Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bossy Betsy: Kansas Library Audiobooks

Bossy Betsy says:  You should be listening to audiobooks!  And you can do it for free!!

The State Library of Kansas -- kslib.info  has tons of wonderful books for you to check out and listen to.  They have an app that is easy to use, you can download the books to your phone or device when you have wifi, and then listen in the car without using any data.

Listening to books in the car is amazing.  The kiddos don't fuss, everyone loves it, and it redeems all that time in the van.

You need to have a Kansas State Library card-but I'm a librarian!  I can get you one!  Just email me and I'll help you get all set up.

They have kids books, grown up books, fiction, non-fiction, everything.  MJL likes to listen to long history books on the tractor, and we like to listen to juvenile fiction in the van.  It is honestly one of my very favorite things in the whole world.  

In the Summer, when we don't see Daddy so much, sometimes we'll all listen to the same book at the same time-and then when we do see him we can talk about it.  It's fun to have a project together even when he's busy working.

Here are a few of my recommendations to get started:

  • The Ramona Series--read by Stockard Channing and just wonderful.  We've listened to them all more than once because they're just so fun.  For parents just as much (maybe more) than for the kids. 
  • Everything by Patricia Reilly Giff--Historical Fiction is one of my favorite juvenile genres, and I have loved living in these histories and discussing them with Anna.
  • Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms--one of my absolute favorites, but the caveat is that I don't want you to read ANYTHING about it.  Don't look at the synopsis or read about the author or anything.  That way every moment is a surprise and a delight.  
  • Clementine--Sara Pennypacker  Three of the books are available and they're wonderful.  Funny and sweet and clever.
  • E.B. White-Even if you've read them dozens of times, all of these are fun to listen to again. 
  • Blue Balliett writes interesting mysteries that combine elements of math and art.  They have some suspense, but not too much.  
So send me a message if you want me to help you get set up.  Or visit your public library and tell them you want a library card for the State Library of Kansas.  Once you have a number, you sign up for the OneClick digital app and you're off!  

Do it. 

Bossy Betsy out.  

Friday, January 22, 2016

Overheard in the Elementary School

Every month I have a memorization challenge for the kiddos.  In January, for Kansas Day, it's the first verse of "Home on the Range".  Here is an attempt from a first grader today. 

Please sing it, with trailing off as needed. 

"Oh give me a home, where the buffaloes roam,
and the deer... play... trumpets
and it's not cloudy all day!"


Wednesday, January 20, 2016


We had the most persistent, sneaky mouse in the world at our house for Christmas.  Dozens of all sorts of mouse traps, in all sorts of places, and we could not catch him.

Finally, Abby suggested lining the entire floor of the linen closet with traps (previously we just had a line under the door) and a few hours later he was squeaking and stuck.  I breathed a big sigh of relief and prepared myself to begin mounds of laundry.

Then the next morning there was another one in a sneaky cracker trap MJL had devised.  (One cracker on the outside of the trap, and then another on the inside, to lull mousey into complacency).  That was great, and also a little awful, because I really thought we were just dealing with one.

No signs of anyone else since, and I finally got through washing EVERYTHING in our linen closet and almost everything in my closet.  

I keep feeling like I should be doing laundry, since it's basically been my fun time activity the past few weeks.  

I was awfully glad I had been through the closets and done a major paring down in the last year.  

This chore, of cleaning up mouse poo-made me ridiculously angry.  I can't think of anyone the anger was directed toward, just a general fury.  I'm positive there are more little nooks I'll find that need to be vacuumed and cloroxed to death, and I'm not looking forward to it.  

Are there jobs that make you crazy angry?  

Monday, January 18, 2016

2016 Schedule

2016 Schedule
                     Betsy                                           Anna                 Katie
Monday:    Tidy, Kitchen, Linda Dinner     Cooker Helper  Water Plants
Tuesday:    Bills, Photos, Mail, LL, LLB     Bathroom       Cooker Helper
Wednesday:House purge and clean              Helper               Helper                           
Thursday: Errands, Library, Lesson Books  Van                  Van
Friday:      Laundry                                        Vacuum             Trash

Daily:                                               After School:   
Make beds.   Start Dinner 3:30 No Phone 3:30-8:00 pm (except recipes)
Chores, Tidy before dinner              Eat 5:00          All help clean up
Be kind and cheerful.      Jammies, prayers and stories, bed 7:00, 8:00.  


This is the newest iteration of the never ending attempt to arrange life for maximum efficiency.

So far the dinner changes are working (ish)?  Progress, not perfection.  I'm deleting the meals from my calendar when things don't go according to plan, and that way I can look back and see how many days are wins.

Does everyone else do this?  I love systems.  The more systems the better.  More systems=fewer decisions, and I love love love reducing the number of decisions in my life.  (I even have a system for choosing which color I'll be in a board game-I match my shirt).

What are your systems?


Monday, January 11, 2016

Overheard in the Elementary School

Overheard in the Elementary School:

"Why did Superman go to the bathroom?"

"Because it was his duty".

Hilarious laughter from boys- "Eeewwww".... then giggles from girls. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

Winter 2016

I just heard about 30 seconds of a TED talk about how sharing your goals makes you less likely to work to achieve them, because you get the positive feedback before you reach the goal, but I think my problem is more remembering my goals than lacking motivation to achieve them.

How did Fall 2015 go?

  • Slipcover for basement couch
  • Mail things to babies
  • Big basket on the sewing table
  • Green box
  • Portraits of Children!
  • Videos of Children! Took them, but didn't do anything with them...
  • Make as many Christmas gifts as possible.
  • Enjoy Fall weather.  Be outside.  Kids outside.  
  • College Kid Boxes
  • Visit Abby
  • Memorize quote from St. Francis de Sales--"Never be in a hurry; do all things quietly and in a calm spirit.  Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset."  Just the first half.
  • CD project
  • One of the stack of boxes in office.
  • Decide on design for Lauren's quilt. and fabric ordered!  So excited.
  • Be home more.  Try to make home the default option and do less.   Took Wednesdays in town off the schedule!  Lovely.  
That's not bad!

Winter 2016

  • Banquette seating/Benches
  • Bathroom in Basement
  • Cut out Lauren's Quilt
  • Katie Birthday
  • Try to make Toffee
  • Peppermint Bark
  • Put away Christmas
  • Figure out Spring Break
  • Teddy Baby Book
  • Hall Photos
  • 8x10 Album
  • Christmas Card Display
  • Prune and Fertilize trees
  • Thank you notes  Christmas, but not Katie's birthday yet.  :(
  • Portraits
  • New Schedule
  • Take Recycling
  • Go through house again
  • Go for walks as a family.
Some of those are really MJL's goals-I'm not actually going to try to build a bathroom in the basement, but I need to remember that when big projects are going on, there probably will be less time for my projects.

What's on your Winter List?

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Abby Doodle

21 years ago, 16 year old Betsy  woke up because the phone was ringing.  I can’t imagine how many
times it rang before I finally woke up enough to answer it. (Susan remembered that the radio was playing, the alarm that I was ignoring-"Linger" by The Cranberries).    It was absolutely bewildering to hear my Mom’s voice.  I remember saying “You’re not here?” and twisting around to look past the kitchen and peer into her bedroom.  She told me she was at the hospital, with my baby sister, and finally, blinking, things began to make sense.  I think I said something obvious like “But I didn’t know that!”

I don’t remember waking Susan up, or if she spoke to Mom on the phone, or getting us dressed and out the door, but I do remember vividly-running along the sidewalk, looking down at our feet to watch for ice and snow.  I can see our feet in the light of the streetlamp on the corner, and I remember our breath, and holding Susan’s hand.

I remember the yellow light of the hospital room, and happy, tired, Mom.  I remember red and wrinkled Abby, and being astonished that we got to see her so new.  She hadn’t even had her first bath yet.  I remember Susan being concerned that she didn’t look right, having never seen a new new newborn before.

I remember going to school, the first day of the new semester of my Junior Year, just a few minutes late for my first class, Anatomy and Physiology.  I remember Mr. Schaefer was a little gruff with me, and, beaming, I gave the reason for being late.  He was big on pop quizzes, and the quiz that day was Abby’s length and weight.  I remember feeling a little guilty for the free extra credit, and kind of astonished that he seemed also excited about my new baby sister.  That was my favorite class, and at that moment I still wanted to be a doctor.  6 weeks later, when Mom went back to work, and Abby was still so tiny, I changed my mind about that.

I remember rushing home from school to see her, and in my memory, the next 18 months before I went to K-State are full of Abby.  Holding her on my lap while filing debate evidence, holding her on my lap while doing calculus homework, talking about her in Student Congress speeches.  I remember holding her in the grass the summer before I left for college and feeling an ache inside at the thought of leaving her.

I remember noticing that Mom looked older in pictures before Abby was born than in later years.  I
remember Abby hanging on her leg, literally being dragged around, happily!  as Mom moved about the kitchen cooking dinner, like she could never get enough of her.

I have heard it said that the greatest gift you can give a teenager is a baby sibling.  I can't agree enough.  A few times I have encountered a Mama, having a baby after 40, with big kids at home, usually worried and saying something about it being crazy.  I try to tell her that it will be the best thing in the world, the most wonderful gift, but I don’t know how to use words to express the magnitude.  

Thanks Mom and Dad.    Happy Birthday, sweet baby sister.  I thank God for you every day.    

Monday, January 04, 2016

2016: Dinner!

I'm really trying to have only one resolution for 2016-and that is Dinner!  I have finally worked myself out of all of my excuses and gotten around to the fact that not wanting to make dinner is, essentially, selfishness.  So.  Here is my plan.

1.  Make a list of the meals that people actually like to eat.  Cook from that list first.  Maybe one new recipe every couple of weeks or so, but mostly all of the time food from the list, until it is not so daunting.  Familiarity breeds ease.  Practice makes perfect.  Etc.

2.  Make a calendar and plan out the meals, putting them in my phone where I'll see them when I see all of the other agenda items.  So that every day I am reminded that I will have to make dinner.

3.  Make the start time for cooking dinner 3:30 pm, as soon as we get home from school.  Eating early will be better for all of us.  The goal will be to be done eating and be cleaning up by 6:00.

4.  Further goals include teaching everyone to help clean up, having children pick up all toys from upstairs before dinner, lay out clothes for next day, etc,  so after dinner can be nice time of stories and prayers instead of grouchy time of hurry up and get ready for bed.

But step one:  Dinner!  

What are your resolutions?

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Mama treats for the New Year

Here are three treats I'm giving myself (or attempting) for the new year.  

1.  Blog!  I really enjoy it, and there are things running through my head all the time, with no one to share them with.  But it is very hard to find 20 minutes to sit down at the computer because we all know the "work" never ever ever is "done".  I'm going to try though.

2.  Jimmy got new bath toys for Christmas, and after one too many poopy baths, I scooped up ALL of the old bath toys and put them into the trash.  ALL OF THEM!  I feel simultaneously guilty (because of course I could have washed them all AGAIN) and giddy because CLEAN TOYS!  Jimmy was really into this photo shoot.  

3.  I started a new laundry system last year wherein I put all of the socks into a basket as I am folding, and then match them up at the end.  Or have a child do it.  The bonus is that it feels much faster, and is easier for a child to help, and the idea was that the lone socks would find their matches in subsequent loads and all would even out. 

Instead, on December 31 I had 33 lone socks.  And I put them all in the trash!  I haven't actually thrown them out yet, maybe I'll finish the laundry today and double check one more time, and maybe I'll keep them in a box somewhere, but I want to just throw them out and start over.  

So--is it wasteful, decadent, or something else entirely?  And do you have any Mama indulgences for the New Year?

  1. (of a person, action, or process) using or expending something of value carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose.

  1. 1.
    a person who is luxuriously self-indulgent.