Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Waffles
Updated with Recipe

My name is Mrs. Brooke and I'm a waffleholic. Things are getting worse with my addiction now that I've tasted these. These are, quite literally, sinfully delicious; I had to fight to urge to use the Lord's name in vain when I tasted the first bite. (I thought it was funny...)

And what would a food post be without a gratuitous shot of one of my children covered in said food item? The waffles were a big hit with the girls, mostly because they got to stir the chocolate and peanut butter chips into the batter. And I put sprinkles on them. You can't beat that for a happy dinner.

So it isn't Wednesday...but really, any day can be waffleliciously wonderful--especially if there's chocolate involved.

The recipe:

Preheat waffle iron.
Whisk together in a large bowl:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Whisk together in another bowl:

  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 large egg yolks (save the whites)
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Pour the wet ingredient over the dry ingredients and gently whisk them together until combined. Stir in:

  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips

In another bowl, beat the two egg whites until peaks are stiff and then fold into the batter.

You need to really grease the waffle iron for each set of waffles that you cook. I found that it took less batter to make these, not even a full cup at a time on the iron. Pour it on the iron, smooth it out a bit and let it cook for about fifteen seconds before closing the lid. It takes my iron 8 minutes to cook a set of waffles. These don't get crisp, they're very floppy. And you're going to have to fish out abandoned chips from the iron every now and then.

I served them with butter and whipped cream. And sprinkles. Yum.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

When Bluebird Grows Up...

...she's going to be an astronaut.

Cornmeal Waffles with Chili

As previously mentioned, we eat waffles for dinner every Wednesday. The girls and I really like them, but Mr. Brooke isn't exactly excited about the tradition like we are. So I got to thinking about ways to make Waffle Wednesday better for him--and it occurred to me that waffles don't have to always be sweet. Savory waffles...hmmm.

I figured I'd start the experiment with nice, safe cornmeal waffles and Mr. Brooke suggested we serve them with chili on top. Not that different than eating chili with cornbread! (I also had a dollop of sour cream on top of mine...) The experiment was a success! Now I've got to come up with other ideas for savory waffles...I'm batting the idea around in my head of a lemon-sage variation.

The cornmeal waffles also passed off nicely as sweet waffles for the girls. However, I've got to find a different recipe for cornmeal waffles, as mine took FOREVER to make! (I had to whip egg whites, for crying out loud!)

Growing Stuff

I am so late in planting this year, so who knows what the outcome will be? Fortunately, much to Bluebird's delight, stuff is starting to sprout along our backyard wall. These are some (much anticipated by me) green beans.

And these little sprouts are the source of a never-ending fountain of joy for Bluebird. Her very own pumpkin plants, planted with her very own little hands. She has very big plans for the jack 'o lanterns and pies that these pumpkins are going to make possible.

My pride and joy this growing season--the beginnings of our sunflower house. (The junk in the middle is just the grass I pulled up.) This little project has given me some interesting moments already, like when I actually rendered the pick-ax unusable. (Yes, it's true; a woman can swing one of those things hard enough to bend it beyond recognition when it strikes concrete...Mr. Brooke took over with ripping out the grass after that.) I've planted the inside wall with Mammoth Sunflowers that are supposed to grow to 6-12 feet high, then I planted some Autumn Beauty Sunflowers that will grow 4-6 feet high in front of the Mammoths, and on the very outside I planted some blend of cutting flowers that will be 1-3 feet high. That way the walls will be flowered along the entire height. Oh, I so hope this turns out as beautiful as what I'm picturing in my mind!

What the Computer Sees...

If I sit down at the computer, Bluebird scrambles onto the chair to watch what I'm doing. It's very distracting, and I thought I'd sneak some pictures of her via the webcam today as she went through her usual shenanigans.
(Of all the days to not wear make-up...)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Refinement Through Phases

I'm finding that what was the best thing for me when I was 21 is not necessarily the best thing for me now that I'm 26. And that doesn't make me a hypocrite or a flip-flopper, it just means that I'm a different person now and have different needs and circumstances.

I go through phases. I'll find something; whether it be a hobby, an ideal or a belief, and I clutch it with a death grip because it is exactly what I need at that moment. And for some unexplainable reason, I believe that that thing is the exact thing that everyone else in the world needs in their life to make them feel as complete as I do at that moment. And I've come to the conclusion that the best thing for me at any given time is simply and only that: the best thing for ME. Not my neighbor, not my family, not even my children; just ME. It doesn't make me better or wiser than anyone else, and it doesn't set me apart as being special or more enlightened. I've simply discovered a better way to live my life at that particular moment.

But I grow up a little more, I gain new experiences and understanding, the world changes around me, my life becomes different in a myriad of ways; and I realize one day that that thing I accepted so readily a few years back--it has served its purpose and it no longer works or helps. In fact, by stubbornly clinging to it and refusing to change, I'm actually undoing the good that it did in the first place. There inevitably comes a time to move on to the next thing.

It's not being wishy-washy or easily swayed. It's self-refinement. We work through levels, always seeking the better part and in order to keep climbing upwards, we need to shed the things that no longer serve to aid us or make us happy. There are few things or beliefs or ideas or causes that are permanently engraved into the rest of our life on this planet. Don't get me wrong, a few "permanent" things do exist; but so many things that I once grabbed a hold of are now things that I'm letting go as I realize that they no longer work for me or I no longer believe that they are the best thing for me anymore.

You don't get to the age of 18 and make all of your decisions and alliances and then have to stick to them for the rest of your life. I am definitely not the same person now as I was then, I'm not even the same person now that I was one year ago. I'm ever evolving, changing and refining my character and understanding of the world, the Gospel, relationships and happiness. I live the best way that I can at any given moment, and I'm finding now that what I used to think was the only right way to do something is really just the right way for me to do that thing at that time.

Just like a polished marble sculpture, I think we start out as ungainly chunks of rock and slowly, through removing the pieces that don't need to be there and highlighting and polishing the ones that do, we become the masterpieces that we are destined to become. It takes a long time, it sometimes takes a little improvisation when unforeseen difficulties arise (or unknown beauty that had been originally hidden by the rock you decided to chip off), and it takes patience and effort; but the end result will be beautiful and it will make sense why something had to be filed off in the past (something that you originally intended to make part of the permanent creation) when you see how beautiful the result became because of that decision.

And considering that I am only 26 years old, I'm still firmly entrenched in the "craggy outline" phase of my particular sculpture. There's still some chunks being lopped off here and there and new plans being made as the work goes on. But I firmly believe that the end result will be beautiful, even if it looks nothing at all like what I envisioned it would look like in the beginning.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Hidden Hazards of Having Babies

The baby swing. As far as I'm concerned, it's a required piece of baby paraphernalia. Nothing can calm babies or keep them contented or help them go to sleep like the baby swing. I hail whoever came up with the battery-powered baby swing; it's a wonderful, wonderful invention.

Unfortunately, it has a dark and sinister alter-ego the glories in injuring those who cannot partake of its services. The four of us who can walk are always stubbing our toes on its legs. The legs splay out further than the swing in order to give it more stability, so our perception is always off and we completely whack ourselves on those legs all the time. (Rabbit has the record for most stubs (that produced tears) in a day--seven.)

Well, the baby swing has turned just downright nasty--it broke one of Mr. Brooke's toes. He whacked his foot one evening, and then spent the rest of the night saying how much it hurt and when he woke up, the middle toe on his left foot was completely black.

I got him in that day to see the podiatrist, who did x-rays and all that fun stuff and diagnosed him with having cracked the cap of the toe and actually having chipped off a piece of the bone!

So now Mr. Brooke is hobbling about with a bunch of tape and gauze looped about the offending appendage in order to immobolize it. He'll go in again this week to see if we need to take more extreme measures in order to promote its healing.

And the baby swing sits there, smugly grinning...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Definition of an Animal

Bluebird: "When I grow up, I'm going to be an animal rescuer."

Mr. Brooke: "Well, can you save me?"

Bluebird: "No, you're not an animal..."

Mr. Brooke: "Yes I am."

Bluebird: "No, you're just too handsome."

Wow, That's Some Long Grass

To better explain why I was pulling out thistle plants in my backyard that were a tall as my shoulder. We don't own a lawn mower. When we moved into our development, we were promised that our grounds would be maintained via the HOA. However, after the first summer of being here, the maintenance crew removed its backyard services. The yard didn't get mowed once last summer. And we were starting to make the decision to just buy a lawn mower this year, but then a family in our neighborhood fell upon some rough times and is now offering their lawn mowing services for a small fee, so we'd rather help them out. They'll be swinging by sometime this week to start hacking away at the grass.

The girls like the long grass though, and like to pick it and stick it in the fence. Bluebird says that they're making a Christmas wreath for the fence:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bow Ties with Sausage and Sweet Peppers

Another good one from the BH&G cookbook:

  • 8-12 oz. dried large bow ties (farfalle)
  • 12 oz. spicy Italian sausage links
  • 2 medium red sweet peppers, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or beef broth
  • 1/4 coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, cut sausage into 1 inch pieces. In a large skillet cook sausage and sweet peppers over medium-high heat until sausage is brown. Drain.
  3. Add the broth and black pepper to sausage in skillet. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour over pasta; add parsley. Stir gently to coat.

If you have a hard time locating the sausage at the store, it might be hiding in the freezer section. And the spicy thing is important, it's just not that good if you buy the mild or regular sausage. If you decide to not just throw all the sausage in (it usually comes in 16 oz. packages), the leftover sausage is quite tasty in fried potatoes or omelettes the next day for breakfast.

I've made this with just one red pepper when they're too expensive to buy two. (I actually prefer it with just one pepper, but Mr. Brooke likes it with two...)

I make my broth from bouillon cubes/powder.

I view the parsley as a garnish and way to add color--a couple sprinkles of dried parsley works just as well for me.

This is one of the greatest side dishes to take to a potluck...except that you have to make it right before you leave so it will be hot when you get there.

I serve this with corn and breadsticks (bread machine). My girls LOVE the bow tie noodles because they're a cool shape and a nice break from your regular red or white sauce-covered noodles. They won't eat the meat or the peppers, but gobble up the noodles like they're going out of style. (Hence why I usually just boil up the entire bag of the noodles, instead of just 8 oz. like the original recipe called for.)

If you're planning to serve a dessert afterwards, pick something "cool" and "plain" to offset the warm and spiciness of the meal--we like Vanilla Cream Pie or just regular old vanilla ice cream.

Pepper Lime Chicken

This recipe is one of my staples; it's quick and easy and tastes good as well. The original recipe (ala Better Homes & Gardens cookbook) calls for meaty chicken pieces, but I just always use thawed boneless chicken thighs or breasts.
  • 4-6 Boneless Chicken Thighs or Breasts
  • 1 tsp finely shredded lime peel
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Place chicken pieces on unheated rack of broiler pan. Broil 4-5 inches away from heat for 5-6 minutes.
  2. While chicken is broiling, mix remaining ingredients together in a small bowl. Brush chicken with glaze. Turn chicken; brush with more glaze and broil for 5-6 minutes more, brushing again with glaze when 2 minutes are left.

I serve this with peas and carrots (from frozen), green salad and dinner rolls (bread machine). If you're in a baking sort of mood, carrot cake is a lovely dessert for this meal.

This Week's Dinner Menu

Late in posting, but I figure it's OK.

Saturday: Chinese Mandarin Salad
Sunday: Lasagna
Monday: Santa Fe Salad
Tuesday: Thai Beef Salad
Wednesday: Waffles
Thursday: White Bean Salad
Friday: Pepper Lime Chicken

And yes, I will post the last week's requested recipes...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If You Can Get Her to Sit Still...

"America for Me"

I thought I'd post the poem that is the RTH memorization assignment for June.

America for Me
By: Henry Van Dyke

'Tis fine to see the Old World, and travel up and down
Among the famous palaces and cities of renown,
To admire the crumbly castles and the statues of the kings,--
But now I think I've had enough of antiquated things.

So it's home again, and home again, America for me!
My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be
In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Oh, London is a man's town, there's power in the air;
And Paris is a woman's town, with flowers in her hair;
And it's sweet to dream in Venice, and it's great to study Rome,
But when it comes to living, there is no place like home.

I like the German fir-woods, in green battalions drilled;
I like the gardens of Versailles with flashing fountains filled;
But, oh, to take your hand, my dear, and ramble for a day
In the friendly western woodland where Nature has her way!

I know that Europe's wonderful, yet something seems to lack!
The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back,
But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free,--
We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

Oh, it's home again, and home again, America for me!
I want a ship that's westward bound to plough the rolling sea,
To the blessed Land of Room Enough beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The "Lazy" Days of Summer

Before I start getting any sort of "Are you alive?" comments, I will forewarn you that summer generally leaves me little time for blogging. Whoever came up with the "lazy days of summer" phrase was either not very smart or a good-for-nothing loafer.

I'm so glad for the season because it means that there is so much to do. I'm achingly sore from pulling up the devil's garden of weeds (seriously, thistle plants as high as my shoulder!) and we're planning to do some planting today. I still need to uproot a fair amount of grass to make room for our first ever attempt at creating a sunflower house for my princesses.

Add that to the downtime required for nursing, the time needed to do my reading for the Summer of Shakespeare, my neighborhood book club and the Reading Through History book club...not to mention all the extracurricular activities that open up to us in the summer months, we're ripping and tearing all over the place. Oh, and yes, there's still laundry, cooking and all the other daily aspects of regular life.

I am very much alive, exuberantly so--but living life so energetically will obviously limit time to write about it in a consistent manner. Happy Summer to you all!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Reading Through History: July's Reading Selection

The reading selection for July is:

David McCullough's 1776. I am really looking forward to reading this--it's been sitting on my shelf since my birthday! Thanks to all of you who voted.

To avoid confusion, we are not technically starting on this until July 6th.

Right now we are working on the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and The Federalist Papers (I'm noticing that #10 pops up a lot on various lists) and we'll be discussing them on July 5th. (Unless we want to change that date with it being so close to a holiday, I'm up for July 3rd or 7th. You know where to leave your input...)

Memorization: "Paul Revere's Ride," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (I couldn't resist!)

Alright then, read away dear friends!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


"In Event of Rapture" Email Service

I thought this was a joke when I first heard of it. Wow. That's the only word that I am capable of using at this moment.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Reading Through History: Reading Selection for June

June's reading selection is:

  • The Declaration of Independence

  • The Constitution of the United States (incl. The Bill of Rights)

  • The Federalist Papers, by James Madison et al.

I know that people generally read "patriotic literature" in July, but I'm of the opinion that you should read the patriotic stuff during June in order to have it freshly in your mind on Independence Day. I think it adds deeper meaning to what we are celebrating when we're familiar with the struggles and sacrifices that took place in order to found this country.

I realize that this is a bit of reading, and I am not expecting us to read through all of The Federalist Papers, but think it's good to read through as much as we can given our time limitations. The only "required" reading is The Declaration and The Constitution.

Memorization: "America for Me," by Henry Van Dyke

Happy Reading! We'll be discussing it all on July 5th!

July's Reading Selection

The Official "Reading Through History" Book Club

The aim of the book club is to read through the eras of history (via Classics, primary sources and relevant commentaries) over the course of four years. We will read works published during the time period and works written about the time period. There will also be "extra credit" assignments of memorization work.

The breakdown of history will be as follows: Ancients through Medieval (5000 BC-AD 400), Medieval through Early Renaissance (400-1600), Late Renaissance through Early Modern (1600-1850), and Modern (1850-present).

While I'm a fan of starting at the beginning and working until you reach the end, I've decided to ease us into our studies by beginning with the Late Renaissance/Early Modern period, as I think it will be a little more familiar and far less intimidating to start with.

I will post the book selection(s) one month in advance in order to allow everyone the opportunity to acquire their personal copy with time to spare.

Discussion Framework:

  1. On the 5th of each month I will post my thoughts regarding the last month's book selection. In turn, each participant can either post their thoughts, or provide a link to their thoughts on their own blog, in the comments section of my post.

  2. On the 10th of the month I will announce the book we will be reading the next month; and, using some sort of random choosing gizmo, select one of the commentors to receive that book from yours truly. It is the responsibility of the chosen commentor to contact me via email and provide their mailing address so I can send them their copy.

  3. I will also provide a suggestion for memorization work with each book announcement. Participating in the memorization is totally up to you; I'm including it because I think it will be a fun little extra in our pursuit of enlightenment. :)

And that's the bare bones structure of our club. Changes may be made or added as we go along.

If you're interested, here's some suggested reading that I have found beneficial regarding reading and education through the Classics:

  • How to Read a Book, by Mortimer J. Adler

  • "Invitation to the Pain of Learning," by Mortimer J. Adler

  • The Well-Trained Mind, by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer

  • A Thomas Jefferson Education, by Oliver Van DeMille

  • A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion, by Oliver Van DeMille et al.

I've also created some buttons if you'd like to spread the word:

Please save your button to your computer and upload it to your own server.

Happy Reading and Welcome to the Club!

Click here to view current reading selection(s).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Curly Girl(s)

There are times when you look at your handiwork and justifiably get to think, "Wow, I am truly amazing."

Point in case:

It really doesn't take that much skill to put rollers into their hair, but it sure looks impressive; and their hair is absolutely gorgeous the next day:
I forgot to take a picture right after I had taken out the rollers this morning, so you'll have to suffice with what her hair looked like after a couple of hours of rough-housing in the living room with Dad...I also forgot to put on some hairspray. It was much prettier and very ringlet-y at first...

Unfortunately, Rabbit pulled her curlers out in bed, along with the hair that was wrapped around some of them...she's obviously too young for such hair styling. The original plan was to put curlers in Bluebird's hair only, but Rabbit wanted in on the fun...Could you turn your little girl down when you could do something for her that would make her this happy?

I love having life-sized Barbie dolls!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Next Week's Menu

Because I know you're interested...

Friday (tonight): Pepper Lime Chicken
Saturday: Patty Melts (lunch) US Senate Bean Soup (dinner)
Sunday: Hamburger Helper (lunch) Baked Potatoes (dinner)
Monday: Fettucine Alfredo
Tuesday: Thai Pork & Vegetable Curry
Wednesday: Waffles
Thursday: Bow Ties with Sausage & Red Peppers

I only plan lunches on the weekend because Mr. Brooke's home and that necessitates planning. On weekdays the girls and I just eat leftovers or simple sandwiches for lunch. Breakfast is either oatmeal, scrambled eggs or pancakes.

Fridays are "Fast & Easy" foods because I'm usually worn out after grocery shopping and various errands.

Saturdays are soups and sandwiches because I don't want to be stuck in the kitchen all day long. This is the only day of the week that I get to hang out with Mr. Brooke and we can go out and do stuff, as we stay home (with the exception of church) on Sundays.

Sundays are simple foods because I'd like to rest too.

Mondays are "Meatless Mondays."

Tuesdays are "Try Something New."

Wednesdays are for waffles. Or, if we're tired of waffles, some other breakfast food. I started this tradition a long time ago because it was so much cheaper to have pancakes and waffles for dinner when money was tight. Now it's just habit and we love picking out which fruit we're going to have for the topping each week. And, of course, waffles with fruit topping require whipped cream. We rarely get tired of waffles on Wednesday.

Thursdays are for whatever I want to make.

Blogs I Like to Read

I just can't keep that sidebar updated! I've switched to reading blogs via feeds so I'm not surfing around each day trying to find new posts. Very efficient. My program of choice is FeedReader, which I've really liked using.

So, here's what's in my Feed Reader archives:

adventures of the collins crew--Friends from our Wyview days.
Artichoke--My best friend from high school.
Be It Ever So Humble--Mrs. Mordecai's blog...she's so interesting!
Blessed by Life--Another Wyviewer...
Elliphantom Knits--Some knitting
espero que...--My first college roommate when I went to Pacific University. A dead blog, but I keep it in my feed just in case something should start showing up there again.
Fig and Plum--More knitting.
Garage Sanctuary--My husband's blog. There's nothing there. I set it up for him and I don't even think he's looked at it. The plan is to eventually chronicle his adventures in the garage with all the things he's itching to make.
Greetings from Cheeseland, USA--Another Pacific friend. Also a former roommate.
International Scarf Exchange 6--kind of obvious
january one--Knitting.
Jeff love Julie...and vice versa!--More Wyviewers!
Little Owen--Son of another Pacific roommate.
Macedone Madhouse Show--More Wyviewers...and some of the most entertaining people you will ever meet.
Merry Misadventures of a Matriarchal Madwoman--This is a new one after she left a comment on my blog and I went and checked her out.
Musings von koprime--Ah, koprime. A friend from Pacific, whom I did NOT share a room with, so that makes her unique in that regard.
oh, judy!--She lives in my neck of the woods and I like what she has to say.
SachikoSays--A lady from the LDFR boards who has a lot to say that just tickles me.
Shmobby--Another Wyviewer
Spaghetti and Coleslaw--The dead blog of a previously mentioned Pacific roommate. Kept for the same reason as the other dead blog.
The Martha Blog--It's Martha Stewart, need I say more?
The Neal Family--My goodness, more Wyviewers!
The Pearson Posse--And another set of Wyviewers!
The Stevenson--What's this? More people we met at Wyview? (And our best friends ever--we're collectively the nerdiest nerds in existence. Other nerds laugh at our nerdiness.)
tiennie knits--Knitting
TJEd Classics Forum--Not technically a blog, but it has a feed and I love keeping up with anyone who's reading the Classics.
TJEd General Forum--Just general Thomas Jefferson Education stuff. Obviously.
Yarn Harlot--Knitting

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Last Week in the Brooke House

"My Family" by Bluebird(To explain the backwards's drawn on the back of some Father's Day printout.)

We got hit with a wicked cold this past week. I thought it was allergies at first, but after it went from Rabbit to me to Little Lamb, I decided it was something contagious. Mr. Brooke stayed home from work yesterday so I could have one more day to rest and so he could apply his health and energy to cleaning up the house so I wouldn't have so much work to do when I got better. God bless that man.

Since I've been in bed since Friday evening, I've had a lot of time to think about things; but, unfortunately, I don't remember much of it. I've come to the conclusion that God wants us to be happy and that life doesn't have to be one long series of sacrifice in order to show that we believe in Him. Pursuing something that makes us happy isn't a selfish thing. He wants us to cultivate our talents and desires, even if it sometimes means we do things a little differently than what is normally the ideal. As long as we're doing something for the right reasons, and we're being wise about it, He's fine with what we're doing.

Also, I've been thinking a lot on this whole male and female roles and responsibilities thing. For those of you who have been reading the blog since it started up the first time (and was deleted and then re-started to give you what you see today), you'll remember that I went through a phase of intense femininity and I said a lot about the division of labor between men and women and all that. I made an effort to wear only dresses and to be incredibly feminine and dainty and shy away from hard physical tasks in order to allow Mr. Brooke to perform them and thus pump up his masculine ego at "killing the snakes" for me. It was nice for a while...but then nothing was getting done. Mr. Brooke works 50-60 hours a week and he's awfully tired when he gets home and...yeah. In mulling this idea over, I decided that I'd much rather model our "roles" after the pioneers than the Victorians. I have tons more respect for pioneer women than those dainty little Victorian housewives who sat inside and did lots of needlework. The pioneer women knew how to work--and they did their part with gusto. That's much more the person that I am. No more "Mr. Brooke's tasks" and "my tasks." We're in this together, so why not work together and help each other out? Of course, he is stronger than me, so he will get stuck with the stuff that I'm just not strong enough to lift...common sense, folks.

In addition, I'm finding that it doesn't matter much to me whether I wear skirts, dresses or pants. In fact, given that I live in the scientifically determined windiest part of Utah, it borders on indecent to wear flowing skirts and dresses here. (I imagine there's a number of my neighbors that have seen more of me than I'd care to admit.) Pants can be pretty as well. And so much easier to move in amongst three little children. I think I'm done with trying to channel the past. I was sent to this earth to live in this specific time period, so I think I'll go along with it a little more and just be done with the stress that came with trying to fight it. Let's just shoot for clean, decent and hard-working, shall we? No matter what year it is, those qualities are always beautiful.

Mr. Brooke and I talked about lots of stuff over the weekend--there's something about being weak and ill that makes it so much easier to just pour out what's been on your mind. We discussed in detail the possibility of me going back to school with very positive outcome. This next year will be spent somewhat in preparing myself for the application process and getting back into a lifestyle that will allow for some time each day to study. Apparently, the anticipation of going back to school made such a marked change in my demeanor that Mr. Brooke stated that perhaps I should just always be in school because it seems to make me so happy. I smiled wide and said that that'd be just fine with me. I love school.

I paid off all of our credit cards and medical bills yesterday. All we have left are our student loans and the house. Sweet.

*sigh* It's nice to simplify things. There really are things that are pointless to worry about. True, I'm keeping some things around that others would think dispensable, but I don't think they are, so they stay. That's the beauty of being individuals; we get to make the best decisions for ourselves.

I just finished the book Laddie, by Gene Stratton-Porter. It was a slow starter, but ultimately very inspiring and uplifting. What a wonderful example of a successful family. Life has so much to offer, even through its trials.

And have you looked outside? It's Spring! I have officially decided that Spring is my favorite season and that it's far too short. My flowers are doing wonderfully, and even the irises I planted are sending forth blooms. That's something else. The irises came up just fine, but remained as long green grasses with seemingly no intent upon putting forth flowers. And now, they've gotten over their stage fright and are putting on a lovely show. However, they're white irises...I think I'll pull them out and re-plant with purple bearded irises in the autumn. The ivy is beginning to branch out and it looks like we might get some almonds and crabapples from our trees this year as well. I heart Spring.

The girls are growing and keep me busy. Little Lamb is a ray of sunshine that can bring happiness to the darkest of hearts. Rabbit learns a handful of new words each day and is just so lovable. Bluebird...I'm exhausted if I just think about her. She is busy. I need to sit down and map out a preschool program for her to start in September. I'm finding that if I don't have a firm plan in front of me that nothing happens anymore. My goodness, my life is packed to the brim.

There is so much more to talk about, but I've spent far too long on the computer this morning as it is. I wish you all a happy and beautiful day!