Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lazy Beef N Taters

2 lb cubed beef (frozen works just fine)
2 pkg onion soup mix
2 big taters
1 big onion
1 sm pkg frozen green beans

Grab your large, deep pan with a lid (non-stick is best) and dribble a little olive oil in the bottom. Plop in the cubed beef, cook it til no longer pink in the middle, toss in one package of soup mix and some liquid (white wine works great especially if you happen to be enjoying a glass while you cook). Meanwhile, cube your taters and onions. Once the beef is done, toss in the onions and taters, and the 2nd package of mix, stir it all up, and put the lid on. When the taters are mostly done through, toss in your frozen green beans and cook with the lid on til done.

Wasn’t that easy? Talk about some comfort food…. Sorry, I don't have a pic for you, but it was actually really tasty.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our Remodeled Basement

After two days of HARD work by Papa Bear, with some help from our neighbors, this is what our basement now looks like.

It wasn't the greatest before the rains, but it was at least pretty comfortable, with carpet on the floor and a couple of couches.

There's our carpeting, waiting to be picked up and hauled away. I can't complain too much, since our neighbors had just put in brand-new carpeting in their basement a few weeks ago. Their carpeting is now sitting at the curb, too. Ouch. No, insurance doesn't cover replacement. Double ouch.

This is our Wii game reclamation project. They got wet, so I pulled them out, dried them off, opened up the covers to dry, and tossed the instruction booklets into the oven to dehydrate.

They are now very interesting cardboard, completely useless as reading material. Oh, well. It could have been much worse, so I'm not grumbling. Much.

Digital 3D Movies

I took the boys to see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs in 3D. I’ve heard mixed reviews about 3D movies in the past, in terms of the technology not being that great, but I have to say I was really impressed by the sharpness, clarity, and overall effect of this movie’s digital 3D presentation. It kind of hurt my brain a little, and my eyes felt strangely bulgy, but I got over it. And, the movie was really funny. Or, maybe it was just the 3D effects that made it funny, I don’t know. But I do know I laughed out loud several times. Besides, you just can’t pass up any movie with Mr. T in it.

So, now having seen my first digital 3D film, I have to admit that this may be the direction films take. I saw trailers for a few movies I’d really like to see. A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey in November, and Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp next year with the kids. And, a really interesting looking film called Avatar in December (probably not with the kids) by James Cameron with the tech handled by Peter Jackson’s crew. It’s hard to explain how beautiful and fluid and amazing the 3D movement is on these films unless you see the trailer in 3D, and it just has a way of sucking you in that even the best two-dimensional films don’t seem to. We can only hope the stories live up to the techonology.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lincoln Log Masterpiece

Created by Brother Bear and BooBoo Bear.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Orlando Vacation Part II, Day Seven

The “work” part of Papa Bear’s “working vacation” kicked in. He had meetings all day, so the Cubs and I were on our own. Did a little swimming in the pool after breakfast, then up to our room for deli (delivered) and some phone calls. The rain in Georgia hit the two feet mark (since Friday?!?), and some of it continues to invade our basement. While waiting for lunch to be delivered, I talked to our insurance agent, filed a claim with our insurance company, and touched base with friends and family in our area.

BooBoo and Brother Bear at the beach.

I took the kids to a local beach for a bit. There were lots and lots of live sand dollars in the sand where we were wading.

Boo tried chasing down a few pelicans in the water, but was not successful (probably a good thing). In his typical style, Brother Bear managed to charm a young lady who arrived with her family shortly before our departure. Amazingly, he was reticent to leave, but our time had expired.

Papa Bear was back in our room by the time we arrived, and then had to leave for a dinner meeting. I ordered pizza for delivery to our room, and Brother Bear had a great time tracking our order from beginning to appearance at our door. I don’t care what anyone says about Domino’s Pizza, their website ordering is cool.

During our evening check-in with our neighbor, we found out M and recruited her teen-aged son and his buddy to haul our couches out of the basement and squeeze them into our very crowded garage (I can’t even imagine they found the room). She also spent several hours with a rented carpet cleaner sucking water from her basement carpet and ours (isn’t she the loveliest?). I drop-shipped three large bottles of Sol-U-Mel to her, ‘cause I figure between our two basements we’re gonna need a LOT of de-odorizing. Papa Bear has decided we’re going to tackle reclaiming our basement ourselves, rather than pay for a professional crew (estimated uninsured cost $1,000), so we’re going to need all the deodorizer and de-fungifier we can get. Maybe I should order some Sol-U-Guard while I’m at it…

Monday, September 21, 2009

Orlando Vacation Part II, Day Six

We packed up and headed for Fort Myers.

The highway.

Bear Cubs wedged in. We travel light (ha).

Papa Bear at the helm.

Due to an unexpected detour in the form of a certain child needing to make a pit stop, coupled with one of those “tricked ya…can’t get back onto the highway in the direction you want to” exits, we ended up taking back roads much of the way to Ft. Myers. As a result, we ended up eating lunch at McDonald’s, where T-Bear had a record-breaking 14 unit meal. An average meal is usually between 2 and 6 units, and I really don’t ever want to have to give T-Bear that much insulin in one shot again.

Our new digs are quite a bit smaller than our last. One bedroom with two beds, one bathroom (a bit larger than the last), a living area with one TV, and a mini-bar area. Two small closets and one dresser inspired some creative unpacking on my part, but we managed to settle in. Papa Bear and the Cubs enjoyed the pool for a bit before we all got dressed and met Uncle E (Papa’s boss) and his youngest son, and two of Papa’s work associates for dinner. We went to Dock Ford’s, a very cool sea-front seafood restaurant. Service was great, and food was greater. The Sanibel Sunrise was just about the BEST fruity rum drink I've ever had; full-out fresh juices, and not too much rum. Yum. Thanks to Uncle E’s gifts to the boys, we were serenaded by obsessively and frequently recurring squishy farting noises on the drive there and back. T-Bear had so mastered his Flarp technique (after much practicing) that by the time we got back to the hotel he was averaging one fart every two seconds. Boo got some Flarp stuck on his pants. Not sure how to get that stuff off.

I called our neighbor, M, to check in and see how things were. A foot of rain in a matter of days had drenched Georgia, and some of that rain ended up in our basement. No “flooding” per se, but enough water to make for a squishy carpet. And, Boo’s beta fish, Data, finally kicked the bucket after a couple of weeks of floundering. T-Bear woke to stomach pain about an hour after we’d all gone to bed, so we were up testing BS and keytones, and managed to get him some relief in a warm bath. No more McD’s for us, thank you.
I'm supposed to be on vacation.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Orlando Vacation Part II, Day Five

Note: I’ve broken Day Five into a few bites for ease of digestion.

Magic Kingdom. Kids loved it, of course. The Weather Fairies graced us with some blessed cloud cover in the afternoon, so it was not so brutally hot. It took a full ten minutes for my camera lens to clear after I took it out of the backpack.

Lovely effect of fog on lens.

We started out with the train tour of the park, then headed for Frontier Land.

Boo and T-Bear on the train.
Boo pretty much had his fill of exciting rides at Sea World, but T-Bear eventually agreed to go on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (twice) and Splash Mountain (my favorite). And, of course, you can’t keep Brother and Papa off of any exciting ride. We all went on Pirates of the Caribbean, but T-Bear and I skipped The Haunted Mansion, T-Bear waiting anxiously at the exit for Papa, Brother and Boo to return safely from their adventure (Boo wasn’t scared at all, and had a great time).

T-Bear anxiously awaiting his family's safe return.

We had sticker shock for lunch. In addition to being exorbitantly expensive, the meals are just too bloody big for anyone with a normal appetite to finish. Too much food and overpriced is a deadly combination. It just sucks a little part of my soul away to pay that much for a meal and then to have half of it wasted to boot. Dinner wasn’t quite as bad, because we ordered fewer meals and shared them. Still expensive, but not as much went to waste. Done grumbling now. Note to self; check out other diners’ meals before ordering, so I know how big the portions are.

Other stuff we saw and did (in no particular order): Swiss Family Tree House, The Magic Carpets of Aladin, The Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, The Hall of Presidents, “it’s a small world”, Peter Pan’s Flight, Cinderella’s Golden Carousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Pooh’s Playful Spot, Donald’s Boat (Boo got completely soaked), The Barnstormer, Tomorrowland Indy Speedway (I just about passed out from the fumes…can’t they convert to electric or propane?), and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.

May I just pause a moment and say how mind-boggling huge is Disney’s … I don’t even know what to call it. It’s kind of a city with no permanent residents whose sole industry is entertainment and retail. I honestly had no clue how many parks and attractions and Disney Stuff there was here, or how long it would take to drive from one end of Disney to the other. You could spend a month here and not see everything. I can’t imagine what that would cost.
Overall, it was a very successful, very full seven-hour day. No melt-downs, and T-Bear's BS stayed pretty well in check. I've pretty much concluded that heat pushes his numbers higher, and I'm just not that great at estimating carbs on the fly. But, I managed to stay pretty stress-free and enjoy a great day with my family. What else can you ask for?

Random Pix at The Magic Kingdom

In The Hall of Presidents

My final thoughts about our day at Disney relate to my experience in The Hall of Presidents. I’ve been to the production at Disneyland in California, where President Lincoln delivers his Gettysburg Address, and have been moved by it despite the theoretical hokeyness of the entire concept. I mean, how weak do you have to be to get teary-eyed watching an animatronic machine move around to a recorded voice? But, I do. And, the Orlando presentation was even better. Disney just has a knack for pulling out emotions, and their Hall of Presidents production is no different. With a series of photos, clips of speeches, and narration by Morgan Freeman, it’s very effective. President Lincoln stands from his chair and delivers his speech. But the final sequence is the best. Every President of the United States, right up to and including President Obama, shows up all together, some speaking, some not, all making subtle movements, each spotlighted and introduced in turn. T-Bear actually gasped, pointed, and whispered “That’s Obama!” The illusion was so effective, as we left Brother Bear asked me why all those presidents didn’t get tired standing there for the whole show.

But, as cool as it was for me to see my President up there, I was actually kind of anxious during the time leading up to his introduction. And, when it came time for his introduction, there was an additional pause during which President Washington stood, gave a short speech, and then introduced President Obama. I was literally anxious about what the audience would do when his name was spoken, and how my kids would react if anyone in the audience did anything disrespectful. It’s really stupid and unfortunate that I should even have this question in my mind, but the events of the past several weeks, the nastiness of the healthcare debates, the rude, angry people showing up at townhall meetings, topped off by Senator Outburst disrupting President Obama’s speech to Congress, has left me apprehensive and doubtful about the capacity of my fellow citizens to show basic respect and courtesy for one another and for their leaders.

My mother has told me that she and my father were living in Georgia when President Kennedy was assassinated, and how appalled she was when her neighbors threw a party to celebrate. A part of me never wanted to believe that story, that Americans would ever be so horrid as to rejoice in the murder of their own democratically elected leader. But there is a significant part of me now that has been forced to acknowledge that similar parties would be thrown by many Americans, not just in my new home State of Georgia but all over our country, if President Obama were ever killed. It is a very sad thing to have to admit about the country that you love.

In the end, the audience in The Hall of Presidents was courteous and respectful, and we all quietly filed out at the end of the production. I tried to explain to Brother Bear that the presidents were mechanical on the inside, not really people, but I think that was too much for him to grasp. I guess that’s the magic of Disney, isn’t it?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Orlando Vacation Part II, Day Four

Bums. We’re all bums today. Especially me. Barely made it downstairs in time for the free breakfast buffet before it closed. Took breakfast up to our room because there was no place to sit downstairs (Saturday rush). Kids watched TV all morning. Papa Bear napped. I read and wrote. Set up a “do it yourself” sandwich station at the in-room dinette for lunch. Papa Bear took the cubs to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium while I did a load of laundry. Sticker shock: one load of wash at the hotel’s mini-laundromat cost $2, one load of drying cost $2, and one box of detergent (one load) cost $1 in quarters. Ouch. That’s $5 for one load. Except the detergent dispenser ate my first $1, and I had to fork over another $1 to get my detergent. So, that’s $6 for one load of laundry. And, they don’t even have a change machine in there. Buzzards. I’m supposed to be on vacation. Note: Elves do not visit your room if you stake it out and refuse to leave it. Had a nice dinner at The Crab House. I took the boys for a little night swimming in the pool, then a little wine for me and Papa Bear, and a little sleep. Nice.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Orlando Vacation Part II, Day Three (Redux)

Note: I realized my first post about this day was short and lazy. Sorry. Here’s my “do over”.

Sea World. The kids LOVED it. Got there about 10:00 am and left about 6:00 pm (closing time). Lots of walking, pretty brutal heat and humidity, but we held up well enough. I seriously debated sandals vs. tennis shoes, and was grateful the tennis won out; my feet would not have easily forgiven me if I’d gone with less support.

Papa, Brother and T-Bear hit the Manta roller coaster. Despite a last-moment panic attack, T-Bear stuck with it and had a great time. And, that was the extent of his exciting rides for the day. In the mean time, Boo and I hit Journey to Atlantis, that being Boo’s only adventure ride of the day. Papa and Brother rounded out the thrill rides with the Kraken, and all of us took the Wild Arctic helicopter ride (yes, we were pretty much all nauseated when we got off). Shamu’s Happy Harbor was definitely more Boo and T-Bear’s speed, but I was bummed the water spouting part was not working.

Brother Bear and Papa Bear on Atlantis.
If the pic looks a little fuzzy around the edges, that's because my camera lense fogged up when it went from the comfy environment of my backpack (there was an ice pack in there to keep the insulin cool) to the heat and humidity of the Florida environment. I somewhat resembled my camera lense most of the day.

We saw the Shamu show and the Clyde and Seamore (seal/sea lion/otter) show. While Shamu was more inspiring, I think I liked Clyde and Seamore better because of the frequent unplanned humor. As WC Fields said, “Never work with children or animals”, and Clyde and Seamore proved his point.

Sea World does a great job showing off their animals, and I especially enjoyed the under-water views. We saw penguins, dolphins, sharks, seals, sea lions, and many other critters underwater, but my favorite were the manatees serenely eating their heads of lettuce. One of the manatees had lost a large section of her tail to a boat propeller, as well as her right front flipper which had to be amputated after getting tangled in fishing line. She really embodied the hazards that these animals face in their natural environment, and I think Sea World is doing a good job educating the public about preservation.

We petted some rays and sharks (the dolphins were done with being handled by the time we got to them). I had an interesting parental moment when one of the rays swam straight up to Boo’s hands with his mouth wide open, apparently changing his mind at the last moment in favor of not tasting Boo’s fingers. It’s probably a good thing Boo couldn’t see the open mouth, or he’d likely be scarred for life. We fed sharks (not the same ones we petted), rays and seals, as well as a couple of very aggressive birds hanging out with the seals.

T-Bear and Brother Bear being their usual vivacious and groovy selves with the five-guys-on-stilts-with-drums corp. T-Bear's blurting out "You guys ROCK!" earlier in the show probably contributed toward their being chosen for audience participation. They really did rock, by the way.

I was really impressed with how well the kids held up under the discomfort of intense heat and humidity, as well as all of that walking. We only had one melt-down from BooBoo Bear, which lasted about 10 minutes. The cherry slushie blew T-Bear’s BS out of the water, but the rest of the day he was pretty stable. Walking in the heat and humidity is apparently not as energy-burning as swimming, so I think Disney on Sunday will be pretty easy to manage. Our magic backpack worked like a charm. It was the “welcome to T1” gift from the JDRF given to T-Bear in the hospital, which included Rufus. It’s bright blue, so it’s easy to spot in a crowd at a distance, and has an insulated compartment on the back, accessed from outside to keep insulin and an icepack (insulin spoils if it reaches 90 degrees, and at $150 per vial, you don’t want to risk letting it get too hot). I only had to add ice to the compartment once during the day, and it offered the added perk of keeping my lower back cool while I wore the backpack. Sweet. It has a roomy main compartment, and smaller compartmentalized front pocket, a net side pocket, and a pocket on the front of the left strap to hold your cell phone. Not that my cell phone did me any good, since the battery died three hours after I took it off the charger. Bugger.

This is what cotton candy looks like after it's been subjected to Florida's heat and humidity for about five minutes. It was reportedly crunchy.

So, after a long day of enjoyment, and purchasing rediculously large plush animals on the way out, we headed back to the hotel. Picked up pizza at a local place. The Elves had visited again. Ahhhhhh. Bath! Bed! Sleep!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Orlando Vacation Part II, Day Two

Free breakfast buffet, followed by pool. Snacky-lunch at pool, followed by pool. Followed by nap. The Hotel Elves came while we were out and cleaned up for us. Very nice. Dinner at a nice Italian grill restaurant. Yummy, yummy steak with mushrooms, and grilled veggies. The wine was pretty good, too. TV. Sleep.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Orlando Vacation Part II, Day One

So, Orlando. Our first trip to Orlando didn’t work out so well, what with T-Bear’s ER visit and subsequent hospitalization. But, we had pre-purchased tickets to Disney and Sea World which we were not able to use the first time around, and we kind of wanted to use them. ‘Cause they’re really expensive. Papa Bear has a business meeting (snort) in Ft. Myers next week, so this was a good opportunity to slip in another Florida trip. So, off to Orlando.

So, a seven hour trip in a rented minivan. Much roomier than our Tacoma, more comfortable for everyone, and less “touching” of children made for a fairly bicker-free drive. Nice. Split our listening time between The Blue Collar Comedy channel (satelite radio is interesting) and iPod selections. Our hotel room was gratis, thanks to Papa Bear’s copious collection of AmX rewards points (business travel does have its rewards - heehee). And, thanks to Papa Bear’s frequent stays at Marriott hotels for business (coupled with a reservation mix-up), our one-room-with-two-queen-beds was upgraded to a two-bedroom-suite-with-kitchen. Sweet (heehee). The kids have their own room with TV and bathroom, we have our own room with TV and bathroom, and a nice common living room and dinette with a third TV and hide-a-bed couch. If that sounds like a lot of TVs, it is. But, sufficient space allows for much lazy lounging, which I am enjoying at all possible opportunities.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, BooBoo Bear!

We celebrated BooBoo Bear's fifth birthday on Wednesday with pizza, cake and fudge bars (his choice). Two weeks ago, he created this candle holder specifically for his birthday cake, using relighting candles and some K'nex. Aside from dripping some wax on the cake, it worked out pretty well.

My Favorite Books by Brother Bear

The coolest classic books I’ve ever read are the Harry Potter series of books! You might be asking yourself why. Because it’s epic and it’s exciting. That’s why. And if you’ve never read these books, then you should go to your book store and get them. And one more thing, if you like wizards then you will fall in love with these books. The Harry Potter books are by J.K. Rowling. : )

The main character (and my favorite) is Harry Potter. When he was two, the evil villain, Tom Riddle (A.K.A. Voldemort) destroyed Harry’s home and his dad (James Potter). When Voldemort tried to do the same to Harry, his mom (Lilly Potter) had so much love for Harry that when Voldemort attacked, Harry’s mom tried to save Harry, and Voldemort’s attack backfired sending Voldemort flying backward and giving Harry a lightning bolt-shaped scar.

Nine years later Harry was told by the half-giant Hagrid that he was a wizard, and so they went to the wizard world where they went shopping for supplies for Hogwarts, the wizarding school of witchcraft and wizardry.

My second favorite character is Hedwig, Harry’s snowy white owl. Hagrid got her while Harry was shopping for supplies in Diagon Alley, the shopping center in the wizard world.

My third favorite character is Ron Weasley, Harry’s best friend and first. He’s always hungry. He as an owl too, named Pigwegin, who always crashes when he tries to land.

My forth favorite character is Hermione Granger. She’s the brains and she loves books. Hermione has a cat named Crookshanks, who loves to get in trouble or at least she does all the time.

My 1.5th favorite character is Ginny Weasley, Ron’s youngest sister who always seems to get herself into trouble no mater what she does.

My fifth favorite character is Albus Dumbledore, the head master of Hogwarts, and the closest to Harry. Albus has a pet phoenix, who, when it gets too old, incinerates itself and is reborn from its ashes.

My sixth favorite character is Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather. He was one of the makers of the Marauders Map. Moony (Remus Lupin),Wormtail (Peter Pedigrew), Padfoot (Sirius Black), and Prongs (James Potter), were all the makers of the Marauders Map.

If you like the battle of good and evil, then you will love the Harry Potter books.

Friday, September 4, 2009

President Obama’s Message to Students

Once more, I find myself perfectly flummoxed by the current “outcry, uproar and controversy”. For the three people on the planet who have not yet heard about this, on Tuesday President Obama is planning to make a speech to public school students of our nation, welcoming them to the a new school year and encouraging them to TAKE CHARGE OF THEIR OWN EDUCATION. Work with a mentor to set goals for yourself, work out a plan to reach those goals, and set up some accountability whereby your mentor is checking in with you regularly to help you reach those goals. Also, ASK QUESTIONS about who our leadership is, how they got there, and why what they say is important (see note below). Sounds a lot like Leadership Education to me.

So, it occurred to me that this would be an excellent opportunity for all families, and especially Leadership Education families, to open a discussion with their students/children on a number of important issues. Is education the responsibility of the student, or the teacher? What importance does education hold in an individual’s life, and how does the quality of one’s education influence the quality of one’s life? Is it possible for a student in the public school system to take charge of their own education, or are they doomed to remain on the conveyor belt? How can working with a mentor (parent/teacher) to set goals, work out steps in reaching that goal, and set up accountability improve any student’s quality of education, no matter the environment they find themselves in?

These are the discussion questions that came to my mind as I read through the supplemental materials, and questions I will be raising with my children after we have watched President Obama’s speech together. If my children were older, I would take the opportunity to bring up broader issues. What is the proper role (if any) of government schooling? Does the Federal government have Constitutional authority to involve itself in public education? If local school districts accept Federal funds to cover their operating costs, does that open the door to Federal involvement in other ways, such as NCLB? Should local school boards have complete autonomy in determining curriculum, even though they rely upon and accept State and Federal funding, or can they only claim the right of complete autonomy if they are footing the bill entirely themselves? These are questions that every American citizen should be asking, and assisting our students to find answers to. Isn’t this part of being a citizen of a democratic republic?

But, I guess the charges of “indoctrination” are the most puzzling to me. Indoctrination is a lengthy process accomplished over a period of time by which an individual is repeatedly told there is only ONE way of viewing life or any issue, and deviating from or even questioning that ONE view will result in severe punishment (such as burning in hell for all eternity or being executed by a firing squad). It takes years of meticulous control, carefully-wielded fear, and perfectly crafted isolation from “different” views to indoctrinate a child into any particular world view, to compel a child to believe one way and one way only. And, even then, it is not entirely successful if that child’s spirit is strong enough to fight back against indoctrination once the child comes of age. So, how does ONE speech on ONE day encouraging children to take charge of their own educations constitute “indoctrination”?

Regardless of whether or not you like President Obama, and whether or not you agree with his policies and vision for this country, instead of insulating our students from this ONE speech (or even from the current national debates), why are we not turning this moment (and ensuing moments) into a “teachable moment”? Are parents so terrified of allowing their children to ask questions about the world they inhabit, that they prohibit their children from hearing a view that MIGHT differ from their family’s view? Are they so terrified that their children might actually begin to think for themselves, that they isolate them from the real world, real people, real events, and demand that they ONLY be exposed to views conforming to their family’s world view? Is it okay to raise our children to be mindless drones as long as those drones conform to our own world view? Or do our children deserve the freedom to explore their world, and their own minds, fully and completely, with the loving support and guidance of parents, teachers, mentors, and other adults who love and care for them?

Just wondering…..

*Note: What “they” say is not important because I think they are RIGHT, but because they have such powerful influence over our daily lives. As such, we have an obligation to know and understand WHAT they are saying, and what policies they are seeking to enact, so that we can decide whether or not we agree with them. That’s democracy, folks.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

IBOL Bundle Building

Done! I finally got my bundles built and boxed, and they're ready to soon as I get the "new" address to send them to. There's apparently been a storage issue. IBOL Guy can't seem to hide 245 boxes under his bed.

Boxed up and ready to go.

The guts of the light denim bundle.

The guts of the white bundle.

Aren't they sweet?
The dark blue bundle is a denim blanket I never got around to finishing.

Nestled in their boxes.

Oh, yeah, by the way, these bundles are for Iraqi Bundles of Love, a service project launched by an American serviceman who is currently stationed in Iraq. Read all about "IBOL Guy" and his awesomeness. But, make it quick, because the deadline for mailing is this weekend! He's up to 245 bundles, and I'll bet he breaks 300 by the end of the project. There've got to be a lot of last minute shippers like me out there!

Tie Dye Project

Three Bears in Long Tees.
All set for autumn.
Yesterday our homeschool group met up at the park and spattered fabric dye all over our clothes, ourselves, and one another. Here are the finished products, all rinsed, washed, dried and modeled.

Thanks, Kit, for putting this together! We had a blast!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Working at Play

I suck at playing. There’s just no getting around that. I’ve always sucked at playing, even as a child. It’s one of the drawbacks of being born a hundred years old. Thank goodness I’m aging in reverse, sort of like one version of the Merlin archetype I read about ages ago. Maybe by the time I’m 80 I’ll have figured out how to play. In the mean time, suffering from Creative Play Deficiency Syndrome can present a challenge when you’re raising kids. Especially male kids, who have a completely different play paradigm than female kids (at least that’s my impression). Add to that the fact that all three of our kids have this knack for word games that they inherited from their paternal great grandfather, and I’m pretty much left in the dust play-wise. So, tonight, I faked it.

We just finished watching “Kit Kitridge, American Girl” as a family, and T-Bear was upset about the fathers-leaving-their-families part. The tender heart that he is, he automatically empathizes with story characters, and relates to their challenges and emotional upsets in a very personal way. There’s no way to rationalize him out of these things. The only way to divert him back into his own “here and now” is through humor. Which I suck at. But, as I said, tonight I faked it.

BooBoo Bear decided I needed to read Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” (a story that I ADORE) before everyone could go to sleep, so I cracked it open and started in. T-Bear was still upset and needing some nudging to settle in, and I knew logic and discussion were going to be completely useless, so I just started randomly replacing certain words as I read the story. Now, T-Bear technically isn’t “supposed” to be able to “get” word games because of his CAPD, but he does. Not only does he “get” them, he’s pretty skilled at creating them (much better than I am). And, he’s pretty dead-on spotting every word that is out of place in his favorite stories (or songs or poems). So, the first time I replaced “Truffula trees” with “Truffula bushes”, he broke out in hysterical peals of laughter. Thank goodness it doesn’t take much to get him laughing. Then, I started replacing “Thneed” (a very funny word in its own right) with “sock”, and that set all three of the boys off. Of course, if “tree” or “thneed” appears at the end of any line, you automatically have to come up with a rhyming word at the end of the next line. Most of the time I “Seussed” it with some ridiculously irrelevant rhyming word, but any time I couldn’t spontaneously come up with an appropriate rhyming word, I just inserted the word “fart”. That always goes over big with the boys.

It worked. I BS’d my way through another moment of emotional turmoil, turning it into fun and giggling and lovely bonding, and everyone’s asleep. Except me. Still have some e-mail to attend to. But, I don’t mind, because it’s cool enough to have the windows open, and I can hear the crickets and cicades and frogs singing just outside. And, in the early morning, I’ll hear the birds calling for the sun to rise (and, me too, the little bastards). And, if I’m very lucky, we’ll have another very pleasant rain, another surprisingly cool day like today. Lovely.