Archive - August 2008

I Kicked a Smurf
Cautiously Optimistic
My Favorite Topic
Olympic Love
La Brea Tar Pits
Boo Was a Preschool Drop-out
Top Men
Bip Turns 3
Oh Mary
Allergies and Earthquakes

I Kicked a Smurf

I kicked a smurf because I think I need some serious help.

Before you start staging an intervention and send me off to Smurf Kickers Anonymous or making jokes about me being the size of a smurf, let me explain.

I found this silliness over at Many Little Blessings and it cracked me up so much that I had to share it.  So tell me, what’s your sentence?

Pick the month you were born:

January——-I kicked
February——I loved
March——–I karate chopped
April———-I licked
May———-I jumped on
June———-I smelled
July———–I did the Macarena with
August——–I had lunch with
September—-I danced with
October——-I sang to
November—–I yelled at
December—–I ran over

Pick the date (number) you were born on:

1——-a birdbath
2——-a monster
3——-a phone
4——-a fork
5——-a snowman
6——-a gangster
7——-my mobile phone
8——-my dog
9——-my best friends’ boyfriend
10——-my neighbor
11——-my science teacher
12——-a banana
13——-a fireman
14——-a stuffed animal
15——-a goat
16——-a pickle
17——-your mom
18——-a spoon
19—— – a smurf
20——-a baseball bat
21——-a ninja
22——-Chuck Norris
23——-a noodle
24——-a squirrel
25——-a football player
26——-my sister
27——-my brother
28——-an ipod
29——-a surfer
30——-a llama
31——-A homeless guy

Pick the color of shirt you are wearing:
White———because I’m cool like that.
Black———because that’s how I roll.
Pink———–because I’m crazy.
Red———–because the voices told me to.
Blue———–because I’m sexy and I do what I want.
Green———because I think I need some serious help.
Purple———because I’m AWESOME!
Gray———-because Big Bird said to and he’s my leader.
Yellow——–because someone offered me 1,000,000 dollars.
Orange——–because my family thinks I’m stupid anyway.
Brown———because I can.
Other———-because I’m a Ninja!
None———-because I can’t control myself!

Cautiously Optimistic

It feels like Fall.

It’s 71 degrees, it’s the end of August, it’s Washington, DC.  Very strange.  I’m not complaining, mind you.  I’m enjoying it very much!  The lower temperatures really invigorate me and I can feel my energy levels increasing.  Or maybe it’s the caffeine from the first cup of coffee I’ve had in months.

We school year round but we are far from immune to the New School Year frenzy.  Every organization we are affilitated with is doing sign-ups, leadership meetings and planning sessions right now.  Next Wednesday, I need to be in three different places at the same time.  I’m good, but I’m not that good.  Yet.

I’m still waiting to hear which soccer team they put Boo on and when he will practice.  The details of our Catholic homeschool group have been hammered out, our secular homeschool group has a sign up day next week.  I’ve got to register Pumpkin Girl for ballet, finish planning the Brownie year and try to adjust to a schedule that may include both piano and guitar lessons.

WHY do people ask homeschoolers about socialization?  If anything, we are over socialized.

I like the way our year is shaping up, though.  All of our away from home activities will be in the afternoon, giving me every single morning to get school done. That’s a big relief from the somewhat scattered way we had to do things last year.

Bonus good news: The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a colder than usual winter.

I’m such a complainer, but right now I am happy to say (albeit cautiously) that things are really looking good.

So how about you?  Homeschooler or not, how is your year shaping up?

My Favorite Topic

Chores.  It’s one of my favorite topics.  No, really – it is.  Not too long ago I was a chore flunkie.  I had some vague notions of my children doing chores that involved chore charts that worked only as long as I remembered to use them.  I had no real idea of what chores they should do, what chores they were capable  of or what my end goal was.  In other words, I was clueless.

I was surprised to find that others were equally as clueless as I was.  We wanted to do better, but didn’t know how.

Then I stumbled upon Managers of Their Chores by Teri Maxwell.  It changed my life.  I now have a chore system in place that is reliable, easy to modify and has cut the chore nagging down to almost nothing.  All my chore system questions were answered!

I love this book so much that I reviewed over at The Homeschool Classroom.  Stop on by and read more about how Managers of Their Chores changed my life.  And leave comments!  I love comments!

Oh – the first link takes you to the blog, the second link takes you directly to my post.

Olympic Love

So the Olympics are over. Did you watch?   My favorite part was watching Boo become the Ultimate Olympic Fan. These are not the first Olympics he’s seen, but these are the first that he’s really gotten into and understood. Four years ago Boo, Pumpkin Girl, Becca and I watched them live during the day from our living room in Korea. None of them were really all that interested, but our house wasn’t that big, so they all stayed and watched with me.

Two years ago we were back in the States and we had to watch the Winter Olympics during prime time. They aired way past our children’s bedtime and we didn’t bother recording them.

But this year something was different for Boo. Our studies of ancient Greece weren’t too long ago and he could still tell me the origin of the marathon, along with some key points about the original Olympic games. We watched the opening ceremonies as a family and he begged us to record the end for him when he went to bed. For the rest of the games, it became standard for him to watch for a while, then for us to record. He’d watch the tape during his free time in the day.

He became instantly enamored of swimming and was equally fascinated by diving. He made himself a flag that he used to cheer on Team USA. He cheered whole heartedly and a bit too loudly for Michael Phelps and just about fell off the couch during that amazing 4x100m relay. He was disappointed over the US women’s gymnastics team silver medal, couldn’t decide if he like Nastia or Shawn better (he eventually decided on Shawn) and was ready to lead an official protest over Shawn’s loss of the floor exercise gold medal. By the end of the first week, he’d worn out his flag.

He was actually pretty bummed out about his flag, but I pointed out that there was a whole other week left and he could make a whole new flag for the second week.

He was less enthused over track and field. He said it was too hard to keep track of everybody. Fortunately he was very into volleyball and diving, so he had plenty of opportunities to wave his flag.

He can tell you all about the “Disappearing Debbie”, why the French should keep their mouths shut, and what it means to “stick the landing.”

We were at the store the other day and Boo saw a magazine with Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson on the cover. He was so excited to see them and referred to them by name. To his joy, Michael Phelps was in a smaller picture on the cover, too! I was about to buy the magazine for him when I realized it was an “Us” magazine and was also full of other celebrity news that would have been inappropriate. I’ll have to keep my eye out for some kind of special Olympic wrap-up magazine. If anyone sees one- let me know!

I really enjoyed Boo enjoying the Olympics. His enthusiasm was contagious and he was so cute waving his flag and chanting “USA, USA.” Bip even got involved when Pumpkin Girl made him his own cheering flag and he would chant, “Go SA!”

So I asked him if he’s looking forward to the Winter Olympics in 2010.  “Oh yeah!” he said.  “Who’s not? And I’ve already got my flag!”

La Brea Tar Pits

After a wonderful visit with my grandparents and extended family, it was time to head north to my hometown. We let my grandpa feed us one more breakfast, then off we went. On our way we stopped at La Brea Tar Pits.

Once upon a time, this one particular spot in the Los Angeles area had tar seeping out of the ground. Rain would collect on top of the tar, giving the illusion that it was a lake or pond. Animals would stop for a drink and get trapped in tar. Often, other predatory animals would hear the distressed animal and move in for the kill. Then those animals would get stuck in the tar. In recent times, these tarpits have been excavated and the bones of the trapped animals were removed, sorted and cataloged. I thought it was all rather cool and haven’t actually been to the tarpits since the very early 70s. I don’t even remember, but I have a post card to prove it.

OK, I looked all over for my postcard. I know I kept it, but it’s not in my box of paper treasures from my childhood. I’m very disappointed that it’s missing. But it looked exactly like this picture that I took:

When we first got there we could smell the tar right away. It was a hot day and it smelled like a newly made asphalt road. The biggest tar pit is the one shown in the picture and has a trapped mama mastadon calling to her baby and her mate. It made Pumpkin Girl very sad, so we like to pretend that the mama was actually able to get out of the tar and rejoin her family. Even though in real life she would have been stuck for good. And of course, it’s just a model and not real and nobody’s mama mastodon is currently stuck in the tar…but Pumpkin is sensitive like that, so what can you do?

“Mama, mama!”
Ok, enough, now even I’m getting sad!

See, how the tar actually looks like water? Except that every so often hot tar would come bubbling up. And it smelled like tar.

The tarpits themselves are free to visit. They are just out there and you can walk around and take pictures. There’s a small museum to visit, which we did.

Here’s one of the coolest things that happened – when we were paying for admission, Philip asked, as he always does, if they had a military discount. Most places it’s 10% off. Occasionally it’s free admission for the military member. This time our entire family got in free! Philip showed them his military ID and the guy thanked him for serving. Can you believe it? How unbelievably cool was that? So thank you, La Brea Tar Pits, we appreciate your appreciation.

The first thing we did in the museum was to watch the short introduction movie. It set the scene for what we were about to see. Then onward into the rest of the museum.

Boo and Pumpkin Girl tried to pull iron rods out of a pit of tar. You could see how difficult it would be free even one limb once you got stuck in the tar.

Pumpkin and Boo in front of the fossil bones of a mama mastadon and her baby that perished together in the pits. “Mama, mama!” No, let’s just not go there.

Bip liked this wooly mammoth that was also found in the pits.

Part of the museum was an area where you can observe scientists were working on more of the newly discovered fossils. Each scientist had a little sign telling you what kind of fossils they were working on.

We had a lot of fun at the tar pits and if you’re in the LA area, I’d recommend going. The whole visit only took a couple of hours, so it’s easy to tag on if you’re on your way someplace else. It occupies the same block as the LA County Museum of Art if you want to make a longer day of it.

Whatever you do, do not pretend to make the baby mastadon say,”bye bye, mama.” Not that anybody’s daddy did that or anything.

Boo Was a Preschool Drop-out

Did you know my oldest boy was a preschool drop-out?

Yes, it’s true.  Seven years ago, I was fairly new to the parenting world, with a soon-to-be 3 year old boy and an 8 month old baby girl. My Boo was what I called a “Velcro baby”, meaning that he clung to me like the familiar hook and loop tape. When we had to be separated, you could almost hear the ripping. He was a non-stop mover and talker who just loved to be with his family.

So I did what every sensitive, loving mother would do – I put him in preschool.

For the rest of the story and to find out how I started homeschooling, check out my post on the Homeschool Classroom.

Top Men

Do you remember the end of the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? Indiana Jones is trying to figure out what happened to the Ark. Two Army Intelligence men tell him they’ve got “top men” working on it. “Who?” he demands. “Top men,” they answer.

My Army Intelligence husband will neither confirm nor deny that he knows where the Ark is. He will also neither confirm nor deny whether he is one of the Army’s top men.

I don’t know what to think. He had a meeting today in downtown DC with some scary government agency. He even got dressed up in his more formal uniform. No pixilated camouflage for this meeting. I can’t tell you the name of the agency, but I can tell you it’s initials are FBI.

Top men.


Bip Turns 3

Bip turns 3 today!  Now we have to pay for him to get into Disneyland.  No matter, we’re so happy to have him along, at Disneyland and anywhere, any day!

Happy Birthday, Bip!
We are so glad you are our son!

Oh Mary

I know where all the angels and saints in heaven were yesterday. They were crowded into the pew in front of ours as we attended mass for the Assumption of Mary.

We’ve been singing the “Hail Mary” portion of the song “Hail Mary: Gentle Woman” every night for a couple of months now. Very-soon-to-be 3 year old Bip loves this song and never lets us forget to sing it.

When the song was announced during mass, I leaned over and whispered into his ear, “This is the ‘Oh Mary’ song.” He got very excited and when it was time, he sang out in his sweet, clear toddler voice.

“Oh Marweee, full of gwace,
The Lord is wit you.
Bwessed are you ‘moung women,
And bwessed is the fwoot of your womb,

Oh Marwee, Mudder of God…”

His big eyes were lit up and he was smiling. I have no doubt that Our Lady herself, with our own sweet Becca and all the saints and angels came to hear him sing. I’m sure they were smiling, too.

Allergies and Earthquakes

So, back to my vacation.

The day after the Aquarium of the Pacific, we spent the day with my grandparents.  My grandpa made us a huge breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon and toast.  My grandpa always overfeeds us.  I love it!

California was uncharacteristically cool during our visit, but because my 4 year old cousin was also there, my grandparents brought out the small inflatable pool.  Much fun was had, especially since my grandma hooked one hose up to her garage sink and the pool had warm water.  Great-grandchildren get special treatment, I tell you.  I don’t remember her giving us warm water when I was a kid.

Earlier in the day, though, I was in the living room my children.  Philip was out in the front yard, talking to his brother on the phone.  I was playing Uno with Boo and Pumpkin Girl and Bip was happily playing cars on the floor.  I had my back to Bip as I faced the other children during our card game.

I felt and heard a little rumbling.  I’m used to that, living right across the river from an airport.  But this rumbling increased and the house was actually moving.  I realized what was going on!  The picture of calm, I stood up, grabbed Boo and Pumpkin by their arms, told them, “We’re having an earthquake” and hauled them to the nearest doorway.  I told them to just stand there.  The rumbling continued and as it settled down, who should appear at my side, but Bip.

I had forgotten my baby.

I left him to fend for himself.   Good thing he likes being with us so much that he just followed where we went.

All was well.  The phone rang several times as my aunts, mother and cousin called to check in.  We watched the news and discovered that the earthquake registered 5.4 and was centered in Chino Hills.

We settled down, had lunch and then it was time for Bip’s nap.

I put him down in my aunt’s bedroom.  He’d been in this room often and had pet her cat that lives there.  He’s spent lots of time in other houses with cats and even chased down and pet those cats.  He’s never had any sort of reactions.

Well, he was falling asleep, then was woken up by a loud noise outside and then tried to get back to sleep.  When he’s very tired he rubs his face into something soft, usually me.  This time he rubbed his face into the blanket.  A few minutes later he was rubbing his eyes incessantly.  I told him to stop and go to sleep and he told me his eyes hurt.  They were red from the rubbing, or so I thought.  He just kept rubbing and then I saw they were swelling.  I whisked him away and put him in my grandma’s room.  I hoped that removing him from the allergen would stop the reaction.  Nope.  His eyes just kept swelling  until finally I realized it was time for Benedryl.  I keep it with me in my purse, usually against bug bites.  Fortunately he chewed it up readily, probably because I had a chocolate chip cookie chaser waiting for him.

Poor little guy!  He didn’t even look like himself anymore!  The Benedryl stopped the swelling, but it took him until mid-morning the next day for it to go completely away.

Right now we have no idea what caused that reaction.  Was it cat dander?  Is it possible that he never had enough cat contact to trigger a reaction before this?  Could it have been him rubbing his face right into the blanket? It had been washed but the cat had access to  it.  Or could it be something else, like the detergent used?  It’s definitely worth having him tested for.

An usual day to be sure.  Mystery allergies and earthquakes – who’d a thunk it?

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