Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Life at Home and Beyond

We are in the midst of a beautiful and busy springtime!

I am now in the home stretch of studying for my real estate exam. Although I completed my coursework a couple of months ago, I have been spending time with a 14-hour long review DVD and workbook. Having watched all of that now and done the review pages, I am moving on to my dad's binder of review notes and practice tests (he has 12 full-length tests and several shorter section quizzes). This weekend I spent several hours reviewing all of the different types of math problems I will be expected to know, and there are many. I love the objectivity of the math problems, because those will be questions out of the 150 I will for sure know to be correct when I sit for the test (I won't have to second guess myself on those). Yet my mind definitely had a workout this weekend, since all of the problems are word problems---some are the length of a paragraph and include multiple steps.

In trying to assess how much study time this test requires, I have been trying to pinpoint where it falls relative to other tests I have taken in my life. Based on what I have seen so far, I would estimate this test to be somewhere around the difficulty of the AP European History or AP Psychology tests: two of the more straightforward Advanced Placement tests. It is not as difficult as AP US History, nor as potentially mentally taxing as the AP English tests. And it is easier than AP Calculus (which was my worst AP score, a 3). I realized when I sat down to take the tests that I had overstudied for AP Euro and AP Psych in high school, so if I can shoot for somewhere just shy of those amount of hours, I might be good to go.

I am on a fairly strict study schedule now, and my goal is to take it extremely soon.

Katie and I have been busy cooking and baking the last few days, as well. She loves to make family breakfasts, so we made popovers one day this weekend and French toast the second day. Katie made the custard for the French toast almost on her own. She invented a way to crack eggs herself (with a spoon), and she knows how to scramble them with milk. I had her add the cinnamon, and she has me grate the nutmeg.

This weekend we also made our favorite ground turkey meatloaf meal, with mashed potatoes and roasted cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. On Sunday, she helped me to make a Hawaiian pizza. She has discovered a love for ham, which isn't the best protein---but which isn't the worst, either. She has been trying more and more foods. She picked out a soy black cherry yogurt from Baron's the other day, and she loved it. She usually has a yogurt and string cheese and maybe a piece of whole grain bread with almond butter or natural peanut butter for lunch.

Yesterday we made two kinds of biscotti together: almond oat and peanut butter. We both love biscotti, and they are a bit healthier than other kinds of cookies. She also helped make the cinnamon-crunch sweet potato muffins to go alongside our dinner of chicken friend steak and corn on the cob. She gobbled up her muffin half at dinner, and she discovered that, yes, she does like corn: she just likes it sweet and fresh off the ear.

We also worked more on using the "big girl potty" yesterday. She was on a roll last year before we moved, and then the changes required that we wait a little before making further progress. Katie really did well yesterday. She has been using it every night consistently before bathtime for awhile and has started identifying her "feelings." Daytime use has been more sporadic, but I can tell she is ready to conquer this. She wore her underpants all day, with only two changes, and she used the big girl toilet five times with success. The other two times, she identified the feeling but didn't quite make it to the toilet in time. Today is a busy day, but after gymnastics tomorrow, we'll probably try again.

She has been my little helper: she liked putting in all of the detergent yesterday for our laundry loads of linens. This weekend, she took her little vacuum and vacuumed alongside me downstairs. She loves to run into Bill's office and tell him when our meals are ready, and she helps me to set the table. Katie is such a good girl. I am very lucky that she is my daughter.

Her loves lately continue to be Peter Pan, our new tambourine music for our Music Together class, the soundtrack from South Pacific (she requests it during bathtime sometimes), almond cookie body wash, her red "apple shoes" as she calls them, and Berenstain Bear books.

She also adores the rain and she went outside to play in it a bit yesterday in her raincoat and boots.

I think she is having a growth spurt. She has been consuming lots of protein (cottage cheese, up to 24 ounces of milk, string cheese, yogurt, ham, turkey meatloaf, an occasional turkey hot dog, nut butters, and more). In fact, instead of finding ways to encourage proteins (which is our normal routine), I have been having to find ways to encourage our daily fruits and veggies. She has also been sleeping more and sleeping in a bit (which is why I am writing this blog right now)!

We are starting our art class again today. We took six weeks off (primarily because the second session booked up right away), and we are excited to return. We have been working on our own crafts though. On Sunday we painted rocks and ceramic mushrooms and a little bowl in which to plant an "enchanted garden" full of grass seeds and bean seeds. We let it dry overnight and actually potted it yesterday morning. She loves our paint projects.

I also finished all of the mounts and pages for her Year 3 scrapbook this weekend. That has been a months-long project, one of my hobbies, and now it is all ready for the best pictures of her year. She woke up as I was finishing the penultimate page (and then there was one I wanted to redo), and I let her design her own page---which she loved. (I usually work while she is napping). She chose the paper, the color of the cardstock mounts, where they were placed, some ribbon and where it was placed, and the embellishments. It turned out well and fits in well with the album, and I love that she has her own page in there.

Today will be a busy day: we've got our art class, and then I have my Toastmasters meeting. I gave my 6th speech last week, and I was the designated back-up speaker for this week. I had my 7th speech written and ready, and I found out last night that I do actually need to deliver it today. I rehearsed a little this weekend just in case, so I feel fairly ready---though nervous as always! About a week ago, the vice president of our club (who makes the speaking schedules) contacted me and asked if I would be able and willing to finish all ten speeches from the first manual by June 30th. As you know, my goal was to finish by August before Eric's birth, so agreeing to June 30th does accelerate my goal by about 1.5 months. But if I finish my Competent Communicator designation/award by June 30th, then the club will also meet one of its club goals for the year. (The club has various goals that keep it in good standing as a chapter). After delivering the 7th speech today, I will only need to finish three more speeches before earning my first designation! That is pretty exciting. After Eric is born, when I return eventually, I can start working on my Advanced Communicator Bronze. I have topics in mind for my last three speeches, and generating topics is the hardest part---so I think I can meet the new timeline. I hope so!

So we have definitely been busy! Bill returned to work yesterday after a lovely Spring Break, and we miss having him nearby us at home. However, there is much to be done before summer: our anniversary, David's wedding, taking my real estate test, finishing Eric's nursery---I think I found wallpaper finally---, finishing my speeches, and of course homemaking, growing a baby, and being Mommy to my precious little girl.

Life is full and beautiful!