I'm constantly doing a hobby switch: one week I sew like crazy, the next I read, the next I experiment in the kitchen.

Lately I've taken up the piano. I learned a bit as a child, but not enough to gain any sort of competence. I regret not learning.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the last ten years. What have I done in this third of my life? What have I learned? What have I accomplished? Sometimes I fear that I do a lot of learning, but lack focus and purpose.

In any case, I have enjoyed taking up a more methodical study of the piano over the last month. In the past, I always thought I should learn church songs because they would be the most useful. But I recently realized that I'm not that interested in playing them. I love classical music. I don't mind church songs at all, but if I want to play music for its own reward, for me, it will be classical music.

I've played violin all my life, and for me the hardest part of piano is the fingerings. I understand the notes and the theory, but my fingerings are atrocious. I always try to use the fingers I would use on the violin, but that really doesn't make sense at all.

I have now made it through Suzuki Piano book 1 with all the right fingerings. It's amazing how tricky a song is at first, but after a week, I can play it all right, and after a few weeks of regular review, it's easy for me.

I'm also using this book of Czerny études my mom started me on as a child (I got through maybe three pages back then) and a book of two-octave scales. Surprisingly, the hardest thing for me so far has been to play a two-octave C scale with both hands at once. But after three weeks, I'm starting to get the hang of it.

I am happy to have a new focus.


Baking day

The perfect activity for a cloudy morning, all with the help of a nice audiobook and a cute baby boy to keep me company. 



For years, my mom has been canning her fabulous homemade applesauce and giving it to all of us to devour.

But she's out of the country serving a mission this year. Our applesauce stores were running low! We tried storebought applesauce. Gross. How do they even make it so tasteless and watery?

So I acquired two boxes of apples (and one of peaches for good measure). I saw them sitting on the counter the first day and thought, "That's not much. Probably not enough. I can go get more after I can these."

Ha ha. Three days latter, I am done. I will not be acquiring any more fruit. (Although the garden will probably give us more tomatoes.)

The tally:
  • 33 quarts applesauce
  • 7 quarts peaches
  • 6 quarts tomato purée
  • 6 half-pints peach jelly
  • 7 pints and 4 quarter-pints peach jam
I was pleased to finish on Saturday so I could have the kitchen clear for Sunday. It makes for a much more restful day when things are in order.


Kitchen day


I have been keeping to my housekeeping schedule this week, and today was kitchen day. We will eat well the next few days.

Things I made:
  • Three loaves of whole wheat bread
  • Lentil sloppy joe filling
  • Double batch of black rice
  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • Chicken seitan
  • Ingredients prepped for split pea soup
  • Melon cut up
  • Pizza toppings cut up
  • Pizza dough
  • Fruit and nut bites
  • Ground wheat
  • Cleaned the kitchen sink
  • Cleared the drain
  • Cleaned the microwave
  • Swept out the trash cupboard 
  • Did lots of dishes
 P.S. I used all the measuring cups.


Beautiful quiet


I went to the grocery store the first day of school and many moms there were rejoicing. I feel guilty for being so happy that my two oldest are gone all day, but I love that I can tidy up the house and it stays tidy until they come home. I'm sure Baby will figure out how to empty the cupboards soon, but for now, I'm enjoying the calm.

I love that there is quiet time to think and be alone and work. I love that I am getting so much done: all summer long I was discouraged that I did so little. I'm sure there is a way to do it with the bigger kids underfoot, but I didn't figure that out this summer.

Kids are so different. I have one who is happy to have me work and will even pitch in, but then gets needy sometimes and won't do anything alone. The other can't seem to get anything done unless I stay right there and bark orders continually. I was exhausted all summer trying to get those two to get anything done.

The battle continues: there will be no computer time for a certain child until their bedroom is clean. How long with the war last? I don't know, but I'm happy to have a break from it for a few hours every day.

Any tips for helping kids let go of stuff? I know the abovementioned child would have a much cleaner room if it had less stuff in it—there's not enough room for it all, so it just keeps getting shuffled around. Also, every time we go through and get rid of stuff, it only takes a month or two for a bunch more to creep in.

But I can forget about that for a few hours and enjoy instead the peace of the clean bathroom, the bread baking in the oven, the load of laundry getting itself washed, the sweet baby sounds, and the new library book.



  • Week five of swimming lessons, here we come! Much progress has been made.
  • Ten pounds of eggplant from the garden.
  • Practicing the new schedule for back-to-school. I will be attempting to get up at 6:30 every morning. I am not a morning person.
  • I keep thinking the back-to-school shopping is done, then one more thing comes up. Will it ever end? I am so over shopping right now.
  • Very tall stalks, very small sunflowers. They make me laugh.
  • Family history research. Enjoying the name Violette Constance that I unearthed a few days ago.
  • Dire consequences have been threatened for wet towels and swimsuits left around the house this week. 
  • Finished listening to all the Roald Dahl audiobooks, so we've moved on to The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. 
  • Having a hard time finding a good fiction book to settle in to at the moment. 
  • The air is smoky from wildfires. I'm excited for that to be done.


Flowers and weeds

The garden was off to a rough start this summer. I never cleaned up out there last fall (I had a baby) and I never got on top of things this spring. I scattered a bunch of seeds and planted a few seedlings and hoped for the best.

At this point, the best thing I can say about the garden is that the flowers are taller than the weeds.

I'm feeling overwhelmed inside the home, too: I just can't get on top of things. But I trust that the flowers are taller than the weeds. The flowers are mostly what the children will remember when they are grown. I hope.


Helping Baby's eczema

Baby and I have been battling his eczema for pretty much forever. Mostly for my own reference, here are some things that seem to help. Baby is much better when I consistently do these things. Unfortunately, I often get busy or distracted and miss baths and greasing-up sessions. I will keep trying.
  • Daily baths. Many people say less frequent baths help, but that is not true for us.
  • Petroleum jelly. Use it generously. Don't wear anything you care about during and after application (I change into my pajamas first). We do this right after the bath, just before bed, so the grease will be contained. Slathering up immediately after the bath helps retain moisture. Using it on the head helps cradle cap immensely but it is kind of gross (wait at least overnight before washing out). Wash greasy laundry in hot water with plenty of stain remover or dish soap applied to grease spots.
  • Long-sleeved cotton footed pajamas. Cotton breathes well, and the full coverage prevents scratching. I keep Baby in these day and night when things are bad. They can be hard to find in sizes over 9 months, but The Children's Place sells them in up to size 3.
  • All-cotton clothes and bedding. I only dress my babies in cotton. Polyester doesn't breathe well and is more likely to trigger eczema. If we must wear synthetics, I try to at least keep a layer of cotton next to the skin.
  • Prescription hydrocortisone cream. Apply under petroleum jelly or other lotion. Regular OTC cream is no good: the base dries skin out. Our prescription cream has a greasy base.
  • Cetaphil cream. Just right for putting on several times a day; not greasy like petroleum jelly.
  • Short fingernails. To prevent scratching damage.
  • Socks over the hands. See above. Also great for when I put hydrocortisone cream on his hands and I don't want him to eat it. Baby can actually scratch—rub—a bit with socks on but at least he can't draw blood.
  • Spoon-feed. Even if Baby is not allergic to a food, it can still irritate his skin when he picks it up and rubs it all over his face. Biggest triggers so far: tomato and chili powder.
  • Wash up. Clean Baby meticulously after meals. Also during meals if necessary.
  • Special soap. I have found two soaps that Baby can tolerate: this and this. I can count on one hand the different soaps and creams I will put on baby's skin: even all-natural products like Burt's Bees can turn his skin bright red in an instant. Some people say don't use soap, but I like to wash off the daily layer of grease, which can also attract grime.
  • Special laundry detergent. I use a natural, fragrance-free detergent to wash all our clothes. It helps.
  • Don't stop when it gets better. Keep treating or it will get bad again.
  • Figure out food allergies. Baby is sensitive to milk and it does make his eczema worse.

Ideas I haven't used much, or at all:
  • Bleach baths. I may try these at some point, but I don't love the idea of putting my splash-loving baby into a tub of bleachy water.
  • Benadryl. Our doctor approved it to help stop itching, but it does make him sleepy. I have used it exactly once, and that was before bed anyway. I like to have it on hand though in case things get out of hand.
  • Wet wraps. What a pain! I'm glad I know about this, but I hope things don't get bad enough to have to do it. 
  • Mineral sunscreen. I tried this at the doctor's recommendation, and it dried out his skin, leading to a rash. Perhaps because it was in stick form? Surprisingly, greasy No-Ad works better for Baby. Mostly I just try to keep him out of the sun in the middle of the day and use a hat if we must. 
  • Essential oils. Many friends have recommended them, but I just don't do essential oils and I'm pretty sure they won't magically cure Baby's eczema. I am not averse to the idea that they could help a bit, but I'm already pretty busy doing all the other things I've found that do help.


This week

  • Friends staying with us
  • A new D.E. Stevenson book I hadn't read before (Gerald and Elizabeth)—all her books make me smile
  • Baby tipping the scales at 23 pounds at his nine-month appointment
  • Swimming lessons begin
  • Baby cuddles
  • Summer fruit—especially nectarines
  • Found an adorable new sewing pattern and have already made two
  • Cooler breezy weather so we can enjoy some time outside
  • Starting back-to-school supply and clothing inventory
  • Arthritis makes me tired
  • House is constantly cluttered because I haven't been picking up as much (see above)
  • Baby had an eczema flare-up (bright side: I think I know what caused it)
  • Kids are loud and they fight a lot
  • Lots of weeds in the garden




Highlights from the past two weeks:
  • Trip to a state park and then to visit family
  • Lots of fireworks
  • My parents are leaving on a mission to Tonga
  • Red Chief had stitches on his hand
  • Got Baby to eat gross puréed green beans which he doesn't like anymore by adding curry powder
  • New job charts for the kids help a little
  • New job charts for me help a lot, especially if I actually do them
  • Arthritis flaring up from hiking and all the bad (yummy) food on our trip
  • Made Red Chief his requested marble chiffon cake for his birthday
  • Sewed curtains for Red Chief's birthday
  • I love teaching the nine-year-olds at church 
  • My husband fixed the air conditioner during the heat wave
  • First garden vegetables of the year 

Also, Baby can:
  • Roll several feet and even to different rooms
  • Eat cooties off the floor
  • Scratch both arms at once
  • Whistle (really!)
  • Maybe say some words (it's so hard to tell at first whether it's coincidence)
  • Feed himself well
  • Drink from a cup with assistance
  • Bite with his two little teeth
  • Pull out the cat's fur
  • Smile at everyone he sees