Sunday, June 29, 2008

My workout plan

I started a new workout plan a couple of weeks ago and it seems to be working.

I call it the "Foremother's Workout."

It involves cleaning, gardening, cooking, doing laundry, hanging wash on the line. Endless variety! And at the end of the day, not only have I burned calories, but I've also accomplished a lot. Today I weeded, tended flowers, gardened, pruned trees, and trimmed bushes. I feel tired, but in a really good way.

This doesn't mean I'm abandoning the Y, but I have so much to accomplish right now, that if I can work and exercise at the same time it is an excellent thing! And I am feeling muscles that I haven't felt for a long time!

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I spent a little time this morning in a class at the library on using I have had an account for a while, but just never took the time to figure it out.

I'm having fun with it now! Another excuse to surf the net.

I really do hope it will help me keep better track of my links. My bookmarks all are on my old computer, and they were always so hard to keep organized. (And I have enough difficulty being organized!)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Political commentary

I keep trying to get excited about McCain. Really. But I keep thinking of how he was involved in filleting freedom of speech, and it makes me nervous.

So I kinda like this shirt.

Not that I'd wear it, but I might consider the bumper sticker.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I love this girl!

I've been working on a tedious project for the past few days. Tonight Bethany brightened my evening by reading me choice snippets from Justice Scalia's opinion in the Heller decision.

I need to print it out and make it required reading in the Casey Academy. It is chock full of history, constitutional theory, and plain old common sense.

They got one right

The Supreme Court has just upheld the lower court ruling in the DC gun ban 5-4. Written by Scalia, it affirms an "individual right to bear arms."

The Second Amendment lives.

More details to come.

Update: SCOTUS Blog

Don't expect much

I stayed out too late last night playing dominos with a couple of friends. Then I overslept. My brain is fried.

Today is to be devoted to Andrew while his two big brothers are still away. We're going out for sushi, and then he's getting impressions for his braces.

Maybe I'll have something worthwhile to say later.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Tarring and feathering, by the way, if carried on with a due consideration for sex and age and physical debility, need cause the honoree no permanent physical damage, and yet it is an excellent deterrent."

Anthony Esolen writing at Mere Comments on Enemies of the Permanent Things.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You don't look like a homeschool mom

Oh really?

The first time someone said this to me was in 1997. I was fairly new to homeschooling and this statement made me a bit nervous. I knew no homeschoolers face-to-face; all were internet acquaintances. We certainly didn't look like the cover of "The Teaching Home," which was probably what they meant, but I was fairly certain that not all homeschool families consisted of long-haired moms of many, many children in matching clothes. (Link to TTH is in no way an endorsement!)

That was over ten years ago. I could probably have paid for today's manicure if I had a dollar for every time I've been told that I don't look like a homeschooler. I used to laugh uncomfortably. Then for a few years I said thank you. Now I usually tell people that I really do look like lots of them.

But the stereotype remains.

It's a big family by today's standards - "just like stair steps," as the old folks say. Freshly scrubbed boys with neatly trimmed hair and girls with braids, in clean but unfashionable clothes follow mom through the store as she fills her no-frills shopping list.

Are there homeschool families who look like this? Sure. Some of them are my friends. But you also have girls in shorts and Aeropostale t-shirts, and my boys in Mambo, Land's End, and BR. Sometimes my boys have very neat short hair, and sometimes it looks like this:
Most of the homeschool moms I know don't own a denim jumper and are more likely to be in jeans or capris than anything else.

Some of them have opted out of materialistic society and some of us are still way too cozy with it. Some homschooled because they were looking for a Christian worldview; some were trying to avoid it. Some, like us, just wanted to have our kid not hate learning. Some are poor, some are rich, far more of us fall somewhere in the middle. Some homeschool moms even work outside the home. (Some of us are supposed to be working from home and are blogging instead.)

Some of our kids are super-smart and lazy as all get-out. Some are smart and disciplined. Some are average. Some are dumber then dirt. Seriously. Some of our children are well-behaved and some are flat-out rotten and have caused many gray hairs and sleepless nights.

So if you see that woman described in the article, chances are she's a homeschool mom, but I'll be over at Target in my capris and BR blouse with my mani and my Brighton sandals and NO kids tagging along, 'cause they're at home playing Halo, and I'm a homeschool mom, too. (Although my Brighton sandals are OLD, and if I wasn't a homeschool mom they'd be NEW.)

Addendum: Yes, I dress up and put on make up to go to Target. It's my entertainment.

Monday, June 23, 2008

And flowers

Garden update

It's looking like a garden! We're now trying to figure out how to keep the bunnies away.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saving money

I've been working on getting our financial life in order for six months, with more discipline at some points than others. Reading Dave Ramsey's books and using his materials has helped a lot, but the biggest issue is still the same as it was before I started working so hard on this.

We spend more than we should.

I have cut a lot of our spending, but I keep having to adjust certain categories because of changing costs. Everyone knows what is happening to gas and food prices, which are already the second and third largest items in our budget. (In May food was actually number one!) Much of our driving can't be avoided. I've managed to cut back on my weekly gas expenses with the arrival of summer, but that will be offset by adding in a few long trips.

We have always kept our thermostat low--64--in the winter and high--78 when we use it--in the summer. We drive older cars with low insurance costs and no car payments. Colin would like to ride his bike to work, but it is 18 miles, and there are no facilities to shower or change after he gets there. We've cut our cell phone minutes in half, for the three of us who share an account.

There are lots of cuts that can still happen, but this is where they start to hurt. We can cut our satellite bill by getting rid of our DVR and dropping a few channels. We don't have any premium channels, but we do get a lot of channels. The biggest problem with this is that the three channels Colin really watches--outdoor and shooting programming and soccer--would disappear if we did this. I love the DVR because I can watch the few shows I really want to see in just a little over half the time, speeding through the commercials. (I can watch an hour of American Idol in about 20 minutes, because I only watch the performances and the judges reactions.) And even if I made all of these changes it would only be $15.99/month.

I could save money on clothes and shoes. I don't buy very much--for any of us--but what we buy is good. I could save money on coffee, by drinking cheaper coffee, but that would be way down the list of possible cuts. (I've already cut my Starbucks trips back to almost none.) We could take cheaper vitamins, but then we could go back to spending more money at the doctor's office and the pharmacy, so that wouldn't ultimately be a savings.

I could find a place to get cheaper hair cuts. For the boys, too. (Although I'm not willing to go as cheap as I do for Andrew!)

But I can't do anything about house and car air conditioners going out or cars needing new tires and other repairs. I can't make the boys slow down their growth and wear their pants for more than a couple of months. (Have I mentioned they also eat an amazing amount of food?)

So, I'm at the point where there's going to be some pain. And yes, pain is relative. I admit I am spoiled. We have a nice income, and for me pain is cheaper haircuts and no new sandals and eating a few more meatless meals.

My decision is what the pain is going to be. Am I going to make more cuts or earn more money?

I'm leaning toward earning more money. Then I have to decide if I am going to be disciplined and put some effort into my business, which has treated me incredibly well for the tiny amount of effort I've made the past couple of years. Or am I going to impose outside discipline on myself and get a job?

I think I'll spend some more time with Dave this afternoon.

Friday, June 20, 2008

My to-do list

This list is going to be an ongoing exercise. I don't have a deadline on these, but I want to do them before I die. When I accomplish an item it will change colors. If I change my mind, I will strike it through.

In no particular order, things I want to accomplish. (as of 6/19/2008) (Updated 11/25/2012)

1. Learn to make a souffle.
2. Visit England.
3. Swim a mile. (Not happening.)

4. Make a dress that looks good enough to wear. (Can I just pay someone?)
5. Learn Spanish.
6. Go to a Broadway show. (On Broadway.)
7. Sell another article.
8. Make my own tortillas.
9. Make noodles as good as Grandma's.
10. Get my scrapping stuff organized and out of my dining room.(It has its own room, but it still isn't organized.)
11. Find out who Sarah Serring was. (Progress.)
12. Move.
13. Paint my grandma's kitchen table and chairs.
14. Wash the windows.
15. Have six month emergency fund.
16. Ten pounds. Just ten pounds. (Try 27.)
17. Clean the master bedroom.
18. And paint it. (I still need to paint my new one!)
19. And paint the furniture.
20. And the master bath, while I'm at it.
21. And the kitchen cupboards.
22. And then the dining room. (New dining room.)
23. Reupholster the dining room chairs.
24. Make a perfect risotto.
25. Make money doing what I love.
26. Go back to Italy.
27. Learn to read German.
28. Have four rooms in my house that are they way I want them.
29.  Sell the box of stuff that I have for eBay.
30. Get everything off the front porch that doesn't belong.

Equal treatment

I want to see if the authorities as upset over these underage pregnant girls as they were about the girls from the FLDS compound. Or how about the thousands of them all over the country?

(By the way, if you're interested in what has been going on, now that that story has all but disappeared from the news, and some of the stories behind the story, the Deputy Headmistress has been staying on top of the story at The Common Room.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Life gets in the way

This is the phrase that sums up my life.

I feel like I never get half of what I want to do done, because I'm always busy doing something else. Sometimes the things I'm doing are urgent and necessary things like car repairs, laundry, grocery trips and cooking meals. Other times they are things that are good to do like volunteer work or cleaning windows. Not necessary, but good. Once in a while they are even things that I want to do like meeting a couple of friends for lunch or writing on my blog.

But it doesn't matter what I'm doing, there are always 50 other things that I should or would like to be doing and at the end of the day I never feel like I've accomplished enough and there are things left undone.

My friend Susan blogged about this general thing a day or two ago, so I know I'm not alone. And apparently even Glenda, who always strikes me as being very together, worries about whether she's accomplishing anything. (It's even the title of her blog!)

I'm considering trying Reb. Mary's idea for a few days. I don't have the new baby excuse, but I do share her list problem!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Baby picture

For everyone who is dying to see a picture of Melynda's baby, Pastor Petersen has one on his blog.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Need a recipe?

Buried in my blogroll is the link to The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

This is some seriously good food.

Tonight I fed my husband and my oldest and youngest children this. (Yes, the older boys missed out.) It was delicious!

In the past I made her tiramisu. It is soooooo wonderful, and much lighter and tastier than any restaurant version I've had. There are several recipes that I want to try, but the next one will probably be this or this or this.

I'm very visual, so I love the way that she shows, step-by-step, the making of the recipes. I can park my laptop on the other counter and follow the recipes. And she's funny. And she likes butter.

Wow. Just wow.

As you all know, I've been feeling rather ambivalent about this presidential election. John McCain definitely doesn't stand up well against my checklist of desirable political convictions for a presidential candidates. I've toyed with the idea of voting for a third party candidate, but, whether we like it or not, all that will do is help Obama.

I cannot help Obama.

Sometimes choices are clarified by just a few words out of a long political season, and this is one of those times. This American Spectator piece in the Wall Street Journal puts the lie to Obama's campaign words about the "difficulty" and "wrenching" character of the abortion issue. Here are a couple of the high--or low--points:

As an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama twice opposed legislation to define as "persons" babies who survive late-term abortions. Babies like Gianna. Mr. Obama said in a speech on the Illinois Senate floor that he could not accept that babies wholly emerged from their mother's wombs are "persons," and thus deserving of equal protection under the Constitution's 14th Amendment.
Or how 'bout this:
To Mr. Obama, abortion, or "reproductive justice," is "one of the most fundamental rights we possess." And he promises, "the first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act," which would overturn hundreds of federal and state laws limiting abortion, including the federal ban on partial-birth abortion and bans on public funding of abortion.
Go read the whole thing. Especially if you are considering voting for Obama or for a third party candidate.

HT: Mere Comments

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The huntress

The brown cat is meowing at me. She wants out. She wants to go hunt down the robins that are raising a ruckus on the patio.

She doesn't understand why she can't. Just. Go. Out.

She can't because Mrs. Robin appears to have been injured in the storm we had tonight. First she and Mr. Robin were having normal conversation, but as he became aware of her plight their calls sounded more and more frantic.

It would be nice if she manages to fly away, but I have my doubts. I just hope she doesn't die in my yard. Patrick is my designated critter burier and he's gone for 12 days.

Update: Now she's meowing at Andrew. I guess she thinks he's the weaker link.

Happy Fathers' Day

To my most excellent husband and my wonderful Wicked.

These are two fantastic fathers!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm tired

But it's the good kind of tired. It's the kind that comes from a bit of gardening, followed by some housework, followed by some yard work, followed by a swim.

Dinner tonight was pasta primavera, with the first use of our basil. Tomorrow we'll have the first salad with mesclun from our garden. Patrick and Jonathan will be missing our first salads because they are leaving tomorrow after church to attend Christ Academy at the seminary. It's going to be a loooong two weeks without them.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Brief book review

I just finished The Omnivore's Dilemma. It was really good, but I don't recommend it if you want to just go to the grocery and buy whatever is the cheapest. It made me really glad I just ordered my beef and chickens.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Life Soundtrack

My daughter took the liberty of doing this for me after she saw it on a friend's blog. It is pretty entertaining to see the results. So if you do it and post it, let me know!

Here's how it works:

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...
7. Include commentary

Opening Credits: Rapper's Delight, Sugar Hill Gang ( I love this! What a bizarre song for my opening credits!)

Waking Up: I Can't Fight This Feeling, REO Speedwagon (In a way this fits, because I ALWAYS try to fight the feeling that I need to get up.)

First Day at School: Good Riddance, Green Day (The time of your life??????)

Falling in Love: The Party's Over, Journey (If you only knew.)

Fight Song: St. Elmo's Fire, John Parr (Perfect, because Colin hates everything about St. Elmo's Fire.)

Breaking Up: Kyrie, Mr. Mister (Well, I love the song...)

Prom: We Belong, Pat Benatar (Prom as cult event)

Life's Ok: Kokomo, The Beach Boys (Soooooo Perfect!!!)

Mental Breakdown: The Search is Over, Survivor (Hmmmmm)

Driving: Don't Stop Believin', Journey (This is one of my favorite songs to drive to!)

Flashback: Hold On Loosely, .38 Special (Again, perfect.)

Getting Back Together: Danny's Song, Kenny Loggins (There's a miss.)

Wedding: Rockin' Into the Night, Survivor (LOLOLOLOL)

Birth of Child: Love Hurts, Nazareth (YEAH)

Final Battle: Mother, Father, Journey (Good angsty song for final battle. I think it means I lose.)

Death Scene: The Long Run, The Eagles ("I used to hurry a lot, I used to worry a lot....Oh, I didn't get it. It was high time I quit it.")

Funeral Song: Who Says You Can't Go Home, Bon Jovi (What could be better, since I don't have "Behold a Host Arrayed in White" on my iTunes?)

End Credits: Believe, Cher (Upbeat, you can dance to it, and in Heaven I know I'll be dancin'!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

SAT Update

Several of you have emailed me or asked me in person about Patrick's SAT experience.

Yes, in answer to one email question, this was his absolute first experience with a standardized test.

He thinks it went quite well. He is a bit concerned about his handwriting on the essay--for good reason--and is afraid it may detract from his writing. We'll see. Now we have to be patient and wait several weeks for the scores.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Bep's back!

In case you'd given up checking, Bethany is blogging again.

Being a careful consumer

Has it always been so hard to make sure you aren't being overcharged or that you're getting the service you pay for?

It seems like I am spending a huge amount of time lately dealing with payments that aren't credited, extra items on invoices, double billings, and refund credits that don't show up. I don't know if it's because everything is computerized and there are no checks in place or if this really happens all the time and I'm just lucky to be catching it.

Last month there were double charges for gasoline that I had purchased that showed up when I checked my account online. I'm spending hours on the phone because of improper coding for an emergency room visit because the insurance company and hospital can't seem to communicate.

Maybe this is amplified for me because I have to deal with the church's finances as well as my own. But I'd really like a break from having to be so vigilant.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

SATs or life-long learning?

This morning I got up early, made coffee and an egg sandwich for Patrick, and helped him make sure that he had his pencils, calculator, water bottle, etc., for taking the SAT. His weeks of test prep culminate in four hours of test-taking. In a few weeks the scores will arrived and we'll know how ready he is for college. We'll know whether homeschooling has worked. Right?

Wrong. So wrong.

We'll know how well prepared he is for a particular standardized test on this particular day. Sure, there will be some tangible proof that he has excellent reading skills and vocabulary. (Anyone who has read my blog for long, or knows us, can imagine the smile this brings to my face.) We'll know if he's taking it again. (He has set a minimum goal for his score that is very ambitious.) If his score is high enough we can be certain that he will receive the same full-tuition scholarship that Bethany received.

But we absolutely will not know, from this test, how much he has learned. We won't know if he's ready for college, or how well he'll do when he gets there. I may have a pretty good idea about these things already, but that is from spending almost every day with him for almost eighteen years, not from a four hour test. We won't know that he loves to discuss the strategic strengths and weaknesses of historic military leaders. We won't know his love of good literature or his ability to find out almost anything he wants to know.

The essay portion is new to the test since Bethany took it. He is supposed to write a well-formed 400 word essay in 25 minutes. He is going to be evaluated on a number of criteria, but what I found interesting is that the kind of examples he uses to support his thesis don't matter. An example from personal experience or opinion counts just as much as an example drawn from knowledge of philosophy, science, mathematics, literature, or--as Patrick's often are--from history.

I'd take real knowledge over opinion and love of learning over a high score on a standardized test. But the world looks to these results, so we jump through their hoops, wasting hours of productivity to learn the test.

Why not Ablaze?

My friend RPW has an excellent explanation.

Go read.

Friday, June 06, 2008

That reading challenge

I'm trying to decide what to do about my reading challenge. I just finished a book that doesn't fit in anywhere, and there are two more in the series that I am going to read this summer. I may need to rearrange. And yet, there are books on the list that I want to read, and if I move them off I may forget.
(Seriously, I'm like that. Out of sight out of mind isn't just a saying when it comes to the way my brain works!)

For right now I taked on a ninth category, but I may have to do some reordering and rethinking.

Shopping woes

There are some things I hate to shop for: swimsuits, certain undergarments, paint, and any item of clothing for a family member who is between adults' and children's sizes.

We exhausted ourselves last summer, looking for dress shoes for Jonathan, when he was at that in-between stage, needing a size eight.

Now he needs a sport coat or suit jacket for Christ Academy. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that they're expected to dress like gentlemen. It's just that Jon has outgrown his navy blazer, and while he's a bit too large for a boys 20 he swims in a mens' 38.

So we spent hours in the heat and humidity today tromping from store to store. We found one 38 that fit relatively well, but it was $365!

Not sure what I'm going to do. I think we'll head back out on Monday and just try to find a reasonably-priced, nicely-cut 38 that he can grow into.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

...And Bethany

I had a difficult time finding a picture of Bethany for her fan/Grandma. I finally found this one. It's not in the blue dress, but she is with her adorable cousins.

One more boy

Since I left Patrick out last night, here's a picture today. He's not as goofy as the other two, although he is quite funny.
And yes, Susan, we do joke about Andrew being his mini me.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Goals for the summer

I have some things that I'd like to accomplish this summer.

These may be popping up off and on over the next few months as I either accomplish them or become thoroughly disgusted with my lack of discipline.

Sew something.
Sell ten things on ebay.
Lose some back fat.
Bake bread. Make jam.
Swim 20 laps without stopping.
Ride my bike to the Y.
Paint my kitchen cupboards.
Have a garage sale.

I have some other projects that I would also like to complete. I have some furniture to refinish. I have rooms that need painting.

But before I do any of this I need to get my class reunion planned and invitations out. Ugh.


Some things need no words.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

What is it about couches?

My friend RPW is looking for a couch. She is trying to decide whether or not to buy a particular couch that is very comfy, but not the look she wants. She's gotten lots of feedback and it's gotten me thinking about furniture and our houses.

What is it that makes a couch such a big decision? Is it the fact that a couch often sets the tone for a room? The price?

My current couch is the most expensive purchase we've ever made aside from a house or car. We looked for months and sat on hundreds of sofas. We finally drove to the town of Berne, 45 miles south of us, to look at the huge selection of Smith Brothers sofas at Habegger's. We sat on couches until we found the right combination of good looks and comfort. Then we started looking at their hundreds of fabrics. We were lucky to find one we liked relatively quickly. All of this took over two months, Lots of shopping. And a pile of cash.

The funny thing about all of this is, I don't spend money on furniture.

I'm not meaning I don't buy expensive furniture. I'm meaning that, with few exceptions, I don't buy furniture. I've lived for almost 22 years with a bedroom set that I loathe, but it was a hand-me-down (to be abbreviated HMD for soon-to-be-obvious reasons) and it is roomy and sturdy. Our house is full of furniture that used to be someone else's. Kitchen table? HMD. Dining room set? HMD. Hutch, roll-top desk, boys dressers? HMDs. Living room chairs and dressing table for Bethany? Purchased, but for $25 from grandparents' auction.

We have so much handed-down or secondhand furniture that it even fills our garage.

We have bought a bit of other new furniture over the years, but most of it was a mistake. So we were VERY careful in choosing our couch. But why? What is it about a couch?

RPW? Anyone?

For the beauty of the earth

On Memorial Day weekend, we finally got our garden in while we listened to the Indy 500 on the radio. It doesn't look like much yet, but it will. It is amazing how much good food can come out of this little plot of ground.

There will be tomatoes, red, green, & chocolate peppers. We'll have salads of buttercrunch, black-seeded simpson, bibb, spinach, and mesclun. This year we planted onions and garlic and sugar snap peas. We have cukes--mostly for pickles--and zucchini. Our strawberries are starting to bear. To season it all we have basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, mint, lavender, and catnip. (Gotta take care of the kitties!)

In another week I'm going to go out and plant a couple more rows of lettuce. Later this summer we'll plant some kale and cabbage.

Our garden isn't pretty, but the flowers are! The daisies were here when we bought the house, but we've added more beds. The columbine are from seeds from my grandma's house. Every year we have more interesting color combinations.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Good medicine

I think part of the reason this weekend was so wonderful is that I really needed to see some friends. Life has been so busy. Weeks can go by without seeing anyone except in passing at church. With the welcome end of the school year routine back at the end of April, came the less welcome end of Wednesday coffee drinking and sitting around after homeschool geography with friends.

I admit, I've been in a funk. My housekeeping is mediocre under the best circumstances, but lately it is out of control. I have so many big projects to work on, but I can't figure out how to get them done when I can't even keep the bathrooms clean.

I've not gained weight, but things have shifted so clothes don't fit like they used to. This has been glaringly apparent as I've tried to find a dress and swimsuit the past couple of weeks. I'm hoping that between working in my garden and working out at the Y, I can at least shift some things back where they belong. I want to sew, but that's just one more thing I don't have time for.

Patrick has his SAT this Saturday and I haven't spent as much time working with him on it as I would have liked. He's been doing some prep, but this is going to be a new experience. He's never taken a standardized test of any kind. He has some small motor problems and other issues that make a test like this challenging for him, but I'm confident that he will do well. (with or without my help!)

None of it is horrible. My life is good. But when I'm a bit stressed anyway my extrovert need for friends is always more pressing. So it was good.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Good times

DoRena's wedding was a beautiful celebration of Christian marriage. She was an absolutely lovely bride! It was a gorgeous day.

After the reception we enjoyed the company of Susan and family, RPW and family, Debbie and family from Texas, and some other fellow homeschool friends. It was so wonderful to get to spend time with everyone.

This morning we had the continued company of some of them in church. I have to admit I got a bit teary at one point being there sharing the Lord's Supper with so many good friends and my church family, receiving the chalice from our former pastor and friend, who does not at this point have a church. It was good to see him doing what he has done so faithfully over the years.

As if this wasn't enough good stuff for one weekend, we enjoyed lunch at Mad Anthony's with the Texans. (Yes, I got my seafood unwrap.)

Of course there was a bit of a letdown when we came home. After days full of excitement and friends, normal is going to seem a bit quiet. (We also managed to fit Jonathan's vocal recital and pizza with the grandparents in on Friday night.) The kids and I went for a walk, enjoying the lovely weather and our nearly-completed walking trails.