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Showing posts from November, 2011

Notes for when I take over

Went to the grocery store today; glanced at my receipt on the way out and saw that, through my store's Loyalty Card scheme, I have saved $436 on groceries this year. And it occurred to me to wish that they gave you an option -- you could either save this money on your purchases throughout the year, OR, you can pay full price for your groceries, but then get a rebate check for the amount you WOULD have saved at the end of the year. Would that be awesome or what? Paying $10 extra per grocery trip wouldn't be that bad if I could get a $500 check around Christmastime.

Teachers should be disallowed from giving two major tests in one week, especially when one of the students is so excited about her upcoming birthday that she can barely breathe. (Studying for a 4th grade science test is just as exciting at age 39 as it was at age 9 (in other words, not). Mallory always manages to lighten things up though. She gave this example of a food chain: " shark!&…

What I'm thankful for:

A mother who taught me the importance of a homemade pie crust, and a father who perfected the art of applying vanilla ice cream to a piece of pie. Streusel topping for when the top crust just doesn't come together. A daughter who loves to bake, who's almost old enough to bake things by herself, but who still asks questions like, "This says I need three-slash-four cups of much is three-slash-four?" Another daughter who is finally old enough to play games that require reading, but who is still young enough to say "cimmanon" and "bekfrast." A job to go to, even when I have to go there the day before Thanksgiving. A house to live in, no matter how messy. The internet, so I don't have to go shopping for reals tomorrow. In-laws who have always welcomed me with open arms, and who gave me the job of making desserts, rather than vegetables, for Thanksgiving dinner. Two sisters and a brother who feel close even when we're far apa…

5th member of Kemple family

We got a blue beta fish last night at petco. Did you know that NONE of the fish were dead? We prayed on the way over there for all of the fish to be healthy and God preformed a miracle! Mallory came up with the name Blue Berry Kemple. She is reading him a story now. She is very happy.Happy Birthday Mallory! [This post was written by Mallory]

Recipe for Disaster

So I've been hunting around on online recipe websites for some Thanksgiving inspiration. I love being able to search for recipes online and am thinking about doing away with cookbooks altogether. I really like the reviews that most sites have - it's useful when someone comments that, for example, the recipe called for 1 TBSP of salt when it should be 1 TSP, or that someone else substituted chicken thighs for chicken breasts and the recipe still turned out delicious.

But. It drives me nuts when someone gives a recipe a bad rating and then says:

This recipe was terrible! It was so bland! I left out the garlic and onion because I don't like those, and it had no flavor at all. Plus I left out the cheese and sour cream to save on fat but cooked it as directed and it got really dried out!
Well, guess what, you didn't really make this recipe. You changed the recipe, and it turned out terrible, but that's not the recipe's fault.

This kind of thing is even worse:

This was…


I don't pretend to know anything about how government works, but this is what I'm picturing in my head about the supercommittee meetings:

Democrats: We need to raise taxes on the wealthy.

Republicans: No.

Democrats: But [list reasons, some of them valid, why this is a good idea].

Republicans: No.

[Break for lunch]

Republicans: We need to cut entitlements.

Democrats: No.

Republicans: But [list reasons, some of them valid, why this is a good idea].

Democrats: No.

[Break for the day. Tell members of the press that the gridlock is the other side's fault.]

The end.


When she was about 18 months old, Phoebe somehow chipped her front tooth. We had it capped at the dentist -- a procedure that involved me holding her body on my lap while a dental hygienist held her head and the dentist worked (very slowly) and Phoebe writhed and screamed like we were killing her -- but two days later, she bit into a bagel and the cap came off. Of course.

So we decided to let it be. After all, it was a baby tooth, it was going to fall out eventually. I remember thinking, though, that five or six years was going to be a long time, looking at that awful chipped tooth every day.

It wasn't a long time at all. And it stopped being awful:

And now it's gone:

Mrs. Neill

I found out today that my third grade teacher, Mrs. Neill, has died.

She was one of the best. She's what every teacher should be.

I hate to even mention this story in the same post as Mrs. Neill, but still -- I would bet that Mrs. Neill wouldn't have run away and called her dad and asked what she should do about an unsettling thing she saw in the locker room. I would bet that Mrs. Neill would've hauled back and given that person a solid punch in the jaw. Without having to think twice about it.

I like to think that, having been taught by her, I would do the same thing.

The dollhouse dilemma

For her second Christmas, Mallory got a very nice wooden dollhouse from Santa. Her grandparents and aunts chipped in to get all the associated furnishings and dolls.

She played with it fairly regularly for a while, but then when Phoebe came along, we had to rearrange some things in her room and it kind of got pushed back to an inaccessible corner. Later, we moved it into our attic playroom, but by that point, they were both more interested in Polly Pockets and Barbies, and the dollhouse got very little use. I estimate they play with it once or twice a year.

I would like to get rid of this dollhouse. I think it's a wonderful toy, it's high-quality, it's a great thing -- but my kids don't play with it and it's taking up quite a bit of space and gathering dust. I've considered saving it for my grandchildren, but that assumes that I'll have grandchildren that will be interested in a dollhouse, which really is a tall assumption, and we don't really have th…

Can you believe we had even MORE fall fun?

Really, I just can't stop with the weekend activities. My kids have been enriched to death the past month or so.

This weekend, we went downtown Raleigh for a double-header. First up: the North Carolina History Festival, which I hoped would get Mallory excited about the enormous NC Social Studies project she's working on. That night: Tickets to the ballet, a few blocks away from the festival. In between: About an hour and a half of down time (poor planning).

The festival was fine. We saw sculptures and a real dugout canoe and a replica Cherokee longhouse and the girls made bonnets and paper cardinals.

Much more exciting than history, however, was riding bus between venues:

Then, to kill time, we had an ice cream cone and wandered back to the garage where we'd parked the car. In the elevator, to be whimsical, I pushed 6 even though we were only on 3. The sixth floor level turned out to be empty of cars and the girls thought this was the best thing ever. A photo shoot ensue…

That'll cheer you up

As a break from my list of depressing reads, I turned to Anne Frank.

Yeah, I know. It's like continuing to eat spicy food while complaining that your mouth's on fire.

Mallory asked me about Hitler the other day. How do you explain Hitler to a 9-year-old? Her main concern seemed to be whether such a thing could ever happen again. She didn't seem comforted by my answer ("I hope not") but what else can you say?

Anyway, in an attempt to bring things down to her level, I told her about Anne Frank. Then I ordered a book for her -- "Who Was Anne Frank?" -- one of a series of biographies for children. (I think I've mentioned before how much I loved the biographical series in my elementary school's library. They were all bound in hideous orange. My favorite was Jane Addams: Little Lame Girl.) I thought this summation of Anne Frank's life would be easier for Mallory -- who does not like to read -- to digest than the actual diary.

I read The Diary of …

Almost two digits

Mallory is busily creating her birthday party invitation. It was difficult to rein her in, to say, no, you can't invite your friends to a movie AND go swimming AND go for ice cream and no, as an alternative you can't invite every girl in your class (except the one you don't like) to the Tumble Gym.

It's even more difficult to wrap my head around the fact that she's going to be ten.


So I've just read a string of really depressing books, y'all. (I don't know why I just called you y'all.) In the past month or so, I've read:

We Need to Talk about Kevin -- A mother writes about the lead-up to, and aftermath of, a school massacre perpetrated by her son, Kevin. I simultaneously hated this book and couldn't put it down. All the characters behaved in a completely unrealistic fashion. (Hi, I've suspected my son is a psychopath since the day he was born, but I'll let him babysit my daughter anyway.) It obviously doesn't end well and left me feeling ooky for days.

The Night Circus -- Depressing because I thought I would like it more than I did

The Grief of Others -- stillborn baby, enough said

Please Look After Mom -- An elderly Korean woman disappears in a subway station; her daughter, son, and husband ruminate about how little they appreciated her and how badly they treated her. Nice.

Nightwoods -- Children witness brutal murder of their mo…

The day after

My kids' school doesn't "do" Halloween, but as a "fun" alternative, they allow require students to dress up as saints for All Saints Day (November 1). How does one dress a child up as a saint, you may ask? Answer: I don't know, but apparently wrapping them up in veils and shawls does the trick well enough:

Don't they look happy to be saints? Phoebe is St Catherine of Siena (which is the name of their school, but it was chosen because Phoebe's middle name is Catherine) and Mallory is St Maria Goretti, who was murdered at the age of 12 and beatified because she forgave her murderer on her deathbed. Which is a nice story, right?

Still, they're getting a good education. Phoebe had to write sentences with selected "sight words" last night; the sentences had to be at least 5 words long. One of her words was "does." "I can't think of a does sentence!" she said. Then she said, "Oh wait -- how about, 'Does p…


What you don't want to happen on Halloween night is, you don't want it to rain. Rain ruins everything. Rain means that either your kids' costumes (that you spent hours making or dollars buying) get ruined, or that your kids wear a raincoat that covers up their costumes (that you spent hours making or dollars buying). Rain gets their candy buckets damp. Rain makes their face paint run. Rain deters other children from trick or treating, which means that you only manage to unload one of the five bags of candy that you bought. Rain means that you, too, have to slog around the neighborhood, wrangling umbrellas, bumping into other parents carrying umbrellas, resenting parents who opt to drive their precious snowflakes from house to house, feeling your socks get increasingly soggy. "Being a parent sucks sometimes," I texted my sister from under my umbrella.

But honestly -- I wouldn't have it any other way.