Archive - October 2008

I Don’t Know Why I’m Here
History Geek
Catching Up
The Scarf Issue Resolved
The Scarf Debate
Monuments on Monday
Almost 10
For the Love of Books
Coffee Mug Memories


Ten years ago Philip and I became parents for the first time. Our little Boo arrived in the wee hours of the morning, crying loudly.  He’s never been quiet since.  He even talks in his sleep.

He’s not so little anymore!  From that high needs, clingy baby, to a perpetually in motion toddler,  head strong little boy, he’s now a fun, smart, funny – very funny – young man. I’m proud to call him my son.

So to the one who started it all, Happy Birthday, Boo!  May God bless you and keep you safe today and always.

I Don’t Know Why I’m Here

Don’t worry, I’m not getting all existential on all y’all.  I’m not navel gazing or pondering the meaning of my exisitence.  I know exactly why I’m Here: To keep my children from killing each other.

What I’m actually wondering is why I’m here, at the computer.  I’ve got a to-do list that’s really long and some of it needed to be done last week, a good portion needs to be done by tomorrow and in 9 days we’re all going to Disney World.

Yes, indeed we did go on a Disney Cruise just last year.  And uh, yeah, Disneyland the year before that.  Almost 2 years to the day that we’re leaving for this trip.  What?  Obsess over the Mouse much? Why do you ask?

And in between now and then, I have a million things to do.

Like finish my article on Martinmas and the one on planning for year round school for the Homeschool Classroom.

Prep for the lantern project I foolishly said I’d teach the day before we leave.

Make sure my Brownie co-leader and my substitute are prepared for the meeting while I’m gone.  Oh yeah, and I should probably tell my substitute that she’s subbing for me. (Hi Tami!)

Figure out which MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation office) to buy the Disney tickets at.

Wrap Boo’s birthday presents.  I accidentally sent him to deliver clean sheets to the guest room where his birthday presents are “hiding.”  Probably in plain view, once you enter the room.  Of course the Boy can’t find the nose on his face, so chances are he didn’t see the presents.  Oh well.

We’ll be carving pumpkins at some point, too.

And there’s the Cub Scout pack meeting, in costume, tonight.

At least Boo’s birthday cake is finished and I remembered to order Bip some more pants from Land’s End with my free shipping coupon.

Actually, I do know what I’m doing here.  I’m hoping that list takes care of itself.

History Geek

I’m a bit of history geek, I admit it.  I love to watch history documentaries and read historical novels.  I’m loving reading history to Boo and Pumpkin Girl.  And I love making timelines with them.

I got a little crazy when I saw the products over at Homeschool In the Woods.  I even bought a timeline book for myself.

To read more about my timeline madness, including reviews of some of the Homeschool In the Woods products and how I use timelines in our homeschool, please visit me over at the Homeschool Classroom: Using Timelines to Teach History.

Also, we’re having a little give away over there this week.  Click over to this article specifically – $25 Gift Certificate Giveaway – for information on how to enter.

Catching Up

I have been more or less intentionally neglecting my blog.  Fall is such a busy time for our family, but I love Fall so much that I like to spend my free time just enjoying the weather.  So that equates to less time on the computer and alas, a neglected blog.

I got a chance to meet up with my friend Shanti at our knitting store yesterday.  I don’t know about the rest of the world, but the economy was alive and well in Old Town Alexandria!  Both my go-to parking lots were full, our usual restaurant was full and we were fortunate enough to find another one with only a short wait.

I did find myself in a bit of a dog-dislikers hell as we left Starbucks in the middle of doggy trick or treating.  It was cute in a sort of, stay over there and don’t even think about licking me kind of way.

Did you catch that – I went to Starbucks.  For the first time ever.  I tried their Pumpkin Spice Latte in order to compare it with mine and you know what…my recipe is better!  Theirs was sweeter, which is remedied by more sugar in mine, but theirs also had a sort of artificial flavor, which I suspect came from the syrup they used.  My recipe calls for real pumpkin and real spices and now I’m thinking about turning that pot of leftover coffee into a pumpkin latte.  mmm

So onward to the knitting store where we camped for about 2 1/2 hours and knit and knit and knit.  It seemed like I made no progress on Boo’s never ending scarf, but I think that’s just the way of it with scarves.  You knit forever and then suddenly it’s long enough and it’s done.

I also worked a bit on this:

It’s a going to be a bag, despite the fact that it looks suspiciously like a halter top.

Upon returning home, I got everyone ready for our last trip to Boo at the Zoo.  We loaded our two knights (one medieval and one Jedi) and our princess into the car, arrived with time to spare and rejoiced in the mild temperature.  Last year we half froze to death, even with gloves on.  This year was much better and Bip was so much fun to watch as he totally got the whole open your bag for candy thing!  Our strategy of buying tickets for the last night of the event paid off once again as we hit up the vendors trying to unload the boxes of goodies still left at the end of the night.  We each got multiple handfuls of Bip’s favorite organic granola bars.  And by the time we were ready to head home there was no line at the Good Humor truck, as opposed to the huge one earlier, so we enjoyed a final free treat on the way out.

Of course, good homeschooling mother that I am, I gave my children pop quizzes along the way.  Boo was able to correctly identify which system we were traveling through after being “eaten” by the giant tiger, and told me what kind of knight was giving out candy.  The answers were the digestive system and the knight was a crusader as identified by his red cross on the white field.

Pumpkin Girl dazzled the zoologist at the bird station with her knowledge of all things avian.

And this morning during school, we all remarked at the quintessential Fall weather – dark and gloomy, with the wind literally howling through our windows.  A perfect day for hot chocolate!  And as I sit here typing, the outside temperature has dropped from 50 degrees to 44.  Brr!

Sadly though, Boo has soccer practice today and it’s bound to be even colder by then.  The howling wind isn’t going to be nearly as romantic while I’m forced to sit on a cold metal bleacher.

Unless I bring along a homemade pumpkin spice latte.

The Scarf Issue Resolved

OK, so I am practically alone with my unmatched scarf, hat and coat combo.  Do I get any credit for at least having a somewhat neutral blue winter coat? At least no one called Stacy and Clinton over my pink clogs.  That would make me cry.

So my theory on this whole matchy-matchy scarf-coat thing was that if you grew up someplace where a coat and scarf was a matter of daily survival, then you were more likly to match them.  If you’re going to have to wear a coat and a scarf every single day, then you’ve got to look good doing it.

On the other hand, I theorized, if you grew up where a jean jacket was all you needed all winter, then a scarf was a superfluous accessory.  You might choose any ol’ scarf that struck your fancy, since you weren’t actually going to wear it with a coat or anything.  Ah, the days of the turtleneck layered with a sweatshirt, cute scarf around the neck!  And that was because my high school had no interior hallways.  All classrooms opened up to the outdoors, where one might freeze walking to and from classes on a 60 degree January day without that scarf.

What I hadn’t counted on was the Southerners weighing in on my highly scientific study.  Of course those now living in colder climates would match their scarves and coat.  Being well coordinated is bred into Southerners.  Just don’t tell them about the white sandals I was wearing during last week’s Indian Summer.

So I guess I’m going to have to get more coats, like my friend Shanti, who grew up in California like me, but who can now be spotted on The Hill with a matching scarf and coat.  Yes, I think that’s my answer.  More winter coats for me!  Must do my part to stimulate the economy.

The Scarf Debate

I didn’t really want to get into politics on my blog, but an important issue has been brought up and it cannot be ignored.

When purchasing or making a hat or scarf, do you coordinate it to the color of the jacket it’ll be worn with?

Hanging preposition and all, this is serious stuff.

My neighbors and I were sitting around knitting, like all good Christian mothers are wont to do on a late Friday afternoon, when one mentioned matching a scarf to match her daughter’s jacket.  I’d never heard of such a thing, and neither did the other ladies in the room.

Now I will admit that it might be a cute idea, a pink scarf to match a pink coat, but I wouldn’t deliberately try to match them.  In our family, we buy children’s winter coats in gender neutral colors like blue and red so that they can handed down from boy to girl to boy.  I knit scarves based on the preferences of the child – an alligator scarf for Bip, a white one with multi-colored fleck for Pumpkin Girl and a blue and red striped one for Boo.

Philip is in possession of the Boyfriend Scarf, a multi-year, multi-boy project that deserves a post of its own.

So I am fascinated about the act of going out with willful intent to match a scarf and hat to a coat.  Of course, I wear a blue coat with a pink scarf and a Roots Olympic Beret.  I also wear pink Hanna Andersson clogs regardless of what color I’m wearing, so what do I know?

So what say you all?  Do you coordinate your scarf or hat color to your coat color?  And in which state did you grow up?  I’ve got a theory about this.

Monuments on Monday

We’ve been doing this for a while now, going off to see the sights of DC on a Monday holiday.  Our plan is always to leave the house around 9 AM to have the best selection of parking and our strategy did not fail us today.  Our destination was to see the last of the monuments on the National Mall that we’ve missed.  Those included the Jefferson, FDR, Lincoln, Korean War and WW2 Memorials.

No matter what you do, the Jefferson Memorial is out by itself, but we thought that with some walking, we could manage not to have to move the car.  We parked on Ohio St and W Basin Dr, which ended up being almost exactly where the FDR memorial was located.  Sadly, it’s not really visible from the street, so we didn’t know how close we were until the end of the day and had backtracked at bit to find it.  So learn from us!

The first thing we saw when getting out of the car was Robert E. Lee’s house in Arlington Cemetery, sitting there majestically on a hill, overlooking the Potomac.  What a spectacular view he had.

(click on any of the pictures to enlarge them)

Our first stop was the FDR Memorial.  It’s very well done and nicely tucked into the trees along the tidal basin.  It’s different from most of the DC monuments because it is a series of “rooms” which depict the events of FDR’s terms in office.  Make sure you start at the beginning of the memorial, near the corner of Ohio St and W Basin Dr. so that you see the rooms in order.  Pick up a brochure there at the beginning so you can read a little about what each room is about.

The free brochure only gave a one or two line explanation of each room.  There is so much symbolism in the water and the large rocks all around the monuments that I would have liked to have learned more about.  Philip had seen a documentary on the memorial and was very helpful in pointing things out.

Our next stop was the Jefferson Memorial, known in our family as the Big Eraser.  That’s because most of the time we see it is from the freeway, with the Washington Monument or the Big Pencil, in the background.

The Jefferson Memorial doesn’t get as many visitors because of it’s remote location.  Not many people were there with us, so we enjoyed the peace and quiet and the cool, marble seats in the rotunda.

The next leg of our excursion was the longest.  We’d parked the car at the halfway point between the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials and now had to walk all the way the far end of the Mall where the Lincoln Memorial is located.

Just past the steps to the left of the Lincoln Memorial is the Vietnam Memorial.  We chose to skip this one since the symbolism would be mostly lost on our children.  We chose instead to visit the Korean War Memorial which is just to the right of the Lincoln Memorial  (that’s with Lincoln behind you).  Since our family spent 2 years deployed to South Korea in the name of peace keeping, this memorial is near and dear to our hearts.

And now we were more than ready for lunch.  In between the Korean War memorial and the Lincoln Memorial is a place to grab a highly non-nutritious and overly priced lunch.    We’ve not had luck with packing our lunches on our excursions and our lunches have ended up a smashed, wilted mess at the bottom of our backpack.  So we just buy something along the way.  So much is free in DC, so it makes it easier to sign over your paycheck for lunch.

After lunch we continued down the Mall along the Reflecting Pool to the World War 2 memorial.  Their brochure does a much better job explaining the various elements. The whole thing is very beautiful with all its water and marble.

I found this tucked into a corner of the memorial.  If you visit, see if you can find it too!

Now it was time to head home.  From the WW2 memorial, we headed up Independence to W Basin.  The two streets meet right where this hidden monument is.

We were walking down W Basin towards where we guessed our car was parked was when we found the entrance to the FDR Memorial.  We popped in to the bookstore which we’d skipped earlier and it was on the way out that we saw our car parked directly across the street.  At the end of the day we were very glad to find our car so close!

We had a great day!  The weather was beautiful and we’d been looking forward to seeing these monuments for a long time!  Now that we’re in our last 9 months of our assignment, we need to make sure we don’t leave without seeing all the sights.

OK, so here’s my tips.

This whole excursion took about 5 hours, that’s with a 7 and 9 year old and the 3 year old in the stroller.  DC is stroller friendly, but try to use a lightweight, umbrella stroller that is easy to maneuver.  Because of the holiday, we were able to park our car without worrying about the time restrictions.  The weather was mild and the humidity was low, so all the walking was not an issue.  We packed water bottles and snacks to keep us going.   Try to park near to where Ohio St and W Basin intersect; if you get there before 10 AM on a holiday, there is plenty of parking.  Make sure that you approach the FDR Memorial from its entrance near W Basin.

Another option for seeing these particular monuments is to go from the FDR Memorial right to the Lincoln, which is differently than how we did it. Have a snack near the Lincoln, then go on to the Vietnam War and Korean War Memorials.  Stop for lunch at the refreshment stand near the Korean War Memorial, or pack your own and eat at any one of the many park benches around.  From there, head down to the WW2 Memorial.

Now return to your car and drive South on Ohio (keep the Jefferson on your left).  Just as you pass the Jefferson and go under the freeway, you’ll see 3 parking lots marked “Memorial Parking”.  They are free and they were each about half empty as we passed them.  Parking there will make your walk to the Jefferson much shorter.  However, do not try to park there first thing in the morning, see the memorial, then try to move your car closer to FDR and other monuments.  If you try that, you will probably not find parking.  Either park where I recommend and walk the whole thing as we did, or move your car to the lots I mentioned and see the Jefferson last.

This map was helpful in our planning. I got it map here, but I’ve labeled it with the street names I mentioned so it makes more sense.

Almost 10

Language Arts assignment:  Use prepositions to describe where Tib (from Betsy-Tacy and Tib) lived.  Use your imagination.

Boo’s Answer: beside the Pentagon, along the freeway

Lived in DC long?

Catechism Question:  For what did Esau sell his birthright?

Boo’s Answer: Vegie Soup

Correct answer: Pottage, a kind of vegetable stew

Cub Scout Citizenship Belt Loop Requirement:  Develop a list of jobs you can do around the home.

Boo’s list included:  Widows

I think he meant windows.

For the Love of Books

For all the clutter I battle in my home, I am surprisingly obsessive about keeping good care of our books.  All of my books are as neat and pristine as the day I bought them.  I love the sight and feel of a beautiful dust jacket.  I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.

My children however – not so much with the careful use of their books.  After seeing Pumpkin’s treatment of Little House on the Big Woods, she’s not allowed to read the rest of my collection of the Little House series.  She can check them out of the library, thank you very much.

And that limited edition copy of Charlotte’s Web, with it’s color pictures?  Forget it.

I’m crazed, I know.

My children are voracious readers.   This summer, Pumpkin went through every one of the books meant to be her readers for the next 2 years.  That’s OK, but the books came back rather beat up.  I won’t even get into what happened to our copies of the Curious George collections and the cover of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

So what’s an obsessed mom to do?

Protect her beloved books with library supplies, that’s what!  All the details of what to buy and how to protect both hard cover dust jackets and paper back books can be found on my post today at The Homeschool Classroom:  Protecting Your Books With Library Supplies.

Coffee Mug Memories

We used to have a huge collection of coffee mugs, I bet many of you do, too.  Some were gifts and some we picked up for ourselves.  But really, how many coffee mugs does one family need?  We pared our collection down, giving away some and putting others into storage.  We only kept our favorites in the kitchen cupboard.  I have my one favorite coffee mug that I use almost every morning.

Doesn’t everybody have a favorite coffee mug?  My parents, not being able to find the perfect mug among our collection, even brought 2 of their mugs to live at our house for when they visit.  Yes, they really did, because the perfect coffee mug is that important.

It was this paring down of the coffee mugs that caused me to be rummaging around in my cupboards on Saturday night.  Boo and Philip were off camping with the Cub Scouts, so I was hosting our church’s ladies craft night at my house.  This way I didn’t have to hire a babysitter for Bip and Pumpkin Girl and still be able to craft.  My contribution to the night, besides the meeting place, was zucchini bread and pumpkin spice lattes.  So you see, I needed coffee mugs.

One of the mugs I came up with was this one.

It made me think back just a couple of weeks ago when I found this on TV:

I went to high school with Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, before he was the Iceman, and he gave me that 49ers mug for my 18th birthday.  It was particularly meaningful because he was a Packers fan.  This was back in the day when the 49ers were a dominate force in the NFL and the Packers were an “also played” kind of team.  So upon discovering him in some pay-per-view special, I googled him and found his website. It’s more of a PG rated site, so click at your own discretion.

I swear to you, I really don’t make this stuff up!

So this morning, I’m sipping left over pumpkin lattes in my 49er mug, remembering my 18th birthday and Chuck Liddell and all my friends at my grown-up dinner at a “fancy” restaurant birthday party and how my boyfriend who lived in a different town wasn’t there.  He wasn’t a very good boyfriend.

And just because the good Lord likes to make me squirm, this old boyfriend is now living in the DC area and works at the very same building that Philip does.  They ran into each other on Philip’s first day of work.  They had lunch together.

I’m not making this up, really.

Another good friend from high school grew up to play in the American Idol house band and was the musical director for Josh Groban’s back up musicians.

And now my latte is finished and it’s time to put the mug in the dishwasher and start school, so enough with the reminiscing.   Amazing the journeys your mind takes with one simple coffee mug.

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