Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sparkling Floors

My kids could play upstairs all day long, and they often do. Upstairs is kid territory. There are books and games and toys galore. There is paper and a white board and all kinds of art supplies. There is a keyboard. There are even potties to splash in. But, for some reason, if I need to mop the floor and I send them up there, they hang around the landing yelling every 10 seconds or so, "Can we come down now?!" I kept them at bay as long as I could today, but inevitably, they made their way down to the freshly mopped floor. Not ten minutes after they arrived, Max knocked the trash can over and spilled all of its icky, sticky contents on the previously shiny floor. Fine. I clean up. We move on. And moving on for me was to go upstairs and put the boys laundry away. In the midst of this, I heard a strange banging sound, but no crying or whining followed, so I let it go. Then I heard another unfamiliar sound, which brought me to the landing. From my perch, I could see that the entire freshly mopped entry way was covered with water. I rushed downstairs for a closer look, asking as I came how the water got on the floor. Ruth suggested it might have come from the potty, but nothing looked amiss in the bathroom, and for the life of me I couldn't find a vessel that could have contained the spilled water, though I suspected she was probably right and was secretly thankful that I had just cleaned the toilet. Then, I noticed that the entire floor was sparkling--not in the same way it had been after I mopped, but with glitter. And then I surmised that Max had busted open a plastic snow globe he found in his sister's room earlier. And just as my blood was beginning to boil, Max came around the corner with a wet, glittery broom and wet, glittery pants to match. He was apparently coming back take another stab at cleaning up his mess. He had already delivered the broken snow globe to the foot of the trash can, dragging the broom behind him, and was now making his best effort to take care of the rest. My heart melted at the sight. He knew he had done wrong, but he was trying to do right. It was so sweet, I just couldn't be mad. And, technically, my floors are still sparkling.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What Little Boys Are Made Of

*Those are worms my boys are having so much fun with.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Birthday Season

Dear Faithful Blog Readers,
I am sorry I've been out of touch lately. It's not my stage fright that's keeping me away. It's just that we have officially entered one of our major birthday seasons, and I am using every spare minute (aka: when the kids are asleep or otherwise occupied) to get ready for one party in particular. (Jeff's birthday is a week from Sunday, but he is pretty much taking care of his own party, so I only need concern myself with Weston's). Weston has settled on a firetruck theme, and I'm having so much fun pulling it all together. This will be his first birthday party with friends, so we are doing it up right. I have been printing invitations (thank you DLKT), cutting and folding said invitations, adding all the relevant party information, reprinting invitations (due to a necessary change in party location), repeating steps two and three, buying party favors and supplies, reserving our neighborhood community room, communicating with a friend about setting up a special surprise, building a special surprise of my own, having a third surprise spiffied up a bit, talking to Weston about the menu and other party requirements, and trying to remember all the kids in Weston's preschool class. There is a lot to do, but it is oh-so-much fun!! I can't wait to fill you in on all the surprises, but I'm afraid that, for now, you will just have to wait. Can't take a chance on the cat getting out of the bag, you know. So that's what I've been up to. Thanks for checking in.
Yours devotedly,

Monday, October 19, 2009

2nd Month of 2nd Grade

Grammar: Practiced capitalization rules, quotations, possessives, contractions and correct punctuation in sentences, thus finishing Unit 1 in the 3rd-grade Grammar book.

Spelling: Finished the 3rd Spelling workbook and began the 4th. Also, practice spelling tests for PSIA's (private school's answer to UIL) Spelling contest, which Ruth will be competing in in the Spring.

History: Studied about the rise and spread of Islam and the work of Muhammad. Read 1001 Arabian Nights, and made spoon puppets of the story of "Sinbad and the Valley of Snakes," as well as a swirling "snake" to hang from the ceiling. Learned about the great dynasties of China. Practiced some Chinese writing and made laquered bowls. Read a story in which a tangram had to be solved and attempted to solve it herself. Studied about medieval Japan and Korea, and made a traditional Japanese meal. Learned about the type of poetry called "haiku" and wrote one of her own. Attempted an origami cat.

Science: Learned about rocks, earthquakes, volcanoes, oceans, rivers and floods. Made her own volcano.

Writing: Two personal letters, a paper describing a picture of Mary Poppins, a how-to paper on making a sandwich, and several practice papers for the Creative Writing contest for PSIA.

Math: Memorized first 15 prime numbers and squares up to 40, while continuing to work on facts and mental math tricks.

Music: Learned G7 chord, dotted half notes, F Major chord, how to use the damper pedal, what a broken chord is and how to play it, what an eighth note is, the fermata symbol, dotted quarter notes and several new songs, such as: "When the Saints Go Marching In, two versions of "Skip To My Lou," and the first line of both "Silent Night" and "Here Comes The Bride."

Portuguese: Finished Level 2 on the software and began Level 3. Also, some written vocabulary practice.

Super Friday: Continues to be a source of enjoyment.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Animal Farm

In her free time, and for her own enjoyment, Ruth (who is 7, let me just remind you) is reading Animal Farm by George Orwell. She is about half-way through now. Yesterday afternoon, she paid a visit to her dad's office (in our bedroom), and they began to discuss the book. Jeff asked her what she thought of the pigs. To which she replied, ""Well, the pigs told everyone that they couldn't sleep between sheets, but then they went in the farmhouse and slept between blankets." Jeff asked her if she thought this was following the rules or not. She answered, "Not really, because they didn't want anyone to sleep in a bed, and they were just making an excuse for why they could sleep in a bed." Then, totally on her own and completely unprompted, she offered up this little jewel: "They remind me of the dictators we studied in history, because they just wanted to make rules for everyone but not follow them themselves."

Now, some of you, like myself, may have read this book in Jr. High or High School and spent weeks discussing it in class and analyzing it for all it was worth and writing brilliant papers all about it and what it meant. And in the end, the point was exactly what Ruth took away from it, without all the hullabaloo. It just made sense to her and she was able to connect it with the other things in her head to make it make sense. I'm biased, but I might just call her a genius. And certainly her retired English teacher grandmother will be thrilled to know that she got that gene.

**You'll find on this blog we are not ashamed to brag on our kids, and this instance is no exception. We are extremely proud of all of our kids and want the whole world to know it.**

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Smashing Good Time

I was awakened this morning to the sound of breaking glass. Knowing this could not be good, I groggily made my way to the kitchen, from which the sound emanated. There I found my two oldest children, one with a gleam in his eye and one with a look of complete disbelief in hers. Before I could even ask what happened, Ruth began to explain in appalled tones: "Mom, Weston grabbed that bottle off the counter, and I told him to be careful with it because it was breakable, and then, then, he just threw it down on the floor!" I then turned to my son and asked him if that was what happened. He replied in the affirmative. And when I asked why he would do that, he answered, "It was in my hand, so I had to break it."

I have read and have heard other mothers say that, around the age of four, some little boys have a surge in testosterone, which makes them more aggressive and a bit moody. I was never really sure if I believed this. But I believe it now. In the past few weeks I have seen this aggression and moodiness creep into my sweet little Weston's life like dust creeps into a home--not all at once and not covering every surface, but there nonetheless, and showing up in places you might not expect. One minute he can be hugging me and telling me how much he loves me or politely thanking me for doing something for him, and the next he can be pushing his brother down or yelling about whatever is making him angry at the moment or smashing glass bottles on the floor or just completely melting down over the smallest little thing. It's' weird. Especially for my passive, ultra-agreeable little Weston.

Don't get me wrong, Weston is still one of the sweetest little kids I've ever known, and this Mr. Hyde version of him is certainly not around all the time. And he only gets glowing reports from preschool, so I assume he isn't transforming in this way when he is there. That he has these swings at all is just so bizarre to me.

So what I want to know is: Have you experienced moms out there seen this happen with your boys? How did you (are you) weather(ing) the storm? Is it time to enroll the kid in karate to channel the aggression? Or should I just lock him in his room for the foreseeable future?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

Facing myself in the face of death

Today, as I bought birthday party supplies for my four-year-old-to-be, another mom buried her four-year-old son, after he succombed to a brain tumor earlier this week. I don't know this woman personally--though I am friends with her cousin--but my heart breaks for her nonetheless. This isn't fair. And it isn't understandable. And there simply are no words. I can only pray that this family will draw the strength they need at this difficult time from the Lord and that He will sustain them in these dark days. For me, the effect of this child's death is to to examine my relationship with my own kids. How many times, just today, did I take them for granted? Or become unnecessarily exasperated with them? Were my harsh words more than my loving words? Did I hug them enough? Did I truly enjoy them? I will admit to you that in the past few weeks I have viewed my role as "Mom" as a burden of sorts, and I have failed to appreciate the blessing that it is to be in this position. A messy house, a screaming child, an interrupted thought, a life lacking in glitz and glamor: these are not burdens. These are the blessings of the everyday. I know Sondra would embrace any and all of these with joy today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Not for me, not for my kids, not for anyone. This moment is all I can claim. Please, Lord, help me to make the most of it.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009


We have been talking a lot about birthdays around here lately. Weston attended his first-ever friend party a couple of weeks ago and has been excited about planning his party ever since. When you are turning four, one of the most important things is to pick a theme for your party. Weston changes his mind about every ten minutes, but there does seem to be a general direction towards transportation of some sort. During lunch today, he wanted to talk about his party and by the time we finished eating he had settled on boats. The following ensued.

Mom: What kind of boats do you like?

Weston: [blank look]

Mom: Sailboats? Speed boats? Fishing boats?

Weston: Definitely sailboats. I want a sailboat cake with RED icing.

Mom: O.k. Let's look at some pictures online, and you can tell me what you like.

Mom and Weston proceed to look at hundreds of pictures of boat cakes, none of them red enough, but many of them interesting--especially the 3D ones. After maybe ten minutes of this, Weston had something important to say.

Weston: Um. Actually, I think I would like to have a car cake.

Mom: A car? Really? Well, o.k. What kind of car?

Weston: [blank look]

Mom: A race car? Like on your backpack?

Weston: Um, actually, like on my lunch box. (This is the SAME car that's on his backpack).

Mom: O.k. Let's see what we can find.

Weston (after about five minutes): What I would really like is a truck...which is like a car.

Mom: What kind of truck? A firetruck...?

Weston (with eyes and mouth wide open): Ooh! A firetruck!! I definitely want a firetruck!

Mom: O.k. we'll look at a few pictures, but then we are going to stop and I will ask you again in a few days.

Later that same day.

Mom: Who do you want to invite to your party?

Weston: Oh, the people from across the street, the people from preschool, you guys and the young man who lives in the white house.

Mom: The "young man who lives in the white house?!" I don't think I know who that is. Can you tell me his name?

Weston (completely exasperated): You know. The young man who lives in the white house...with the roof. (Shapes his hands like a roof). I pointed him out to you the other day.

Mom (feeling very clever for having figured out the mystery by remembering that he pointed out his imaginary friend's house on the way to preschool the other day): Oh, you mean Jackry?

Weston (utterly indignant): No, Mom! The young man who lives in the white house. I'll show you.

Weston drags Mom out the front door and points to the white house just down the street, where a "young man" has never once been seen by Mom.

Mom: Do you know his name?

Weston: No. But I know I want him to come to my party.

Mom: Sorry, Son, but I think we are just going to stick to inviting people whose names we know.

We've still got a good month and a half until party time, and there is literally no telling how this birthday party will evolve. But, clearly, we will have a lot of laughs in the planning.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Stage Fright

Maybe you've noticed the infrequency of posts on this blog here of late. It could be that the mundanity of my life isn't worth writing about. And, frankly, that's a pretty good guess. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't all glitz and glamor around here all the time. But another thought worth exploring is that I have a type of stage fright. I write this blog mostly for my own benefit, and so the grandparents can see pictures of the kiddos. And I don't get many comments here, so I forget there is an audience out there. But recently, I've had several non-family members tell me that they read and enjoy this blog. And, I feel like I've kind of frozen up. I now feel like I need to be entertaining, and some days (a lot of days) I don't quite feel up to that challenge. I'm not sad that these people have given me compliments on the blog, and I don't want them to wish they had never said anything. I have been truly flattered. I just need to adjust to the spotlight, I guess. And I need to set your expectations that I'm not always entertaining. Sometimes, I'm downright boring. But, I like to write, and I like to get my (sometimes mundane) days down so that I won't forget what it was like to be us at this moment in time. Thank you so much for reading, and I do hope you'll visit often. I'll entertain you when I can.