that's when our little friend finally found her wings again. We watched it flutter away into the late afternoon sun and we all felt joy and satisfaction. I also felt the disturbing sensation that there was still something crawling around on my body, but that passed.
Goodbye, Beautiful Escape!


I never said I was *good* at crafts!

Turns out that this color makes my daughter look like she's suffering from a chronic illness. Also, I have no idea how to dress a child for a biblical presentation. This is somewhere between monk and nun. So... she's a sickly and conflicted nun?

Unfortunate since I was aiming for Sarah (as in, Abraham's wife). *sigh*

You know the kid from the movie Signs who had the issues with water? She was constantly abandoning glasses of water because she said they tasted funny or they had amoebas in them? That's Eli and shorts. Forget, for the moment, that he refuses to wear pants, even when it's only 45 degrees outside. He regularly changes shorts (and sometimes underwear) because they have become offensive to him. Usually, he says that they were poking him (even though they have an elastic waist and he's been wearing them without a problem for hours). Since bathtime this evening, he has changed his shorts twice because he said they were touching a boo-boo on his knee.

To be fair, that's also me and deodorant. Shameful confession: I have half a dozen sticks of deodorant in my bathroom cabinet. Each one was purchased, with enthusiasm, and used for about one week. Then I decided it didn't work well enough or it didn't smell right, so it went into the cabinet and I'd get a new one. Why, you might ask, don't I just find a brand that I like and stick with it? I don't know. For some reason, I'm also compelled to keep trying new brands.

This is one of those situations where Doug just shakes his head and keeps his mouth shut. He's a very wise man.


Pain, thanks, and waste

I am fighting a major headache tonight. I don't know what is causing it, but my entire head feels like it's being squeezed. I was laying on the couch after dinner, hoping that the food and water would help. (I won't take any medicine unless I just can't stand it anymore.) Eli was snuggling with me and we started chatting about various things. After a few minutes, he told me that he had a "head egg" too. Cute kid!
Oh! I wonder if it's got anything to do with the big rainstorm that passed just north of us this evening...
I brought along a little craft for Doug, the kids, and myself to do while we were in Dallas. We made Thanksgiving necklaces! (I got the idea here.) I traced the notebook page outlines onto shrinky-dink paper and wrote "I am thankful for" on each one. Then we either wrote or drew pictures of things that we were thankful for. A hole punch, a little time in the oven, and a few jewelry supplies later and we had these fun necklaces! We made them Thanksgiving morning and wore them all day.
I have two food waste confessions, but no photos to go with them. Doug is very efficient and threw them out before I could take a picture. The breakfast cookies I baked last week got all fuzzy while we were in Dallas. I brought them with me, but failed to put them in the fridge. I got a couple of breakfasts out of them, but had to throw most away. Major bummer! When we got back, I found a package with one lonely tortilla in it that was starting to look like a science project.


"Mom's gettin' wacky with the leftovers again!"

I want to avoid as much food waste as possible while we're gone for Thanksgiving. Since we had a budding collection of leftover produce in the fridge, I decided to throw it all together into a meal and see what happened.
Here's what I started off with:
Main dish ingredients: Celery, parsley, tomato paste, cranberries, cilantro, chives, thyme, broccoli, and baby carrots
Side dish: Vegetable curry and rice
Salad: Baby arugula, romaine, cucumber, red onion, avocado, apple slices (i used the cilantro here too)

I chopped up the celery and broccoli, and threw in the carrots and cranberries.
That went into a skillet with a little olive oil and sauteed for a few minutes.

I added in the tomato paste, a cup of vegetable broth, the herbs, and a couple of other random things that got in my way. This simmered until I finished cooking the pasta (duck shapes) and heating up the curry. It was definitely an unusual dish and I wouldn't really recommend that you try to recreate it, but I am very pleased at being able to save so many various foods from certain ruin!

Unfortunately, I couldn't use up ALL of the ingredients. There is still quite a bit of celery and some of each of the herbs leftover. I know the celery will make it until next week, but you can probably look forward to some photos of slimy herbs when I get back to Austin!


Is it something in the water?

They're so cute when they're asleep, aren't they? So sweet. You can almost forget all the crazy-ass things they do when they're awake. I don't know what has gotten into these people lately, but it has left me standing in that mouth-hanging-open-with-disbelief posture far too often. Lila has been straight-up rude to everyone in the house. Eli is exploding things and making messes at the speed of light. And it's even worse when they start scheming together!
It's funny, in an exasperating way. But it's kind of sad too. These guys have always been remarkably trustworthy and well-behaved. They throw fits and make messes with the best of them, but they don't have to be watched at all times. They are (mostly) kind to the animals. They know what they are and aren't allowed to cut with scissors. They know how much candy they are allowed to eat each day. They know that food isn't allowed upstairs. And they are honest.
Until this recent bout of insanity, that is. I find that my trust in them is eroding and that makes me very sad! I should talk to them about it. Not in a threatening or guilt-trippy kind of way. Just an honest conversation about trust and how it is given, lost, regained, etc. I don't expect it to inspire an instant change in behavior, but I know my kids pretty well. When you talk to them in a mature way, they listen and really chew on what has been discussed.
Trustworthy adults don't just happen! They have to be taught.



Eli actually ate dinner tonight. And it wasn't pizza! Granted, he did not eat the main dish that I cooked (which was delicious, by the way). And he would only eat his lettuce if he could dip it in peanut butter, but we figured that's probably a healthier option than salad dressing anyway. But he did eat roughly one leaf of lettuce, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a tablespoon of roasted and unsalted peanuts, and most of a banana. For a normal person, that would be a snack. For Eli... it might be the healthiest dinner he's ever eaten. Seriously!
Doug was offered a free ticket for a stadium seat at tomorrow's F1 race events, so it looks like we'll be losing him for several hours. He did some research this evening and it sounds like 2 hours of the time he'll be gone will just be getting to and from the track. And that's with us driving him to a shuttle bus downtown! Oh well. I'm sure we'll find some way to keep ourselves entertained.
However, the more I hear and read about this F1 racing business, the more disturbed I am. People spend an unholy amount of money to attend these races! I'm talking about thousands of dollars per race, plus travel expenses all over the world. Think of the kind of difference you could make in the life of a struggling family with that kind of money! Think of the clean drinking water you could bring to a remote village somewhere! Think of all the good things you could do for other people!
Okay, okay. [deep breath] No more throwing stones. What could I do with my resources to help other people this holiday season? That's something that Doug and I were just discussing this evening! We have ideas, but no conclusion yet. I'll keep you updated.


It's been a long, full day and I'm very tired. I don't think I have the energy to be witty or thought-provoking (or even mildly interesting). I also don't have any good photos to share. Tomorrow I will save some energy for the evening, make sure I have something to talk about, and take some new pictures. 'Til then...


Today's Blunder

I'm posting early today because, frankly, I just need to vent. The day started off fairly well, except for all the sneezing. I took a Claritin and cleared that right up. (that's only the third time i've had to take anything this season!) Eli and I went to the gym, where I had a good workout and ran into a couple of friends. After the gym, we went to the library, where we got new books and I ran into an acquaintance and met another mom with a daughter at Veritas.
After that, things just got aggravating. I was already on edge for some reason. Hormones? Allergy medicine? I don't know. Little things were feeling disproportionately annoying. But, I was really looking forward to seeing Lila's performances in the Grade School Fine Arts Salon. Eli napped, I showered, we (Doug, Eli, and I) got ready to go and actually made it out the door at roughly the time I'd planned. Then we got to the school and discovered that we had missed Lila's music performance.
I got the end time confused with the start time and we showed up right as all the other parents were coming out of the auditorium. When Lila finally saw us walk in, she just dissolved into tears. My heart split right in half. I can't even tell you how bad I felt. And it did not help that other people kept mentioning comments Lila had made about us not being there or how you could see the change in her face when she realized we were missing her performance.
Worst. Mom. Ever.
We hugged her and apologized and felt like total heels. She cried for a while and looked so pitiful that her best friend's mommy nearly cried along with her. A couple of other moms said they'd gotten the whole thing on video and would send us the files. That helped a tiny bit. We asked Lila if she'd like to get up on stage and give us a private performance. That helped a little bit too. She sang all three songs for us and showed us the surprise they'd prepared for the parents (punch in the gut - oof!).
At that point, she seemed to be pretty well recovered. I asked her forgiveness (which she graciously extended) and we moved on to the Author's Share portion of the afternoon. That's where we got to see all the material our kids have been working on in their Writers' Workshop. Lila showed us a couple of cute stories and some very creative drawings. It wasn't quite what I'd expected, but it was good to see her pride in the hard work she's been doing.
Things continued on after that, in an up-and-down sort of way. I misunderstood where we were supposed to meet up with her dance class for the final presentation of the afternoon. Down. We got to see Lila dance to 'The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy' with her classmates. Up! Someone else made off with Lila's shoes, so we had to leave with a pair that was too big. Down. You get the idea... I just can't shake the terrible feeling over missing her music performance though.
Once we finally got home and the kids were doing other things, I went to my room and cried. Lila has totally moved on, but I am having a hard time forgiving myself for disappointing my child. I know it's not the first time, nor will it be the last, but oh! does it sting. *sigh*


Dance Class and Dinner

Dance class or the Ministry of Silly Walks?
Lila's elective for this first trimester has been Dance. On Monday, the parents were invited to sit in on class, to see what the girls have been working on these past few months. Doug couldn't get away from work to be there, but Eli and I went. I hadn't realized how hard those girls have been working! The class is an hour long and those girls were stretching, working on various moves, and dancing the whole time! Watching a room full of 6- and 7-year-olds try to do precise dance movements is predictably entertaining at times. Just the same, I was proud of my Big Girl!

I'm very pleased with myself this evening because I made a very yummy dinner that used up several leftover bits and pieces from previous meals. I had a cup (or more) of cashew cream, a cup of vegetable broth, half a tomato, two partial bags of uncooked pasta, and the last of The Head of Cabbage that Just Won't End. Those things, along with a tablespoon(ish) of tomato paste, five cloves of garlic, a stalk of celery, and some fresh parsley, chives, and thyme, all worked together to make a great, creamy pasta dish!

On a related note, I think you should be able to buy celery by the stalk. I'm not sure I've ever used an entire bunch of celery before it went bad. I'm very determined to use it all up this time, but that might mean celery thrown into every dish for the next two weeks! And furthermore, could I please get smaller bunches of cilantro? I love cilantro and will add it to almost anything, but I can't seem to use it all up before it goes slimy!
Anyway, I'm supposed to be talking about how pleased I am over this make-it-up-as-i-go-along, use-up-lots-of-ingredients meal. I highly recommend making a batch of Cashew Cream and experimenting with it in some of your recipes. It is so tasty!


My First Food Waste Confession

This lonely apple slice somehow managed to sit in the refrigerator until it achieved a rubbery texture that no one was willing to tolerate.

Yep, I just need to stop buying oranges. I did put this one to good use, however. I threw it at Doug's rump.

This was a large and lovely heirloom tomato. I have no excuse for allowing it to go bad. I could easily have added it to a salad or other dish.
There you have it.
Do you want to make a food waste confession?
Do you have a great food save that you'd like to share?


Stupid Daylight Saving Time

For the first 27 years of my life, I had no opinion on Daylight Saving Time. I enjoyed getting an extra hour of sleep in the Fall and I shorted myself an hour of sleep in the Spring (because i was too stubborn to go to bed an hour early). Beyond that, I didn't care. . . . Then I had kids. Now I spend two weeks out of the year cursing the person who decided DST was a good idea. The time changed on Sunday and my kids are still acting like crazy people.
I mean, I get it. Your brain and body get used to doing things at certain times and then that changes on you overnight. People are telling you that it's time to sleep/eat/go to school, but your body says otherwise. The result is fatigue, headaches, and tummy aches. It's even messing with my head (and body) a little bit. I decided today that Texas should secede and the Republic of Texas should definitely NOT observe Daylight Saving Time!
A little history, if you're curious...
Daylight Saving Time was instituted in the United States during World War I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October. During World War II the federal government again required the states to observe the time change. Between the wars and after World War II, states and communities chose whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time.
For more, you can go here.


This Post has Nothing to do with the Election

Things have been going very well so far with No Waste Rules! I haven't had to throw out any food since I last mentioned it. Can you believe that?!? No mystery leftovers! No rotten produce! There are a few odds and ends in the fridge that I need to find a use for pretty soon (any ideas for leftover tomato paste?) and a couple of oranges that are going to go bad if someone doesn't "take one for the team" (i just need to stop buying those). So I might be blessing you with photos of moldy food in the near future.
On Sunday evening, I made a Puree of Vegetable Soup that we've been eating for a few days. It was a massive soup, so we'll be eating it for a few more days as well! I love soups and stews and chilies and such because they tend to improve over time. This particular soup has tasted better every time we've eaten it. And I found some heavenly gluten-free focaccia bread to go with it (in the freezer section at Whole Foods). It's too expensive to buy very often, but great for an occasional treat.
The Chewy Ginger Cookies that I mentioned a few days ago are rocking my world! I've always liked the flavor of ginger snaps, but I just don't enjoy eating crunchy cookies. So these are perfect for me. The kids love them too, but have been too distracted by Halloween candy to eat many of them. I'm not complaining, however, because that leaves more for me! I still have a big hunk of dough sitting in the refrigerator, so we won't be running out any time soon.
If you're tired of "listening" to me talk about food, how about this little nugget: Eli sleep-walked during rest time today. He fell asleep in his own bed and woke up in my bed. He insists that he did not sleep-walk because he doesn't remember getting out of bed. I tried to explain to him that you never remember sleep-walking because you are asleep, but he's just not buying it. Now Lila's slightly jealous because she doesn't sleep-walk. Really...? No sibling rivalry there. No sir!


Weekend Getaway

Doug and I had a wonderful weekend away to celebrate 10 years of marriage! We dropped the kids off with some grandparents, where we knew they would not miss us one bit, and then headed to Burnet, TX. Well, I guess we were technically 20 miles outside of Burnet, but that's the nearest town. We stayed at Rainbow Hearth Sanctuary & Retreat Center. The whole point of the weekend was just to be... with each other, with God, with ourselves. We didn't really do anything.
This place is deep in the Texas Hill Country, as you can see from the photo - watch your step! Rainbow Hearth could be described as a Bed & Breakfast, but it's really more than that. The proprietor, Mariah, also does massage/bodywork. So it's kind of a spa. And since it is 20 miles from the nearest town, you eat all of your meals there and spend most of your time enjoying silence and solitude. So it's also a retreat center. You get the idea.
We really only saw the other guests (all three of them) at meals, but there were a few friendly pets that could always be counted on for companionship! (See my Facebook page for photos.) While the focus at Rainbow Hearth is not Christian, it is definitely spiritual. Many people might be uncomfortable with the messages they promote, but you can be assured that God and the Holy Spirit are there with you because They are everywhere you go. I just tuned out everything except Jesus and enjoyed my time with Him (as well as with Doug, of course)!
It was really strange to see and explore Lake Buchanan because the water level is extremely low. I will try and remember to post a picture or two on Facebook that have a good view of the lake. It's easy to see where the water level used to be vs. where it is now. I understand that our actions, as a society, are contributing to the current changes in our climate and landscape. I also understand, however, that climates and landscapes have been changing since our world was created. I find it somewhat fascinating to be able to watch it happen this time!
Anyway, I could go on about our weekend - I haven't even started talking about the food yet! - but I'm starting to get sleepy, so it's time to wrap up. If you are looking for extended periods of solitude (with or without another person) and silence so profound, at times, that you can hear your own heartbeat, then this is a great place to visit!
*Is it me, or does this read more like a poorly written travel review than a blog post? Did I mention that I'm sleepy?


Cheerful vs. Stubborn

I'm feeling pretty cheerful this evening. Tired, but cheerful. I have Chewy Ginger Cookie dough chilling in the fridge and I'm looking forward to a little late-night baking once it's firm. Lila helped me make the dough, which made us both feel good. Lila loves to help cook. Serving is definitely one of her main love languages. It made me feel good to know that I was showing her love and letting her show me love in this way because I don't do it very often. Let her help me cook, I mean. I usually want to be left entirely alone while I'm cooking. Even Doug's helpful offers and suggestions are usually met with a wild-eyed stare.
It's not that I don't appreciate the desire to spend time with me or help me out. I just can't think about anything else when I'm cooking and one question too many could make my head explode. Really!
Eli seems to have given up both eating and bathing. As soon as we were done with our day's school work, both kids disappeared upstairs. I didn't see them for an hour after that! When I went up to tell them that it was shower time, they ignored me. I finally got them to acknowledge that they did hear and understand the language that I was speaking, but no one came to be bathed. I waited around for 15 minutes (no great tragedy. i spent that time reading on my bed.) and then came back downstairs.
Lila, who doesn't really need help anyway, went ahead and took her shower about half an hour later. Well, she stood under the water for a while. She didn't discover until she was already in the shower and wet that their body wash was not in there with her. She yelled my name for several minutes (which i didn't hear because i was downstairs with the radio on) and then decided that she'd rather declare herself Clean Enough than get out and get the soap.
When we were 15 minutes away from dinner time, I reminded Eli that we'd be eating soon and he was welcome to join us once he was clean. I forgot that this strategy is not so effective on someone who opts not to eat dinner half the time anyway. He ended up riding his bike around and around the house while the rest of us ate. He is currently being put to bed. No dinner, no bath. Oh well... he'll eat again at breakfast and I know he'll bathe tomorrow night because he'll be at Grammie and Papa Joe's!