Friday, November 28, 2008

A 4 A.M. Date

There is nothing more romantic than watching the sun rise with the one you love by your side. Of course we only caught glimpses of the beautiful pinks streaking across the sky as we hurried from store to store. And our date began well before sunrise...with a wake-up call at 3:30 to be exact.

This is tradition for us, but there hasn't ever been a year with such mild standing-in-line weather or a year when the store openings lined up so perfectly for us. We hit Kohl's at 4:00 when they opened their doors. Very crowded, but we were able to snag a few things and take our place in the check-out line before it got too long. After a quick Chick-fil-A breakfast a la drive-thru, we headed out for our 5:00 opening at Toy R Us. But it never happened. We got there and saw the line at the door was at least a mile thick with desperate, crazy mommies and daddies. Though some may argue the fact, we don't consider ourselves that desperate or crazy, so we left.

Since we had an hour to kill, we decided to make an unscheduled stop at Wal-Mart. I had forgotten why I don't do Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving until I was already 10 carts deep in Aisle 42. It was absolute madness; however, I did use my Stuck-in-Aisle-42 time wisely by grabbing a couple of good deals for the kids. By the time we escaped left Wally World, it was time for our 6:00 opening at Target. The line there was at least 1/2 as long as the line we deserted at Toys R Us, but we decided to brave it anyway, and the trip paid off nicely.

After a quick visit to Game Stop, we decided we'd try Toys R Us again. The parking lot was completely filled, with illegally parked cars littering the curb. But why not? We're on a date. We went in, and I quickly found the two items I came for. Then we got to the front to pay. And they sent us to the farthest corner from the register. "The line starts over there." We dared to venture over "there" only to find a line that wove in and out of every aisle, back and forth, to the back and the sides and then finally to the front. I was looking for the "Your Wait Time from this Point Is _____" sign. Space Mountain at Disney World might be worth the wait, but savings of a few bucks was not. We left so we could hang out with a couple thousand people at Best Buy.

Judging by Toys R Us as well as the full mall parking lot, the crowds were incredible out there today. I dare. No, I double dare the media to paint a picture of doom and gloom about Black Friday 2008! And we certainly did our part in helping the economy. The Princess, whose gifts I was forced to leave at Toys R Us because of the wait time, is the only one left on my Christmas List. Which isn't bad. It's a record, actually. OK, so I didn't make my November 12 New Year's Resolution Date, but we did well. And had a great date at the same time. After all, you take time out with your sweetie without the kids when you can get it...even if it is at 4 a.m.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dear Santa...

For every Santa letter dropped off at Santa's Post Office at any Macy's, their Believe program is donating to Make-A-Wish Foundation. Since we're heading to the mall tomorrow, the kids wrote their letters to Santa this evening. This was Alex's letter:

Dear Santa, How are you? For Christmas, I would like an I-pod, a Magic Treehouse book, and some Littlest Pet Shop Pets. I hope you and your elves are well. I do not want much because you need to think about other kids to.
Christmas wishes,

If that doesn't melt Santa's North Pole-frozen heart, his heart is made of stone.

Glory Days

In an effort to revive my glory days--my glory days being those days when I shone on the roller skating rink, when I would simply and marvelously glide around the rink, my wheels spinning to the beat of Hip to be Square--I convinced my husband to accompany the kids and me to Homeschool Skate Day.

Much to my surprise, I was able to jump right back on the rink. Sort of like riding a bicycle, I guess. But unlike my glory days where I was free to go blazing through the disco lighting to the beat of Michael Jackson, I had 4 little ones with which to contend. I had to admire my boys--especially Michael--who, with dogged determination, taught themselves to skate. They fell, they got up; they fell, they got up; they fell, they got up. And they kept going until by the end of an hour or so, they were doing pretty well.

The girls were another story. Or, rather, Alex was another story. Audrey at least wanted to try. Plus, she's only 3! Audrey liked best when I would pick her up and skate her around the rink; I found out later, though, that this was against the rules, so that was the end of that. She was, however, by the end of our time there able to scoot around the carpeted room surrounding the rink. Baby steps. I think next time she might get it.

Alex tried once and gave up. It's a good thing she's smart because she'll make it one day on those smarts. But if she possesses an ounce of determination, it is determination NOT to keep trying at something. Some would call that stubborness. She even refused to admit whether or not she thought skating looked like fun. I told her next time she can bring a book.

As for Michael, I think he'll be adding "roller skates" to his letter to Santa this year. At least I'll have someone through whom I may re-live my Glory Days!

Monday, November 24, 2008


6 Cousins + too many Webkinz = at least a 6.7 on the Webkinz-Plosion Scale

Sunday, November 23, 2008


We finished the first Little House book using The Prairie Primer, so rather than start a new book and then break for Thanksgiving, we focused last week on leftovers. And it was a veritable feast of Academic Leftovers indeed. Translation: unfinished projects, unread books, activities we just never quite got to when we were supposed to:

1. We finished reading Despereaux and are anxious for the movie.

2. Long ago, we began our unit on plants. We even got in a field trip. For the grand finale, we finished our lapbooks and did an experiment with white carnations and colored water.

3. Reading charts were completed. A bribe reward was redeemed: a treat of each child's choosing from Carvel. Three of them chose the cotton candy flavor. It took 3 days for the hot pink stuff to digest. I know this for a fact because I am the Princess' personal potty aide. They will not be ordering the cotton candy flavor again.

4. We finally got to a mini-unit on Simple Machines, one I meant to deliver a few weeks ago. Michael was so fascinated with the subject matter at hand, he spent a couple of hours rigging a machine of his own.

The problem with leftovers is that many times they aren't completely consumed. And they sit and rot in the fridge. Here's hoping that our History Timeline doesn't rot and have to be tossed with the end of the school year.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

When Control Freaks Set Up Christmas

If you've been a reader for even just a short time, you might have gathered that I might possibly have some tendencies toward being a little bit controlling sometimes. Christmas brings out the worst of it. Not Christmas as the season or as the celebration of Christ's birth, but the decorating part. And it's not like I haven't taken steps toward rigging set-up day so that it is a little more Control Freak friendly.

Last year we added a third Christmas tree: two are downstairs, one for me and one for the kids, but the downstairs kid one still has to look un-Charlie-Brown-tree-like; one is upstairs, and the kids can do to it whatever their Christmas spirit leads them to do. However, I discovered one fact I overlooked last year: I should have packed all of their stuff on the top of each box. I like to work box by box. Neatly. In an orderly fashion. But because their stuff was not on top, each box was thrown open and rifled through, the contents strewn all over. All in a matter of minutes. Before I could stop it. I may or may not have issued some warnings in a very harsh tone because nothing was being done the right way, i.e., my way. OK, so I did employ a harsh tone. I may have ruined Christmas. Again.

On the upside, I might be improving. A little. I only rearranged two ornaments on the kids' downstairs tree. I also noticed they had ingeniously turned the tip of each branch up in an attempt to prevent each precariously placed ornament from sliding off. I controlled myself and only fixed a couple of those.

So maybe I'm on the road to recovery. But then again, you'd think by now I'd have all the kinks of Christmas set-up day worked out. Maybe next year I won't ruin Christmas.

Friday, November 21, 2008

This Afternoon's Tab & Mama's Magic Bag

2 Adult Matinee Tickets: $8.00 each
2 Adult tickets: an outrageous $10.00 each because we couldn't get our act together to leave an hour earlier

3 Kids' tickets: $7.00 each
4 Kids' tickets: $7.00 each because when I asked the guy if I had to pay for the "little one", he didn't react like he should have. In other words, he didn't say what the last guy said: "She looks young enough. You don't have to pay for her." In fact, he asked me how old she is, and I couldn't lie.

1 large Coke for Daddy: $4.75
3 small Cokes: $3.75 each
1 small fruit punch because the baby doesn't like Coke: $3.75
1 bottle of water for Mommy: $4.50
1 large popcorn for Daddy: $6.75
4 small popcorns: 4.75 each
4 Twizzlers: $3.00 each
1 Milk Duds for Mommy which she would prefer NOT to share: $3.00
1 Combo w/2 large drinks to share, 1 large popcorn to be schlepped into 4 small paper bags from Mama's Magic Bag, and 1 small fruit juice for the baby who doesn't like Coke: $20.00
1 mammoth, sharing-sized bag of Publix Twizzlers from Mama's Magic Bag: $2.27
1 borderline-sharing-sized box of Publix Milk Duds from Mama's Magic Bag: $2.29
1 bottle of Publix Spring Water from Mama's Magic Bag: $.33

An afternoon enjoying Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa with the family: Priceless.

The Princess on the Effects of a Cold

The Princess has a cold. She came in to tell us about it this morning around 1:00. And to get in bed with us.

She felt hot, and the two of us discussed our options: 1) Try to get the poor baby back to sleep in spite of the fever, or 2) Participate in a 3-way wrestling match to hold her down long enough to get some medicine in her, knowing she might well throw up the medicine the minute it touched her tongue.

We chose option #1.

Today she's doing OK, although a bit runny in all the places in which a cold will run. Awhile ago, she gave me the most pitiful look a Princess can muster and said, "Mommy, I have wet in my eyes."

Gratitude: Top 10...and Then Some

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, it's a great time to count blessings. Heart of the Matter, in fact, encourages its readers to do just that:

Welcome to the Heart of the Matter Online meme. Please share with us your thoughts on the following: Giving Thanks. What are you thankful for?
Thanksgiving is a week away! We want to know–what are you most thankful for?
And I, personally, would like to know–and am sneaking this in out of sheer nosiness– what’s your best Thanksgiving recipe? Will you share it or another great Fall meal idea? That would make *me* very thankful!

1. I am so very grateful for my 4 children who try their best to keep me young while all the time reminding me how old I'm getting.

2. I am also thankful for a wonderful husband who, while he does not understand my curriculum addiction, doesn't say a word when I indulge.

3. And this same amazing husband is the culinary expert of the family and does all of the cooking. Can anyone say THANK YOU?

4. When TravelDaddy is gone, I am thankful for Chick-fil-A, McDonald's, and Zaxby's. And waffles too. Because, really, what is dinner without breakfast food?

5. I'm thankful for children who make me proud, like last week when a mother at the Chick-fil-A complimented them up and down for their behavior and manners.

6. And these same children are also God's way of keeping me humble. Like when one of them at Book Club got up front to give his book report and asked me to read the title of his book because he had forgotten it and couldn't read it. The title, incidentally, was Where the Wild Things Were. Which he can read. But since the other kids were reading big words like committee and Caldecott, he thought it would be fun to give me a Humble Moment right then and there.

7. Even though we're trying to get rid of it, I am so grateful for this beautiful home we have. And, although, all we seem to attract are prospective buyers of the psychotic kind, I'm thankful for any nibbles. By the by, I don't believe I ever shared Pt. II of my letter to the Wacko Homebuyer. Seems that, in her cozying up to my neighbor in order to get the dirt on us, my neighbor told her I was pregnant when we moved in. Gasp! When my realtor told her we were moving because we had outgrown the house, she very indignantly argued, "But I heard the lady was pregnant when she moved in." All suspicious-like. Like we're trying to cover up a gaping hole in the roof with a pregnancy. What she could have discovered had she had the courtesy to ask is that a) We had already purchased the blueprints for our home before we found out about our little surprise, b) As a family of 5, it's hard to imagine how much room a family of 6 requires--you know Hindsight is 20/20 and all that?, and c) IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!! But I digress. And steal the gratitude from my Thankful List...

8. I am thankful for the lock on my bathroom door. Even though the door's not soundproof. And even though there's still a sizable space under the door. Someday. Someday I'll be peeing in peace, and I'll miss seeing little fingers wave at me from under the door, and I'll miss having notes passed to me. Or Legos. Or any manner of small toys.

9. God has provided so well with TravelDaddy's job. Even though he is gone a lot, I'm thankful that he enjoys his job so much. I'm thankful that he provides for us so abundantly.

10. And I'm thankful that when he's not traveling, he's right here at home with us! Of course, one day we will be forced to explain the realities of life to the children: That not everyone has a job full of airplane adventures, fancy meals, and hotel stays; and not everyone has a job that lets them sleep in. Or work in their pajamas.

11. And just for good measure--and to meet the Heart of the Matter Meme Requirements, I'm throwing in not one, but TWO, recipes without which Thanksgiving dinner would not be the same:

Sweet Potato Souffle (courtesy, my cousin Tawni)
3 c. cooked sweet potato
1 t. vanilla
1 c. sugar
dash of cinnamon
1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
1 stick butter
dash of ginger
Mix all ingredients. Stir over low heat. Pour mixture into baking dish.

1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. flour
1 stick butter or margarine
1 c. chopped pecans
Mix all ingredients over low heat or in a double boiler. Add a little water as needed for spreading. Pour mixture over potatoes. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Like dessert for lunch!

Gooey Pumpkin Pie Bars (courtesy, Paula Deen)
1 yellow cake mix
1 stick melted butter
1 egg
Combine ingredients. With buttered hands, press into ungreased 9x13 pan. (Goodness...the woman even butters her hands!)

1 8oz. cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar
1 stick melted butter
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 can pumpkin
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
Beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Fold in pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour over crust. Bake 45 minutes at 350.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This One's for You...

...CrossView and ourgoldenapples. Alright, so I've done it. I've started my story. You asked for it, so don't blame me! You can find the story's beginnings at Growing Up MK. I can't promise this new site will be properly maintained because...

1. I'm maintaining 2, now 3, public blogs and 1 private one. If you haven't checked #2, I'm counting UP A Thousand Blessings. The private one dispenses my deepest thoughts as I journal my quiet times, and it's between me and God. And sometimes the Mr. if he's traveling and wishes to know my heart.

2. I'm trying to stay two steps ahead of a student who is taking English II through Write4Homeschool, even though the class isn't finished. I only hope my children have her drive and work ethic because she's always right on my heels.

3. Oh, and there are also these 4 little people I'm supposed to be learnin' real good.

4. And a house to keep up for the 100s of people who are just itching to get in, see the place, and then snatch it up before the next guy.

But you know what? I'm so glad you all (there, that's one step closer to my just coming out and sayin' ya'll) prodded me into doing this because I am having so much fun visiting my past. That sounded really sarcastic, but it's not. I may only have one post completed on Growing Up MK, but my Bloggy Brain has captured much more. I know because It was busy retrieving and capturing until about 2:00 this morning. Laying in bed, composing in my head is not my ideal night's sleep. But it could also have been the Excedrin Tension I took yesterday evening. The box says it has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Since I don't drink coffee, I'm sure the gel caps were a jolt to the system. And what with the way I'm rambling on this morning, you may think the effects haven't yet worn off. Perhaps I should consider the Excedrin Tension gel cap to be my first-thing-in-the-morning pill since I have no cup o' Joe to rely upon. Then I could be going on in this Faulkner-esque way all day. Not that I am comparing myself to Faulkner, although I never really quite got what the big deal was with him anyway.

It's going to be a great day. Imagine if I taught the kids in this frame of mind. 'Course they'd probably get it better than anyone; they're kids, and looks like my attention span is a match today. Hope you enjoy my new old adventures.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stuck with My Family

In spite of the fact that I ribbed TeacherMommy in my last post about tagging me again, I've decided to take on the weekly meme from Heart of the Matter. The question to address is What Makes My Family Unique?

At first glance that's a hard one for me because, really, what's so unique about us anyway? It used to be that a homeschooling family was somewhat of a novelty, but nowadays everyone knows someone who homeschools. Just ask any cashier at Wal-Mart who has questioned me about why I'm out in the middle of the morning with the kids; they'll always nod with complete understanding when I explain we homeschool: "Oh, yeah, I have a neighbor who has a cousin who has a brother who homeschools." Church-going families are not unique, although I wish there were more of them out there. And missionary families are certainly not hard to come by: just check my Facebook friends list; I've just about found all of my long lost MK friends.

So what makes my family unique? Well, as paradoxical as it sounds, the same thing that makes every family unique: its members.

Alex, my first born, is sweet, compassionate, responsible, and smart. She is a walking encyclopedia and reads the Dictionary for fun; you don't ever, ever argue trivia with her. Her compassion shines when it comes to helping anyone less fortunate. In fact, she wants to be a "Shoebox Person" when she grows up. Translation: someone who works for Operation Christmas Child. She is sensitive and always sees the need around her. Her sensitivity shows through in her emotions, though not uncontrollably so; she does not easily get her feelings hurt because she has a quiet confidence about her that combats any self-pity. Rather, her sensitivity comes spilling out at appropriate times. I remember reading a Christmas book to her when she was two. In the book, the old Christmas tree laments that he is never chosen by people to be taken to their homes to decorate. As I read, I looked down at my little girl and saw one big crocodile tear rolling down her cheek. Alex was by far our easiest baby and is still so flexible and agreeable to whatever life may throw at her.

Michael is my funny little man. He loves a good practical joke or magic trick and has many of them up his sleeve. He is not at all about all things academic like his sister; however, his mind never seems to slow down. Ideas spill from his little head at an alarming rate, sometimes ideas that get him into trouble but more often now as he is older, ideas that lead to amazing creations with Legos or paper. Michael has a bit more than just a speck of drama thrown in to his DNA. That drama sometimes just shines through as a sparkle in his eye, but other times it can mean a full-fledged, dramatic battle of the wills. During any such fight, should he come out on the losing end, it isn't surprising to see him head off to his bed or some other secluded spot to engage in a grand Pouting Party. We've learned it's just best to let him party it out of his system. And then he's OK again. When not hosting a Pity Party, Michael is absolutely the life of the party and just oozes energy.

Jacob is my mysterious child. He is most difficult to figure out, and I pray lots of prayers that as he grows we will find increasing opportunities to get to know one another. Incredibly shy, few people know Jacob at all. In fact, when his Sunday School teachers come visit us here at home, their jaw drops as they witness this exuberant, fiesty little boy interact at home. Most children experience about six months of separation anxiety. Our boy experienced 5 1/2 years of it. In the last year, he has become so confident and will go to Sunday School and even choir practice all by himself. He still has little to say to others, but at least he is coming out of his shell. What's funny about this little guy is that he is so reserved, yet he is obviously paying close attention to everything and has a lot going on in his mind because he says the funniest thing. He is always the first to use big words. "That's outrageous!" he'll say, or "I'm flabbergasted." Yesterday, a conversation with his grandparents somehow circled around to Disney World (as it often does). "I went on It's a Small World," he explained. "and I fell off the boat and started to scream. So they arrested me and threw me in jail where I had to sleep for months on a hard, cold stone floor with a brick for my pillow." Where does he come up with this? Hopefully, as I get to know him better, I'll figure it out.

Audrey, sweet little Audrey. She was a surprise, and I don't usually like surprises, but I can't imagine life without this affectionate, charming little girl. She, like Michael, has just a touch of the dramatics. And also a sparkle in her eyes. She is the most affectionate of any of our children, making bedtime a very long drawn out time of butterfly kisses, eskimo kisses, mommy kisses, hugs, and more butterfly kisses. She loves her brothers and sister, and they love her back. She is all girl and loves anything pink, shiny, flittery, glittery, or frilly. She is so much fun to watch, to talk to, and to hang out with.

And as for the Mr. and I, I suppose our uniqueness is in our story. We share the same birthday, although he is 3 years older. He was born at a little mission hospital in Africa where a couple years later my father went to work as a pharmacist. I called this little town with a big name--Ferkessedougou--home until I graduated from boarding school in a bigger town with a smaller name--Bouake--the same school Mark attended. I met him when I was in third grade. And, no, we weren't high school sweethearts. And, no, this was not an arranged marriage, although there's no one better in this world that my parents could have chosen for me if it had been. There are benefits, though, to having grown up with your future husband: One, we know ALL the dirt on each other; and two, we share not only the bonds of our matrimonious love for each other, but also an understanding for what it means to have grown up in a different country with a different culture.

Even though my parents did not arrange the marriage between me and the most wonderful man in the world, they did used to tell me I was special because they got to choose me through adoption rather than just being stuck with me (I may or may not have added the "stuck" part over the years; sometimes I embellish a little.) Well, I got stuck with 4 children, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, had I done the choosing, I could not have done it any better.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Five Things

When I started blogging, I swore I wouldn't do these Tag things, that I would just stick to the matter of this little big family that resides under my roof. However, seems I have a friend who, by her own admission, is quite addicted to this Blog Tagging. And I understand addictions (have I already mentioned my Big Three--chocolate, books, and Grande Green Shaken Iced Teas?). And I have come to realize through participating in a couple of them already that, really, the tagging topics tell tales in and of themselves about my family. So here goes:

I am supposed to share Five Things I Want My Kids to Know (Before They Grow Up). As an aside, TeacherMommy supposes that I am one of five people "who will no doubt do this with far more humor than I did." There's raising the bar, and I'm not sure I can live up to it about this topic. I may, in fact, lead us right down Serious Street.

1. Most importantly, I want my children to learn about, understand, and accept the unfathomable love of God. And within this understanding, I want them to comprehend the Grace that accompanies that incredible love. Because if they don't learn about the grace, they will fall into the same legalistic snare in which I was caught for so many years. This one lesson presents an awesome challenge and opportunity for Mark and me as parents. And we can't teach it without His help because we will fail miserably.

2. For the times I try to do it on my own, I hope my children will learn the freedom found in forgiveness: accepting forgiveness extended to them and offering forgiveness to others.

3. I want them to not only learn the Golden Rule, but put it into practice.

4. I want them to learn respect for others.

5. And I want them to learn to put their best effort into any task they undertake.

You would think that as a homeschooler, I would have some grand academic aspirations for my children, and I do. However, I don't think those aspirations can truly be achieved without becoming the kind of people who put into practice the Five Things I Want My Kids to Know.

And on a lighter note:

1. It would be absolutely grand if Jacob would learn to tie his shoes now that we've discarded the velcro. And now that he's SEVEN!!

2. If my almost 9-year-old would learn to brush her own hair and maybe even attempt a pony tail or braid by herself, that would be swell. I remind her all the time occasionally that at her age, I was at boarding school and almost completely self-sufficient. Of course, I was sporting one of those trendy bowl cuts so my hair was less of an issue, but still.

3. I would be the happiest mommy in the world if I didn't have to sweep the floor 10 times a day, so I would be most pleased if my children would learn to keep their food on their plates. Or in their mouths. Even on the table would be preferred. (On a separate note, if you do not own a Shark Cordless Sweeper (or something similar in nature), you are missing out on the best invention EVER!! My bloggy brain has written many an ode to my Shark; someday I will publish one such tribute.)

4. I would be ecstatic if the Princess would learn to wipe herself. Actually, I'd be happy to continue to do the wiping if the girl would just attempt to pull up her britches. I mean, I know it's difficult for royalty to bend down and all, but even just a small try would be greatly appreciated.

5. And if they could only learn to flush the toilet. (I don't like surprises.) And pee IN the toilet. Oh my life would be heavenly.

But you know, I take 'em and love 'em just as they are, try to impart to them what little wisdom I possess, pray like crazy for them, and hope they turn out alright in spite of me.

And because I'm quite sure my tagging benefits have expired with my bloggy friends, I won't tag anyone this time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Since we don't enjoy enough drama at home, I went out for a little drama last night. This was different drama, however. Of the thee-u-ta kind. And I was accompanied by Alex. Although it was a cold, bleak evening, we had a lovely girls' night out, which commenced at Johnny Carino's. There we met some friends, including one of Alex's BFF's. Italian food and great fellowship; it doesn't get much better. Next was the drama. It wasn't Broadway, but it was very well-performed, courtesy of Artios Academies who served up their rendition of The Secret Garden. Having read the book "at least twice," Alex was able to offer several critiques on the play during our ride home. All positive criticism, and she especially liked the live rabbit which Dicken Sowerby brought on stage. All in all, a great break from the drama at home, and the best part was that I got to share it with my favorite 8-year-old in this whole wide world.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Burnin' a Hole in His Pocket

The boys' uncle gave them each $10 a couple weeks ago for learning how to do a headstand. I was fairly impressed at the accomplishment, although I informed my brother-in-law that they would have been just as willing to oblige for a buck. Since he handed them the dough, there have been endless discussions on how best to spend the money. I thought that I had convinced Michael to save up for the Lego set he has been eyeing for months, Mission 6: Mobile Command Center. There had, in fact, also been countless discussions about the $90 Lego set. Indeed, some wheelin' and dealin' as well.

Initially, I agreed to pay half of the cost of Mission 6. With the savings goal cut in half, Michael then began negotiations with his brother. I discouraged it with the thought that there might be some Taking-Advantage-of-Younger-Brothers going on, but Jacob insisted that he was in complete agreement with the deal. And the deal was that Jacob would help Michael save up half of the cost of Mission 6 if Michael would then help Jacob save up for half of the item of his choosing. (Michael will surely be in sales someday if his Lego career doesn't lead him to life as an architect.) (Do you even begin to understand how confusing it gets around here with all of these Deals going down?) At both boys' insistence, I stopped defending Jacob, and my only stipulation was that Jacob's money remain in his bank until the goal had been reached. Because you just never know what happens to money once it starts mixing together!

During all of these negotiations, I discussed with my husband my desire to just outright purchase the pricey Lego set for my little Lego Boy for Christmas. After all, while he may have a rather strong dislike for academia, the boy can do amazing things with Legos! He certainly benefits from his hours of lego-ing rather than video gaming. Plus, I reasoned, if he really did work hard at saving his money, getting the Legos for Christmas would be a huge reward for at least trying to achieve such a lofty goal.

However. Today we went to Target because we did not completely fill up our shoeboxes with the stuff we bought on our Wal-Mart field trip yesterday. Every time we've left the house since Uncle John gave them that money, they have asked to bring their wallets. I've put my foot down with a loud, resounding, controlling thud. "You said you would save your money. You need to save it!" Sometimes, though, sometimes I forget I'm a control freak. Today I forgot. It is, after all, their money. To do with what they please. To learn from their actions.

After much, much, much time spent studying EVERY toy in the toy section of Target, I was pleased that each boy chose only small items which meant they would have money leftover. However. It wasn't without some whining and complaining. The first item they wanted to buy was a miniature of one of those claw machines that steals your money and never gives you a prize. That's what they wanted to spend their pooled Lego money on. "It doesn't come with candy," I told them. Aha! Gotcha! "Oh, that's OK," they said, "we'll just use our leftover Halloween candy." I reminded myself that it's their money. But then, as I looked at the box of the dumbest invention ever for $20, a lightbulb went on over my head. "Boys," I said triumphantly, "it doesn't come with batteries. You'll need another 4 or 5 dollars for batteries." Ha! And ha! And they whined and complained. "Can't you buy us batteries?" Then, for good measure once the candy claw thing had been put back on the shelf, Michael said, "Then why don't you just buy Mission 6 for me?"

And herein lies the dilemma. I still want to get the boy his Lego set for Christmas. But will I be sacrificing an important life lesson in doing so?

He was going to save his money, but then he didn't.

But he did only purchase Monkeys in a Barrel, so he still has some money left.

On the other hand, we had a few unsavory moments in aisle 16b today.

But were those moments trying enough to warrant the cold shoulder from Santa Claus?

Why, oh why don't these children come with an instruction manual like the Lego set on my boy's wish list?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Field Trippin'

Our school day today was turned upside down by a mid-day realtor caravan. I spent this morning cleaning up the messes that occurred between the time the maid left yesterday and the very moment the Princess just exited the room leaving her Trail O' Stuff behind her. I thought I might be able to squeeze in some school after the cleaning, but then there was also the baking. I feel it necessary to stuff all of my guests full of baked goods. Of course, with these particular guests, the baked goods were merely a bribe nice gesture.

So no school as we headed out to lunch and to Wal-Mart to pick up goodies for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Never fails. Despite good intentions to get these done way beforehand and therefore make it a much less stressful experience for the kids and me, I ALWAYS leave this for the day before the boxes are due. (This seems to be some kind of trend with me. *sigh*)

Running errands in the middle of a school day always makes me just a touch nervous, causing me to cast furtive glances around me, looking for the Truancy Police. At some point, at some cash register or restaurant table, I have someone ask me, "Oh, are the kids out of school today?" You can see them check their mental calendar for holidays. "No they don't go to school." I'd like to leave it at that, but being the responsible and somewhat paranoid person I am, I then dive into a huge explanation of homeschooling and why we are not at that very moment at home with our heads in a book. As if I need to give an explanation.

Anyway, today we were enjoying a peaceful lunch at Olive Garden when about 25 students and their teachers walked in. Now I have this gift of eavesdropping (can I call that a gift?). Drives my husband crazy. At the end of any meal, I can tell him the life story of the patrons seated next to us (I'm an observant people watcher too, so I can embellish fill in any missing details). So, by using my gift, I gathered that these children were on a field trip. This excursion included Target and, obviously, Olive Garden.

Target and Olive Garden? For a field trip? I pay taxes, not to help me purchase educational materials with which to teach my children, but to help finance field trips to Target and Olive Garden? Isn't that what moms and dads and weekends are for? For trips to Target and Olive Garden? I'm not sure I see the educational value in such an excursion. If there is good news here, however, it would be that I needn't have had my children participate in any schooling when we returned home this afternoon; I could have just counted Olive Garden and Wal-Mart as our school day.

Monday, November 10, 2008


TeacherMommy at Diapers and Dragons tagged me with The ABCs of Me. I love to talk about myself, so I figured why not?

A - Available: Depends what "available" means. Am I available for dating and marriage? Certainly not. Well, except for the dating part. I'm certainly available for that...with my dear husband. Are my kids available? Why, yes they are. When would you like to come over? Hubby and I would LOVE to go on a date.

B - Best friend: My soulmate and husband, of course.

C - Cake or pie: Chocolate cake, chocolate pie. Whatever.

D - Drink of choice: Water. I'm so boring.

E - Essential item you use everyday: I wish I could say with honesty that I use my Bible everyday. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen everyday. I do use my computer on a daily basis, which is a sad commentary on the way I manage my time. And my priorities.

F - Favorite color: Black. My wedding was black. Well, not my dress, people, my bridesmaids' dresses. My mother flipped out when she heard I was going black. "Well," she said, "if someone faints and dies, we can just turn the wedding into a funeral." Afterwards, she agreed that it was the most elegant wedding she'd ever seen.

G - Gummy bears or worms: Definitely the worms. They last longer. You don't just pop 'em into your mouth and they're gone. You can eat them section by section. Much more fun.

H - Hometown: It's the dreaded question any MK faces: "Where are you from?" I've finally reached the "double years" point in my life where I've lived just as long in the US as I did in Africa. That coupled with the fact that I now have my own family, allows me to claim Atlanta, GA, as my hometown. However, I've also lived in Van Nuys, CA (on at least 4 separate occasions); Quebec, Canada; Switzerland; Ferkessedougou, Ivory Coast; Mana, Mali; Bouake, Ivory Coast; Pasadena, CA; Azusa, CA; Birmingham, AL; Athens, GA; Roswell, GA; Norcross, GA; Bethlehem, GA; and now here I am, home sweet home. And hopefully soon to have yet another address.

I - Indulgence: Books, chocolate, and Starbucks' Green Shaken Iced Tea with sweetener. These are the things in which I overindulge.

J - January or February: February, but that's only because there are three birthdays in our family during this month, two of which are hubby's and mine (on the same day!). Otherwise I hate January and February because I loathe the cold, yes, even the Georgia cold.

K - Kids: I've lost count. How many do I have? 4 I think.

L - Life is incomplete without: My husband. Honey, you complete me.

M - Marriage date: 7/2 which, in retrospect was a mistake because now we seldom get to celebrate with all of the other goings-on around that date. We chose that date, however, because we knew we would have MK friends visiting from all over for our wedding, so we chose the holiday weekend. Because we're accommodating like that.

N - Number of siblings: None, and I try desperately to remind my own children how lucky they are to have each other. They're not buyin' it. Yet.

O - Oranges or Apples: Oranges. You know those ones in aisle 5 that come in a blue box. And, if not popped into your mouth, they melt in your hand leaving a gooey, dark, sticky mess that's delicious to lick off? No, really. I'll eat an apple or an orange, though only because I know they're good for me. And quite frankly, I'm so lazy when it comes to eating things that are good for me, that I'd just as soon drink a glass of OJ than peel an orange.

P - Phobias/Fears: Spiders, cockroaches, scorpions. All of which I have found in my house at one time or another. The scorpions really freaked me out. In Africa, the small ones are the most poisonous, so imagine my horror in discovering a tiny scorpion in my children's room when we first moved in. Bug guy told me, though, that these Georgia scorpions are no worse than bees. Hubby can actually testify to that as he was stung by one. I still hate them, though.

Q - Favorite Quote: "I love you" said by any member of my family.

R - Reason to smile: "I love you" said by any member of my family.

S - Season: Summer. Did I mention I loathe cold weather?

T - Tag: I think I'll tag Mare again at Mare's Musings. The last time I tagged her, her rantings thoughts seemed to be somehow therapeutic for her.

U - Unknown fact about myself: Haven't I been rather forthright on this blog? I honestly can't think of anything that would be an unknown and interesting fact (not that everything I've posted is interesting).

V - Vegetable you don’t like: Tomatoes (raw), celery, turnips, avocado, brussel sprouts...Did I mention I don't eat healthy food because I necessarily like it?

Worst habit: Like I'd confess that here! Of the type I'll actually ADMIT to, Procrastination. It gets me in a world of trouble. (OK, and stealing because I stole this answer from TeacherMommy.)

X - X-rays: X-rays? Whatever. May as well have used xylophones.

Y - Your favorite food: Chocolate.

Z - Zodiac: Chocolate. (Just because I think the whole zodiac thingy is rubbish.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Butter and Tennis Elbow

I'm not a big fan of this growing old stuff. It didn't used to bother me. In fact, I used to scoff at the 30, 40, and 50 somethings who would bemoan another year's passing. I scoffed because I was immune. I could eat whatever I wanted. And when I say whatever I wanted, I mean it. I could eat Snickers for breakfast, pizza and brownies for lunch, and cake chased by a milk shake for dinner. Wouldn't gain a pound. Now I no longer roll my eyes when a friend says she gains weight just by looking at a Crunch Bar; now I understand.

Then of course there's the hair. Because I'm half-Asian, I always assumed my heritage would make me at least half-immune to the grays. I mean, how many young to middle-aged Asian women do you see sporting a head full of white hair? Not many. But I've got them. Got my first one after my first was born. Then one for each baby after that. After the baby of the babies was born, well, the gray began to conspire against me. I try to keep after them with the tweezers. I really don't want to start the cycle of coloring my hair. I know. I'm vain.

Vanity is one thing. Then there are the small painful annoyances like backaches. Or tennis elbow. I first began to experience tennis elbow a few months ago. It was an easy, self-prescribed fix: become temporarily left-handed, however clumsy that made me. It worked. The pain went away. Until the other day.

The project from the Prairie Primer was some good ol' fashioned butter churnin' minus the churn and the fresh-from-the-cow cream, of course. We've done this project before only each of the children had their own personal baby jar filled with cream. Much easier and quicker to shake into butter consistency. But no more baby food jars in this household, so I had the bright idea of making one large tupperware of butter and having the kids take turns.

They were all highly enthusiastic about a first turn at the shaking. Their enthusiasm faded somewhat after each turn when they realized how difficult this task was. I therefore assumed most of the shaking. I saw Jacob eye the extraordinarily large value sized block of butter from Sam's Club that was sitting on the counter. Finally, he couldn't take it any longer. "Mommy, there's butter right there," he offered.

"I...know..." I said, breathlessly as I continued to shake the stubborn cream, "...but...I to do...this...just like...Laura and Mary." Yeah, kids. You're not going to fool me into using modern conveniences. You're going to make butter this way so you can learn how difficult life was for them. So you can understand how easy we have it.

I'm not sure any lessons were learned except that I'm getting old. Because all of that butter making brought all of the pain back to my elbow. Like I said, I'm not a big fan of this getting old stuff. Not a huge fan of our homemade butter either.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

For Sale. Again.

After a few weeks' break, our house is once again on the market. Waiting for the floods of expectant buyers...because there were so many of them the last time we had our house for sale. This time, however, I think we have a more aggressive realtor. She's even doing an agent caravan for us next week. In preparation, of course, there has been a lot of cleaning to do. And a little reflecting...

As I was cleaning out a closet, I came across a pile of pictures that never made it on to the walls of our home. And I realized we have never really fully settled here. Somehow we knew we'd be moving on soon, that this wouldn't be our final resting place. As a direct result of the many, many addresses I have called "home", I am loathe to label any place our final resting place (aside from Heaven), although I am trying to curb my wanderlust and replace it with contentedness for wherever I happen to be at the moment. And as I survey all of this junk that will have to be packed up, moved into a temporary resting place, then packed up again to be moved to our new home, I've decided that I might be persuaded to stay at the next location for a longer period of time than I have ever spent in one place...just so I don't have to pack up the house again.

I say "temporary resting place" because the plan is to rent for a year or so while we build a new home. (Yes, we actually enjoy the building process.) Of course, there's no real telling if this is just our plan or also His plan. So, in an effort to not sound too presumptuous, I won't tell you that we have already found a piece of property we wish to purchase. And I won't tell you we've already picked out a new house plan. And that we've already made changes to the new house plan to make it our dream house. Because, if I told you all these things, you would truly think me a bit overeager and possibly a touch psychotic.

What I will tell you is that, although I'm not particularly worried about the opinion of the agents who will parade through here on Tuesday, I did ask the maid to come in. It hurts my pride a little to have the maid come in, but if she didn't, I wouldn't have time to do important things. Like blogging and stuff.

Friday, November 7, 2008


One of the huge benefits of homeschooling is that "home" can be wherever we happen to be at the moment. On the occasion that we get to accompany our traveling man, "home" is the car, the hotel, the pool, the beach...wherever we may roam.

This particular adventure was a short one but still a nice change of pace. Mark had an overnight in Montgomery, so we went along. Our school-time yesterday was split between our mini-van classroom and our hotel classroom. After school we had some time to hang out as a family, and we explored a nearby mall, which had an ice skating rink. As we hung over the side of the rink, we observed a young couple perhaps on a first date, although I would think the young girl would be quite mortified if this indeed was a first date. She was no Michelle Kwan, but at least she did stay upright. She would shuffle a few timid slides forward, wobble, and then grab her beau's hand for support. It was at this point that we made the executive decision that today would not be the day to teach our 4 children how to ice skate. Can you just imagine? We would have ended up in a big family dogpile right there in the middle of the rink.

So we opted for dinner instead and then back to the hotel to fight with the children about bedtime. Actually, they did very well last night, and we only had one nightcrawler--the Princess--who ended up in bed with me because the Queen informed me at 2:30 am that she simply could NOT sleep with Audrey rolling into her ALL night.

Despite a mildly fitful night's sleep, everyone awoke happy. We enjoyed a big breakfast, and then it was back to the classroom on wheels. We finished our school a la Toyota and then put on a movie. Movies always help curb the incessant, "Are we there yets?" and "How much longer?" Carschooling has its good side in that it offers a change of pace. However, it is important not to get too much of a good thing, for the Car Teacher prefers a stationary classroom with room to spread out a bit!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our Fall Break

I think it's because I know we're going to start a new curriculum in a couple of days (UPS says my box will be here Wednesday!). Or maybe it's because my house is a mess. Or a bit of both. All I know is that today was NOT a school day. So I decided we would take our Fall Break today...or maybe all week. And after declaring it Fall Break, I promptly turned it into Fall Cleaning Day (much to my children's chagrin).

Our cleaning day turned into a larger project than I anticipated because I decided to attack the "empty-the-whole-toybox" project. With three capable kids, you'd think this project would go quickly; however, my "helpers" much preferred the role of supervising my pile of Goodwill toys over the actual cleaning up. This is how our conversations went: "No, Mom, you can't get rid of that!" "But you never play with it." "Because I didn't know where it was!" Hmmm...

I have to admit, we made some pretty good finds. Like Mr., er, Ms. Potato Head...


Brer Palin

Inspired by a fabulous outing to the Center for Puppetry Arts where we enjoyed a production of Brer Rabbit and Friends...

So 'dere she was, Brer Palin, jes hoppin' clippity, clippity, clippity, clippity, on de way to a good ol' fashion barbecue. She lickin' her lips when she thinkin' 'bout that juicy moose meat. Den all a da sudden, she stop. "What's dat?" she say. For dere, sittin' by de road is a tar baby. Not jes any ordinary tar baby neither. 'Dis one dressed in a blue shirt wit white pants an' a little red hat sittin' 'top its head. 'De tar baby, he jes stares at Brer Palin, an' he say nothin'.

"Why you starin' at me?" she say.

The tar baby, he say nothin'.

So Brer Palin, she walks up to de tar baby. "If you don't say nothin'," she say, "I'm goin' to punch you one!"

The tar baby, he say nothin'. He jes sits an' stares at her wit his blank eyes.

So Brer Palin, she pulls back her arm far as she can, an' she lets it go. Blip! She punches dat tar baby, an' her han', it sticks fast. She get so mad, she pull back her other arm far as she can an' lets dat one go. Blip! It sticks fast. She get even madder an' start kickin' dat tar baby. Soon, both her legs all stuck up in de tar.

By an' by, who happens by but Brer 'Bama and Brer Biden. Dey all snickerin' and winkin'. "Looks like you a little stuck today," say Brer 'Bama.

"Yeah," say Brer Biden, "looks like we might hafta do you in!" Dey laugh and laugh.

Brer Palin looks at Brer 'Bama and Brer Biden. Brer 'Bama, he so cool, an' ever'body so fooled by his smooth talkin' and all his promises. Biden, he as slick as an oil spill off de coast of Alaska. "Please," she say, "you can take all my money an' give it to ever'body else, even if dey's not workin' hard as me. But please, please, please don't 'lect dat John McCain."

Brer 'Bama and Brer Biden, they jes look at each other an' get ta chucklin'. Den Brer Palin, she say, "You can make me pay more tax. You can stop dem fightin' army folks from protectin' us, an' you can even pal 'round wit some of dem terrists. Jes' please, please don't 'lect dat John McCain."

Brer 'Bama an' Brer Biden jes rollin' on de floor hollerin' and laughin'. Brer Palin say, "An' you can kill dose babies, learn anything you want to de kids in dey schools. Jes' please, please don't 'lect dat John McCain."

Den Brer 'Bama an' Brer Biden, dey looks at each other an' gets all biggity-like. Den Brer 'Bama, he say, "Brer Palin, we ain't gonna 'lect dat McCain fella." An' dey keeps on laughin' so hard dey don't even see Brer Palin wrastlin' wit de Tar Baby. She break one han' loose, den 'nother. Den she break her feet loose too.

She turn 'round an' takes off lickety-split, hollerin' over her shoulder, "You mighta fooled ever' body else, but you ain't fooled me. You're sho gonna see me agin in four years!"

It's going to be a terrifying an interesting 4 years, my friends!

A Note from the Author: I know Brer Palin, she ain't a brer, but I works wit what I got, folks!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Webkinz Results and...Looking for WVP's

My Friends,

Under Webkinz Election Code 793029-12-1, candidates are permitted to extend their campaigns for the following reason: If a candidate’s Campaign Manager seeks to put off today what he (or she) can do tomorrow, a campaign is permitted to file for an extension until such time as the Campaign Manager is able to “pull it together.”

So, let’s first cover the results of the WebkinzElection Primaries in case you hadn’t heard. For the Girlz Party, Eunice the Unicorn pulled off the win with a substantial percentage of the votes, and Snappy did the same for the Boyz Party. (Actual statistics may, at some future date, be uncovered on the desk of the Campaign Manager.)

Eunice and Snappy are both excited about their campaigns and what they feel they can bring to the world: change, hope, and straight talk. Or something like that. At this point in the campaign, these candidates need to find suitable running mates. And so the WVP vetting begins. If you know of any Webkinz who are qualified for, and wish to seek the office of, the Webkinz Vice Presidency, please forward his or her name to the Campaign Manager at Please include the following information:

Webkinz Name
Webkinz Party Affiliation (Boyz or Girlz). Please, no Independents.
A photo (This is optional; WVP candidates will be judged by the content of their character, not the texture of their fur.)
A short paragraph which explains why you should be WVP and how you will change the world.

Potential candidates must have their information to the illustrious Campaign Manager by Friday, November 14.

May the best critter win,
Campaign Manager

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Confessions

Our Little Pumpkin--Confessions of a Biased Photographer
I'm hanging my head a little as I post this. Honestly. In all truthfulness. I promise...I DO NOT love any one of my children above the other. You may think me a liar after seeing the imbalance of pictures. It's just that the Princess is at that age of discovery, and her discovery is so incredibly delightful to observe.

We began our Halloween Eve at Publix where the goodies were disappointingly not very plentiful. However, the kids all scored a cookie at the bakery (not that they don't always score a cookie at the Publix bakery). Then, in the refrigerated section, there was a mini-beanbag toss the children had to complete to earn their piece of candy. Clearly, the cookie was of utmost importance to Her Highness. She seemed a bit perturbed that we required her to pause her munching to participate in the toss. She was almost blatant in the way she kept chewing as she nonchalantly tossed the five beanbags.

When dark finally came, we were able to leave Publix behind and do some real trick-or-treating, which she enjoyed thoroughly. She darted from house to house, trying to keep up with her brothers and sister, her little pumpkin head bouncing merrily along. Her timid little "Twick-or-tweat" and "tank you" encouraged many candy-givers to chuckle.

When we had a few blocks under our belt, and the Princess' bucket was so heavy she had to relinquish it to us in between stops, we finally called it a night. Obviously, the night wasn't over, though. Although generally a very compliant child, she was quite cunning and snuck in at least two more pieces of candy over the limit we set on them. In addition, she participated in several candy trading negotiations.

Once negotiations had ended and she had been aptly scolded for eating too much candy, she settled herself down to play with the candy, taking out each piece, examining it, and then placing it in a line. When the line was complete, she dubbed it her Candy Road. And as I write this, our little pumpkin is seated on the couch talking to her candy and fingering each tasty, gooey building block of her divine road.

Rocks in Your Bucket--Confessions of a Cheapskate Mom
Every year I cry a little for Charlie Brown when he realizes that all the other kids got candy while he only got a rock in his sack. But then I kinda relate to the trickster who gave him the rock. I mean, it's so much more economical to dispense rocks than to divvy out bags of expensive candy. It would be an especially frugal way to go here in Georgia where our red clay is laden with rocks. Thankfully, we don't live in a traditional neighborhood and therefore don't give anything; we just go to my brother-in-law's neighborhood to get can just think of us as Democratic Trick-or-Treaters.

What always gets me every year are the costumes. Remember the good ol' days when Mom made your costume? Every year I resolve to do that, but just like New Year's Resolutions, the well-known Halloween Resolution is not really meant to be honored. If you'll remember, last year, I coerced the children into wearing a costume that went along with our studies; that justified the cost. This year, however, I left the whole costume project until the last minute and then had to go out and buy them. Alex mentioned long ago she wanted to be a witch, but because my principles don't support witches and all that, I said no. Then I got to the store. $30 for the fairies, $40 for the cheerleader (which doesn't rate that much higher for me over the witch), $25 for the witch. So, friends, I compromised my principles to save some dough. In my defense, this is a good witch, one who wears pink. Surely a pink witch cannot be evil, right?

As for the others, we had a ninja and a skeleton. Not first choices for the boys but the cheapest on the rack, and so after much wheeling and dealing, Ninja and Skeleton it was. As for the resident princess, I'm afraid she receives the trick end of the deal when it comes to costumes; she gets the hand-me-downs. She wanted to be Ariel, so I took her big sister's Ariel costume, which is at least a few sizes too big, and I pinned it. I don't think I pinned it well, however, because she kept saying "Ariel hurts." She happily settled for the hand-me-down pumpkin; someday she'll realize she's being duped. Until then I'll continue my resolve to make costumes next year...and always hope for Bottle Caps--my favorite--instead of rocks in the kids' buckets. Sadly, there were no Bottle Caps this year.