7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 229)

August 23, 2013 | 41 comments

— 1 —

Were you wondering how that trash pile in my living room is coming along? I bet you couldn’t sleep because you were so intrigued by these kinds of fascinating details of my life. You’ll be thrilled to hear that it’s mostly gone now, and the house is getting back in order.

I realized today that one of the things that triggered this big room reorganization was getting that personal trainer. When I faced the prospect of having to get up at 6 AM two days per week, that made me realize that it was impossible to go to bed at a decent hour since my two oldest children (7 and 8) often kept me up late.

They’re both night owls and have a tendency to get loud and wild whenever they play with each other, which made it a not-ideal setup that they shared a room — I often had to get out of bed multiple times to tell them to be quiet. I knew that my oldest (the only boy other than the baby) would need his own space soon, but the schedule thing pushed me over the edge. Now, half of the upstairs playroom has been cordoned off by heavy drapes and designated as my son’s room, and my night-owl daughter will share a room with her sisters who tend to go to sleep early. Hopefully this will help everyone settle down in the evenings.

It’s been a good reminder that committing to make a positive change in one area of your life usually has ripple effects into other areas as well.

— 2 —

I killed a scorpion on the kitchen floor the other day by dropping a book on it. I’ll skip the part about how I initially LOST IT BECAUSE I STOPPED TO TWEET ABOUT IT, and will even pass on the opportunity to dwell on the fact that THERE WAS NOTHING UNDER THE BOOK WHEN I PICKED IT UP, as tempting as that may be, because I have a different point to make:

2013-08-20 09.09.28

How could I possibly be so bad at drawing scorpions? I mean, my experience with this subject is so vast that you’d think I’d be like Stephen Wiltshire drawing those insanely detailed pictures of NYC when it comes to scorpions. And yet when I tried to offer a visual representation of what was under the book for my children who are too young to read, I think I left them suspecting that I had squashed a horned tadpole.

— 3 —

You know the beeping remote control finder thing I mentioned in Wednesday’s post? The one that Joe wants to put on the cat’s collar? We kept losing the remote control that you use to trigger the beeps, so we had to get another one and attach a beeper tag to it. Seriously, people we had to get a beeper finder for our beeper finder.


I only wish I were kidding.

This tells you pretty much everything you need to know about our lives.

— 4 —

My blog will have a new look soon! I’ve been working with my awesome designer, John Flynn, to put together a new look that’s simpler, lighter, and a better fit for my style. The design I have now (also by John) has been perfect over the years that I’ve had it, but I’ve felt for a while like it’s time for an update.

I was a web designer myself for years, and I love these kinds of projects. It’s fun to ask questions like, “What do we want visitors to understand about this site within the first few seconds after they arrive? How can we convey that through visual elements?” I think that John has hit the ball out of the park once again, and I can’t wait to show you the new look! It’s very different.

— 5 —

Devin at the great new-to-me blog A Philosophy Degree and 50 Cents did a post where she offered a visual tour of the curricula she’s using in her homeschool this year. I cannot get enough of this post. I’ve read it 20 times. It’s so interesting to see what someone else is doing, and having the pictures of her material helps me “get it” better than if it were only a written list.

Therefore, I hereby decree that all homeschooling bloggers shall do their own “visual tour of our curricula” posts, and have them up by next Thursday so that I can have stuff here with two-day shipping for the start of our school year if I get any ideas. Ideally, some savvy person with a homeschooling blog could host a linkup to collect all such posts in one place.

What’s that you say? Nobody cares what I think and I have no authority with which to issue decrees? Well, how about if I put it this way: homeschoolers, please please please please do these posts so that I can bask in your wisdom!

— 6 —

Earlier this week I asked for help articulating why these pictures looking into Manhattan homes through their windows are so stirring. I think Casey nailed it when she said:

People are very disconnected from each other, even more so now than in the past. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives, that we don’t see what’s going on around us. It’s also easy to lose sight of the humanity of the people around us, because of their otherness and separateness.

These photographs stop us in our tracks and make us SEE the world around us that we’re missing. Even more, each photo gives us a glimpse into the lives of those Others and makes them real to us again. It breaks through that veneer of mystery and foreignness and lets us see the ordinary. We connect with the ordinary, and that in turn lets us feel connected to the people we see in the photos. That visceral connection can be very stirring.

It’s nice to know eloquent people.

— 7 —

2013-08-19 19.23.30-2For those of you looking for delicious and easy Fall meals, here’s one from the “If Jen Can Do It, You Can Too” files. It’s a fried rice recipe that I modified from this one at Allrecipes.com to make it easier and more veggie-heavy:


– 1 pound Jimmy Dean hot sausage
– 1 head cabbage, cored and shredded
– 4 cups cooked white rice, cooled (the rice will get gummy if it’s not cooled)
– 1 (14.5 ounce) can bean sprouts, drained
– 1 (16 ounce) package frozen green peas and carrots, thawed
– 2 green onions, chopped
– 5 eggs, beaten
– Soy sauce to taste

  • Cook the sausage in a large skillet. When it’s done, set it aside but leave the grease in the pan.
  • Add the cabbage and the thawed bag of peas/carrots and cook until the cabbage is wilted.
  • Add back in the cooked sausage, as well as the bean sprouts and cold rice. Pour in soy sauce to taste.
  • Push the mixture to the side of the pan, and add the eggs in the free space. Get the eggs partially cooked, then scramble them in with the rice mixture.

NOTES: This freezes very well for future meals (I throw individual portions in Ziplock snack baggies for easy lunches), except for the eggs. If you want to freeze some portions, do it without the eggs, then add freshly scrambled eggs when you reheat it. This recipe is very flexible, so add more or less of any of the ingredients depending on your tastes.

Have a great weekend, everyone!



    • Mary

      I was just going to post the same thing! Check out Micaela’s link up, Jen!

      • Rebekah Es

        I third that!

  1. Julie

    What I want to know is if you can rig one of those beeper finder things so it attaches to sippy cups. I cannot tell you the number of times per day I find myself crawling around the floor, looking for errant cups. Usually I find them under the sofa (Why? How does that happen?), but sometimes we lose track of them for a few days and when we come across them again they’re… lovely.

  2. Amy

    I love #5! I would certainly comply with your decree, except I am totally winging it with respect to curricula this year. Again. But my kids are only 3 and 4, so I think I can get away with that. Right? I am definitely checking out some of the resources in the link though!

  3. Micaela @ California to Korea

    I am, I am, I am! I’m hosting a boat-load of link-ups on all sorts of homeschool topics.




    And a bonus of my Five Favorite items this year:

    Coming up: what homeschoolers do to connect to their communities.

    Too much? Yeah, I think so too.

  4. Diane Wilman

    The Moffatt Girls is a great website for homeschooling. They homeschool and create great products on Teachers Pay Teachers.

  5. Kathleen Basi

    Wait..so you DIDN’T get the scorpion? Where did it go???

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I DON’T KNOW!!!!! How terrifying is that??

  6. Amelia

    I would comply with your decree as well, but we’re in the midst of moving 500 miles away and all my homeschooling books are packed up. When my life is a bit less crazy, I’ll try to do something like that.

  7. Wanda

    Really enjoyed reading the homeschool link. I have to say though, as a former math teacher, I would never recommend Saxon Math. It is a repetitive program that teaches very little problem solving. I know many homeschool families use it , but Sadlier- Oxford is a much better teaching program.

    • Amanda

      I have to completely agree, I had to use Saxon as a teacher and it was dreadful. We’ll be trying out Singapore but if that doesn’t work out I’ll definitely be checking out Sadlier-Oxford.

      Btw, I would love to comply with a homeschool curriculum-link-up! I might have to head on over to Micaela’s and link up!

      And yeah, the beeper on the beeper remote had me dying laughing. I could so see that being us! I was just trying to convince my husband we need a beeper for our stuff (keys, remotes, kids, pets, everything) but this just takes it to another level!

  8. Laura

    This weekend I’ll be posting about using Classically Catholic Memory as a big part of our curriculum and every other week I’ll be discussing how we will be supplementing it for the coming two weeks. I can put in a good summary of what else we will be doing this week since you asked so nicely 🙂

    And, by the way, where did the scorpion go if it wasn’t under the book?????

  9. christine

    When I read your post about the beeper finder thingy the other day, my first thought was, “But how will they keep from losing the remote?” Ha! Question answered.

  10. Ali

    Do you have any plans to post pictures of your reorganization? We live in a not-huge three bedroom house, and, for a variety of reasons, want to stay in it for as long as humanly possible. We have two kids at the moment, so we fit quite nicely, but every time we talk about four (or five, or six…) my husband starts to get a little concerned about where we’ll put them all, so it would be interesting to see how someone else does it!

  11. JoAnna

    I need an iPhone app that will find my remotes, or a computer program like “Find my iPhone” that I can use on my desktop to locate them.

  12. Micaela @California to Korea

    How strange. I thought I posted a comment last night. Yes, I am hosting a ridiculous number of homeschooling link-ups for the next few weeks. I have them on Philosophy of Education, Curriculum, Organization and Scheduling. I’ll have one more next week. For links to them all, you can click the CommentLuv link and then scroll to the bottom. All the previous links are there.

    Thanks for the shout-outs, Rosie, Mary, and Rebekah. You’s knows I loves ya.

    And Jen, I need that beeper thing. But I really need something that is permanently mounted in e wall or something because I totally need a beeper for my beeper for my beeper etc. I’m with ya, sister.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      You did! I just found your comment in my spam folder – should be up now! Thanks for the great resource!

      And maybe we can all get rich selling some kind of “beepers for your beeper” and “reminders to look at your reminders” products. 🙂

      • Micaela @ California to Korea

        I realized when I posted the second one that the first probably got sent to spam for all the links.

        Now, the question is whether I can find a brain for my brain. It seems to need it sometimes. Off to Google. 😉

  13. Jenna St. Hilaire

    (Lurking reader, new commenter) Love your blog; I’m looking forward to the new design! And I HAVE to make that fried rice now… and I’m officially as creeped out by the missing scorpion as if it were in my own house. Well, almost.

  14. Hopefull Pessimist

    Yes, but what if you lose the second beeper-finder remote?

  15. Jenna@CallHerHappy

    I am a sucker for new web design! Can’t wait.

  16. Amy Caroline

    I personally, have not slept a wink.

    Scorpions are evil Never seen one, don’t want to. That is why I live in the Pacific Northwest.

    I am totally into the homeschool curriculum tour idea. I will do this… whose hosting? 🙂

    AND I cannot wait to see your new look!

  17. Erika Marie @ Simplemama

    Thanks for sharing that incite about the windows pictures. She put my feelings/thoughts into words so beautifully. One thing, however, I couldn’t help but wonder when looking at those – did she get those people’s permission to take those or were just random?

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I’m pretty sure that photographer did have permission. There was another photographer who did the same thing *without* permission, and he got sued (but he won, oddly enough!)

  18. syd

    FOSS science. It’s all about doing, observing, and notebooking. It’s freaking awesome science. It’s not designed for homeschooling, but all their lessons, notebook pages, and videos on how to teach are FREE online. Great inspiration if nothing else. http://archive.fossweb.com/

    Ambleside online and lindafay’s Higher Up and Further In blog. lindafay rocks my socks off. http://higherupandfurtherin.blogspot.com/

    MEP math. It’s extremely teacher intensive, so maybe not the best choice for a large busy family. Designed by Hungarian geniuses and used throughout England, it freaking works. Also FREE. http://www.cimt.plymouth.ac.uk/projects/mep/

    Piano & music theory stuff. Free. And awesome by a guy who is brilliant and loves what he does so much he shares it with the world just because he can. http://www.gmajormusictheory.org/Freebies/freebies.html

    http://hubbardscupboard.org/ Gentle, easy, fun preschool/littles resources.

    The guy who made AutoDesk moved to Switzerland and wrote up some great methods on learning French. http://www.fourmilab.ch/francais/lfrench.html I also love his Hacker’s Diet. http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/

  19. Eva

    New look!? Oh come on, I still haven’t got over the last redesign/ name change!

    I don’t do change well…..

  20. Monica

    Usually I lurk, but I enjoyed the challenge of putting together a visual tour of our curricula. Thanks for the idea!

  21. Lisa Schmidt

    Ahhhhhhh – thank you for sharing the link to Philosophy Degree and 50 Cents. First year homeschooling here and I’ve been racking my brain to come up with a day-to-day checklist – something neat and tidy not requiring too much space or extra work on my part. She dreamed up what I couldn’t!

  22. melissa

    I came across a brand new product that would solve the problem of finding the remote for finding the missing item with the beeper tag. It is called Tile and it has an app for your phone that not only helps you find it by doing a “you’re getting hotter/colder” search, but also allows you to enter the last location you had it into your phone (perfect for finding your car in a parking lot – not that I would ever lose my car, mind you.) It is just in pre-production now, but can be preordered at http://www.thetileapp.com/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=CPC&utm_content=adoptjw1
    Note – I do not have any connection with this product, I just lose stuff regularly and am totally intrigued by the idea of a product like this.

  23. Amy Caroline

    I was just going to say I would host it, but looks like someone already beat me to it! I wrote mine up and was waiting to post it on Monday, with a link up if no one else volunteered, lol.

  24. Lily

    I can’t wait to see the new look of your site!

  25. Jared B.

    I used to own that exact Web Programming book! That’s pretty much all I had to say. 🙂

  26. Jenny

    oh that text would be a dream come true for me. I also would not care who it was from. I cannot find anyone to help me just one afternoon a week and it is getting depressing.

    • Jenny

      lol, this just somehow ended up on the wrong post. I need another nap.

  27. WSquared

    Jen, leftover, day-old rice actually works best. …or try brown rice, if you’re up to it. Brown rice will keep its integrity.

  28. Lisa

    Can you tell us more about your 5 file folders, one binder, and 15 charts? I am very serious. Your home sounds exactly like mine, from the child art work over handprints to the random tape left on walls. I am intrigued…

  29. Info Center

    beeper tag huh? I’ve had times where I wish I had thought of something like that. In fact I am probably going to find something that I can use to do the exact same thing because I am consistently losing the dang remote

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