Monday, January 31, 2011

Math, Homeschool Style

Were you one of those kids who dreaded word problems in elementary school?  Well, you will be happy to know, that they have changed things.  No longer do children freeze up, freak out, or go into a cold sweat at the sight of a word problem.  They're called story problems now.  The name has been changed to protect the weary.  The problem is, the weary graduated like thirty years ago.  Now there are generations of young people quaking in fear of the story problem.  Education can be funny like that.

I was not one of those students, and neither is my son Jonah.  He rather likes story problems.  In his current math class, he gets to write him own.  The book gives him two numbers and asks him to write an addition problem.  For example (an actual example):  "Jonah has three cars.  Sam has two cars.  How many cars do they have all together?"  I suspect the Jonah/Sam/car dynamic will get a lot more play when we get to subtraction.

Last week, his numbers were 3 and 17.  And I quote, "Jonah has three video games to play.  And, Mommy has seventeen dishes to wash.  How many do they have all together?"

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some dishes to wash.  Oh, if it were only seventeen.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Meaning of Life, Stuck to Your Bumper

If your car has something stupid to say, I will repeat it, and mock you in the process.

Seen:  One Prius, bearing the bumper sticker Renewable Energy IS National Security.  Appropriate enough on a Prius, but not when it is being towed by two bedroom recreational vehicle.

Seen:  Made in America, with Filipino Parts.  Um.  Oooh.  Ones bumper is not an appropriate place to discuss the details of one's conception.

Seen:  SHE WHO DIES WITH THE MOST SHOES WINS.  Wins what exactly?  You can only take one pair with you, baby.  Maybe I'm just a hater, as I have always been hard to fit, and now (that I am middle aged) wear only clogs.  God bless the Danish for their clogs!

Seen:  26.2  Do you know what that is?  It is the length of a marathon, in miles.  When one runs a marathon, one likes to tell everybody.  Fair enough.  That's a pretty impressive achievement.  But let me ask you, driver of the Ford Excursion bearing this sticker, why, if you can run so far, must you park your land yacht in a compact space to be closer to the door, rather than the full-sized space RIGHT NEXT TO IT?  Is that extra five feet really going to kill you.

I, for one, have no stickers on my car.  I can't stand the pressure.  People can be so judgmental.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Delicate Art of Discipline, and Baby's First Sentence

There comes a time in every girl's life, when she needs to be popped in the mouth.  My daughter is only two, but her time has come.  Does this make her some kind of prodigy?

"This works as a tiara, right?

Princess Defiant has taken to making "raspberry" sounds at me when she does not like what I have to say.  She presses her two little lips together and, well, spits at me basically.  Queen Who-shall-not-be-defied (that would be me) can not tolerate this.  Obviously.

Immediate action was required.

She spit at me.  I got in her face down at her level and told her, calmly, but emphatically, "No!"

She did it again.  Harder.  I took too fingers, and swatted her lips.  Still calm.  "No!"

She did it again.  Not as hard.  I swatted her lips.  "No!"

She did it again.  But, not really.  Only about half way.  Barely a sputter really.  Mostly just a gesture to show me she was not going to obey.  But she was fading.  I swatted her lips.  "No!"

Then she slapped at me and sort of grunted.  I slapped her hand and said, "No!"

She did it again.  I slapped her hand.  "No!"

She did it again.  Barely a twitch of the hand this time.  But defiance, nonetheless.  I slapped her hand.  "No!"

Then she stuck her tongue out.  Oh.  Okay.  So she wants to be popped in the mouth some more.  I swatted her tongue.  Still very calm.  "No!"

She did that three times too, losing steam each time.

Then she said it.  Her first sentence.  In defeat, arms submissively at her side, she said, as politely as one could, "Go away, Mommy."

Fair enough.  She used her words instead of spitting, hitting, or sticking her tongue out.  And, I had been in her face quite a while.  So, I kissed her on the head, and went away.

Yes, my two year old daughter told me to go away and I went.  But, I won this one, and she and I both know it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Miss Marple, Here I Come!

All that is left to be decided about my death is its manner.  I have chosen the time, and do not care about the place.

It started with a pair of jeans.  I went to the store to buy a pair of jeans.  Just a store.  Not a hipster store.  Not a store at the mall.  Just a store, where I have bought jeans before.  But, this time, the music was too loud, the lights too dim, the print too small.

I was uncomfortable, but I soldiered on.  I was a housewife without jeans.  What were my options really?

As I stood in line for the dressing room, with 47 pairs on jeans slung over my arm, I saw a woman trying on a pair of jeans, just like a pair I was holding.  She looked ridiculous.  Way too old to be in pants like that!  If she had any real friends, they would tell her.

"Tracey?" said the woman with unfortunate taste and no friends.  "Tracey, is that you?  O.M.G! (She actually said the letters, oh, em, gee.)  I don't think I have seen you since graduation."

She was an old classmate.  We were the same age.  Exactly.  Except that she was in better shape.  And looking ridiculous in a pair of over-priced jeans.  (Well, I assume that were over-priced.  Honestly, I couldn't read the tiny print on the tag.)

It was then and there that I decided.  I will die sometime in 2053.  In February 2053, I will be 84 years old.  In February 2011, I will be 42, and this is definitely my middle ages.

What? you say.  Forty-two is too young to be middle aged, you say?  Middle age does not hit until at least fifty, you say?

Maybet.  If you're Jennifer Aniston, or Salma Hayek, or Julia Roberts.  But, I am not.  I live in the real world, without the help of plastic surgeons, or personal trainers, or botox.  (Though, in all fairness, there is not enough help in the world to make me as hot as Salma Hayek.)

In the real world, gravity can not be defied.

In the real world, forty-two is not young, if you are in the same talent pool as twenty-five.  But, if you lump yourself in with the sixty year olds, as I choose to do, you just might be the hottest thing going.  (Again, I am not.  But my ranking goes up quite a bit.)

And lets face it.  I have no desire, and less than no chance, of living to be a hundred.  I would consider eighty-four to be a pretty good run.  Most of the people I know and love now, will already be dead.  My "baby" will be forty-five, so I will most likely have met all of my grandchildren.   And, Hubband will only be seventy-five, still young enough to find another wife among the widows at the "senior community."  Yup, a pretty good run.

So, you will excuse me while I embrace this new stage in my life.  Comfortable jeans, sensible shoes, and the inalienable right to say, "You call that music?"

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Drive to the Doctor (You Think This Won't Happen to You, But it Will)

I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  Sam, please stop screaming.  I don't want to go to the doctor.   I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  It's okay.  It's not going to hurt.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  They are just going to look in your throat.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.   I don't want to go to the doctor.    I don't want to go to the doctor.  Sam, stop screaming.  I don't want to go to the doctor.    I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.    You have to stop screaming.  I don't want to go to the doctor. I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go There won't be any shots I promise.   to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  Sam, if you keep screaming, I will have to give Daddy a bad report, and you won't get to play with the iPod later.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.   I will pull this car over.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  Do you want me to pull this car over?  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.    I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor. I don't want to go to the doctor.  Sam, please.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor. I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  What do I have to do to make you stop screaming?  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  I don't want to go to the doctor.  If you stop screaming, I'll give you a cookie.  I don't want to

What kind of cookie?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Let Me Introduce You

Let me introduce you.  This is the well dressed, well loved, and soon to be well traveled, Ginger Breadmann.

Mr. Breadmann in his passport photo.  If you follow the link below, you will find out what the rubber band is for, and be able to see, from the wear, how much this little toy is actually loved.

As part of his history class, Jonah will be taking a world tour, and his traveling companion will be Mr. Breadmann.  They each have passports, made by Jonah, and soon to be laminated by Kinkos.  

Jonah can not wait.  He loves "Gingy," (as you may remember) and by extension this project.  So, tomorrow, around two o'clock, they will be jetting off to Australia. 

I say  they, as if I am not going.  It is true, I don't have a fancy, hand-lettered passport from no government in particular, but I am the only one of the bunch who can read.  So, like it or not, passport or no, I too shall be departing for the land down under, explaining on the way, what, exactly, it is down under.  (Psst.  The equator, in case you missed kindergarten history.)  And, what the Outback is out back of.  Can you say marsupial?

Okay, maybe I am a little excited too.

[If you, or anyone you know, would like to help us out, we are looking for people who live in Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America who might be willing to take an e-mailed photo of Mr. Breadmann out for a bit of local sight seeing (nothing fancy required, as it is all new to us), and e-mail us back some pictures.  Just e-mail me at]

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Week in Kids

This week...

Started out freezing cold, then it rained, and today it was sunny and warm.  So sunny and warm that we have mosquitoes.  Like albatrosses.

We also have three small children who, at the first sight of sunshine, burst out the back door into the yard.

Sword fight any one?

The real veterans of the backyard crusades know to carry ones weapon in the back of the shirt for easy access.

The littlest crusader learns quickly.

She learns that swords can make searching for artifacts in the (nasty, been-sitting-out-in-the-rain-getting-used-as-a-cat-toilet-all-winter) sandbox a little awkward..

She learns that swords make some routes impassible.

And, she learns that if she is not nice to her fellow crusaders, or her momma, her weapon will be taken away and put on top of the refrigerator.

Also this week...

We finished our second week of homeschooling.  So far, there have been no tears, no drama, no tantrums.  And, Jonah has behaved pretty well, too.

Also, in the last two weeks, we have eaten take-out Chinese, McDonald's, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-a, and pizza.  Twice.  (Some of that was lunch.  I have cooked.)  But, we will work the kinks out of that too.  It just takes planning. 

Also this week...

Not much else has happened.  At least not that I can remember.  Kindergarten is about all my brain can handle at this point.

See you next week!!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fickle Girl

Cate, helping with the laundry.

As I was pouring the milk on the oatmeal and putting the bowls on the table, Sam tried to help his sister, by moving her bowl closer to her.  A move of mere inches.  Catherine, at the sight of this, burst into a screaming fit like I have never heard from her.  The crescendo of her shrieking was followed by, "Hate boys!  Hate, hate, hate, hay-T."

Oh, my.

I have never heard Samuel use the word hate, and I am not sure he even knows what it means.  Jonah, I am sure knows what it means, but I have no memory of him using it.  Where did Cate pick up this vocabulary?  Even if she has heard her father or I use it, it was not like this.

Hate boys!!!!  Hate, hate, hate.

This from the same girl, who a few weeks ago, was dancing naked with glee at the sight of boys in the backyard.

I think she may be conflicted on the issue.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What My Little Boy Lost

Yesterday was Jonah's birthday.  He turned six.  It was not a great day.

He hardly slept the night before.  Not out of excitement, but because of constant coughing and wheezing.  He had a cold.  We all have a cold, or a touch of one.  It is rather mild really.  To everyone but Jonah.

I called the advice nurse at two in the morning.  The advice nurses are very helpful.  Usually.  Michael, the registered nurse (he made a point of telling me), was not helpful.

"Does he have retracted breathing?"

"Uh, look, Michael, R.N., I realize that all of the questions you are suppose to ask, pop up on your computer screen, when you are supposed to ask them, but I have no bleeping idea what retracted breathing is.  It is two in the morning and I have not slept and my five year old, no wait.  He six.  Happy birthday, Honey.  My six year old has not slept and he is practically convulsing in my arms from coughing, which he has done for the last twelve hours without ceasing, so if you could tell me what you are talking about, that would be great."

Okay, I didn't say that.  "I don't know what that is," is what I said.

"Can you see his skin go between his ribs when he breathes?"

"I don't know.  He's wearing pajamas.  I don't think so."

Meanwhile, Jonah is having loud coughing fits right into the phone.

"I am going to consult with the doctor.  I'll be right back."

I wait.  Jonah does not die.  Micheal, R.N. returns.

"I don't suppose you have any honey?"

Honey?  Now, I am all for non-pharmaceutical treatment, but honey was not going to help this.

Honey, and follow up with his pediatrician in the morning, was the best Michael could do.  Better than the emergency room in the cold, dark night, I suppose.

Morning came.  The appointment center gave me an appointment at 4:30.  The flip side of the whole nurse-in-the-middle-of-the-night thing, is that I have no way to call my doctor, or even his office, directly and plead my case.  The girl at the call center just gives me the next available appointment.

Well, four thirty was too far away.  He was not going to make it.  So, after I dropped Sam at pre-school, I just kept driving, right on over to the doctor, to see if I could wiggle my way in.

I know the doctor's office reserves mornings for healthy kids.  Babies mostly.  Little itty bitty ones, who need to get check-ups, every third day it seems.  So, I walked to the edge of the waiting room and looked in to see wall to wall bucket-babies.  You know the ones.  Carried everywhere in their detachable car seats.  This was no place for my boy.  So, I sat him on a bench in the hall, got him a swine-flu mask, told him to look pathetic, and went to talk to someone, face to face.  Two lines of my story, and one glance at my poor boy, was enough to get us a golden ticket through the back door.

Three breathing treatments, one chest x-ray, and three prescriptions later, I was told that Jonah has viral asthma.  It turns out, asthma is not a disease, but a reaction to irritation.  Most kids get it in the spring with allergies.  Jonah-boy gets it in the winter, with a cold, however mild.  This is the third year.  The cold, damp air this week seems to be a contributing factor.  This is not good news, especially as we are planning on moving to Washington, where the state motto is, "Come for the cold, Stay for the damp."

I know what you are thinking.  This was the worst sixth birthday ever.  But wait.  It gets worse.

We had planned to take Jonah and his friend Asa (no siblings) to the Japanese place that slices and dices and lights your food right in front of you.  But, that was not going to work out.  I called and canceled the sitter.  I called and canceled Asa.  I called and canceled my sister and brother-in-law.  I didn't have to call and cancel Nana, because she was on her way to Tahiti.  Apparently, all of this escaped Jonah's notice.  Around five o'clock, he asked, "Is Asa going to be here soon?"

I forgot to cancel Jonah.

He was so sad.  Heartbroken really.

"I've lost my whole birthday!"

And, he's right.  He really did.  The whole thing.  Just gone.  But, we promised to make it up to him.  We will.  We promised.  No one will lose a birthday in this family!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fly me to the Moon

A child's capacity from imaginative play is boundless.

Jonah and Samuel have devised games called things like Sneak and Throw, Star Stealer, and Astro Boy.  As far as I can tell, they are just creative names (and excuses) for wrestling,

jumping on the beds,

and throwing pillows at each other. 

All of which are allowed in our house (well, in the boys' bedroom), because I am the mother of two active boys and one daredevil of a daughter.  What else are they going to do?