Archive for November 2011

November 2011 Reading List

November 28, 2011

1.  Star Wars:  Fate of the Jedi:  Ascension by Christie Golden:  This is just the next book in the Star Wars series that I read.  Although I must admit, that late middle-aged Luke Skywalker is a much more appealing man than early 20’s Luke Skywalker.

2.  Fertility, Cycle, and Nutrition by Marilyn Shannon:  I read this book a few years ago, and it didn’t do much for me.  This time I got a hold of the latest edition which was totally revamped.  I don’t know if it’s the new format or if I was just more receptive this time around, but now I’m thinking I need my own copy.  While I’ve never had an issue with my fertility, this was the first time I learned that my long, heavy, and painful periods might be within the range of normal for the population at large but they might not really be normal for me.  They might actually be signs of inadequate nutrition.  As a result, I’ve started ProCycle vitamins, flax seed oil capsules, and a Vitamin E capsule every day to get my cycle in better working order.

3.  Signs of Life by Scott Hahn:  This book is a wonderful and informative book about 40 Catholic customs.  For non-Catholics it offers some great explanations about what Catholics believe about these things.  For Catholics it offers bite-size opportunities for learning about and meditating on the faith.  The book has inspired me to incorporate a few different customs into my daily life and given me a greater understanding about others, such as the controversial indulgences.  I read this book slowly over the course of two months; it’s definitely a book to be savored rather than devoured.

4.  Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis:  This book offers an insider’s view into competitive Scrabble.  I’ve always liked Scrabble, and I’d already been playing lots of Words with Friends on Facebook.  But reading this book made me kind of obsessed with the game.  I actually ended up by a Scrabble PC game because of it.  It asks the question, though, are crazy-people naturally attracted to Scrabble or does Scrabble make people crazy?

5.  Star Wars:  Choices of One by Timothy Zahn:  This “sequel” story takes place between the movies A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back.  Zahn goes back to explore more facets of Mara Jade and Grand Admiral Thrawn, two legendary characters he first introduced in his Thrawn Trilogy (which basically kicked off the Star Wars expanded universe in the early 90’s).  It was a little strange, though, going back to naive and inexperienced 18-year-old Luke Skywalker after recently reading about Grand Master Luke Skywalker fighting the Sith with his teenage son.


6.  Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery:  I actually listened to this on Audio book over the course of two months while I ran errands in my van (that’s why I almost forgot to count it).  Of all the Green Gables books, the first two are probably the ones that I have reread the least, so a lot of it was new again.  And there were certain insights about the story that have come with age.


Home Improvements

November 22, 2011

Since my mother-in-law moved in last month, some much needed reorganizing was brought to my attention.  It’s not that she has complained in the least.  I just became aware of sloppiness that didn’t matter to me as much when we didn’t have another person living here.  For instance, it was no big deal before if I had max pads lying around in the bathroom, but suddenly I felt kind of embarrassed.  And if I let towels hanging over the shower curtain to dry it didn’t inconvenience anyone else who wanted to take a shower because there was no one else besides me and Bailey who used that bathroom to take showers.

As a result, Bed, Bath, and Beyond has being seeing quite a bit of me lately.  Actually the first thing I bought was this bathroom “spacesaver” from Wal-mart for the half bathroom downstairs.

That bathroom had absolutely no cabinet space at all, just the toilet and a pedestal sink.  There was one little corner shelf on the wall just big enough to hold two rolls of toilet paper.  Once I built this and put it in the bathroom, I started asking myself why I hadn’t done it sooner.  The top cabinet was the perfect place to put my little basket of band-aids and ointments that had been cluttering my downstairs bookshelf for years.  On the open shelf I put a decorative box from Michael’s to hold my feminine napkins, and the pull-down cabinet holds about five rolls of toilet paper.  I also keep a basket on top with hair elastics and a hair brush, so I don’t have to go upstairs when someone’s hair needs a quick fix.

It became quickly apparent that I needed a second one of these for the upstairs “Girls” bathroom.  Unfortunately the one above has a cardboard backing which I figured would disintegrate quickly since Piper is infamous for very raucous baths leave water splattered on the other side of the room.  I ended up going with this all metal one from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

My mother-in-law keeps a basket with her haircare and hygiene supplies on the top shelf.  On the bottom shelf I have a canvas box that holds two rolls of toilet paper, making it much easier to reach in an emergency than the cabinet under the sink.  Bailey has room to keep her train case that she just received for her birthday, and there will be space for the other girls to keep theirs eventually.  But for now the extra space is a great place to put my clean clothes for after my shower.  I also was able to loop a hand towel along one side which is much easier for my smaller girls to reach to dry their hands.

I had an idea of how I wanted to handle the bath towel situation, but I had never gotten around to implementing it.  Last week, though, I went ahead and bought two four-peg wall-mounted racks.  I removed the old bent towel bar on the wall between the door and the bathtub and put those up instead, one high and one low.  This gives me a place to hang towels to dry out of my mother-in-law’s way.

I also bought six new bath towels:  two navy, two pink, and two purple.  I assigned Bailey the navy ones, Piper the pink, and Katie the purple.  I assigned the old yellow ones that we’ve been using to Sabrina.  Now each girl has her own towel set to use and a place to hang them up to be reused a few times between washings.  I’m hoping this will cut down on some of my laundry loads, especially as they get older and need to take showers more often.

The last organization item I bought actually was not for the bathroom, but for the kitchen.  We’ve always been kind of haphazard about our mail, and a day doesn’t go by in which my husband isn’t searching for his keys before he leaves the house.  So, I picked up this mail center from Bed, Bath, and Beyond to put my mother-in-law’s mail as soon as it comes in so that it doesn’t get buried under all of the clutter around our house.  It also has a place to stick my husband’s keys whenever I find them lying around. (Although, I did buy the other version they had in the store without the cork board.)

All total I think I spent a little less than $150 by utilizing coupons and sales.  But it has been well worth every penny.  It’s funny how little things like that can make your home feel so much nicer and more livable, especially when you have so many bigger and more expensive projects looming in the distance.

Single Digit

November 20, 2011

I have this memory of attending a friend’s ninth birthday party, three months after my own, in which another attendee was amazed at the fact that on our next birthdays we would all be in double digits.  This memory has been going through my mind a lot lately, because today my oldest daughter turns nine.  Nine!!  9!!!  Nueve!!

Among the presents this year there are fewer toys.  Bailey’s been coveting suede boots for two years, but they haven’t been in our regular budget.  Something tells me the ones she received this morning will be getting a lot of wear and tear until the first snowfall happens.  Fashion accessories are becoming more and more popular, so a gift card to Claire’s boutique is a big hit.  And money never goes out of style.

Next year Bailey will officially be a Tween.  (I don’t care what the marketers say these days.  Tween years are ages 10-12, when you exit double digits but are not yet a teen.)  We’ve had to start having those discussions about puberty, so that she won’t be completely be caught off guard by some of the changes that are already starting to occur to her body.  She is growing so tall and lean.

This year she received a “milestone” present in a addition to her normal haul.  Someday I will have four teen and pre-teen girls (Lord help me!) with multiple tubes of deodorant, hair brushes, facial cleansers, and other hygiene products and fashion accessories.  Therefore I decided that age 9 would be a good time to give each girl her own case to put their stuff and keep in the bathroom.  I bought this one for Bailey along with a smaller pouch to keep jewelery or hair elastics, some scented lotion, some of her favorite Chap Stick, her own personal hair brush, and a few other nicknacks.In addition, Bailey also received a copy of The Care and Keeping of You.  This book, published by American Girl, offers information and tips for dealing with health and hygiene issues unique to growing girls.  At first Bailey was excited about it, but then she started to get concerned that it had more information than she was mentally and emotionally ready for.  There is one small section in the book that I advised her skip for now.  I explained to her, though, that the book offered more detail about a few things she had asked me about recently and it is a general reference that she could use more and more over the coming years.  I was gratified, though, when Bailey turned to me and said, “But you will still be my best reference.”

Her squeamishness over the book was a subtle reminder of how Bailey is already caught between her desires to be “more grown up” but her instinctive knowledge that she is not really ready for all of the knowledge and responsibility that entails.  She may not be growing up as fast as she would like, but it is still too fast for me.  On days like today I feel blessed to have discovered homeschooling and have all of the extra time it gives me to soak up these fleeting days in my children’s lives.

But for one more year Bailey’s age will remain a single digit.  Happy Birthday, Bailey!!!  I love you!

Being Recognized

November 14, 2011

On the heels of donating to the local animal shelter, Bailey (turning nine this month) decided that she wanted to help a different group next.  She worked hard selling home-made beaded bracelets, collecting monetary donations, and reading books for money.  She raised $57.

A spout of illnesses throughout October kind of put Bailey’s plans on hold, but last Friday we went shopping at the two low-cost grocery stores near home and gathered a whole trunk-full of grocery items for our local government food pantry.

Here’s what she got for $57:

  • 20 cans of vegetable
  • 4 cans of cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cans of chicken broth
  • 4 boxes of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa
  • 5 bottles of apple juice
  • 5 boxes of drink pouches
  • 3 boxes of saltine crackers
  • 3 large boxes of spaghetti
  • 3 bottles of spaghetti sauce
  • 10 cans of tuna
  • 6 cans of fruit

Today we dropped off all the food at the local government food pantry.  They were very surprised that Bailey had taken the initiative to raise money and shop for this food all on her own, and they asked if they could feature her in next month’s government center newsletter.  To Bailey, who has aspirations of fame, this was exciting news.  Her jubilant reaction:  “I never expected to be recognized for doing this.”

Since we got home, Bailey has called all of her grandparents to share the news and promised them copies of the newsletter when it comes out.  I see nothing wrong with a little recognition, but I bet that even without it Bailey would still have that desire to help others less fortunate than herself.  Once again I am so proud of her big heart and generous spirit.

October 2011 Reading List

November 1, 2011

1.  A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller:  I saw this booked recommended in blog circles I frequent.  For the first few chapters I couldn’t imagine why, but when it kicked it, I understood.  Miller re-examines how we live our lives and offers tips for making the story of our lives better and more meaningful.  My only concern is that Miller is able to control much of his story because he is single.  I wonder how he would expect some of this to work when you have to include another person (or more if you have children) into your story-making process.

2.  Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey:  This was a reread for about the bazillionth time.

3.  The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson:  This book offers more background information about “the girl with the dragon tattoo” as she becomes a murder suspect.

4.  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest by Stieg Larsson:  This is the final book in the Millennium Trilogy.  All three books were published posthumously, and I can’t help wondering if Larsson would have whittled down all of the exposition.  There is supposedly a fourth book of the series that was 3/4 finished by Larsson and may be finished by his

5.  Story Engineering by Larry Brooks:  This book was recommended by Jen at Conversion Diary, and it is a must have for anyone who is considering writing a book.  I’ve been using it to prepare for National Novel Writing Month, and I have learned so much.