Red Chief plays Beethoven

Red Chief has turned into quite the connoisseur of classical music. I can tell when he's been on the computer last, because YouTube will be open to music from Tchaikovsky, Richard Strauss, or Mozart.

He decided last month that he wanted to learn a song by Beethoven. Most of the Beethoven I could find was still above his level, but after a little sleuthing we found an Ecossaise in E-flat that he could handle—with a lot of practice, and a little help from his teacher.

He practiced, and now he's got it! I'm so proud of him.


Things we can't get enough of lately

Not all family members go with each activity, of course.

  • Corn on the cob
  • Non-dairy ice cream
  • Sleeping in
  • Listening to Harry Potter audiobooks
  • Playing name the composer with the classical station on the radio
  • Legos
  • Baths
  • Playing in the sandbox
  • Playing Minecraft
  • Watching Nova and Antiques Roadshow


Summer outings

We've been trying to have plenty of summer fun together. We went cherry picking in a nearby orchard. The kids' favorite part was the ladders. We got about fourteen pounds that we will probably pie and freeze.

We visited a park that has hiking, water, and a shady playground. Tiger Lily's favorite is the rock climbing wall.

I aim for one outing a week (besides regular stuff, like the library and grocery store), but the kids have been talking me into more.



Every year Tiger Lily wants a birthday party with friends, and every year I balk. I'm not good at planning fun. This year I had an epiphany: I don't have to schedule out two hours of excitement and games. I made the cake (chiffon with strawberries), my husband bought the pizza, and Tiger Lily and her friends figured out the fun part on their own.

I wish I had figured this out ten years ago, but I'm glad I finally figured out how to say yes to parties.



Tiger Lily's on the left and mine on the right

A friend of mine starting an arts and crafts business recently held a paint night for mothers and daughters. Tiger Lily is a budding artist; art is not among my talents. But my friend gave such good instructions that I was still able to end up with a pretty creditable flower! (You can tell it's a flower, right?)

We had fun! I hope we can do it again.


Tiger Lily week

This week was all about Tiger Lily. She had a theater camp all week. She told me after she came home the first day that she wanted to be Annie. I tried to prepare her for disappointment and told her there was very little chance of that happening, since all the little girls wanted to be Annie—but she didn't seem to hear me. Tuesday she came home and told me she got the part of Annie. 

The girls at camp (and one boy!) practiced hard all week and presented a 15-minute abridged version of Annie for their families at the end. Red Chief acted as family videographer and went home and made a DVD of it the same day. Where did he learn how to do that? It is so rewarding to parent kids who are figuring out what they love to do in life, and who are getting old enough to do real things.

Also on the docket for Tiger Lily this week: a piano recital, a playdate, a mother-daughter paint night, and a birthday! More about some of those later, if I get to it.



I'm currently reading Proteinaholic by Garth Davis, and an advance copy of Louisana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo. Also, my husband got me a digital subscription to the New York Times for my birthday. Lucky me! Tiger Lily is reading The Twins at St. Clare's series by Enid Blyton, which tickles me to death because I knew she'd love it. Red Chief is working on the Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans which I've never read. Pip is into Madeline, Minerva Louise, Caps for Sale, and The Incredible Book-Eating Boy.

I've fallen into a rhythm of making mostly things we've had before, with a few new recipes each week. Monday is always make-ahead in the slow cooker or Instant Pot because I teach violin, and Friday is make-ahead as well because we're at Red Chief's French horn lesson, although I tend toward doing something more fun or casual, like raw veggies and hummus, or bean salsa and chips. I'm trying to incorporate more simple, raw, and cool foods as the weather warms up.

In the garden
I don't want to talk about it. Allergies hit me so strong this year that I haven't dared to do anything in the garden. Mowing part of the lawn one Saturday made me so sick that I had to leave church the next day! So I'm trying to not think about the garden right now. I hope things will calm down for me later and I'll be able to do a fall garden.

In the home
I've been great the past week at keeping my cleaning routines. This may change now that the big kids are out of school for the summer, but I'm hoping that I can keep it up and even delegate some of the work to them.

He's always talked well, but he's started going off on multi-sentence bursts when there's a subject he wants to tell you a lot about (like the rain going into the storm drain, or batteries). At age 3.5 he's still not interested in potty training—in fact, he's regressed to the point that he just told me the other day, "I like having my diaper changed." Watching and waiting at this point. I'm fortunate to have found a group of moms for a preschool co-op in the fall who are willing to accept him even if he's not quite trained yet. Oh, and he learned his alphabet after watching a DVD a few times!

Tiger Lily
She's sad the school year is over, but looking forward to her birthday party coming up soon. She's my bookworm; sometimes I have to take away her reading material to help her get things done. She hates piano lessons and hates that I won't let her quit. She's very much looking forward to a drama camp next week.

Red Chief
He's glad to have the first year of middle school behind him. He is looking forward to having free time over the summer for unlimited Lego building and French horn practice. Also coming up this summer: his first Scout camp (and his dad just became Scoutmaster, so they can go together). He will also be doing a lot of lawnmowing this summer, as this is the first year he can do most of it himself.

Orchestra is out for the summer, but we had a fabulous and funny season-ending concert of law-themed music. I stopped taking piano lessons because I couldn't find the time to practice consistently, but I have been enjoying sitting down and playing when I get the chance.

We've been having lots of thunderstorms and rainbows, and I've been loving the stormy weather. However, I did also just get my first sunburn of the season. We definitely haven't settled down into all hot weather all the time quite yet, though!


Eating down the freezer

This spring I've made it a goal to use up most of the contents of my two freezers—the refrigerator freezer inside and the small freezer in the garage—so I can defrost the garage freezer.

I'm making good progress! My family has been patient with all the stir-fries and smoothies I've made to use up the frozen fruits and veggies.

In a week or two, I should be left with mostly cooked dry beans that I can cram into the one freezer. By then it should be warm enough to quickly defrost my garage freezer too!

And it will be good to have a fresh start and know there are no ancient or mystery foods lurking in the freezers.


Recently tried recipes

Here are some of the best recipes I've tried lately.