Saturday, February 27, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up

I think my weekly wrap-ups are pretty much interchangeable. We did most of our regular things; we didn't get around to a few things. We made a little progress here and there. We enjoyed each other; we bickered. We laughed; we rolled our eyes. We went on a field trip; we had our regular classes; we had our outside activities.

So this week, I'm going to focus on the thing I'm most happy about with each kid:
* Jesse: I'm happy about all the work he put into his music, described here on The Band Debuts. And on a character level, I'm amazed at his courage. He asked a girl to the prom and then had to ask her father. Egads! Where did he come up with such bravery?
* Laurel: She wrote a great persuasive essay this past week, and she volunteered to go in the first round of poster/speeches for our literature circle next week. That's a big thing for a shy girl!
* Duncan: His multiplication tables are coming along quite easily for him, and he pretty much never complains about his school work. He just does it.

Spring is teasing us. We are anxious to get outside, work in the flowerbeds, ride bikes, take walks, climb trees, go hiking. I think it will come in just the nick of time.

How was your week? Check out others at the Weekly Wrap-Up.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Band Debuts

So those photos I took a few weeks ago, including Band on the Roof? There really was a purpose. Jesse and his friend Everett needed photos for their first CD. And here it is, all glossy and even shrink-wrapped:

I'm pretty sure that I should have been giving Jesse some kind of high school credit for all of this. For a couple of months now, Jesse and Everett have been working hard. They've written all their songs, practiced, recorded, purchased CD cases on Craig's List, designed the CD booklet and had it printed, figured out shrink-wrapping, made posters, and a bunch of other things I'm sure I'm forgetting. And the biggest thing: they have their first gig tonight, which Jesse set up back in January.

I know! It's so cool! They are playing at Hot Topic in the mall. If you don't have one, it's a clothing store for teens that has Friday night concerts featuring local bands. I wish I could go, but I have another thing to go to tonight. Jesse said that if we came, we'd have to yell "Freebird." (They are prepared to play it if anyone does request it. He's that awesome.)

I think my favorite song might be "Buying Back Buffy," which they wrote after their (broke) friend Bryant took back his "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" DVDS while they were in the middle of watching them so that he could sell them at the used book store.

They are funny boys who ooze creativity. I like them a lot.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Lego Conference

I was going through my iPhoto library today, mostly deleting photos, when I came across this whole series of Lego pictures that my 9-year-old took. I was cracking up, especially when I came across pictures of The Hand invading the good Lego people. But something about this one just made me wondering, "What was he thinking?" The Lego guys are obviously engaged in some kind of conference, a huddle. What are they meeting about? Why was it photo worthy? What was the dialogue going on in my son's head? I love these years of imagination, unlike anything we as adults can recapture, even as we play with our children.

For more "Wordless" Wednesday posts, visit Wordless Wednesday and Five Minutes for Mom.

Monday, February 22, 2010

On the Menu

My oldest son spent one week as a vegan. I'm glad that's over. I didn't go out of my way to cook for him, since it was his choice to be a vegan and, being nearly 17, he's perfectly capable of cooking for himself. But I must admit that I was concerned about his health. He pretty much ate a lot of hash browns, refried beans, and tofu. He's not a really great vegetarian because he doesn't fix himself, um, vegetables. He should be a carbohydratarian.

Anyway, veganism is over and he's just a vegetarian now, except I think he'll eat fish. While I avoid making statements like, "Oh, you know how teenagers are" because I happen to really, really like teenagers and find them fun, I will say that teenagers can be…quirky.

But so can I.

I don't have much to report on from last week's menu. I did try Pioneer Woman's Pasta with Artichokes last week. It was okay but not breathtaking. We decided that sauteed mushrooms would be much better than tomatoes, and it needed lots of parmesan, which we were out of. Dr. H. made his spectacular Chicken Piccata for my birthday, and we also ate out one night (which is quite the event around this Dave Ramsey household).

I'm not trying anything new this week, but it is a double crockpot week. In other words, I have two days that are so insane that I need crockpot meals for those days. So we'll be having Taco Soup one of those nights and Chuckwagon Soup on the other. My vegetarian will eat, um, rice and cheese on those days. In just a minute when I get my butt up from this chair, I'll be fixing Ginger Beef, except with chicken. And one day this week I'll actually fix salmon, so that poor Jesse can have the main meal with us.

So now I'm wondering: am I a mean mom for not catering to my son's vegetarianism? I have nothing against being a vegetarian. I could easily be one; however, the rest of my family likes a few meatish meals each week. In general, our meal rule has been: if you don't like what we're serving, eat a bowl of cereal or make yourself a sandwich.

So how far do you go in catering to everyone's likes, dislikes, and personal preferences? Do you think I'm a mean mom?

More ideas for what to eat this week at Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up

I loved this past week. I wish every week could be so relaxing. We didn't have co-op classes on Monday, dance/drama on Tuesday, church on Wednesday, or AHG/Cub Scouts on Thursday, so we spent the vast majority of our time, um, at home. It was blissful. Which of course makes me ask myself, "why do we do all these activities, anyway?" But of course I only ask myself that in a fleeting sort of way, because, truthfully, we love to do all that stuff. (Except I really don't love driving 30 minutes to go to dance and drama, where I sit in a freezing cold building for 2 hours. But I do love that Laurel loves the classes, so self-sacrificing shall come into play here.)

But a break is nice, and this week had the added advantage of being my birthday week, so we took Wednesday off completely. It went much too fast, but you can read all about my birthday on the post cleverly titled Birthday Day.

We got tons of "regular" school done this week. I've noticed that happens when we stay home. We're working our way through World War I in history and literature, studying the human body, and doing our regular spelling (Spelling Power), writing (my own stuff), grammar (Daily Grams), and math (Saxon). The kids also have homework from co-op classes (literature circle, essay writing, Latin, book club) that they do throughout the week.

And then on Friday, we went to see Tom Sawyer at a local junior playhouse. We'd read an abridged version of the book throughout the week, so the kids knew the basics of the story. However, that only helped slightly because this particular version of the play was so odd and the acting so horrid that it only faintly resembled The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I mean, wow. It was really bad. This particular playhouse generally has good stuff and it certainly won't keep me from attending future plays, but by the end of the play I was actually giggling because it was embarrassingly bad. I'm a horrid person.

Later that night, however, I got to see yet another play, this time at the university's theatre department. I picked the play Oedipus Rex for us to read in the World Lit class that I teach because I knew it was part of the year's line-up at the Clarence Brown Theatre, and I wanted them to see a play. We had a fantastic time reading and discussing Oedipus, and seeing the play was a great way to tie it all together. The play itself was in the smaller, theatre-in-the-round building, so we in the front 2 rows were very, very close to the action. If you are familiar with the story of Oedipus, you'll know what happens in the very end. It was very, very gory. Poor dumb Oedipus had blood, sweat, and snot running down his face, which was not particularly pleasant. But the play itself was good and the experience well worth the ickiness.

On Saturday our National Homeschool Honor Society group hosted, as a service project, a practice session of the ACT for local homeschoolers. (Have I ever mentioned how irritating it is that homeschoolers aren't allowed to be in the National Honor Society? Harumph.) While the students in the honor society proctored the practice exam, a couple other parents and I facilitated a roundtable discussion about homeschooling through high school, applying for colleges, etc. That was very enjoyable, and I gleaned lots of information from a couple of parents who have kids in college already.

And that's our Weekly Wrap-Up. What happened in your world this week?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Birthday Day

Yesterday was my birthday, right smack in the middle of winter. (Or here in the South, at the end of winter. What a pleasant thought!) When I was growing up in New York, I never had school on my birthday because we always had a "mid-winter break" for the whole week beginning with President's Day. Around here we have a tradition of having a day off for birthdays, so we didn't have school here, either. So here's how I spent my birthday…

* I enjoyed reading birthday greetings on Facebook, all day and even this morning for those who posted after I went to bed. I love Facebook and the great interconnectedness it brings. I got about 3 cards in the mail, but dozens and dozens of greetings from people from all different points in my life on Facebook. Plus I got to see their little faces.

* My daughter made pancakes for me, so after doing The Shred with Jillian Michaels, I ate pancakes. I know, something isn't right about exercising and then eating, but it was my birthday. And yes, we eat our pancakes with fake syrup and peanut butter. Don't judge me, organic-heads.

* I cleaned out my sock drawer, threw away single socks, and found a $20 bill!

* I splurged at lunch and ate a leftover burger mini from our dinner out last night.

* I cleaned the bathroom and then took a bubble bath and shaved my legs with a new razor.

* I told my 9-year-old to go clean his room because it's my birthday.

* My friend Caroline and her daughter left a beautiful package on my doorstep. Caroline is a good listener. Last week at the Father/Daughter banquet, as we were cooking spaghetti, I mentioned that our plastic colander dated back to Randy's bachelor days—making it at least 21 years old! And so look what Caroline gave me, along with her fabulous homemade bread and jelly. And I have to say that the card from Bess was absolutely precious. Plus, she wrote an acrostic.

* I played Mario Kart with my kids and got 6th place, which is amazing for me. I rarely get better than last place.

* I spent close to two hours wandering around Hobby Lobby. My sweet daughter hung in there with me until about the last 30 minutes, when she started to get a little antsy. But three aisles of 80% off items, not to mention the rest of the store! Two hours was not long enough.

* My Dad and I watched Olympic curling while Randy cooked up a spectacular dinner of chicken piccata, pasta, and artichokes. My mother contributed sweet potatoes, asparagus and a beautiful strawberry cake. My brother Peter and sister-in-law Nancy joined us for dinner and games afterwards.

So now you know how old I am, which I know is shocking because I look like I'm 25. Whoops--I forget I'm not the one who looks 25—that would be my husband. Seriously. He has seriously good aging genes.

* I opened presents from my wonderful family. I have the best family. They all listen to me, know me, and pick out the most perfect gifts. I really could go on and on about them, but I have to go take a shower.

* I watched American Idol with my family and finished the dang book I've been reading for nearly three weeks. Admittedly I struggled to stay awake the last few pages and can't really recall what happened in the end, but at last, I can move on to the next book.

It was a wonderful birthday. This morning, amazingly, the sun is shining, and I'm ready to begin a new year of my blessed life.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: The Hand

My oldest son bought the Bloody Hand years ago because, well, who can imagine why? He was probably 10 or 12 at the time. It disappeared for awhile—lost at the bottom of a toy box, I suppose—but it resurfaced again sometime in the past year. And now sometimes it just…appears. I hope you all are so lucky as to have one of these in your homes.

For more "Wordless" Wednesday posts, visit Wordless Wednesday and Five Minutes for Mom.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On the Menu

I am officially taking a break from cooking this week. I actually don't really like cooking very much. I would be perfectly happy eating things like beans and rice, macaroni and cheese (homemade), and pasta with pesto most of the time. Also grilled cheese and tomato soup. And a big fat steak twice each year.

I really like baking. I'd be perfectly happy to bake cookies, cakes, and breads every day. The problem is that, although they'd be happy eating cookies, cake, and pumpkin muffins every day, my people really need to eat good, healthy food. And they don't want to eat beans and rice every day (or in some cases, ever). Also, I'm strongly in favor of eating meals together, at the table, most nights of the week. So, cook I must.

Last week's Cuban Pork Roast with applesauce was absolutely delicious. It made enough for six adults and two kids with leftovers for a couple more lunches. I also made lasagna one night when my brother from New York made an unexpected-type visit. Thursday and Friday were out-of-house dinner nights, and Randy grilled out last night.

But this week I'm not really planning to cook much. Tonight, Valentine's Day, we'll have our traditional spaghetti meal. It's the first meal that Randy and I ever cooked together, 24 years ago on Valentine's Day when we'd just started dating. We've kept up the tradition ever since. And then we head into…

Birthday Week! Yep, my birthday week. I've requested dinner out one night (I'm still contemplating where) and Randy's Chicken Piccata another night. I suppose I'll end up cooking on the other nights, but food may magically fall upon my table. One never knows. But in case it doesn't, I'll be making:
Marci's Tortellini Chowder and Pioneer Woman's Pasta with Artichokes, which keeps getting put off until the next week.

That's all for this week. All the recipes above are delicious, trust me. Even if you don't really like to cook. And many more ideas can be found at Menu Plan Monday and at Tasty Tuesday.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up

Here's what our week look liked, in excruciating detail.

Monday: Co-op day. I teach two sessions of intermediate essay writing and co-teach a literature circle, this session focusing on African-American literature. Those are all for middle-schoolers. Laurel takes two of my classes, show choir, and Latin. Duncan takes art, boys' book club, and Legos/how things work. It was really, really, really cold. I wore new shoes.

Tuesday: We finished Cheaper by the Dozen. I got all choked up, yet again. We did a little creative writing and lots of math. I have become Math Drill Sargent. Duncan went to my parents' house while I took Laurel to her drama and dance classes. That building was really, really, really, really cold. In fact, there was no heat. We could see our breath. My brother came in from New York. He made us miss American Idol.

Wednesday: Spelling! Math! Human Body lapbook! Started a new book about World War 1! Oh, and it snowed, so all the schools got out at noon because there was like a whole quarter-inch of snow on the ground. We, however, did not end school. But church was canceled, so we again had my brother and parents over for dinner and birthday cake (my brother). That was amazing cake. My brother taught Laurel and me how to play poker. Another valuable math lesson.

Thursday: I piled the kids up with math, reading, and grammar to do while I ran to Walmart for sundry items for American Heritage Girls and life in general. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Canceled Laurel's flute lesson because she hasn't yet adjusted to playing the flute with braces. AHG and Cub Scouts all afternoon. Duncan had to also go to Boy Scouts with Randy and Jesse that evening because Laurel and I had to stay and decorate for the Father/Daughter banquet. Got home late but didn't miss the exciting premier of Survivor, another high quality, mindless TV show that we enjoy around here.

Friday: No school. Too crazy of a day to even pretend. I took Duncan over to a friend's house at 12:30 and there he still is (I hope). I taught my World Lit/geography class in the early afternoon, which was highly amusing as the students read Oedipus Rex aloud. The rest of the day, from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m., was devoted to more preparation and then the production of the annual AHG father/daughter banquet—and the cleaning up afterward.

But it was all so worth it for about 50 pairs of dads and daughters, like my own sweeties above. Came home. My sweetie presented me with a box of white chocolate-dipped strawberries. I promptly ate two and then watched the Olympic torch being lit. Went to bed and read 1 page. Collapsed.

How was your week? Wrap it up at the Weekly Wrap-up, if you're so inclined!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Writer's Workshop: Scar

Here I am, encouraging you to have your kids write regularly—to do the weekly journal writings on my WordSmithery assignments—and I don't even write regularly. Well, I do write regularly, I suppose, but I don't s-t-r-e-t-c-h very often with writing prompts.

So I was attracted to the weekly Writer's Workshop at Mama's Losin' It. She has a selection of writing prompts each week and encourages bloggers to pick one, write, and share. So this week I'm picking, "Tell us about that scar…"


I know, you've probably never noticed it, not because it's in a secret place but because it's mostly faded. But it has kept me scared of big dogs since I was four-years-old. No, I'm not scared of your family pet that greets me at the door, but I am scared of dogs running around loose. (And packs of wild dogs, should I ever happen to run into one of those here in the suburbia.)

His name was Pepper, and he was a German Shepherd. He was not part of a pack of wild dogs, nor was he running around loose. I, in fact, was in his territory. He belonged to our neighbors on Castle Street, and the vanBurens had him nicely chained by their back door. But the vanBuren's house was a favorite gathering spot for neighborhood kids and their younger siblings, who trailed along behind. (No doubt, they were probably supposed to be taking care of us.)

And so as our teenage brothers did who-knows-what, my brother Stephen and I antagonized Pepper. Stephen did it first. He got right in Pepper's face and hissed. And because I did everything my slightly older brother did, I also got right in Pepper's face and hissed.

Dumb girl.

Yeah, so Pepper bit my face. My brothers rushed me home, and my mom took me over to Dr. Duell's office, where the good doctor sewed me up while his nurses and my mother held me down. Too close to the eye for anesthesia. And then a week or so later, when the bite got infected and the stitches had to be taken out and put back in, they all held me down again. I, a quiet child, was kicking and screaming. Or at least I was in my head.

My brother had a matching scar from when we were in a family car accident a few of years before that. Our scars have both faded now, and I would never hiss in the face of a dog if Stephen did it first. But still, I care what he thinks, and I wish I didn't. Some things never fade.

Check out more prompts at
Mama's Losin' It

Wordless Wednesday: Rocker

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest and his friend asked me to take photos for their CD cover. While they were climbing up on the roof (see that picture here!), Duncan held Jesse's guitar for him. I love the upside-down guitar and that grin.

For more "Wordless" Wednesday posts, visit Wordless Wednesday and Five Minutes for Mom.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

On the Menu

I have been having so much fun finding new recipes to add to my What's for Supper list. But this week I encountered one that will absolutely not make the list. I am not a picky eater at all, except that I despise mayonnaise and anything resembling it, like salad dressing. (And I have no idea what the difference is between the two and why people become grossly defensive about one vs. the other, and please don't try to make me understand. They're both icky.) I also don't like salmon patties, beef tongue or brains, and veal. Besides that, I'll pretty much eat anything. Except pigs' feet and those purplish eggs. And cole slaw, egg salad, tuna salad, and potato salad (but that goes back to the whole mayo thing).

But ANYWAY, this week I made a meal that I actually ended up tossing out. The villain: the Food Network's Calypso Beef Soup. So, okay. When I told a few friends the ingredients to the soup after the fact, they said, "What would possess you to think that would be good?" I had my reservations, I really did. Black-eyed peas, ground beef, sweet potatoes, spinach, and coconut milk: hmmm—definitely sounds suspicious. But the reviews on the site were so convincing! "This is the best soup I've ever tasted...and I don't just hand out that title.... My picky husband even went back for 2nds and said it was his favorite as well" and "Everyone thought the flavors were unique and wonderful and all helped themselves to seconds!" Now I have to wonder: What do these poor people eat normally that they found this to be such a treat?

Not my shining moment in the kitchen. We all ate about a dozen bites and threw it out. I didn't even bring the leftovers over to my parents, who will eat anything (including brains and tongue). Fortunately, we had a good portion of this Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip left from our Cub Scout Blue and Gold banquet the night before. This dip, by the way, is aMAzing!! Please, please try it for your next party!

The General Tso's Chicken was delicious, and I didn't get to my other new recipe. One night we did have our favorite Baked Potato Soup and Randy made Fettucine Alfredo again last night at my Mom's special request, along with Pioneer Woman's Buttery Bread and Roasted Cauliflower.

Coming up next week, we'll be having
Cuban Pork Roast with applesauce,
• chili
• Pioneer Woman's Pasta with Artichokes.

The other nights we have various other dinner plans, so my grocery list this week actually has about 15 items on it. What sorts of interesting things are you eating this week? I hope all your meals are successful—and trust me: don't try the Calypso Soup! Menu Plan Monday , Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, and Balancing Beauty and Bedlam are great places to find more recipes and reviews.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up

This week was a little calmer than the past two. We had a couple of weeks of serious math drills, and now we're back to our regular Saxon. Laurel is tremendously looking forward to switching to Teaching Textbooks next year. I signed up for a trial subscription to ALEKS, thinking we might go that route for the rest of the year, but she was pretty resistant to it. Still, I have another couple of weeks left on my trial subscription, so we'll see how it goes.

We have just two more chapters left in Cheaper By the Dozen. We've been loving Kristina Campbell's awesome study guide that goes along with the book. I'll give a more thorough review of the study guide when we finish the book, but let me just say that it enriches the reading of the novel is tremendous ways. I highly recommend both the book, the study guide, and the original movie. (Please note that the more recent Steve Martin movie has almost nothing to do with the book, other than that there are 12 children in the family!)

All are other subjects continued on as usual. We did manage to do creative writing this week, which is always a bonus. We are currently finishing my WordSmithery Lesson 8, Form Poetry, which means another WordSmithery post will be coming up soon! I know—I'm so lame in producing this with any sort of regularity. But I take comfort in knowing that you all know how that goes.

I suddenly realized that neither of the kids are taking a science class this session at our co-op, so we've decided to study the human body. I was excited to find in my files a whole Human Body Lapbook, created by A Journey Through Learning. I guess I downloaded it once through CurrClick's weekly freebie, so that helps tremendously! I am still gathering the rest of my resources. We have several good human body books on our shelves and a couple more missing-in-action.

For co-op classes, we have to read Mr. Tucket at home for Duncan's Boys Book Club (which heabsolutely loves). I wish I'd known about these great books by Gary Paulsen when we were doing our Oregon Trail unit last year! Laurel has homework in Latin, essay writing, and literature circle. Because she is the daughter of procrastinators, she has put off doing all her co-op class work until this weekend.

I don't talk much about what's going on in my senior's schoolwork, because really I don't have much to do with it (other than teaching his World Lit/World geography class at co-op). He's in the homestretch of high school now, just finishing up with the lit/geography class and Russian. He also takes piano and guitar lessons at the community college. Because he took Biology at the community college last semester, he is finished with science for the year. He has tons of elective credits and he finished his last required math credit last year and opted not to take any more, so he's having an easy last semester.

And that's what's happening in our own SmallWorld. How was your week? More weekly wrap-ups here at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Three Beautiful Things: Smile, Laugh, Friday Night

1. Smile: Last night I went out with some girlfriends for sushi. I had a great time, talking about everything from giving birth to bifocals. But the most beautiful thing was when I came home and pulled into the carport, I saw Duncan's face in the window. He was having a bedtime snack, and Randy was reading to him. When he heard me drive up, he looked out with the biggest, most beautiful smile on his face. Sheer joy on both our parts.

2. Laugh: I had so much fun teaching my World Lit/World Geography class today. We've been studying the play Oedipus Rex, and today we began reading it aloud in class, readers' theatre style. But first we had a lesson in subtext and about how meaning can changes according to the emphasis of words. We did a couple of vocal exercises, and it was just hilarious. They are such great kids.

3. Friday night: I love Friday nights, even though (or maybe because) we have nothing planned. It's a chilly, rainy night, and I have a warm house, a sweet family, and a delicious meal cooking. All we need is a good movie…

What beautiful things are in your life today? More joy going on at Good, True and Beautiful's Just for the Joy of It.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday Miscellany

* Today was a Big Event day: Laurel got her top braces on. I am so very thankful that we are financially able to get braces for our kids. And I love that our kids recognize that braces aren't a torture device but rather a privilege. Even though she'd rather have been born with perfectly straight teeth, she sure doesn't complain about having braces. The only real tragedy in all this for her is that she isn't supposed to eat candy. When Jesse got braces, he lost 10 pounds in the first month because his eating habits changed so dramatically! (Well, also, he grew like 4 inches, but whatever.)

* Speaking of eating, I made the most dreadful soup yesterday. But you'll have to wait until Sunday to hear about that when I do my "On the Menu" post. Tonight I'm making Baked Potato Soup, which is incredibly wonderful if I don't burn it. I made it back in December for a soup dinner that we had. I burned it so badly somehow, but I didn't know it until I had a bowl myself and almost gagged. After about 5 other people had already had their bowls. That was a crowning moment in my cooking career.

* I, however, will not be eating baked potato soup with my family. (Or rather, with Randy and Laurel. Duncan doesn't eat soup, and Jesse has quite recently decided to eat vegan.) I'm going out for sushi with friends! I'm tremendously looking forward to a girls' night out.

* I've been working diligently on cleaning our bedroom, as I committed to do here. I have all kinds of ideas for things I'd like to buy for the bedroom. I need to make a quick few thousand dollars first, though…

* I'm ready for spring. Are you?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Wishing

The carpet of spring wildflowers in the Smokies seems like a dream on this cold, drizzly, gray winter's day. Just another eight weeks and we'll be out hiking and the Botanist will be quizzing me on names of wildflowers....

For more "Wordless" Wednesday posts, visit Wordless Wednesday and Five Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Conquering the Disaster Zone

I'm sorry to say that the messiest room in our house is our bedroom. I long to have one of those bedrooms that, when company comes over, I can leave the door open and invite guests to lay their coats upon my luxurious bed and gaze at my lovely furnishings.

Instead, I have this:

And it's even worse when we have company, because all the odds and ends of junk from the other rooms gets stuffed into our bedroom. And it often never leaves.

In fact, our bedroom has few redeeming qualities except for the color, the window treatments, and a shelf I like a lot. So this month I'm joining the 28-Day Organizing Challenge at Organizing Junkie. I really, really need motivation to get this room in order. It's hard to tell your kids to clean your room when your own room looks like a pigsty. In fact, the kids have pointed this out once or twice. My response is always something like, "I have to keep the whole rest of the house clean." But really, it's obscene. So, I have 27 days now to totally transform this room. Wish me luck! Perhaps by the end of the month I could actually leave our bedroom door open when we have dinner guests…

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Memory: Frozen Ponds

For the first time in the 10 years that we've lived here, many of the ponds have been frozen—or at least had a thin layer of ice on top. When I was growing up in upstate New York, ponds provided hours and hours of entertainment. I learned to skate at two, first with skates with four blades, then with two-bladed skates, and finally to pretty white single-blade skates. I can remember my brothers, parents, and neighborhood kids shoveling snow in paths across the ice until the whole pond was cleared and ready for hockey. Stephen and I skated around the edges during the maniacal hockey games, always prepared to dodge a misdirected puck. On those ponds I learned to skate around and around, backwards, stop, and even do a few ungraceful spins that felt very professional.

When I was in sixth grade, the research station to which the ponds were attached put a ban on ice skating. About that same time our city opened its first indoor skating rink, so all skating moved to the rec center as I moved into the teen years. Something magical was lost. Cold, moonlit nights. Saturday afternoon hockey games. Paths cut through the snow.

My senior year in high school, my boyfriend and I and another couple decided that New Year's Eve was the perfect time for skating on the old ponds. We spent a couple of hours that night skating around and around, laughing and watching the winter stars. The smell of clean snow and scrape of blade against ice. The pure quiet of a winter night.

I've only been skating a few times since then, on public rinks under fluorescent lights. It's one of those memories I hold onto, hoping that some time I might find an old farm pond for a midnight skate.