Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kids and Cats

The kids have decided that they want to be cats. Shadow climbed the tree.

So then A decided he wanted to climb the tree. Only A didn't want his picture made.

A in the tree again. This time, though, he needed both hands to hang on.

And then this afternoon, both kids decided that they wanted to curl up in my lap like a cat. M then tried to "lead" me to a snack. I decided that if they were going to be cats, I could feed them like cats - so they got fish for snack. Well, ok, so they were goldfish, in a people bowl, but on the floor. They thought it was quite funny.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Owls are headed to a Bowl game!

Unbelievable! Rice, after starting off this season 0-4, then improving to 1-5, is now 7-5 and is going to a bowl game. Hasn't happened since 1961 - before my time at Rice or on this earth.

After a start like that, we kind of stopped following Rice (not that its easy to follow them from afar anyway - usually all we can find is a tiny box score). But then a friend who lives in Houston told me that they had a chance for a bowl game. Wow.


M decided he wanted to play some basketball, so we went out to try.

First, though, we had to find the pump and the needle to reinflate the basketball. Next I had to slice the net - it seems to have shrunk over the years and now holds onto the ball. After those, we were ready to play.

M and I played HORSE - under the rules I vaguely remembered. Each time you miss a shot, you get a letter. Well, I beat him the first game, so he said "best 2 out of 3". Well, after 3, I was still winning, so it was "best 3 out of 5". He beat me there.

Then it was D's turn to play. D's HORSE rules involved: players took turns trying to make a basket. When you made one, the other person had to duplicate it or get a letter. D says that the only way he could beat his dad was by making left-handed shots. And M turned that around and beat D by making right-handed shots.

Here's M ready to shoot:

And the shot goes off, right-handed to try to foil D

D ready to make a shot

We played both Saturday and Sunday. All weekend was beautiful and perfect for spending some time outside.

Friday, November 24, 2006


I've found a new time-waster thanks to a tip from Granma, Guess-the-Google . It gives you pictures and you have to guess which search term would yield all those pictures. Some I got easily, others, I still had no clue at the end. I showed it to M and he liked it too. Together we made a pretty good team. Some I couldn't get, he got right off. Others I guessed. Our best score together was 266, while alone my best was 222.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, stuffing, green beans (but not in a casserole for a change), yams (baked), mashed potatoes, rice (for M who doesn't like potatoes, mashed or sweet), cranberry sauce, rolls, and gravy.

My mom started serving plates and we passed them around. By the time we'd had grace and then I looked over at M's plate, I had to ask, "how much turkey did you give M?" Two good sized pieces was the answer. They were gone. Vanished. Inhaled. Along with the roll. M then polished off his rice and, more slowly, his frozen (yep, still cold) green beans - all before I finished half the food on my plate. Then he was ready for seconds - more turkey and rolls - and ok, fine, I'll have more rice. I know he had at least 4ths on turkey and rolls.

As soon as they were done (or were told that they couldn't have any more rolls), the kids were clamoring to watch a video. So, finally we shooed them off to the bedroom while we sat for a few minutes, then cleared the table. We'd finished eating around 6 and had friends coming over for dessert at 7, so we had time to get all the dinner dishes taken care of and the food divided up before they arrived. Seven more people arrived for dessert, so then we had a tableful (actually 2 - the dining room table for the adults and the kitchen table for the 4 kids).

I think it was the smallest Thanksgiving gathering I've ever been at - just 5 people. Our family of 4 plus my mom. When I was growing up we usually have Thanksgiving with a bunch of family - my grandmother's brothers and their families - 30 or 40 people was the norm. And there was ALWAYS someone there you didn't know. A relative I'd never met before, a cousin's boyfriend/girlfriend/college roommate, the relative of a relative. We'd often pull out a family tree and have to trace out how people were related - usually something like 2nd cousin, once removed.

So the 12 people total for dessert seemed more like Thanksgivings of my youth. The friends brought a pecan pie (something I've never been brave enough to tackle), while I had made pumpkin pie and apple-ginger-cranberry. All were yummy. When asked what kind of pie I wanted, I said - a little bit of each. Shades of my father. He always had to try them all. And so do I - I had to have the pecan because I never make it, but I like it. I had to try my apple - new recipe. I like it, even without the cinnamon. And it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, so I had to have it too. Just a sliver of each, and then - well maybe another sliver of pecan 30 minutes later.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Getting ready for Turkey Day

We've been getting ready today, or at least I have. I made a pumpkin pie and a apple-ginger-cranberry pie this afternoon. Reading the apple pie recipe, I realized that I don't think I've ever made it exactly from the recipe before. I've done apple cranberry pies for several years - ever since having one that D's mom made. It was great, and a nice twist on an apple pie. I can't remember whether I've put in the candied ginger before or not, but I know I was very surprised that the recipe didn't call for any cinnamon. What - apple pie without cinnamon - that seems rather un-American. But, we're trying it. It smelled great cooking and I'm sure it will taste good. I don't know how different it will taste without cinnamon... We'll see tomorrow.

I've also made the cranberry sauce - whole berry, my favorite. D will be making his stuffing tomorrow, while my mom is doing the turkey, green beans, yams and rolls. I think she's doing gravy too, but it matters not to me, as I don't eat gravy. D enjoys it though and A might (I can't remember if he likes it or not).

The kids are salivating over the pies already and can't wait to dig in tomorrow. Well, me too, but I'm also looking forward to all the rest of the dinner as well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Trader Joe's!

We made the trek to Trader Joe's today - a good 40 miles or so. It took us an hour going and at least an hour and a half coming home, but it was worth it.

The kids weren't so thrilled with the time it took wandering and looking, but they seem pretty pleased with some of the results. We got some Candy Cane Joe-Joes (thanks for the tip, Carol P.), some Chocolate Cats, peppermint bark, and more. We'd taken a cooler so we could get some frozen foods too. The only other time we've been in a TJ's was visiting D's sister 2 years ago in VA, where we had no way to transport anything perishable. D and I, at least, are looking forward to trying the various salmon, stuffed delicacies (salmon, chicken, pork chops), and enchiladas. M is looking forward to the pizza and hoping there isn't enough of all that other frozen stuff for him.

The kids were quite interested in finding the monkey, but at this TJ's, its a stuffed turtle you have to find. No matter, they enjoyed finding the turtle also. Once found, you show it to an employee and get a treat. Then they got to re-hide it. Quite a treat. They wanted to find it again and get more treats, but contented themselves with noticing that it had been moved and then re-finding it for their own enjoyment. They were disappointed, though, to discover that TJ's didn't have any fruit leather. Something about not carrying it here (I wasn't in on that discussion). Oh dear. M really loves their fruit leather and was counting on our stocking up. Last Christmas, my mom had a friend send 3 dozen fruit leathers and it made M's day.

We're also trying out all the varieties of the 2 buck Chuck ($2.99 here) that they had - at that price, if we like it great, if not, I don't feel too bad using it for cooking.

After finishing up all our shopping, we went to a Persian restaurant just down the road. They had quite a nice buffet, which all but M enjoyed. M had a meal of rice and naan - at least he liked their naan. The other 4 of us (my mom joined us for the trip) enjoyed it immensely. I thought the cherry rice perhaps the most interesting.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dental Month

This is evidently dental month around our house. D and I went to the dentist earlier in the month and today M and A went for their cleanings. Unfortunately, it seems that dental month will spill over into December too. I got a referral to go see a periodontist to do some work (some probably very expensive work) on my gums. And then today the dentist found a cavity in one of M's molars.

M is none too pleased about having a cavity. He asked me to help him brush tonight and voluntarily brushed longer - he set his timer for 3 minutes of brushing. We all wished that the cavity was in one of his baby teeth, but no - its in a 6 year molar. It had been sealed, but evidently the sealant has worn off or something. A's molars aren't all in yet - yes, he'll be 8 in January, but one molar hasn't even broken through the gums yet. I look at it as - well, he'll be a better brusher by the time they're all in and maybe he won't get cavities in them as soon.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Book Parade

Yesterday and today at the kids school was their annual book character parade. Each kid is supposed to dress up like a character from a book and carry that book in the parade.

Here the parade is led off by Clifford and Emily Elizabeth.

Yesterday was the day for K, 2nd and 4th grades, so it was A's day to be in the parade. He wanted to be Jack from The Magic Treehouse books. I know that somewhere we have a pair of fake glasses, but I couldn't find them anywhere, so I created some out of black pipecleaners. And then A wore his backpack because Jack always has his backpack in his adventures.

That's A's teacher behind him. She is evidently Mrs. Katz - I haven't read that book. There was another Jack in A's class who looked like he had planned to be Jack. The teacher assigned kids who didn't have a costume to be either Jack from Magic Treehouse or Junie B. Jones - both characters that don't really need a costume.

Today was the day for the 1st, 3rd and 5th grade parade. M wasn't sure he wanted to participate this year, but then his teacher promised extra credit for anyone who did, so he decided to be Harry Potter. He really didn't want me to take his picture. Here he is trying to hide behind a friend.

Then on the 2nd pass, I was finally able to get a decent picture.

I'll try to get these pictures turned later - its getting late and I've got to be up almost as early as a school day tomorrow - Scout training.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pumpkins gone bad

Eeeeuuuuuwwwww! Every year I promise myself that I will remove the jack-o-lanterns before they go to mush, but somehow.... every year I'm too late. I did manage to remove the candle holders the day after Halloween, but the pumpkins sat on the porch until today.

I started to try to pick this one up. No go. I had to get a shovel and the lid to the compost bin. Hoist with the shovel, plop onto the lid. Splat goes the pumpkin. The other one held together slightly better, but still wasn't pick-up-able. Those pumpkins were heavy! I had to get M to help me carry them around to the compost bin, where I shovled them in. M and then A had a fine time whacking their pumpkin into bits with a shovel.
I've hosed off the compost lid and the bench, but I think the bench needs a good scrubbing still.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


M is taking "It's Greek to Me", a class about the Greek gods, as one of his Challenge classes. He has been learning about the various Greek gods and how they correlate to the Roman gods. They were each given one god (or goddess for the girls) to learn about and portray. M got Hephaestus (better known to me as the Roman god, Vulcan).

So, I had to make a costume - some sort of toga. Only they don't call it a toga, its a chiton. And I can't just loop a bedsheet around M, I had to cut and sew. The directions were poor, and what I could tell of them looked like the chiton would be huge, so I modified it to the width of a single bed sheet. Obviously I had to cut off a bunch of it too. I didn't realize, though, that the sheet was sewn so far off the grain. I ripped it part-way to get a new edge and after I had finished hemming and putting on a border, then I discovered that I was off by about 3 inches at the top. Oh, well - I just turned it over and sewed it down. No one will know from a distance. The border looks good, though. M is very pleased with it.

Here's M modeling his chiton:

His play will be next month. He likes the costume, but is not so sure about being in a play.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I received this list recently and the kids thought it was fascinating. I knewsome, but not many of these bits of trivia.

A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.

A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

A snail can sleep for three years.

Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.

Almonds are a member of the peach family.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.

Butterflies taste with their feet.

Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds. Dogs only have about 10.

"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".

February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

If the population of China walked past you, in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.

If you are an average American, in your whole life, you will spend an average of 6 months waiting at red lights.

It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

On a Canadian two dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament building is an American flag.

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

"Stewardesses" is the longest word typed with only the left hand and "lollipop" with your right.

The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.

The cruise liner, QE2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

The sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet.

The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.

The words 'racecar,' 'kayak' and 'level' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes).

There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

There are more chickens than people in the world.

There are only four words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: "abstemious" and "facetious."

There's no Betty Rubble in the Flintstones Chewables Vitamins.

Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks; otherwise it will digest itself.

Monday, November 13, 2006

one little, two little, three little lizards

Yep, we found 3 little lizards in the house tonight - all between 7:30 and 8:30.

The first one, M said to A "there's a bug on your shoulder". Well, lizard actually. A looked, saw it and jumped in surprise. M grabbed it, carefully not allowing it to bite him and took it outside - where it scratched him. M says that lizards have sharp little claws. I wouldn't know.

Number two we found on the rug, with the cat batting at it. Deposited it outside also.

Number three, I guessed at when I saw Shadow was very interested in something UNDER his cat condo - in fact, he tried to climb under it. When I lifted the cat condo, there was a very small, baby lizard. I let him play with it for a few moments, then it ran under the vacuum. When I lifted the vacuum, though, it had disappeared. I do hope it didn't climb INTO the vacuum. I doubt lizard smells good when vacuumed...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Add-a-sentence Story

We tried making up a story a few days ago in the car on the way to Scouts. Where each person would add one sentence to an ongoing story. It was a really cool story, with dragons, magicians, a butterfly flapping its wings in Patagonia,... but I really can't reconstruct it. The kids really enjoyed it, though, so when they asked to do another story, I thought I would capture it.

This one is a bit different. Evidently the cheat, Strong Bad and Strong Mad are some sort of cartoon characters. M even showed me where they are from. It's hard to know what to do with these characters I don't know, though.

The story went as follows:

M: The cheat is a little yellow rabbit.
K: The cheat was in the habbit of chasing bears.
A: At first the bears tried to eat the cheat
M: But the cheat was too clever and trapped them by setting all the things around them on fire
K: The fire worried all the other forest animals.
M: Suddenly the bear carrying a shark, the god of the bears, came in.
K: The shark magically put out the fire and trapped the cheat in a cage.
A: The cheat pulled out a knife and cut the bars of the cage.
M: he went to Strong Bad and Strong Mad for help fighting the bear.
K: But Strong Bad and Strong Mad had disappeared into the future.
A: The cheat went around wondering how could Strong Bad and Strong Mad have gone into the future?
M: He found a time traveling machine
K So the cheat decided he wanted to travel to the year 3000.
A: The cheat pressed the button htat said year 3000 and then there he was in the year 3000
M: But he had messed up and it made him go to 3000 BC
K: At first he was very confused because there was no cool technology
A: So then he went searching for somebody who he could talk to and ask where all the cool technology was
M: But he talked really weird so no one could understand him
K So the cheat went back to the time machine and, after hunting around, found a instant translator
A: Then he took the instarnt translator and went back to the village and then he went on trying to find somebody to talk to
M: But he failed because there was no village
K: As he was wandering around he came across a man fishing
A: He asked the man what year they were in
M: The man said it is the first reign of the great Strong Bad
K: We're going to overthrow him tonight, do you want to help us? - if you won't join us, we will have to kill you
A: The cheat said that yes, he would help him
M: But suddenly the bear carrying a shark came in and took the cheat back to the year 2006 AD
K: Where the cheat discovered that time travel is not without its risks - it turned him into a very ancient cheat who was soon to die
A: And then the cheat wanted to go back in time and change it so that he was the same as when he found the time machine
M: That didn't work, but he found a potion that kept him alive forever.
K: Poor cheat, he soon discovered that living forever in near death conditions was pretty lousy and he slowly went mad.
M: He drank another potion that took him back in time to before he saw the time machine and everything was normal again.

I told the kids that next time, we need to leave out characters that some of us are clueless about.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Fall Colors

I know down here in the South, and not in the mountains, we don't have the same sorts of fall colors that some places do, but... I still enjoy the colors.

I think that some of it is that we have so many pine trees that don't change so we don't have the big sweeps of color some places do. And our colors seem to be perhaps even more dependent on the weather. That said, we have a nice display this fall. The paper even says its better than it has been in several years.

So, here are a few pictures to enjoy.

our backyard

my mom's neighbor's yard

down the street from our house

Friday, November 10, 2006

Christmas Wish List

Updated 12/01

It's about that time already. We've been asked for ideas several times so far, so here's a list of suggestions for us. I will be updating this as we think of new ideas - I'll link it in the sidebar, so you can find it easily.

As I've told the kids, this is a WISH list, not an "I"m going to get this" list. Some of these items are pie in the sky.

leaf blower, preferable electric
weather radio/crank radio - either or combo
crank or shake flashlight
other flashlights - ones that won't turn on accidentally
SD memory card 512 Meg or 1 Gig
insulated water bottle, one that has an opening big enough for ice cubes (I saw some at Sports Authority) - everyone in the family could use one
gift card to Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's

camp chair - sits upright, with cupholder
shirts 16.5, 32/33 or equivalent
cordless drill with battery system
drill guide to work with

K or D or joint gift
cooler - about 60 Quart size - I found one I liked at Target
Port - for future special occasions - we really enjoyed it this summer
cordless phone, one with a place to plug in a headset (I know I just got a new cordless phone, but I don't like it - half the time I can barely hear the other person and it seemed like it messed up the other phones when I left it off the charger too long)

Heelys - tennis shoes w/ skates
Nintendo DS games
Nintendogs (any)
New Super Mario Bros.
Kirby Squeak Squad

Nintendo Wii
if getting a Wii, then Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Super Mario World
Hyperscan Video Gaming System


The End (Series of Unfortunate Events)
Blue Djinn of Babylon (Children of the Lamp series)

dart set - plastic tipped, not magnetic

Yu-Gi-Oh cards
cool board game from Uncle D, can be 10+ (or maybe even 12+, depending)

PC game Sonic Riders
Deal or No Deal, electronic
Harry Potter Scene it? game
Bionicles - Toa of Light, any Inika or Piraka
Nerf Showtime Hoops
roller skates
Speed Stacks Stack Pack

subscription to Neopets magazine

Nintendo DS (if he doesn't get one, he's planning to buy himself one)
Nintendo DS games
Sonic Rush
Over the Hedge

Heelys - tennis shoes w/ skates
cool board game from Uncle D, age 8+ will work fine

3-pk Mag Warriors with battery
any Magnetix sets (not the bug or the car)

I'd be interested in Christmas suggestions from anyone who's on my Christmas list also. If you like gift cards, our church has a scrip program that I'd be happy to use. You can see what's on it here.

Bye-bye hair

My hair was really getting too long - especially my bangs, so I measured it and off I went to get it cut.

Yep, there it is - 11 inches if you pull it straight. I have to mail it off to Locks of Love now.

It feels a bit different, as it hits my neck differently. I know I will really notice it in the shower too. So far, its been funny trying to comb my hair - I keep dropping the comb! I'm so used to pulling the comb through a lot more hair, that the lack of hair catches me off gaurd and there goes the comb.

I'll be so glad not to have all the tangles at the nape of my neck. They get really bad when my hair gets too long, esp if I'm wearing a sweater or sweatshirt. Right now, though, I'm especially enjoying not having hair in my eyes. It drove me absolutely batty the last 2 days. It's amazing how all of a sudden it is just too long.

Not a great picture, but you can sort of see how short it is now, and how long it was.

I almost didn't get a chance to get my hair cut today as M didn't feel good when he woke up. He said his head hurt, his nose was stuffed up, his throat hurt, his tummy hurt. We think its sinus issues, with drainage causing the throat and tummy aches. The real kicker for me was when he wasn't hungry. I had fixed bagel pizzas for breakfast, which both kids love, and M didn't want any.

D wanted M to go ahead to school and see if he would feel better being up. Looking at him being rather limp, though, I knew from experience that if he looked like that at school, I'd be getting a call pronto to come pick him up. So, we opted for plan B - send M back to bed for a bit. After a bit of a rest/snooze (I don't know if he slept, but he was quiet in the dark for 30 min or so), he moped around the house a bit and then finally agreed to some acetominaphen. That's one way to know when M isn't feeling well. He hates taking any sort of medicine. About 20 minutes later, his appetite returned. Good. He ate both his bagel pizzas and a cereal bar and I took him in to school around 9:30.

Then I dashed off for my hair cut, hoping that the school wouldn't call. They didn't. M seemed to be feeling so-so at lunch (today was 5th grade lunch with parents), but obviously not completely well - he didn't eat his brownie or his sandwich and only ate about half his chips. So his lunch was an apple and half a bag of chips. Breakfast was a little later than normal, but this is not the behavior of my bottomless pit son!

I dosed him with acetominophen twice more - once right after school and then again before bed. I can't tell you the last time I gave him 3 doses of pain meds in a day - he was probably a toddler.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

There went the bus...

without the kids on board this morning. They were trying to
finish reading the comics - A
hunt for a jacket - M
find scissors, that M suddenly remembered he needed today

So, for a fee of 50 cents apiece, I drove them to school. Yes, I charge the kids for a ride if they miss the bus due to lollygagging, but not if I agree they need to be driven - say to take a project in carefully.

They are really pretty good about it - we've been in school for over 3 months and this is the first time they've missed the bus this year.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Scout Training

At our Scout meeting tonight, they had arranged for a speaker to come in and do a program for the kids. She was from a local wildlife group and the kids seemed to enjoy it. I didn't get to see it because... they had also arranged to have trainers come on site to do retraining we're all supposed to undergo every 2 years. (oops, I thought it was every 3 years and that I was ahead of the game).

The training was frustrating. They seem to have in mind the perfect den of boys - well behaved, on time, in perfect uniform, parents who participate, parents who work on achievements at home. I seem to have almost none of those. I remarked to the trainers that the only thing my den has in common with their video is same age boys.

The trainers were saying that we should not be focusing on the achievements that the boys need. That for the most part, the boys should be accomplishing that at home and school. Yeah, in a perfect world, perhaps - but it doesn't seem to happen in my world. I feel like a broken record at times reminding parents to look in their books and check off what their kids have done. Yet, even my co-leader said that he rarely did that last year (and I don't think he has this year either - and yes, he was co-leader last year too).

I feel like I have 3 choices:

1. Try to follow the "Program Guide" - have a theme, plan lots of fun activities, do only those achievements that fit with your theme or must be done in the den meeting and then ask/expect the parents to do achievements at home. Expect that up to half the boys then won't earn their rank badge this year.

2. Keep doing what I'm doing - pushing achievements at the den meetings, making it so that every boy who comes to the meetings will earn their rank. Try to balance the not-so-fun activities with fun activities. The only achievements to expect of the parents are the ones that must be done at home (home fire drill, chores around the house) and the ones that the boy missed at a den meeting. Basically every boy earns rank.

3. Try to find a middle ground. Do all the achievements that must be done at a den meeting and any that might be difficult for parents at home (folding a flag). Do some of the fun achievements and electives and other stuff just for fun. Get started on an achievement and ask/expect parents to follow up at home. Realize that some boys probably won't earn rank (or not without a lot of prodding).

I guess I feel like #1 isn't a valid choice for my group - or at least not at the point. If I was going to expect the parents to do everything, I should have explained that in the beginning. When I have kids whose parents haven't managed to get a book or a uniform yet, I don't think that they are going to do all the achievements. Heck, I only managed to meet one kids parents (grandmother in this case) the middle of October, after 2 months of meetings.

I feel like I'm failing the kids if they don't advance, but yet I know that in Boy Scouts you only advance based on what 'you' do - some kids advance quickly, some slowly, some stagnate, some drop out.

I need to talk to my co-leader and see what we want to do. And maybe talk to the CubMaster/other leaders also. I think I was supposed to feel fired-up and ready to charge ahead on den meetings and instead I feel frustrated and like I'm doing everything wrong. Hopefully it will seem better after I've slept on it.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Thanks, Carol P, for leading us to Whizzball. M and I have had a good time this afternoon playing this. M says its sort of like Incredible Machine, which we also enjoyed.

M and I have even created some puzzles.

M's puzzle
My puzzle

M has made some other puzzles, but Whizzball wasn't connecting and saving his. He will probably try again later, under the name Super-Sonic

Unfortunately, Whizzball seems to load and play very very slowly on our Mac. So, we're taking turns playing in on the PC.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

How do the kids read?

Let me show you some of the ways...

with a cat...

standing on one foot...

in our bed...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Day of 2 Lizards

I don't know where the lizards, or perhaps they are geckos, are coming from, but we found 2 in the house today.

This afternoon I saw one on the window blinds in the kitchen. It reminded me of our first house, where the geckos would come in freely - big crack under the door of the rental house. When we'd catch the cat staring up at the window, it was a sign that there was a gecko there.

Anyway, I called M to come see it. Of course, he wanted to catch it.

All well and good until it bit him.

Yep, those babies have some strong jaws - no teeth according to M, but the lizard wouldn't let go of his finger. I finally had to poke at it with a pencil to make it let go.

Fast forward to after dinner. We're clearing the table and hear a strange sound from the cat. Turns out he had a lizard clamped on his front paw. Poor Shadow is trying to walk on 3 legs as he's trying to shake off the lizard. We got it off him and M carried it carefully (to avoid another jaw clamping on him) outside.

I didn't get a picture of the lizard stuck on the cat - Shadow wanted it off RIGHT AWAY. I don't know if the cats are bringing them in or if there is another way they are finding their way inside. I hope they don't make more appearances, though they don't really bother me.

Now the snake Shadow brought in yesterday was a different story. Ick. I don't do snakes in the house. It was a small snake, harmless, I'm sure, but not. in. my. house. M was going to pick it up, but we made him use the dustpan. It was still alive when he tossed it into the bushes out the front door.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Tuck Everlasting

M has been reading Tuck Everlasting in class the past few weeks, so I picked up a copy at the library for him to have at home. That way he didn't have to keep bringing home the book to do his homework.

Tonight, I decided that I would read it to see what its all about. Well, it starts kind of slow, but gets very interesting (to me at least - M says its boring). There's a family that has drunk from a "fountain of life" or rather a spring of everlasting life. They don't age or get hurt.

It brings up some interesting questions.

How much of it is just not aging, but everything continues and how much is it like Groundhog Day, the movie?

Could you get pregnant and have a child, without aging? Would that child age or stay an infant? Ack, who would want to have a newborn forever???

If you had kids and had drunk from this spring, at what age would you want to stop their aging?

I like the ages my kids are now (and have even said that I'd like to freeze them at this age, but for forever....?) Life would certainly be different if they were 7 and 10 forever. I've been looking forward to the time when I could go out with D and leave them for a few hours without having to find a babysitter in a few years. Or, as D says, would they mature emotionally enough that you could leave them alone without maturing physically?

What about learning? Would they continue to learn new things? A is already advanced in math and bored at the single digit addition and subtraction - would he continue to be 7 and be doing algebra? I think that his 7 yo mind could handle algebra given enough time to go through the intervening math, but in the real world he would be aging to at least 10 or 11 by then. What about reading? We decided they would probably continue to advance in reading skills, but probably not much in level of maturity in books. After a while you would run out of books that are at the right age and interest appropriate level - and most of those would be too easy anyway.

You'd have to keep moving. That doesn't seem so hard in our mobile society, but you'd probably have to keep friendships mostly superficial to avoid getting caught in inconsistencies. After all, if you've been the same age for 87 years as the Tucks have, you'd have lived through WWI, the great depression, WWII, Vietnam, Civil rights, various assassinations, etc. It would be very difficult to talk about those as though they were before your time.

While not aging sounds like a neat idea, I can see why the Tucks want to keep the spring a secret and don't want anyone to discover it. Me, sometimes I'd like to slow down time and other times I have trouble remembering not to 'wish my life away'.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Blogger behaving again

I finally was able to add pictures to the pumpkin drop post. I hate it when Blogger is acting up! For the last several days, it wasn't allowing me to add pictures - I would just get a error that "the document contains no data" after Blogger thought about it for 10 minutes or so. Very frustrating.

So, here's a extra photo for your pleasure - A enjoying a caramel turtle apple.

They were very tasty. apple coated in caramel, then rolled in mini chocolate chips. Delightful. It took me several tries to get a picture where you can see A, rather than his hiding behind the apple.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Trick or Treating

Picture the scene:
We're at the dinner table at 5:30, eating our pizza and baby carrots. (Hey, its quick and easy and the kids will eat it willingly, so I know they've got some food under the candy that's coming.) M and A both decide that they want to wear a different costume to go out T or T'ing tonight. Yes, at 5:30, when we're leaving at 6.

They have perfectly decent costumes that they wore to the church party on Sat, but for some reason, they feel the need for something different.

M wants to be an executioner. I'm not even sure what an executioner wears, but M thinks he should have a cape. Nope, the only cape we have is a Harry Potter one and we loaned it to a friend (after M assured me he wasn't using it this year), so its not available. He wanders off to the closet to hunt for something and comes up with a black robe, with orange spiderwebs on the sleeves. We're not sure exactly what it is, but he wore it a couple of years ago with spiderwebs drawn on his face. This year he paired it with red "blood" makeup on his face and a sword and told people he was an evil warrior.

A decides he wants to be a skeleton like he was last year. The costume still fits (barely), but he can't find his scythe. Quickly, D makes a new one from PVC pipe, cardboard and duct tape. (how did we live before duct tape???)

M and A ready to head out:

A wanted to go trick or treating with our neighbor B and his family, so for the first time in 7 years it was just D and I and M going out. My mom came over to hand out candy at our house, so she can see the kids dressed up, so we can go out with the kids, and because no one really comes to her house.

At first the street seems deserted, even though its at least 6:15 by the time we gather up flashlights and treat buckets and such. Our street evidently was pretty deserted all night. My mom didn't hand out much candy and we didn't get a single visitor after 8pm - in the past we've seemed to get at least as many kids after 8 as before, which is very annoying when you're trying to put kids to bed and have already turned off the porch lights.

Then as we get onto the main drag through the neighborhood, we see more kids. Still not as many as we recall from previous years, but a good number. But then, I start to notice a lot of cars. It was amazing how many people were driving their kids from house to house.

I can understand that some people want to come into the subdivision because they live somewhere where the houses are too far apart or on too major of a road or just to join friends. But park the car and walk! Unless one of you has a disability, it just seems wrong to drive from house to house. Both kids got plenty of candy walking. I don't know how far A and his friend went, but we hit our street and the next 2 streets over with M and he's got a boatload of candy (and complains that I won't let him gorge on it whenever and how much he pleases).

After we got done, we did drive over to the other side of the neighborhood to visit one of D's former students, who specifically requested that he bring the kids. It was a highly decorated house, with 3 students playing the parts of "dead guys". They didn't exactly jump out at us, but sort of. We offered M the option of visiting some other houses there, but he was content just visiting the haunted house.

Cute story:
At one house the guy asks M who he is.
M - an evil warrior
guy - so you have a sword?
M - yes
guy - and I don't
M - yes
guy - so I should give you candy
M - yes
guy - OK, here you go