I know, I know….

January 21, 2010 Categories: Blogging , Kid Stuff , This and That | 4 Comments  

….it’s been a really long time since I posted here. My mom has informed me that she misses reading my posts and thinks that others probably do, too. I’m not so sure about that – but for the few of you that are still checking back here for updates about me and my life, here’s a quick bullet-points update:

~ We had a wonderful Christmas. Kevin and I and the kids headed south to Chewelah to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve afternoon. We had a wonderful dinner – homemade fried chicken a la Dad – and then headed to church for the Christmas Eve service, at which Natalie and I both sang. We stayed over at Mom and Dad’s and had Christmas morning there. The kids were thrilled with the Wii and played all day long – which resulted in a lot of sore arms the next day.

~ New Year’s Eve we spent with Michelle and Don. The boys played video games, while Michelle and Don and Kevin and I played Mad Gab and Scruples and enjoyed spinach dip and pomegranate martinis. I think that was the first time we were awake for ringing in the New Year in a while!

~ The latest Jonathan-ism occurred when we were having dinner at a friend’s house. He asked for a piece of “German shepherd cake,” rather than German chocolate. :)

~ The kids are getting ready to start second semester P.E. classes, which will include 10 weeks of bowling. They are all very excited.

~ Two of my sisters are dealing with health issues. Marni has been diagnosed with Graves’ disease, a thyroid condition. She’s on medication and hoping that it works and she doesn’t need more radical treatment. Andrea has Raynaud’s condition, which is lack of circulation to hands and feet that causes extreme cold. It sometimes occurs on its own; other times it can be an indicator of something else, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. We’re praying for the former.

~ Speaking of sisters, all three of my sisters, with their husbands and kids, will be visiting in June. I absolutely cannot wait.

Well, that’s all the personal stuff I can think of at the moment. Hope this finds all of you well in this first week of 2010.

Bullet points

October 30, 2009 Categories: Blogging , Curriculum , Holidays , Homeschooling , Writing | 2 Comments  

~ There is so much going on – I haven’t had much time to post here at Mommy Brain. I feel bad, but Books and Movies has to be more of a priority, because I’m getting free books to review in the mail every week.

~ No improvement on the financial front – enough said. Oh, and my van – which is our most reliable vehicle and the only one with a fully functioning heater – is in the shop today. Praying very hard that it is something easy and cheap to fix.

~ I switched Natalie to The History of US by Joy Hakim for her US history. She’s liking it much better. I’m dealing with the lack of review exercises/exams by having her write a summary paragraph after reading each chapter. So far, so good.

~ Kevin and the kids carved pumpkins last week, but two of them have already had to be thrown away. We had a very early freeze in our neck of the woods, and the result was mushy pumpkins.

~ Our butterflies have completed their life cycle, and the butterfly habitat will be put away until spring. This has been one of Jonathan’s most favorite birthday presents ever!

~ The kids are extremely excited to attend the Harvest Party at Grandmamma and Papa’s church tomorrow night. They always bring home bags and bags of candy.

~ And now, in the “here’s my excuse for not blogging hardly at all next month” category: I’m doing NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel. In a month. That amounts to 1667 words a day. So, needless to say, blogging will be at a minimum until November is over. I’m excited but terrified, too. But at least I’ll be able to say I tried, right? Michelle did it last year, and it didn’t kill her. :) Natalie is doing it, too – but her goal is 7,000 words. Michelle and her kids are doing it, too, so at least we’ll have company.

I guess that catches everyone up. Anyone else out there doing NaNoWriMo? Please let me know – and tell me your user name – so I can add you to my writing buddies list.

Have a great Halloween!

24-Hour Read-a-thon

October 24, 2009 Categories: Blogging , Books | 2 Comments  

I’m participating in Dewey’s 24 Read-a-thon this weekend. You can read my updates here at Books and Movies.

Links for Friday

May 22, 2009 Categories: Blogging , Books , Homeschooling , Movies , Television , Videos | 1 Comment  

The kids all doubled up on assignments this week and finished Math. Natalie has the proof-reading and final draft stages left for a research paper on Venice, and we have two afternoons of Science. History will continue as part of our read-aloud time in the summer, because we need to complete Story of the World: Book 3 for Natalie to be ready to start her 7th grade history, which begins with the Civil War. So we are mostly done with our school year and heading into summer break mode: reading and read-aloud time in the morning, and then afternoons at the park or pool! I am so, so ready.

Last weekend, Kevin and the boys worked hard, building two four-by-four raised gardens.


They then mixed the peat, compost, and vermiculite – the perfect mixture according to Square Foot Gardening.


After mixing, they filled the boxes and Kevin applied a lattice-grid to help keep track of where they would plant everything.


Natalie got out of all the hardest work, because she was on a sleepover at a friend’s house. She did help with the planting, though.


They planted romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, pear tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, chives, beets, cantaloupe, onions, green beans, and carrots. We’ll have some yummy salads this summer!

This weekend will be more low-key, since Kevin is in the midst of a nasty cold. Everyone around us is planning to head to the surrounding lakes to celebrate Memorial Day weekend. We, however, prefer the lakes on non-holiday weekends, when there are less partiers. I received three DVDs to review via UPS this afternoon: Taken, Valkyrie, and Defiance – so we’ll have some good movies to watch. I will probably do some homeschool record keeping and organizing to finish up the year.

I finally got to watch the House finale – and, wow! Spoiler alert: don’t read the following paragraph if you have episodes of House waiting on your Tivo. ;) Scroll down to the white space and you should be okay.

That was intense and crazy. Hugh Laurie is brilliant – the look on House’s face when he realized that the whole thing had been a hallucination was devastating. I liked Cameron and Chase’s wedding, although I think Chase was a lot more understanding about the whole “I want to keep my dead husband’s frozen sperm” issue than I would have been. It will be interesting to see what the next season brings.



Okay, you’re safe.

Lots going on at Books and Movies lately. Last Saturday, I posted a list of links that included a lot of book giveaways – many of which are still open. I’ll post another list. tomorrow. I posted part one of my list of favorite memoirs, reviewed Justice Hall by Laurie R. King, and posted the trailer for the upcoming Sherlock Holmes film, starring Robert Downey, Jr.

Here are some other links I saved to share:

~ NY Times: Some thoughts on the lost art of reading aloud

~ Bookroom Reviews is giving away the six Disney Animation Collection DVDs I just reviewed.

~ Funny video: awkward questions about Jesus.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Links for Friday

April 23, 2009 Categories: Blogging , Books , Movies | 7 Comments  

Our week back to school after Spring Break went much smoother than I had anticipated. It helps that as we get closer to summer, more and more subjects are being finished up, and the work load gets smaller. Good thing, because I am very ready for summer vacation. Last week of afternoons spent reading at the park or pool while the kids played/swam completely spoiled me. Spoiled me so much that I took them to the park again this Monday – after we were done with school, of course. It was in the high 70s, absolutely beautiful, and I had just picked up 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff at the library. It’s only 97 pages long, and I devoured that delightful book while the kids played for an hour and a half. A perfect afternoon.

This weekend is going to be pretty low-key, which is just fine with me. I am struggling with some church issues (again, or still, however you want to look at it) and mulling things over in my head. This will either be beneficial or an exercise in futility, I can’t tell yet. I’d like to go see Duplicity at the theater this weekend with my folks, if I can scrape together the moolah. We’ll see.

I don’t have a lot of web links to share with you this week, because I’ve been spending every spare moment getting the new Books and Movies populated with posts. So, in the spirit of blatant self-promotion, here are some links to what I’ve been doing over there. And, if you’re wondering why I moved it, this person’s post about the deceptive business practices at Today.com will help explain. My experience wasn’t quite as bad – at least not at the beginning – but it didn’t end well.

My posts at Books and Movies this week:

~ Like Twitter? Try Flutter.

~ Gasp! My daughter is a last-page-peeker!

~ Summer movie preview (including the latest Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince trailer).

~ Blogwarming giveaway – I’m giving away six books.

~ Book review: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff.

~ Monday’s Movie Review: The Illusionist.

Links for Friday – April 17, 2009

April 17, 2009 Categories: Blogging , Homeschooling , Movies , Music , News , Television | 4 Comments  

What a week! We’re on Spring Break this week, which has translated into more reading time than normal – but not as much as I would have liked. We’re also working on a refinance on our house, which has taken time gathering paperwork and talking on the phone. Then two days ago, I was notified that Today.com is no longer paying their bloggers per post. Not that I was making a lot anyway – $1 per post – but was always told that if I built my traffic up, that amount would go up. Well, I increased my traffic by 500%, but they cut me anyway – and when I logged onto the forum to see what was up, I discovered it wasn’t only me.

Kevin has been working on his own domain and web hosting, though, so I’ve moved to his domain, and he has customized my template for me. Books and Movies is the new home – and that’s where I will do my book blogging and some movie talk. This blog will continue as my personal blog where I will write about my life, parenting, homeschooling, DVD reviews, and links of interest – as well as whatever else pops into this brain. :)

Anyway, starting a new blog from scratch – and moving all links, sidebar info, etc. – as well as notifying everyone of the change because Today.com won’t let me post a link re-directing my readers – has taken a ton of time this week. I’m glad it’s pretty much done.

We were planning to take the kids to the lake to go bike riding and practice archery, but it’s been raining all day. Tomorrow’s supposed to be nicer, so we’ll try again. The kids have been enjoying days with no schoolwork, afternoons at the park or indoor pool, and extra gaming time. They’re not happy that spring break is only one week, though, and it’s back to normal on Monday. Only two months till summer break!

~ I know most of you have already seen Susan Boyle’s amazing performance on Britain’s Got Talent, but I had to post it anyway. I can’t watch it without tearing up!

~ China’s “one child” policy – and the resultant selective abortion of girl babies – has resulted in a 32 million surplus of males under the age of 20. 32 million extra boys and men!

~ Proof that the world of mommy blogs is pretty amazing and full of wonderful people.

~ The Weird Homeschooler: Myth or Fact?

~ Mel Gibson’s wife files for divorce after 28 years and seven children.

~ Check out the cast of the film adaptation of New Moon.

Fun with Google

April 14, 2009 Categories: Blogging | Comments Off  

It can be interesting, entertaining – and sometimes disturbing – to investigate the search keywords that bring people here to Mommy Brain. Here are some of the latest:

“story of the world comments” – this points to my review of Story of the World.

“a script to an wizards of waverly place episode” – sorry, can’t help you. :)

“inkheart homeschool” – well, we homeschool, and we liked Inkheart; does that help?

“house season 5 kudner suicide” – It was simply a very dramatic way to let actor Kal Penn leave the show to go work for President Obama.

“book notes on the book thief” – I’m not going to do your homework for you. Read the book – it’s excellent!

“negative homeschooling stats,” “homeschooling negative,” “negative article on homeschooling,” “what are negatives of homeschooling” – This will point you to this post, which I doubt is what you’re looking for.

“christian harry potter deathly hallows” – If you’re looking for Christian themes in the final installment of the Harry Potter series, I believe I mention that in my review.

“things they carried” – If you mean the book The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, it’s excellent.

“secret life of bees crib notes,” “notes on pirates by celia rees,” “cliff note the book thief marcus zusak” – Again, read the darn book and quit wasting your time searching the internet for ways to cheat on your homework!

“eragon book vs. movie”My post comparing the two is actually the first Google result for this search.

“losing my temper with my child” – yep, I’ve done that.

“brideshead revisited sad” – yes, it is.

“stefani’s oak street grill colville” – our favorite local restaurant.

“slumdog millionaire dvd subtitles” – they were much too small and hard to read.

“the things they carried violence” – since this is a book about the Vietnam War, it does contain a fair amount of violence.

“braintears” – I have no idea what those are.

“lyrics for busybusybusy by sandra boynton” – we love this song.

“does david boreanaz chew tobacco,” “how tall is louie giglio” – I have no idea.

Well, that’s all I have time for now. What strange search terms have brought people to your blogs?

Links for Friday

February 27, 2009 Categories: Blogging , Books , Homeschooling , Kid Stuff , Movies , TV on DVD | 4 Comments  

This week has been better than last week. I’m feeling better from my cold, although my voice has not come back all the way. I’m still pretty squeaky, which is unfortunate, since I was supposed to sing a solo at church on Sunday. But at least the killer headache is mostly gone.

This week has been busy with the usual stuff – homeschooling and chauffeuring the kids to various activities: Tae Kwon Do, Awana, photography and art classes, etc. My freelance work hasn’t picked up, but I’ve found some other ways to make money with my blog here (thanks, Andrea! I owe you a huge hug. :) ) and my other blog, Books and Movies, has started to take off in the book blog community, so it’s bringing in a little bit, too. If you’ve wondered why I don’t blog about books much here anymore, that’s why. If you miss those kinds of posts, click on over!

Did you watch the Oscars? I loved Hugh Jackman’s opening number – and thought he did a great job of hosting.

Natalie has had two babysitting jobs, will be taking the Red Cross Babysitting Course (with CPR) in a couple weeks, and has the possibility of a two-hours-a-week job starting in the fall. I, on the other hand, am having a hard time believing that she’s old enough to be doing any of this. Of course, being big sister to three brothers has been good training.

Noah is loving his art class and I can’t wait to see all the drawings and watercolors he’s done. Jonathan is hankering for summmer – he’s tired of snow, and ready for camping and fishing, his two favorite things.

Josiah has discovered the wonder of longer books, and is making his way through John Peterson’s series of Littles chapter books. The other morning, he was reading from The Littles’ New Friend and asked if he could stop, even though silent reading time wasn’t over yet. I asked, “Why?” because he never wants to stop reading early. He said, “Something sad happened in my book,” and promptly burst into tears! He crawled into my lap and told me about how Tom Little had met a new friend named Glory, and now they had to say goodbye, and they didn’t know when they’d see each other again. Isn’t that a reader’s rite of passage – the first book that moves you to tears?

Speaking of reading, Kevin, who used to read maybe one book a year, has suddenly become a reader. He is on book four of the Sackett series by Louis L’Amour – and he’s reading them all on his Palm. I, who protest vehemently whenever my husband threatens to buy me a Kindle, am married to an e-book reader. :)

Kevin and I have been thoroughly enjoying our Netflix membership, catching up on NCIS and Numb3rs – both available on Watch Instantly (I love having a techie husband who knows how to make his laptop play through the TV) – and finding two new series that we love: Chuck and The New Adventures of Old Christine. Tried a couple movies that turned out to be duds. Waiting for some of the Oscar nominees to be released on DVD so we can see what all the fuss was about. :)

Enough about me; on to the links:

~ 26 Neologisms for Book Lovers: An awesome list by Coversgirl to which any true bibliophile will completely relate.

~ Book Giveaway Carnival: Bookroom Reviews is hosting a giveaway carnival for book lovers – be sure to click over on Monday for the list of bloggers participating so you can sign up to win some books!

~ Deborah Dewit-Marchant: Art for lovers of reading and writing. Hat tip: Carol.

~ The “I Can Read Movies” Series: A collection of faux book covers based on famous movies.

~ Where Fiction Isn’t Allowed to Be Fiction: A post by Literate Housewife about historical fiction – that is, fiction based on actual historical figures. When is it okay to embellish? How much is it okay to embellish? Any opinions?

~ David after the dentist: Hilarious video of a kid who was under anesthesia for a dental procedure and is still feeling a bit loopy. Natalie e-mailed this one to me.

~ Help NASA Name Node 3: NASA is naming a new module for the space station, and so far, the name Serenity is in first place. Any Browncoats fans out there? Click over and vote. Hat tip: Meg.

That’s all for this week – have a wonderful weekend!

2008 in Review

December 29, 2008 Categories: Blogging , This and That | 1 Comment  

It has become my custom to post a year-end wrap-up by posting a short snip from the first post of each month throughout the year. Since I do a lot of review posts, I will use the first post of a personal nature for each month. It’s always fun to look back over the course of a year.

January 3, 2008 – Kindred spirits

I am re-watching You’ve Got Mail. Close to a perfect film: Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, witty dialogue, and books. Early on in the film, Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen, talks about what her mother did when she started her bookstore. That she wasn’t just helping children find books, but she was helping to shape who they would become, because the books we read as children have a direct effect on the kind of people we become.

I started thinking about the people who helped me find the books that shaped who I have become. And wishing that I had a way to thank them, to tell them what a profound impact they made on my life.

February 1, 2008 – Links for Friday

It’s Friday! Anyone got exciting plans for the weekend? Kevin’s hoping to take the kids sledding tomorrow. It’s snowing – again. It’s pretty wet, though, and I have a feeling we’re going to have a big mess by the end of the day.

When I remember thinking we had a lot of snow last year, and compare it with what’s out there right now (and still falling), I have to laugh.

March 4, 2008 – Mean mom

I’ve been a mean mom today. How, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

~ I made Jonathan do both the drill sheet and the worksheet from his Saxon math lesson today.

~ I made the kids listen to a “really, really” long chapter out of The Greenleaf Guide to Famous Men of the Middle Ages – and then, I had the sheer nerve to ask them questions about what I had read. I considered reading a second “really, really” long chapter, but I thought that might be pushing a bit past the limits of matriarchal mean-ness….

I confess, I’m still a mean mom. Though our Christmas break has involved much less reading and much more game-playing on the kids’ part than I would like. I lose some of my steely resolve when I’m not feeling well.

April 2, 2008 – Love and books

“Some years ago, I was awakened early one morning by a phone call from a friend. She had just broken up with a boyfriend she still loved and was desperate to justify her decision. “Can you believe it!” she shouted into the phone. “He hadn’t even heard of Pushkin!””

Thus starts the essay It’s Not You, It’s Your Books from The New York Times Sunday Book Review. What do you think? Is literary compatibility a requirement for love?

I think not. Kevin and I have been married thirteen years, and our tastes in books are as different as night and day. For Kevin, it’s all non-fiction history, and mostly about World War II. For me, it’s just about anything that’s printed in a book. And he doesn’t really like to talk about books. When he makes the mistake of asking, “What are you reading?” – his eyes glaze over after the first few sentences. He says, “That’s what you have Michelle for.”

This hasn’t changed much, but that’s okay. There’s more to marriage than book-compatibility. :)

May 8, 2008 – 2007-2008 School year wrap-up

We’re not actually finished with our school year – won’t be until Friday, June 6th – but things are starting to slow down as various curricula gets finished or heads into review mode for the last few weeks. In most ways, it’s been a very good year. The only disappointment has been that we won’t finish history on time, and we didn’t do as much art as I’d liked. But we added a more intensive grammar program and Latin, so it all balances out, I suppose.

This reminds me that the New Year is generally my time for looking ahead to August and the next school year. Natalie will be entering 7th grade – junior high!

June 3, 2008 – Historic evening

As of tonight, there will be a black nominee for president on the ballot in November. Regardless of how you feel about Senator Obama’s politics, can we just take a moment to reflect on the historicity of this event?

July 3, 2008 – Links for Friday

Happy July, everyone! Can you believe that June is over? It went very, very fast – mostly because we were so incredibly busy.

Any plans for Independence Day? We’re heading to Mom and Dad’s for the day. Dad’s got some leftover pre-cut catamarans from camp, so the kids are going to make cool wooden sailboats, and then we’re going to head to Chewelah park to float them in the creek. We’ll have chicken and potato salad for dinner, and then celebrate my sister Marni’s birthday. Her 29th – my baby sister is turning 29! How did that happen?

Marni and Hans are settling in well in St. Louis after a couple rough months. I still miss her like crazy, though.

August 3, 2008 – Long vacation post, with pictures

We’re home! We slept in our own beds last night, but I still feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. Why is having fun on vacation so exhausting?

Our vacation was an amazing experience – one I hope we can repeat sometime in the next couple of years.

September 3, 2008 – I’m afraid to vote

Yes, that’s me. My name is Carrie, and I’m a terrified voter. I’ve had so many thoughts about the upcoming presidential election rattling around in this brain of mine, and I kept thinking I should organize them and write a post of some sort. Well, it was either organize my thoughts, or write a post, because I don’t have time to do both. So I’m posting, and you’ll have to excuse the disorganized (and probably long) mishmash of a post this will be.

Let’s start with a little background, and then I’ll get myself in trouble right off the bat. Sounds promising, huh?

I overcame my fear and voted for President-elect Obama. I’m still convinced I made the right choice.

October 1, 2008 – Political blogging

There’s something I’ve noticed as I’ve been reading blogs lately. And I’m not talking strictly about political blogs, but also about general bloggers who occasionally mention politics. Once a blogger has decided on a candidate – or if they are strictly a party-line voter – their blog posts reflect this in an unswerving way.

Blogging about politics and my decision to vote for a Democrat was certainly an eye-opening experience. Sad to say, some of the most hateful comments I received were from professing Christians.

November 7, 2008 – The election, my birthday, links, and nine winners

I don’t have many links to share this week – I’ve been too busy to do much surfing. I will say that we watched the election returns and speeches on Tuesday night. The kids and I watched Schoolhouse Rock, particularly the song “I’m Going to Send Your Vote to College” and talked about how the electoral college works. We tracked the votes on our map, with red and blue stickers. Since we live on the West, they were able to stay up long enough to see almost all of president-elect Obama’s speech, but Noah was nodding off toward the end.

I cried often, with true amazement that our country has elected a black president. Only fifty or so years ago, Barack Obama would have not been allowed in certain restaurants, would have had to sit at the back of the bus, would have gone to a segregated school. But this is 2008, and he is our new president. Noah wondered why I was crying: “Why are you sad? You voted for him, didn’t you?” I tried to explain, but I’m not sure if he understood.

December 1, 2008 – Stop this week, I wanna get off!

Today was my least busy day of this week – it’s all downhill from now. Sigh.

I got through it. :)

That was 2008 in review – blogwise, anyway. I’m sure I’ll post something more reflective as the New Year approaches.

Thanks, Laura!

November 22, 2008 Categories: Blogging | 2 Comments  


Look what I found at Life’s Sweetest Blessings? She nominated me for this blog award!

This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY – nearness in space, time and relationships!
These blogs are exceedingly charming.
These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement.
Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.
Please give more attention to these writers!
Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

Thanks, Laura!

Here are my eight nominees:

Natalie (my daughter) at Homeschool Girl
Carrie at Chocolate, the Other White Meat
Lawanda at Lovin’ Life
Laura at Moomin Light
Gem at My So-Called Homeschool
Karen at Praise the Lord and Pass the Prozac
Kev at The Bayer Family Blog
Leann at The Good Neighbors