Monday, April 30, 2007

Results of TV turnoff week

So, how did the kids do with no TV?

Fine. Well at least with the no TV part. The no anime on YouTube - not so happy about. But they made it all week with no TV and no YouTube.

We tried to limit computer time, but were only mildly successful. We're going to have to work on some limiting strategies for the summer. The early part of the summer is generally ok because we're all busy at the pool - between swim team practice, swim meets, meeting friends to go swimming... But then by July, the pool is less interesting and its hotter out - that's when the computer looks awfully appealing.


Friday, April 27, 2007

School Carnival

School carnival was tonight. This was MUCH anticipated by both kids, as in, "can't it be Friday already" and then this morning, "why can't it be this afternoon already?" We finally made it to carnival time and we were off!

I volunteered to man (woman?) one of the events for an hour this year. Often I have signed up with both kids classes, but that is really hectic, trying to do 2 different events for an hour each. This year they weren't doing it by class, so I could just sign up once - and they had enough parent volunteers. Yay!

I also offered to take pictures of 5th graders for the photo CD they are putting together. I only got about 20 tonight, between manning the obstacle course and trying to find 5th graders in groups (they would prefer no single shots of kids), and not having them hide from me. I'll probably take my camera when I go to school next week too. And maybe hit them on the playground at recess one day.

Anyway, I got one good one of M and a friend:

Because I was concentrating on 5th grade I didn't take any of A this year. Oh well, I never seem to get any good action shots at the carnival anyway.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dinner with a Picky Eater

I'm tired of having a picky eater. I've heard all the stuff about serving it 10 times and then they will eat it. And sometimes (but very rarely) it works. But so far with M, it works on maybe 1 food per year. At this rate, he will be 439 before he is eating normally!

Tonight's dinner was salmon, cheese grits, broccoli slaw and spinach/mandarin orange salad. I fixed salmon both with and without seasoning (Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning). A tried the seasoned salmon and said it was a bit too spicy, so both kids had it plain. A had a good helping of everything and enjoyed it all.

M, well, that's another story. He ate his salad - served separately - but he does eat raw spinach leaves without complaining. I gave him carrots rather than slaw (enough things he didn't like else in dinner and we had slaw Monday night to great complaints). He complained about the salmon, but finally ate it. He sat there and stared at the one tiny bite of cheese grits (that he insisted were mashed potatoes) for a long time before choking them down. Why?

I don't think I did anything particularly different between the 2 kids. I'm finally accepting (slowly) it is just who they are. Helped by knowing a family with twins where one is picky and the other an adventurous eater. That doesn't mean I have to like it, though. Or that I won't keep trying to broaden M's food horizons.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Turn off the TV week

It's here again - national Turn off the TV week. We do this every year. The kids didn't grumble at all about no TV, but they didn't like hearing that it meant no YouTube videos either. The organizers think it should mean no visual electronic entertainment, but none of us can quite manage that. We're trying to cut down on computer time, though.


New take on the Nigerian scam

I don't get the Nigerian scam letters very often - maybe only a half-dozen in the last 3 or 4 years, so I'm not an expert on them. I was amused by this variant, esp the part "or we will be having to shoot you".

I didn't realize that Luxembourg was a big enemy of China, as this seems to imply.


Dear Sir or Madam,

My name be Sir Wing Ching Ping Ying, and I have good business matter for you. I have client named a Mrs. Janet Cook who lives in Mongolia. She is my client but now she is dead, as she died in a plane crash over Nigeria. She left a large amount of her estate (a good sum of five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred Million Billion USD) in a bank in switzerland.

As she has no living next of kin, all of that money is currently sitting there in the vault with the dust upon it collecting. According to French law, in 5 years all of that money will be donated to Luxembourg. Being an enemy of Luxembourg, we do not want that to happen. We want you to be middle man for the taking of the money.

We want you to sign as next of kin so you will get all the money, and then you will give it to us or we will be having to shoot you. As a reward, we are willing to give you 25 per cent of the money in the bank. This is very good deal and we hope you shall consider it and response back with answer.

There will be more of the information coming in next letter. I hope to hear from the you soon.

Mr. Wing Ching Ping Ying
Second Senior Co-Executive Director of The Far Eastern American Company


Sunday, April 22, 2007

M's campout

We picked M up from his Scout campout right after church. He was, well, a bit dirty. Actually parts of him and his clothing were more than a bit dirty - they were filthy. M and I had packed his bag Friday afternoon, but evidently the only thing he used from the bag was clean socks! He came home in the same clothes he was wearing Friday afternoon - including the class A uniform shirt that he was protesting wearing on Friday.

D says not to worry, this is fairly normal boy behavior. In some senses, I'm sure he right, but I still wish he would at least change the underwear. What I have learned from this, though, is to make sure he heads off on a camping trip in old or dark colored clothes. I soaked and pre-treated the long sleeve shirt he was wearing, but it still looks dirty from the elbows down.

M seems to have had a fairly good time. He cooked quesadillas for his patrol for dinner and was a bit miffed that he was elbowed out of the way of cooking pancakes for breakfast. He got to work with a hatchet (and managed to only nick himself a tiny bit). I'm not sure what else he did, but he came back whole (and received his new troop numbers, neckerchief, and epaulets for his uniform).

As soon as he came home, he was dispacted to the shower!


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Scouting around the World

A and I got ourselves out early today to go to a Cub Day event. It turned out to be "Scouting around the World". They had a whole bunch of different stations set up representing different countries, each with a little info about Scouting in that country and an activity. We played Parcheesi in India, Yut in Korea, Mancala somewhere in Africa, dominoes in France (maybe?). They also rolled hula hoops in Dominican Republic, made God's eyes and kazoos (don't remember where either of those were) - and various other activities. We probably only visited about half the sites.

While visiting the various countries, we were also supposed to be filling out a scavenger hunto of info on Scouting around the world. Well, the adults were looking for info and filling out the sheets, but I'm not sure the kids learned much about world Scouting.

We finished up the day with archery. A has gotten much better - he is pulling the bow more strongly. The first arrows didn't go far enough or hard enough to stick into the target, but some later ones did (and he sent one arrow off behind their tarp backdrop).

Then tonight to go with our international Scouting, we had Indian food for dinner. I showed A the samosas package and he said "yummy".

We all thought it was all quite tasty, though the lemon rice was much spicier than we had imagined - A ate a lot of naan and drank a lot of milk with his rice, but said it was good. It's a pleasure to have an appreciative audience to cook for (even when I'm just heating up packaged food). I'll be sure to tell M when he comes home tomorrow about all the yummy (he disagrees on this point) food he missed.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

M's off camping

We dropped M off to go on his first camping trip with the Boy Scouts. He joined the Boy Scout troop 3 weeks ago. Each patrol will be cooking their own meals. His patrol is 6 5th graders. I hope they have one of the older Scouts supervising....

The menu they planned sounds good, though perhaps a bit unrealistic. They are having pancakes for breakfast tomorrow - I know how long it takes to make pancakes for 4 - pancakes for 6, on probably a smaller griddle sounds painfully long. But, hey, I'm not there, so it won't bother me!

For lunch all the new Scouts are cooking together - D thinks he heard it will include biscuits and grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches. Sounds good to me, though M says he doesn't want bacon in his sandwich. Maybe he can eat it on the side, maybe he will have to suffer through the combo.

Dinner we heard was some combo of pizza, quesadillas (M likes both of those) and 2 other things that he didn't like so much - maybe burritos and tacos?

M did comment that he wished there was some fruit. I hadn't thought about it, but he's right - there's no fruit on the menu and not much veggies. Maybe he'll speak up and suggest some fruit for their next campout. Since each patrol plans their own menu, he can certainly suggest/request fruit.

Meanwhile, we had scalloped potato and ham casserole for dinner. A said "yummy". M hates it. He had one tiny bite when I made it on Wed. I made sure we would enjoy food that M doesn't while he's not here. It's a win-win situation. He doesn't have to eat it and I don't have to listen to the complaining.

I don't know what else M will be doing on this camping trip, but it should be fun. They've got beautiful weather for it too.

It's odd for me, knowing so little of what they will be doing. D has been going to the meetings with M, so I don't even have that first-hand info. Going up to Boy Scouts is a lot different than in Cub Scouts. They really do seem to be letting the boys plan and lead things as much as possible. The parents are mostly background.

I guess some of this is early training for the changes next year in middle school too...

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It's hammock time

Our weather has been crazy this spring. We had record high of 87 back at the end of March - almost enough to make me turn on the AC (AC in March - no way!). Then we had record cold Easter weekend.

Now, though, we're having beautiful weather and the horrid pine pollen is done, so it was time for the hammock to be reinstalled for the season.

A wouldn't let me take his picture on the hammock, so he took mine.

I could have taken a nap right then and there.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's hard to save....

...when there are so many things you want. M is learning this the hard way. He had enough money for an iPod, briefly. After his birthday party last weekend, he had $82, just enough for a refurbished 1GB iPod. However they didn't have any of those in stock right then. In the meantime (5 days) he decided he really needed a subscription to a manga magazine. So, now he doesn't have enough money again.

We had (yet another) discussion about how his allowance takes care of his wants and Dad and I take care of his needs. Food, clothing, school supplies = needs. Toys, magazines, iPod = wants. We discussed how when he gets older he will have to spend money on his own needs. He was suprised to hear that an acquaintance of ours was out of money for the month already - I explained that meant he couldn't go to the grocery store or the gas station (without borrowing money from a friend) until the end of the month. I think that was a revelation to M.

M is just different than I was as a kid. I was a Saver. I liked having stuff, but I didn't like spending my money. I've gotten better, but I'm still frugal (sometimes even cheap). I don't feel comfortable without a decent balance in my checking account. I use a credit card all the time, but not unless I could pay for it right away.

My hope is that having an allowance will teach the kids how to manage their money while they are still dealing with small amounts. I hope they will learn to save. Actually A doesn't need to learn - he's a saver at heart. He needs to learn that its ok to spend money when you've got money - you don't have to save it ALL.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Challenge Quilt Show

I realized that I never got around to posting my finished cat quilt that I did for the challenge. Too busy last week. I was working on it up to the last minute.

Anyway, here's my quilt.

There were a couple of people who guessed this one was mine - by the blue and the cats. I was going to say bright colors, but actually most of the quilts were pretty bright.

This quilt won first place:

It also happened to be my favorite - partly because of the girl reading towards the bottom. Also, I just find it amazing that people can do this sort of picture. I can't quite figure out how to do it and/or get caught up in "traditional ideas".

This quilt took second place:

The daisies are actually printed panels, but we had to get very close to tell that. Initially I thought they were pieced.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Life in the Van

I feel like I lived in the car today. I made 4 separate trips, none of which could be easily combined.

1. Copy and mail taxes. (Yeah, taxes are done. Boo, we owed a bunch of money.) Also went to the library.

2. Drop my mom off to catch train to the airport. Couldn't be combined because she was still packing and I didn't want to wait until lunch rush to copy/mail taxes.

3. Get M's glasses adjusted. We waited til late afternoon so we could combine this with a trip to Chick-fil-A for Spirit night for the school. M wanted me to take his glasses without him, but nope, doesn't work that way.

4. Trip to Scouts. Too much time between when glasses place closed (or so I thought) and when Scouts start. Plus the kids are doing Scouts at different places for at least the next month.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Taxes in the final stretch

The taxes are done, but not sent in yet. I have to copy and collate them tomorrow morning. No sense sending them in earlier than needed when you owe money, but that's not the real reason I'm doing it tomorrow. No, the real reason is that I finally finished them just before dinner tonight. Then after dinner I wrote checks and addressed envelopes. I have sticky notes galore telling me what to copy and how many copies. I can't wait to be finally done.

At least next year I won't have the estate taxes to do again. It felt good to be able to check the box for final return.

Things have been busy lately what with spring cleaning, hosting M's party, finishing taxes on top of everyday life. I have a list of other things that were waiting on the taxes, some necessary, some fun - now that the dreaded taxes are done, I can start on that list...


Friday, April 13, 2007

M's birthday party

Finally today arrived. M has been trying to fast forward to tonight all week. His party, finally, after being post-poned due to spring break has arrived.

6 boys (including M), all elevenish. They are loud. They seem much louder and cruder than last years crop of 10 year olds. Maybe its the different mix of kids, maybe its the age. D says this is why he doesn't teach middle school. We had fart jokes and fart noises during dinner. Lovely.... On the other hand, they were much better about taking only as much food & drink as they would eat. Very little food wasted.

Currently they are watching a movie, Flushed Away. I think after that they are planning to watch some Yu gi oh videos M got for his birthday. Actually 4 of them are watching the movie and the other 2 are playing on DS's up here with me.

Why am I so tired tonight, on a night I feel I need to stay up and supervise for a while longer? I was yawning mightily by 8:30. D went to bed about 9:45 - it probably would have been earlier, but A didn't go to bed until then. A was protesting all the way about why did he have to go to bed when M didn't. Not your party kid. At A's party, he got to stay up and I made M go to bed. Just the way things work!

I'm shutting off the internet connection before I go to bed tonight. They're good kids and generally make good decisions, but it would be too easy for someone to go hunting for something inappropriate online.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter pictures

Finally got a chance to put up pictures from Easter morning. Kids dressed up, but being silly - they are trying to sit on the bushes.

As you can see, both boys will need new jackets soon. The shirts are a bit on the big side, but the jacket sleeves are a bit short also.

The traditional family in front of the Easter lilies at the altar.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Scout thoughts

At Scouts last night, I couldn't find the flag that usually is in our classroom. So finally I opened the Wolf book to the achievement about the flag and we said the pledge to a picture of the flag.

Then the kids learned how to fold the flag. I'm not sure they really got it (or could do it again), but the flag did get folded by each of my 2 Wolves.

Each week I seem to have 2 kids, A and one other. Only problem - the other kid is a different kid each week. A is almost done with his Wolf badge - he has 3 more things to do, only one of them difficult - he has to raise an outdoor flag. That's not so difficult in and of itself, its the finding an outdoor flagpole we can use. The church where we meet doesn't have one. I wonder if I can stop by the fire station and use theirs - or do it at the school, after hours.

We also have to go pick up litter somewhere - the only problem there is finding someplace safe. Usually safe places don't have much litter, unsafe (side of busy roads) have plenty.

I'm struggling with how much I should do about the fact that the rest of my den isn't on track to get their Wolf badge. I have given several moms a list of which achievements they need to work on with their son. In one case it was a rather long list, but that's because he's missed a lot of meetings (or been late and missed a lot of the achievement work). I guess I'll just email the parents and ask them to let me know what they have completed. If they don't earn the badge, its not going to stop them from going on next year... I feel like I've failed them if they don't earn it, but I've been told that its not my job - and besides we've done almost everything in the weekly den meetings. If they came regularly, they would be almost done.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Bunny Brunch

Saturday A and I (and my mom) went to the Bunny Brunch at our church. M decided not to go, but to come later for the egg hunt.

Here's A with the bunny cake my mom made. She has a very battered newspaper clipping from 1968 showing how to cut up 2 cake layers to make the bunny. She has been making this cake off and on for almost 40 years now. I had it as a birthday cake at least once as a child. My brother thought it was so neat that he wanted a bunny cake for his birthday (in January) for several years. My mom made him a bunny cake those years.

A was not so big on having his picture made with the Easter bunny. I got lots of shots of him looking odd, like this:

I finally got one that's half-way decent.
They had a bunch of balloons there for some of the games. A found he could generate plenty of static electricity:

Look, no hands!

Here they are doing a relay race, hopping with one balloon in each arm and one between their legs.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Egg Dying

M has been "dying" to dye the Easter eggs all week. He wanted to do them last Saturday. I said no, since hard boiled eggs only last about a week. He claimed we could just dye more eggs later. Um, no. I like dying eggs, but not that much.

He asked again periodically throughout the week. Finally Friday, it was time to dye eggs. I hard boiled a dozen eggs in the morning, then after lunch (special lunch at our new Sonic, since I promised that we would go there sometime over break), we got all the stuff out and proceeded to dye eggs.

I had a dozen eggs my mom had blown (last year, I think) and then M and I blew 7 eggs earlier in the week when we had scrambled eggs. So in total we had 19 eggs to dye.

D and I each dyed a few, but the kids did the rest. They did some solid, dark eggs. Some multi-color eggs. M experimented with "splash eggs", where he dropped the blown egg into the dye and then dropped it into another color and so on. Some eggs turned out rather camoflage looking.

I think both kids were basically satisfied with the number of eggs to dye. We had left a few for D to do when he came home and A came back to do some more when D did his. I think if I'd had more, they would have dyed more.

One year we must have dyed at least 4 dozen, between hard boiled, blown and raw. We don't hide the raw eggs - too easy for them to get broken, but they can be dyed and then used as regular.

One year, I think when M was in first grade (or maybe K), his birthday was VERY near Easter so we had an Easter birthday party. Complete with dying eggs. I hard boiled a dozen eggs per kid (luckily there were only 6 guests) and we had at it. I couldn't believe that only 1 other kid (other than my 2) had ever dyed Easter eggs before. M couldn't believe it either. In his world, that was just something you always did at Easter. They all had a good time and wanted to do more eggs. Nope, sorry, time to go hunt the plastic eggs... And then I sent each kid home with their own hard boiled eggs. I wonder if those kids pestered mom to dye eggs the next year?


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Busy day

M said he wanted to see A Night at the Museum - he really, really, really wanted to see it. Could we please see it over Spring Break? So we started looking into it. It is only showing at the dollar theatres now. Sounds good & cheap, right. Well....except that there aren't any dollar theatres near us. They are all a good hour away. So we picked the one that was at least near the International Farmers Market and headed off.

The movie was cute. It had some inconsistencies, but overall it was enjoyable.

Then we stopped at an amine store that M had spotted. Oops, it was all anime, ie videos. But they directed us to the manga and comic book store 2 doors down. M got 10 minutes to look around. He found it interesting, but didn't find anything he HAD to get.

Next stop, farmers market. We got some cheese, some naan, and taco seasoning that were on the list. We also got some interesting Indian food to try, some breads, tea for D and other interesting bits and pieces. The kids found various things they wanted, but most of them were standard grocery fare. We were there for the different, unusual or cheap items.

Once we left there it was almost dinnertime, and certain logjam on the roads, so we decided we HAD to eat out. That area is very diverse and has lots of interesting restaurants, so we went randomly hunting. First we tried a Vietnamese place (at least we think it was Vietnamese based on the name), but it turned out to be a bar - no one under 18 allowed, so we kept looking. We found a Mexican restaurant a few doors down in the same strip shopping center and tried it. D initially got a Spanish menu, but the waitress quickly replaced it with an English menu. Or at least the menus were mostly in English, some dishes were still named and described in Spanish and they had one item labeled "chees deep".

A wanted a shrimp and vegetable soup. Luckily the waitress said she could serve him a smaller portion, and even then it was a good size bowl of soup. He was surprised when the shrimp were whole, with heads and all! I know he's never had whole shrimp served to him before. I was pretty surprised when I was served whole shrimp, in New Orleans, after college. A has evidently never even peeled shrimp before, so D (by virtue of sitting next to A) got to help him de-head and peel shrimp. A is probably ready for crawfish now!

M was happy to find that they had a hamburger and fries on the menu. No kids menu, but hamburger and chicken strips were on there. M wanted to know if he could ask for a double cheeseburger. No. We explained that the hamburger would be plenty good sized and not like a McD's burger. Sure enough, it was plenty. We ended up bringing some home.

Then finally back into the car for the hour long trip back home. At least by this point the traffic had all cleared.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Challenge Quilt finished

I finally finished my challenge quilt - this morning, about 9:45. I was supposed to turn it in by 10am. Cutting it close! So close that I was dabbing at the quilt with a wet washcloth at the stoplights (to remove water soluble markings) as I drove up to turn it in. One other person said they finished theirs this morning and several only finished up last night. I was in such a hurry I didn't remember to take a picture today. I'll have to be sure to take lots of pictures at our challenge show next week.


Birthdays celebrated

My mom and I celebrated our birthdays together yesterday. We had ice cream cake in the afternoon and presents. I got an iPod. Woohoo. Blue. It's tiny. I knew it was small, but I hadn't really realized how small.

So far, I've fiddled with iTunes some and put some podcasts on it and transferred 3 CD's worth of songs. It's amazing how much faster the computer will put the songs on the iPod than putting the songs from the CD onto the computer.

I got a new camera too. D and I have been discussing getting a new digital since before Christmas (and we tried to get one right around then), but he finally found and bought one - a Canon SD700. So far it seems pretty cool. I'm still learning how to use it, though, and haven't been able to get the photos from it onto the computer yet. I'll try on the PC later.

We promised my mom a MP3 of some sort too. We thought we'd show her some options of my iPod and the kids MP3's and see what sort of interface she wants. We thought it would make her training for the Atlanta cancer walk more interesting.

M is disappointed that I got an iPod and my mom may get one, but he doesn't have one. He thinks we should have bought him one for his birthday. We didn't. He's doing a good job of saving money to buy himself one - he's up to $50 and hoping for some gift cards from friends at his birthday party next week.

The kids each drew me really nice pictures. We're going to get frames for them. When I can get photos uploaded I'll post those - probably in a future post.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fools

April Fool's Day started here, seemingly, after dinner on the 31st. M had some ideas from a practical joke book.

#1: talcum powder under the door, blown with a hair dryer.
Result - no talcum powder in the house, so he used baking soda. It doesn't make a very good dust cloud evidently, but still spreads far enough that he had a fair amount of bathroom floor to clean.

#2: short sheet A's bed.
Result - He tried to shortsheet using the bottom sheet. A noticed but not really. M had to help me remake the bed.

#3: book under A's pillow
Result- A found it earlier and put book under M's pillow

Then this morning A wanted help to booby-trap the bedroom door. I helped him with it. When M went in, the box fell after M went through, so no success.

Later M wanted to do something with a packet of catsup. No. Too messy.

At bedtime I put a shoe in each of their beds. They each thought the other had done it, but I fessed up.

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