Friday, May 25, 2012

Conversations with Sly

 At 21 months, he's still not saying too much that's discernible as English.  But his speech gets funnier every day.

Tom: "Sly, are you going to be nice to the new baby?"
Sly: [nods]
Tom: "Really?!"
Sly: ""

Sly: "What's that?!" [said in a very excited squeal at least 10,000 times a day]
Me: "It's an iPod"
Sly: "iBop! iBop!"

Sesame Street: "This episode was brought to you by the letter X..."
Sly: "A!!"
Sesame Street: "...and the number 10"
Sly: "Nine!!"
(Well, at least he knew which was a letter and which a number?)

Anytime we finish praying the Rosary (and once, embarrassingly, right as Mass ended)
Sly: [very loudly] "YAYYYY!!!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Isolation of the Modern Housewife and Mother

I just read Jennifer Fulwiler's recent article at The National Catholic Register, and this really resonated with me:
There are some advantages to moms blogging about their kids. The isolation issues that many stay-at-home moms face is no joke. As we've discussed before, it's unnatural for people to live utterly cut off from any real community, as is the case with moms who are outside of the workforce. Blogs give women in these situations a way to share stories and feel close to one another
There was a link within that sentence to an older article of hers, and there I found this second gem:
When I studied anthropology in college, one of the things that stood out to me the most was the element of community: In pretty much every time and place outside of modern Western culture, people lived around family all their lives. The average person was surrounded by brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. For women, the work of raising children was not done alone: Younger nieces and cousins would help with the little kids, the women would socialize as they gathered water or washed clothes, all the children playing together around them. This is the kind of life we were designed for.
In contrast, the average modern woman who is out of the workforce lives her life on a suburban desert island. The nearest family member lives miles (if not thousands of miles) away. She doesn’t know all the people on her street, and not many of them have kids anyway. If she’s like many Americans, she’s moved within the past few years, losing any sense of community she’d built in the last place she lived. Any opportunities for socializing with other women involve the herculean effort of packing up all the kids in the car to drive somewhere. She doesn’t even have the age-old mother’s release valve of banishing the kids outside and telling them to come back at mealtime, since safety concerns mean she has to keep them within sight at all times.
This is an incredibly unnatural way to live.

I have to say that I totally agree.  When there are no other stay-at-home moms around you, life can be lonely for the woman trying to go it alone at home all day.  And when there aren't moms home, there aren't going to be kids around for your own kids to play with.  In fact, the whole sense of community and neighborliness is compromised.

Quoting myself from a previous post:

In a neighborhood where all the moms stay home, they get to know each other.  They see each other around.  Their kids play together.  It builds community.  When moms are at work all day, kids are either away at some sort of daycare of after-school program, or under orders to stay in the house.  Kids don't go outside anymore, because there's no one to watch over them if they do.  Kids don't play with other kids on their street.  Moms don't know each other.  So their husbands don't know each other.  Suddenly, everyone's a stranger, and no one feels safe letting their kids out to wander anyways.  So kids stay inside playing video games and watching TV all day, because that's "safe."  Kids work out their strong need for socialization at home with texting, twitter, the internet...which are all poor substitutes for real human contact.
 Also, see the excellent blog Free-Range Kids for more thoughts on this and similar issues.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rescued Fawn

Early on Friday evening, our next-door neighbors caught Tom as he was outside, and beckoned him in to see something in their house.  They had found a baby deer, crawling along in the middle of the street, and brought it inside.  It was too late in the day to call any animal rescue places, so they hoped to keep it overnight, and call Animal Friends (a "no kill" shelter) in the morning.

We live on the corner house of a quiet street.  Our little bend in the road is made up of nosy neighbors (I use that term fondly) who all peek out the windows and doors to find out what is going on, and chat with each other as they walk by.  So neighborhood news seems to spread like wildfire.  With the exception of our family and some hipster kids who live a few houses down, the block is made up of long-time residents who have known each other for years (and many of whom are related in some way).  So suffice it to say that within an hour, the whole street knew all about the rescued deer.

We got to stop over and see the fawn a couple times.  He(/she) was so small and cute!  And he still had a length of umbilical cord attached, and what looked to be a bit of afterbirth on its back, so he couldn't have been very old at all.  Shortly after they took him into the house, he got up on wobbly legs for what - as far as they know - was the first time ever.

Hard to tell here, but he was only slightly larger than a cat.
Why was he left in the middle of the street?  Well, there are woods nearby.  It seems strange that the mother would have given birth in the street.  But it would also be strange for her to give birth close enough to the road that the baby could have dragged itself (since it wasn't walking yet, presumably) into the road....and then that she would just leave it alone.

The women who had found him didn't really have any way of feeding him.  We gave them an old baby bottle of Sly's, and the rest of our jug of whole milk.  Cow milk and deer milk should be....sorta close, right??  They planned to feed him regularly over the night, then give him up to the shelter the next morning.

I didn't run into the neighbors for the rest of the weekend, so I never got to hear how things went with the fawn.  But this morning (Monday), there was a knock on the door.  It was a man from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  I told him he had the wrong house, and sent him next door.  Meanwhile, I stood eagerly looking out the side door (becoming a "nosy neighbor" myself) so that I could question him when he passed by again - and make sure that he wasn't planning to put the little deer to sleep!

He came out shortly after with the little fawn in his arms.  I asked what he would do with it.  According to him (and I relate this statement with a bit of skepticism), he will return the fawn to the woods where it came from.  The officer (are they called "officers"?) said the popular belief about how the mother won't recognize her fawn's scent once humans have touched them is just an old wives tale.  Mother deer often leave their fawns alone during the day, he said, but then come back for them in the evening.  If you ever find an "abandoned" fawn, you should just leave it alone (or return it to the nearest wooded area, if it's in the middle of the street, as in this case).  His hope is that the mother will find it, and take care of it again.

I want to believe all this is true.  But as I said, I feel there might be a chance he was just lying for my benefit.  Sort of like when I was in high school and I participated in a veterinary science "apprenticeship" at the community college.  Each week, we had to anesthetize little mice, and perform some sort of unnecessary surgery on them (such as neutering them, or removing part of the spleen), then stitch them back up.  Conscientious teenagers that we were, we were all very concerned about what was done with the mice after they woke up.  The professor assured us that he always "found good homes for them" with his college students.  It was only years later that I realized that had to be a load of BS, and that the mice must have been "disposed of" or used as snake food or something.

Anyways, the moral is: if you find a baby fawn, your best bet is probably to just leave it alone.  And don't call anyone official about it unless there's a true need.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How is Sly Doing?

Hey, for anyone who's been keeping up with my blog, hoping for updates on Sly's condition since the accident, I want to say THANK YOU for your patience, support, and dedication.  I hate that this is true, but it's still going to be some time before I can say much about it all publicly.  But I want to express again how grateful we are for all the thoughts and prayers you all offered to us while we went through the worst of it all.  As soon as I'm able, I will explain in detail how his healing is going, and finally post some pictures.


Four years ago today, my good friend Tom called me up to ask if our previously-planned "just friends" tour of a historical house could be upgraded into a "date"

...and the rest is history.

Friday, May 18, 2012

How to Shop Second-Hand part 1

Yesterday I sent Tom a text: "I just trash-picked a dresser, 3 extension cords, and a putty knife!"
He replied: "YEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!"

You see, all three of those items are things that we've been "needing" for awhile now. 

Our friends often ask us how we manage to find such great items and amazing deals on second-hand items.  I think I can honestly say that 90% of our "stuff" (not including food, cleaning products, and drugstore items) is second-hand.  Of the remaining 10% which came into the house "new", most of it was given to us as gifts.  We try never to buy something new if we can find it used in workable condition.

 And my first tip on how to do that would be, as demonstrated by yesterday's trash-picking scenario, to not be "too eager" to have something right away.  We try to make do without some item we want (or borrow it from someone else) while we wait for a good deal to crop up.  And if you always have a list of things you're "looking for" in the back of your head, you will definitely find some of them eventually if you're being attentive.

For example, Tom and I bought a filing cabinet from Goodwill when we moved to this house.  We didn't realize at the time that it didn't have the metal inserts in the drawers that you hang the folders off of.  It's annoying, but not an emergency or anything.  We priced them out at some stores, and they're way too expensive.  So we're just waiting for some to come our way, while our file folders sit in stacks inside the drawers.  A few months ago, we actually found ONE file holder at Goodwill.  So one drawer is good now!  The other day, Tom was tipped off about a closeout sale at Office Depot, and called to ask if there was anything we were looking for.  I reminded him about the file holders.  Unfortunately, they were already sold out.  But I just wanted to demonstrate my point: if it's something you can wait on, do so.  Eventually, something always comes along.

A motto I try to live by.  This print (from Etsy) is hanging on the wall, and is actually itself an example of "making do", since we were on the lookout for several months for a free or cheap frame for it.  Coincidentally, my dad was getting rid of one that was the exact dimensions we needed, so we took it and painted it white.

 Tom and I both enjoyed shopping at thrift stores and garage sales even before we started dating.  You can come across some great and unique finds there.  But once we were married and determined to survive on one income, a thrifty lifestyle also became a matter of necessity.

So where does all our stuff come from?  We go to thrift stores for fun.  Probably once a week or so.  If we're driving in a new neighborhood or town, and spot a thrift store, we get really excited and pull over to check it out.  In the summer, we check out yard sales, church flea markets, and estate sales (we pay attention to signs and bulletins for them around the neighborhood, and occasionally check the PennySaver).  We check Craigslist often when there's a particular item we haven't been able to find elsewhere.  We willingly accept cast-offs from friends and relatives (as long as it's something we'll actually use).  And, yes, we pick up furniture and other items left on the curb on trash night.  We don't dig through trashcans or anything like that, so I don't want to give anyone that impression!

I think this is an even more important tip about thrifting: you have to go often, even when there's nothing in particular you're looking for!  You never know what you'll find....pretty serving dishes, a useful kitchen gadget you didn't have yet, tools that you know you'll need "someday", a book you've always wanted to read...

But I think to really make the most of living with second-hand stuff, you have to actually enjoy it.  For us, it's fun to find great deals and cool things that you can't buy in regular stores.  We enjoy feeling like we've spent our money sensibly, and that we make the most out of things we already own.

And I really believe you can actually find higher quality things that are second-hand anyways.  I could go to Ikea and buy a crappy particle-board dresser for $50 that will fall apart in a year or two.  Or I can go on Craigslist and find a solid wood one with much more character for $30.  Or...I can find one for free in someone's trash.  True, the dresser I picked up yesterday should be sanded and repainted.  And we will probably decide to change out the handles for more attractive ones.  But the work is worth it for something that will last.

So, to re-cap the rules so far:
1. Be willing to wait for an item to turn up.
2. Check out thrift stores and other second-hand sales OFTEN, even when you don't know what you're looking for.
3. Enjoy it!

I called this entry "part 1" because I know I still have a lot more to say on the subject.  In future entries, I hope to discuss a few more useful rules/tips, some "strategies" for buying things second-hand (and what are some good things to look for), and maybe show some examples of some good finds we've made.

If you have any of your own thrifting tips to share, I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This Time Around

When I was pregnant with Sly, I was pretty concerned about doing things by the book. 

I didn't touch caffeinated drinks or alcohol the entire time, our of fear of harming my baby.  With this pregnancy, though, I find myself a bit more relaxed on "the rules".  I pretty much totally abstained from caffeine/alcohol in the first trimester.   That's when it matters most, since it's when the baby's major organs are developing.  But also, I usually just felt too sick most days to even want coffee or wine or anything.

Once I hit the second trimester, I was able to relax a bit, knowing that the baby was alive and healthy. I told myself, "you know what - if I want to drink a beer or a glass of wine every now and then...that's alright.  If I'm dying for a cup of coffee, then I'll drink one."  I mean, you have to figure that pregnant women had been drinking alcohol for centuries before anyone had an idea that it could be harmful.  And I'm sure most of their babies turned out just fine.  I know some doctors hold to a strict "no alcohol whatsoever" stance for pregnancy, but this seems to be mostly a precaution.  If they said "drinking is okay in moderation", you know some people would go just hear "it's okay" and go overboard.

The good thing (I suppose) is that since I hardly ever drink coffee or alcohol now, I have a pretty low tolerance for them both.  Which means I usually only manage to get through half a glass of something before I start to "feel it" and know it's time to stop.  Half a glass - I really do think that's alright. 

Now that I look obviously pregnant, though, I can't get away with ordering alcohol if we're out anywhere.  I mean, I could legally.  But I'm terrified that people would judge me and think I was a terrible mother or something for drinking a beer with dinner.

Anyways, what's the reason I'm writing about all this now, when I should be in bed?  Tonight I went out for coffee with some of the moms from the Catholic Moms group.  I forgot that I can't drink coffee in the evenings anymore.  I used to be able to down a big cup of coffee right before bed, and have no trouble falling asleep.  But twice in this pregnancy, I have had a small cup of coffee after dinner, and then couldn't fall asleep until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.  Soooo....I think I'm going to be awake for a while still.  Oops.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Thanks to a priest friend for reminding me of this quote today:

Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren't. It would be odd if she retained any of the narrowness of a specialist. Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment (even when freed from modern rules and hours, and exercised more spontaneously by a more protected person) is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worth while to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.

From G. K. Chesterton's book of essays, What's Wrong With the World.  See full text of this essay here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 13)

1. I've started hitting that point in my pregnancy - and this happened when I was pregnant with Sly as well, and lasted until well after he was born - where I feel this sense of dread and despair about how I'm going to "be pregnant for the rest of my life."  I don't mean with this particular pregnancy, but with all the babies we end up having.  Especially when summer hits, I start to realize how many things I can't do (at least not comfortably) while pregnant - go to amusement parks or water parks, kayak, go on long bike rides, travel long distances, etc.  And then next summer, I'll probably still be breastfeeding, which means I'll have an infant attached to me all the time and still unable to go certain places...and then once I'm done breastfeeding, I'll probably be pregnant again....and it just seems like I'm doomed to this endless cycle!  Not that I dread the babies themselves.  We want to have a big family, definitely.  But it really is incapacitating to the mother in a lot of ways.  I worry sometimes that by the time all our kids are old enough to start taking care of themselves a bit, I'll be too old and exhausted to take advantage of it!  But who knows what God has in store for us...

2. Sly finally managed to get ahold of a pen and write all over the wall before I noticed.  Ugh - I knew this would happen eventually.   But I had always assumed my ever-reliable Mr. Clean Magic Eraser would do the trick.  Those things have NEVER ceased to amaze me.  But surprisingly, it didn't work at all.  Any tips?

3. This Saturday, I'm hosting a clothing exchange at my house.  I'm looking forward to it - mostly as an excuse to hang out with some female friends, but also because it means getting rid of some of my junk, and possibly getting a few new (to me) things.  If you've never heard of one of these, I'll explain how it works: everyone goes through their closets, and finds clothes that they want to give away (we're also opening it to shoes, jewelry, unfinished perfume, etc.).  You bring them all to the party, and lay things out/hang them up in designated areas.  After everyone has arrived and had a chance to nibble on some food and chat, you all get to go browse the items, try things on, etc.  You can take home anything you like.  And any the leftovers get donated to the charity of your choice.  It's a wonderful way to change up your wardrobe a bit, without having to spend a dime!

4. Mother's Day is this weekend.  Tom and I decided that we wouldn't get gifts for each other for mother's/father's day.  When the kids are a little older, if they want to make us something or pick out something small, that's fine.  But we just can't afford to give gifts to each other for all the many many "gift-giving holidays" there are.  When asked how I'd like to celebrate, though, I told Tom that I would like to receive *something* handmade "from Sly" as well as be taken on a picnic which I don't have to cook/prepare the food for.  We'll see how it all comes together!

5. A neighbor gave us 20 pounds of potatoes that she had left over from a youth group event she cooked for.  That's a whole lot of potatoes for a family of three to eat to begin with, but they already have a lot of little sprouts on them!  So we've been racing to finish them before they go bad (which, given the level of heat in our un-air conditioned kitchen, is going to be pretty soon).  Potatoes for dinner every night!  Last night, I made twice-baked.  I've eaten them at restaurants, but never at home.  They were delectable.

6. During our college years (not so very many years ago), Tom and I had a very wide circle of friends.  But as people graduated and moved on for grad school or first jobs, many of them ended up leaving Pittsburgh for new places.  That, combined with our changing "life states" (married, and then married-with-a-kid) meant that our circle of friends became smaller and smaller.  The past year or two, almost all our socialization has been with one of our three "married couple friends."  This summer, two of those couples are moving away.  It's pretty depressing, if you ask me.  And I'm not sure what to do about it.  I've been reflecting on this a lot, and I think maybe it's just a fact of being a young, growing family that you don't have many friends?  We've been working so hard to get close with two couples from our church, and it's just sooooo slow-going.  I guess when people have young children, it's just really difficult to make the time for building strong friendships. 

You see movies and tv shows from the 50's, and all the couples on the street hang out with each other at least once a week.  They get together to play bridge or whatever.  Was that for real?  Why can't we have something like that?  haha

7. I sorta hate that our society is one in which people are so transient.  Children rarely live near their parents and siblings anymore.  Friends move away after college.  It didn't used to be that way so much.  People lived in the same town their whole lives.  I know that's my goal, anyways.  I was born and raised here, and almost my entire extended family is here too.  Of the eight kids in my dad's family, only one moved out of Pittsburgh.  And six of them actually live in the same neighborhood.  It was wonderful growing up, having all my cousins as my closest friends.  Family parties at least once a month, and frequent run-ins with a relative around the neighborhood.  Tom doesn't fully understand my desire to stay - his relatives are scattered all over the country, so he never had what I did.  But he loves the city as much as I do, and is alright with staying if we can.  The best part is, I think we've pretty much convinced his parents to move here too once they retire!  So good to plant roots!!

Hosted at Conversion Diary

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Perfect Pie Crust?

I mentioned a while back that I have to bring a peach pie for a friend's wedding next month, but have never made one before.  A few of you were kind enough to share some recipes with me.  I have to admit, though, I still haven't tested any of them out! (peaches aren't exactly in season yet, though, so that will be my excuse...).

Since I've made a few meat pies for dinners, though, I've had the opportunity to at least test out some crust recipes.  My mom always used store-bought crusts, so that's what I grew up with.  But recently, I've been trying to find a tasty and easy crust I can make from scratch.  I tried one last night that I think might be a keeper.

It's not that this crust tastes substantially better than others that I've tried.  But I love that the dough is a little moister, and thus MUCH easier to work with and roll out.  I found this recipe on the back of a package of aluminum pie edge-liners I bought (can't remember the brand) - something I would recommend to anyone else who finds it really frustrating to get foil strips to stay in place!

"Perfect Pie Crust"
 3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup cold water
1 Tbsp. white vinegar

Sift flour and salt; cut in shortening until it resembles coarse peas.  Mix remaining ingredients and stir into flour mixture until it forms a ball.  Roll out on floured board or pastry cloth (hint: use a rolling pin cover to prevent sticking).  For a more golden crust, beat an egg white with 1 tsp. sugar and brush the top of the pie lightly with a pastry brush before baking.  Makes one 10" double-crust pie.


The recipe is for a ten-inch pie.  Since all my pans are nine inches, I was worried about the waste.  But I came up with a good use for the extra dough.  I cut out little bunnies, and sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon, and baked them for about ten minutes.

I've been calling them "cinnabunnies", and Sly LOVES them.  So that's another benefit to using this recipe in the future - I'll always be able to make a little treat for the kids, without really doing any extra work!

Friday, May 4, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 12)

1. I'm going to the the matron-of-honor in my best friend's wedding next month.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very honored to have been asked.  And I know that I have no right to complain when all my duties combined don't even come close to the overwhelming amount of responsibilities and planning she has on her plate.  But oy vey - it takes a fair amount of work, and a whole lot of money to do this thing right!  The initial cost of the bridesmaid dress was already pretty frightening.  I had to order it two sizes up since I knew there was a possibility I would be pregnant by the wedding, and of course they never make the dresses with maternity options.  At my dress fitting yesterday, I put the thing on.  It fit - with a little room left for baby to grow - on the tummy.  But NO WHERE ELSE.  It's enormous.  I have to have it taken in at six different areas.  No joke.  The alterations are costing more than the stupid dress even cost to begin with!!  And I know I'm never going to wear it ever again, because the excessive drapiness of the style just makes it look like I'm fat and lumpy rather than pregnant.  Sigh.  I'll post pictures when the wedding comes.  I probably need to just get over it.
It looks great on her, sure.  Don't be fooled, though...that's no empire waist.  It hits right at the natural waist which is exactly where I have a huge baby bump.

2. It's suddenly gotten very hot, and I'm remembering very clearly what a summertime third trimester felt like.  Sly was born at the end of August which is when this baby is due as well.  We don't have air conditioning.  How did I survive this before?  I took a picture of my feet yesterday "pre-swelling" so that I can blow people's minds in a few months with how enormous my feet and ankles will have become.

3. Speaking of the heat, I think we may have found a little trick to help keep the house slightly cooler this summer.  My cousin's been insisting for years that the best thing to do when it's hot is to keep doors and windows SHUT and windows well-covered to block out the sun.  We'd always gone with the open-every-window-and-door and stick-fans-all-over-the-house methods.  But we've been experimenting, and I really think she's right.  It's too bad, though.  I love getting a little breeze indoors (even when it's a hot one), and actually being able to hear the sounds of the outdoors coming in.

4. I've been reading some books recently on different approaches/methods of homeschooling.  We definitely hope to homeschool.  I know any number of things may force that plan to change at some point, but it makes sense to start thinking about it now.  So far I'm most attracted to the idea of a classical approach.  To explain this in the briefest way possible, that would basically entail teaching our children the skills that are needed for learning and understanding material, and not delving too deeply into real "subject matter" until later.  And it would be a great excuse for me to finally learn Latin, as I've always wanted to.  One approach that I am SO turned off by is "unschooling."  Perhaps - perhaps - this is a successful approach to learning for some families.  But I could never handle it.  The parts of unschooling that most resonated with me - the idea of fostering your child's natural desire to learn, and of allowing their interests to help direct their learning - seem to be things I could work in to a more traditional schooling approach anyways.


5. Sly's finally been saying some words!  For the longest time, he's been stuck with just "what's that?!" (asked 50,000 times a day), "hi", "hey", "bye", and "no."  I really wanted him to start saying Mama or Dada, but it just wasn't happening.  Then I realized: when Tom or I refer to ourselves, we say "Mommy" or "Daddy."  Perhaps those words were too difficult for him to say?  We started actually using "Mama and Dada" and seriously, within one day, he was saying our names!  It was as if he was just waiting for us to make it easier for him all along.  He also says: shoe, choo-choo, beep-beep (which means car), soap ("so"), bee (which is now squealed excitedly when he sees any type of bug), 'o' (the letter o, which I taught him to pick out in his books, as it seemed like the easiest letter to spot) moo, and hee-haw.

6. There's been a bad smell in my kitchen the past few days which I can not find the source of, and it's driving me crazy!  It's sorta a musty old food smell more than a true rotting type of smell.  I've washed the rugs, towels, dishrags, etc.  I microwaved the sponge.  I cleared old food out of the fridge and pantry.  I emptied the trash (and sniff-checked the empty can - it's fine).  I moved the oven to see if something gross was under there.  I scrubbed under all the burners on the over.  And ok, I haven't actually mopped the floor, per se.  But I've spot-cleaned it, and it looks good (I hate mopping!!).  Yesterday, I thought maybe it was the drains in the double-sink.  How are you even supposed to de-stink those??  We don't have a garbage disposal or anything.  I just poured some bleach down, waited a little, then followed up with water.  Afterwards, it just smelled sorta bleach-y to me.  But I'm willing to try a more effective method, if anyone knows of one.  I still think it might be the drains.  But if not....what stink-sources could I be missing??

7. I need to share a fantastic recipe from Pioneer Woman.  This is the first of her recipes I've used, but I've tasted some other at friends' houses, and they're always amazing.  This one is for Crash Hot Potatoes.  I've made them three times in the past month or so, and Tom keeps requesting them over and over.  Definitely give them a try!  And if anyone has some other favorites from her extensive recipe collection, link me up!

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