Thursday, April 29, 2010

Scamming, Sharing & Smiling

Hey big fella, wha 'cha got there?

Birthday cake and ice cream?  Gimme some!

Mommy usually hides when she eats ice cream
I'll show you why...

Thanks for sharing Daddy.

Betcha I can get some more...


Such a push over!

How much more do you have in there?

First snuggle...

...then go for the spoon!

Sweet success!

Girl's got skills!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Kate the Great

"Kate! Why is your clean outfit in the dirty laundry pile?"

"Dad said for me to put it in the pile because he said I was 'all over the place' in it yesterday."

"But it isn't dirty," I whined.

"I'm just tellin' ya, that's what Dad said."

"Kate," I moaned, "your father is killin' me."

"Well, Mom..." she said in a wise-beyond-her-five-years voice, "most husbands will do that ya know."


Earlier this year, I was fixing mashed potatoes to take to church for a funeral dinner.  Kate, who for the first five years of her life, had been very, very "anti-mashed potato" decided recently that this fine American dish was now on her top five list of favorite foods. 

"Mmmmm...are those mashed potatoes?  May I have a bowl of them?"

"No Kate, these are for Mr. ______________'s funeral dinner."

"Mom, didn't Mr. ___________ die?  Isn't he in heaven?"

"Yes Kate, he is," I answered somberly.

"Well Mom," she reasoned, "he can't eat 'em."

"Grrrrrrrrrrr," muttered Kate as she left my presence on her way to do a job I'd given her to do.

"What's the matter with you?" asked her father.

"It's your wife," she said, pointing in my direction, "she's driving me crazy!"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chicken...Cooked in an Oven

The Double Do Over served in my home earlier this week is called Roasted Chicken with Smokey Apricot Sauce and I found it in

If you turn to page 104, you will find the short ingredient list:

Chicken5 chicken breasts were plenty to feed the 6 of us for dinner and 3 of us for lunch the next day.  I cut each piece into three pieces after I "hammered" them a bit to make them more tender.  Salt and pepper them on both sides and place in roasting pan or casserole dish.

Liquid Smoke: This is an ingredient that I had never used before.  You can find it near the Worcestershire sauce and barbecue sauce at the grocery store for under two dollars.  Only 1 teaspoon is used in this dish.

Apricot Preserves: 1 and 1/2 cups  (the entire 18 oz. jar).  Robin Miller says, "If you have orange marmalade instead of apricot preserves, that works too.  In fact, any fruit preserve will work."  

Soy Sauce:  2 Tablespoons 

That's it!  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Combine the preserves, the soy sauce, and the liquid smoke and pour over the chicken. 

Roast until the chicken is cooked through, about 30-35 minutes. 

I served potato slices cooked with garlic and olive oil as a side dish and corn for the vegetable.  My Man says that the chicken with the sauce would also taste very good served over rice. 

My Man also says that there "have too" been more than 5 Double Do Overs in our 15 years of marriage, however, he has not been able to name them as yet. 

Enjoy!  I hope it lives up to the "hype"!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Do Over

I've been married for fifteen years to a man with whom I have very little in common when it comes to choices of music, and books, when it comes to housekeeping ability, personality, organizational tendencies, and FOOD.  Basically, the glue holding this whole thing together is that we both enjoy Ben & Jerry's ice cream...but then again NOT the same flavors.

I eat with a sense of adventure.  My Man eats with a sense of aversion.  I'm always up for something new, something different.  My Man would be thrilled if I served spaghetti, baked ziti, grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and pizza on a weekly basis. 

Happily, our local library has a spectacular cookbook section.  They are brimming with the classics from Julia Child and Martha Stewart to the latest and trendiest cookbooks coming off the presses like The Steamy Kitchen, The Farm Chicks and Rachel Ray.  They have Italian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Japanese and many other international cookbooks on their shelves as well. 

I frequently check out 4 or 5 cookbooks at a time.  I can hardly wait to see what these treasures have to offer.  I've been known to leaf through their pages at stop lights on the way home from the library.  Upon arriving home, however, I shelve those babies behind the kids' library books post haste.  NOTHING terrifies my Man more than the sight of a new cookbook.  I've found that introducing one tiny new dinner offering at a time is much less overwhelming than the threat of a whole new cookbook full of them. 

When I find a new recipe that I think might be well received by my Man and my pickiest child, I prepare it for dinner.  Then "the dance" begins.  My Man comes home and asks the age old question, "What's for dinner tonight?"

I answer as vaguely as possible, "Chicken with other stuff."

He, who has been married for fifteen years to a woman with whom he has little in common with in terms of food, asks further, "What kind of chicken?"

I, desperately wanting to expand my Man's food horizons, answer in greater detail, "Chicken cooked in the oven."

He, lowering his eyebrows, cuts to the chase, "Is there anything in it that I don't like?"

This is the most difficult question I have had to answer in our married life.  It is at this point every time, that I am tempted to lie through my teeth.  I have learned through the years, that whether I come clean or not, my Man will not be fooled.  There is a chance, I reason, that he has never sampled, let's say pimentos, so answering that last question with "I'm not sure," would technically be honest, but would definitely raise suspicion.

In the event that the preliminary questioning goes well, (and it generally does these days because I've lowered my expectations on just how gastronomically eager my Man will be, and because I know what questions are on the test!) we sit down to dinner. 

Here's how it will go...My pickiest eater will arrive at the table with her face a bit scrunched up.  The older kids will be excited to sample the new dish.  Molly will begin chanting, "Me, Molly, Me," as if we often forget to pass a plate to her.  The blessing is asked, forks are picked up, and the meal begins. 

I start to eat, pretending not to notice when my Man gets to the new stuff.  After what seems like an eternity, he has worked up the courage to eat what is before him.  He takes a bite or two and then, one of two things might happen: he likes the dish and continues eating it, or he doesn't like it and moves on to the applesauce or the mashed potatoes hoping to get enough nourishment to last him until breakfast. 

In either case, my Man will make no comment!!  A wise woman would know or at least learn to leave well enough alone.  No compliment yet no complaint.  If the kids like it that should be enough, there are more kids than husbands to feed in this place after all!  A wise woman I've never claimed to be however, and I simply CANNOT let it alone.  I MUST KNOW. 

"Well, how do you like it?"

Option 1:  "It's OK."
Translation: "I don't hate it.  It isn't making me sick at this moment."

Option 2: "How much onion did the recipe call for?"
Translation: "I forgot to ask if it had onion in it again, will I ever learn? Please don't fix this again, ever."

Option 3: "This is a DO OVER."
Translation: "I will happily eat this again."

Option 4: "This is a Double DO OVER."
Translation: "I will happily eat this again.  In fact, I'll probably request this meal next Tuesday and every Tuesday thereafter."

Option 4 has occurred five times in our fifteen years.  Someday, I'll share these recipes.  I have marked them in my cookbooks with brightly colored markers.  "Double Do Over!!!!!"  I'm always surprised.  It never happens with the recipes that I think will get the coveted Double Do Over rating.

Tonight, I scored a Double Do Over.  I'm excited.  The recipe was from a library cookbook by a Food Network chef.  It even included an ingredient that I had never used before.  My picky eatin' child ate it too.  I'll tell ya all about it next post.  Until then I can tell you that it was chicken...cooked in the oven!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Test Prep

Tomorrow is the homeschoolin' Super Bowl.  Testing day.  Our state requires homeschoolers to choose one of two courses of action in which to remain accountable to the Board of Education.  The first option open to us is to keep a portfolio of the students' work throughout the year and have it reviewed by a certified teacher.  In our case that would mean a certifiable teacher having her students' work reviewed by a certified teacher--HA! 

The second option available to us is for our little scholars to sit for a standardized test and then send the results in to the Board of Education.  This is the option we choose each year. 

For the last few weeks, we've been sharpening our testing skills.

Practicing filling in little dots, learning how to handle tricky questions.  We've worked on slowly reading the directions on each page.

We've been reviewing math facts, science methods, important historical events and some political science.

We've even called in a special tutor for geography.

She takes her job seriously and her heart for her students beats true...

She's readily available to both of our students which is a good thing because...

Test prep is exhausting. 

Molly and I, we've done our best, but we're a bit nervous because we realize that the test scores are not only a reflection upon how much our students know, the scores are also a reflection on the quality of the teaching the students have received!

At this point, we've done all that we can do.  Now we'll just have to hand 'em their #2 pencils, get out of their way, and pray for our students to shine!   

Monday, April 12, 2010


"Fwing! Fwing!  Mommeeeeee Fwing!"

"I've got her Mom," said a voice from the porch who really should've been learning instead of bowing to the whim of a toddler. 

"Thanks," said a voice from the kitchen who really should've been tending to the toddler instead of attempting a chore or two.  I helped him load the "fwing" and then returned my attention to my task at hand. 

I told myself that I'd take over in a minute so he could get back to his studies, as soon as I'd finished the grocery list and the breakfast dishes.

I peeked out the window to check on them after the grocery list was complete.  Surely I had a few minutes to do my hair.

Many, many minutes later, my conscience could handle the child-care-at-the-expense-of-education no longer.  I determined that a good mother could set aside her agenda to push her youngest child in the swing on a beautiful sunny morning for a few minutes.  A good teaching mother would never hinder her student's studies just so she could get a few household chores finished, or makeup applied, or sneak into an Easter basket or two. 

These thoughts and a few others were bulldozing through my mind as I rounded the corner from the back porch.  That is until I saw ...

...until I saw that I was helping to raise a multi-tasking, compassionate big brother. (Today, anyway!)  Whoo Hoo!

(I feel kinda bad for stealing his Easter candy!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Today on my Doorstep...

Don't you love it when that something you've ordered arrives on your doorstep before you've even begun to start looking for it?

I do.  I love it when that happens.

Once, soon after we'd moved in to this house, a package came via the UPS man much sooner than I'd anticipated.  I was taking my shower one morning and I'd left the bathroom door open to monitor the then two children, as was my habit until that day.  I was just reaching for the shampoo bottle when I heard, "Thanks little buddy," in a voice that did NOT belong to my Man.  It turns out that the "little buddy" had not been reminded for a while NOT to open the front door, from which the bathroom is completely visible, while I was in the shower.  Poor UPS man!

Today, that brown delivery-truck-of-joy produced a little box from Amazon that I requested just yesterday!  What fun!  I had not paid for overnight shipping.  I had not paid for the books inside the box either as they were the result of a gift certificate of sorts!  All the better.  

Inside wrapped in thick plastic wrap within the small box were two books from my wish list.  The first is another in the series of journals of Madeleine L'Engle called A Circle of Quiet.

A Circle of QuietTwo-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage (The Crosswicks Journal, Book 4)

I enjoyed the fourth, and last, book in The Crosswicks Journal series Two-Part Invention fourth(which I read first) for its charm and the author's elegant turn-of-phrase.  I look forward to more of the same in this volume.  And, if you enjoy the cover of a book, like my mother who actually does judge a book by its cover, you'll love this's a beauty.

The second book in my bundle happens to be the second book in a delightful mystery series featuring eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, science enthusiast extraordinaire.  The first book in this very clever series is called The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie where the reader is introduced to young Flavia who is described as a "dangerously brilliant eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and genius for solving murders."  The series is set in 1950s England in the "sleepy" village of Bishop's Lacy.  Flavia, her father, and her two insufferable teen-aged sisters, live at Buckshaw , an old English country house.  

In this series' debut, Flavia spends a great deal of time investigating the murder of a stranger found on the grounds of her family's country estate astride her trusty bicycle Gladys.  Upon her discovery of the dead body in the cucumber patch, Flavia muses, “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag: A Flavia de Luce Mystery (Flavia De Luce Mysteries)The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery

Way fun. Here are some quotes from reviews:
"If ever there was a sleuth who's bold, brilliant, and yes, adorable, it's Flavia de Luce....[A] scrumptious first novel." ~USA Today
"A smashing series starter--a book readers will come to the end of wishing they hadn't read, beause it would be so wonderful to read it again for the first time." ~Mystery News
"A five-star performance for young and old...written with Dickensian flair, Sherlockian suspense and tongue-in-cheek fun...sets the bar for the series to follow."

The second book in the series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag came out last month and I've finally gotten my hands on it.  Unfortunately, since it arrived on a Wednesday, the very busiest day here at The Wright Place, I haven't laid eyes on it just yet.  Maybe tomorrow?  Only if I can find A Circle of Quiet somewhere!!  Tee Hee.

**You can get more information on these books at by clicking on the picture or title of the book.

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