reading round-up (5.15.15)

Both of our Minnesota springs to date have negated the adage “April Showers bring May Flowers” for different reasons. Last year, it was because there was too much snow for too long. This year winter ended at a reasonable time, but we just haven’t had much rain. Now in May, it is finally coming down and our grass is finally coming up. (Aaron far prefers working outside, so he is glad to be done with the new floor and seeing progress in our lawn and garden!) This year we’re just doing tomatoes and green beans.

Both of our Minnesota springs have included excitement about other kinds of growth, too. We’re ecstatic and humbled by another healthy pregnancy! This one means welcoming a baby boy to our family this fall, and by some sweet mercy, the first half of pregnancy has been significantly easier (physically and mentally) than the first half of my pregnancy with Annie. I’m especially grateful for an easier pregnancy while managing an adventurous nine-month-old, and I’m still blown away to think we’ll have two children. I spent a long time wondering if I would ever have any kids, and this
really feels like winning the lottery twice.

I thought there were some great thoughts in 8 Items for Christian Parents to Ponder, especially the encouragement to “Consider that there is no one in the world more likely than you to be instruments of their eternal good. ” It’s easy to get bogged down with the idea that we could possibly be really ruining some aspect of our kids’ lives, and I’m grateful for the reminder that we’re also in the position to be the greatest instrument of goodness and blessing for them, too.

I also really appreciated 9 Things Adult Daughters Want Their Mothers to Know. It resonated with me as a daughter and inspired me as a mother.

On the flipside, Raising Gentle Boys was good encouragement for thinking about the new baby. He’ll be himself in so many ways that are more about just being his own person and not necessarily about his gender, but since I don’t know anything about those other things yet… this is what I’ve got to think about: ultrasound technology reassures us that the baby seems to be developing normally and is, in fact, male.

This post on the benefits of knowing yourself was great. I’ve followed Kristin’s blog for a while and really appreciate so many of her reflections on frugality and family life. I remember the sense of relief that came when I decided I was done with “couponing” and then again in the last few months when I decided borrowing baby clothes was more stressful for me than it was worth, and her advice here resonated deeply for me:

“We don’t all have to be good at the same things, and we don’t all have to love the same things.
(No one can possibly be good at everything and love everything!)
The important thing is to live within your means and manage your money responsibly, and there are a zillion ways to do that well.”

If knowing yourself means identifying with a Myers-Briggs personality type, this Definition of Hell for Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type might extremely accurate. I am an ENFP, but just barely on to the extroverted side; I’m pretty sure Aaron is exactly the opposite, an ISTJ. Hell for an ENFP is essentially the description of the job I held for 3 years when Aaron and I first got married, and it was just nice to (again) be affirmed that I wasn’t being dramatic when I told people it was like a living hell.
For the ENFP:  Every minute of the rest of your life has been scheduled for you – and it’s a long series of arbitrary, solitary tasks.
For the ISTJ: You are expected to complete a highly esteemed project with absolutely no guidance as to what’s expected of you.
In some ways, this describes both of our current occupations as well, which is particularly laughable. (I will say, the monotonous aspects of life as a stay-home mom are much more tolerable after living through some of the truly horrendous -for me- tasks in my old job. and both of these descriptions apply to quite a bit of parenting.)

Aaron has been reviewing different management and productivity materials for companies he is interested in working for… There’s a lot of interesting stuff out there! This Tedx Talk from David Allen (who wrote “Getting Things Done”) is an oldie-but-a-goodie. We were just talking about some of the stuff he says here, and I think it’s very much worth 22 minutes of your time. (Grab a notebook to take some notes and jot down some thoughts afterwards!) We were just saying we might need to review this together every few months… It’s not a bad idea.

Another Ted presentation from Pamela Ronald talks about the intersection of “Organic” farming and GMO crops hits on some good points for lay discussions on agriculture and biotechnology.

This blog from Mandi covers a lot of great topics about recurring loss and pregnancy after miscarriages. In some ways she seems like my Catholic twin in reflecting on those topics and I think this blog is a great resource for interested parties.

I recently rediscovered LibriVox, full of free audio books in the public domain, and I’m enjoying working through the Anne of Green Gables series again. I find that YA literature is just right for listening while I’m working around the house — it’s engaging but not so dense that I can’t get something else done, too.

Annie recently discovered the joys of hitting things with a plastic spoon, so I gave her some tupperware to beat and turned on Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare For the Common Man. So much fun. So much proletariat ire. (Copeland was a phenomenal American composer with strong ties to progressive/socialist  politics. I’m linking to it’s performance at a 9/11 memorial to compensate on the other side, maybe?)
Musician mama side note: I really like showing her videos of musical performances where she can see the instruments!

We’re looking forward to a low-key weekend with a few little house projects, playing outside with Annie and Max, and lots of much-needed relaxing. Have a happy weekend, friends!

reading round-up 3.20.15

You guys, I think it’s spring in Minnesota. It’s been sunny and warm lately, so sometimes I can open the windows… If it snows again, I will cry. I’m still not entirely recovered from the polar vortex of the last winter. Since it’s been so nice, I took Annie outside to inspect the daffodil bulbs I transplanted to the front of the house in September, and then I found $20. (This actually happened.)

photo 1 (1)

Aaron experienced an unfortunate injury during the installation of our floor which resulted in our second-ever marital ER trip, but he is on the road to recovery and we’re almost done! It’s amazing how much this improvement is boosting my overall mood and outlook on life, and it’s been extremely nice to be excited about how our home looks again. I was not prepared for how discouraging it would be to move from the hard-won glories of our old house to the not-so-glorious interior of this one. I tried a lot of I-have-it-better-than-95%-of-people-everywhere-so-stop-thinking-about-aesthetics mind games during the past year, but when a beautiful home is an option, it’s a good thing and it feels good to be working towards that glory again. Isn’t this a better look than unfinished hardwoods with plywood patches?

photo 3

Confession: We broke down and procured an annoying plastic singing toy for the baby, on loan from some friends. We’re hoping it’s temporary, but man… this thing is extremely useful.

photo 2 (2)

[Finances] I am still mulling over the points from Generosity Begins At Home by David Mathis. Being excessively disciplined about money, mostly out of necessity, for the entire 6.5 years of our marriage has brought some weird baggage to our lives. While frugality is often wise, it can be abused just as much as frivolity. We are the sort of people who err on the side of all things too-responsible, and we’ve had to remind each other that frugality is not the greatest good in life. It’s been nice to have some conversations along these lines:

A simplistic view of money — whether focusing only on its power for good, or merely on its potential for ill — misses the texture of the biblical portrait. How, then, do we move toward getting this balance better in our lives? And in particular, how to we go about using money to magnify our global God while not neglecting or minimizing the temporal needs of those to whom God has entrusted us? ….As tempted as we might be to think that pinching pennies at every point, and then sending our savings to the gospel front lines overseas, is the inescapably Christian practice, there is something to be said for our generosity beginning at home. Which is not to say, indulge your personal comforts, but forgo them for the sake of demonstrating care and concern for your spouse and children.

When it comes to details, I’m the free spirit in our house (Annie may be with me on this, though?) but it works best when I do the taxes, so that’s how we roll. Tim Challies asks Do You Pay Your Taxes Joyfully? And I must say… now that I straightened out Aaron’s work withholdings, we qualify for some fabulous new credits after the birth of a child, and have very little self-employment income, YES, IT MIGHT BOTHER MY CONSTITUTIONAL SENSIBILITIES BUT OVERALL IT IS EXTREMELY JOY-INDUCING TO SEE THOSE GREEN “RETURN” NUMBERS ON MY TURBO TAX STATEMENT. For the first time ever, I think.

[Theology] We have been talking oh-so-much this month about the vital importance of women knowing theology. I have been so pleased to see a few articles on this topic popping up, as I think adequately educating both genders is an area where most churches really fall off the wagon (whether intentionally or not).
Moms Need Theology Too, by Christina Fox. 

While books with practical tips are useful for some things, the hope they provide can be short-lived. In truth, it is in theology, in our study of who God is and what he has done, that gives us the real hope, real wisdom, and real peace that we need in our lives — the kind that lasts. It’s theology — knowing God — that anchors us in the chaos of motherhood.

Three Reasons Women Need Good Theology, by Alyssa Poblete. 

“Just be careful. You don’t want women becoming spiritual leaders in the home or, even worse, wanting to become pastors.” …Why did he wish to dissuade women from pursuing a better understanding of Scripture? Don’t we believe “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16)?

[Infertility] I’m very thankful that in my struggles to have a baby, I was not forced to look down the barrel of Artificial Reproductive Technologies. I’m also very thankful that I knew a lot about the topic before having a baby became a struggle, because I already knew where the boundaries of acceptable intervention would be. Most people don’t think about the ethics of IVF or other procedures until they are sitting in a specialists office, desperate for a child after years of devastating heartbreak. That doctor’s office is not the best place to start making decisions with such significant ethical ramifications. So, I talk about it now because I want other people to look at this topic before they are in a position to maybe utilize it themselves. I think Joy Pullman’s article in The Federalist, Four Questions About the Fertility Industry’s Lack of Oversight, poses some important points for discussion.

[Beauty] I love this computer wallpaper! 

I’m reading Hannah Anderson‘s book Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image. So far it’s the perfect blend of thoughtful, challenging, enjoyable, and (the best part) written in just the right-size increments that I can pick it up knowing I might get interrupted again soon.


Anonymous 4: Abide With Me
Folk for Kids playlist on Spotify. 
I’m also on the hunt for some podcasts, so let me know if you have any recommendations!

Happy weekend!

Seven months of Max

In the midst of the moving preparations last fall, we talked a lot about something we’ve been dreaming of for years: a little lab puppy. Aaron grew up with dogs and still misses the black lab, Abe, that he raised from a puppy while he was younger, and we’ve always known that we would have a string of Labrador Retrievers when we “grew up.” The original plan was to get a puppy in between our first and second children, since we wanted our kids to grow up with a dog and we might as well just make that a very intense toddler/puppy/baby season and get it over with. As I’ve mentioned before, “original plans” are kind of a joke for us at this point. The baby thing got complicated and then every time we looked at our open back yard and white carpet, we knew the Iowa house wasn’t the place for a dog. Some of our friends had a fabulous chocolate lab that we loved, and we talked about adopting one of his puppies sometime around when Aaron graduated. As it happens, they had a litter due the week after Aaron’s PhD defense and the puppies were conveniently located just north of our new hometown in the Twin Cities. It seemed like an ideal situation, so we allocated the proceeds from the sale of our chickens towards our hoped-for puppy. We looked for houses with fenced back yards, and “passed” on several fabulous options that weren’t dog-friendly. We ended up buying one in a quiet neighborhood with a doggie door already installed.

On Veteran’s Day, we got the text message that puppies had arrived! Less than two weeks later, I handed a positive pregnancy test to Aaron and said something like, “Well, I don’t know how this happened, and if it works out, we can’t afford to get a dog anymore… but I will probably die if something happens to this one and I don’t have my puppy.” Wanting both a dog and a baby very badly, we decided that it wasn’t worth panicking about the finances after making gazillions of sacrifices for the sake of “financial responsibility” during the past five years, and that we wouldn’t regret having both together in the end. We sent in the deposit for our puppy the next day. I showed pictures of “my puppy” to all my piano students and asked for their choice between my two favorite names (“Sam” and “Scout,” neither of which was a big hit with Aaron). One little boy suggested I name him after a composer… “Just not J.S. Bach, because people would think you were pretending to be a chicken if you yelled, ‘Bach! Bach! Bach!’ out the back door.” I felt this was a very astute observation.

max on lap

After we brought the puppy to our new (and unpacked) house in Minnesota, Aaron made a few other name suggestions and we tried them all out on the pup for a few days before settling on Max, which came from three of Aaron’s favorite movies — The Grinch, The Great Race, and Get Smart. I was the one who told Aaron he was definitely a “Max,” but warned our family that if this was any indication, we would have to rely on Jewish traditions that don’t announce a baby’s name until the 8th day of it’s life. (We managed to get settled there with relative ease.) Today, this little guy is seven months old! Though our couches are looking significantly worse and I have to do tons of laundry because he drools all over us, we have loved the hilarity, play times, and strict exercise regiment he has brought to our life. (Walking twice a day during the Polar Vortex was still a better option than having a brand new house demolished by a young dog.) This year has been full of almost as many big, stressful life events as you could pack into a 12-month period for people of our age, and I’m grateful we’ve had the joy of a happy, licky, waggy, too-jumpy puppy to bring so many smiles to our faces in it all. family

We took Max on his inaugural canoe ride this weekend, which went better than expected with NO TIPPING during his impromptu dives off the side. That night we laid in bed with lots of extra pillows for my pained hip, laughing at the snores of the dog we wanted, marveling at the impending arrival of a child we have really, really, really, really, really wanted, and expressed our joy to finally live near water, which we have both missed so much. It’s not how we thought this would all come together, but it seems to be coming together just the same.

[Puppy Anecdote: Max knew it was bedtime on Monday, and crawled under our bed in hopes that we would forget to put him in his kennel overnight. Whenever this happens, he doesn’t know that his tail still sticks out from under the bed skirt. It’s pretty cute as he wags it s-l-o-w-l-y with anxious excitement, though he’s still naughty to do it. I tried to grab his haunches to pull him out, but he scooted further under the bed to the other side, where Aaron was standing. Max belly crawled along under the edge of the bed, which we watched as the bed skirt swayed, and finally stuck his tongue out far enough to lick Aaron’s toes. Then he looked surprised that we “figured out” where he was hiding. Ha!]

I would look for a smart and touching quote to include at the end of this post, but Max is simultaneously barking at the FedEx guy and drinking out of the toilet. See ya!


Coon Ranch: Kitchen

It’s a little bit crazy to admit this, but one of the big sacrifices in moving to Minnesota was a bit of a vow of poverty. The income scenario is fine, but it’s not what we had been dreaming about for the past five years while Aaron was in grad school. When we were deciding to accept this job, we made peace with continuing a very frugal lifestyle with a few “non-negotiable” life upgrades: smart phones (and thanks to Ting, our bill is smaller than it was before so it’s not even a sacrifice), a guest room, and a doggie. My piano studio growth is going slooooower than we have hoped and I’m essentially a stay-home-dog-owner right now, so we’re on the path to some much-needed home improvements that are entirely free. We’ve always tried to be cautious and wise about spending on our house, but since we have tools and actual DIY stuff leftover from our last house, a $0 budget is a possibility in ways it wasn’t when we started out with the Iowa house.

There is often a lot of freedom in limitations — and our big limitation of using resources already on hand is working well so far. We’re calling this our time of Domestic MacGyvering. Just like that old TV show, we’re in a situation that threatens our sanity and survival, and we can only work with what we’ve got.

First off, we started with the kitchen. I moved here from a kitchen fit for queenly entertaining, remodeled to my exact specifications. While I would change just a few things about the designs if I were doing it over, it worked well and majorly spoiled us. Our house had charm and lots of impressive details. We were a little obsessed with it and called it lots of pretentious names in private. (Usually “Riverwood Heights Estate” or something like that.) In contrast, we now have a boring 1960 Ranch that has the same floor plan as half the neighborhood. It’s exactly what we needed, but it’s nothing special as far as houses go. The kitchen in the Coon Ranch is not as spacious and has ugly cracked tile floors that we are probably not replacing. However, the situation here was perfect for implementing one of the big lessons we learned in the first house: lighting is everything. As you can see, the lighting situation in the new kitchen was an awful mess of not-even-done-right-suspended-flourescent-lights, and those ceiling lights usually aren’t a great choice in the first place anyway. It drove Aaron crazy enough that he broke his no-project vow (made while prepping the old house for sale and shopping for a new one) after 2 months of living here. New lighting made all the difference in the old kitchen, and we had high hopes for a similar effect here.


We talked about painting the wood frame white and replacing the plastic with new, crisper inserts. But as soon as Aaron pulled out the yellowing panels and saw there was an actual finished ceiling behind the ugly frame, we had reached the point of no return.
Our MacGyvering came to the rescue because we had some leftover track lights in the garage. They are the same finish as the handles on the cabinet pulls and other light fixtures in the house. Several years ago, we overbought off a clearance sale when Lowes discontinued our favorite track lights, with plans to put more up in the living room. Though it drove me nuts, we never got around to installing them, and efforts to recoup any of the original cost by selling them before moving were entirely unfruitful. We brought them up with us “just in case.”

Good thing!


With a little spackling, texturing, and priming (all leftover materials), and painting touch ups with the buckets labeled in the basement, it feels like a new kitchen! My mom and I made the window valance with a $1 dowel rod, recycled coffee cup hooks, and a pretty cloth napkin I originally bought on a Target clearance and now sacrificed for the cause.

We still need to paint the rest of the ceiling, where a crisp white is going to make a huge difference. We’re also lacking a light fixture for above the sink, and I think MacGyver might have to go to Menards with some pocket change to get out of that particular pickle. Though I already have my permanent dishwasher, countertop, backsplash, and faucet upgrades in mind, I’m entirely over the moon with how much more awesome it feels in here now. And without a working dishwasher? That’s really saying a lot.


(And I wish everyone a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day! Did you know it’s one of my favorite holidays? Read more about Patrick as a true hero of the gospel so you can honor his legacy of faith and obedience today while you enjoy corned beef brisket!)

Dr. Leaf Blower

My friend had the following conversation with her children on the way over to our house this fall.
“You’re going to have so much fun at Mrs. Hummel’s house! Her husband is blowing their leaves into a pile so you can play in them.”
“What should we call Mrs. Hummel’s husband?” – 8 year old
“He’s Mrs. Hummel’s husband, so that would make him… what?”
“Umm… Mr. Leaf Blower?” – 4 year old
Well, that’s Dr. Leaf Blower to you now, kid. That’s right. There is a PhD in the house. We can cross this one off the 30-before-30 list. Aaron defended his dissertation so he’s officially all Philosophized, Doctorized, and formally recognized as being both outlandishly smart AND diligent.
I’m pretty smart, but Aaron is smart in things I can’t wrap my brain around. It took me a few months to memorize his job title. (“Working in a Plant Pathology lab as part of an inter-disciplinary Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology program,” is a mouth full, in my defense.) And when I think about this PhD and the hard work it took to get here, I’m so grateful for Aaron’s work ethic and his courage in risky situations. This man has been perpetually stressed for about 10 years. I know this man started off this adventure five years ago by putting overtime beyond overtime in to ensure that his presence was a blessing to his lab mates, aware that his work would communicate to others that Christianity is supposed to make you a better scientist, not the opposite. In the first part of grad school he was still in the military, and this man would spend four or five days almost without sleeping when he had Drill weekends, and then get to the lab even earlier as soon as he got home. This man sat on the couch and read papers instead of attending sports games. (Breaks were more frequent in hockey season after we had a TV, of course.) This man never complained about the inconveniences of our tightwad budget, like eating sandwiches and leftovers for lunch every day, and using an old cell phone that barely texts – forget 3G network access! This man was cheerful about the added financial risk of my self-employment so we could both live out the dreams God gave us. This man who loves the outdoors spent many a beautiful weekend day (sometimes both of them) working on his projects in the lab. He has spent most of the last five years in a white room without windows, and hasn’t really even had coworkers to share the days with for quite a while. This man dutifully tackled many of his highest pressure assignments in the seasons where I have been most grief-stricken and needy instead of the encourager I wanted him to have, because grad school doesn’t wonder what would be most convenient for your personal life when setting up experiment deadlines.This man has been diligent even when he was definitely thinking things like this:
grad school[From #whatshouldwecallgradschool, which is not appropriate reading for minors or grandmothers, but is fall-on-the-floor hilarious to those who are in graduate school.]
I can’t say exactly where the credit goes for this successful presentation and defense of the dissertation. Was it the slave labor he has accomplished in the last five years at the laboratory bench? The good reputation of his peer-reviewed publications? The prayer warriors who have been lifting him up, especially during this last big push to wrap up everything? The decadent cheese trays I prepared as refreshments for his committee of judges? Some combination of all those, I bet.
After a great presentation and record-making short deliberations from his committee, we ate dinner out in a state of ecstasy before he came home and watched The Hobbit trailer several times over in a manner befitting his accomplishments.
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Then the sense of romance and adventure wore off, and we got back into courageously tackling all the other risky situations in life, because that’s what diligent people do.
(And if you want some thoughts about this holiday of Veteran’s Day, here’s a link to some reflections on Veteran’s Day itself, and all posts related to the military.)

livestock update

The chickens are still well. We have settled our coop down with two black Barred Rocks, two Rhode Island Reds, and two California white hybrids. We aren’t too far away from collecting eggs. They should be laying in a month or so!

Aaron wanted to give the new birds names that silly kids would give them, so he chose Snowflake and Sugar. I suggested the spelling “Snoflak” since that would make it even more authentic, but Aaron says that’s overthinking it. Oh well. He picked these names on behalf of all the children in all the world. Since he is a man of such generous heart, I imagine he willl probably go to Dunkin Donuts and eat some donuts on their behalf soon, too.



We also had a little visitor in a window well a few weeks ago. Neighbors on both sides of us have dogs, so the bunny situation gets out of hand sometimes. This year we had a little baby running around in a window well, and Aaron got him out. His mommy was waiting for him, but I still wanted to try domesticating the little thing.
baby bunnyHe could have been a good addition to the coop, but we decided against adding more animals right now. Well. Aaron smirked at me and set the bunny down to hop over to his mama. Hopefully he doesn’t return and try to eat out of the garden!

{cute graphic via Karen Watson}

{cute graphic via Karen Watson}

“….without fathom.”

It goes without saying that our chicks started off pretty cute. Then they got little tail-feathers and that was still cute, but it went downhill from there. As they grew, they got a little bit brattier and much, much stinkier.  Apparently this is typical of adolescent chickens as well as humans. We also sent two of the Barred Rocks (Black-and-White) to a new home, since we only wanted four and were pleasantly surprised that all six survived their first few weeks in the box.

coop outside

In recent days, they moved out of their box in the laundry room and currently reside in a stylish navy blue coop in our backyard. They won’t be laying eggs until August, so we’ve entered a less-than-exciting phase of chicken tending.

chickens outside

I have always been very opposed to the idea of “Furbabies,” where people consider their animals as important as kids and call themselves “Mommy” and “Daddy” to the pets. However, we don’t have any children or even regular pets running around, and the chicks are definitely getting an extra dose of our doting while we teach them to do things their moms would have taught them on a farm. The solution has been to narrowly escape the “furbaby” category by claiming a special title for ourselves as caregivers. The idea came from Megamind, one of our favorite movies. (If you haven’t seen it, don’t judge the whole movie based on this one-minute clip. The full-length feature is quite a hoot!)

Last night, after he successfully impelled the chickens to use their ramp independently, Aaron gave a perfect impersonation of this scene, saying, “I am the Chicken’s Space Dad and my chicken-training abilities are unfathomable…. they can’t be fathomed… they are without fathom.” Since I’m less involved with their activities, I get to be the “Space Step Mom.” What can I say? I’ve had some work done recently.

do they have large talons?

“Do the chickens have large talons?”
“Do they have what?”
“Large talons.”
“I don’t understand a word you just said.”
— Napoleon Dynamite (Paramount Pictures, 2004)

This is not going to become an organic-chicken-raising urban-farming blog, but here are a few more updates for our chicks’ devoted fans.

1) The fuzz is on the way out. This Rhode Island Red is Golda. She is displaying her fancy wings and (let’s be honest here) the cutest tail feathers of all time.

tail feather

2) I can’t tell the Barred Rock chicks apart and we might give some of them away, so two names rotate between all four. This little lady might be Winifred or Simone. She is displaying her talons.

3) You can get another peek at all six in this video – they are still reasonably adorable and like to peck their beaks on the side of their box.

a box of chicks

After trying to convince me his little project was for our future children, Aaron finally confessed that his “play house” wasn’t for kids, it was for chickens. And he told me if I ever put a child in this coop, whether it was ours or someone else’s, he would probably call Child Protective Services, but that our future chickens would really like it. Since Aaron had a great experience raising hens when he was a kid and we both harbor secret urban homesteading fantasies, we’ve been talking about chickens every spring for four years. They have always been in the long-term plan, and whenever one of us works on anything in our shed Aaron talks about transforming it into a coop. He realized chickens were legal in our city and when he discovered the massive supply of DIY-coop-building plans from other hippy-ish blogs, there was no turning back. We just happened to go to a farm supply store this weekend and… now the rest is history:  We have six little chickens in our laundry room. (This is the year of MAKING IT HAPPEN, after all.)

I do want to say that I didn’t have animals growing up (except a hamster named Pecan, may she rest in peace), so this is pretty new to me. I have firmly indicated that I am not interested in raising any cloven-hoofed animals, but I could probably be convinced to get a horse if resources allowed and we had kids who would manage the riding and caring. I’m pretty sure no one is reading this for my treatise on hobby farming – you just want pictures of the chicks. I will happily oblige.

1) Chicks at the store. We couldn’t leave them there: chicks 12) Transporting them home in a box:
chicks 23) Aaron carefully observing them. He is such an animal-lover that I can’t believe we haven’t had anything serious until now:
chicks 34) The chicks enjoying their temporary box home in the laundry room:
chicks 4…But, wait! There’s more! I TOOK VIDEOS. Indulge yourself as you see fit.

Aren’t they cute!? I’ve heard they might even stay this way for a few days.

thermostat wars

“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle. David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah.” (2 Samuel 11:1, esv)

It is not spring right now. Far from it. But the fact that we are far from spring makes this a time when this household goes to battle over something a little less serious than King David and the Ammonites: the thermostat. Our house is just old enough to be pretty drafty, and so extreme outside temperatures (like today’s high of 6 degrees Farenheit) create a conflict in our overall vision of living frugally and comfortably. Not surprisingly, Aaron falls a little harder on one side, and I fall on the other. (This happens in the summer, too, and sometimes results in pillow fights.)

A piano mom told me the worst part of waiting for her husband to finish his PhD was eating Ramen noodles. I like to cook so we manage to eat pretty well;  the heating bill is one of our most noticeable spending cuts. I discussed these biannual Hummel Thermostat Wars with some students earlier this week. “Let me guess,” one of the young men ventured, “You want to be comfortable and Mr. Hummel wants to save money?” A cousin, familiar and sympathetic with our plight, mentioned that her friend from Wisconsin hosted an online quiz to see where other people set their thermostats in the winter. “The temperatures at your house were outside the range of responses,” she grinned.

thermostat warsSince I do agree with the overall reasons for conservative home heating for now, when it gets really cold, I have resorted to wearing an old fleece bathrobe and an extra pair of wool socks in the evenings.  In addition to my ridiculous thermalwear get-up, we drink lots of hot tea and make the most of our new electric blanket. I can usually distract myself and think cheerful thoughts even though it’s cold, but that plan falls apart when Aaron looks at me and starts laughing hysterically.

teaBut I must ask – do you have any other suggestions for battling the chilly house? Beside the most obvious answer, since our current temperature setting is actually a compromise already. How do the thermostat wars work out in your home?