Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tale of two pools

Summer here in SE PA is fairly short: swimming pools open around June 15 and close around August 30. There might be some variations. Public facilities are few and far between - most people either have pools or join a private swim club.

When we moved here last year we were told we must join a club. It was the only way to go, people said. Now I am not used to that. In Oregon we had a nice parks and recreation district with indoor and outdoor pools, swim lessons and open swim times. It wasn't free, but unless a family wanted to swim every day, it wasn't prohibitive.

Anyway, just another difference to get used to. We asked around about public pools and learned that our town does have one. But several people told me that we wouldn't like it, we shouldn't go there, and should just join a club. Clubs cost around $400 and up. That's per year - which is really about 2 and a half months. Wow. We'd have to do a lot of swimming to make that worth the money! Like, every day! I thought of my dad and our infrequent trips to the Lakeshore Smorgasbord: "What do you mean you're not that hungry? You'd better eat so we get our money's worth! GO GET SOME MORE FOOD!"

OK, back to the pools. So why did people tell me not to bother with my town pool? There is no way to put this delicately: because, they said, "you'll be the only white people there." Really, no lie. What is the proper response to that?

Last year we just never made it to any pools. This year I was determined to check out our town pool, and so we did. And they were right: other than a few employees, we were indeed the only white people. But of course no one hassled us, and the kids had a good time. The pool was fine; clean and nice, though there was no deep end and no diving. There was a grassy area around it, but this being a city-maintained pool it was not real well-kept. There were some vending machine with chips and pop. It cost $1 for my kids and $2 for adults, so if all 4 of us went, $6 a swim.

Today we were invited to to go someone's swim club. What a difference private ownership makes! This pool was beautiful, surrounded by lush green lawns and nicely-placed flower beds. The pool had lots of room, went to 12 feet and had 2 diving boards. The smells from the snack bar were lovely. (Though I noticed they do not sell iced coffee, losers.)

I figure we'd be likely to go swimming 10 times a year, maybe 15, though it's already too late for that this year. At $495 for membership, that's a pretty steep per-swim fee. If my math is right (always questionable), we'd have to swim over 80 times over the course of the season to make that pool membership cost-effective compared to our town pool.

The kids got just as wet and had as much fun at the town pool. At both pools they had to avoid rowdy kids who didn't pay attention to others. The lawn was nicer at the private pool but either way I got to sit in the shade and watch the kids play. With no deep end I can probably relax a little more and read, maybe. I don't need snacks and I can always bring my own iced coffee. What's not to like about the public pool?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wine memories

Back in the old pre-kid days, when there was income flowing in and not a lot of expense, the seminarian and I became wine snobs. We lived near enough to the many "wine countries" of northern California - Napa, Sonoma, Amador County - to go winery touring. We had disposable income to shop at nice wine stores and take wine classes. We attended swanky wine events in San Francisco and Santa Cruz. We had a lot of fun.

Once we moved to Oregon we thought we'd check out the wine scene there - there was a winery just about 2 miles from our house, and more within an easy day trip - but with 2 little kids it just wasn't going to happen. We didn't miss it, really, most of the time. We bought our wine at Costco and were happy to have it.

Then we moved to Pennsylvania and started living on a student's income. Coincidentally, PA has some really odd liquor laws - no more Costco wine buys, just state-run liquor stores with poor selection and high prices. Well, we can't afford much wine anymore so it doesn't really matter.

Today we had to go to New Jersey - a mere 40 miles away but somehow when crossing the state line it seems like a big deal. Thanks to Google, we found a wine store close to our main destination and stopped in.

It was like nothing we had seen in over 10 years. A beautiful wine store, with aisles and aisles of wine from all over the world. We wandered around - I swear my husband had tears in his eyes - and looked at those old familiar names. The kids were quite good and patient but I longed for them to temporarily disappear so we could relive, ever so briefly, those old days. Storybook Mountain, Ridge, Robert Mondavi... so many familiar names and nearly all of it out of our budget. An employee noticed my dazed look and asked if he could help. I could only mutter that we'd been living in Pennsylvania - and he nodded sympathetically and said he understood. Then he suggested we come back on a Friday or Saturday for tasting.

We did find some affordable favorites - mostly from Bonny Doon - and so didn't walk out empty-handed.

We are unlikely to find - and pay! - a babysitter so we can go to New Jersey for wine-tasting. We'll just enjoy our few bottles, parceled out with special dinners. It was a fun half-hour, but... I found I didn't miss those free days - as in kid-free and free-spending - as much as I thought I would.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Filing guilt

One of the monkeys on my housekeeping back is filing. For some reason I am in charge of all the paper that comes in here and I don't deal well with it. Oh I get the bills paid (most of them are set up so I don't actually have to do anything to accomplish that) but still there is so much paper. For the past 2 years or so my filing system has been to toss everything into a cardboard file storage box. (I do keep a separate file for things I'll need for the tax man.) My main file box is overflowing now and I have been feeling really bad that it's not organized. We even have a filing cabinet and a good supply of file folders waiting to be filled!

Well, today I needed to find something in that box. I was really dreading it; I could see the hours slip away as I searched for this piece of paper. But! It only took me about 2 minutes of sifting through the box to find it.

My laziness is vindicated! My non-filing system works!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Loss leaders

Today we made another pass through Office Depot to take advantage of their weekly school supplies discounts: binders for 50 cents, glue for a penny, composition books for 30 cents, colored pencil sets for half a buck. We go through and only pick up the super-cheap advertised items, up to the limit, and only the ones we know we will use. The bill came to $6 and change; the savings listed on the receipt was $19.75.

As we were leaving the seminarian wondered what the employees think of the folks who come in and buy only the loss leaders. I am sure we would not want to know. Should I feel guilty that the transaction cost the store more than it made?

Those composition books can make nice gifts for people who like notebooks (such as young girls). They can be covered in fabric or beautiful paper, trimmed with ribbon or rickrack and look as nice as a fine journal. But I probably shouldn't say this because at least one of you might be getting one this Christmas... oh, who am I kidding, we only say we are going to make gifts, we never actually do it!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Did you know this about John McCain?

from Gateway Pundit:

Obama Talks About Lifting a Child In Bangladesh From Poverty... John McCain Already Did

I guess there's no reason that I would know that John and Cindy McCain adopted a baby from Bangladesh years ago. And this alone is not a reason to vote or not vote for a particular candidate. Still, when I hear what Obama says, and see what other people do...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Party at SmallWorld, pass it on.

SmallWorld at Home is one of my favorite places to visit. Mrs. SmallWorld has a fun (and sometimes serious), eclectic blog. She's a homeschooler, a writer, a reader* and a mommy. She also does her own housepainting which just blows my mind. Anyway, she is having some fun this week so stop over and say hi.

*Also check out SmallWorld Reads, a book blog. I have gotten a lot of good recommendations here. Today I've been dying to dip into Jayber Crow. Maybe I should go do that now.

My daughter is a prince.

Yes, you read that right. She and her brother are in a drama day-camp this week, and they are putting on a play. None of the 3 boys in the class wanted to be the prince, so she's it. I mean him. The boys gave various reasons for their reluctance, from the huge number of lines (she's the main character and in every scene) to the use of the word love (there's a princess, of course), to the possibility of kissing (there isn't any).

The play, written by the teacher, is as dumb and goofy as can be. Lots of pop culture references that my kids don't get. Who the heck are the Jonas Brothers? And do I want them to get the concept of groupies right now? (Maybe the meaning of the word has changed.)

Anyway, they are having fun. Today is the big performance. Break a leg, kiddos!

Update: The play went really well. It "performed" much better than it read. The kids were fantastic. The two hippies played the role beautifully - particularly when you consider that they are not old enough to have seen real hippies. My little prince and her brother - a silly-string-spraying superhero - did well too. And they had a great time.

My one regret - I didn't bring a bouquet for my stars. Yeah, kidding on that, but no kidding that there were a couple of moms with bouquets for their daughters. Let's keep this in perspective: It's a one-week, 3-hours-per-day drama summer camp. The play was 30 minutes long. Yes, they put forth some effort, a good effort, but... divas they are not. And we wonder why kids need so much propping up.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Boys and war

One of the books on my boy's reading list from last school year was the US Army Survival Manual. This is one of his favorite books.

He has always been interested in wars, weaponry, military stuff. I don't know why - we are not a military family and I never consciously picked out those kinds of books for him. He is what he is.

He has a great-uncle who flew in VietNam. We only see him once every couple years but every time we do, they end up huddled, talking fighter jets. This year the talk got a little more serious. This uncle is proud of his military service, and of his son in the Are Force. But he also knows what war is really like - not all cool planes and ships and weapons. He was treading carefully - he told me later he doesn't want to scare the boy; he just wants to educate him. He doesn't want him to love war because of all the cool stuff.

I wouldn't want my son to die in a war, or have to fight at all. I don't want anyone's son to go to war! But I know wars can be necessary. I wonder about the current generation who is growing up thinking war is evil: period. Wars are the result of evil and can be just or unjust. So, I want my son to be prepared to be a warrior if he needs to be. I don't mind his interest in weapons; maybe he will design a great and useful weapon one day. Couple of you might be horrified to read that. But war happens, and raising kids who are just "anti-war" and not "anti-evil" is not going to help when the US (or the world) needs warriors.

Or we could do what Gandhi is reported to have advised the Jews to do during Hitler's time: Just give in. Let him kill you all. Cease to exist altogether.

No thanks.

People can be against a particular war but still understand the need for a military force. People could read history (I think they don't, but they could) and see times when going to war was the right, if difficult, thing to do. Now, there are children who say, after being caught vandalizing a war memorial: 'It means nothing to me, I guess it's for some people who died in the war.' That was in England, but I could imagine that lack of regard here in the US.

War may be hell, but it's not going away. Whether we like it or not, we are going to need men willing to fight. Are we raising any?

Sign on a church

"Jesus is my BFF."

There are so many things to say about this... I can't even begin.

Update: BFF = best friend forever. I remember putting this in autograph books when I was in school, a long time ago now. Most recently I believe it has been popularized by young female celebrities like Paris Hilton. Maybe a more astute observer of popular culture (oxymoron?) will correct me or expand on that.

Hospitality doesn't have to be hard work

Couple of people here last night expressed amazement that we did not cancel the picnic because of the rain. I figured, we had the food, people had prepared food, kids were planning on seeing their friends. Why would we cancel?

This was probably the easiest big gathering I've ever had. We had a bunch of hot dogs and frozen hamburgers - yes, the frozen patties sold at Costco. We had bread products for them, and condiments. Everyone else was bringing the rest.

This was a true pot-luck - people were asked to bring a side dish or dessert, and something to drink. It wasn't coordinated to be sure there were ample salads, fruit, and brownies. I had a big bag of salad greens in the fridge in case no one brought salad, but you know, we could have gone one meal without a major veggie. There were tomatoes, lettuce, and onions for the burgers anyway; they count, you know? People brought:

macaroni and cheese
green salad
potato salad
white bean dip with tortilla chips
blueberry bread
fancy chocolates

Nice, well-rounded meal, eh? As for drinks.... oh, I loved having people bring drinks. I never think of drinks since I mostly drink water and why should anyone want anything else, right? Well we had regular iced tea, raspberry iced tea, root beer, limeade, coke. We did make coffee afterward.

I had a foldup table in the kitchen (where an island might go someday) for all the side dishes. It was tight going around it, but it worked. Next time I won't bother, but will just push the kitchen table against the wall, remove the chairs, and use that for serving. No one ate at it anyway.
People either hung around outside by the grill (those would be your hungry seminary students) or crammed into the living room on the couch and folding chairs. Once it started really raining, everyone had eaten and folks were standing around in small groups talking.

There was a time when I made all sorts of excuses for not inviting people over: yard too messy, house too unfinished, too much work, house too small. Bah. Those really are just excuses. What are yours?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Church picnic in my backyard tonight...

and 90% chance of heavy rain.

So far only about 40 people have said they are coming for sure. But I know from experience I'll get calls later today asking "is it too late to rsvp?"

I figure I have semi-comfortable indoor seating for 25. Should be interesting!

Update: Did I say 25? I meant 20. Forecast now saying just 80% chance rain.

Update #2: According to the radar, the storm looks like it's moving away from us. Someone is bringing a spare foldup table. Oh, the count now is 15 for-sure adults, 4 maybe adults, 3 teens, and 11 kids aged 11 and under. So that's only 33. No problem.

It's that 11 under 11 that scares me.

Final Update: The last of the 31 people left at 9:30. (OK, that's not very late but remember most of the people have young kids.) The rain came and went; there was enough time for the kids to burn off some energy (or maybe get more energized) outside before they had to come in. The griller did not get too wet. It was a bit tight in the house, but no one seemed to mind. All the food was good. The thunder and lightning started in earnest as people were leaving. My boy made a connection with a boy from church that he'd never really talked to much before.

Events like this are so much fun. The food doesn't really matter (though having good desserts always help); the size or condition of the house don't either. It was noisy and hard to move around the kitchen - because even though it's a tiny kitchen people will hang out there. There were some bad spills, but that's why I buy cheap tablecloths. The kids ate too many brownies and not enough salad, but there's always tomorrow to be nutritionally correct. Well, maybe the day after, when the leftovers are all gone.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One fun thing about blogging

Anyone can look at my sitemeter and see that this not a well-known blog. I know pretty much who is here most days: family, real-life friends, blogging friends. I have gone through spurts of wondering how I could make it more interesting, get more page views, even make some money here. But mostly I don't think much about it.

But once in a while I get a surprise. Today that would be the comment from author Linda Tagliaferro, who noticed one of her books - Palace of Versailles - on my kids' homeschool portfolio lists. She was kind enough to leave a comment. Naturally, I checked out her web page and found that she has quite a diverse bibliography. My kids will be thrilled to learn that I heard from a real author and I'm sure we'll look for more of her books.

And, she's a homeschooling Mom, too! Well, her kid is grown now but once a homeschool Mom, always a homeschool Mom...

Monday, July 21, 2008

No more safety scissors for me!

Today in Office Depot I had a wonderful revelation: I don't have to buy safety scissors anymore! We have about 82 pairs scattered all over the house, but even better than that: My kids don't really need them any more. They can use real scissors.

Some of you are saying "aawww, you're going to miss those safety scissors days!" Maybe, but I don't care right now. I love watching them get older, wiser, more independent.

So it's back to school time in the stores! Retail fall! We have been having some exciting times watching the ads for the best prices on composition books, binder paper, all that fun stuff. I adore school supplies and so does my girl. Of course we are attracted to all the beautiful, colorful notebooks and such but we still buy the cheap ones. I always pretend to myself that I'd do my filing if only I had lovely file folders instead of plain manila. But I can't bring myself to spend the cash. Even when I had more cash I couldn't do it. I have my frugal mother to thank for that.

Of course my frugal mother would tell me not to try to save money by driving all over town. It's not a bargain if it costs $4 to drive there, right? (I'm sure my mother would never have dreamed of $4 a gallon gas.) So we don't go out of our way. Even for 15 cent packs of binder paper!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

For homeschooling geeks only, number 2

And here is my girl's. I doubt I got all her fiction reading listed; she is a reading machine just like I was. Only difference, she doesn't like Nancy Drew. What is wrong with her?


Visited library at least twice monthly.

Obtained library card and checks out own books.

Learned how to locate books via Dewey Decimal system.

Attended library programs based on the books Tut Tut and Everything on a Waffle

Read the following fiction (nonfiction is listed under subject areas):

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle – Betty MacDonald
Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren
Pippi in the South Seas - Astrid Lindgren
Ramona the Pest - Beverley Cleary
Ramona's World - Beverley Cleary
Ramona and Beezus - Beverley Cleary
The Penderwicks - Jeanne Birdsall
Everything on a Waffle - Polly Horvath
The Trolls - Polly Horvath
Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle - Betty MacDonald
Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
Dr. Dolittle -Hugh Lofting
The Cabin Faced West - Jean Fritz
Baby Island - Carol Ryrie Brink
Into the Labyrinth – Roderick Townley
The Happy Yellow Car - Polly Horvath
The Pepins and their Problems - Polly Horvath
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH – Robert C. O’Brien
The Hundred Dresses - Eleanor Estes
The Moffats - Eleanor Estes
Tut Tut - Jon Scieszka
Several "Time Warp Trio" books
Return to Gone Away - Elizabeth Enright
The Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum
Mary Poppins - P. L. Travers
Mary Poppins Comes Back - P. L. Travers
The Moffat Museum - Eleanor Estes
Ginger Pye – Eleanor Estes
A Room with a Zoo – Jules Feiffer
All of a Kind Family – Sidney Taylor
All of a Kind Family Downtown – Sidney Taylor
The Constellation of Sylvie – Roderick Townley
Beezus and Ramona – Beverley Cleary
Lady Lollipop – Dick King-Smith
Various American Girl books
Various Beverley Cleary books
The Princess Academy – Shannon Hale
The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed – Heather Vogel

Other Literature Resources Used (Literature Read Aloud):
The Misadventures of Maude March – Audrey Couloumbis
Mad Maude: On the Run – Audrey Couloumbis
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
The Thieves of Ostia – Caroline Lawrence
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll
City of Dogs – Livi Michael
The Secrets of Vesuvius – Caroline Lawrence
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer- Mark Twain
Little Lord Fauntleroy – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Journey to the River Sea – Eva Ibbotson
The Water Horse – Dick King-Smith
The Penderwicks of Gardam Street – Jeanne Birdsall

Attended monthly reading group to discuss and share books via oral, written, and artistic presentations.

Contributed an article to homeschool group newsletter.

Composed reports on various topics.

Resources used:
AVKO Sequential Spelling program
Took Spelling tests based on current reading
Daily Grams grade 4
Skill Building Grammar grade 4
Scholastic Children’s Dictionary


Completed Math-U-See “Beta” (addition and subtraction) and through Chapter 7 of “Gamma” (multiplication) books.

Used computation skills for cooking, building, sewing, etc.

Other resources used:

Mathematicians are People Too – Luetta Reimer
Spectrum Test Preparation Grade 3


Studied the time period between the American Revolution and the Civil War in World History.

Attended Pennsbury Manor Homeschool Afternoon, visited the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Valley Forge, Mill Grove (John James Audubon home), Philadelphia Water Works, Abolition Hall, Johnson House, Cliveden, Peter Wentz farm, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport.

Attended the reenactment of the Battle of Germantown and the Memorial Day Ceremony at Washington Crossing Historic Park.

Attended Family Stage’s production of “That Fabulous Franklin.”

Visited Franklin Institute King Tut exhibit.

Read the following:
Susanna of the Alamo – John Jakes
Beatrix Potter – Elizabeth Buchan
18th Century Clothing – Bobbie Kalman
As Far as the Eye can Reach – Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
An American Army of Two – Janet Greeson
The Story of Florence Nightingale – Margaret Leighton
The Palace at Versailles - Linda Tagliaferro
Aztec News - Fiona MacDonald
Stone Age News - Fiona MacDonald
Pocahontas – D'Aulaire
The Greek News – Fiona MacDonald
Once on This Island
Pony Express
Nibbles and Me – Elizabeth Taylor
Little House in the Big Woods – Lara Ingalls Wilder
Little House on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the Banks of Plum Creek – Laura Ingalls Wilder
A Time to Dance: Virginia’s Civil War Diary – Mary Pope and Will Osborne
The History News – Revolution – Christopher Maynard

Other Resources Used
The Story of the World, vols 3 and 4 by Susan Wise Bauer
American Revolution (Landmark)
Justin Morgan Had a Horse – Marguerite Henry
Stowaway – Karen Hesse
George Washington, Spymaster – Thomas B. Allen
George Washington’s World – Genevieve Foster
Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West – Marguerite Henry
Ten Queens – Milton Meltzer
What’s the Deal?: Jefferson, Napoleon, and the LA Purchase – R. Blumberg
Amos Fortune, Free Man – Elizabeth Yates
By Wagon and Flatboat – Enid LaMonte Meadowcroft
Stowaway – Karen Hesse
Davy Crockett in His Own Words
The Adventurous Chef: Alexis Soyer - Ann Arnold
The Defenders – Robert Livesy and A. G. Smith
The Great American Gold Rush – Rhoda Blumberg
Victorians – Ruth Brocklehurst
Flames Across the Susquehanna – Glenn Banner
The Carpetbaggers – Lucia Rattmer

Study maps while reading (such as Stowaway)

Locate places on maps when reading (such as locating Independence MO while reading Little House on the Prairie) or talking about a new place.

Completed mapping project with book The Voyager’s Stone

Earned “Girl Scouting Around the World” badge.


As part of history curriculum, studies and discussed the Constitution and Bill of Rights, branches of government.

Discussed election cycle, voting, electoral college.


Read and performed experiments from the Usborne Book of Science, chemistry section, from other books, in chemistry kits, online, etc.; completed lab sheets.

Visited Philadelphia Water Works program.

Earned Girl Scouts’ “Water Works” badge.

Attended insect classes at Briar Bush Nature Center.

Studied animal classification.

Attended maple sugaring program at Wissahickon Environmental Center

Discussed science topics as applicable to reading (ie. Discussed medical use of leeches from reading On the Banks of Plum Creek)

Read the following books:
Honey Makers - Gail Gibbons
Bees - Deborah Hodge
A Look At Saturn - Suzanne Slade

Other resources used:
The Usborne Book of Science, Chemistry section
Wandering Through Winter – Edwin Way Teale
North With the Spring – Edwin Way Teale
The New The Way Things Work – David Macauley
Oxford Children’s Encyclopedia
The Picture History of Great Inventors by Gillian Clements
The Chemist who Lost His Head (Antoine Lavoisier) – Vivian Grey
Winter World (partial) – Bernd Heinrich
Handbook of Nature Study – Anna Botsford Comstock
Look at the Sky and Tell the Weather – Eric Sloane
Audubon Nature Encyclopedia
Benjamin Franklin’s Adventures with Electricity – Beverly Birch
Pasteur’s Fight Against Microbes – Beverly Birch

Safety Education:

Started Personal Safety Notebook including fire safety rules.

Attended DARE presentation with local police officer.

Attended safety presentation by local paramedic.


Discussed proper exercise, nutrition, dental care.

Physical Education:

Attended Homeschool PE class weekly (fall term, played outside, hiked.

Art, Music, Performing Arts

Listened to and discussed various musical styles at home.

Attended musical play “The Wizard of Oz,” attended piano recital of local musician, works of Beethoven and Chopin, attended dress rehearsal of Pennsylvania Ballet “Carnival of the Animals” and “Jupiter Symphony” and “Coppelia” ballets.

Listened to and discussed Handel’s “Messiah.”

Read Ludwig van Beethoven by Mike Venezia, listened to Beethoven’s Symphony #5, among other works.

Visited a bow-maker’s workshop.

Listened to music, sang at home and at church.

Began piano lessons.

Visited the Barnes art collection.

Using books and other models, continued to work on drawing skills, crafts with clay, fabric, other materials.

Earned Girl Scout’s sewing badge.

Participated in Girl Scout activity teaching collage art to younger (Brownie) scouts.

Read Beatrix Potter by Elizabeth Buchan

For homeschooling geeks only

Well, I decided to put up the lists of books, etc. that we put in our homeschool portfolios this year. I always like looking at other homeschoolers' lists of stuff. So, if you do one, post yours.

This is the boy's; this would be his 5th grade year if he'd gone to school but he is registered as a 4th grader because that's the way it worked out when we started. I like having the "extra" year for him, particularly now that we've identified so many learning problems.


Visited library at least twice monthly.

Obtained library card and checks out own books.

Learned how to locate books via Dewey Decimal system.

Attended library program based on the book Tut Tut.

Read the following fiction (nonfiction is listed under subject areas):

The Sands of Time - Michael Hoeye
The Castle in the Attic - Elizabeth Winthrop
Knight's Castle - Edward Eager
Star Jumper: Journal of a Cardboard Genius - Frank Asch
Rats! - Jane Cutler
George's Marvelous Medicine - Roald Dahl
Tree Castle Island - Jean Craighead George
The Witches - Roald Dahl
Dr. Dolittle -Hugh Lofting
The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle - Hugh Lofting
James and the Giant Peach - Roald Dahl
Tut Tut - Jon Scieszka
Summer Reading is Killing Me! - Jon Scieszka
Marco? Polo! - Jon Scieszka
Hey Kid! Want to Buy a Bridge? - Jon Scieszka
Shark Shock – Donna Napoli
Soccer Shock – Donna Napoli
Urchin and the Heartstone – M. I. McAllister
Blackthorn Winter – Douglas Wilson
The Return of the Twelves – Pauline Clarke
Leepike Ridge – Nathan Wilson
100 Cupboards – Nathan Wilson

Other Literature Resources Used (Literature Read Aloud):
The Misadventures of Maude March – Audrey Couloumbis
Mad Maude: On the Run – Audrey Couloumbis
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
The Thieves of Ostia – Caroline Lawrence
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll
City of Dogs – Livi Michael
The Secrets of Vesuvius – Caroline Lawrence
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer- Mark Twain
Little Lord Fauntleroy – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Journey to the River Sea – Eva Ibbotson
The Water Horse – Dick King-Smith
The Penderwicks of Gardam Street – Jeanne Birdsall

Attended monthly reading group to discuss and share books via oral, written, and artistic presentations.

Completed oral and written reports for Webelos (Cub Scouts) badges, including “Communicator” Badge.

Contributed a book review to homeschool group newsletter.

Composed reports on various topics.

Resources used:
Spectrum Test Preparation Grade 4
Spelling and Phonics Daily Skill Builders, Grades 3 and 4
Skill Building Grammar grade 4
Bridging Phonics for Middle-Grade Students
AVKO Sequential Spelling program,
Daily Grams grade 4
Scholastic Children’s Dictionary
The ABCs and all Their Tricks – Margaret M. Bishop
The Prairie Primer by Margie Gray


Completed Math-U-See “Beta” (addition and subtraction) and through chapter 20 of “Gamma” (multiplication) books

Used computation skills for cooking, building, sewing, etc.

Other resources used:
Mathematicians are People Too – Luetta Reimer
Spectrum Test Preparation Grade 4


Studied the time period between the American Revolution and the Civil War in World History..

Visited Franklin Institute King Tut exhibit.

Attended Pennsbury Manor Homeschool Afternoon.

Visited the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Valley Forge, USS New Jersey, Mill Grove (John James Audubon home), Abolition Hall, Johnson House, Cliveden, Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport.

Attended Family Stage’s production of “That Fabulous Franklin.”

Attended re-enactment of the Battle of Germantown and the Memorial Day Ceremony at Washington Crossing Historic Park.

Read the following:
Winter at Valley Forge (Landmark)
Hero of the High Seas: John Paul Jones and the American Revolution - M Cooper
Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Palace at Versailles - Linda Tagliaferro
The Stone Age News - Fiona MacDonald
Men of War - Patrick O'Brien
Aztec News - Fiona MacDonald
Pony Express (Landmark)
Hero of Trafalgar: The Story of Lord Nelson - A. B. C. Whipple (Landmark)
Watt Got You Started, Mr. Fulton? - Robert Quackenbush
You Wouldn't Want to Live in a Wild West Town! - Peter Hicks
Of Courage Undaunted – James Daugherty
Old Ironsides – David Weitzman
A Day that Changed America: The Alamo – Shelley Tanaka
John James Audubon – Margaret and John Kieran
The Boy Who Drew Birds – Jacqueline Davies
Young Teddy Roosevelt – Cheryl Harness
Crossing the Panther’s Path – Elizabeth Alder
Little House on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the Banks of Plum Creek – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Iron Thunder – Avi
Duel of the Ironclads – Patrick O’Brien
In Freedom’s Cause – G. A. Henty (audiobook)
Robert E. Lee and the Road of Honor – Hodding Carter
With Lee in Virginia – G. A. Henty (audiobook)
Lee and Grant at Appomattox – MacKinley Kantor
Fort Sumter – Brendan January
Rifles for Watie – Harold Keith
The Planes the Allies Flew in World War II David C. Cooke
Tank: The M1A1 Abrams – Michael A. Black
Gettysburg – MacKinley Kantor
The History News – Revolution – Christopher Maynard

Other Resources Used
The Story of the World, vols 3 and 4 by Susan Wise Bauer
American Revolution (Landmark)
Justin Morgan Had a Horse – Marguerite Henry
Stowaway – Karen Hesse
George Washington, Spymaster – Thomas B. Allen
George Washington’s World – Genevieve Foster
Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West – Marguerite Henry
Ten Queens – Milton Meltzer
What’s the Deal?: Jefferson, Napoleon, and the LA Purchase - R. Blumberg
Amos Fortune, Free Man – Elizabeth Yates
By Wagon and Flatboat – Enid LaMonte Meadowcroft
Stowaway – Karen Hesse
Davy Crockett in His Own Words
The Adventurous Chef: Alexis Soyer - Ann Arnold
The Defenders – Robert Livesy and A. G. Smith
The Great American Gold Rush – Rhoda Blumberg
Victorians – Ruth Brocklehurst
Flames Across the Susquehanna – Glenn Banner
The Carpetbaggers – Lucia Rattmer


Completed mapping project with book The Voyager’s Stone

Referred to maps while reading books (such as Stowaway).

Located places on maps when reading (such as locating Independence MO while reading Little House on the Prairie) or talking about a new place.

Other resources used:
Geography (Time Life)
Spectrum Geography Grade 6 workbook
National Geographic US Atlas for Young Explorers

As part of history curriculum, studies and discussed the Constitution and Bill of Rights, branches of government.

Discussed election cycle, voting, electoral college.

Participated in community service project with Cub Scouts.

Earned Webelos (Cub Scouts) Citizen badge.


Performed experiments from the Usborne Book of Science, chemistry section, other books and kits, online; completed lab sheets.

Earned Webelos (Cub Scouts) Forestry Badge through independent study and course at Morris Arboretum.

Attended maple sugaring program at Wissahickon Environmental Center.

Attended Insect programs at Briar Bush Nature Center.

Discussed science topics as applicable to reading (ie. Discussed medical use of leeches from reading On the Banks of Plum Creek).

Studied animal classification

Read the following books:
The Wind Masters - Pete Dunne (Peregrine Falcon section)
The Snake Scientist - Sy Montgomery
Snakes - Maria Mudd Ruth
Dogs - DK Eyewitness
various books on aviation (partial)
The Bermuda Triangle: Strange Happenings at Sea - David West
The World's Greatest Fighters - Robert Jackson (partial)
Horrible Science: Chemical Chaos – Nick Arnold
Journey to the Bottomless Pit – Elizabeth Mitchell
US Army Survival Manual
Reptiles and Amphibians – Scott Weidensaul

Other resources used:
The Usborne Book of Science, Chemistry section
Wandering Through Winter – Edwin Way Teale
North With the Spring – Edwin Way Teale
The New The Way Things Work – David Macauley
Oxford Children’s Ecyclopedia
The Picture History of Great Inventors by Gillian Clements
The Chemist who Lost His Head (Antoine Lavoisier) – Vivian Grey
Winter World (partial) – Bernd Heinrich
Handbook of Nature Study – Anna Botsford Comstock
Look at the Sky and Tell the Weather – Eric Sloane
Audubon Nature Encyclopedia
Benjamin Franklin’s Adventures with Electricity – Beverly Birch
Pasteur’s Fight Against Microbes – Beverly Birch
Rocks and Minerals – DK Eyewitness

Safety Education:

Attended township fire safety day.

Worked on personal safety notebook for Webelos badge, including fire safety rules

Attended DARE presentation with local police officer.

Attended safety presentation by local paramedic.


Completed study of nutrition, planned a week of meals using nutrition pyramid as guide to earn Webelos Fitness badge.

Discussed proper exercise, nutrition, dental care.

Physical Education:

Attended Homeschool PE class weekly (fall term), played outside, hiked, participated in Little League Baseball.

Art, Music, Performing Arts

Listened to and discussed various musical styles at home.

Attended musical play “The Wizard of Oz,” attended piano recital of local musician, works of Beethoven and Chopin, attended dress rehearsal of Pennsylvania Ballet “Carnival of the Animals” and “Jupiter Symphony” ballets.

Read Ludwig van Beethoven by Mike Venezia, listened to Beethoven’s Symphony #5, among other works

Listened to and discussed Handel’s “Messiah.”

Visited a bow-maker’s workshop.

-Listened to music, sang, played with keyboard.

Visited the Barnes art collection.

Completed Webelos (Cub Scouts) Artist Badge requirement.

Drew maps, other types of drawings for Reading Group, Webelos projects, pleasure.

Minimum compliance

Last week I received word from my school district that my kids' portfolios of work had been approved. Coincidentally, when I got the call the seminarian was on his way to the school district office to drop off our affidavit for the 2008/2009 year. Suddenly the homeschooling liaison realized that she had only one portfolio from me, and hung up quickly to go find the other.

Within 5 minutes he arrived to find her glancing through the portfolio. It took her only another minute or two to decide it was OK.

We didn't do extensive portfolios. There's a 3-page Word document that lists the books the kids read, books I read to them, other books or resources used, field trips taken, classes, etc. Then about 18 pages of work samples: copies of animal classification cards the kids made, math tests, short essays, little grammar worksheets, some art. It all fit into a 1-inch binder with room to spare.

So I am not sure why people submit 3-inch binders, packed tight with everything I put in mine (only more of it), along with photos, ticket stubs, brochures, and other proof of exciting educational activities. I doubt they are getting the scrutiny such effort deserves.

The law does not require proof in the form of ticket stubs and photos. But if people continue to submit those things to make their kids' portfolios look better (or maybe just to make the mom look better) eventually someone will decide that proof is good and we'll all have to do it.

"Minimum compliance" is a good term. Give them what they want, cheerfully and on time - but don't give them more than required.

Girls' weekend

This weekend the boy and his dad are off at Cub Scout camp. It's a two-nighter so my girlie and I have a lot of time on our hands.

I already wrote about going to see the American Girl movie. That was pure whim and I'm so glad we did it. I probably should have been prudent and planned it for the matinee, but we had time Friday evening so we went. Since it was just the two of us, and we had a small popcorn, the cost wasn't too high. But the benefits were (as the ad goes) priceless.

Saturday we went to a Celtic Festival/Dog Show. Yeah, that sounds weird. It was held at a local historic home (there are a lot of those around here); one of the early owners was a dog lover. So we listened to Celtic music, browsed the dog-related items in the booths, ate what was possibly the worst hot dog I've ever had in my life (oh, the irony!), and watched the many dogs around the place, none of whom were as cute as our dog Max. In fact, I am not really allowed to even imply that any dog is anywhere near as cute as our dog. Any time we comment on a cute dog, we have to say "NACAM" which means, of course "not as cute as Max." Aahhh... life with a girl.

While on a house tour we got to see one of the "commonplace books" the woman of the house kept. That got us on a kick to start keeping one. We'll see how long that lasts. I'm predicting: not very. Books like that get lost quickly around here.

After that we ran a few errands, including a stop at Office Depot for this week's super BACK TO SCHOOL bargains. Tomorrow a new week starts with new bargains! We love school supplies. OH! She found a cute journal for her commonplace book. I prefer cheap composition books which I cover with nice paper just before I lose them.

When we got home we tried to get some work done but it didn't work very well. Whenever someone is missing from the house for a long period, the rest of us can't quite settle down. I feel edgy and restless. Not nervous or worried about the missing person(s)' safety, exactly. Just... restless. We're kind of like the dog in that way. He keeps going to the boy's bedroom to look for him.

We walked the dog a few times and had the emergency frozen pizza for dinner. And popsicles. They are real fruit popsicles so I can rest easy that we had a nutritious dinner.

The last thing we did was try to watch a Flintstones dvd we picked up at the library. She watched politely for a while but I soon realized she was just being polite. It didn't seem very funny to me and it was obvious it wasn't to her either. And, Fred and Wilma were pretty mean and insulting to each other! I hadn't noticed that as a kid. She asked if she could go to bed and read.

They'll be back in the early afternoon today, sweaty and smoky and tired. Girls' weekend will be over but by then it will have been long enough.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Time keeps on slippin', slippin'...

Even my kids have noticed how quickly the summer is going by. Time just seems to be flying. One of the kids said "maybe the end of the world is coming and God's just speeding up time till the end."

While I doubt that this is the case, I have to admit I have my moments of hoping he is right.

Only the first 1:45 of this is really relevant to this post.


Someone asked me what a cicada is. Cicadas are new to our family, or were last year. We did not have them in Oregon nor in California.

Here is a single cicada making its noise:

And here is an example of many, many cicadas buzzing in concert:

Yes, that is what it sounds like around here all summer long.

Boring housekeeping post

After playing most of the weekend, I am trying hard to get some work done. And I've gathered up a bunch of plastic bins, and a bunch of plastic bin lids.

Yeah, none of them match up.

I feel guilty throwing them away because I know somehow, somewhere, the missing pieces will turn up. But this house is too small to hide much.

This is what I get for trying to clean up. I should just go read. First I'll make some coffee to ice so I can work late into the night.

Must get motivated!

A rare treat: a movie in the theater!

Last night my girl and I had an impromptu trip to the movies to see the movie Kit Kittredge: An American Girl. We don't go to the movies much; we realized this was our first theater trip since we moved here, so it's been over a year. The last theater movie we saw in Oregon was Amazing Grace. I'd like to have gone to see Prince Caspian but at this point I guess we'll get in the queue at the library and watch it at home. I remember the treat of going to the movies as a kid. It was a thrill, except when Dad took us to war movies at the drivein. I swear we went to Bridge on the River Kwai before I was 10 years old. Guess it was cheaper than a babysitter, especially since we brought our own snacks. So I do like to take the kids occasionally, but it is not a huge priority for us right now.

Anyway, I am not a big fan of the American Girl empire (y'know, I just don't tend to love merchandising empires), though my girl has read all the books at least once. But I'd read good reviews and we had the evening to ourselves so off we went.

I was so pleasantly surprised. It was a good movie. Set during the Great Depression, it seemed true enough to me, from what I do know about that time period. I should know more - my parents were in their late teens at that time, and it had a lifelong effect on both of them. I know I will learn more in the next few months when we finally get to that point in our history studies. The story was mostly believable though as one might expect things get wrapped up a little too neatly at the end. The characters really made the movie: Stanley Tucci as a magician and Joan Cusack as the mobile librarian are a hoot. It was very heart-warming too, as American Girl stories must be.

But, I'd see it again. I might even buy the dvd which is saying a lot, as we buy very few movies. It's a girl movie but I think my boy would like it too. There are some funny boys in it, and, amazingly, a car chase and a few minor crashes! Oh, and a monkey. I hate monkeys, but the kids always like them.

Friday, July 18, 2008

One reason I'm glad I don't live in California anymore


Voters to decide on naming sewage plant for Bush

In San Francisco, natch. (Well, could have been Berkeley, too.) Because he was an icky President.

What mature, evolved people, eh?

Couple of updates:

1. Apologies to friends and loved ones in the Golden State. Remember, I lived there most of my life and I turned out OK.

2. The SF Chronicle has a story on it, of course. Supposedly this started off as a joke, a satire, and then grew. The comments were overwhelmingly positive toward the idea, of course. I particularly liked the one that said (something like) Bush removed all dignity from the office of the President. What a hoot! His predecessor did that all on his own, starting even before he took office when he answered the "boxers or briefs" question on MTV. It went all downhill from there. I can't believe anyone is foolish or blind enough not to see who started degrading the office.

3. I might not be happy with the next President (in fact I'm almost sure not to be) but my kids will learn that we respect the President, even if we respectfully disagree.

4. Maybe I just don't have a sense of humor.

5. I do miss the bread.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Testing and more testing

Yesterday we took our boy to a neuropsychologist for some learning disability testing. We had known he had some learning problems for a while, but figured he would either outgrow them or we would find the key to solve them. He didn't, and while we made some progress, we weren't making enough and we were tired of guessing what his problems were. I had never heard of neuropsychology until a few weeks ago, when we received a recommendation to contact one.

The testing process got off to a good start when the doctor asked him if he knew why he was being tested - he said he didn't even though we'd gone over it with him extensively. Then the doc asked if he knew what "neuro" meant and my good little history student said "he was an emperor of Rome." OK, good thought and it told the doc a bit of what he needed to know about the boy.

Anyway, 6 hours later we had confirmation of what we'd suspected for a while: the kid is smart enough; he's got a lot of knowledge and information in his brain, but he's got some disconnects in his processing that prevent him from really doing anything with the knowledge. He can get it in, but he can't get it back out. I never knew that "IQ" was not necessarily just one test or number, but a composite of various tests in different areas: Verbal comprehension, Preceptual Reasoning, Working Memory, Processing Speed - if I remember correctly. We have not gotten the full written report yet and my notes are sketchy (because I knew a written report was forthcoming).

We haven't told a lot of people about the testing, but enough that I've had some interesting responses. The funniest one was the person who told me that I was worrying too much, and that he'd be fine if we just kept doing what we've been doing. Hmm, how many more times should I go over the "ck" word ending rule so he can spell words like truck? If probably thousands of exposures to the word truck have not helped him spell it, why would more? Most people were curious, especially other homeschoolers as I think all of us wonder if our kid is "all right" and we are doing all we should for them.

So we have a lot of work ahead. I'm posting the list of possible problems and specialists to see in case someone else encountering this difficulties comes across these tags and has information to share.

- Central Auditory Processing Disorder - not a hearing problem, but a problem with understanding and processing what is heard; we need to see an audiologist.

- Vision testing for convergence, tracking, and other developmental skills. We don't think that's a big part of the problem, but it's probably time for a vision test anyway.

- Occupational therapy for fine motor skills - we knew writing was hard for him but had not thought of this at all.

- Testing for AD/HD and "working memory" and "processing speed" problems. If I understand this right, he will get to be hooked up to a machine and play video games while the doctor checks out his beta-wave activity; it's called "neurofeedback." He's going to love it.

- Oh there is dyslexia in there too, and possibly a touch of Asperger's Syndrome.

Whew. We have a new stack of library books - I won't be reading any fiction for a while. But we are happy and encouraged and ready move on. It is nice to be able to remind the boy that no, he is not stupid because he can't remember his math facts. But we still have to remind him that these difficulties don't mean he doesn't have to try. I don't think he understands just how much work is ahead.

Update: Sandy asks "aren't you glad you're homeschooling him so you can stay in control?" Yes indeed. It is because of the homeschooling that we were intimately aware of our son's strengths and weaknesses and were able to give the doctor a very detailed list of observations of our boy's behaviors, characteristics, and educational problems. I was told that in a school setting, the IQ test would be given, we'd get a composite number, and that would determine special ed needs, etc. But our boy's scores in the different areas were all over the place: a composite number would have been useless and would not have given us the information we need to go forward properly. (Of course kids who go to school also have involved parents who know what's going on. Don't get on me about that. But, there is a level of control taken away from the parents once the school is in the picture.)

So, yes, the homeschooling is definitely a positive factor. That, and being providentially placed in the right place at the right time, with the right people around us. But that is another topic for another day.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My week with the preschoolers: days 2 - 5

The next morning we were more ready (not completely ready) for the preschoolers. We brought:

- 2 picnic blankets
- a jug of ice water
- 2 large play balls
- numerous picture books
- paper bags for making puppets
- a box of crackers
- paper cups
- a tablecloth

The grass was still wet so we could not spread out the blankets right away. Once again we started the kids off with art. We'd found beads and lanyard and let them string. The 3 Girl Scouts appeared again and got to work.

Oh, I also had put together a schedule. I knew preschoolers (they all went to school) had schedules. And, having spent the time making one ensured that it would get changed because I also found out the camp had a schedule. A nice volunteer smuggled me a copy. The Scout dens moved from one activity to another. Couldn't some of my little ones do some of these?

I found the camp organizer hiding in some trees sneaking a cigarette (tsk tsk). He seemed stunned by the thought of having the little kids participate in some of the activities. But he was up for it. He told me which dens were small enough that we could join up with. I also learned that each day after lunchtime there was some kind of "program" that we could all watch. Hence, the firefighters the day before.

So I went back and added "magic class," "craft," and "magic show" to my schedule. Then I saw it was story time, so I spread out the blanket in the sun on the nearly-dry grass and called them together. Most of them were eager for a story but Terror Girl said she would not listen. "OK, don't listen, but let the others who want to hear the story." "NO! I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT!" She sat and sulked at the table till the kids started listening to the story then came over to heckle - I mean ask what was going on. One of the Girl Scouts moved her back to her sulking table and eventually she came over quietly.

We had a snack then went to the magic lesson - which was way over their heads but who cares, they were quiet - then went on another hike in the woods. As we passed the path to the creek they all begged to go down, but we stayed on the path and boy were we lucky 'cause there was all sorts of scat to see along the way. Nothing excites kids on a hike more than poop. Then it was lunch time - truly lunch time - and time for the magic show.

This was better than the magic lesson though Terror Girl kept asking when there'd be a rabbit. That's when she wasn't showing me her bloody spots and asking to go to the nurse. I realized that when she was bored or just needed attention she picked at her little cuts to make them bleed again. Before she got too demanding, though, the magician produced a rabbit! This was his finale and he invited the kids to come up and pet him.

While we waited and I explained endlessly that we would get our turn, I had to demonstrate the "two-finger pat" over and over. I could really picture Terror Girl manhandling that rabbit. She ended up pulling away from me and getting to the rabbit first in our group and then cried and complained "I never got to pet him" when I moved her along.

Oh! Speaking of complaining, we got a flagpole so we were able to take our flag with us just like the scouts. So you know what that meant: "Can I carry the flag?" "It's my turn! It's my turn!" "I NEVER get to carry the flag!" "HE HIT ME WITH THE FLAG!" I had painful flashbacks to a trip to Circus Circus in Vegas many years ago with 4 of my (young) nieces and nephews, when I had to carry a little notebook to keep track of whose turn it was to press the elevator button.

After the magic show I lost my 3 Girl Scout helpers. They had warned me there were going to be "rotated" and hoped to go work in the fishing area. I wished them well even though I didn't mean it. At the end of the day I saw one of them walking dejectedly along and found out that rather than being assigned to fishing, they'd been dispatched to assist with one of the larger and more unruly dens. Should have stayed with me!

But it didn't matter because we were settling into a routine and my two "scout siblings" - my girl and another - were proving to be good helpers.

At the end of the day my husband and our dog came to pick us up. The kids loved our Max (and he loved them). Then Terror Girl's brother (one of the Scouts) came over to check out the dog and decided to try to get him to bite a hard rubber ball. My Scout told him not to do that and the boy replied "No, it's OK." No, it's not OK, it's not your dog! Oh, OK the whole family is this way. As I said goodbye to Terror Girl after taking her back to her mom, she looked at me with a stern face and narrowed eyes and said imperiously, "You'd better bring that dog back tomorrow!"

We made it through day 2.

The rest of the week flowed pretty much the same way. We had another sudden thunderstorm, but this time I was prepared with things more organized in the tent and my cellphone attached to my body so my husband could keep me up to date on the forecast. Thank God for the radar on the NWS site. We went to our activities, made a birdhouse, a flubber ball, lots of paper bag puppets, and even got to fish one day. The flag-carrying stopped being a big deal (of course) and the nature hikes were mostly fun. Terror Girl would always complain when we had to turn around (there were no loops in this park) and told me I was wrong when I said we had to be sure no one would get too tired to walk back. Then a minute later she'd complain of being too tired to walk back and asked to be carried.

The last day got was a bit tricky because it was water gun day. I'm sorry, gun is a bad word, water shooter day. One boy loved to spray people but would not be sprayed in return. There was a lot of crying and complaining but by then I was finding it easier to just put my mind in a happy place and ignore it all, watching just enough to be sure no one drowned in the little pool or hit anyone too hard with the water shooter.

Just before it was time to close up shop someone dropped off our certificates and badges. My girl got an honorary "den chief" award for helping me. She was thrilled.

They all cried when it was time to go home. The organizer asked me if I'd do it again next year. I learned that in previous years this group was not included in any activities at all. The moms were thrilled that their little ones had gotten to do so many fun things. They heaped praise on me for doing such a good job. How could I tell them I got them into the activities for my own survival, not for their enrichment?

Oh, my Scout had a great time! I barely saw him, other than running back and forth from one activity to another. He solidified relationships with some of his den-mates, learned some skills and is ready to be a den chief next year. My girl also said he'd love to volunteer next year as a Girl Scout. I'll be happy to drop them off!

My week with the preschoolers: day 1

So when we signed up for the Cub Scout camp, I had to fill out a volunteer registration and check off the areas I would be interested in helping with. Hmm... I was looking for "cook" or something similar because I was under the impression lunch was provided. As reported earlier, that wasn't happening. So, no lunch duty, what could I do? I can't teach archery, slingshots, or other sports skills, and I didn't know what it meant to be a den leader. I checked crafts and childcare. The childcare would be for the 6-and-under set of volunteers' kids. I figured I could help out there. Note the word "help."

So we arrive and sign in; my daughter, who was registered as a "scout sibling," is supposed to be assigned to a den so she could do all the cool scout stuff. I should have known something was going terribly wrong when I signed in my Scout and asked where to sign in the sibling and where to sign myself in for work. "Oh, just go down there by the preschool area. Your stuff is all there - some crafts, and t-shirts for the kids."

What does she mean "your stuff?"

So we go to that area - just 2 picnic tables - and stand around a bit. Then someone comes by and says "here's your tent, need any help putting it up?" Uh, yeah, I guess so...

Then the organizer comes by and says "I bought some craft things for your kids but let me know if you need anything more, OK?"

The awful reality dawns: I am not helping out in the preschool area: I am running it.

Soon my little darlings start to arrive. I sort through the bag of t-shirts and start handing them out. It seems like a good idea to have them all in the same color, and one different from the horde of Cubs. But one boy won't wear the shirt. "He doesn't like big t-shirts" his mother says. OK.... fine. Don't wear the shirt.

There is no registration list, nothing to tell me who is coming and more importantly: how many of them there are. But there is a pad of drawing paper and a pack of markers, so I make up my own list.

The tent goes up and we hand out papers and markers for art time. Another scout sibling, a girl my daughter's age, arrives looking for her den. 3 Girl Scouts show up and ask if they can help. Yes! Yes you can! Entertain these kids!

All in all there are just 8 of them. Except for one, they are all sweet and mostly obedient, though they have minds of their own. One is just a terror. She was easy to pick out right away when she pushed her way to a place at the table and yelled "where are MY markers?"

I start making a list of needs. Why didn't they give me any hand wipes and sanitizer? There are 4 year olds here. Where am I supposed to put their lunches? And where is my scout sibling supposed to go to do these scout activities she was promised?

I collar the woman who registered us. She agrees to find a den for the 2 sibs and takes them with her to find some fun. The 3 Girl Scouts find a volleyball and start playing with the little kids. Terror girl announces that she wants a snack. Snacks? Why didn't they leave me snacks? Soon they are all around me like baby birds. I realized that at preschool they must get a morning snack. They end up eating their lunches. Yes, at 10 am.

A little while later the 2 siblings come running back. They are disgusted. "We'd rather stay here with you and the little kids. They put us in a den with 7 year old boys and the leader couldn't control them and they were wild and wouldn't listen and we hated it and it'll be more fun here! We're hungry, too. Got any snacks?"

We start pawing through the bin of craft stuff. Hmm, everything looks pretty good, except the Bratz coloring book; that'll have to disappear. We add paper bags for puppets to our list (I knew there was a reason I bought the pack of 100 a few weeks ago), and go off on a hike. We have a flag like the other dens, but - no flagpole! Rather than carry it like a banner and have someone drop it in the dirt (over and over), we leave it behind.

After lunchtime (or what would have been if the kids hadn't eaten at 10), we saw the Scouts gathering at one corner of the park. There's a fire truck. One of the volunteers suggests we head over to see them peel the roof off a car with the jaws of life. Cool! Off we go.

Terror girl falls on the way and we have to find the nurse. We learn that the nurse knows her well and knows how to tend to her. "It's not always about you" is one of her comments. We enjoy the car-wrecking demo and then we find that the firefighters are turning the hoses on the kids. Scouts are running everywhere. Water is flying everywhere! I am scrambling to keep my little ones together so they don't get lost or knocked over. Terror girl gets away and runs right toward a spewing hose. I have to run after her. Of course she turns so I get most of the water. She thinks it's hilarious. At least she's laughing and not crying or yelling or sitting with her arms crossed angrily.

After that excitement, the Girl Scouts lead us to the creek where fishing is happening. I realize these 3 Scouts really want to fish. And maybe find some Boy Scouts who are also helping. But the preschoolers keep walking in front of people and getting tangled in their lines so off we go.

We run way across the field, far from our tent. Then one of the Girl Scouts looks at the sky and says "uh, we'd better get back to our tent!" Here comes the rain.

We dash not for the tent but to the covered picnic pavilion. There were find a table separate from the Cubs who are making an incredible noise that can't get out from under the roof. The kids are upset and want their mommies. I want their mommies too. One mommy produces a story book and tries to read it to them while I run out in the downpour - I'm still wet from the fire hoses so what difference does it make? - and get their lunchboxes and other things.

The rain does not stop. The Cubs start singing goofy Scout songs. The little ones want more snacks. Then it's 3:30 and the mommies arrive.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Did I tell you I'm really really smart?

Two recent incidents:

My daughter met a girl about her age at daycamp and had time to get to know her a little. She's a nice kid, but I was a little stunned by a conversation I only part heard. They were talking about their schools and the girl asked mine "do you have SEEC(some kind of gifted program) at your homeschool?" Of course my little one had no idea what she was talking about, so the girl explained "It's a place for the really really smart kids to go and learn stuff; I go there 3 times a week." She made this point at least 3 times that I could hear: "It's for really really smart kids (always 2 reallys) and I go there." OK, got it, you're really really smart.

She was a really nice kid and did seem very bright. But not bright enough to know that people don't really care about hearing how smart you are, over and over.


Some family friends came over to play. The boy who is my boy's age proudly told my husband about his report card and announced that he was in the top 1% of his class. He had that look, you know, expectant and, yes, a bit smug. When my husband just said "oh, that's nice" and moved on to something else, he looked disappointed.

He is mostly a nice friend but but he sometimes calls my son "dumb" "uncool" and "gay." My boy has to hide any complex Lego creations he has in his room because this boy has broken some apart even after being asked not to touch them. Oh, did I mention that he goes to Christian school?


Now I don't begrudge bright children special opportunities, and I understand a child should be proud of real accomplishments, like working hard to get good grades, and then getting them. "Being gifted" or really really smart does not seem like an accomplishment. It's the way the person is. And it's great. But it seems that something important might be missing from the education here: humility.

I am not sure why the report card shows the child's percentile in the class. Seems that should be information for the parent, not the kid. My kids don't see their standardized test scores. They don't know what grade levels they test out at in the various subjects. I simply tell them they did fine where they did do fine, and talk about where we need to work harder or change what's not working for them. My kids' scores are all over the place anyway; neither of them fit perfectly in any grade level. I don't think that's unusual.

My kids are doing fine, more than fine in some areas. But if I had to choose between them being really really smart or being humble, guess what I'd pick?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Our week as normal people

This past week my kids and I participated in Cub Scout daycamp. At signup time, I learned that if I volunteered my scout could go free of charge, and my nonscout could go too, also free. Since saving $90 is important to me, I decided to go for it. More about the actual camp experiences later. Right now I want to concentrate on the hell our lives were this past week, when we did for 5 days what many if not most American families do most weeks of the year.

We had to get up early and be out of the house all day long, 5 days in a row, with packed lunches. I hate packing lunch, but I've ranted about that before. Moving on...

We had to be out of the house at 8 am each day, and returned about 4 pm, just like the elementary kids in our neighborhood who take the bus to school. And like a working mom, I was out those hours too.

So, during this week I left dirty breakfast dishes sitting on the counter all day long. We ate quick, lousy meals that were short on fresh vegetables. Only the laundry that we really needed got done. At least no one ran out of clean clothes but I could see that happening if we had to do that too long. Of course there's always Saturday, the day most people do such tasks. The kitchen and bathrooms did not get the cleaning attention they needed. We had very little time for our family reading time, which we all treasure. We didn't even do our catechism some of the days. I didn't do any personal reading either, and barely kept up with the news. There was no down time at all for me, and not much for the kids.

Of course if we were doing this all the time, we'd be good at it; we'd probably get up earlier, and we'd have better systems for getting things done. I guess. From the women's magazine articles and websites I've seen, working moms are struggling, all the time.

So if any working moms who do it to put food on the table and a roof over your family's heads are reading this, I empathize with you and salute you. I don't know how you do it.

But for the working moms who are doing it to pay for nice new cars, cool gaming systems for the kids, and expensive resort vacations, I have to say: what are you thinking?

I once had a big house, a large grocery budget, and disposable income to spend on stuff. Now, I have a little house and none of those other things. And I would never, ever go to work simply for the purpose of having that disposable income. I'd go back if I needed the money to buy groceries or shoes. But I wouldn't do it to buy really nice cool stylish shoes. Or vacations. Or boats. Or whatever else people say they can't live without.

11 years ago I quit my job to stay home with my first baby. So many of my female coworkers told me how much they envied me. "I'd give anything to stay home" they all crooned. But they wouldn't. The mom with 2 BMWs and the Colorado dude ranch vacation every year wouldn't give those things up. The mom with the house on the golf course and the country club membership wouldn't give them up.

And if one of them would say to me "staying home with my kids is just not [stimulating, fulfilling, whatever] enough for me," I think I might slap her. OK, I know I wouldn't, but I'd be tempted to. It'd have to be an awfully fulfilling job for me to give up so much of my time with my kids, unless I was the worker and their dad was home with them.

Next week we have a few things planned but all in all it'll be much quieter. We'll be able to read in the hammock and go hiking with our dog and do our housework. I'm very thankful that we are not normal.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Picky eater = racist?

Really, I thought this was satire when I first read it. The UK is just getting weirder by the minute:

Toddlers who dislike spicy food 'racist'

The National Children's Bureau, which receives £12 million a year, mainly from Government funded organisations, has issued guidance to play leaders and nursery teachers advising them to be alert for racist incidents among youngsters in their care.

This could include a child of as young as three who says "yuk" in response to being served unfamiliar foreign food.

Can you even read that with a straight face? Imagine the minds that wrote it. But here's the best part:

Nurseries are encouraged to report as many incidents as possible to their local council. The guide added: "Some people think that if a large number of racist incidents are reported, this will reflect badly on the institution. In fact, the opposite is the case."

Thus insuring that many, many incidents will be reported.

Via Instapundit.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Not here, not yet

I love Instapundit's recurring line:


we'd see schoolboys punished for refusing to kneel and pray in class. And they were right!

But it didn't happen in the US. Not this time, anyway.


And time for Semicolon's Saturday Review of books. I put in my comments on the book Do Hard Things.

I had some outdoor plans for today but it's rainy. One of the kids stumbled into the kitchen and said "It doesn't feel like summer. It's wet. Can we just have a reading day today?" Okie-dokey.
These are the days I long for a covered porch so we can be outside in the rain yet still comfy. Hm, our neighbor has a nice one, and she is out of town....

It's great because of the shopping?

This morning I came across Forbes Magazine's list of 20 best places to raise a family. The rankings are based mostly on school district SAT scores and graduation rates. So Marin County, CA is on the list, even though it's prohibitively expensive and (though the article didn't say this) full of self-absorbed rich liberals. But other than that, it is a beautiful place.

Anyway, my county is #9 on the list and here is what Forbes has to say about it:

Home to some of the upscale Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia, Montgomery County earns solid marks across the board. Residents can find ample shopping opportunities in Bala Cynwyd's fancy boutiques or the King of Prussia Mall, the largest shopping center on the East Coast. For history buffs, there's Valley Forge National Historic Park, plus scores of annual Civil and Revolutionary War re-enactments.

Shopping first!

Friday, July 04, 2008

I know it's a holiday but

you really need to read this right now. Or tonight after fireworks. Or soon. "The Pledge We Can Believe In" for Obama's supporters in Hollywood. It is a classic work.

I still love this quote from 2004 attributed to Alice Cooper:

"If you're listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you're a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock stars? Because we're morons. We sleep all day, we play music at night and very rarely do we sit around reading the Washington Journal."

Replace rock star with any celebrity. Like the black tv actor who thinks he "paved the way" for an Obama presidency because he played the Pres on a tv show. (I guess he's got the arrogance down pat.) Are people stupid enough to vote because of that? I despair.

Of course there are celebrities who are intelligent, well-read, and know what's going on. And they are as entitled to their opinions as anyone else. Unfortunately they have a grip on the minds of many people who will vote for someone simply because a star tells them to. And knowing that, celebrities should shut up.

Old-fashioned(ish) parade and some Independence Day reading

Today our Cub Scout marched in the local Independence Day parade. This is a big deal in our small suburb. I hadn't realized how big till we started looking for a place to set up our chairs to watch. It's a big party and apparently the biggest one around, based on the number of fire trucks from neighboring towns. The Cub pack came through pretty early. Unfortunately it was pretty sparse - not too many of the boys showed up. Mine was one of the banner carriers and it was easy to see he was excited about that.

The best parts of the parade (after the scouts) were the groups of veterans going through. Oh did they get the applause! I was thrilled to see that. There were some very old men walking and riding today.

After a while the endless line of fire trucks and classic cars became a little tedious. The local Corvette club was out in full force. Ho hum. Of course I was happy to see the true classic Mustangs go by. Like many of my generation, I had dreamed of owning one of those. I did have a Mustang once, but it was far from the classic style. Oh well. Those things don't seem so important anymore.

After a while we realized that our kid was at the end of the parade route and we were still sitting there. So I headed out to find him. Most of the scouts had already left, so he was a little nervous, not knowing when I'd show up. I arrived shortly before the parade ended, so all was well. On the walk home we talked about what he could have done if all the Scout leaders had to leave before I showed up. The place was crawling with veterans, firefighters, and cops. He would have been OK.

There were 2 bagpipe bands, a marching band, and 2 old-time bands playing on trailers pulled by trucks. A few sports teams walked the route, and a church had a float displaying the Fruits of the Spirit. Otherwise, it was mostly vehicles. Not exactly what I picture when I think of an old-fashioned parade, but it was fun. And the kids collected a huge amount of candy thrown from those vehicles.

Everyone's flaked out now, napping or watching an Addams Family dvd. I'm about to go read but first spent a little time noodling around and found a few good reads for this Independence Day, both at Instapundit:

Jihad Watch: What we should be fighting for this 4th of July. How did you spend your Independence Day?

1215 soldiers spent theirs reenlisting. Can you top that?

July 4th Thank You Project

Sandy at Falling Like Rain has been asking people to participate in the Thank You Project: bloggers thanking our armed forces for all they do.

I have to admit I don't think about our armed forces the way I ought to. My father served in World War II in some way I have never been clear about. He was a civilian working for some branch of the military, doing flight training in Arizona (I think). I don't know why I don't know more about it. Maybe he was somewhat ashamed because he did not "really" serve, as in combat, like his only brother who died in a submarine. My brother served during the Vietnam years but was not sent there. I have a nephew in the Navy; he also is a flight instructor.

Maybe I don't think about the military much because I have been spared the ordeal of a family member in combat. War has never really affected me at all.

So even though I felt I ought to take part in Sandy's project, I couldn't think of a way to do so. So I will just say to my little band of readers: think about those people today. The revolutionaries who dreamed of a new country, free of the King of England. The Civil War soldiers who either fought to preserve the Union or fought for their new country. The people who fought (and supported the effort at home) during first two World Wars. Those who went to Korea - do we ever even think of Korea? Those who went to Vietnam, maybe even thinking it was a worthless cause, and were vilified on coming home. The men and women in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq. Maybe you think the current war is a war for oil. Maybe you think we don't belong there. Remember that there are people who are volunteering to go, and some to go again - they believe we are doing good there. And all the places and times I've missed, when American soldiers were working to preserve our freedom.

Our country has become so lazy, I think, about our freedom that it's easy to forget about these people. We need to remember what they have done, and what they continue to do for us.

And we need to thank them. Even if that seems inadequate.

It sounds so cliche' but it is true: Freedom is not free. I think we may be learning that in a hard way before too long. I wouldn't want my son to die fighting a war. But I will raise him to be prepared to do that if necessary.

This is a Lynyrd Skynyrd song; maybe some of the words are not appropriate for all listeners.

You can see more of the Thank You Project here. Thanks Sandy!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Lunchables are looking good today

My daughter warned me about this but I did not listen. She and her brother have a day camp next week, from 9 - 3, and I was sure that it included lunch. In fact, since I am volunteering to work at it (I save the $90 fee by working) I hoped I'd be on lunch prep duty. I do not like the idea of volunteering but saving $90 is important to me, and that's the only way my girl can go too, since it's a Cub Scout camp. (We are praying there will be other girls there. Surely there are other cheap/broke parents of girls in the local Cub packs.) I also couldn't stand the thought of him going to daycamp while she stayed home with me. All day I'd be hearing "is he coming home soooonnnnn?" (So she can start fighting with him.) Anyway, back to the topic here. She insisted that we had to pack a lunch. I insisted that she was wrong. Yesterday I received an email confirmation of our participation, and guess what? The girl was right again. Man, I hate it when that happens, which is most of the time.

Anyway, I hate, oh so very much hate, packing lunch. That is one of the reasons I homeschool, so I don't have to pack school lunches every day. OK, I'm kidding, don't call CPS on me, OK? I give my kids lunch. I do pack the seminarian's lunch some days, but he's easy - he will eat any kind of sandwich I put in the bag, as long as there is something sweet to look forward to. He'll even eat tuna, which was my lunchtime staple as a schoolkid. But my kids despise it.

So we have been brainstorming lunch ideas. PB&J will do for one or two days. Turkey might be nice once. Then I thought about lunchables(tm). No, I won't buy them. But I can probably devise a lunchable-like bundle of food they can choke down. Today we are checking out the new WalMart that just moved into town - does the excitement ever stop around here? - and we'll get some string cheese, salami, carrots, etc. I don't have any cute boxes but their old cooler bags will do fine. We can make some cookies. Maybe I'll even spring for juice boxes but I think we'll stick with water.

Of course now I also have to pack my own lunch. I think I'll just take an enormous thermos of iced coffee. I am worried about my tasks now that I know I won't be serving lunch. I warned the organizer that I have no sports skills so you know what that means. Stay away from the archery range.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Another '60s fave

Something made me think of this song yesterday, and sure enough here it is on youtube. Lulu, "Oh Me, Oh My."

I wouldn't even call this a guilty pleasure tune. I still love it. Maybe it's a little over-produced but hey, weren't they all?

Lulu was better known for "To Sir With Love" which you can view in the sidebar.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Books and DVDs to look for

This is just my ongoing list of books and dvds to look for. I bump it up periodically so I can find it easily. This morning I used it to find a book on ponds we'd had from the library before and need now. This is probably not the best place to put this information but a text file is not accessible to me in the library, and this is. And I have used it a lot when trying to remember the name of something I want. I'm sure there are better ways but I am too low-tech to know about them. Or care, I guess.

Many of these are recommendations I've gleaned from others. Some are books that looked good in the bookstore but as I'm learning not to judge a book by its cover, I try to get them from the library before buying. Most are books we've gotten from the library and just didn't get to, though we were interested in them, truly. I am always looking for new book recommendations even though we have a houseful of books yet unread.

His Excellency, George Washington
The Mapmaker's Wife
The Story of Art (Gombrich)
Unexplained Laughter - Alice Thomas Ellis
The Armenian Table
Life of Pi
Tea Gardens - Lovejoy
The Journal of Mrs. Pepys
The Diary of Samuel Pepys
Bees In America - How the Honeybee Shaped a Nation
The Geographer's Library - Jon Fasman
The Queen of Dreams - Divakaruni
King Matt the First - Janusz Korczak
Man of Steel and Velvet - Aubrey Andelin
The Mammoth Cheese
The Illuminator
Language Wars - Beechick
Christmas Observed: A Literary Selection - Owen Dudley Edwards and Graham Richardson, eds.
The Prizewinner of Defiance, OH - book and/or dvd
Historical Fiction for Children: Capturing the Past - Fiona Collins
Reading Series Fiction: From Arthur Ransome to Gene Kemp - Victor Watson
The Fisherman's Quilt - Margaret Doyle
Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe that Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign - Stephan Tally
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See
The Thief Taker - Janet Gleeson
The Passionate Observer - Jean Henri Fabre
How the Heather Looks - Joan Bodger
When Crickets Cry - Charles Martin
Montmorency - Eleanor Updale - audio read by Stephen Fry
Sixpence in her Shoe - Phyllis McGinley
Shackleton's Stowaway
The Inheritance of Loss - Kirian Desai
The Traitor's Gate - Avi
Maps for Lost Lovers - Nadeem Aslam
Scattered Minds - Lenard Adler, MD
The 13th Tale - Diane Setterfield
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
The Northern Lights - 538.709 Jago.J Lucy Jago
The Joy of Chemistry - Cobb
Chemical history of a candle - faraday
Luncheon of the Boating Party - Vreeland
Season on Harris - Yeadon
The Air We Breathe - Barrett

The Dark Frigate - Charles Boardman Hawes
Born in the Breezes: The Seafaring Life of Joshua Slocum - Kathryn Lasky
Magnus Maybe
The Avion my Uncle Flew - Cyrus Fisher
Told Under the Christmas Tree - Petersham (ill), MacMillan 1948
Maggie Rose: Her Christmas Birthday - Ruth Sawyer
The Christmas Doll - Elvira Woodruff
Take Joy: The Tasha Tudor Christmas Book
The wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet - Eleanor Cameron
Spirit of Endurance - Jennifer Armstrong
Across the Blue Pacific - Louise Borden
The Hero Schliemann - Laura Amy Schlitz
The Tavern at the Ferry - Edwin Tunis
The Signers - Dennis Brindell Fradin
Penrod - Booth Tarkington
The Door Within - Wayne Thomas Batson
The Chestry Oak - Kate Seredy
The Pig Scrolls - Paul Shipton
Here be Monsters! - Alan Snow
A Young Patriot - Jim Murphy
The Life of the Pond - William H Amos
The World's Greatest Fighters - Robert Jackson

Midshipman Bolitho - Alexander Kent
Dies the Fire - Stirling
Well-Intentioned Dragons - Marshall Shelley


DVD 513 MAT Zany world of basic math
The Crossing - A&E (Jeff Daniels as Geo Washington)

Chocolate Syrup

Maybe I'm the last person on the planet to figure this out, but homemade chocolate syrup is very easy to make and does not have to contain high-fructose corn syrup (as most if not all commercial syrups do). I found that out when desperate one night for some to put on ice cream. I am pretty sure it's cheaper too, though I have not done an analysis on that. A quick google search brought up many recipes, including this one from recipezaar:
Stir everything together except the vanilla extract. Heat to a boil and stir till it starts to thicken, just a few minutes, 3-5. After removing it from the heat, add the vanilla extract. This has to be stored in the fridge. (You will see that my directions differ slightly from the site referenced. Every stovetop recipe I have ever seen that uses vanilla extract says to put it in after removing from the heat. Except this one. So I modified it to do like I've always done it. No originality here.)

It's nice to have around for iced coffee, ice cream, or chocolate milk. Not that we need a lot of chocolate. But sometimes...


Dadvocate tagged me today. It's been a while since that has happened. Here goes:

The rules:
1. Post the rules at the beginning.
2. Answer the questions only about yourself.
3. At the end of the post, tag five people and post their names, then go to their blogs and leave them a comment so they know they’ve been tagged. Ask them to read the sender's blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What were you doing five years ago?

I was living near Portland, OR with a 6 year old and 4.5 year old. So I was reading a lot of story books and otherwise taking care of my family.

What are five things on your to-do list for today?

To-do lists don't really work for me, but I need to
1. finish unpacking/putting away after a short vacation
2. do a little "schoolwork" with the kids, including finishing a great read-aloud we've had going
3. supervise housecleaning
4. make lunch and dinner, including bread-baking which is in progress
5. find some energy

What are five snacks you enjoy?

Wow, true confession time:
1. potato chips
2. popcorn, preferably (but rarely) with butter and grated parmesan cheese
3. dried mangoes
4. fresh berries by the handful
5. iced coffee with milk and some form of sweetness

What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?

1. Give a bunch away to various charities (Compassion International, Medical Teams International, Heifer Project, the OPC or PCA churches). I have to say that first, don't I?
2. Remodel my kitchen.
3. Put a roof on the back porch.
4. Invest for my children.
5. Get my extended family all together for once. They'd have to come if I paid, right?

What are five of your bad habits?

More confessing!
1. Laziness about housework.
2. Biting my fingernails.
3. Putting off paperwork, like entering receipts into Quicken or filing.
4. Starting a project only to get tired of it and then leaving it laying around while I pretend I'll get to it.
5. Leaving books all over the place.

What are five places where you have lived?

1. West Seneca, NY
2. San Jose, CA
3. Sunnyvale, CA (like Dadvocate I had to stretch because I haven't really moved around much. Sunnyvale and San Jose are suburbs in the San Francisco bay area.)
4. suburb near Portland, OR
5. suburb near Philadelphia, PA

What are five jobs you’ve had?

1. retail clerk
2. bank teller
3. customer service rep
4. trainer/policy and procedure writer for a computer company
5. housewife/homeschooling mom

Now, I have to tag 5 people. That's always hard. But:

Kerri at Cup of Grace
Lyn at Whimsical Dreams (haven't been in touch for a while)
Shari Ellen at Fun Learning
Sandy at Falling Like Rain
Brumbemom at Life, As I See It

Have fun!