The Random Writings of Rachel

Refrigerator Mysteries

Have you ever found something in your fridge that didn't belong there?


Like, say, a box of Camembert cheese?

Only three people live in this house. All three of those people were questioned and denied that they had anything to do with acquiring said package of cheese. I don't think I've ever even tasted Camembert cheese in my life, let alone purchased it, so it was a very, very strange thing to end up in our fridge.

This might have turned into an unsolved mystery...but my friend called one afternoon and said, "Hey, sorry, but I think I left a box of cheese in your fridge last week."

Truth prevailed. Lesson learned: If no one who lives in your house claims to have purchased the item in the refrigerator, start asking people who don't live there, because you never know when someone might stash a snack in your fridge.

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This tale reminds me of a very different refrigerator mystery.

The year is 2004. My family is visiting my uncle's family. Both families were smaller then as compared to now, but still rather large, so picture 10 children and 4 adults occupying the same farmhouse and eating at the same dining table. A lot of food is being consumed. My aunt gets out a cut of venison from the freezer and sticks it on a plate in the refrigerator in the garage for it to thaw.

The time to start cooking dinner comes around. She opens the fridge, and the plate where she put the meat is there, but there is no sign of the meat and its freezer wrappings. She checks the freezer to see if somehow she actually forgot to get the hunk of meat out in the first place, but no, the meat that was formerly in the freezer is no longer there. It ought to be in the fridge.

All family members are questioned. Did someone move the meat? Did someone cook the meat? Did someone eat the meat? No. No. No, thank goodness. It was raw, anyways. A thorough search of the house and yard was performed in a last-ditch effort to find our dinner.

We never found out what happened to that large venison roast. It's turned into a family legend--an unsolved mystery. Our two theories, neither of them particularly plausible, are:

1) A barn cat wandered into the garage, found the fridge door left open or else opened the fridge, found the meat, dragged it out of the fridge, and somehow disposed of both the roast and its wrappings so well that no trace of it was ever seen again on the farm.

2) A random person walked off the road, into the garage, opened the fridge, found a thawing venison roast, and decided to take it home with them, but left the plate, because that would be stealing.

We really have no idea what happened to that meat all those years ago. I hate to even tentatively accuse potentially innocent barn cats or random strangers, but those are our best solutions. Do you have any theories to propose about what happened to the venison??

Where's Sherlock Holmes when you need him, huh? Have you ever had an unsolved refrigerator mystery-either where food appeared (like the cheese) or disappeared (like the meat)? Tell me about it.

10k Race Recap - The Most Exciting Results Yet!

Y'all know when I'm talking about running, I'm talking about Angel. I will attend races, I will not run them.

Now that we have that clear, Angel ran his 2nd 10k of the year this weekend. His goal was to run it in less than 48 minutes, his time from the 10k he ran at the end of January. He's been running 5k about 5 or 6 times a week since then for training purposes, so he thought he stood a good chance at doing better than he'd done last time.




And he did! His official time was 40:30 or something right around there. Furthermore, for the first time since I've started going to races with him, he placed!


I have a bit of a split personality on this. One side of me thinks it's completely amazing and unbelievable that someone I'm married to made it into the top 10 finishers of a race. The other part of me, highly influence by my...interesting...family, would say something like, "9th place is 8th loser."

You see what he has to live with?



Since we stayed so long after the race anyways for Angel to get his trophy, we decided to stay for the raffle, too. Most of the runners had already left by this point, which means that with 20 lucky-draw prizes to give away, they were pulling out number after number, but often without any response because the runner was already gone. Imagine our surprise when they called out: "M....1.....1....4!" for the Grand Prize--a bicycle! So not only did he finish 9th, but he also won a pretty sweet raffle prize!


He was so happy. During the ceremony, I'd said, "Even if you did win that bike, how would we fit it in the car and get it home?" I was skeptical that it could fit in our itty-bitty hatchback, but it actually did!

How many 10k races have you run? I'm keeping up a good record of 0. I don't know how many this is for Angel, but I don't think it's one of his favorite distances, so maybe only 5 or 6?

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Watch our race vlog to see all the action and find out what important item I accidentally left at home...

5-Minute Face Painting

Yesterday was one of those kind-of-crazy days. My parents were away, and I was helping out at my family's home. We were in the midst of a giant decluttering project, trying to clean out part of the apartment since we have a sister arriving on a visit from America in a couple days. In the midst of this project, my sisters kept stumbling upon craft supplies and games they'd forgotten they even had. At one point, Mom and Dad called in a quick assignment for me, I had to email them a document ASAP. I finished that task quickly and was about to tackle the next item on the list when a little tiger-faced boy wandered into the computer room.


It felt like I'd been out of the action only 5 minutes. But maybe it was 10, because by the time I had finished sending the document, I found that the 5 kids I'd left had been transformed into 3 tigers and 2 butterflies. MaryGrace had found an old face painting kit and had decided that 'now' was better that the promise of future fun later, and colored faces at such great speed that by the time I knew what was happening--it was done. (Beware, babysitters, this is what can happen in 5 minutes. Good thing MaryGrace herself is already a pretty responsible babysitter...)


They were so cute. Of course I had to run from my camera, and we had to take a break from work. We spent most of the break making funny faces in the mirror--there was something about having her face painting like a tiger which meant that Sarah couldn't resist from growling at all times. Our butterflies had some pretty fierce growls, too, which I'm not entirely sure is in character for butterflies.





In the end, the face paint had to come off eventually, and our happy little Josh sobbed when MaryGrace washed his face because he loved his stripes a little too much. Poor baby tiger. They're already asking, when can we do it again?

I was meeting a student shortly after this, so I didn't want to get my face all colorful, but maybe next time I'll join in, though I don't think tiger or butterfly is quite my style...my favorite animal is a jellyfish, which is not really conducive to face painting. I think I'd probably go for more of a masquerade mask-style design or more abstract fairy-esque patterns....

If you decided to let go of normal, busy, working life for an hour and paint your face, what would you paint it?

Lessons Learned from my First Year of Homeschooling

"First Year" depends on how you look on it. It could also be considered my 20th year of homeschooling, as homeschool has been a part of my life--either as student, sister-teacher, curriculum consultant, grading adviser, or something of that sort, my whole life. But this year was the very first one where I was the home educator - planning the days, making choices about what activities we would do and what we wouldn't, and actually doing all the work myself.



We're 'officially' starting our year of kindergarten, with new curriculum, next week (welcome to our homeschool, where school holidays don't exist and summer break doesn't matter).

Here's what I've learned:

1. It's a scary feeling to know that a little one's education rests on you. It's incredible how much the depth and breadth of learning matters for little kids. The environment in which they learn also matters: do they feel that it's safe, can they make mistakes? Will they follow instructions and guidelines but not at the expense of their natural creativity? Are they learning how to live well and get along with others? There's so much to learn when you're 4 years old, and it's a huge responsibility when you realize just how much you have to teach.

2. Patience is a virtue. There were times, early on in our preschool year, when I felt like they were never going to read, never going to be able to put the numbers 1-10 in order independently, never be able to distinguish a 6 from a 9. Guess what? That was just my brain being dramatically impatient. Some kids take no time at all to learn to read, others need their time, but they get there. To be able to stand back and see the progress these little ones have made in a school year is so, so cool to me. They just finished their 4th early reader book, they can put all the numbers from 1-20 in order independently, understand simple addition, find and name all the continents of the world on a map, and recognize their 3D shapes. They find sight words like "to" and "the" and "of" in the storybooks that I read to them...it's just so much fun to see how much they've grown since August.

3. Life skills and relational skills are just as important as the book learning. Every day, these little ones face relational situations involving sharing, forgiving, being kind, being helpful, etc. They argue with each other, but it makes me so happy when I see them encouraging each other for a job well done--when one of them does their handwriting practice very well and the letters fit the proper lines, she'll show it to the other one, and the other one will say, "Very good job!" and will draw a smiley face on the worksheet, indicating their approval. They help each other figure out their puzzles and tasks, and explain instructions to each other.

4. Field trips are powerful. And our apartment building is great for field trips. The park, playroom, library, and swimming pool are all within walking distance and are our most frequent field trips. When Angel's around and we have a car, we'll sometimes take more ambitious field trips, like outings to a further away park or the beach. The girls talk about those outings for weeks afterwards. We're making memories and real-life connections when we go on field trips, and they're definitely worth the time spent away from schoolwork.

5. Homeschool doesn't mean sitting right next to the kids at all times. I use games they can play independently to give me time to prepare food for lunch or tackle other housework. I need time to get other work done, and they need time to play in their own way. I'll give them a puzzle or a bunch of blocks and go hang up a load of laundry. They're old enough to not need supervision every single second, and that's very helpful. But other parts of school go much better with direct supervision. If I sit next to them while they do their handwriting, the handwriting always turns out ever so much neater than when they do it all by themselves--funny how that works...

6. Painting is always exciting. And as long as they're painting their papers on the tile floor...there's no mess worth worrying about, either. Watercolor is the best. I always see tempera paint used with little kids. I like watercolors better for them, though the colors aren't as vibrant, practical matters of drying and less mess matter more to me.

7. The alphabet gets boring after a while. We did the entire preschool year based on unit studies around all 26 letters, and now I'm tired of the alphabet. Kindergarten will incorporate an around-the-world theme with unit studies of different countries and that ought to be far more exciting! Angel's a flag collector and has already taught them to recognize all of the flags that he owns, but they'll be learning a lot more than just the flags of the world in the weeks to come.

8. I'm a bit lazy as a teacher--or as I like to call it--"efficient." I'm not really into high-prep activities that result in low amounts of learning and time spent between kids and activity. If I want them to make a mosaic/paper collage type activity, I'm not going to cut or rip up the paper for them ahead of time, I'll just let them rip it up themselves as the first step in the activity. I always seek out activities where they can do as much of the work as possible. I already know my preschool skills...they are the ones who need the practice!

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When I taught English to high schoolers in China, I thought that was the best job that could possibly exist for me. As far as actual jobs go, that one still is. However, this homeschooling gig comes pretty close to that one in the 'how much do I love it?' category.

Outfit Repeater





I think everyone's fashion choices tend to be a bit repetitive, and there's nothing in the least wrong with that...as long as we're repeating the looks we love again and again. With me, there's a lot of 'trends' you can expect to see me wearing year after year, mixed up a bit, perhaps, but those most beloved elements are still there in different incarnations.

Styles I love and am not likely to stop loving anytime soon:

- Tied-up button-ups
- Quirky earrings
- Wearing lots of rings at once
- Leggings
- Big bows tied around my waist
- Any shoelaces other than the original ones that came with the shoes. (I majorly <3 the mis-matching ones for this outfit.)
- Floral hairclips
- Sneakers
- Dresses. Particularly dresses with sleeves, and particularly anything with a fitted waist and a loose skirt...but really, dresses in general.
- Pattern mixing. Not in a strategic, planned way, just in a 'everything I'm wearing has patterns on it' kind of way.

My style is predictable, and I'm totally cool with that.

What styles do you keep going back to again and again?