Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sous Chef

To appreciate this post you need to know two things:

1) It's been months since I baked bread.

2) I am not a good enough cook/baker to necessarily notice if something seems strange as I'm doing it.

As we often do on Sunday evenings, we planned to have dinner with my in-laws last weekend. I offered to cook because I wanted to be at home while the Packers were on television (not a given in Ohio). Fresh bread sounded good to me so I planned on making some to enjoy with our dinner. Harper was being kind of irritating (not her fault, just comes with being six!) and I invited her to help me by way of distraction.

The kind of bread we were making is cheater's bread because it begins in the bread machine, but you end up baking it in your own pans so it doesn't have a weird bread machine shape or a hole in the bottom. I let Harper help put the ingredients into the bread machine and I happen to set the binder containing the recipe on the other side of the kitchen so I had her reading the (very simple) ingredients to me.

Harper had some trouble conveying the amounts when fractions were involved (1 1/4 tsp salt, for example), but reads pretty well so I trusted what she was telling me. We put hot water, bread flour, salt, sugar, and, finally, yeast into the machine, turned it on, and let it go to work. A few minutes later I looked at the bread machine and was surprised to see that the little window wasn't all fogged up like usual. I looked a little more closely and noticed the dough didn't look right, in fact, it looked more like batter.

I decided to pull out the recipe and double check - maybe Harper hadn't conveyed something correctly?

I knew right away was the problem was. Harper had confidently read to me, "1 cup sugar." I didn't question this, no fractions, and both the words "cup" and "sugar" were easy enough. Unfortunately what the recipe actually said was, "1 tsp. sugar." Just a slight difference there!

We had frozen dinner rolls with our meal. (It was too late to start over.)

I think Harper's going to have to do some more baking with me this winter - and we'll read the recipes together.

Sunday, September 25, 2011




It has been nearly two weeks since I last posted, which is a new low for me. Life just gets away, you know? It is easy to kind of toy with the idea that I might need to put this on the back-burner for a bit. But then thinking about it, I really don't want to abandon the blog. So here we are.

Some things that have happened:

  • We took the kids on a surprise trip to Disney World. It was awesome! It was super HOT. The kids were surprised but we don't have a great "reveal" moment, because Harper was mostly just annoyed that we weren't giving her enough time to tell us about her school day. I might post the video anyway.
  • The brand new van that we drove to Florida had some kind of computer glitch on the way home, one hour north of Orlando. We had to get it checked out before we could keep driving home. So the two legs of our trip home ended up being one hour and fourteen hours. The fourteen hour leg was a little rough. (The van is fine but what the heck Honda?)
  • Michael woke up sick the last day of our trip. We spent the first day home at Urgent Care - croup! So he missed another day of school, oops.
  • Harper didn't get sick until the Friday after we came home.
  • I'm still trying to determine whether I'm getting sick. Stay tuned.
  • I went with Harper's class on a field trip to a fruit farm. It rained most of the time. It POURED while we were on the hayride. It was memorable. 
  • My mom was planning to come visit the week we got home (last week). She actually got to our house before we did, and cleaned it! Now that is a good surprise. My mom is awesome. 

I'm sure there are other things, but that's what is at the front of my brain. I missed you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I didn't mean to leave that last post dangling there for so long - we've been a little busy this week:

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


It's been blustery here - cold, gray, feeling most definitely like fall. (Except for last Saturday when we took the children to a festival in nearly 100 degree heat.) I'm feeling fully intrenched in our school routines and schedule. The seasonal shift is apparent in everything these days. It may be the changes in the weather that have me feeling like something is brewing, or it may be the humdinger of a surprise we have planned for the kids (If you know, don't tell!), but there is a lot of anticipation in the air in these parts. 

And then this happened...

When I left the house after dinner, my odometer looked like this:

That's 191,132 miles people!

Upon returning home, my odometer looked like this:

204 miles down, lots and lots and lots and lots to go. Squeeeeee!!!!!!

Monday, September 05, 2011


In our house we love to read. The kids love being read to, and they both love reading books on their own. Harper is at the stage where she is constantly surprising me with what she's reading. A couple of days ago I found her with Ramona the Brave and thought surely she wasn't understanding that on her own... but then I asked her about it and I think she is. I had her read a little bit aloud to me and in three pages she only tripped up on the word, "triumph." I find she stumbles over words that aren't part of her life experience. Some of the Magic Tree House books throw her for a loop, though they are easier reading than Ramona, because she has never encountered some of the history/geography in those books before. So we talk about it, she learns. Books are awesome.

I have been asked about how Harper learned to read early. The short answer is that she was ready and I know the things to say/do to push her in that direction. I keep thinking I might write a post to expand on that, but the really, really simple answer is this. Read to your kids. All the time. Every day. Make room for it. If you do that, most kids will learn when they are ready. The end. 

When you do that, you'll also have kids who will spend 45 minutes at the kitchen table pouring over the first book orders of the year:

Harper was so excited to come home with those book orders, you'd think she was holding a winning lottery ticket. 

When I was in grade school the mailman used to come during our afternoon recess. We always accosted the poor guy looking in his basket for book order delivery boxes. He must have LOVED that.

There's really no point to this post except to say it's back to school time. Book orders will be coming home. Buy some books. Read them.

And, in an unrelated note, is it just me or is this child looking achingly grown-up lately?

Also, I am in love with this song. Go and listen.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Michael's Turn

Look who started school this week!

Last year, for various reasons, Michael's school experiences were a little random. He was in one early intervention program and a different preschool (each 2x/week) for the first 2/3 of the school year. Then graduated into our public school preschool program (where he received speech services) when he turned three. Michael didn't do well with all the back and forth. I don't know how much I wrote about it, but he cried almost every day at drop off for most of the school year. On one hand, it didn't bother me too much. I knew from his after school reports that he didn't cry long and was safe and happy at school. But there is still something difficult about walking away from a child crying, "Moooommmmy staaaaaaaayyyy!" as you go out the door.

Of course by the time he was reliably NOT crying, it was time for summer vacation.

This summer I left him in the daycare room at church during the week I worked at Vacation Bible School. He screamed every day. I did not find this encouraging.

Still, Michael seemed excited about starting school. He said multiple times he was going to be a big boy and not cry. Then, sometime the week before school started, we had this exchange:

Michael: Mom, I do not want you to leave when the teachers walk the kids to the classroom.

Me: When can I leave?

Michael: When the teachers bring us back to the moms.

Me: You want me to wait in the hallway when you are at school all day?

Michael: Yes!

Uh oh.

Still, the first day of school came (on Monday) and we had to drop something off in the office before school. Michael happily followed me to the office and back, clinging gleefully to his backpack, telling me, "I like my school!" 

When the teachers came he looked a little nervous, but he didn't start crying and he didn't cling. I gave him a quick hug and kiss, a high-five, and then I ran away before he could change his mind beg me to stay.

Each morning I sort of held my breath, waiting to see if it would get more difficult as time went on. But every day this week he bravely held his chin up, stood in line with his friends, and waved good-bye. 

He's had a great week, been participating in class, even allowed his teachers to cover his hands in paint. All big feats for our little boy. 

I'm really proud of him. I think he's proud of himself, too.