Friday, November 30, 2007

Pet Names

No, I don't mean cute things I call my kids, I mean the names the kids give their pets. Did I mention the menagerie? We are allergic to cats (alas), but not to catfish. We are also allergic to dogs, but I draw the line at dogfish. We currently have 17 live (non robotic) pets: 8 fish, 5 finches, 2 gerbils and 2 hermit crabs.

My favorite name is Leena's name for her frog. The frog is not alive, strictly speaking. It is a life sized bullfrog aerator. In other words, it sits in her fish tank and belches bubbles at intervals. Since he shares a tank with Princess (a very pretty male Betta) and Love (a catfish with spots and stripes), I thought he should be called "the Frog Prince." "No!" Leena protested, "His name is Mr. Juicy Frog!"

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Initially it tested as "Genius", but the last two Oob posts brought it down to postgrad. Boy, aren't I smart!

Except... as The Queen of Carrots pointed out, it doesn't mean that at all.

It's not saying I'm that smart, it's saying that you're that smart if you can read this blog. I'm not sure exactly how these things are calculated, but I think it means I am merely abstruse, excessively devoted to multisyllabic meanderings, and am entrenched in the habit of composing sentences that proceed for exorbitant lengths.

In other words, I don't write well... Sorry.

On the bright side, now you're a genius again!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gratuitous Cute Baby Post

You know, I have had a baby before, but there are all these things I rediscover with each one.

Top Ten things I forget about this age:
10. It is just so cute when they eat their toes!
9. Every time I pick him up he gets his hands into my hair, tries to eat my hair, then settles for giving me a big wet baby kiss on whatever part of my face he can pull close enough.
8.When he nurses, he sticks his fingers in my mouth.
7.He likes to try nursing on my chin.
6. He thinks Daddy's chin is weird!
5. He knows anything small on the floor must be good to eat because Mommy will wrestle him for it.
4. Dancing will always get a laugh, dancing with him gets extra laughs.
3. If he can move, he can move more quickly than you think (baby gate the first time he wiggles backward).
2.His head is warm and fuzzy and smells good.
1. A wiggling, giggling baby reaching out to you is irresistible!

Oob is on the Move!

He wiggles! He wriggles! He flips over! He turns on his tummy!

Watch out, little bits of stuff on the carpet, here he comes!

He's a big baby! sniff.

Great News and Not So Great News

Great news: The ever delightful Queen of Carrots is expecting her third duckling! Go congratulate her!
Not so great: she's "morning" sick! We all know this does not mean she feels better after noon, right? Go offer solace and support!

How about offering a prayer and/or making a small sacrifice for her today? I remember so well the 2 toddler and constant nausea thing. If you've missed out on the experience, try wallpapering a room without using your arms while having a splitting headache. For three months.

I guess that misses the nice parts: 2 amazing and wonderful small people and the delight of knowing another new little one is nestled in secret beneath your heart. Plus experiencing God's love and Providence at new levels through your spouse, family and friends... but I mean it's physically really difficult!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Let It Go

There was this guy who worked in the lab across the hall. One day I happened to be over there running some lengthy assays on their equipment and we started talking. This happens a lot in a lab. Experiments often take great gobs of time where you are either standing around watching or doing some brainless work that takes forever. So you talk a lot and you get to know your colleagues really well. One of my favorite things about the job.

Anyway, this is what the guy told me: His elementary school gave out awards at the end of the year, you know the type: most improved, perfect attendance, most trips to the nurse, whatever. He decided, at the end of second grade, to go for perfect attendance the next year.

The boy had a goal and he never wavered. No matter how sick he was, no matter what vacation his family wanted to take, no matter how nice the day, he was bound and determined to have Perfect Attendance. His eye was on the prize and he made it! Perfect Attendance! That fateful Last Day of School he sat on the edge of his seat as they handed out the prizes... he waited... he waited... They forgot the Perfect Attendance prize. They just forgot. No one had noticed his Perfect Attendance.

Unbelievable! Outrageous! It's a rotten, stupid, unfair thing to have happen... when you are 8. This guy was an MD and a PhD at one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. He was happily married to a lovely woman and they had two beautiful children. He was young and healthy. He had everything going right in his life and he was still genuinely mad about not getting that Perfect Attendance certificate when he was 8!

That's when it hit me: those rotten, stupid, unfair things that I was mad about from my childhood, I was never going to stop being mad about them until I made the decision to forgive the people and LET IT GO.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thankful for:

A full house, full hands, a full life. Packed down, shaken together, overflowing.
Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gingerbread: Oops! Wrong Holiday!

This was Mxyl's entry and he won 3rd place in the child division!!! He did a great job!

Notice the sharks in the pool and the octopus hanging out of the attic!

Gingerbread: Bethlehem Means House of Bread

This was my entry! Incidentally, this was the first year entering the contest for each of us. Zorg wanted to try, but was too young for the contest so he will be doing one this week just for us. Last I heard he wants to do the Pyramids.

Gingerbread: Plutarch's Temple to Apollo

This is Klenda's entry. Totally her idea! She explained that there were lots of fish in the stream because they were using them to sacrifice.

I love her Plutarch and Timoxena (Plutarch's wife)! They really look like little old people! I totally can not believe she didn't win a ribbon!

Gingerbread: A Very Married Christmas

So what did you do in your home school today? Um. All classes were called on account of gingerbread. We have done some things besides gingerbread in these last 2 weeks before the gingerbread contest. I'm pretty sure.

This is Angel's entry and it won third prize in the adult division. You do not want to know what first prize looked like! You can click on the pictures for a better view.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Adultification 2

There were some good comments on the first post:

I agree; many "safe" kid areas have become more "adult" of late, leaving fewer and fewer "safe havens" for kids' entertainment. I also agree that this comes from adults who haven't matured yet, partially due to the delay in/destruction of marriage, availability/encouragement of contraception, etc. (The Grand Emporer)

Well, it only makes sense since the kids can't vote and don't have any money so why not pretend they don't exist? (La Bibliotecaria Laura )

It's interesting, isn't it? I've heard people claim our culture is child centered because many parents give their children so much and enroll them in so many activities.

Which brings up another point: there also seems to me a variety of adultification wherein children's things are being done for adult reasons. I had a mom suggest my kids take up lacrosse because there were fewer kids competing for lacrosse scholarships in top colleges. My oldest was 8.

Another example would be over scheduling kids because the parents either are trying to live vicariously or make sure their kids don't "fall behind" in the perfection game. I'm not saying every soccer mom is doing this for vicarious thrills! I'm saying that kids should not be seen as extensions (or possessions) of their parents and that success isn't always defined by the ivy league.

The Imperfect Trip

After 10 years and 6 kids, I just had the loudest trip to the pediatrician's ever. Forget decibels, it was recorded by seismographs several counties away.

It was just me, Choclo and Oob. And several million ear dwelling bacteria, but I didn't know that when we started. I just wanted to know why Choclo was so cranky and thought we'd better check Oob while we were at it. I suspected the ears and dreaded the trip.

Choclo is smart. I remember wishing I had a genius child... I wish I had thought that through. I am sure that some day I will be glad for his excellent memory and creative problem solving, but the point at which he had squirmed under the chairs in the examining room, holding on to the back chair legs for dear life while screaming at the top of his lungs (and encouraging Oob to do the same), such gratitude did not occur to me.

I guess he hasn't forgotten, let alone forgiven, the shots 6 months ago.

Two nice things: I realized this would have been this bad if I had only had 2 kids, and I realized that when I did have only 2 kids, this sort of thing ruined my day. From the 6 kid viewpoint, I remembered the perfect trip from a few days ago, laughed at the cosmic melodrama and wished the doctor a quieter day.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


That's what I call it when adults take over something meant for kids and suit themselves by making it unsuitable for kids. The Transformer movie is a prime example. Heres what I think happened.

I think the adults liked Transformers when they were kids. Now, when they get to make a movie about it, they make the movie they would like to see: lots of violence, pretty scary, throw in a heavy dose of sarcasm and tight low cut clothing (on the girls, not the giant robots).

Another example would be video games. A cursory look at X Box magazine (in a barber shop) shows that they are not just selling games (heavy sexual content in the ads), and the games they are selling often contain "adult" (read impure and hyperviolent) content.

How about comic books? Not just for kids anymore? Try NOT for kids anymore! Immoral "heroes" reflect the desires of adults, not kids.

Heres my theory: Video games, comic books and other amusements are supposed to be primarily for kids. Not that an adult shouldn't be amused from time to time, but an adult should not have time for extensive video game playing (we can talk later about how much time kids should have for idle non constructive amusement.) The point is that childhood has been extended and idealized as a time of license: do what you want with no responsibilities and no repercussions. Why grow up and be responsible? Why have kids to ruin your fun? They might break your toys!

I think kids are being crowded out of childhood by adults who don't want to grow up. What do you think?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Boy Makeovers


And After:
As you can see they are all much happier except for Choclo. Maybe that's because he looks like wild beavers broke into the house and chewed on his hair. Or maybe he wanted to be a Beatnik.

I do pretty well on older kids but the Emporer still insists on getting a professional haircut. I don't know why. Maybe he thinks I'll give him the wild beaver cut, which I would if he didn't hold still even after I gave him a lollipop.

The Perfect Trip

We had a one in a million shopping trip at the grocery store this morning: the kids, unasked, pushed the cart and loaded and unloaded the conveyor while chatting nicely with the cashier and each other while the toddler made the baby giggle... The cashier asked if the kids were home schooled and I, of course, smiled like it was always like this and said, "Why, yes, we do. That's why my children are so well socialized." OK, so I didn't say the last part out loud! Still, it's kind of nice to not look like a lunatic all the time!

If you home school or have a large family, don't you feel like, good or bad, you are the poster family in people's minds? If you are having a bad day, you are the reason children should never be home schooled. If there is a rare planetary conjunction like today, you are the proof that home schooling produces model citizens. Same for large families. I, personally, do not seem to attract negative comments, not because my children are usually so perfect, but, I think, because people with negative comments seem to have a sense of who will or will not answer back. Must be a vestigial hunting instinct, but they avoid the lunatic with a glint in her eye!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hacking the "Non-Educational" Obsessions

I live in the shadow of giant robots. After years of carefully screening everything our kids watched, bought, or read, Transformers slipped in under the cloak of The Fight between Good and Evil. Well, it is about the fight between good and evil and the good guys win by being good and the bad guys lose because, well, they're bad.

It's not bad, really, it's just that the kids will live and breathe it to the extent we will allow. It would be great if they were this into Lord of the Rings, or Little House on the Prairie, or Ancient Egypt, or learning Latin, Greek and Hebrew.

After waiting a year or so for the obsession to die down or mutate into something "educational," I decided to hack into it. We were lagging in the math department due to pregnancy/new baby stuff so, over the summer I became: OPTIMATH PRIME!! (For the blissfully ignorant, Optimus Prime is the leader of the good guy Autobots). Mxyl was Sumblebee (Bumblebee) and Klenda was R squared (Arcee). They saved planets by doing long division! They conquered Decepticons by reducing fractions. They all did word problems involving how many blasts it would take to knock out (X) bad guys if each bad guy took (Y) blasts to knock out, and how far a sentry would walk around a (regular polygon) building if the side was (X) meters. Remarkable progress!

I branched out into spelling: Bumblebee's Spelling Bee was a hit. How about writing? Dictation or copywork or creative writing about giant robots? Best enthusiasm and longest writing ever!

I have to admit, Transformers did 2 great educational things on their own: 1 my kids now have spatial relationship skills which surpass my own (my friend, Bill, a brilliant engineer, is the only adult I know who can figure out how the toys transform) and 2, drawing incredibly detailed giant robots has done wonders for their art skills. I guess you could also consider the allowance-to-Transformer-toy calculations as a math and budgeting benefit.

Incidentally, I in no way endorse the recent Transformer Movie. My kids will not be allowed to watch it. The people involved should be ashamed at what they did to a movie that should have been for kids.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Eight Random Things

I have been tagged by Her Majesty to post 8 random things about me. I shall in all my best obey you madam!

1. I missed being a teenage bride by 9 days. I've always been grateful that I found True Love early, even if I had a few years there where I was asked, "You're old enough to be married?"

2. I worked in 2 labs over the course of 5 years and my favorite thing was meeting people from all over the world, but my second favorite thing was liquid nitrogen.

3. I was nervous about having kids because I didn't like babysitting. Ha! I also knew only one large family (more than 3 kids). They were crazy! They had 6 kids and were always yelling and screaming and then hugging and crying. I hoped I never had that many kids! Turns out they were just Italian. I am having the best time of my life with my 6 kids!

4. I make all my own bread and baked goods except for Oreos.

5. I must grow things. I once grew 16 kinds of fruit (not counting all the other plants) on 1/3 of an acre (counting the house and garage). I would rather weed than mow.

6. I love to ice skate, but don't see the point of doing it inside going around in crowded circles.

7. I have been blessed to meet some truly amazing and admirable people (some in the blogosphere!), but the most amazing have been in my immediate family. People are impressed with me until they meet my parents.

8. I am never bored.

I am supposed to tag 8 that haven't been tagged... Lets see: My amazing SIL, Danielle, the Princess' Mom, Sea glass hearts, and The Emporer and any three others reading this! If you don't have a blog, leave it in the comments section!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Super Kids Day

We had Super Kids Day here on Friday. This is an example of the random holidays which pop up here from time to time and which usually begin with, "Can we have a _____ day?"

This holiday involves only 2 steps of preparation both of which can be done at 6 am :1. Think of a good Super Hero name and 2. Find the perfect cape (except in Mxyl's case, Starboy does not wear a cape, just a mask and all black, easily accomplished by wearing his sweatshirt backwards.)

This holiday can be properly celebrated by:
1. Doing your chores using your super speed and super strength.
2. Doing your home school with your super smarts.
3. Responding every time you are called with, "Here I come to save the daaaaay!" (speaking in a heroic voice at all other times is optional and not for those prone to headaches) .
4. Lengthy debates on the merits of various super powers.
5. Staging various rescues of smaller children, pets, stuffed animals or parents.
6. Tracing yourself and coloring in your costume (optional, hanging it on the ceiling. Extra option: make a large monster to hang on the ceiling for your superhero self to fight).
7. Creating various artwork and writing detailing your fabulous exploits.

Around 7:15, Zorg brought me a space themed bed sheet (covered with stars, planets, and galaxies) and told me, "You can be Space Mom!"

Spaaaaaaaaace MOM!!!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Presenting the Practically Perfect Plutarch Party 3

Who was who:

Fr Mark was a very surprised Plutarch (It was a surprise party). He wore a modified himation.

The Emporer was Scipio Africanus, the general who beat Hannibal. He wore a toga.

I was Cornelia Graccha, and wore a pallium (simple tube pinned at the shoulders) and stola (shawl like long cloth). She was entertaining another noble Roman woman who was showing off all her jewels. The woman asked Cornelia where her jewels were, and Cornelia called her 2 sons saying, "These are my jewels." The boys grew up to become the Gracchi, noble men who were martyred for their staunch defense of the rights of the poor.

Mxyl was Solon, the wise lawgiver. He wore a himation (like a toga but simpler).

Klenda was Pieria, a Greek maiden known for her beauty and virtue . When Phrygius, an opposing general fell in love with her and asked what he could do to please her, she asked for peace for her country - and got it! The Greek women at weddings would tell the bride, "May your husband love you as much as Phyrigius loved Pieria!" She wore a white pelops trimmed with blue and gold which you see above.

Zorg was Julius Caesar complete with the purple toga of a triumphant general. His favorite joke was, "All Gaul is divided into 3 parts. I used Caesars!"

Leena was Lysistrata, the poetess who rallied the women to defend the city of Argos while the men were away at battle. Her pelops was trimmed with purple and yellow and tied with purple ribbon (the trim on all the pelops was painted).

Choclo was Horatius (of Horatio at the bridge fame. The Romans were chopping down the bridge that crossed the Tiber to prevent an invasion by the Etruscans. Horatio held them off until the bridge was down then jumped in the water and swam across in full armor. Demolishing the bridge was the closest thing in Plutarch to construction trucks...) He wore a belted tunic, the same as in his Halloween costume.

Oob was baby Romulus. Although I wasn't a wolf, he was still nursing!

Info on making your own Greek costumes can be found here.

Presenting the Practically Perfect Plutarch Party 2

The mural is a somewhat imaginary view from Plutarch's home overlooking the valley of Chaeronia and the temple at which he served (he was a priest of Apollo).

This only took half an hour to do, I have no idea why it came out this well! We used oil pastels the way my sister (an actual artist) showed us.

The lovely lady wearing the pelops is my dear friend whom I will call Angel (she is also the Jello Queen). She is wearing an Ionic pelops trimmed in gold because she attended the party as "The Wife of Pythes." Pythes is the king whom the legend of King Midas is based on. He found a rich gold mine and had all his subjects working in it. All, as in no one could farm or do anything useful. The people appealed to the Queen. She had the people make a fantastic array of food out of gold. Then, when the king came in from hunting and called for a meal, she served him the golden food. First he was fascinated, then amused as each food he called for was brought to him made of gold. Eventually he was really hungry and then the Queen pointed out that this was the only food being produced in the land. He got the point and set up a rotation so only a fifth of the country worked the mine at a time.

Incidently, pelops are super easy to make: they are a long tube with the top folded over, pinned at the shoulders and tied with a belt. Getting the lovely pleating and drapery to hang right takes more practice (an accomplished ancient Greek servant would have been a big help!).

Presenting the Practically Perfect Plutarch Party 1

The Plutarch party was a great success! This was in honor of Fr Mark on the day he finished his last doctoral exam and a week after the 15th anniversary of his 25th birthday.

Fr Mark is a historian, and his favorite non canonized person (besides Jesus) is Plutarch. Plutarch (b. 42 AD) was a philosopher, moralist, and diplomat who is best remembered for his Lives of Noble Greeks and Romans. There he sets out for us the lives of famous people and examines the morality by which they lived. Sounds dull in theory, but in practice Plutarch is witty and insightful, not to mention always ready with a memorable anecdote.

To celebrate, we decorated the house to look like a Greek house of the time period. The garland is just construction paper flowers and leaves. The columns are from my big roll of paper. 8 feet folded in half lengthwise then accordian pleated. The Corinthian capitals are the same paper cut like a crown with the spikes curled to bend down. We taped them in 2 layers then stapled them like a crown and taped them to the column and the ceiling.

We also built a mosaic which says the equivalent of "Happy Birthday." In real life the mosaic would have been on the floor, but construction paper and glue stick being what they are....

We discovered at the end that you can buy printable sticker paper, cut it into strips then peel and cut as needed. You put up the paper, sketch your design and have at it! This mosaic took 3 days of working on it when we felt like it, older kids with longer attention spans would take less time. You could also do a smaller mosaic! At last, a practical use for when the kids just want to cut paper into little bits!!! Another thing we figured out when half done: use smaller tesserae (pieces) in the back ground and larger ones in the foreground. It also looks good if you install them in a pattern like the flowing lines in the stream.