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xantippe's blog

XANTIPPE, a Scold; the Name of Socrates's scolding Wife; who never cold move his Patience, tho' by premeditated and repeated Injuries. Whence it is used for any Shrew, or scolding, brawling Woman. (Dictionary of Thieving Slang, 1737)

Updated: 2018-03-22T09:41:41.479-07:00




This past weekend, we had D's friend party for his birthday. We were planning to do an outside NERF fight (a favorite with boys this age), but the weather report (which later turned out to be unreliable) said multiple thunderstorms. We decided to show the first Toby Maguire Spiderman.

Some thoughts:

  • There were 15 of us: the 5 of us, two smaller boys who are family friends and 8 male classmates from 7th grade.
  • We gave kids popcorn and soda during the movie.
  • They were pretty loud, but also funny, geeky, good at spotting plot issues and have encyclopedic knowledge of DC and Marvel.
  • They really didn't like Peter's final mushy scene with MJ at the cemetery--in fact, nearly all of them melted away at that point. "They're still talking???!!!" said one boy.
  • They liked our foam swords. In fact, they liked them so much that a couple got broken. (I had to point out that while the exterior is foam, they have wooden dowels on the inside.)
  • It was an odd time for pizza, but we had pizza anyway. It turns out that after a hard afternoon of watching a super hero movie, that's exactly what 13-year-old boys want.
  • We had German chocolate cake--D's favorite.
  • Then the kids got to play outside before pickup--there was some foam sword fighting, some zipline, some stilt walking, etc.  



Here's some of what's happening:

  • D is turning 13!
  • D has been working on his bouldering and my husband thinks that he should be in the advanced category soon in climbing competition.
  • T has been very frisky over spring break. SO much doorway climbing.
  • C is all confirmed and her grandma gave her a gold St. Jadwiga medal.

Best day ever!!!


A couple of T notes:

  • T has decided that Hatchimals are too expensive.
  • Earlier today, T announced, "This is the best day of my life!" The two things that earned that distinction for today were a) I found a shiny penny on the ground and gave it to T and b) we scored a race car grocery cart at the store.

Budget again


T (age 5) said, "I'm doing my budget!"

She also is really into Hatchimals these days and likes to pretend to be a Hatchimal. She likes me to rub her back and pretend that she is hatching out of a shell.

T has a budget


T just said (apropos of nothing): "I'm going to have a budget for my money. I'm going to save it."

Today was budget day for mommy and daddy, we were doing our budget several hours ago, and apparently little pitchers have big ears.



Here's some of what's happening:

  • It's so cold (for TX)!
  • We watched The King and I with the kids. 
  • T got her own tiny, real Christmas tree ($2 just before Christmas).
  • C is working through a book of Star Wars theme music for the ukulele.
  • D was building block castles with T today.
  • We had a nice dinner at Pei Wei, making good use of their BOGO deals (both husband and I are signed up).
  • We all spent much of the afternoon at the local skate/laser tag place, along with three other kids that we'd managed to round up (two old classmates and one current classmate). I believe D managed three rounds of laser tag. There was also a lot of skating. This was T's second time on roller skates, and she had them on about two hours, which is a lot when you're five, even with a skate frame for support. Husband and I accompanied her on loops around the roller rink, making her take a break every loop or two. She took a lot of falls, but was definitely improving and showed a lot of gritty determination. The breaks and cinnamon pretzel definitely helped.  
  • In future, I think we probably should insist on keeping her to 30-60 minutes of skating total, as she gets more accident prone when she's tired.

Christmas Eve


Here's some of what's happening:

  • T has produced a pile of wrapped gifts for the whole family (art projects, I believe). C, D and Daddy each are getting one gift each. T has five gifts for me, and she culled out a bunch of gifts to get it down to five.
  • D made a popsicle stick stable for T's nativity figures. It has collapsed, but I'm hoping it will get stuck together again.
  • C has Latin Christmas carols playing (her class got them from her Latin teacher) while the tree is decorated.
  • C and her community ukulele group did two Christmas performances in December--one at a mall on a Saturday and a slightly longer performance at a nursing home (I sang with them at the nursing home). They had seven people playing ukuleles at the mall and five at the nursing home. The nursing home performance was at the end of dinner. A lot of people had left, but we had a small but appreciative audience. One of the older ladies wanted to know if that was all. Our leader/vocalist said, "That's all we know!"
  • It's a relatively new group (I believe it formed in 2016), but I think it has been gelling lately. C is the youngest member of the group. The other players are middle aged or older, aside the adult daughter of some of the organizers.
  • Husband has been experimenting with 3D-printing Christmas tree ornaments.
  • He also designed 3D-printed a Saturn cookie cutter for a space-loving neighbor/friend.



Wait a sec while I blow the dust off the blog.

OK! Here's some of what's been happening lately:

  • D has been doing some long distance runs while my husband bikes along with him, Rocky-style.
  • T has been loving her Capsela set. Husband has ordered her some more components for Christmas.
  • C practiced hard and performed five Christmas songs with her community ukulele group at the mall.
  • C has very strong grades, except for history, where she's got a 91. 
  • T is still loving school.



We just brought home two boys.  After some outdoor play with Aerobies and boomerangs, they are now in D's room, happily absorbed playing knights and castles.  C has retired to her lair.  T had to be forcefully peeled away from the boys, but I had the excellent thought that I had a small craft kit in my prize area with fuzzy balls, googly eyes, small bits of shaped foam, and small pipe cleaners.  I gave it to her and she is also enjoying herself.  Yay, bribery!

I told T that she'll be able to play with the boys outside later.  I might also be able to talk them into playing Hot Wheels with her, as she has a nice set. 

The Three Butterflies


T made a book this morning from college ruled paper, crayon drawings, dollar store butterfly stickers and paper clips.  It's "The Story of the Three Butterflies" and it's about how the three butterflies started as eggs, hatched into caterpillars, turned into butterflies and then started pollinating.  Awww!

Thanksgiving break


T looooves school more than any child has ever loved school before.  The kids get a week off for Thanksgiving, which has just started, and T is not pleased.

"I hate break," she says. 



Here's some of what's happening:

  • Halloween night was so wet that C bailed.  I took T by car to trick or treat at a friend's (T was dressed as a black cat) and we walked to two neighbors.  We managed to get treats at 2 out of 3 doors.  We only had one set of trick or treaters (our neighbors).  Fortunately, we had bought the good candy, so we weren't stuck with a huge bowl of bad candy.
  • D and his 7th grade class went on a school camping trip for three nights and four days.
  • D's preliminary findings were that a) basic things are much harder to do outside civilization and b) things get dirty very easily.  They also had the experience of having varmints rip into their camp trash and having to pick up the gross scattered debris.  It could have been a lot worse--some of the kids were violating the frequently stated DO NOT KEEP FOOD IN TENTS rule, but nothing terrible happened.  
  • C rode at her horse show and got a 1st prize and a 4th prize.  Her horse did very well in the obstacle course, but got penalized for breaking into an eager canter during a demonstration of gaits.  C's horse this term is SO smart.  
  • D is in training for a 10k.  My husband has been biking along beside him, urging him on.
  • Yesterday, T and I met a mom group (where T met an insta-best friend) and we all fed ducks and geese and then went to the playground.  One mom (with experience of farm ducks) brought lettuce and old spinach for the ducks.  It turns out that urban ducks and geese aren't that interested in healthy living.
  • I somehow caught up 8 days of email last night.
  • T is having pj day at school today.
  • This is also spirit week for the big kids.  D reveled in a homemade retro spaceman costume based on a Star Trek character, C wore her new gold Star Trek pjs to school for pj day, and she wore her Minecraft shirt and carried a homemade creeper on high school stereotype day.
  • All in all, it's been a very fun and interesting week or two.  



Baby T thinks that the cobwebs that she sees at home are decorative.

"There's a Halloween theme!" she said.

Transitions III


So far, the transition to carrying a lightly-packed medium purse and keeping a backpack with emergency supplies in the car has been a success.

It's been several days, and I have yet to find myself caught without necessities.  Also, it's been much easier to get at my basic stuff (wallet, cell phone, keys).  I also like the large zipper wallet itself.  I may eventually transition to nicer version of the purse and the wallet, but in terms of functionality, this is just about perfect for me.

The new backpack should be here in a few days, and not a moment too soon--the old backpack is disintegrating.



Here's some of what happened yesterday:

  • My husband was away until late evening to a conference, so all three kids and I went to C's therapeutic riding lesson.
  • I hadn't really figured out how to combine that with looking for herbs for D at Home Depot, but there's a well-placed Fazoli's nearby, so the kids and I had lunch there before Home Depot.  We had never been to Fazoli's, although it provides some of the kids' hot lunches, so this was a new thing for all of us.  It's fast food Italian, which is kind of inspired.  It was a little grubby, but the food was good (in fact, the kids gave rave reviews).  We got pizza, lasagna, spaghetti with a meaty sauce, and shared a slice of pumpkin cheesecake.  It was $30 for the 4 of us, which is not bad at all for real food, given that we almost all got drinks.  
  • We went to Home Depot, cruised the entire garden section, and finally found the discounted herb plants.  We got a medium-sized rosemary bush, a small thyme, a small cilantro and a small mint bush for $12.
  • At home, D (the main gardener in our family right now), led the planting of the herbs in our two outdoor pots, which are just about exactly the right size to hold two herbs each.  My primary input was to suggest putting the mint in one pot, the rosemary in the other, and then add a remaining herb to each pot.  My thinking is that the mint and the rosemary are perennials, and if all goes well, they will each eventually need a pot of their own.
  • Baby T got to plant the rosemary and she also got to do some watering.
  • I was very gratified that we managed to do the herb trip for D.
  • The way gardening works in our part of TX, you get a short spring growing season, a summer dead zone, and a short fall growing season.  We're at least a month late doing the herbs (and I fear the cilantro may die on us any minute), but I think we're going to get $12 worth of gardening out of this, especially if either the rosemary or the mint survives the winter.
  • C is determined that we have some herbs to add to our Christmas Eve fish.

Transitions II


The new wallet came in the mail and I've moved into the new wallet (real leather) and the new purse (real plastic).  The card slots in the new wallet are a little snug, but otherwise, it's a nice addition, and the wallet itself is very roomy and suitable to use as a stand alone purse in a pinch.  The wallet closes completely with a zipper, so there's a lot more peace of mind than with a conventional snap wallet.  I've devoted a small zipper compartment of the new purse to shopping lists and coupons and the main compartment is actually rather cavernous with just my cell phone and the wallet in there.  I suppose more stuff is going to creep into there eventually, but at the moment, it's nicely minimalist.  It's a nice feeling.

I'm waiting for the new backpack now, but there's no hurry.



Here's some of what happened today:I went to a parent teacher conference for Baby T first thing in the morning.D did a training run for a 10k race he is planning to do.I rounded up all of the kids (they are on fall break) and went to the doctor's office.  I managed to get Baby T's vaccination record for school but wasn't in time to get a flu shot for C.We hit Starbucks for a late-morning snack/lunch.  I was planning to just look at Fossil purses and check out which of their models would hold my calendar (I have a HUGE calendar).  I found this (Kim Rogers' Evie flap crossbody in cognac) and was smitten, especially since the calendar fit.  I see from the online description that it's not actual leather, but it's a very good size and shape (four pockets and 11" wide x 10" high x 2.5" deep, with very simple lines and details).  I just took out a measuring tape--it seems like this one is more like 10" wide.  It probably is 2.5" at the base, but it's definitely wider higher up, and it stands up.  I also like the strap length a lot--not too long, not too short.  It was labeled $58, which I was willing to pay, but was delighted when it turned out to be on sale and $28 with tax--so I can afford for this to be a mistake.  The main consideration (aside from aesthetics) was purse size.  I'm coming out of years of using a backpack as my primary bag.  This made sense for a long time, as on any given day, I'd be toting around:  cell phone, large wallet, diapers/pullups, wipes, change of clothes for Baby T, spare plastic bags, snack for Baby T, water bottle, hats for me and Baby T, bandaids, Benadryl, Tylenol, sunblock stick, etc.  Now that Baby T is 5, I feel like the time has come to downsize from this type of expedition packing.  As my current backpack is seriously fraying, I've ordered a new backpack (the Columbia Fourmile backpack is $40 on Amazon).  The plan is that I will continue to keep the backpack packed with serious expedition supplies and perhaps keep it in the car, but will move to using my new purse for daily use.  The purse needs to be small enough to be more convenient than the backpack, but big enough to fit basic necessities.  (Because if I wind up carrying the backpack all the time because I can't fit my stuff in the cute little purse, what was the point?  And if I buy a bucket-sized mom bag and carry the same stuff as in the backpack, what was the point?)My current wallet a) has a broken zipper b) is starting to fray and c) takes up too much space.  I've got this (a leather zipper wallet with a wrist strap) ordered and coming soon.  The new purse has a built-in wallet compartment, but I should just move the wallet from purse to backpack, depending on which I'm using. But here's hoping that I can actually fit the necessities (cell phone, new wallet, ???) into the new purse.This sounds like a huge spree, but all of it (backpack, purse and wallet) cost a grand total of about $101. [...]

Birthday party


Baby T is barely a baby anymore, as we had her 5th birthday party yesterday.  (She needs a few more days to become officially 5.)  Here's some of what has been happening:

  • We invited three other families to an indoor bounce place for a small birthday party last night.  (The location was Baby T's idea--the guest list was my idea.)  There were 10 children total and 5 adults total.  We had pizza (the reliable cheese pizza and pepperoni pizza) and store cake (half chocolate, half white, with purple decorations), a large helium 5 balloon and a small My Little Pony balloon.  Some senior members of the group played Set while the little kids bounced.  (D both bounced and played Set.)
  • Baby T got a charming set of My Little Pony princesses from one set of friends (Princess Celestia, Princess Luna and Princess Cadence) and a fat Richard Scarry book from another set of friends.
  • At home, C gave her C's Hot Wheels car collection and Hot Wheels tracks (a princely gift, as my husband and I agreed) and we parents gave her a clear pink piggy bank and a new Play Doh press (to replace one that broke).  We will be giving more gifts later this week on her actual birthday--she's getting a sparkly mermaid tail plush blanket from Justice and a couple of small LEGO Star Wars sets (x-wings?).
  • D is in training for a 10k.
  • C is in training for the PSAT.  It's not the official one for her (that's next year), but it's a big deal.
  • C is starting to have dress-up school events, as she's now a 10th grader.  As her wardrobe lately mostly consists of a) school uniforms and b) t-shirts, some shopping was in order.  She and I and Baby T went to Old Navy Friday night and made a pretty good haul:  a couple nice tops, a white t-shirt to go under the tops, and a pair of black pants.
  •  C also wanted to know if I was going to follow up on an old promise of giving her some of my jewelry now that she is older.  C's ears are not pierced, so that excluded a bunch of stuff.  I gave her a bracelet, a Polish or Russian gold necklace (grandma?), and an amber necklace (Polish or Russian?) with lots of amber.  I also promised her my stash of amber earrings if she gets her ears pierced.



Here's some of what's going on:

  • Husband and I just started Taxi Blues (1990) and Kommissar (1967, but released 20 years later due to censorship issues).  I'm not sure we'll finish them, but they are really good.
  • Baby T is doing well at 3-day pre-k.  She really loves school.
  • Baby T is also really attached to me.  She likes to say, "Baby cat loves mama cat!" and similar.
  • D is in youth group now, not CCE.
  • C is going to be performing a Star Trek theme at a school event soon.  Her instrumental music class will also be performing a Tom Petty song together.  
  • The kids did a sibling picture today.  C hates school photos, but I'm really pleased to have a professionally done photo of the three of them.

Preschool Kumon


Here are some thoughts on some of Kumon's preschool workbook offerings:First off, the age ratings on these books are often over-ambitious.  For example, My Book of Numbers 1-30 is rated for ages 3-5.  As a 4-year-old, Baby T has done a number of the dot-to-dot type exercises pretty well, and the concepts are well within her grasp, but she's much less good at writing numbers over and over again (and frankly, we haven't really tried).  In general, I've gotten much less excited than I used to be about the number writing and letter writing exercises for really small children.  We have not finished this workbook.Fessing up here--part of the reason I'm less enthusiastic about some of these workbooks is that they require constant parental supervision.I have ordered Kumon's My Book of Number Games 1-70 to give Baby T some number practice without a lot of copy work--it's basically a dot-to-dot book.Related: Kumon's My First Book of Drawing is also rated ages 3-5.  Baby T did quite a number of drawing exercises by herself at 4 and did a very decent job:  the apple, cherries, eggplant (!), watermelon, kite, etc.  However, she also just scribbled a little on some of them, or treated them as coloring exercises.  (Baby T did a lot of this workbook by herself.)  Some quibbles:  a cupcake that doesn't look like a cupcake, a ladle (what do 4-year-olds care about ladles?) and a very creepy clown.  Definitely not for the typical 3-year-old.  We have not finished this.I last posted on Kumon's pre-k Logic workbook.  It starts with finding a match for an animal in a group of different animals and moves onto matching a cross-section of an object to the object itself and baby animals to their parents.  So far so good.  Things get a little trickier in the next section, where kids need to understand how scales work, and that being lower indicates that the animal or object is heavier.  Then there's a section on choosing which object or animal is faster.  We found this problematic as it's more about real life knowledge and experience than abstract logic.  Why should a 4-year-old know that a bird is faster than a bee?  And I still don't know whether a lion is faster than a rabbit.  Baby T did surprisingly well on the section where kids are supposed to figure out which things in a picture are pretend.  Baby T did well with pattern sequencing (at least as well as her mom).  Object rotation was kind of a pain for both of us.  There was also an exercise where you need to figure out which animal is missing in a design, with lots of obstacles to make it hard.  There were many times where I found myself thinking, "This is for 4-year-olds--seriously?", especially since there were times (like with the pattern sequencing and missing animals) where I struggled, too.  Baby T is very close to 5, so heaven knows how a young 4-year-old would do.  The workbook has really nice full color pictures, but I would say that the second half of it is more appropriate for 5.  Baby T did finish this (with help).We found ourselves much more at home in Kumon's pre-k Spatial Reasoning workbook.  Again, I'm not totally sure that this is a good workbook for a typical 4-year-old, but this one was a very good fit for Baby T.  It contains the following:  drawing lines to connect matching objects (which eventually builds into mazes), multi-stop mazes, matching partial pictures, matching outlines to animals, figuring out which pi[...]

Kumon Logic II


Baby T finished the pre-k logic workbook.  Some thoughts:

  • There are a lot of exercises in the beginning of the book that are more knowledge-of-the-world and less logic (Baby T had trouble with that).
  • In the middle of the book, there are some interesting exercises with trying to figure out which animal is riding a carnival ride.
  • It gets really hard at the end of the book with exercises where you study a pattern and predict the next item in the sequence.  It is not easy, even for big people.  (Baby T was good at those, though.)  
  • I wonder how appropriate this book really is for 4-year-olds, as Baby T is almost 5, and it was challenging.  
  • I have ordered and we are expecting the Kumon "Spatial Reasoning" and "Differentiation" pre-k workbooks.  Baby T is excitedly waiting for them.  I may eventually order the kindergarten "Logic" workbook.

Kumon Logic


Baby T and I have almost finished her Kumon pre-k Logic workbook.  It's SO HARD.

Playroom II


Here's some of what's happening:

  • I finished the playroom (with some input from Baby T).
  • Baby T likes to say, "Baby cat loves mama cat!"
  • She just came over and wiped my hands with a wet wipe.



I have a very slow, totally non-KonMari decluttering program going.  Here's what I've done recently:

  • moved a bunch of Baby T's clothes from my closet into her new closet (Baby T and D switched rooms this summer)
  • gave away some of Baby T's outgrown clothes
  • decluttered, dusted and vacuumed my walk-in closet (for a closet, I'd say it looks pretty good) yesterday
  • decluttered two linear yards of Baby T's playroom downstairs (the playroom is probably about half done now)
I can only do the playroom about 15-30 minutes at a time, as that's about the point where Baby T's helpfulness gives out.  We've done two sessions so far and I foresee it taking at least another two.

Fall II


It's been a very productive Saturday.

  • My husband and D assembled both the brown IKEA wardrobe for D and big white dresser for Baby T.  (D got paid for the dresser assembly, which took 2.5 hours.)
  • Basically, there was about 5 hours just of IKEA assembly today, with both my husband and D working the whole time.  Baby T came and helped with the dresser, and was actually rather helpful.
  • C got to go to her first riding lesson of the fall.
  • I moved D's clothes from Baby T's closet into his wardrobe and dresser.
  • Husband hung a sun/moon decoration up for Baby T.
  • C hung up Baby T's old My Little Pony wall decals and she and I hung up a Pokemon poster that C bought for Baby T a while back and has been saving for her.
  • D's old room/Baby T's new room has a castle photo mural and D left Baby T his old homemade wooden castle wall (it has hinges, so it can be folded up or made into a square).  The castle stuff combines pretty well thematically with Baby T's new purple princess tent and her My Little Ponies.  This room is not going to get us into the local glossy, but I think it's up to 4-year-old/5-year-old standards.
  • Husband and I also gave D some lighting help, as his room is a bit dim in the evening.
  • All in all, a strong team effort.  Here's what's left to do in those two rooms:  move Baby T's clothes out of master bedroom closet, replace window in D room (waiting for window people), buy D a blind (waiting for new window), and install a lower, reachable rod for Baby T's closet.
  • Down the road, we need to get Baby T an actual bed, mattress, and new bedding (her pick?)--probably in about a year.  We'll eventually (around 10?) need to get her a cork board, desk and bookcase, and possibly repaint, as it will be about time by then.  Basically, we'll just be doing a white version of D's room, with the furniture where D's furniture used to be.