COVID’s got my back

July 9th, 2020

The last time my Dietetic Registration cycle was up, I was mother to a seven-month-old infant and just eight months out of the dietetics workforce. I had lots of opportunities for continuing education in my working days, when work-related conferences counted as continuing Ed and when I was regularly confronted with questions in need of answering.

This year, I’m up for recertification again, but this time I’m mother to a five-year-old, a four-year-old, two two-year-olds, and a two-month-old. I’ve been momming hard for the past five years… and continuing education has been at the bottom of the priority list.

Which meant my continuing education portfolio looked terrible going into 2020. I had maybe 40 hours of the needed 75 hours still to complete.

My learning log, with its 75 hours of continuing education, was due May 31.

I worked on continuing education some, but nowhere near enough.

I registered for our state conference so I could guarantee eight hours – and then the conference was cancelled by coronavirus (it did eventually get taped and placed online, so it wasn’t a complete bust, but it did mean I had to complete it on my own time while juggling mothering and homemaking versus getting it all done in one day while Daniel holds down the fort at home.)

At any rate, when May 31 rolled around, I still had a LOT of continuing education to complete.

But COVID had my back.

Toward the end of March or beginning of April, when it became clear that life would not be back to normal for a good long time, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics extended the deadline from May 31 to July 15.

Which is why I closeted myself in my room on Daniel’s day off for the fourth (on the third) to work on continuing education. And why Daniel took the day off today while I hid away in his office.

Between the two days, I completed 19 hours of continuing education and submitted my log.

Thanks to COVID, I’m going to keep on being a dietitian.

But I’m also DEFINITELY putting a plan in place to make sure this doesn’t happen the next time around!

We’ve Got Hot

June 13th, 2020

On Thursday, June 4, I started a load of laundry (as I do every day).

Half an hour later, I noticed that the machine was still trying to fill the tub. The hot water was coming out in just a trickle instead of its rush.

I checked a few easy things (make sure the water hadn’t been turned off, see if the cold water was still working, check the hose between the spigot and the washing machine, etc.) and then got to Googling when my troubleshooting revealed nothing.

Google suggested that the solenoid on my water inlet valve was no longer working – so I looked up a tutorial, priced a new water inlet valve, and made my order.

Meanwhile, I switched to disposable diapers, filled the washing machine with hot water by hand to wash the remaining cloth diapers, and waited for my replacement part to arrive. I kept washing whatever I could on cold, but cold just won’t do for diapers or for dishcloths (and, with four household helpers, I generate a LOT of dishcloths.)

When my replacement part arrived, I still had to wait until I had time to mess with it – but the time finally arrived today.

The innards of my washing machine

I took apart my washing machine, replaced the part, put the washing machine back together, and washed my first load of hot laundry in 9 days.

About time.

Snapshot: Every Book Needs an ISBN

May 31st, 2020

About a year ago, our library switched to using the “Beanstack” app to record reading challenge participation.

This was a great boon to me, as our children participate in the library’s “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, which involves recording each book the children read.

Back when recording books meant coloring in a little circle for each child on a piece of paper, keeping track of that paper, and returning it to the library, I rarely logged the kids’ reading.

Now that recording books means pulling up the app on my phone, selecting who listened while I read, and scanning the book’s ISBN, the kids are well on their way to recording their 1000.

And now our children are all too aware that books need ISBNs.

Tirzah Mae has been making all sorts of books, full of invented spelling and delightful illustrations. And every book has an ISBN.

Every book needs an ISBN

Spring/Summer 2020 Menu Cycle Week 1, Take 1

May 27th, 2020

After four weeks of having meals brought to me by the lovely ladies at my church, I took over full responsibility for our meals again last week. And since my last menu cycle was definitely a winter cycle and our weather is definitely NOT winter weather anymore, it’s time for a new menu cycle.

So, here’s our Spring/Summer 2020 Menu Cycle, Week 1, Take 1.


What We Ate:

Sunday, May 17

Skillet Lasagna, Green Beans, Green Olives, and Berry Delicious Gelatin Salad

Skillet Lasagna, Green Beans, and Berry Delicious Gelatin Salad

Monday, May 18

Crockpot Orange Chicken with Vegetables over Rice, and Pineapple Chunks

Crockpot Orange chicken with Vegetables over Rice, and Pineapple Chunks

Tuesday, May 19

Tuna Melts, Copycat Popeyes Coleslaw, Potato Chips, and Mixed Fruit

Tuna Melts, Copycat Popeyes Coleslaw, Potato Chips, and Mixed Fruit

Wednesday, May 20

Ham, Rosemary Scalloped Potatoes, Kaleslaw with Myrtle’s Salad Dressing, and Pears

Ham, Rosemary Scalloped Potatoes, Kaleslaw with Myrtle's Salad Dressing, and Pears

Thursday, May 21

Salsa Chicken Burritos, Mandarin Oranges, Corn

Salsa Chicken Burritos, Mandarin Oranges, Corn

Friday, May 22

Chef Salad with Sourdough Rosemary Peasant Bread

Chef Salad

Saturday, May 23

Chicken and Broccoli Gravy over Baked Potatoes with Fresh Strawberries

Chicken and Broccoli Gravy over Baked Potatoes with Fresh Strawberries


At this point, the question is…how much did this cost us? Well, let’s take a look:

What I Spent:

Friday, May 15

Walmart Pickup $92.67 $32.94

Walmart Grocery Pickup 2020.05.15

Monday, May 18

Sam’s Club Pickup $11.48

Sam's Club Grocery Pickup 2020.05.18

That’s $104.15 $44.42, which definitely falls within my weekly budget of ~$125. I think I’ll take it :-)

As I re-read this post, I thought $92 looked pretty high for the paltry groceries I got from Walmart – and that’s when I realized that I’d listed the cost of the next week’s grocery order instead of the one from Week 1. Oops!

Snapshot: Family Fun Day

May 24th, 2020

We have been trying to have at least one “family fun day” per month, in which we all do something special together – but since most of our possible out-of-the-house activities are either closed or not particularly suitable for a family with a newborn in the time of COVID, we had to get inventive this month.

Watching a movie from inside the tent

So we set up the tent in the living room and watched The Court Jester. The tent kept the kids mostly contained and mostly not fighting. The knights kept Louis interested. The princess kept Tirzah Mae interested. Shiloh kept me occupied with breastfeeding.

It was a success, I think.

Recipe: Berry Delicious Gelatin Salad

May 23rd, 2020

I grew up in the ’90s, when church potlucks and family gatherings never lacked an abundance of jello salads, packed with all sorts of fruits and marshmallows and Cool Whip held together with bright artificially colored and flavored (and all-so-not-artificially-sweetened) Jello.

Now, it seems that Jello has fallen out of favor, at least among my circles – and, in truth, I’m not generally a fan of the nutritional content of the “just-add-water” sweets we consumed as kids (jello, Koolaid, Tang, etc.)

But I do enjoy a good fruit-filled jello salad, and so I’ve tried to come up with ways to approximate the salads I grew up with – except without the uber-sweet, artificially-flavored Jello.

Enter Berry Delicious Gelatin Salad.

Berry Delicious Gelatin Salad

  • 1 envelope Knox gelatin
  • 1 cup grape juice, divided (you may also use 1/4 cup frozen grape juice concentrate and 3/4 cup water)
  • 1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (frozen or fresh)

Place 1/2 cup of cold grape juice (or 1/4 cup frozen grape juice concentrate and 1/4 cup water) in a bowl (I always just use the rectangular Pyrex I serve the gelatin salad in). Sprinkle Knox gelatin over liquid and let sit 1-5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat other 1/2 cup of grape juice (or water, if you’re using grape juice concentrate) to boiling in microwave. Pour boiling juice or water into gelating mixture and mix until gelatin is all dissolved. Mix in blueberries and strawberries. Chill salad in refrigerator until set, generally 3 hours or more. Serve by itself or with freshly whipped cream.

Recipe makes 3 cups of jello – just enough for six half-cup servings. This can be multiplied without difficulty.

Weeds that bite

May 22nd, 2020

I took the compost out yesterday during the kids’ naps; and, as I returned to the house, I decided to go ahead and pull just a few weeds on the bed at the north of the house.

A half an hour later… I was still at it.

And I discovered a weed I hadn’t yet met.

Meet catchweed bedstraw.

Catchweed bedstraw

See what catchweed bedstraw did to me?

What catchweed bedstraw does to me

It bites.

Snapshot: Shiloh Vera Leigh

May 17th, 2020

Shiloh Vera Leigh arrived on the outside on April 20, 2020.

Meeting Miss Shiloh Vera Leigh

She had a tough go right off and was in the NICU for a week, but we have loved spending the last three weeks with her home getting used to life as a family of SEVEN!

Chillin' with my hand above my head

Shiloh is a delight, whether chillin’ with her hand above her head or making sour-puss faces (or really doing just about anything!)

Sour face

Picture Book Highlights (Author CRO-CZE)

April 2nd, 2020

We read 74 children’s picture books in the month of March – which, given that we only visited the library once the whole month (and that only to pick up less than a dozen books on hold!) is quite a feat, I think.

Our physical libraries are closed at least through the middle of April, so I’m guessing my “read every book” goal is going to have to take a pause while we spend more time reading what we already have in our home collection.

The Really Groovy Story of the Tortoise and the Hare by Kristyn Crow, illustrated by Christina Forshay

The Really Groovy Story of the Tortoise and the Hare

A fun rhyming retelling of the classic story, set in modern day Chicago (I think) with a fast-moving city hare and a slow-and-steady country tortoise.

Just as Good: How Larry Doby Changed America’s Game by Chris Crowe, illustrated by Mike Benny

Just as Good

Homer, a young Cleveland boy, is ecstatic that Larry Doby has joined the Cleveland Indians. Here at last, is a chance to prove that Jackie Robinson is not just a fluke, that black folks can be just as good as white ones. Homer and his father eagerly listen to the fourth game of the World Series, rejoicing as Larry Doby makes a home run – one of the two scores to win the 2-1 game. In the morning, Homer and his dad see a picture of Doby and white teammate Steve Gromek hugging in the newspaper – and they feel that, at last, change is coming for black people.

Only You by Robin Cruise, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

Only You

I’m a bit of a sucker for “precious” picture books with very few words and a general theme of “I love you”, clearly intended to be read to babies and young toddlers. This is a very nice example of the genre – sweet without being saccharine, expressing a parent’s delight in a child without romanticizing bad behavior (as some books of the type occasionally do.) I also appreciate how the illustrations show a diverse selection of children and parents – boys, girls, men, and women black, white, and brown.

Ten-Gallon Bart Beats the Heat by Susan Stevens Crummel, illustrated by Dorothy Donohue

Ten-Gallon Bart Beats the Heat

Texas is so hot that Ten-Gallon Bart (the dog) heads up to the Yukon to cool off (and maybe prospect for a bit of gold). When he gets buried in a crazy snowstorm, his friends head north to dig him out and bring him back home. This is not fine literature, but it’s fun. The children enjoyed the story, mama enjoyed the Texas drawlin’ and the fun cut paper illustrations. Crummel and Donohue also wrote two books about Ten-Gallon Bart before this (but that we read out of order): Ten-Gallon Bart and Ten Gallon Bart and the Wild West Show. We thoroughly enjoyed all three in this series.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

A man has the lonely job of uncorking ocean bottles and taking them to their recipient. He dreams of having a bottle addressed to him, but knows there is little chance since he has no friends. But, as Tirzah Mae pointed out: “Well, then, he should make some friends!” And so he does, with the help of an anonymous bottle. A sweet and lovely book.

The Cello of Mr. O by Jane Cutler, illustrated by Greg Couch

The Cello of Mr. O

A young girl grows up in a war zone. Wednesday afternoon relief trucks are the only thing she has to look forward. Until a bomb strikes the relief truck and their drop-off point is cancelled. But the neighbor, Mr. O brings out his cello and plays in the center of the empty war-ruined square, giving everyone hope. This is a weighty book, but a wonderful one.

The Little Fire Truck by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by Bob Kolar

The Little Fire Truck

A relatively simple book with thick, tear-proof pages. Each page starts “I’m a little fire truck…” and can (generally) be sung to the tune of “I’m a little teapot.” Louis (who is obsessed with trucks) and Beth-Ellen (who is obsessed with singing) particularly enjoyed this title, requesting it over and over and over again until I had no voice to sing and had to refuse to read it again.

Reading My Library (13.5 years)

March 10th, 2020

March 5 just so happened to be the half-year mark on my “reading my library” challenge, which I began on September 5, 2006. So we’re about 13.5 years in. So far, it looks like this year will look relatively similar to last year – except that we’re reading a lot more juvenile picture books compared to other types of books/materials.

TOTALS as of March 10, 2019 (13 years and 187 days or 4935 days)

Category Items in past 6 months Items in 2018-2019 Total Items
Juvenile Picture 272 323 2252
Juvenile, Board Books 14 31 557
Juvenile, First Readers 1 2 78
Juvenile, Chapter 0 0 92
Juvenile Fiction 2 4 326
Juvenile Nonfiction 28 133 441
Teen Fiction 0 3 52
Teen Nonfiction 0 6 11
Adult Fiction 9 22 499
Adult Nonfiction 16 49 1018
Audio CD 142 488 1563
Juvenile DVD 6 8 67
Adult Fiction DVD 1 5 113
Adult Nonfiction DVD 1 18 64
Periodicals 2 33 129
Total 494 items 1125 items 7262 items
2.93 items/day 2.94 items/day 1.21 items/day

We are racing through the children’s picture books, having read 84% of last year’s total in just 6 months! I’m loving having found something that’s working for us for read-aloud time. Juvenile nonfiction intake, on the other hand, has plummeted (only 21% of last year’s total so far this year) as we’ve spent a lot more time in the car, which makes me less likely to want to go INTO the library (and therefore less likely to let the kids pick out their own favorites) – we’ve been doing a lot more just driving through the window to pick up our holds on the next picture books in line.

Grown-up reading seems a bit low so far, but it’s always a little hard to tell actual status on that, since I always have quite a few books going at any given time (I think I have about 10 going as we speak, give or take). Also, especially when it comes to fiction, I tend to go in spurts and fits. I’m guessing I’ll be doing lots more grown-up reading after the new baby comes when I’ll be breastfeeding all the time.