Archive - April 2006

1
Baptism Day
2
All Present and Accounted For
3
Getting Ready for Company
4
Epilogue
5
20-20-20
6
That’s One Fat Baby!
7
We Didn’t Get Tickets!
8
Philip’s On a Mission
9
Some Thoughts About the Girl
10
Our Cup Runneth Over

Baptism Day

Event Number 1, Bip’s baptism is completed and was a great success. He was a little sweetheart all through church and didn’t make a sound at all during his baptism.  He just looked around and took it all in.  He is such an easy going little guy!  During the rest of church he got really silly.  He kept shaking his head no and raising his arms above his head as if to say "yay!"  We suspect Rebecca was there playing with him.  We know she was with us in the church.  We requested the song "On Eagles Wings" (the lyrics are at the end of this entry or click here to listen to it) and we sang it during communion. Pumpkin Girl started to cry as she started to feel sad about Rebecca.  We sang the song during Rebecca’s funeral, but it has such a joyous message and has such special meaing for our family. Pumpkin was comforted though at the thought of Rebecca "shining like the sun."

 

We had brought a cake to share with the congregation after mass and everyone came up to admire Bip’s cheeks.  My aunt Mary is Bip’s godmother and our neighbor/friend stood in as his proxy godfather.  Later we went to the "Slip Inn," a restaurant on the dock here on base.  They serve the "best fried chicken in Washington, DC."

We topped off the day with an impromptu night tour of the city’s monuments.  We didn’t get too lost and actually knew where we were most of the time.  Phil’s brother John got a great picture of the Washington Monument lit up and it’s reflection in the Reflecting Pool.  The best moment came when the Phil’s cell phone rang.  He put it on speaker phone and the whole car could hear that it was his mom.  She told him, in Chinese, "Philip, it’s getting late, it’s time to come home.  You and the boys are tired."  We all had a good laugh.  Wait til she finds out we had the baby in the car with us!  (He had the good sense to sleep through the whole thing.)

 

    ON EAGLES’ WINGS
    (Michael Joncas)

    You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord,
    Who abide in His shadow for life,
    Say to the Lord:"My refuge,
    My rock in whom I trust!"

        And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
        Bear you on the breath of dawn,
        Make you to shine like the sun,
        And hold you in the palm of His hand.

    The snare of the fowler will never capture you,
    And famine will bring you no fear:
    Under His wings your refuge,
    His faithfulness your shield.

        And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
        Bear you on the breath of dawn,
        Make you to shine like the sun,
        And hold you in the palm of His hand.

    You need not fear the terror of the night,
    Nor the arrow that flies by day;
    Though thousands fall about you,
    Near you it shall not come.

        And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
        Bear you on the breath of dawn,
        Make you to shine like the sun,
        And hold you in the palm of His hand.

    For to His angels He’s given a command
    To guard you in all of your ways;
    Upon their hands they will bear you up,
    Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

        And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
        Bear you on the breath of dawn,
        Make you to shine like the sun,
        And hold you in the palm of His hand.
        And hold you, hold you in the palm of His hand.

    Adaptation of Psalm 91. c1979, New Dawn Music

All Present and Accounted For

Well, everyone’s all here.  Phil’s parents and brothers, my parents, my grandma, aunt and cousin.  Nine extra people in total. They are not all staying at our tiny little house, though at some point today I expect them all to be here.  But the weather is nice and our gazebo gives us a whole extra "room" to sit in.  It’s kind of cool that so many of our family could come out to be with us this weekend – hardly anyone has ever visited us as we’ve moved around the world.  I wish some of them could have stayed longer though.  Washington, DC is so full of things to see that it is a shame that some of our guests are just flying in then flying out again.

 

Tonight is Bip’s baptism.  I found a very nice boy’s gown online which he just barely fits into with his fat little self.  I searched all over the internet and bought him the largest size I could find.  Each one of my children have their own gown. Looking back, each one expresses my personality in some different way.  My oldest wore my baptismal gown.  He was almost too big to wear it but he looked so cute.  I didn’t know better at the time, so I don’t have any formal pictures of him in it.  Pumpkin Girl, the next baby, has a very simple, very sweet gown with Battenburg lace.  Rebecca’s is extravagant.  She was such a sweet pouffy cloud!  It was all lace and very long.  Bip’s is simple and sweet, with a pointed collar and decorative buttons up the front.  It is also long.  Someday, when I get some spare time, maybe I will embroider each child’s initials on the slip of their gown.

Tomorrow we have a lull in activities.  We’re planning on brunch at the Officer’s Club.  We’ve never been to it here, but if it holds up to the standards of other brunches at other clubs, it will be quite the feast.

Monday is Philip’s promotion.  It may very well be his last promotion, but of course, that is all in God’s hands.  We did something silly with his cake, I’ll take a picture and share it later.  I wish his old battalion commander (and Rebecca and Bip’s godfather) was going to be here to see it.  I think he would have gotten quite a laugh.

Getting Ready for Company

Whew! We’ve been soooo busy getting ready for all our visitors that I have become a bad blogger. Not to mention our comcast high speed internet went to comcast no speed internet for 5 days…Anyway, I’m back.

The CHCH challenge has been a great blessing in trying to get ready for our family. To start the week, I check to see which rooms we’ll be working on. I turn to that page in the organizer and check off the tasks that I don’t need to take care of and write in the things I need to do that aren’t listed. I try to schedule in 2 15 minute blocks of time to work on my CHCH tasks each day. More than that and I have a hard time getting into it. But I can work for 15 minutes at a time and it is really amazing what I can do in that time. For some of the areas, I have less that I need to do so I work on other areas of the house. Other times I work on another room altogether. Because we are expecting 9 people this week, I really needed to work on our guest room, living room and backyard more than I need to take care of our bedroom. That’s ok, because when the backyard comes up on the CHCH calendar, I’ll be working on our bedroom.

Here’s the before picture of our front flower beds:

yardbefore.JPG

Everything green is a weed.

Here’s the after:

frontgarden.JPG

I’m not thrilled with the hose being there. Maybe I’ll move it to the backyard. But those are the petunias the children and I planted. Petunias are one of the only flowers I can grow, along with impatiens. I have also had success with tomato plants. I am the grim reaper to ivy and ferns.

Here’s the “after” for our backyard:

gazebo.JPG

We bought this gazebo at Target and Phil and the kids put it up in about 30 minutes. The picnic bench was made by the inmates at Ft Leavenworth and it converts into 2 benches. Since we put it up on Saturyday, I don’t think we’ve eaten one meal inside the house, including breakfast. I need to take an after after picture of this area. Phil moved those boxes on the right to another area.

Here’s one of the flower beds. I’m trying my hand at violas. I put in 2 varieties of cherry tomato plants for Charlotte plus some basil for me. I found the tomato plants covered with tiny little flying things today so I sprayed them with biodegradable soap and water. That should take care of them.

tomatoes.JPG

The dining room is completely unpacked and spring cleaned! Right now it’s my favorite room in the house.

diningroomleft.JPG

The bakers rack was also made by the Ft Leavenworth prisoners.

diningroomright.JPG

More pictures later. I have to take an after picture of the living room and today I’ll be finishing up the guest room. It’s my next favorite room.

Epilogue

My internet access was down for two days so I didn’t have a chance to add the ending to my math story.

After the neighbor boy came by asking for Boo to play, Boo sped through his chores, ate a tiny snack then sat right back down to complete his math. I saw him sitting there with his hands folded and asked him if he was praying about his math. He said yes and I offered to pray with him. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I mentioned how Jesus understood what it is like to be a 7 yo boy. He liked that. It makes him feel good to think of Jesus experiencing the same things he does. Except I bet He never had to fill in a hundreds chart.

Boo finished up his math with a cheerful attitude and with only a little help from me.

20-20-20

I’m a bad mother, I’ll admit it. I assigned the boy homework today. He got such an attitude over his math assignment! He has no intuitive math ability. None. He comes by it honestly, though. I am a Math Turkey. Phil is no better. Phil’s two brothers are engineers, obviously they got all the math brains and he got the language brains. So the genetic possibility of math prowness does exist in the family, Boo just didn’t get it. He can’t tell you what number comes before or after any given number. He struggles to count backwards. His standard answer has become “20.” Frequently his math assignment will be to fill in the missing numbers on a hundreds chart. It goes something like this:

Boo: 59…59…59…20?
Me: No Boo, 20 is over here after 19.
Boo: Ok, then what is it? (note the attitude!)
Me: Well, what comes after 9?
Boo: 10
Me: Good, so what comes after 59?
Boo: 50 10?
Me: Yes, and what do we call that?
Boo: 20?
Me: No, remember I told you we already used 20 back here after 19?
Boo: Yes.
Me: So the number after 59 wouldn’t be 20, would it?
Boo: No. Um. 60?
Me: Good! OK, keep going.

He continues filling in numbers. We repeat the same conversation at the 79.

Boo: 20
Me: No. Boo, “20” is only very rarely going to be the right answer. In fact, it’s only going to be the right answer if the question is “What comes after 19” or “what comes before 21”.

I may have to start charging him a nickle every time he says 20.

I always wondered how he’d do in math. Once when he was around 7 months old and I was an anxious first time mom, I read that all babies need to learn to cross crawl. This is an important skill that developes spatial reasoning and a bunch of other important mental abilities. Boo of course, held out on crawling until he was 10 months old. He had me quite worked up. I see now that this was more an indication of his personality. He wants to be able to do things quickly and right the first time. If he can’t, he gets angry and gives up. Phil’s brother John, the civil engineer, didn’t crawl either. MIL says he sort of scooted around on his rear. He’s now in charge of all the sidewalk in San Francisco, – so much for needing to crawl to get ahead in life. No pun intended.

We started out using Singapore Math. It sounded like the perfect program for a family of Math Turkeys. Singapore Math teaches mental math, a skill I just don’t have. I use calculator math or finger math. Mental math is so not there for me, that any time I have to calculate a tip, say for a haircut, I spend a good portion of the time leading up to the calculating of the tip having Math Anxiety. So back to Singapore Math…we were doing fine with it except that the boy was just not learning his math facts. Well, without them and given his lack of intuitive math knowledge, we hit a wall. We absolutely could go no further in our math assignments without him just knowing that 2 +2=4. So we switched to Horizons Math.

What a difference! We backed all the way up to about 1/4 of the way through the Kindergarten level and have really been building a great foundation of math. I love the way Horizons keeps reviewing and reviewing the same concepts over and over, moving on for a while, then returning. He’s actually learning and retaining things. He’s not quite so angry at math. Well, not usually.

Today, I got out our DK “Math Made Easy” book which we use to supplement – great book by the way- and opened to our assignment. He took one look – fill in the missing numbers and said, “ARGH!! Well it’s NOT going to be easy!” He then promptly filled in the wrong answers on purpose. We talked that through and he admited to doing it out of anger and to not even trying to get the right answer. We struggled like this, including a couple of “20” guesses. Finally, school time was over. He’d had such an attitude of “I refuse to do this correctly” and “Well then what is the answer?’ that it took him forever to work through a half a page. We needed to get on with our day. I told him to go get a snack, then do his chores, then return to his math during his free time. He actually had to tell his friend from next door that he couldn’t play until he’d finished his math.

See how mean I am?

That’s One Fat Baby!

Bip had a well baby appointment today.  Our Very Fat Baby is now 24.5 pounds at 8 months old, definitely our all time fattest baby.  He’s in the 96th percentile for weight.  Boo has never even gotten out of the 10th percentile, LOL!  So what are we feeding him?  It’s all breastmilk, baby!  Ok, a little bit of bananas or avocados at dinnertime.  Which is really funny to watch.  The avocados are usually cold from being in the fridge so he makes the funniest face when he gets his first bite.  But he comes back for more!  Feeding him during dinner has made our dinnertime much more pleasant.  He had been fussing and whining during dinner.  I guess he wanted his share.  Now I give him a bite, let him work on it for a bit while I eat, then feed him some more.  I also give him cheerios to play with.  He has yet to get them in his mouth, but they keep him busy.

 

Looking back over all our children, it is funny to see have we have grown and relaxed as parents.  I followed the perfect solids feeding timetable with Boo.  With each subsequent child I have delayed solids a little bit and each child has been easier to feed.  I never would have given Boo a cookie until after his first birthday, but Becca so enjoyed having a vanilla wafer with her siblings during snack time.  We also gave her shredded cheese when we ate at Taco Bell.

 

And Bip actually missed his 4 month and 6 month well baby checks.  I just got busy and he’s perfectly happy and healthy that it just fell through the cracks.  That’s also a difficulty of homeschooling, especially when your children are young.  Making an appointment for yourself or one child requires dad taking some time off, or dispersing the kids to the neighbors, many of which also homeschool.   But we made this appoinyment so we could do a weight check and adjust his meds (for VUR) according to his weight.  He’s right on track, even has stranger anxiety.

We Didn’t Get Tickets!

I woke up this morning around 5:30 and Phil was getting into bed. I literally did a double take, looking from him to the clock and back.

“What are you doing here?”

“They ran out of tickets.”

“What do you mean, they ran out of tickets?”

“The Park Police came by, handed out numbered programs and then they ran out. The last guy to get tickets arrived around 2:00, I got there at 2:45.”

The others in line around him were amazed, too. They had arrived at the same time in previous years and had gotten tickets. We got a great entrance time in 2002 when Phil got there at 2:30. What had changed this year?

We were very disappointed, of course. We’d already told the children about the Easter Egg Roll, had shown them the website, told them about Curious George…We never dreamed we wouldn’t get tickets. I had prayed it wouldn’t rain overnight while Phil was out there, I prayed for his safety, but I never thought to pray that we’d actually get tickets. As I was going back to sleep, I prayed, “Lord, why don’t you want us to have tickets for this?”

I got up this morning and did a google search, looking for an explanation. I found this:

We didn’t get tickets!!

I am so angry!!!

It’s not just the particular people involved. God loves them and sees them in a way I don’t. But they are trying to take over this very nice, non-political event in order to push their agenda. This event is open to everyone. Yes, it’s difficult to get tickets, so it’s ok to send a proxy, someone who is available to be in line over night, if you need to. And while it is legal to use modern technology to organize a group to stand in lines for others, it is definitely NOT COOL!!!

Phil and I were talking, at with even just 100 volunteers standing in line as proxies, that would have pushed him and others back enough to not get tickets. 100 people in line equals 500 tickets to the event. Even 20 volunteers in line in front of him would mean 100 tickets gone.

There are a limited number of tickets being given out on Monday, so we may try again.

But next year! We are going to sign up with these people and say we need tickets! Then we’ll show up, claim our tickets and t-shirts from them, toss the shirts in the trash and go roll us some Easter Eggs.

Is it very wrong to hope they get rained out on Monday?

Philip’s On a Mission

Tonight’s the night.  Philip is going to spend the night outside the White House.  It’s not job related and he’s not protesting anything, nor is he holding vigil.  He is on a Mission.  A Mission to Obtain Tickets to the 2006 White House Easter Egg Roll.  Now that we are back in the District, we have been looking forward to attending the annual Easter Egg Roll for several months.  We went in 2001, but it was cancelled because of rain. In  2002 we tried again and great fun was had by all.  The event is so popular that parents line up in the wee hours of the morning to get the free first-come, first-served tickets.  It’s surprisingly safe and the lined-up, cold and uncomfortable parents actually form a comraderie, an esprit-de-corps if you will, bonding through the night as they wait to get the highly sought after tickets.  At some point in the night, the Park Police usually show up and start handing out numbers to avoid late-comers trying to cut into the line.  Once the actual handing out of the tickets begins, the line moves quickly and the bleary-eyed, triumphant parents return home through rush hour traffic.

 

The actual Easter Egg Roll will be on the Monday following Easter.  There will be many free events open to the general public on the Ellipse.  Free Krispy Kreme donuts, all you can carry, is one of the highlights.  I’m hoping they are there this year!  Ticket holders line up according to the time on their tickets and are admitted to the White House South lawn.  In addition to the Easter Egg Roll itself, there are usually people like the First Lady and White House Chief of Staff there reading stories to the children.  There will be live entertainment (this year they are having AJ and Aly) and crafts, too. I read that Curious George, Clifford and Sasha Cohen (the ice skater) will be there, too.  I hope I don’t make a fool of myself trying to meet Sasha Cohen.  (It’s a good thing Michele Kwan won’t be there.  Young children might get hurt as I plowed through the crowd to see her.)   Once you’re on the lawn, you can stay as long as you want.  As you leave, you get handed a goodie bag and a poster.  The White House Easter Egg Roll poster is a collector’s item -we have ours framed and will get around to hanging them some day.  But the most highly sought after item in the bag is the wooden commemorative egg.  Watch for them on ebay – these free little eggs go for around $30.  How in the world somebody could sell his child’s egg on ebay…well, we won’t go there.

 

Anyway…tonight’s the night.  I hope it doesn’t rain.

Some Thoughts About the Girl

Pumpkin Girl  is so like me in ways that I don’t always care to admit.  She is a free spirit and very much has her own mind.  I certainly don’t want to change her, but I know from experience that those traits will sometimes land her in trouble.  Right now we are working on her accomplishing her chores.  Boo, who is a very task oriented, get the job done so we can move on to better things kind of guy, is doing will with his ChorePack. Pumpkin on the other hand, flits through her chores like a little fairy, a little bit here and a little bit there.  Instead of turning her chorepack in when it’s finished, I have sometimes found it on her bed, still on chore #2, even though she claims all the chores are done.  I have reviewed with her how the chorepacks work and how she’s supposed to use them.  She completely understands and can show me she knows what to do.  But then the next day, she’s flitting around again, not getting anything done.  So now I wear her chore pack.  She finishes one chore, hands the chore card to me and I give her the next one.  It’s an inconvenience for her, especially when her chores are upstairs and I’m downstairs.  Our goal is to ultimately wean both children off the chorepacks.  I think Boo is almost there, but I bet he’ll want to keep using his – he likes the check list aspect.  When Pumpkin can demonstrate that she can accomplish her chores correctly in the time alloted,  I will be able to loosen up a bit.  I want her to be able to accomplish her chores in her own way, as long as the end result is her chores being completed.  Someday she’ll be able to go in to her room and put her things away in what ever order she chooses.  It’ll be good for her to have that responsibility.

 

Training our children to do chores is such an important responsibility for a parent.  Children need to learn to be productive members of a family and to take care of themselves and their home.  The goal is to raise responsible adults who can function in the world.  Chores aren’t always fun, but they don’t have to be.  Everyone in the family has their own jobs to do to keep the home running.  At the ages my children are at, I insist the chores are done "my" way.  Soon enough they will find their own ways of doing things and that will be ok too.  As long as the floor is swept, it doesn’t matter to me if they start in the kitchen or the entrance way.  We are also learning that a job done quickly but poorly takes much longer because it will need to be redone.

 

My desire is that by training my children early, good habits will become second nature to them.  They will see the benefit of doing their work consistently and well and become used to an orderly, peaceful environment.  I hope they carry these lessons with them for a lifetime instead of having to learn them as an adult the way I did.

Our Cup Runneth Over

My children have too many toys.  I have tried and tried to help them manage their stash but to only limited success.  We have 2 shelving units with toys bins, brightly labeled for their convenience.  Most of the time this works, but the bins are all full, almost overflowing.  A large trashcan holds a hobby horse, swords, and "boom whackers" (fun noodles cut in half to whack each other with – thanks, Phil!).  They have a little kitchen, complete with a whole box of play food and dishes, 2 boxes of legos/mega blocks, a box of dress up clothes, a bin of crafts, puzzles, dress up jewelry and on and on and on.  We won’t even address the plethora of stuffed animals living in my daughter’s bed.  That’s a whole ‘nuther problem.  So what to do?  We’ve tried purging the toys.  That didn’t even make a dent.  It’s time to be creative.  When all the broohaha from Phil’s upcoming promotion is over and all our guests have gone home, I’m going to tackle this problem.  My plan is to empty out the closet in the playroom and move one of the toy bin shelves in there.  The children will be able to select which toys they want to play with each week, those will stay in the room.  The others will go into the closet and the closet locked up.  Each week they can "check out" the weeks’ toys from the toy library.  For a toy bin to come out, another toy bin must go in.  I think I may even stick a post it note on each bin in the closet with the date on it.  Toys not checked out in 4 weeks will be moved outside for another 4 weeks.  At the end of that 4 weeks, any toys not asked for will be donated.  This will make more room to play in, plus give us a better perspective on which toys are really played with.   

 

I sound pretty calm about this whole thing don’t I?  Dh just sent me downstairs after we saw the mess each child made of their rooms during the quiet time.  I took one look, started to say something and he said, "go downstairs, I’ll handle it."  This is because I already spent the greater part of the day helping my daughter find a dress.  She came down for breakfast wearing longsleeves and I told her to change to short sleeves today.  She said she didn’t have any and I asked her about her new "bee happy" dress.  She said it’s not in her drawer.  The last time anyone saw this dress was when she had gotten it wet by playing outside after it rained.  She came in to change and the dress hasn’t been seen since.  That was a laundry cycle and a half ago.  We turned her bedroom upside down looking for it today.  I told her no more new clothes until she finds it.  Dh thinks she should still be allowed to wear her Easter dress on Sunday.  I disagreed because this is just another lost item in a long line of her things.  But I gave in and decided instead to charge dd the price of the dress, plus no new clothes until the dress is found.  I already knew a big box of Hannah Andersson clothes was being delivered today.  Cute stuff, too, including the sandals for her Easter dress.  Until she can learn, I’m just going to keep confiscating the toys she leaves out or puts away incorrectly. Last night she lost a whole bag full of toys and just now I took away a pair of shoes, 2 pairs of socks and book after she insisted that all of her things were out of the living room. She knows what to do, it’s just disobedience or laziness on her part. Sometimes I feel like taking Dr. Phil’s suggestion and just stripping their rooms down the bare minium, sheets, pillows and a blanket and make them earn every single thing back.  The only problem is, where to put it all in the meantime.

 

Sigh.  I’m going to check the mail.  Maybe my Sonlight catalog will finally be here.  I think I’m the last person in the US to get one.

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