Learning each and every day

My quest to edify myself a bit every day

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Day 122 – April 22

Apparently, I have high behavior expectations for my children. I think that they should obey when spoken to, be polite and kind to others, and generally be happy children. Oftentimes, I feel like we are failing miserably as they seem to behave like little hellians at times. We just recently started being able to make it through an entire church service without them going bonkers. At home, we feel fairly out of control.

Apparently, my expectations are too high.

Today we went to an open house. It’s a house I’ve admired for years, and when it went up for sale last summer/fall, I was interested as the layout seemed decent. So the 3 babes and I went to check it out. It was past their naptime, so I was thinking that there was potential for disaster. Plus, this particular realtor struck me as someone who would not at all be patient with crazy kids, or kids at all. So, I went in with a bit of trepidation. I thought that the babes behaved okay, not great, but okay. As we were leaving, the realtor bent down and said to my oldest, “You guys did such a nice job and behaved very well. You listen to your mama, she’s a good one!”

Blow me over with a leaf! Then she turned to me and said, “Really, they were very well behaved.”

So, either people expect children to be terrors at all times, or our kids really aren’t that poorly behaved.

On vacation

I’m on vacay until the end of week, so I’m taking a break from my “daily” posts. And I use the term “daily” VERY loosely! I’ll be back on Sunday to get caught up and continue on. A little preview of the things I’ve learned: messenger bags, fabric slides, carseats and airports, and more! See you on Sunday!

Day 120 – April 20

We’ve had our Bumbleride Indie Twin since July of 2009, and we have used it lots. Mostly it gets used for exercise. After I got it, I walked every weekday until November. We’ve occasionally used it for long outings (zoo, etc), but mostly for exercise and recently we’ve started using it for pre-bed-lets-calm-the-babes-down stroller rides.

I was curious to know what changes had been made between 2009 and now, so I checked out the Bumbleride website. Frankly, it wasn’t particularly informative in that regard. I did, however, discover that my Bumbleride has been recalled. Why did I not know about this? Grr! Anyway, it’s not anything earth shattering, and I’ve filled out the application to get the replacement part. But, just in case you have a Bumbleride, here’s the info you need.

Seeing this recall reminded of the previous recall I blogged about, and I realized I hadn’t filled out the application for a replacement for that part. So, today I killed two birds with one stone.

Day 117 – April 17

I’ve been in a wrap churning mode the past three weeks. I started out with a Didy colorgrown ellipsen (LOVE that wrap, it’s staying here forever!), Vatanai Kalahari and Vatanai Carenero. Through various tradings and purchases, I’ve ended up with the colorgrown ellipsen, Viola ellipsen, Aida ellipsen, and an African kanga. (Didy Moss, Neobulle Manon Grise flew threw here, but didn’t stay long.) This post is about the kanga.

I’ve always been intrigued by the kanga, but never thought I’d get one. A mama on thebabywearer.com lived in Tanzania for 10 years, and collected quite a few kangas and kitenge for her future children. She very generously decided to trade or sell them to share the love with others. I quickly bought one and was chuffed when it arrived today. It’s quite long as it’s two panels. The idea is to cut it in half and share with a friend, or use half as a skirt and the other half as a carrier. I haven’t decided if I’m chopping it, but I did try it out in some typical non-African carries. In other words, I did a few carries that I would normally do with my woven wraps. I also tried it in the tradition African style. My first attempt was with my 30lb 3yo. I thought for sure it was going to be terribly uncomfortable. I had tried it before when she was about 6 months old, and it was not at all comfy. I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was, especially given how thin the fabric was!

Anyway, you are probably wondering what my lesson was for today. I learned a new way to do the torso carry. Up until today, this is the method that I used.

Then I saw this method, which doesn’t tuck the fabric under the babe at all, yet strangely, it’s still very supportive. It’s a little hard to tell, but the fabric is folded up and the twisted bottom rails are then tucked into the fold.

I’m guessing there are several other variations as well. And I wonder if the kanga is ever used for a front carry? In any case, I think this is going to be the carrier that lives in the car this summer!

Day 119 – April 19

We eat alot of pasta around here. Seems like every time it’s on sale at Meijers (10 for $10), we buy a bunch, and we are always running low by the next sale. I get bored of plain pasta and sauce, so I’m always on the prowl for new recipes. Today I tried out a recipe from my Pinterest board called Spinach & Artichoke Baked Pasta.

It was decent. I don’t think the preschoolers were fans, though. They did much better when I put some tomato basil vinagrette on it. It just seemed to be lacking a little bit of flavor, it needed a little something to give it a kick. But, for a change, it was edible=) DH hasn’t tried it yet, so we’ll see what his verdict is, likely, he’ll like it. So, it’ll stay in the pasta rotation, but I’m sure I’ll be making modifications to it.

Day 118 – April 18

I learned today that DH and I must be simple parents, as in, we teach our kids to appreciate the simple things and aren’t terribly extravagant in our activities. Going to the park, playing with legos/trains/blocks/etc., reading books, playing make believe . . .these are normal activities.

We were at the park today and it was quite full . . . lots of parents and children. We heard a helicopter flying overhead and it was relatively low, so it was loud. Immediately, all 3 babes looked up trying to find the copter. We spent about 30-45 seconds watching it fly overhead. Partway through, I looked around and noticed that not a single other child or parent was looking up! I was really shocked! It was low, loud and flew directly over the park, it was right overhead, you couldn’t miss it. Maybe everyone else was just engrossed in their playing or conversations. At our house, the toddler will stop what he’s doing and run to the window every time he hears a plane, and the preschoolers do the same thing for trucks.

So, I guess we are the Simpletons . . . . I’m okay with that.

Day 116 – April 16

Generally, in store brands are fairly similar to name brands. At least that has been my experience with Safeway and Meijer brands. Today, that changed. I decided to buy the Meijer brand chocolate powder because it was much cheaper than Nestle’s Nesquick. A quick check of ingredients revealed no glaring differences. Well, clearly something was different. It’s TERRIBLE! Yuck! I haven’t given it to the babes yet, they’ll get to taste it on Sabbath. Likely, they’ll think it’s fine. I think it’s awful. It is nothing at all like Nesquick, and I’m wishing I wouldn’t have spent the money on it. Alas, I’ll know better for next time. I’m also wary to try other Meijer brand items. So, I think I’ll stick to the ones that I know are good and then go with name brand beyond that. The one silver lining, it was only $2.50, so not a giant loss in the grand scheme of things.

Days 108-115 — April 8-April 15

Wowza! It’s been over a week since I’ve posted anything! It’s not for lack of learning, it’s really for lack of time. This past week was VERY busy for me as I was helping out a friend with her middle school’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” I’d been accompanying the rehearsals, but last week was the dress rehearsals, which meant every night was taken up with that. I barely had time to do my regular homemakers stuff, let along, compose witty (or not) blog posts! So, rather than post seven individuals posts, I’m just going to lump all of the missed days into one giant post. Here we go!

April 8 – Our lawn is horrid. Really, it should just be covered with ground cover and the grass should be non-existent. What am I saying, the grass IS non-existent! It’s a VERY shaded lots, with sections only getting 3-4 hours of sunlight per day. Not exactly conducive to having a luscious lawn. Mrs. Landlady thinks otherwise. She is certain that we killed her lawn. (Insert giant eyeroll here.) We decided to plant grass not because we thought we killed the lawn, but because we wanted out children to have a nice place to play this summer. The grass has been coming up nicely.

And I’m sure Mrs. Landlady would say, “Thank you for fixing my already established lawn.” (Insert raucous laughter.) Somehow I don’t think that this

qualifies as established lawn. See the nice fluffy patch of grass? That is only present in about 1/3 of the lawn. The other 1/3 is somewhat patchy, and the rest has little tufs of grass with lots of mud in between. And the only reason those tufts are there? Right, we planted the grass. Anyway, so what did I learn today? It takes TONS of grass seed to get a good looking lawn. The first picture above is how we want the lawn to look. That’s the one spot where the babes dumped a TON of seed. The other pics are where we used the spreader to methodically spread the grass. So, if we want a lush lawn, we are going to need alot of seed. But, since this isn’t our house, it just doesn’t make sense to spend tons of money improving the lawn. So, for now, we’ll be happy with patchy grass.

April 9 – This was the first dress rehearsal for “Joseph”. Prior to this, I’d been playing from the full score, and my keyboard part I would be playing in the show was slightly different from that. I played this show about 5 years ago, but I used the full score. So, there were a few sections in the actual keyboard I part that required a wee bit of practice. My discovery for the day was that rhythms practice really does work. It’s a little hard to explain without actual music, and to be honest, I’m too lazy to write something up. So, a verbal description will have to do!

When you have a passage that has constant 8th notes or 16th notes, it can be tricky to get all of the notes correct. You could just play it over and over, but a more efficient use of your time is to do rhythms practice. Let’s take one measure as an example. You have 8 eighth notes. Rather than playing them evenly, you’d play: long short long short long short long short (or a series of dotted 8ths and 16th). Then you’d flip it around: short long short long short long short (or a seris of 16th and dotted 8th). You start out slowly and do the rhythms until you get all the notes right. Then you slowly increase your speed. At some point, it’s good to stop and try the passage as written in tempo to see how you’ve done.

So I did this with two particular passages. I wasn’t playing them perfectly, but between being a homemaker and spending time with the babes, I ran out of time to do more rhythm practice. Well, apparently the practice wasn’t all for naught. As I was playing Monday night, I would get distracted trying to watch the students. Most of the time, I’d have to drop out for a measure or two until I figured out where I was. This wasn’t the case with the two passages that were treated with rhythms practice. Even when I got distracted, it was like my fingers just knew what to do, and it worked almost flawlessly. I was amazed! I should mention that I’m really, at heart, not a pianist. Sure, I”ve been playing piano since I was 5, but what I really love (and what my degree is in) is singing. That’s what I’m really good at. Playing the piano is just an added benefit. In college I’d always hear my piano and organ major friends talking about rhythms practice, but never had occasion to try it out. I’m pleased to know that it actually works!

April 10 – The show “Joseph” has a keyboard I and a keyboard II part. We both were playing on keyboards (not actual pianos) that were connected to an amp. My keyboard was such that I could still hear myself even when amped. The other keyboard was not. So the other lady couldn’t hear herself at all (she was sitting farther away from the amp). It got me to thinking that hearing is so very important when it comes to making music. Regardless of your instrument, you use the information gleaned through your hearing to make adjustments to your speed, volume, texture of sound, etc. Without this feedback, the result is often times less than optimal. Have you ever heard someone singing along with an iPod? Generally, they don’t sounds all that great because they can only hear the music and not themselves.

So back to the other keyboardist . . . once she got a set of headphones so that she could hear herself, she was much more relaxed and was able to give a more accurate performance. It made me appreciate Beethoven and his music even more. How he managed to compose and perform music without the ability to hear is truly amazing.

April 12 – The local JoAnn’s closed up shop and re-opened in a new, larger location. For the past 2 or so months, they’ve been liquidating their merchandise. Today was supposed to be their last day of business, at least that what I had been told a few weeks ago. I took the babes there to show them how different the store looked with much of the shelving gone, and I was going to see what else I could score at a 90% discount. (On Sunday, I bought $200 worth of fabric to $20!) Well, when we arrived, I was told by a less-than-kind lady, who incidentally didn’t work there, that they were closed. We just stepped inside to take a look and one of the employees said it was fine for us to stay so long as we didn’t get in the way. As we watched, we saw them throwing lots of trim and other left over merchandise into the trash. I was totally shocked! So apparently, anything that didn’t get purchased got thrown away. Perfectly good merchandise, junking up the landfills. I asked if it could be donated somewhere, and they said, “No.” Really? So appalling. It seems like instead of paying their employees to unwind the trim and throw it away, they could pay them to load up the merchandise and drive it two miles to the new store. Really, I was speechless.

So on Thursday I learned that we really ARE a wasteful society. What a shame!

April 13 – Today, I learned beyond a shadow of a doubt that punctuality is not my thing. I’ve been trying to be punctual since I started college, and I”m almost always 1-4 minutes late. According to Dr. Phil (the purveyor of all truth -haha), people who are perpetually late do so because they don’t feel that that particular appointment is important enough to merit an on time arrival. I suppose this is somewhat true, but for me, there is a much simpler reason for my tardiness.

Let’s go back to grade school and high school. I’m pretty sure I got places on time. “Well, that’s because your parents drove you.” Yes, that’s partly true, but in high school, I was on my own since I was at a boarding school, and I made it to class on time most of the time. Then, I got to college, and life suddenly got MUCH busier. It wasn’t that I thought that class was unimportant (well, sometimes I did!), I had so many things to do. Generally, I was doing something important, like homework or practicing or something, and I would try and do it for as long as possible before dashing off to class or my next apppointment. Grad school was no different as I was working while going to school. Then I entered the work world, and had two, sometimes three jobs. So, again, every second of my day was filled with important tasks. I wasn’t late because I was kicking back watching TV or taking a bubble bath. I was late because I was trying to get as much done in a 24-hour period as possible. Now that I have children, much of the time I”m late becuase, well, you can lead a horse to water, but you just can’t force them to drink. It can be quite tricky to motivate 2 preschoolers and a toddler to get out the door.

So, this all came to a head on Friday, opening night of “Joseph”. I had, of course, been several minutes late to the rehearsals, and I told myself it was because of the time, right before supper time. This meant that I was trying to get supper ready and on the table, wolf down some food, and get to rehearsal by 5:30. Well, Friday’s call was 6:30 and I was still late. Granted, part of that was because I forgot to factor in extra time to find parking. But, I was still late, as in, I was the last orchestra person to show up. This held true for the Saturday and Sunday performances as well.

So today, I’ve decided to quit beating myself up over this. Clearly, this is not going to change, given that it’s been an issue for, oh, 15 years. I’ll continue to apologize for my tardiness when necessary. I’m sure I’ll continue to be tardy, and, I’m okay with that.

April 15 – I always type out directions for myself when I’m doing a biggish sewing project. At first it was my way of thinking through the project to make sure I knew what I was doing before launching in. Then, with things like baby carriers and clothing (i.e. things that I make often-ish), I needed the directions because I was always changing things, and it was good to have the changes on paper. There have been times when I didn’t write down directions. DD’s birthday dress is an example. That turned out okay, but it was definitely a brain strain.

Today I continued working on my newest baby carrier project, a meitai with wrap-style straps. I’ve made many, many meitais in the past, but this is the first time doing one with wrap-style straps and without a hidden layer in the body. I wanted to add padding for the legs. Generally, I would sew this directly onto the hidden layer. Since there was none, I would need to secure it to one of the outer layers. I’d thought about this on Saturday, and realized that I’d need to stack my layers thus: outer layer right side up, inner layer right side down, leg padding. I knew this and had it all figured out. I didn’t get a chance to actually work on that part of the carrier until Sunday. By that point, I was distracted with the usual “being a mom” things, the “Joseph” performance, and other things. Alas, I did it wrong: I placed the padding in between the layers. This meant that the padding was visible on the outside, not at all the result I was looking for. I’m quite certain that this could have been avoided if I would have just written down the directions. Even jotting a little note to myself would have been sufficient.

So today’s lesson: I’m lead much too distracted of a life to trust my brain. In the future, I’ll just take the time to jot down some notes and save myself having to spend quality time with my seam ripper!!

Phew! We made it through the week. I’m hoping this week will be less busy so that I can post my “usual” daily posts!

Day 106 – April 6

I’m sure you’ve heard of making cakes in a mug. I’ve tried this a few times, and have been somewhat unimpressed with the results. For some reason, I tried it again tonight. The results were decent, definitely needed more sugar, but I think that’s because I used dark chocolate cocoa rather than the regular. I used a recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog and she calls it One-Minute Chocolate Cake.

I decided to cook the cakes in ramekins rather than in mugs. I did have to cook it longer than the 30-40 seconds. I went with one minute and that seemed to be just about right.

At the last minute (as in, everyone was sitting at the dinner table, ready to go), I decided to make some strawberry whipped cream. Basically, I whipped some whipping cream, added sugar, added pureed fresh strawberries and called it a day.

When dessert time rolled around, I realized that it would be woefully messy to try to put the whipping cream on the cake in the ramekins, so we dumped the cakes out into bowls and topped with whipping cream. Honestly, the whipping cream was better than the cake, but I think that’s because the cake lacked sugar (as I’d already mentioned).

I can’t say that this picture does it justice, but it’s been a LOOOONG time since I posted any pics on the blog . . .so here you go=)

Day 105 – April 5

I’ve been carrying my babes in baby carriers for almost 5 years now. I’m pretty sure I’ve used every carrier known to man, or at least the ones I’ve been able to figure out how to make. As much as I like ring slings, meitais and soft structured carriers, wraps are my one true love. I have lots of wraps. Okay, not really that many. I know some people that have 30-40, I have about 10. But if you aren’t someone who uses baby carriers, that probably seems excessive, right? =)

Anyway, so today I discovered that I’m really not interested in the longer wraps (anything over 4.6 meters). This was a surprising revelation since my first wraps (stretchy wraps, similar to the Moby wrap) were long, probably 5 yards (4.6m). Maybe I’m getting to be an expert wrapper, so I can eek out carries with much shorter wraps. (This is quite likely). But more likely reason is that I’ve discovered modifications to carries that normally require longer wraps such that I can do them with a much shorter wrap.

We’ll see how this goes. Right now, I’m trying to sell my 5m Vatanai because I just never reach for it. I’m thinking my longest wrap will be 4.2m. Actually, I have a DIY that is probably 4.6m or more, but it wraps funny, so I don’t use it very often. I just traded my 3.2m Vat Carenero for a size 2 Neobulle Manon Grise. I sort of think that will be too short. But, given my new resolve against very long wraps, I figured I’d give the shortie wraps a try. Plus, the shorties are great for the toddler up and down stage.

So, no more long wraps in my future, for the time being.

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