Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Greetings all you blog visitors, Lisa is away at Girls' Camp this week. Since I am taking over the responsibilities for our house this week, it is only fair that I also take over the blogging duties!

I feel like she eased me into this, perhaps lulling me in nice and easy. Monday I just picked up the duties after work. Tuesday I took over at lunch. Today we're all in, and for the most part it's been great!

With Lisa's assistance I planned meals for the week. I wasn't about to do that all on my own, otherwise I'm sure the kids would have starved. After getting a good idea about what they'd eat we put together the shopping list and off we went shopping. Olivia was kind enough to help and after a trip to Costco and Walmart (2 hrs) proclaimed that it's fun to go shopping with dad. I suspect the only reason she thought that is because she got to pick out a cereal for the week (Honey Bunches of Oats) and some ice cream (orange/berry sherbet).


When I got home we had to get started right away with making dinner. Coleman made it clear that he didn't want to help make dinner since it's something he doesn't like. We had a brief lesson about how you still need to learn to cook, even if it's something you don't like. He wasn't sure he agreed, but in his infinite wisdom decided he would help like dad wanted :)

Our meal for Monday night was Creole Franks (affectionately known in the Harper home as Hot Dog Creole. This was something that I grew up liking quite a bit and was at the top of my list for things to make for dinner. Lisa will tolerate this meal occasionally, but it doesn't get made too often unless I make it.

I've always liked cooking, and have made it one of my goals to have them help with all the cooking this week. I think it's a great practical way to teach mathematics (fractions and measurements) and following directions (and testing patience -- mostly mine). They've been awesome helpers and it's been fun.

We had a short Family Home Evening lesson about tithing (even though Coleman thought we didn't have to have FHE since mom wasn't home) and then we went on a walk/bike ride. This was probably Sophia's favorite activity of the evening.

About half way through the walk it started to sprinkle on us, but we made it home without too much excitement.

We had our ice cream for desert, Coleman had his favorite (mint chocolate chip), and Olivia her sherbet, and Sophia some of both. Sophia ate both of the two small scoops I got for her, and then got down from the table and walked around to each table spot and opened her mouth until someone gave her some more ice cream.

After finishing the evening with a little Dr. Who (BBC version on Netflix), it was time to call it a day and everyone was off to bed.


Tuesday certainly proved to be a bit more challenging of a day. I took half of the day off from work only to come home and find out that we have some weird issue with water and the carpet in the basement. When we had our basement finished the closet for the water heater/furnace might have been made too small since the edge of the carpet comes really close to the drain. For whatever reason a good area of carpet pad and carpet are quite wet. I pulled up the edges of both to try to get them to dry out, but I'm still not sure what to do long term.

Another thing I wanted to do this week is to include some activities that would challenge their brains. For Tuesday I came up with the idea that I wanted to teach them the basics of computer programming. I remembered doing stuff with Logo (turtle draw) when I was younger, and thought that might be a good start.

For those unfamiliar with Logo, you create drawings by writing a program of how you want the turtle to move (when it moves, it draws). The simple commands consist of telling it to move forward, turn, and change colors. We talked about angles, and how many degrees in a circle, and went through a couple of brief examples. I found "Logo Draw" for the iPad and they took turns trying to draw something.

Coleman first thought he wanted to do a lightning bolt, but I encouraged him to try doing a square with different colors on each side and here is his final result.

Olivia started out on a rather ambitious task of writing out Family Matters, but after getting stuck on the A thought this was good:

Our activity got interrupted by quite a downpour! Olivia and Sophia went outside to play in the rain (and got soaked).

I had to cancel soccer (again) because of the thunder. I think this is the third or fourth time this summer where we've had thunder right around when we were supposed to practice. Each time it seems the weather totally blows over 30-45 mins later and we could have practiced anyway, but I certainly wouldn't want to be out on a soccer field if lightning does come through the area!

Dinner tonight consisted of chicken quesadillas for Liv and I, and regular quesadillas for Coleman and Sophia. My favorite way to do chicken for these is to cut it into pieces and cook it in a little olive oil and crushed red pepper. Once browned add about a cup of salsa to let it simmer in until the tortillas are ready.

It's also customary for us to have frozen raspberry lemonades with this meal. I use half a can of pink lemonade, 2 cups of ice, a few scoops of vanilla ice cream (3-4), 10-12 frozen raspberries, and water for consistency. Tasty summer drink!

We all worked on dishes together, got ready for bed, and enjoyed 101 ways to leave a game show before calling it a night.

Since Sophia just woke up from her nap, I'll have to continue with Wednesday's activities another time.

Do any of you know what Logo is?
Have you found fun ways to teach your kids during the summer?
Do you want a frozen raspberry lemonade as much as I do right now? :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Harpers and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days

Hello, blog friends. How I have missed you. Are you still there?

I have much catching up to do with our summer adventures and so forth, but we have had a couple of days from you know where. Before posting fun photos and cute stories, I had to take a few minutes to document the fact that we have survived these last few days, without totally clearing out our emergency savings fund.

Sunday started out well enough. We woke up and ate a lovely breakfast of toast (with various toppings--Nutella for me, jam for Olivia, cinnamon and sugar with butter for Coleman, bites of all kinds for Sophia) and rushed off to our Sunday meetings.  Sophia has been a bit under the weather (just some conjunctivitis, bulging gums where two molars are coming in, and oh, double ear infections that her mama failed to recognize until her well child check a few days ago) but has been on antibiotics and Tylenol for long enough that she is neither contagious nor totally miserable. We got to church though, and she was totally miserable. And loud.  So I took her out. I realized we had not given her medicine to her, so we ran home to get it. She was still loud.  Did I mention she was loud? Particularly during the lovely group musical number that I was supposed to sing in... we made it back just in time. It was cute as she clapped out loud and yelled "Mommy!" at the top of her lungs. Sort of. We survived church, since that is what you mostly do when you have a busy, tired, 15 month old. We spent the rest of the afternoon tag teaming because of other meetings and appointments.

In the late afternoon, I started complaining about being hot. I am usually hot or cold, but rarely just right. Probably because my comfortable temperature range is 68 to 72. Ryan's comfort zone is whatever is cheapest.  But I digress.  I really felt hot, and sweaty, and sticky. And Ryan did too. And our thermostat clearly indicated that there was a problem with our air conditioner. Ryan walked outside to check it, and the air conditioner indicated that there was a problem too. It wasn't running. Ugh.

We called the repair place and left a message. Olivia took it upon herself to spray us all with her water bottle (or dump it on Coleman if she felt the need) and we ran all the ceiling fans to try to keep cool.  First thing Monday morning the glorious repair person called and arrived within the hour! We had tried to mentally prepare ourselves for the worst... after all, the AC unit is probably as old as our house, which means it has lived a good life and has functioned well for a lot of years. Estimates online showed that a new unit was anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000!  Imagine our relief and giddiness when he came to the door with a small, bulging part that he said had overheated. Only $179.32 to fix!!! I quickly told him to hook up the new one, shut the door, and did a happy dance. My kids laughed at me and thought I was weird. He came back so I could pay and they told him that I did the happy dance. Then he thought I was weird too, but it didn't matter, because it only cost $179.32 to fix! Hooray! We didn't have to move to the pool or our neighbor's house for the day, because our house was cool.

We also had our van in the shop yesterday. The check engine light kept coming on and then going off but always coming on again. Some gasket or other was broken and there was a leak in the oil pan.  Repairs there were under $500. Another hooray!

I secretly thought to myself (but did not dare say out loud for fear of jinxing myself) that something else was bound to happen, because don't all bad things supposedly come in threes?  Anyway, we ended the day believing all was well in our household again.

This morning we awoke to find a large puddle of water in front of the fridge... and water gushing from underneath the fridge.  We went downstairs to discover that water was coming out of the vents in the bathroom and office, out of the light in the hall, and out of one of the smoke detectors.  Ryan figured out the problem and shut off the water to the fridge, which stopped the gushing and slowed the leaking. Meanwhile, he wanted a sponge to soak up the water in the drip pan, but I don't believe in sponges. They are bacteria magnets and are really just gross. So we didn't have a single sponge in the house. Just after Ryan left to purchase some bacteria magnets, our smoke detectors began beeping and loudly saying, "Fire, fire!" You know how those work, too, right? When one goes off, they all go off? Apparently water in a smoke detector indicates that something is wrong. So, I went through the house pulling them all down and unplugging them.

Ry got home and soaked up all the water and determined that our problem was our water filter. Apparently, when the store that you bought your fridge from sends you a friendly reminder every six months to replace your water filter, it's not just a ploy to get your money. If you ignore those reminders for several years because you don't want to spend $44.36 on a new water filter, you just might end up with a whole lot of unfiltered water in a whole lot of places you don't want it. Good news is that Ryan fixed it all and we can mostly laugh about it. Mostly. Everything seems to be drying out nicely. Phew.

We both agreed that tomorrow HAS to be better.