Saturday, April 29, 2006

the sound of silence

Andy now tells me he has empathy with me. Not sympathy, but empathy.

I have no voice at all today. What does come out is a dry, raspy squeak rather like an ancient playground's merry-go-round. So why bother talking?

Two reasons:
  1. Son, and
  2. Daughter.
Have you any idea how much a mom needs a voice?? It's been a rainy day today; kids are stuck inside and driving each other crazy, and my trying to control them by the power of my voice is laughable. Rather like David attempting to kill Goliath with a well-slung marshmallow.

I've been drinking tons of water and herbal tea the last several days and resting my voice as much as possible, but it has only worsened. Oh, and did I mention I have concerts this coming Friday and Saturday night with the South Sound Classical Choir? Not to worry. (Mantra, must repeat this to myself continuously over the next few days if things do not improve.)

Well, after all, which of us, by worrying, can add "a cubit to our stature" ? So therefore, I will not worry about my voice being gone. My Heavenly Father knows I have need of this thing! ;O)

On the plus side, I did a graduation cake this morning/afternoon; the people will be here any minute to pick it up. I've known Alexandra since she was about 3. I remember well that the teenagers at church would dread having her in their teen-run Sunday night children's program. She was a smart kid, opinionated, and determined to have her own way. Now she's graduating from high school this year, and has a scholarship to Wazzu to major in engineering. I am not surprised. The "Cindy" I do not know; she's someone else at their church who is graduating with her master's in TESL. (Sorry the photo is yellow; the flash didn't fire because the batts are low.) By the way, burgundy makes frosting taste absolutely horrible. Word.

Another plus: I snapped this future blackmail photo of D. this evening. He was stomping around the house shouting "YUM YUM! EAT 'EM UP! YUM YUM! EAT 'EM UP~!" I have no idea why. Finally I took notice (remember marshmallows and Goliath: I haven't been doing much interactive parenting today)--- the dear boy had pulled a diaper around his neck and stuck a maxi pad over his eyes! I was laughing my head off - (squeaky-quiet)-- but the expression on A's face was a great sight to behold. He said tiredly: "Get that off your you KNOW what that is?" D's response: "A diaper!"

We didn't bother to enlighten him. Two different kinds of diapers, sure! Well, actually...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Chocolate Rules!

hat tip to Rebecca. I shamelessely memed this (is that the right term?) from her blog.

Your Icecream Flavour is...Chocolate!
You are the all time favorite, chocolate! Turning white kids black since the 1800s. Staining carpets, car seats, and bed sheets for centuries. One thing is for sure, you will never go out of style. You can't go wrong with chocolate!
What is your Icecream Flavour?

Find out at Go Quiz

Praise the Lord, and Pass the Cough Drops

S is on round 2 of antibiotics: ear infection is back. A. continues to cough up his lungs nightly (I am listening to him hack even as I type). I am dealing with some really nice allergies that glue my eyelids closed every morning, post-nasal drip that gives me a chesty cough and a sore throat, and laryngitis that makes it nigh impossible to speak. D. is just fine and dandy, thank you for asking!

Ah well, "in sickness and in health"! Pray for patience. God will give us the grace to deal with this.

On the investigative front: I'm looking into a preservative/additive-free diet called Failsafe (similar to Feingold, if you have heard of either) to help with some issues I'm observing in the kids. I am not your typical crunchy granola hippie mother, but there is something to be said for how much chemical crud is in the food we eat -and how does this really affect us, long-term? So I'm trying to do my homework, and once I've gotten more of my ducks in a row, and if the Lord wills, I will be starting an elimination diet amongst our family to see if there are some food intolerances that are affecting us negatively. I am pretty sure that most of the store-bought breads and crackers will be gone. What I'm not sure about is whether we'll go gluten- and dairy- free at the same time, or wait a bit. Fortunately the kids like Rice Dream, but not VitaSoy at this point. I don't even want to think about what A. will say. ("WHAT?? I switched from whole milk to fat free, and now you want to get rid of milk altogether?!") Not to mention what will happen when the salami and cheese disappears on Sunday night picnics.

*sigh....* yes, ONLY if the Lord wills, this will happen.

There's lots I do not know, so, like I said, I have to do my homework.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Another Reason to Homeschool

Yep, this is our town. Thank God that Columbine has left everyone much more sensitive and not willing to regard people like this as just blowhards without any true intent. They actually found the makings of bombs in this kid's house! "Take me seriously, or you'll be sorry if you don't."

This whole "striving for significance" that, really, all of mankind does--for some, it doesn't matter whether they are loved and adored; they'll be just as fulfilled if they are hated and feared. As long as they are KNOWN.

Don't we all have this tendency, though? A desire to leave our mark on the world in some way? (Not everyone, of course, will do this by violent and destructive means!) Maybe for me, it's through this blog. Or the book that I keep thinking about writing, but never actually doing. Or the music I'd like to compose. For someone else, it might be through their children. Or their car collection. Or their perfectly-manicured lawn. Or their stock portfolio. Or their fashion sense. Go on, ad nauseam.

Any self-aggrandizement, however seemingly harmless, detracts from the glory of God.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer!

--Psalm 19:14

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Bakers Dozen(s)

Right now the Spring Fair is going on, which means instead of 17 days of crowds, weirdos, and lovely burger aromas wafting around town, we only get 4.

And the owner of the scone trailers at The Fair made a deal with those of us in the Valley Arts Society: we could staff one of his trailers from 4-closing every night during the Spring Fair, and he would donate $0.15 per scone sold during our time!

I've always wanted to work at the fair, but never have been able to. I remember Rebecca telling me about working scones, and how the dough made her hands feel. Since that time I've always wanted to work in the scone booth! I mean, the product sells itself; the scones are marvelous. So yesterday at 4 pm, I showed up at the designated trailer and got to work! But not in the dough. And not baking. And not even splitting, buttering, jamming, or bagging the scones.

I got to be the cashier.

YES! Meeting thousands of strangers, taking their money, giving them their scones, talking them into buying MORE scones, introducing new soldiers at Fort Lewis to the wonders of the Fisher Fair Scones.... I had a fabulous time. We were busy the whole night. The baker had 5 trays in the oven going constantly (about 200 scones; the max that the oven could hold) - and we got rid of them as fast as we could make them.

The lines got longer. Many people wanted Bakers Dozens. And I don't blame them: with scones priced at $1/each, and a bakers dozen (meaning 13 scones) priced at $11- hey, it's a deal, especially when you're a teenager hanging out with a group of friends and you're all ravenous. It wasn't always teens, though--one woman in her mid 60's walked up and ordered 3 Dozens. She had to wait for a bit; the assembly line was backed up. Immediately behind her, a man ordered 2 Dozen. Eeep! I reassured them that their scones would be extremely fresh and hot; if they'd please just step to the right, I'd get them their scones ASAP. The customer behind him: another dozen! I was getting a little antsy that people might start to get irritated at the wait, but nobody seemed to mind at all. And in reality, their wait was only 1-2 minutes each.

I had some spending money in my purse to go out and grab a Smitty Burger and see the rest of the fair when I took a break, only that time never came. I was behind that register from 4:30 until 10! The lines died down at 9:35, but I was going to be ready: I got 7 bakers dozens prepped and in their bags, waiting for the onslaught of the fair workers that I suspected would come by on their way home from their shifts. My efforts were rewarded; however, it really wasn't an onslaught at all. Just one or two dozen.

Then the owner came by, closed the lid down, told us to wipe off the counters and sweep the crud out the door; let the morning crew deal with the details... but I do NOT like to operate that way. So I restocked the pop cooler, filled the napkin dispenser, got out more coffee cups and lids, restocked the bags of mix, and filled up the brown paper bag rack.

And funny enough, after we were closed, people STILL came by, asking if we had any scones left! We made an additional $6 after the till was empty and we were officially shut down.

OH. And all those bakers dozens I'd made up in advance? the owner told us to divvy them up and take them home with us.

I have 26 scones in ziplocs in my freezer!

--and I looked at the cash register report on the way out: we'd sold about $5400 worth of products. That wasn't *all* scones, but 98% of it surely was. About 5000 scones! WoW!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Is this for real??!

Puh LEEZE. People give this woman money?

INSOMNIA and book reviews

After flipping and flopping in bed for the last 1.5 hours, I gave up sleeping as pointless for the time being and came out to the living room. I love laptops and WiFi!

Occasionally I make it to the library. It's pretty sad; me, the literature geek, not able to regularly visit the library, but it's true. However, due to WASL testing this week, I didn't begin piano teaching until 3 pm on Weds, so at 1 pm the family --ME INCLUDED!-- walked down to the library.

Hence, I've read a couple new books. Let me preface by saying (if you don't know already) that I really don't read "grownup" books and never have done much of that. I honestly prefer reading young adult fiction. It's a throwback to my teaching days, trying to find "that perfect book for so-and-so" - but also, I just enjoy the whole genre. With the exception of the Printz award books, but that's another post.

Before I got to the library, though, Tuesday night I picked up Robert Newton Peck's book A Day No Pigs Would Die. Geared for early teen boys, it's a serious coming-of-age story. If you're looking for similarities to Peck's VERY funny Soup series of books--you won't find any, except that the main character is named Rob Peck. I've got mixed emotions on this book; in a nutshell, it's like your classic boy and dog story, except PIG replaces dog. And you know what happens to the dog in all those "classic" books!! It's (overly) graphic at times; the language is occasionally rude, but not gratuitous. One of my 6th grade English students had LOVED THIS BOOK and his mom told me about it, so I followed through and read it myself. I could see where it would appeal to Philip; I'd use caution with other, different kids though! Rob (main character, first person narrative) is a Shaker boy growing up in Vermont. He helps a neighbor's cow give birth; and in gratitude, the neighbor gives Rob a piglet. The pig is more pet than pork - but the Shaker lifestyle (according to this book) doesn't put up with frills, so when the piggie doesn't produce piggies of her own.....well, that' s just an extra mouth to feed, so to the butcher she must go. Oh, and conveniently, Rob's Shaker dad is a butcher. There's a lot of conflicting emotion there! "I love my dad, but I love my pig==I hate my dad, who has to kill my pig....I love my dad, who does what's right even though it's difficult..." etc.
Ironically enough, from what I know of Shakers, they were celibate. Which is why the sect has just about died out. So for this boy to be living in a "Shaker Family" makes me wonder about the rest of the "Shaker traditions" mentioned in this book --artistic license?

Yesterday I read a library book that I got entirely because of the title: How To Train Your Dragon, by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, translated from the Old Norse by Cressida Cowell (btw her husband's name is....Simon. Isn't that the guy on American Idol?? (which I have never seen, for the record) (like it matters, but some people start to wonder about your "spirituality" if you mention something like that without some foolish disclaimer. BUT I DIGRESS.) ) )

Anyway, back to the point! CHARMING book. I'm going to read it to the kids, especially since we are studying the Vikings right now in History. In the book, Hiccup has a huge problem: he's the chief's son, therefore he's expected to be More Viking Than Thou--the issue is, Hiccup tends to use his brains, rather than the typical Viking response of brawn (which he lacks). To pass the rite of initiation into their tribe, he and each of his age-mates have to go steal a baby dragon from a dragon nursery, and train it/make it obedient by Thor's Day (which my two children could tell you is where we get our day "Thursday" thanks to History lessons) (excuse the parental moment). Well, Hiccup ends up getting the smallest, toothless dragon. (How will THAT look as a chief's son?) The book details How To Become A Hero The Hard Way. Hiccup's brains (plus his ability to understand and speak the dragons' language) eventually save the day when a huge Sea Dragon washes ashore and threatens the entire tribe. Geared toward lower elementary, but not quite a read-alone book until grade 3 or so.

Tonight's book was Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji-Li Jiang. Unputdownable. Should be required reading for every middle school student. It's Ji-Li's autobiography of growing up in China during Chairman Mao's quest to abolish the Four Olds: old culture, old traditions, old ideas, old habits. She is devoted to Mao and his ideas, and longs to be a revolutionary, but finds herself increasingly held back, because her grandfather was a landlord---hence, a capitalist who exploited others. THroughout the book, she struggles with her family's bad class status and witnesses the propaganda campaigns launched against many people whom she loved and respected. I'm still processing all the ramifications of this, plus I'm a little sleep drunk (do I hear robins chirping outside now? NUTS. It's 5:25 am and I've been awake since 3!!!!) --- but this is a book I plan to get and keep on my shelves.

OK. I have to be out the door at 8:45 to take the kids to piano. Hopefully I've sat up long enough now to be able to scrounge another few hours of sleep. Begorrah!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Christ Is Risen Indeed

Happy Resurrection Day!

It's been a while since I've used Audra's digital camera (since mine bit the dust and she has like three, she isn't missing one of them :) ) - so here are what my kids looked like this morning following the church service.

And no rain! yet.

Here is S next to my tulips (which look stunning against my grey house).

Now D and he's wearing a TIE---ooooo!

Thanks to Grandma Sandy, these outfits arrived yesterday in the mail. Just in the nick of time, otherwise I'd have had to go back out to Wal Mart (scary scary thought).

Our two halflings share a laughing moment.

Ok , off to heat up the ham and stuff!

Eat the ears off your chocolate bunny first; then he won't be able to hear you coming after that.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Goin' Mo- Take Two

OK, Rebecca straightened me on how to publish from e-mail. Had to check a
little box that wasn't checked before.

So this is a rather pointless post, but it reassures me it can be done.

Off to figure out what's for dinner!


Sharper Iron Relaunching

This has been a good time to break my addiction to Sharper Iron, a Christian blog and forum. Earlier this week their site went down due to their hard drive crashing....and it's been unrecovered up till this point because their web hoster did not back up regularly. (gee, this sounds familiar to me!)

So they're redesigning the site and will reopen a week from Monday. Time to break the habit!

South Hill on Saturdays...

...and especially the day before a ALWAYS a bad idea. I knew this before I ventured forth. It was necessary, however. Neither S nor D had any decent Sunday shoes that fit properly. We sneaked into WallyWorld about 11:20 am. It was busy, but not overwhelming. Managed to get dress shoes for them both, and some sneakers for S--then back in the car by 11:45. We needed to get to karate in Graham by 12:30, so instead of battling Meridian traffic southbound, I took a shortcut down to the Sumner-Orting Highway and went up the back way. Saved tons of time; we were there 15 minutes early!

After karate, I knew I had to do more shopping. We crept slowly back into town (this time via Meridian northbound); got some groceries at the new Safeway (lines horrible); grabbed lunch at McD's; and sadly, had to go to WalMart again for things i was unable to get the first time due to time constraints. It only took me about 10 minutes to grab the items- but by this time, the LINES to check out were absolutely horrendous!! My stars!! By this time D and S are quarrelling. I put one on one side of the cart, one on the other, told them not to speak to one another, and put on a happy face (probably a little strained). The lady in line behind us was cracking jokes about how she went through the same thing, etc. and I smiled as warmly as I could at her while trying to keep my kids in check.

I didn't check my cellphone time (I wasn't wearing a watch) but we easily spent 30 minutes in line waiting to check out. I only had 5 items; everyone else had carts filled to the brim, it seemed. And the checkout clerk was painfully slow. Ah well. Serves me right for delaying my shopping until a holiday weekend!

For tomorrow, I've made a fresh strawberry pie (craving!). With it (oh, yes, the main course) will be a spiral ham and a Taste of Home recipe I've wanted to try called Onions Neptune. Add a broccoli casserole and it will be perfect. The only thing is, we're probably going to be too full to enjoy it properly. There's a breakfast at church tomorrow, and that usually involves a great deal of food. I'm bringing orange juice! wuahahahahaha.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Goin' Mo

e-Blogging, the wave of the future? Thought I'd give it a try--though
honestly, what's the point? If I have to go online to send the email to
Blogger, I might just as well log into the dashboard and post something!

Still, might be useful if I'm posting from my phone. not easy to type
using a 10-key though!

So this is an official test post--e-Blogging, live from Puyallup.

****EDIT**** Ok, I can blog from email, but it saves as a draft until I get back to Dashboard. What's the point, then? nice try, Blogger, but no cigar.

CSS Woes


I was goofing off with my template here today, and now all my posts have Times New Roman. IT DOESN'T SAY THAT ANYWHERE IN THE CSS. I want Verdana. or Trebuchet.


I want to put on some spring colors!!

**edit** - ok, this should be in Trebuchet now....

BUT I want it to default that way!

I do not have time to learn CSS!! I want this to be easy!! *waaahaahhaaaaa*

Mommy Moments

I've several anecdotes of mommyhood that have been niggling at me to record them here in cyberspace. These have taken place over the last two weeks or so, during the illness, etc.

Moment 1: Sleep Talking

In the middle of the night during the flu weeks, I heard S. cry out. I dragged myself from my bed to her ailing side. "What is it, Sweet Pea?" I asked.

"I have to throw up!"

"Here's the bowl." I hand it to her.

She ignores the bowl, and whimpers and cries some more.

"I'm hungry!!"

"Here's some crackers." I hand her a saltine, which she also ignores. However, she makes smacking sounds with her lips.

"They make us wipe our bums before they launch the rocket," she explains.

"WHAT?!" I respond.

More insistently, S declares, "They make us wipe our bums before they launch the rocket!"

I laugh my head off, write this exchange down in my notebook, and return to bed.
She has no recollection of this incident.

Moment 2: Sleep Talking, Part II
Two nights later, I go in to check on S. to be sure she has water, take her temperature, etc. She looks up at me, glazed expression fixed on her young face. "It's tough on the river," she tells me sadly.

Later on that same evening, she was rather upset. I questioned her, and she told me "there's not enough room for you and me in this [Kleenex] box!" No, my dear, there surely isn't!

Moment 3: Won the Battle; Not So Sure About the War

Last night I told the kids I was going to take a bath; please practice your piano while I'm in there; THEN, and only then, may you watch The Little Rascals on video.

I finished my bath at 9:00 p.m. I saw all of S's piano books still on the piano in front of D's. I knew she had practiced. Both kids, however, were watching videos in the living room. "D, did you practice?" (knowing full well he hadn't). "Um, noooo..."

I proceeded to turn off the TV, informed him that he would not be watching any TV the following day, and to get to the piano immediately. Which he did, STOMP-STOMP-STOMP. Cue: "Intervention" Time! After administering the discipline, I was treated to a brief (ahem, very brief) lecture from my dear son about how I, as a mom, always get my own way!! So, intervention time--a second time. He flopped his bottom down on the piano bench, folded his arms, and, as Kipling would say, behaved as a camel would ("HUMPH!")

Third intervention... this time from Dad. There was crying, oh yes, precious, but no submission. After the FOURTH bout of disciplinary action, back at the piano, D choked, gagged, and said "I have to throw up!"

Unsympathetic, we told him to get to the bathroom. He did make it, thankfully. After washing hands, face and mouth, we told him to get back to the bench and practice.

"WHAT?!!?!! I threw up and YOU DON"T EVEN CARE!!!"


Finally, ONE HOUR LATER at 10:00 p.m., he had finished the --three-- songs he had to practice. There was forced compliance, but the rebellion remained. We had a threesome discussion after the fact, reminding him that his behavior was not only dishonoring to his parents, but also dishonoring to God. We reassured him of our love for him, and prayed with him that he would make the right choices in the future.

Oh, and this morning, he sat down at the piano-- without being told-- and completed all his work.

So, something good came out of last night's exhausting mommy (and daddy) moment!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

new obsession


It's pretty sad. I bought a grocery-store booklet of sudoku puzzles for a supplementary birthday present for A - but then he and the rest of the family were so sick, and I was lonely..... I CONFESS........I STOLE BACK THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT!! **Sob, sob**

I've been getting through 2 or 3 puzzles a day now; trying to hide my addiction is getting ever more difficult. Is there a hotline I can call? I don't want this to ruin my life.

staggering back to good health

OY. SUCH a time as we have had!! (said with best Jewish accent I have).

This influenza lasts and lasts. Praise be to God that I never got a full dose of it, thanks to the drug called Tamiflu. I still have a secondary, lingering ear infection, though. I"m on day 10 of the antibiotics (like, the last dose is today) and my left ear is still plugged up.

A. keeps joking about our having a "deaf-mute" household: he still can't speak well due to his lingering who-knows-what (Flu? bronchitis? sinus infection? probably all of the above) - so between his sotto voce and my one working ear.......we're practicing for our dotage years!

Spring break wasn't entirely a break in our home. We used two days to get caught up in Science - now the online school "progress bar" is in line with History. I am a compulsive "box checker" in tracking the kids' progress on I love seeing the completion bar move ever closer toward the finish line= 80% is required to move ahead to the next year's coursework; we'll make that just fine. Lord willing and no more illness.

Tonight was another group piano lesson at Mimi's. These are always fun, but challenging. She gives difficult homework. For tonight, we had to analyze a Landler by Schubert; compose our own Landler; prepare all scales in 8's to the metronome click of 88 (I am SO NOT THERE. It's a worthy goal, but not one I'm willing to bust my rump for at present); and also compose a 16-bar melody using one of the scalar modes (Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Phrygian, etc.) Well, of the 5 people in the class, only two had done the homework. (yes, I was one of the two).

After we go through the homework together, we move on to performances - play, from memory (if at all possible), something we're presently working on. It's always nice to hear other people play, especially at the adult level. But, only two people were really prepared for that. And I was one of them.

Rereading this, it sounds like I had an "I'm all that" evening, but in reality, I hadn't done the homework until this afternoon when I had an unexpected 2 hour block of time in which to do it. And the performance piece I HAD to do, because I didn't play at last month's meeting, so I was rather obligated to do so.

After the evening class was over, I did some sightreading duets with another lady in the class named Kari. We'll be performing a Mozart sonata together in June sometime.

I came home tonight to find the kids' piano books scattered around on the floor. This is actually a good thing: it means they practiced when I wasn't standing over them with a bullwhip.

A. just came in from his office. He's looking gaunt, pale, and exhausted. I must put him to bed. Come to think of it, I belong there too. I'm whipped!

And if this silly ear of mine doesn't unplug soon, I'll.....