May 28, 2010

wait your tum

So . . . last weekend Kacey and Lindsay were discussing cute boys in movies. When it came to "Dead Poet's Society", Kacey said, and I quote, "I will ALWAYS LOVE, uh, what's-his-face."

So . . . my blogger-buddy, NinjaPrincess, linked ME on her blog. I feel special and just wanted to reciprocate.

So . . . a couple of days ago Kevin went out to feed his cat. He opened the back door, saw the cat next to him out of the corner of his eye, then reached up to pet her with his left hand while he leaned down to get a scoop of cat food with his right. Just as he was about to touch her, he looked up to see, not his cat, but a groundhog the size of a coffee table.

So . . . last night I dreamed I found an albino lizard under a rock. AND I wanted to catch it. I don't know.

So . . . Kacey texted today and asked me, "Are turns a bad thing to take?"
"How is that a confusing question?"
I DON'T KNOW, BUT APPARENTLY IT IS! (I thought maybe she was giving me a Gilmore Girls quote, or perhaps whining that I don't "return text" when it's my turn.)
"Sheesh, woman. You're making this complicated."
"So answer my question: Can I chew TUMS or not???"
So . . . 'tums' and 'turns' look the same when I'm not wearing my glasses. I'm just sayin'.

May 20, 2010


Dear Volkswagen,

Your new ad campaign is brilliant. Brilliant, I say. You clarified and expanded the rules of "Slug Bug", and my teenage son is all over it. As his mother, I cannot tell you the joy it brings me to see him look up from his iPod and get a glimpse of the real world. Sure, the new Rules of the Game have drawn complaints from old-school players who insist the original Beetle is the only allowable vehicle in the classic "Punch Buggy" game, but I'm convinced these scoffers are the same people still using land lines and tucking in their t-shirts.

Your ingenious VW marketing team, however, realized the benefits of Changing the Rules of Slug Bug to include your entire line of products. (Which explains ditching the "Slug Bug, NO SLUG BACK!" phrase for simply calling out the color - "Yellow One!") So while I don't know an SUV from an S-250 or a Passat from a Prelude, my son can effortlessly distinguish a 1979 Trans-Am from a Z-28 at 300 yards away, thus giving him a serious automotive advantage . . . and me a bruised right arm.

You also, apparently, clarified the penalty of "two for lying" for falsifying a VW sighting. My son, being a rule-follower, hasn't been this excited about playing a family game since "Hide & Seek" when he was seven and we forgot to seek him. Anyway . . . I learned about "two for lying" the hard way, after hearing my son yell "red one!" (punch mom), "blue one!" (punch mom), "gray one!" (punch mom), and thinking it would be cute for me to yell "invisible one!" (PENALTY! Punch mom x 2). Hmmm . . . not so cute after all.

I would like to note that nowhere in your advertising does it state, or even insinuate, that all parties must be awake during game-play. So one day, in the very near future, I will put in my favorite Michael Buble' cd, and when my son inevitably falls asleep, I will to drive to the nearest VW dealership and wake him appropriately.

The most brilliant aspect to your new marketing campaign comes into play as my carefree passenger-son pivots his neck like an owl at a Disney World Circle-Vision theater successfully "I Spying" all manner of VW products while I, the usually-responsible parent and driver, abandon safe driving practices to visually search for Skittles-colored compact cars. This reckless behavior is bound to result in my need for a new vehicle in the very near future, and when it does, your entire line of Volkswagen makes and models will already be fresh in my mind. Brilliant.

An already-disgruntled future customer

May 15, 2010

I don't know why this is funny to me, it just is.

Fisher-Price A-Frame . . . . . . . . . . . IHop Vintage Menu

May 12, 2010

a - z: what worked for us


After 19 years of homeschooling, 24 if you count the "overlapping" years with both kids, my tenure as a homeschool parent/teacher is over. What do I regret? Hmmm . . . not making Kacey take piano lessons longer, and not making Kevin do LOTS more handwriting practice. :o) If I had to start over, would I do it again? IN A HEARTBEAT. No question. And, really, it didn't have so much to do with the quality of their education as it did the time spent together. I like my kids. I'm weird that way.

Inspired today by the blog of my little green friend, Sara, I put together my "A to Z" list of what I consider the best of the best. Some of these items worked for daughter-face, some worked for the boy, some worked for both, and a couple just worked for me!

So here goes:

A - Authors. It's a rummy-style card game that we played nearly every day from the time Kacey was old enough to read until fairly recently. Not only does it familiarize you with 13 authors and 52 great pieces of literature, it's just fun to play.

B - Bible Story Books - specifically The Beginner's Bible for preschoolers and Egermeier's for elementary students. We read out of these almost every night. And Bible Bowl worked for us - not so much the competition or the rote memorization - but the reading of the text together over and over and over again which led to familiarization, discussion and more understanding.

C - Critical Thinking Company workbooks. Mindbenders, Editor-in-Chief, Reading Detective, etc. Everything from this company is quality, though you definitely pay for it.

D - The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. Just a good ol' reference tool for mom.

E - Explode the Code. Our favorite phonics curriculum, outside of the plastic magnetic letters on the refrigerator!
F - The Fallacy Detective helped Kevin brush up on his logic skills, though in all fairness, he says they didn't take the process far enough.
G - GeoSafari. Hands down the best educational tool we ever bought. I don't even know if they still make this puppy or not, as we bought ours in 1992 just before most people had home computers. With the help of this electronic gadget, at the ages of 6 and 29, Kacey and I spent hours and hours learning world geography and having fun!
H - Hirsch, E.D. and his whole "What Your ____ Grader Needs to Know" series. I checked these out of the library faithfully, and we went through the appropriate one cover-to-cover every school year. GREAT supplemental books.
I - Ingalls, Laura and The Little House on the Prairie Series. If you know me, you know these are like the bread of my reading diet. I have read the entire series (always aloud) at least 7 times. We LOVE them and everything about them.
J - Jump Start! The Jump Start cds/dvds were Kevin's NUMBER ONE favorite thing. They were great fun to play on the computer and he didn't even seem to care that he was learning!

K - Keyboarding. We used Mavis Beacon's Typing, but I don't think it matters WHAT you use, just so your kids learn to type as soon as their motor skills are ready. We did this in middle school with Kacey, but with advancing technology, Kevin mastered it in the 5th grade.
L - Language from A Beka. I liked some of A Beka's curriculum, but I really LOVED their language curriculum. It pulls "double duty" by practicing grammar and punctuation skills with famous quotes, historical documents, and literary passages.
M - Market House Theater! (Our local community theater) Memorization, socialization, public speaking, etc. What's not to love? Between the two kids, I think we did at least 12 productions, 15 if you count backstage work running lights and sound. Along with MHT, I would have to say that we enjoyed aspects of all our extra-curriculars: softball, scouts, gymnastics, music lessons, baseball, etc. Made for well-rounded kids.
N - Bill Nye the Science Guy. LOVED his books, which may freak out some of my fundamentalist friends because of his evolutionary stance, but COME ON, this guy explains Bernoulli's Principle and The Four Fundamental Forces in a way even I could understand! Plus he gives experiments to do throughout his books (experiments that ACTUALLY work). As a side note, I NEVER found a science curriculum I liked. Science is meant to be experienced, not read.
O - Our American Heritage. The only A Beka history book I liked, and this one I loved. It is a 3rd grade level book of biographies. Well worth reading.
P - Princeton Review's Everything: Standard Deviants, S.A.T. prep courses, etc. Mostly Kacey loved the "Smart" series - Math Smart, Word Smart, Writing Smart. The math book teaches concepts in creative story form. A MAJOR plus for those of us who proudly say, "I'm an English major - you do the math!"
Q - Brain Quest. Just basic "trivia" cards for all age groups. Fun to play in the car, or anytime you need a "fill in" activity.
R - Rummy Roots. Another card game that teaches Latin and Greek roots by matching them up with their English counterparts. A great foundation before foreign language, which leads me to . . .
S - Spanish via Rosetta Stone. The priciest of all our curriculum purchases, but the best foreign-language program on the market, and well worth the money.
T - Trelease, Jim. The Read-Aloud Handbook. One of my best and most-used "mommy books". I HIGHLY recommend every parent have one, or at least check it out at the library to make your own reading lists.
U - US, A History of. THE BEST U.S. History books on the market, bar none. Love them. Read these aloud to the kids when they were 5th graders, then they read them again to themselves as 9th/10th graders. These are not Christian-based because I don't like the extreme-right-bias in Christian history books, but they are one of my favorite homeschool items. Another sidebar: The book by E. H. Gombrich called "A Little History of the World" is one I purchased a couple of years ago. Kevin refers to this enthusiastically as "a GREAT history book!" That doesn't happen often.
V - Volunteering. It's been a big part of our homeschooling, from working Afterschool Programs to Community Theater to Camps for Special Needs Kids, part of the blessing in a homeschool schedule is having the time to give something back.
W - Wordly Wise. Vocabulary and spelling. Simple, effective, and more fun than the average workbook.
X - saXon math. From 2nd through 6th grade, we LOVED Saxon math. Not so much the pre-algebra, geometry, trig stuff, but the elementary books are outstanding even if they are a bit on the pricey side.
Y - Yukon Trail (Amazon Trail, Oregon Trail, Africa Trail). CD games for the computers that are fun as well as semi-educational.
Z - Zoo. . . and any other field trip. We loved field trips. The cracker/cookie factory, the TV station, HerpFest, the dairy farm, Dippin' Dots, the zoo, Science Days, Museums, you name it, we loved it, and tried to do as much of it as possible. Hands-on beats a classroom any day of the week.

There you go. 20 years' worth of what worked for us.

However you choose to educate, may God bless you

as you grow your children into responsible, compassionate, intelligent adults.


May 01, 2010

from here to maternity or "just how many diapers will I need???"

Last weekend I accompanied my daughter as she enlisted at Babies R Us and joined the ranks of Modern Maternity. When we entered the recruitment office department store, we were immediately greeted by uniformed service people who had the nerve to say, "You must be the . . . " (Don't say it. Don't say it. If you put me in a bad mood, I will NOT spend money in your store!) "You must be the . . . Grandma!" And there it is. The "G" word. They took one look and just ASSUMED I was the grandmother, hot granny, let's just say M.O.M., shall we? (Hey, 2 years ago I was the M.O.B. - Mother of the Bride, why can't I just be the M.O.M. - Mother of the Mom NOW?) Where was I ??? Oh yeah, the Babies R Us Recruitment Office. We were asked to fill out paperwork in triplicate. Mother's Name? Father's Name? Sex? Commission date? Discharge date? You get the idea.

Once paperwork was completed, we were given a list of the 468 essential baby items, issued a canteen of Dasani Spring Water and sent into active duty, armed with a barcode scanner gun. We set out to forge 16-square acres of foreign consumerland - a far cry from my Hippie Earth Mother days of breastfeeding and homebirthing and Continuum Concept Parenting. We began our march. She proceeded to shoot everything in sight, because that's what you do. You shoot everything. You need everything. Babies R Us says so, and they must know. Combat booties. Rectal thermometers. Camouflage diaper covers. Miniature portable prisons and leashes and electronic babysitters and 2-way radios and something called a Keeper akin to a prisoner-of-war torture device that allows you to hang your offspring over the latrine door like an old coat, while you take care of business. And while we're on the subject of latrines, the Winnie-the-Pooh pottie chair is a must-have. (A Pooh Poo Chair? Really?)

After a good hour of listening to the cadence of mobiles and music boxes and baby sing-a-longs, we discovered what could only be the war room: a cushy little nook in the back of the baby wilderness with a circle of amazingly comfortable recliners where general decisions are made and major problems are solved. We sat down. We breathed. After a few minutes away from combat, our heads cleared, and my daughter looked at me and said, "What did I sign up for?" Then she took out the "delete" barcode and began to systematically eliminate all the unnecessary items from her registry like a military sniper. What was left were some cloth nursing pads, a couple of BPA-free pacifiers, a carseat and a few miscellaneous items. Some basics may have become collateral damage in the onslaught, but she decided she could always add them back online.

Looking proud of herself, she said, "What now?" My reply was "diapers and wipes". So we forged past the name-brand chemical-laden plastics and went toward the more "green-friendly" disposables. She scanned a couple of each, then looked at me and said, "Just how many diapers will I need?" So I gave her the coordinates: 8 to 12 a day as a newborn, 6 to 10 as a baby, 4 to 6 as a toddler, with the average "Tour of Doodie" being 30 to 36 months. She looked up and to the left to engage the mostly unused left-side of her brain, mumbled something about "20 or 30 to a pack", then exclaimed, "That's like a million boxes of diapers!" Then she pointed the gun and open fired on the diaper barcodes.

After that we found a supply officer who was able to help us fill out the requisition forms for a pair of Pants, Khaki Maternity. Knowing we could potentially face a courtmartial for not completing the orders for "essential items", we utilized our best covert evasion techniques to return the Barcode Weapon and escaped out of enemy territory without qualifying for a Purple Heart.