Tuesday, December 25, 2007

50 things I'm thankful for...

Ok, prompted by a post by Patty at Morning Ramble, here are 50 things I'm thankful for in no particular order.

1.My family and I are all healthy.

2.The gift of sight so that I might truly appreciate everything God has created.

3.The gift of hearing without which I wouldn't be able to enjoy the laugher of my kids.

4.Baby laughs each of our kids has had their own little baby laugh and now H. is finding his.

5.A wonderful husband who willingly helps out around the house and with the kids.

6.A good job for my husband that provides both a good income and flexibility.

7.Having finished my B.A.

8.Great bosses at dh's job that gave him increased flexibility to adjust his
schedule as needed to take care of the kids while I worked on my B.A.

9.The patience that I've gained over the years since I've become a mom.

10.Becoming a better mom now than I was at the beginning.

11.The ability and strength to follow my heart when it matters most.

12.Taking on the often challenging and rewarding work of homeschooing.

13.Having a husband and family that support the decision to homeschool.

14.My in-laws, despite cultural differences and occassional miscommunication, we get
along pretty well.

15.Finding good books that I can't seem to put down.

16.Passing on a love of reading to all of the kids.

17.Our new house which has just about everything we wanted but didn't think we would ever be able find or to afford.

18.Spring breezes.

19.Watching the waves.

20.Wonderful memories of summers spent with my grandparents.

21.My best friend, Monica

22.The chance to spend a year in Iran

23.The internet, which has really brought people so much closer.

24.All of the inspiring and educational blogs I've stumbled upon in the last year and a half.

25.TV and movies-Yes, there is some junk out there but there are also some very good things as well.

26.Netflix-I just love that I can rent movies so easily and now even watch them on the computer. (Can you tell I like movies?)

27.The willingness to try new things.

28.The messege of life long learning in Islam which says that humans should continue learning new things from the cradle to the grave.

29.Having a wealth of opportunities to follow the path of life long learning.

30.The women that open up their lives and homes through their blogs. Often I just lurk, but I'm so thankful for their willingness to share their knowledge and wisdom with others. They have proven to me time and again that there is so much we have in common and that we can learn from each other despite any differences.

31.The plethora of information and resources available to homeschoolers now.

32.That I was born in just the right time and place for me. I can't imagine how hard life was/is for women in previous generations or those living in very poor countries where the things we take for granted would be considered great luxuries.

33.Modern medicine which gave my niece the chance to hear with a cochlear implant.

34.The smell of brownies baking. (or just about any sweet for that matter)

35.Learning to let things go.

36.The lessons I've learned about accumulating too much stuff after moving 3 times in a year and a half. I'm getting much better now that I've seen how easily things add up.

37.God's influence in my life. I could never have imagined how my life has turned out so far.

38.Being a stay-at-home mom. Yes, there are tough days and evetually I'd like to get my Master's and start teaching at a college but I'm where I'm needed most right now and that what I do is important.

39.That marvelous, relaxing feeling of the sun's warmth on my skin

40.Peace found in quiet moments

41.The diversity inherent in our world

42.Cushy couches

43.The tension-relieving sounds of a rain storm.

44.Chocolate-in pretty much any shape, size or form!!!

45.All of the modern appliances we tend to take for granted. Try to imagine what life would be like without refridgerators, stoves/ovens, sewing machines or washing machines. Eek!

46.The experience I've gained from being a mom.

47.A great imagination.

48.Ice water.

49.Books that educate, entertain or both.

50.Warmth in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.

There's so much to be grateful for in life but these are just a few things to come to mind. Why don't you try coming up with your own list? If you do, leave me a comment. I'd love to see what others are thankful for.

Friday, December 21, 2007


I've been meaning to blog for the past week and I have several things on my mind to blog about but life has been busy lately and although I've been able to keep up with reading other people's blogs, I just haven't been able to post anything here. It seems that the only time I can get on-line is when I'm feeding the little guy and it's a bit difficult to type one handed.

On top of that we've had two celebrations this week. Wednesday was the second Eid (festival) of the year. It's called Eid al-Adha and it is the celebration of the end of hajj (the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca). It's not as big of a celebration as Eid al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan but still big enough. For comparison, celebration size-wise you could probably compare it to Easter in relationship to Christmas. Our second celebration was tonight. Iranian families get together on the longest night of the year (sort of like celebrating New Year's). So tonight we had Mohsen's relatives over for tea, fruit and sweets. It seems one of the main fruits of the evening is watermelon. This time last year there were people everywhere selling watermelons from their packed trucks. I wish I had taken pictures. I've never seen so many watermelons in winter before but, at least in Shiraz, they're everywhere this time of year. The picture above is a selection of some of the things I served this evening-zucchini bread, triple chocolate cookies and cream cheese snowcaps. I also had snickerdoodles and brownies for sweets and we had oranges, tangerines, bananas and watermelon for our fruits. Dh picked up some fresh corn while he was out today and roasted that in the wood stove while they were here. Tea is pretty much a given whenever you are hosting Iranian guests. I'm not a tea drinker so I made myself some hot chocolate to enjoy while they drank their tea.

Despite the rather varied assortment of sweets on our menu this evening, Iranians aren't really that much into sweets so the snowcap cookies turned out to be a good choice. I got the idea to make them from a picture on Quilting Chatter. They looked so yummy that I decided to look up the recipe. The recipes I found for them included either almond extract or lemon extract. Both of these contain alcohol which I won't use in my baking so I substituted orange zest and they turned out quite tasty. I made extra cookies because we have our Homeschoolers' Sewing/Needlework Day on Wednesday. Here's hoping that people actually show!

You'll have to forgive me ladies for not being more interesting tonight but it's (Egads!) almost 2 a.m. and I'm falling asleep at the keyboard. (How'd it get so late???) I promise I will make time soon to write about some things that have been on my mind lately that I'd really like to share. In the meantime, take care all and Merry Christmas to those that celebrate.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pay It Forward

I'm once again going to offer up a Pay It Forward opportunity. This one I found at Quilting Chatter. Just like before, be one of the first 3 people to comment and I'll send along something handmade. I'm not sure yet what it will be but I'm sure I can find plenty of inspiration in blogland. I can't promise when since right now demands on my schedule vary a great deal but I promise it will be less than 365 days from now. In exchange for you patience, I'll even try to accomodate any color preferences you might have. How's that? :)

In exchange, you promise to make a similar offer on your blog.

Feeling much better now

I'm feeling much better now. I've learned a few things about myself, my dh and how technology is affecting social graces.

I only heard from one of the women and that was only after my dh called her dh to find out what had happened. I wasn't about to but he felt it necessary to take them to task for how they had made me feel. Her excuse was that she didn't know that that was the day and she had not gotten either of the two emails I had sent her. Now, I had told each and every person invited 2 weeks in advance, in person. I trusted that they were smart, capable women who could hold a date in their minds or mark it on their calendars without constant reminders. Apparently, I'm wrong.

It seems we've become so dependent on technology that we no longer exercise our memories as much as we should. Have you noticed that most dr.'s offices will now call and remind you a day or two in advance that you have an appointment? My library even e-mails me 3 days before our library books are due as a reminder complete with a list of everything that is due. That's in addition to the printed receipt that you receive when you check out. I don't think it was so very long ago that we were expected to remember such details of our lives on our own.

Technology is certainly changing our social mores and expectations in other ways as well. People get annoyed when told that dh and I don't regularly carry a cell phone everywhere we go. Dh and I share one cell phone of the pre-paid variety. I carry it when I'm out with the kids in case something happens (at his insistance) or when I'm out on a "free" morning in case he needs me. He'll carry it from time to time when he goes out, especially if he'll be out for awhile and going to a few different places but not always. If he hadn't programmed the number into our home phone, I wouldn't even know the number since I've rarely if ever called him on it. Just last week, a man ranted over the fact that my husband was "unreachable" and hadn't gotten into contact with him less than 24 hours after leaving a message with me and he did the ranting at me, much to my annoyance. It seems technology has made people rude in more ways than one.

On a decidedly lighter technological note, there is a great website that helps you feed the hungry while you exercise your brain. Go to http://www.freerice.com/ and test your vocabulary skills. For each correct answer, you win 10 grains of rice that are donated to the UN World Food Programme. How cool is that?!?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Depths of Despair

Ok, I'm not quite in the depths of despair but I'm incredibly disappointed at the moment.

What do you do when you extend a hand of friendship and get the cold shoulder in return? Two weeks ago I invited several women that I've known for a long time to come here today for a couple of hours of sewing/knitting/whatever craft and just hanging out. At least 6 enthusiastically agreed to come and had no problem with the day. It's now an hour and a half after we were supposed to have it and not one person showed up! :_( I was so looking forward to this and no one even bothered to call. For the last two years, it seems like I don't have any friends to talk to any more. I thought I had found a good way to start building friendships again but this is just too much. I worked so hard getting the house all nice and clean and setting up a nice assortment of tea and sweets and it was all pretty much for nothing. (Not that I'd complain about the house being clean.) (Oh, and the last sewing session I had set up for homeschoolers-only one mom showed up and she hadn't even brought anything to work on. It ended up just being a playdate to see if her son would be comfortable enough around my kids. This and the other mom not showing up at all just totally threw me off kilter so I probably wasn't as good of a hostess as I should have been. Not that I think I was rude or anything, we had a nice conversation and I did what I could to get her son warmed up to my kids. She even ended up staying the full hour and a half despite initial indications she'd only stay for a little while. But she is Iranian and she's related to many of the women that were supposed to come today so maybe she didn't like my hostessing abilities or I caused some slight offense that I'm not aware of.)

The picture above is sort of indicitive of my mood right now-rather grey and soggy. I don't know if anyone out there can understand how I'm feeling right now but I just had to get this out. Inspired by Patty at Morning Ramble, I intended to post a list of 50 things I'm thankful for but I'm just not up to it right now. I am grateful for a lot of things but lack of good friends isn't one of them. Maybe later.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Black Friday

I know alot of people out in blogland don't even like to step out their doors on Black Friday but I love it. You see, I love to find good deals and usually I can find some pretty good ones on this day. So, I have a standing arrangement with dh that he gets to watch the kids while I shop in the morning. I don't normally like crowds and/or standing in line to check out but it really doesn't bother me on that day. Now, that being said, I'm not about to stand in line before the stores even open or for an hour or more inside the stores. No deal is worth that kind of time wasting. And the stores this year opened at ridiculous hours with the outlet malls opening at midnight. Sadly, one mother was arrested in the area because she left her 2 year old in the car while she shopped in the wee hours. The news reports said the little girl was taken out of the car at about 2:30 am. That's just insane. I take any nursing baby I have at the time with me when I shop but I would never risk my children's health or safety like that. No deal is worth that risk.

This year the deals weren't nearly as good as some years but I did get some bargains. I only spent money at 3 places this year-Jo-Ann's, Walmart and SuperTarget. I did go to two other stores but at one the line was too long and at the other I didn't like the style of the jeans I had come in for. The funny thing is that at Target, I only spent about $10 on non-grocery items, but, hey, I got pretty good parking on the grocery side of the store and I practically had the grocery aisles to myself. ;) I spent a bit more at Jo-Ann's than I probably should have but it was all things I would use at a much lower price than I would normally spend so I think it was justified. Walmart's only really good deal for us was skate shoes for the kids. No these are not necessary items but it seems that 75-80% of the kids we've seen lately have been cruising around on these and the kids have been asking for months to get some. I wasn't about to pay the $60 or more per pair that I've seen them for but Walmart had them for $20 so I considered that reasonable enough. And the kids love them. They've spent an hour or more most days since they got them skating around inside the garage or in the driveway. They're getting extra exercise and enjoying themselves so I consider it money well spent.

How did my colicky baby do? Amazingly, except for a diaper change and two feedings, he slept for most of the 5 hours we were out.

Our Turkey Day

I just thought I'd share how our Thanksgiving Day was spent. The weather all morning was so warm that we spent a good chunk of the day outside. DH and the kids took care of some yard work including bagging or chopping up about 8 billion leaves. (the one big drawback of having so many trees) I spent part of it sitting in the sun going through the next day's sale papers to plan my day. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving here. It's not that we're not thankful for all that God has blessed us with; it's just that it doesn't feel right to give thanks by me working all day then stuffing ourselves silly. I'm also descended from Native Americans so that has played into my thinking about how the day is spent.

Growing up we did celebrate Thanksgiving but I think it was more because that's what society expects everyone to do. As an adult I've been blessed to have my DH, who didn't grow up with these traditions. It's led me to question the why of what we do rather than blindly continuing to do them because it's what's "expected". Now, in case, you're wondering, that's a two-way street where I've questions some of his traditions as well. Because if this we've truly become a blended family, taking what is good from each side and leaving out what no longer feels quite right and making something new for our kids. Now that the kids are older, we talked about the origins of Thanksgiving and included some history about both the pilgrims and the Native Americans. Since popular history is written by the victors, I want my kids to be able to dig a little deeper and try to see both sides of history, or at least at this age to understand that there is more than one view to consider.

It's important that we remember to be thankful every day for the blessings both big and small, whether it's a new job, house or baby or just the ability to spend 5 min. outside feeling the sun shine on your face and soaking in the beauty of the world around you. Even more importantly, we have to teach our kids to do the same.

The kids helping with the yard work.
Z. enjoying more time to practise her newfound jump rope skills.
The kids playing on the swings DH made for them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Creating opportunities

A while back someone in one of the homeschooling e-mail groups I belong to suggested that if you didn't see an activity you (or your children) were interested in you should be proactive and put something together yourself. So I've done just that.

You see, I used to get together at least once a week with my two best friends so that we could chat and kids could play together. Well, one friend moved back home to TX and the other has become a full-time teacher and so no longer has much time to get together between work and keeping a 6-person household running. I had thought about joining a quilting group but their meeting time falls during our dinner time. I decided a week or so ago that I was tired of having only kids or dh to talk to besides the occasional though long calls to my friend or mom. DH is great, it's just not the same as talking with other women.

I decided to take my que from our foremothers and set up a sewing/quilting/needlecraft group. Women used to get together every once in a while to work on handwork but also socialize and share their talents with others. However, because of people's schedules, I've now set up two groups. One is going to be just me and two other moms and their kids that will meet once a month (for now) during the day time. The other includes women from my masjid (almost all teachers at the school) that will meet once a month on a Sunday morning. I've decided to keep both groups very informal, bring what you want to work on, ask others for help as need, kids join in if they want to but don't have to. I'm doing it at my house so that we can keep it informal, give space for us to work, chat, snack and give the kids a safe place to play either inside or out.

You see, last year were got involved in a sewing class that met at a masjid, but the kids basically had to spend 2 hours in one room with little to do if they didn't want to knit or quilt. With 10-12 kids and 3 moms in a modest-size boardroom that got to be a bit much some days. This way the kids can quilt/knit/crochet/embroider, play board games, color, play with playdough, play in the yard or even watch a movie. It's their choice.

The first meeting with all of the kids will be next week, so I'll let you know how it goes.

The picture is a "Pay It Forward" potholder/kitchen quilt that I made for Patty at Morning Ramble.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My 1 month old

The first image is a sight rarely seen in my house these days-a sleeping baby. I'm not sure how this happened but I somehow have managed to have kids that just don't sleep. M. was the only one to consistantly take naps-that is until S. arrived. Since then none of the kids have consistantly taken naps and H. is proving to be no exception to that rule. (The little mark on his nose and redness on his forehead are because he was snoozing in his favorite spot, on my right shoulder resting his head against the blanket I had there in case he spit up.)

The second picture comes alot closer to representing good sized chunks of my days, especially now that the little guy has developed colic. He's not a thumb sucker or a pacifier baby so we spend a good bit of time each day going through a cycle of him nursing to feel soothed, over eating, spitting up, crying, me walking him for 20 min. or more, only upright on my right shoulder will do, then start the cycle over again. The funny thing is that he switches the times that we do this. If he's grouchy during the day, he'll have a good night then he switch the next day. Of course, since I've identified this pattern, in true baby fashion, I'm sure he change everything tomorrow. :P S. was a colicky baby too and I spent the better part of her first three months going through my days with her in a front pack carrier. Now she's the least touchy feely kid in the bunch. She's a very reluctant hugger and is perfectly happy maintaining a bit of personal space. Go figure. Compare that with Z. who doesn't really get the idea of maintaining personal space especially where her baby brothers are concerned.

I can definately see that I'm a different mom than I was with the first two. I've learned a lot about myself over the years, gained a whole lot more patience and insight during that time and fortunately, I've learned a great deal from my mistakes and amassed a wealth of experience. Having 5 babies in 9 years will do that for you. :)

It's time to get some ironing done while the little guy is snoozing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Official numbers

I've posted before that I usually gain 36-44 lbs. when I'm pregnant. This time around I officially gained 40 on my scale. Right in the middle. So far I've lost exactly 20. Most of the non-baby portion of that was the easy to lose edema. How do I know this? Because my feet are skinny again. My feet and ankles are just about the only part of me that is skinny and it's so nice to have them back to their normal size even if the rest of me has a long way to go. So, exactly how far do I have to go? Well, I started out this pregnancy officially overweight (by a pound) and I'm not delusional enough to think that I'll ever get back to my thinnest but I'd be happy to get to 140, ecstatic if I could make it back down to 136. That adds up to anywhere from 35-39 lbs. to lose.

I was planning on joining a fitness center to help/encourage me to exercise more but don't know if that will work out in the near future since life will be so busy anyway. I have promised the kids to do this since if I join, I'd make it a family membership and pick up teaching the kids to swim where their swimming classes left off. A family membership would end up costing about $40 less than 8 30-40 min. swim classes for the three of them, so that's another big factor. Even making myself a swimsuit like I made for the girls would still end up costing less than the $40 savings and they could have much more pool time. DH has already said go for it, he has no problem watching H. and R. during "swim time" or all of them when I want to go workout. I'm just not sure how much energy I'll have to do it all. Maybe for now, I'll just exercise at home and sign up the fitness center in March or April. Either way, I really want to get back in shape. These last few years I've really let myself gain too much weight and it's just too easy to continue that trend into a very unhealthy situation.

Where did my week go?-Life with a new baby

I had forgotten just how time consuming a newborn's needs are. H. is not big on sleeping but LOVES to eat, and eat and eat. It seems most of my days are spent parked on my backside feeding him. And when I'm not doing that, I'm changing his diaper or his clothes since what goes in must come out. Much like his big brother, he eats far more than his little tummy can hold and so spits up a good bit. I know this will slow down over time but 4-5 clothes and blanket changes a day add up to lots of extra laundry. Things are going to get really busy when we restart our homeschooling year in a couple of weeks.

To add to the fun, R. has taken to soaking his diaper around 4 a.m. each morning. Since he sleeps on his tummy this usually means that he not only soaks his diaper but also at least the waistband of his pants if not the shirt and bed too. This is a new thing for him, he was staying dry all night, so I'm thinking this might be a reaction to having a new baby in the house. I'm really hoping to get past this little stage quickly. Other than this and a bit more rivalry with Z., he's being pretty good with H. Z. just can't seem to leave him alone and often acts as a "little mommy", jumping in to check on him every time he makes the slightest peep. Both she and S. often compete for who gets to hold him next when he's finished eating or getting changed. M. is much more reserved with him, only asking to hold him once or twice. I think he's more looking forward to the time they can actually play together.

In case you've forgotten just how little babies are, here are a few examples. His index finger is only about as long as the first joint on my index finger. His feet are only as long as my index finger. I was going to take pictures to illustrate but of course as soon as I got out the camera he got grouchy and wouldn't hold still. Oh well, I guess it's time to start the feeding/changing routine again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Our newest member - H.

H. arrived at 1:10 p.m. Friday weighing in at 8 lbs. 6 oz. and 19 3/4 in. He's a tiny little guy compared to just about everyone else. S. is the only one that was smaller than he was at birth. He's definately a night baby. In the hospital he was up just about every hour starting in the early evening and going right on through the early morning hours. He's kept up the trend at home too. Sleeps well during the day but once night time rolls around he's ready to go.

The delivery was more challenging than my others. He decided to come face up which made for a much longer pushing stage than I'm used to. It probably would have been easier if we had just let him and my body set the timing rather than being inducted, but I did what I felt was best at the time. For only the second time I took medication for the pain or rather a sedative that makes you sleepy/ultra relaxed between contractions but you feel every one. The funny thing is that on the way to the hospital, dh and I were talking about it and I said I absolutely did not want to use that (stadol) again because if given too close to delivery, it can cause the baby to have decreased respirations and lower apgars as well as making them very sleepy, which is what happened with M. Both times the Stadol was given within 1 hr. of delivery but with very different results. M. slept for the first 6 hours; H. was awake almost the entire first 6 hours. Proof once again that every baby is different.

After the delivery, I felt great and repeatedly surprised the nurses and doctor by not needing any pain medication. I usually don't take much of anything but after R., I took one or two doses of Tylenol. This time around I just really didn't need it. I got to thinking about it and it seems that they make it such a norm to take something for the pain that new moms might almost feel a bit pressured to take something even if they don't really feel they need it. Maybe it's just me.

I do have to say that the nurses at the hospital were absolutely wonderful. I've found time and again that it's the nurses and other support staff that determine whether you have a positive or negative experience either in the hospital or at the doctor's office. My doctor's practice has two offices. The staff at the smaller office is just so friendly and efficient that I always looked forward to going to seeing them. They're so good that I intend the take them a batch of brownies as thanks.

Ok, well that's it for now. It's time to get breakfast for everyone before H. wakes up again.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Strip twist quilt

This is the strip twist quilt I'm working on for M. It's a free pattern from Bonnie at Quiltville. M.'s room is a deep terra cotta (his choice) and lately he seems rather drawn to oranges so instead of going completely scappy like Bonnie's example I stuck to an orange-burgandy-brown/cream-tan color scheme. Amazingly enough, all of the oranges came from stash. It was the creams that I had to get more of. Fortunately, JoAnn's had fat quarters on sale last week. I was good though. I only bought a few to add some variety. I got the layout done this afternoon while R. was taking a nap, but couldn't get anymore sewing done on it so I just rolled up the batting I had laid them out on and put it in the closet for now. Before I did, I let M. see it (since it was supposed to be an Eid present) and he says he likes it.

I just hope I can get it finished in a reasonable amount of time after the baby is born. M. has been asking me for a new quilt for awhile now. His only other one is the little one I made when he was a baby. I'd like to finish this one as well as the other 3 during our month off from homeschooling but we'll just have to wait and see how that goes.

Speaking of going, it's time for me to sign off until sometime next week. Have a good week everyone.

What I've been working on

I'm due to go in for the induction in about 7 hours and have run out of time to finish all the projects that I've started. I was waiting to post the pictures until I could post finishes but that's just not going to happen right now. At least not for all of the projects.

What have I finished? 1- The first picture is a robe and pajama pants (dark blue inside the robe). This was the first time I've tried anything like the robe and felt very good about being able to manage it. 2-I've also finished knitting 3 scarves (4 if you count the one that I sent to Iran in Sep. for my husband's niece). I intended to just do 2 for the girls using yarn that I had gotten on clearance months ago but it was so much fun and I found a better color match for S.'s new winter coat on clearance at Micheal's about 3 weeks ago. The blue-yellow-purple is for her. The middle one is now extra for a charity donation probably. Both of these are knitted with Patons' Cha-cha yarn. The pink and purple one is for Z. This one is the Patons' Boa yarn. Casting on with both of these types of yarn was a bit challenging but they both hide mistakes really well which is probably why I enjoyed doing is so much, plus they're both quite soft and feel so nice. I included a close up to give you some idea of how the two yarns look. I used 2 skeins of yarn per scarf (probably would use 3 for an adult) but they were only $1 each on clearance.

What needs work? 1-R.'s blue and red firetruck/race car quilt top still needs borders, along with everything else. 2- I have 2 "I spy" tops that also need borders. I was really hoping to get those finished before the babies were born but time just got away from me. (I haven't been able to get in touch with my friend but the girls were likely born at the beginning of this week.) 3-Not pictured here but what I'll post in a minute, is M.'s quilt using Bonnie's Strip Twist design. I've only gotten the strips of half square triangles sewn together. The rest of the assembly will have to wait until after the baby is born.

Well, it's time to go grab a shower and some sleep before tomorrow.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Homeschooling and more

We only have about 5 more days for our homeschooling before the baby is born. The kids are almost done with all of their work and I'll be giving M. and S. grade level standardized tests next week to see if we move up a grade after H. is born or put in more time on what they've been working on. They both seem to be doing fairly well but the state requires "proof of progress" so this gives us something to present. M. was tickled yesterday when he saw one of the kids in his swim class (who is older) working on math problems that M. declared were "So Easy!"

This year, I bought the MacGuffey reader set for them to work with. This set was first published in 1879 and let me tell you, they expected so much more out of their kids than we do today! In the Fourth Grade Reader, M. is coming across vocabulary that most high school students would likely struggle with today. I'm not talking about words that are no longer used either, but words that kids just aren't being exposed to because of "dumbed down" vocabulary in the "literature" they are exposed to at school. It's also give us the opportunity to talk about how the standard meanings of words have changed over time as well as falling in and out of common usuage. On top of that, most of the stories are meant to be morally instructive and encourage improving your character.

This last bit leads me to a compliment my kids receive from a manager at the grocery store last week. The manager was working as a cashier that day and the kids each were helping put the bagged groceries back into the cart. When everything was finished, the manager thanked the kids for helping to which they all responded (without prompting) "you're welcome" and "Thank you". The manager then complimented me on raising them well and remarked that he couldn't remember how long it had been since he had heard kids say "Thank you" and "You're welcome." Now, this manager isn't some grouchy old man that remembers how things were "back in the day" but a late 20's/early 30's gen-Xer who was genuinely pleased to hear kids extending what I consider a common courtesy. Now, I don't think my kids noticed the compliment and I didn't relate it back to them. Why? Because I want them to continue believing that such courtesies are the expected norm rather than exceptional behavior. So many kids movies now show kids behaving in ways that would be completely unacceptable even a generation ago yet is now considered perfectly normal. It's amazing how our standards and expectations have changed. How is it that teen rebellion was virtually unknown prior to say the 1920's but is not just acceptable but expected today?

Ok, I've said my peace and will get off my soapbox for now.

Excuse me while I rant!

Why do companies put red dye in products that have no obvious connection to the color red?!? S. is very allergic to Red dye 40 and I'm usually very good at double or triple checking ingredient lists and/or keeping her away from anything red, pink, yellow, orange, purple and even some shades of blue, but there are a number of products on the market that are WHITE that have red dye! One of the challenges with this allergy is that it takes days after eating the offending food for the reaction to occur. Then she gets nasty itchy hives that start on her tummy or feet and spread all over her body. Last night at 2 am she wakes me up because she's started to get hives. Do you know how hard it is to try and figure out what your child may have eaten days before that could cause a reaction at 2 am? After I got her back to bed, I sat trying to piece back over the last week. She only had one food out of the ordinary that I hadn't thought to check because it didn't fit the color spectrum but it did have white cream filling. I checked the package and sure enough, Red 40 was in the ingredient list. ARGH! I was trying to give her a special treat and instead I gave her hives-80 hours after comsumption!

For anyone that suspects their child may have a food allergy, check everything. I've found Red 40 in most canned white frostings, these snack cakes and even some chocolate cookies.

She breaks out in hives but years ago I had heard that some kids were having behavioural problems associated with red dye. And don't count on your pediatrician to help with a diagnosis. Because of the nature of the reaction and the time it takes to appear, one of the pediatricians we see completely blew off my concerns and concentrated on a completely different problem instead. It took us about 4-5 reactions before I made the connection on my own. You really have to be your child's advocate here. Moms can spot something wrong with kids that a pediatrician will miss or misdiagnose. We've tried several different medications (topical and oral) to control the reactions which can last for 4 days but one wonderful nurse at the ped's office came up with the suggestion to try Claritin when what we were using wasn't working anymore. It works beautifully and quickly for S. and we can usually limit her to 2-3 doses per reaction depending on how bad it is and how long it lasts.

Thank you for listening to my rant. I will get back to my nice happy posts again. I have to take pictures of my WIP before I can post but hope to get around to that by Sat.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm back!

Ok, sorry for the long delay but computer problems turned out to be bigger than expected. We gave up on dial-up and switched to DSL which took time to get hooked up then dh has had to spend the better part of 2 days to get everything reconfigured and operating properly. Wow, DSL is so much faster than dail-up. :)

Because of the mess all of my picture files have to be reloaded so, unfortunately, I don't have any pics to share just now. Maybe this weekend.

Patty asked when the little guy is due. We're now down to no more than three weeks from today. For better or worse, I've schedule an induction for Oct. 12. For anyone keeping count, that's a week earlier than my official due date. Three out of four kids have been a week or more past their due dates, so based on that, it'll be two weeks early. Why the rush? Normally I would let the baby come when he's good and ready, but I have pretty fast labors. How fast? Last time, I was ready to deliver by the time I got to the hospital, about 2 hours after the labor started. DH has to commute 1 1/2 to almost 2 hours to and from work. A few days ago it took him almost 3 hours to get home. No family lives close by and friends work during daytime. So, things could get very tight timewise if I let things flow naturally. I've had an induction once before and I am not looking forward to going through that again but it's alot more appealing than ending up on the morning news because M. delivered his baby brother at home. Just about everything is ready for the arrival. I've got about a dozen meals in the freezer. I'd like to get some more put away but temps will be near 90 for the next few days so I'll hold off until it gets cooler again.

I'd also like to get a few projects finished up beforehand but we'll have to see how that goes. I've finished knitting scarves for both girls as well as piecing 3 quilts tops minus borders. I want to get the quilt for R. finished as well as make one for M. for their Eid presents but I'm running out of time and I only have early mornings or nights to work on them so, even doing everything on the sewing machine, I'm not sure I'll get them done in time. For those who don't know, Eid is the Islamic celebration that marks the end of Ramadan (the month of fasting). This year, depending on the moon sighting, it will be either Oct. 12 or 13. The timing of the induction means that I'll be in the hospital for Eid, so we'll probably give the kids their gifts on Thur. night. I don't think they'll mind missing a more active celebration in exchange for having the anticipation of waiting for their baby brother satiated.

Oh, I almost forgot! My best friend, who has been dealing with infertility, is pregnant!!!! So prayers had been answered all around. One friend is about to deliver twins any day now and the other has gotten the best surprise diagnosis that you could ask for after such a long wait. I know that they will both make great moms!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Computer problems

I'm having all kinds of computer problems at the moment which has made it very difficult to post. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this one will go through.

I've been keeping busy. I finished a robe for the hospital as well as a pair of pajama pants. I also knitted a scarf for my dh's 3 year old niece. I'm not a very accomplished knitter, more like a beginner but I used boa (fuzzy and kind of looks feathery when knitted) yarn which is great for hiding mistakes. I'm about halfway through with a scarf for either S. or Z. with plans to knit another one for whoever doesn't get this one. They'll be Eid gifts for the girls. I'm also working on projects for the boys as well as a couple of little somethings for a friend of mine. Once they're done and sent I'll post more details, but as she reads this blog at least occasionally, I'd rather not say anything more just now.
In the mean time, here is a picture of the computer desk turned sewing table that I picked up for $7 back in May. The keyboard tray is perfect for keeping blocks close at hand but out of sight when it's time to "clean up". It also keeps R. from getting ahold of them. If they're not out in plain view, he doesn't try to play with them. The next two pictures are of the glider and ottoman that I got around the same time as the desk. I haven't gotten around to recovering the ottoman so you can see how grimy the original fabric looked. I didn't do a fabulous job of recovering the cushions on the glider but they're done and the chair gets used often by everyone so I know it was money and time well spent.
Finally, the last picture is from our trip to Persopolis last summer before we left Iran. That lion was originally the base of one of the many pillars throughout the palace. Considering the remains of the palace are over 2000 years old, it's amazing how well so much of it has held up. That's S. in the foreground, dh and R. and sil and her daughter in the background. I'm sure you can't really tell much from the thumbnail but the image should enlarge if you click on it.
I'll post more pictures from Persopolis with my next post.
I'd also like to thank Patty at Morning Ramble for nominating me for the Nice Blogger award. I really appreciate it but haven't been able to thank her yet because of the computer problems. Speaking of which, I'd better try and post this now while the computer is cooperating.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Trash to treasure

A while back, I posted about some ways to improve the look of found items. The top picture is of a pair of bookshelves that I bought at a garage sale for $2 each. If you click and enlarge the pictures, you can see where the edging had pulled off. There were also nail/screw holes in the top of one, bottom of the other where it seems the two had been joined to make a taller unit. The second picture is the same bookshelves after 3 coats of white paint. I had purchased the paint to use on the baseboards and door of the bathrooms but I needed the bookshelves sooner than I would be painting the bathrooms (It still hasn't happened.). I used about half a gallon for the two, so about $12 for the paint. I probably could have gotten away with 2 coats of paint but bugs kept landing on them and messing up the finish (and sometimes I can be a bit of a perfectionist and obsess if it doesn't look quite right). With cleaning, lightly sanding and painting, I maybe spent 1 -2 hours (with kid help) on the project. In return, I got two nice looking bookshelves that fit our growing library quite well and a couple of hours of sunshine and fresh air all for about $16. The cheapest I found new bookshelves for of similar dimensions was about $20 each, for a savings of $24 not including tax (and the environmental costs of buying new and the old ones going to the landfill).

The second picture is of the loveseat we got free from dh's aunt when she moved. We also got a matching sofa. The loveseat now has one of the bookshelves (filled with homeschooling and a revolving selection of public library books) and a floor lamp next to it to create a nice reading nook in front of the wood stove. The rug on the floor was a housewarming gift from a friend. The only costs for furnishing this space were the $8 for the shelf, $7 for the lamp and $2 for a garage sale purchased basket that holds the library books.

The sofa and other bookshelf are on the other side of the basement where we have the kids' computer, crafts stuff, board games and the tv. We also have an armchair that the previous owners left behind which I draped an unbleached canvas dropcloth over. It's not necessarily beautiful but it is durable and extremely practical with a houseful of active kids. To round out the room, we have a dresser to hold building blocks, "school" supplies and comfy fleece throws that we got free from dh's uncle (another landfill save), an inexpensive computer desk and chair from Ikea (I think they were $20 each), a tv cabinette that was on clearance from Ikea, an Ikea floor lamp that was $7, a throw rug that we brought from Iran and 3 big denim floor pillows that I picked up on sale for $5 each. So, for this room, not including the cost of the computer, we've spent less than $200 furnishing the room.

I know not everyone has options for freebies, especially for expensive items like sofas, but if you open yourself up to think creatively and not confine yourself to a specific time frame (i.e. instant gratification/"must have it now") you're likely to be pleased with what you can come up with.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Long time...

no blog.

I can't believe it's been more than a month since I last posted anything. Sorry about that.

Things have been ticking along here. I've been busy sewing the girls' swimsuits, hem stitching some cute flannel for receiving blankets and I'm about halfway through with a robe for the hospital. Next on the list is a few pairs for comfy pants for me as well as some for the girls and maybe a skirt or two.
The kids have started swim classes so we've been getting up and out bright and early this week. They would have started sooner but their suits challenged my sewing skills and patience. I'm not much of a seamstress so working with the swimsuit material taught me quite a few things. But, they're done and finishing them gave me the encouragement to start the robe. That's what the girls' are wearing in the above picture. Sorry the image isn't clearer. It seemed ok when I took it but they were so excited I guess they just didn't stand as still as I thought they had. I was not planning on making matching suits but they both choose the same fabric. The only differences between the two suits is that Z.'s skirt and pants are a bit shorter than S.'s.
Our baby boy is proving to be one big guy. I just had a dr.'s appointment on Mon. and measured nearly 2 1/2 weeks ahead. The dr. expressed a tiny bit of concern and suggested that if I measure big on my next appt. I'll have to go in for another ultrasound to check and see if he really is just big or if there's too much amniotic fluid. I checked on-line and found another possiblity is that he could also have just been in a breech position (which she didn't check for). My guess is that it's probably a combination of big baby and funny position-this boy moves ALOT. This morning he was way up high and just now I caught a side view of myself in the mirror and realized he's positioned himself right in the middle, making my stomach look rather odd at the moment.
Now that I have the camera and software up and running again, in the next few days, I'll try and post some more photos of things I've talked about in previous posts. For now, it's time for me to go fix lunch then get working on my robe again. Hopefully, I'll have it finished in the next few days and can post a pic. of the finished product.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Still alive

Yes, I'm still alive. Been busy with homeschooling. Add in computer problems and subsequent fiddling by dh and now our office smells heavily of moth balls. DH's uncle needed a place to store some carpets and dh agreed last night before he saw/smelled how many moth balls had been used on them. Last night the smell in the office was absolutely overpowering. Dh moved all of the carpets to the garage first thing this am before he went to work and told his uncle that since I'm expecting and we have little kids could he please make other arrangements. However, the smell of moth balls is still pretty strong in here so I'll be off-line for at least a few days until the office airs out more.

Friday, June 15, 2007


a boy!

Despite my intuition and even me calling the baby "her" during the ultrasound, after 3 tries to get the baby to "reveal" it's identity, I got the surprise news that this little one is, in fact, a boy. Everything looks fine and he looks healthy, all approximately 1 lb. of him.

And hey, what do you know, I've finally made it to 100 posts! Yippy!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Silly me. The last post was so long that I forgot to post recipes that I promised. I'm very much a pinch of this, dash of that kind of cook (except with a lot of baking recipes) so these are approximate amounts that you can adjust to your tastes.

Marinated Chicken Breast-I've used this basic recipe, adapted from someone else's recipe for about 11 years. It really keeps the chicken moist when grilling.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts-how many depends on how many people you're feeding. One set of breasts make 4 to 6 sandwiches depending on how thick the meat is as well as the tenderloin which I chop up and freeze for other meals.
Lemon juice - about 1/2-1 c. (enough when combined with the orange juice to mostly cover the meat)
Orange juice - about 1/4 c.
Garlic powder - 1-2 tsp.
Dried chopped onion- 1-2 Tbsp. (You can use fresh but dried absorb the flavors better and they're easier. )
Ginger - 1 tsp. (Either grated fresh or powdered work. Fresh gives a stronger flavor so keep that in mind.)
Honey - 1-2 Tbsp.

I usually put the cut up chicken in a plastic storage container, add the juice and about half the spices and honey, mix it up then add the rest of the spices and honey. Let this marinate in the fridge for at least a couple of hours but overnight is even better. Then remove from marinade and grill or bake.

My Hamburger mix

1 small onion
1 small potato
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt

Wash and peel the potato then grate it into a bowl using the small holes on the grater. Grate the onion into the bowl with the potato using the larger holes. Squeeze out as much of the water/onion juice as possible. (very important) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well for at least 1-2 minutes. This is easiest if you mix it with your hands, just don't forget to wash them well before and after you mix the meat. Let this sit for about an hour in the fridge. Shape and cook however you like.

My Brownies - This is a recipe that I've been adapting since I was 8 years old. It started out as a recipe on a box of baking chocolate that we had sitting around and I've perfected and simplified it since then. This only takes me about 6-8 min. to mix if I use the microwave to melt the margarine (Doing three cycles-15 sec., 10 sec. and 10 sec. keeps the margarine from popping and splattering all over the place. Don't worry if it's not completely melted. The residual heat from the bowl will help melt it as you mix in the cocoa). If I melt it on the stove top, it maybe takes a minute or two longer. I do all of my mixing by hand so you really don't need a mixer for this.

2 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. margarine or butter (1/2 c.=1 stick)
3 heaping Tbsp. cocoa (Do not use Nestle's.-It has almost no flavor.)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl until they are well beaten (Should take less than a minute). Add the sugar 1/4-1/3 c. at a time, mixing between each addition. You can melt the margarine while you are beating in the sugar either in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl (a cereal bowl works just fine) or in a small saucepan over low heat on the stove. Add the vanilla to the egg mixture. Mix the cocoa into the melted margarine making sure to get most of the lumps out. Stir this into the egg mixture. Mix in 1/3 c. flour. Mix in 1/3 c. flour and the baking powder and then the final 1/3 flour. Pour into an 8 or 9-in. square baking pan. (You can also use a circular cake pan if that's what you've got.) Bake on 350 for 25-30 min. The length of baking time depends on how you like your brownies. Fudgy brownies will leave a little bit of moist (not wet) batter on a toothpick when inserted at around 25 min. If you like cakey brownies, let them cook longer until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle usually at around 30 min.

Saturday fun

Ok, I know I said I'd post the rest of my Memorial Day week on Tuesday but I ended up reading "The Circle of Quilters" instead. Quite enjoyable and I finished it in just over a day.

So, I left off heading to bed late on Thursday. Friday was a day to recover and pull things back together a bit. DH's aunt was moving and needed him to come move some things to storage for her and also pick up a sofa and loveseat set that she was giving us. DH had no luck finding a truck in the afternoon to move stuff and had given up until after dinner. Around 7, he finds a truck but the place is only open until 8 so he hurriedly called a friend and they set out for his aunt's house an hour away. When all was said and done, he didn't make it home until 2:30 a.m. Now normally this wouldn't have bothered me too much, after all, I got a free (except for truck rental) sofa, loveseat and even a dresser; however, I had been planning for over a month to spend the day out on Saturday going to a quilt show and just having a relaxing break. I usually try and take a few hours out for myself every month or two but because of different stuff coming up I hadn't been out by myself except for dr's appointments and a random trip or two the grocery store since Jan. I had found out a week or so before that there would be a big homeschoolers' used book sale that day as well which started an hour before the quilt show but was an hour away from home and from the show, but I'm not one to pass up on potential bargains, especially on expensive homeschooling books. To make things more challenging, S. woke up around 1 a.m. (around the time DH and friend dropped off the furniture VERY quietly) and simply won't fall back to sleep for nearly an hour and made sure I wasn't going to go back to sleep either by telling me every few minutes that she couldn't sleep. URGH! I finally gave up around 1:45 and went downstairs to read and wait for dh. After DH got home, he filled me in on what took so long (chatting with aunt, dinner with aunt, moving extra furniture given to our friend and the challenges of getting furniture moved out of a townhouse) we headed to bed around 2:45. Dh fell right to sleep, I wasn't so luck. Back downstairs to read for a little over an hour until I felt sleepy again. Now in order to get to the book sale when they opened, I would need to leave by 8 at the latest. It was 4:30 when I crawled back into bed only to find R. stretched across the top of the bed. I was so tired and frustrated by then because I knew the lack of sleep was going to cut into the enjoyment of my day off (and probably a dose of pregnancy hormones had something to do with it), I just sat there and cried for a bit. After a couple of minutes, I calmed down, moved R. over and promptly fell asleep. Amazingly, woke up at 7. Plenty of time to get ready and go, right? Not quite. While I was eating breakfast, R. woke up. I knew DH needed more sleep and I needed to go to the grocery store AGAIN since the kids had finished all of the milk, so I got the two of us dressed, and headed out. By the time I got back and gave R. some breakfast it was almost 8:30. It took two tries to get DH up and then I was out the door, grouchy and running well behind my schedule.

Fortunately, I found the location of the sale pretty easily and found some great bargains. I ended up getting a whole bunch of books for just over $29, where just one set that I bought would have run about $30 used elsewhere (if I could find them). On the way out, they had two tables of books piled up with free books which I also helped myself to. If I had bought all of the books elsewhere, even used I probably would have spent over $100 for them so it was definitely worth the extra gas and time to get there.

I ended up not getting back on the road until 11:30 and with traffic it was way to close to 1. I considered stopping for lunch before the show but had brought a little leftover pizza which I ate en route. (I know, I know. Shame on me for eating while driving! But, hey, it helped keep me awake.) I was in such a rush to leave that I forgot to grab the camera, but fortunately, Amy at Calico Cat also went and remembered her camera. She has lots of great pictures from the show on her site. I really loved the one she labeled "Lattices" as well as the bargello quilt that looks like twisted ribbon.

I checked out all of the vendors first just in case I got tired before I had a chance to get around to everything. There were over 70 vendors and more than 500 quilts on display so there was plenty to look at. I bought some fat quarters as well as some 1/2 yard cuts and ended up spending just over $50 but I could have done much worse in the spending department. I restrained myself since I don't seem to have much time to use up what I already have so I didn't want to add too much to the stash right now. I still haven't had a chance to take any pictures yet but hopefully this weekend I'll share my goodies.

This is the first time I've ever been to a quilt show and I loved every minute of it. It was also only the second time I've had the chance to see other quilters work up close and I'm so glad I did. Many of the quilts that I really enjoyed looking at were not "perfect" when viewed up close which didn't diminish from their beauty one little bit. It did, however, make me feel much more confident about my abilities. DH asked me how I felt my quilts compared and I can honestly say that I wouldn't feel bad about putting them on display with some of my favorites from the show. It's so helpful to see other people's work "up close and personal".

Now, I had looked for representatives from the two LQS at the show but neither place had a booth so I just had to stop by one of them on Sunday to see what they had to offer. I was also looking for the 4 patch posie pattern that Judy made but I only found it at one vendor at the show and they were changing $2 more than I'd seen it on-line. Now I had R. with me and he has made quite a few trips to fabric stores with me lately and the funny thing is, he just loves the fabric and asks (just like his big sisters) for "favric" of his own. Not only that but the last two times I let him chose, he always goes for polka dot prints. Even at 2, he knows exactly what he wants.

All in all, it was a busy week but an enjoyable one. I took a little time to rest after it and now we are back to homeschooling. This way I'll have plenty of wiggle room time-wise once the baby comes. One of the many benefits of homeschooling-we set the schedule and can work around events in our lives!

I've also decided to go ahead and find out the sex of the baby tomorrow at the ultrasound. My instincts say that it's a girl and they've been right every time before now, but we'll know for sure by tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Getting caught up

Wow! The last week of May into June was incredibly busy around here and I'm just now feeling caught up and more relaxed.

On the Friday night before Labor, DH suggested that we have friends over for a picnic on Mon. I wasn't too thrilled with that idea since my sister and her family were coming on Wed. for a visit. (I had just done the weekly grocery shopping and thought I was done until the next weekend. Silly me!) But Saturday morning I gave in since I knew he really wanted to do it. In his thinking, it's just a bbq so no real work needed, just throw some burgers on the grill. No big deal, right? Saturday he made phone calls (3 families for sure) and went to the butchers. Saturday night, while he took the kids to the mosque, I stayed home and made potato salad, brownies and cookies and sliced half a jar of pickles. Sunday afternoon, I head back out to the stores with a shopping list for a bbq for 20 people. Sunday afternoon I marinated cut-up chicken breasts for sandwiches and prepped the ground beef. Sunday evening, dh invited 2 more families. It was only after the second call (after I pointed it out) that he realized just how many people that meant-30 (not including 2 babies)! I took a few deep breaths and kept going. I thought I might run short on buns but if I was careful with time, I might be able to run to the store Monday before the 2 p.m. start time. Monday morning, shucked the corn and put it on to cook first thing, made a cucumber, onion and tomato salad, cut up the tomatoes and lettuce for the sandwiches, added some chopped tomato to bagged salad (the only short cut) and shaped the burgers.

By 11-11:30, all of the food prep was done. Yippy! I figured I'd do a final clean up , set up the buffet table and have time to sit and relax a bit before everyone showed. How silly of me! Somehow that 2 1/2 hours got sucked away probably to the same place as all the lost socks go. I did manage to get a quick shower and had just started my afternoon prayers when the first two families arrived. The prayers only take about 10 minutes, so my timing wasn't THAT off.

Everyone had a great time. There was plenty of food for all with just enough left-over burgers and buns that I could set them aside for lunch with my sister and her family Wed. DH forgot to tell all the families to bring a change of clothes for the kids so that they could play on the slip-n-slide but no big deal. All of the kids are around the same ages/sizes as mine so we had extras for everyone that didn't get the heads up. (17 kids total-2 to "old" to play, 5 brought clothes) I had also bought a badminton/volleyball set which the kids set up. After lunch, the hubbies played soccer, moms chatted and the kids all played. It was a great day and I can definitely see doing it again, and that's coming from an introvert that usually stresses big time about having company. Although I did warn the moms that next time we do it, the house may not be quite so neat and tidy. I do have 4 kids after all. ;)

Tuesday I had time for a quick clean-up and another trip to the grocery store for my sister's two day visit. Went to bed at 9:30, got up at 3:30 to get last minute stuff ready. They called at 5:45 and arrived at 6, just before dh headed to work. M. and R. were up before they arrived and the girls woke up once everyone was inside. My bil and 2 of the three kids promptly hit the hay while my 16 yo niece and sister stayed up for a chat. Their plan was to have lunch with us then head to DC for late afternoon/evening sight seeing. It was nearly 3 p.m. before everyone was rested, fed and ready to hit the road. They ended up not getting back until midnight. I, of course, had stayed up to make sure they got back ok and then for idiotic reasons stay up for another hour after they were all asleep. Got up bright and early Thur., got everyone fed and fixed sandwiches for them to take with them while checking out the museums. Their plan was to be back before rush hour ~4 but since they didn't leave until after 11 they didn't make it back until after 6. They were planning to go to Williamsburg on Friday so decided that they would leave that night for the 2 hour trip to stay with a friend that lives near there. After dinner and birthday cake (nephew's B-day was the week before, my sister's and my b-days were within the next week and one of my nieces had about 6 weeks before her b-day), they packed up and finally hit the road after 10, only to call about 10 min. latter asking if we had seen nephew's cell phone anywhere. Found it, they came back and picked it up then really got back on the road. Got the kids' rooms back in order and got them to bed finally just after 11 and then I crashed big time!

This is quite long so I'll come back and post tomorrow the fun that was had Friday and Saturday as well has some recipes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Free Summer Fun

For those of you in the US, every summer Regal cinemas play free movies every Tuesday and Wednesday. All of the movies of G or PG (one of each each week) which makes it something everyone can enjoy. Here the theater is usually not full but there are plenty of moms with kids of all ages including infants (with older siblings). It's completely free, unless of course you hit the concession stand. They are not first run movies of course but most of them are popular, well-known movies like Charlotte's Web.

If you want to see if a theater near you is participating this summer, go to http://www.regmovies.com/freefamilyflicks/ffffresults.jsp , click on REG Free Family Film Festival on the left side of the page then scroll down to your state. You'll get a list of theaters participating in your state as well as what movies their playing and the dates. It seems like most theaters start around June 19 and end around August 20 but it may be different in your area and the movies that are shown do vary somewhat by location.

I am not associated with this chain in anyway. It's just that we really enjoy this program. You can check your local newspapers or your parks association as well because a lot of times there are free outdoor movies during the summer sponsored by different groups.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Slow progress

My little ones kindly shared their colds with me so I haven't been up to doing too much the last few days. I have made some slow progress on blocks for R.'s quilt, which I'll keep slowly plugging away at.

I haven't gotten much of anything else done since dh got back. The bathrooms still need to be painted and I really want to get that done before my sister and her family come up for a visit next week. If I'm really feeling better, I might even try to tackle stripping the wall paper border in the kitchen and getting the upper walls in there painted as well, but I'm not holding my breath on that one. Things will get done when they get done.

DH remembered to bring our camera back with him (but he forgot his jacket and didn't realize until he was freezing on the plane) so as soon as time and energy allow I should have pics of works in progress, my "new" glider all painted and recovered and my "new" sewing table which I picked up for $7 at a huge Boy Scout garage sale.

The weekend after next I'm hoping to go to a Quilt show. DH has already promised to watch the kids all day but the last few times I wanted to go out on my own for awhile something has come up-bad weather, sick kid, feeling too morning sick to do much. So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that nothing comes up to thwart my plans. I've never been to a quilt show before but I think it will be a fun way to spend a few hours.

I've been in that limbo stage of pregnancy where the only real indicator of being pregnant is weight gain and an expanding waist line, so you just sort of feel fat. (I have never gained less than 36 lbs. per pregnancy no matter what I eat or how much I exercise.) The morning sickness past with the first trimester and until a few days ago, I still hadn't felt the baby moving. But now the baby has started to make its presence known with little flutters every now and then.

I'm debating whether or not to find out the sex of this baby. I usually don't but we got rid of nearly all of the baby clothes when we moved so now I have to stock up again. So, do I stick to neutrals or go ahead and find out so I have can snap up gender specific bargains? I have until mid June to make up my mind when I have the next sonogram.

It's time to get off the computer and get the kids ready to go grocery shopping. We managed to use 2 doz. eggs last week!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

To all the Beautiful Women out there

Did you know that it's Beautiful Women Month ?
Well, it is . . . . and that means you and me!

Facts On Figures : There are 3 billion women who don't look like super models and only eight who do.
Did you know Marilyn Monroe wore a size 14? She also did not have good hygiene . . . . . Can you believe that?
If Barbie were a real woman . . . . .she'd have to walk on all FOURS due to her proportions!

The average woman weighs 144 pounds, and wears between a size 12-14 (US sizing - 14-16 English).
One out of every four college-aged women has an eating disorder .
Models in magazines are AIR-BRUSHED - NOT Perfect !!
A psychological study in 1995 found that just 3 minutes looking at a fashion magazine caused 70% of women to feel DEPRESSED , GUILTY and SHAMEFUL ! RELAX . . . and learn to love who you are You are BEAUTIFUL!!!
20 years ago, models weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, they weigh 23% less . . . . . ~ ~
The Beauty Of A Woman ~ ~ The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, The figure she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from her eyes, Because that is the doorway to her heart, The place where love resides. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, But true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, The passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman With time, only grows . . . . .

An English professor directed his students to punctuate correctly the following words: "WOMAN WITHOUT HER MAN IS NOTHING" .
The men wrote: "Woman , WITHOUT HER MAN, is nothing."
The women wrote: "WOMAN! WITHOUT HER, man is nothing!"

The Images of Mother
4 YEARS OF AGE My Mummy can do anything!
8 YEARS OF AGE My Mum knows a lot! A whole lot!
12 YEARS OF AGE My Mother doesn't really know quite everything.
14 YEARS OF AGE Naturally, Mother doesn't know that, either!
16 YEARS OF AGE Mother? She's hopelessly old-fashioned.
18 YEARS OF AGE That old woman? She's way out of date!
25 YEARS OF AGE Well, she might know a little bit about it.
35 YEARS OF AGE Before we decide, let's get Mum's opinion.
45 YEARS OF AGE Wonder what Mum would have thought about it?
65 YEARS OF AGE Wish I could talk it over with Mum. . .

Please send this to all the PHENOMENAL WOMEN you know in celebration of Women's History Month.
If you do, something good will happen . . . . .YOU will boost another woman's self-esteem!

I found this on http://ozcountryquiltingmum.blogspot.com/ and just had to share it with everyone out there.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

How do kids do these things?

The day before yesterday, S. managed to break the outside door handle on the car! It still boggles my mind how she could possibly execute such a feat. I still haven't had a chance to call the dealer and see how long it will take to get fixed and how much it will cost. I don't think it will take that long but given the fact that it seems like an unusual situation we'll probably have to wait for a new handle to be ordered.

Life's never boring with kids!

Sorry if I bored anyone to tears with my "busy days" post.

Today I've been working a bit on piecing R.'s 1st birthday quilt. You read that right. He's already past his 2nd birthday and I still haven't finished even piecing the quilt yet. Ah, well. It'll get done when it gets done.
Being the 2 year old that he is, he's doing an excellent job of making every room in the house look like a mini tornado hit today. He's been up since 5:30 this morning and man has he been busy.

DH comes home Sunday and I still have so much I want to get done before he comes back. I thought I would get a lot more done by now but I've been so tired that I usually fall asleep not long after I get the kids to bed and at least one of them is up soon after I am. Since R. doesn't nap and he sleeps the least of everyone, I haven't been able to get to the bathroom painting or finish the ironing yet. I hate ironing and much prefer letting it build up and do a lot at once rather than a little at a time. Well, I let it sit a little too long this time. I had 21 shirts and several pairs of pants to do. If I'm really luck R. will decide to take a nice long nap since he was up so early and maybe, just maybe I'll get it all finished. Then I can start on the bathrooms tonight.

I was watching Good Morning America this morning and they had on a segment on decorating. Big deal right. Anyone can decorate if they've got lots of $. Well this time they did something interesting. They had a "vanity table" drape in pink fabric. Then they showed that the "table" was an old banged up desk that they picked up cheap. I've seen something similar at the local school district's auction site. I just realized something like that might work pretty well for a sewing table. It's amazing what a little TLC can do for a tired piece of furniture. Once I repainted the glider that I bought, it looked a thousand times better for less than $3 in paint. Now I just have to get the cushions recovered. Hopefully when dh gets back I'll post a picture.

I had decided already that whenever possible I'd rather try and get furniture used rather than buying it new, especially solid pieces like bookshelves or cabinets. I feel like it is a more environmentally friendly option. And most of what people get rid of really only needs a little cosmetic pick-me-up.

Time to go clean up the "tiny tornado" damage.

Question for any who sew clothing out there

I want to make my girls swimsuits this year that are more modest than what you can find outside. I found a website that sells patterns for such suits and it includes the dimensions for each size. Well, I just measured the girls this morning and their measurements would land them in at least a few different sizes. Now this might not be a big deal if I were sewing only tops or only bottoms but their chest sizes are much more narrow than the chest size that matches their waists. What do I do? Would it work to narrow the seams around the chest on the bigger size? I haven't sewn much in the way of clothing so I'm really not sure how hard it would be to get a good fit on a swimsuit.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Busy days

We've had some really busy days lately. DH is off visiting his family and I'm trying to get all kinds of stuff done while he's gone plus other stuff that has just happened to pop up or coincide with his trip. If things keep going as is, from last Sunday until this coming Mon. we will have spent exactly 1 day at home without going anywhere. We've been or will be out and about for a minimum of 3 hours up to 7 all of those days. Now for some people that's the norm but I'm generally a house mouse and prefer to stay close to home. Plus I've got lots of projects I want to work on at home that are begging for my attention as well as necessities like house cleaning and lawn mowing. (Although a very good friend as offered to come this weekend and mow our lawn.) On top of all of this, we just did our annual required proof of progress testing for the kids. I intended to break it up over 2 days but the kids want to go to a local farm/park tomorrow and didn't want to get up early to finish their tests so they completed them after dinner. I'm proud to say that both kids sped through the tests in record time. Safiya only missed 1 out of 100 questions and Mustafa only missed 3 out of 120. Not bad for my very relaxed, eclectic homeschoolers. Zahra was so jealous while they were testing tonight that she insisted I make up a math "homework page" for her to do while they finished. She finished 16 addition and subtraction problems in no time and Safiya graded it for her. (all correct) She was so proud of herself. Now all I have to do is send the tests in for "official" grading and the send a copy of the scores to the superindendent's office. I told the kids, as a reward, they wouldn't have any work to do for 2 weeks.

What have we been doing that's kept us out and about?
-We hit garage sales on Sat. which had the kids all excited since they got to spend up to $2 each however they liked and I scored a gliding rocker with ottoman for $10. It needed a fresh coat of paint and a new cover and the nuts need to be tightened on the ottoman but after buying the spray paint and fabric, it still will cost me less than $35. Not bad since new ones are well over $100. Now I'm on the lookout for a bookshelf for the tv/computer room. We'll hunt for that this Saturday. Their friends came over and played for a few hours in the afternoon and then we went to the masjid/mosque in the evening.
-Big chunks of Sunday are always spent at the masjid where the kids take Quranic Arabic classes followed by running to Wal-mart for various necessities.
-Monday we stayed home but spent more than 4 hours outside while I painted the glider, a mirror frame and the linen closet shelves (easier than covering them in contact paper and cheaper since the paint was left by the previous owners).
-Tuesdays we go to a sewing class where we've been working on quilting for the last several sessions. That's followed by the weekly grocery shopping.
-Today ended up being quite busy with testing in the morning followed by a check visit for Reza, an hour waiting to do a glucose test at my OB's office (You have to drink a soda like drink then wait an hour for your blood to be drawn.) Normally you only do this once in a pregnancy but this OB's office has a policy that if you had a previous baby above 9 lbs. you get to get tested twice so I'll have to do this again around 28 weeks since Reza was 9lbs., 10oz. After that we went to the fabric store where we picked up some swimsuit fabric for the girls. They all want to do swim classes again this year but I don't like most of the suits I've seen for kids. I found one website that sells a pattern for modest swimsuits which I'll attempt to make for them. (www.modest-swimwear.net) Then we hit Baskin-Robbins. They had a special promotion tonight where a scoop was only 31 cents from 5-10 and the proceeds went to help the families of fallen firefighters. We couldn't pass up a deal like that. We ended our trip out with a trip to the gas station where prices rose 8 cents since Sunday.
-Tomorrow it's a trip with other homeschoolers to a local mini-farm that is run by volunteers. This will be followed by a picnic and plenty of playground time. I'm hoping to get the front yard mowed at least in the morning before we go. Mustafa really wants to do it but I'm not sure I'm ready for him to do something that potentially dangerous at 8 years old without heavy supervision which I can't really give him since I have to also keep an eye on Reza at the same time. When we get back, I have some sewing I'd like to get done.
-Friday is one of our favorite events-a semi-annual used book sale at our local library. Tons of great books, most for less than $2. It's always packed but lots of fun.
-Saturday will be more garage sale shopping followed by another promised picnic and a trip to the islamic butchers to stock up on meat. They also have great prices on vegetables, often half what the local supermarkets charge and the quality is usually tons better. Their friends may come over to play for a couple of hours and then it's off to the masjid for a few hours.
-Sunday will be just like last Sunday except I have to throw in a trip to Lowe's for some white trim paint for the bathrooms and some flowers for the yard. I'm hoping to get both the main bathrooms painted next week while DH is gone and if time permits maybe even the kitchen too.

So, as you can see, we're a little busy around here right now. All the activity keeps the kids occupied and not missing DH as much, but man am I going to be tired by the time he comes back. ;) I forgot and sent the cd of pictures with him to give to his family, so once again, there are no pics for the blog. I'm really hoping he doesn't forget to bring our camera back with him.

It's time for me to get this posted, take care of some laundry, either do some ironing or sew up another tote bag for our book sale finds and then head off to bed. Considering it's about midnight, I think I'm going to be in serious need of a nap come tomorrow afternoon. Too bad none of the kids will take naps.

I'll try and post again next week when things might be a bit slower.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

No more boring posts

Yes, ladies (and possibly gentlemen) I have finally gotten the pictures on cd! So I thought I'd share a few pics of the new house. I won't show you the front of the house but here are some pics that show-Safiya and Zahra's pink and purple bedroom (alternated walls, when time permits the girls and I will paint free hand hearts in pink and purple on the walls) sorry it's sideways, the much used wood stove, the very large deck and backyard, in reverse order.

A bit of irony from a talking head

First, I'd like to say my thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the VA Tech shootings. I have a feeling the shootings came as a shock to the family of the shooters as it did to everyone else, especially with everything they've said lately about the privacy issues and not informing the family about any of what is going on. I've seen other kids who are/were similar to what the descriptions of this guy have been. I can't help but think if only someone had reached out to him early on-freshman or sophomore year. One or two good friends can make a big difference. One of the guys I knew tried everything to fit in in high school, even becoming the quarterback, but ppl just won't let him get past his previous "geeky" image. I was somewhat friends with him but then moved away. I was told by other friends that he had attempted suicide the year after I moved. No really close friends and no one to talk to can cause teens and college students to internalize so much of what they are going through and think that they are the only ones. Some snap and act out against themselves and unfortunately in cases like Va Tech, they direct their anger at others in a twisted attempt to feel more in control of their social standing. I'm in no way justifying his actions, there is no justification for them, but like most others I can't help wondering, "what if". It's just that sometimes befriending an "outsider" can make a real difference for that person.

During all of the early news coverage of this incident, I was struck by how insistant people were that the school should have let everyone know sooner about the first incident. I think this is really a reflection of how saturated we've become with information and feel an entitlement to know everything "right now!" No one could have predicted that one early morning shooting would lead to the slaughter that took place 2 hours later. It's not fair to insist that they should have known.

And we've become so skewed in our preceptions of how long it takes to evaluate information that we can't stand to wait longer than a 30 second sound bite. At least, one parent has complained that it took until late in the evening to be told about her son's death. I know it must have been excruciating for her to sit and wait but there were 32 people to identify, at least some, probably many without any id on them (Understandably, personal belongs where scattered all over the building.) If he was on of the victims in a hallway it would be difficult to even figure out which class he was supposed to be in, which I'm guessing is how they figured out who some of the victims were. After he was identified then the school would have to pull of the family contact information which would have to be passed on to the local officials and then would in turn have to contact authorities in the family's city. Life is not an hour long crime drama.

All of that is so not what I intended to blog about when I started this post. Here's what I struck me as ironic while listening to the talking heads on Tuesday. One "expert" on campus crime rates was talking about all of the violent crimes and deaths that take place every year on college campuses and he said "We need to socialize our students." Why is this ironic? Those outside the homeschooling community might not find it that ironic but this is one of the main reoccuring assertions about the benefits of public school over homeschooling. "What about socialization?" This questions assumes that kids can only be socialized in a public school setting, while this guy was insisting on the need to socialize predominately public school students. Now I have to agree with him. As a society, over a fair short period of time, we've managed to devalue the role of families, reduce the value of women to sexual object (Look at the label of nearly any female recording artist and compare it to the cover of a male artist. Who's nude or nearly nude? Look at the clothing of male and female runway models. How many men do you see on the beach in a speedo? How many women/girls are in itty bitty bikinis? Women who dress conservatively are lampooned by make-over artists as not being sexy enough. And this thinking filters all they way down to clothing for toddlers. Sexy= female beauty and power.) and we've completely confused the role men should play in relationships and in society at large. How macho is too macho? How sensitive is too much? One group will complain if a man holds a door open and another will complain if he doesn't? I've been as guilty of this as anyone else. Add to this the increasing isolation of individuals and an increasing focus on self and predominate drive for personal satisfaction over any thoughts of the greater good within a family or society. It's no wonder that things have becoming so confused that few people know how to behave socially anymore.

Fortunately, as a homeschooler, I can counter some of these messages. I can "socialize" my children to treat themselves and others with respect and kindness regardless of their age or social background. Now, if only public schools and society could figure out how to answer the question "What about socialization?"