Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oh, Glorious Day!

It was even better than I hoped. I drove to pick up my kids at school, and cringed as we left the elementary office, as the secretary's computer was playing the inauguration and Obama walked onto the platform.

We hurried, and I called Dustin (who is home ill) to see what was happening. He said Obama was indeed there, but they were not starting yet. We made it home in time for the invocation! Always odd to me that a prayer be read, but so be it, it was still beautiful. The boys, sensing my urgency, even hurried in from the car, leaving backpacks there.

And then we watched.

I spoke to Z numerous times and finally made him sit on the couch. I would have let him play, but his toy of choice was the Fisher-price Garage, and his use was moving the noisy elevator up and down, so we couldn't hear.

Other than him, they were mesmerized. I panicked when, after Biden's oath, the comment was made that Obama had been president for 4 minutes, then I realized they meant because noon had come and gone. Tears were in my eyes as Obama, the first black president of the united States of America, said, "So help me God." I applauded. And then we listened, intently, all of us, to the hope that God wants all of us to hold to. I was pleasantly surprised to hear our president speak so candidly of the new beginning, not feeling any reason to mince words with the former president sitting right there. His speech was encouraging, uplifting, and at one point I uttered aloud, "Go ahead and say it..." though he didn't. His encouragement to the individuals of our nation was to take example from our men and women overseas, and seek not for the good of the individual, but for the greater good. Be willing to make simple sacrifices in order to ensure that our neighbors have enough. I heard the words of J.F.K. ring in my ears, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

It's a turn from the selfish to the selfless. It's not about your education and your hard work that you think should result in your glory. It's about the learning and work of the nation, that should result in the glory of a nation before God. Nobody will care, when all is said and done, if John Q. Ordinary died with a million in the bank. What will matter, in my opinion, is what the generations after his will think of us one when they look back at us from the future. Will they see us as self-centered gluttons who ate our own feet? Or will they see us as one nation, united in purpose, striving for the greater good of all mankind, even a nation of King Benjamins working together to serve each other and serve God.

With leadership like Barack Obama, I have hope they might see us as the latter.


"Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop offs at tedium and counter productivity."
~ Erma Bombeck

From the Cricut Newsletter, I TOTALLY agree.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I'm so excited I can hardly stand myself!

Flipping through the channels in a desperate hope to find ANYTHING but figure skating/gymnastics (we've cancelled the satellite because we are poor) we came upon a brief gem. President-elect Obama was speaking on channel 8 (why 6 didn't carry it I'll never know) and we listened. He spoke at the Washington DC mall, just as Dr. King himself did. He spoke of the great men and events memorialized there, but emphasized that the true miracle of this country are indeed the people who make up this great nation.

Hello. Democratic president speaking.

He spoke of the need to pull ourselves up, and the certainty that it will be done. He said that it will take time, it always does. He also stated that our country is not measured by our actions when times are easy. Oh no. He reminded us of farmers and shopkeepers who stood rightly against tyranny in our beginnings and WON. Our country's worth is measured when we are struggling.

I s'pose we can be grateful to GW for one thing.

But the best of all, the most glorious thing, was that my children sat mesmerized. And they were not chastised of all the enemies out to get them. They were not told of the need to defend and protect ourselves from the end of the world. There was acknowledgement of difficult times, and the need to pull together, but best of all, the assurance that we CAN. We are able. We are strong, not just because we have big guns, but because we are a strong people, of a great heritage.

Everything I believe my faith teaches. The world is falling apart around us, we knew it would, indeed it must. But we need not experience it in fear, we instead are intended to band together, strive for what's right, and have faith that as we do so we as individuals and as a nation can be comforted.

I never realized until this night how much I have MISSED being able to sit and listen to our nation's leader and feel inspired. It was awesome. And only the beginning.

My children gave me weird looks, because when he ended, President-elect Obama said, "and God bless you." I immediately responded to the TV, "And God bless you."

I am only somewhat ashamed I was never inspired to say that back to Bush. Though I doubt I said it to any other president either. But I fear for this one. For the safety and strength of our country, I hope there are many praying for this man's safety, from the simple minded who might fear his color.

God bless and keep you, President-elect Obama. And thank God you are here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Now, this is more like it:

You Are a Chocolate Shake

You are a total hedonist. You are drawn to pleasure.

You are an expressive, over the top person. You're naturally dramatic.

You're the type of person who always chooses quality over quantity.

Life's too short to not have optimal experiences. You're proud of being picky.

In a desperate attempt

to find something interesting to blog, I went to blogthings.com and took a random quiz. However, it was apparently completely inaccurate, as it claimed that I would best be described in the dog world as a chihuahua puppy.

Um... NOT.

So, without further adieu, and no preparation on his part, I am turning this post over to...

(drum roll please...)

Dustin! He often says he needs a blog. Let's see what he can do.

Hang on, I have to go make his day and tell him he can blog on my laptop.

Hi Mom, nah just kidding. Hello, I'm Dustin Jones, I'm in the 7th grade and I need a blog. Okay, maybe I don't NEED one but it would be nice to have. Then I could share with the world how crazy and hectic my life is. Let me give you the details.

I compete in the FIRST Lego League. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) is a company the holds robotics competitions. Lego League is one of the divisions of FIRST. Last year my team and I did very good. We made it all the way to the world competition. Boy, with 10 kids and 8 adults walking the streets of Atlanta Georgia, sometimes we looked like an angry mob. We placed 68th out of 82 but the experience was just too cool.

I competed in Middle School Soccer. That was a blast! We probably lost more won but man, we didn't lose to Livermore. For all those of you that haven't lived in the tiny town of Jay Me, Livermore Falls is our schools arch rival. The first game we played them, we tied 2-2 but we came through and beat them 3-2 at our field. Yup, soccer was fun.

I'm taking High School algebra 1 in 7th grade. Now most kids take algebra 1 in ninth grade, but I've been in my school's Gifted and Talented (GT) Mathematics Program since the third grade. In sixth grade I would practically fall asleep during math class because I already knew everything that they were teaching. If I stay on the course my teacher, Mr. Taylor, has me on right now I'll be taking college calculus my senior year.

Here's some more random stuff about me. I have 3, not 1, not 2, but 3 younger brothers who like to annoy the begeebers out of me. I love to build, Lego's, K'Nex, Lego's, Erector Sets, Lego's, did I mention Lego's, I Love Lego's. They're the best thing ever (except indoor plumbing). I've got the best friends a kid could ever have (4 of which were on my Lego League team last year). With all this stuff, I should write a book. Oh! I HATE writing!!!!!!!!!!!!

With all the things I've got going on I need a blog. Don't you agree?

Friday, January 16, 2009

In case you were wondering...

I totally fell asleep. Big surprise, you put a thirty-ahem-year-old woman beside her 3 year old baby and tell her to lay still, and breathe slowly, so that he will get we are napping and lay still and breathe slowly so that he will not be an intolerable earthquake of chaos and destruction come 5 PM and of course she falls asleep. Don't hate me. Just because then I wake up and move to the couch so I don't have to be squooshed up by the bed rail so tightly I can't breathe or move and doze some more because really who only sleeps ONE hour and the 3 year old wakes up and is tended to the now-home-from-school 12 year old because REALLY PEOPLE, MOMMY IS TRYING TO SLEEP.


Anyway, I have a bone to pick with the blog world. It's cold outside. I know it's not the blog world's fault, but I am sitting in a draft, with the laptop ON my lap instead of the appropriate shelfy lap thing to keep warm, and if you folks out there don't blog SOMETHING (with the exception of Tracey, and Melissa, and Josiah I am going to have to get UP and do SOMETHING productive, like pick kids up at school. ACK!! I've nothing left to read online! Blog!! EMAIL!! SEND ME A MILE LONG FORWARD, PLEASE!! Anything but housework!

Thank you, in ADVANCE.


ps. people, do you realize how long those links took me to make? I'm desperate, truly.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I was going to blog...

No, really I was, Z is watching a movie and it's not quite 12, I don't need him in bed for at least an hour.

But he just announced he's tired.


I have 4 children. And I can count on one hand the number of times my offspring have uttered those words.

And no, I don't have extra fingers on my hands. It really is just that rare.

So, I'm off to put a boy to bed. Maybe I'm early enough I won't have to fall asleep too.

But I doubt it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I tutor.

It started as a, "He needs somewhere to go after school a couple of days a week, and is getting behind in his homework, maybe you could help him with it." So begins R coming, Mondays and Wednesdays after school. Conveniently, the same days Shamira is usually here anyway, so no added craziness to the schedule.

Turns out math is one of his biggest downfalls. And I suddenly had to face my worst nightmare:


No, not dealing with math every day, I love math. I had a teacher who stated "Math is life!" and I never once argued that point with him.

But Every Day Mathematics is a curriculum they have implemented in my children's school. They began it when Dustin was in the third or fourth grade I think. He wasn't hardly involved in it, because he did the ALEKS online math program in GT. The ALEKS program, in conjunction with a teacher, is in my opinion fabulous.

Every day math, however, I spent arguing with several teachers, not the least of which our beloved Taylors (Mr. and Mrs.) of how horrible it was.

It spirals. Meaning you introduce some things that you won't expect them to master, but don't want to sound like a foreign language when they need to master it (trapezoid in kindergarten kind of things). That's ok with me.

The spiraling, however, made it difficult for students who began the program in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade to do the work, as the program assumes they have been introduced many things they were not. Frustrating, but with our excellent teaching staff not insurmountable.

You still learn your basic facts, multiplication tables etc. However, it also teaches numerous ways to do the basics, like multiplying and dividing 2, 3, and more digit numbers.

Enter in the lattice method, my arch nemesis.

Now, I know that different children learn differently, and need different ways of doing things. But the flaw I found was that ALL children were being expected to learn ALL ways. They couldn't just solve the lattice method their way, or solve the standard methods the lattice way, they had to show the work of all the ways during all the parts of instruction.

I grew to hate lattice method in particular. As it was explained to me, you just pull numbers from thin air, and it drove me NUTS. I mean N. U. T. S. NUTS!

Math is methodical, it is what it is, love it or leave it, yelling at it won't change it, and in 500,000,000,000,000 years 6 x 8 will STILL equal 48.

That's a thing I can stand behind. It's black and white, even variables are what they are, they have rules and regulations, policies to follow, and if x = 794 then it equals 794. 'Nuff said.

R is in 5th grade. Same as my sweet Brian, who gets his math genes from his math-loving parents (Bill's right there with me). I tried to help R with division. R is new to the everyday math program, Brian has been in it for years, but not R, due to different schools in his past. Of course, the 5th grade level caused R's mother to throw her hands in the air in disgust and wonder if her son would ever be able to catch on to it. Much like the mothers of ALL the 5th graders back a while. Had it not been for my Brian, and Mother Google (I used it oh yes I did) and a WHOLE lot of time and patience, I'm not sure R would have caught on. And in the process, so did I.

You don't blindly choose a number. You choose a multiple of the divisor you are familiar with. He knows his times tables, that helps. And he's learned the rules of two, threes, etc when it comes to division (google them, they could be fascinating to you).

And I'll be darned if that lattice thing doesn't work for him.

However, it works because he can use multiplication to get to his quotient. Not because he understands the division. And it will never work in the grocery store, when you are trying to figure out your cost per cookie between Mrs. Fields and Pepperidge Farms cost per muffin with the different brands of muffin mix. They do the weights for you, but one package makes 5 muffins while the other makes 6. Hmmmm.

But, I get it now. And I owe the Taylors both apologies (and a handful of other teachers) as the method isn't totally useless. And I can tutor it. Now I'm back to needing Mother Google just to help Dustin with his college Algebra. I want to go back to school!!

They say the best place to keep your enemies is close, so you know exactly what they are up to!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mommy's Little Helper

My kids are cute. That's not an opinion, it's a fact. One that I remind myself of DAILY to ensure their survival!
So, sometimes they do things that are, well, cute... and I take pictures. Other times they do cute things and my friends take pictures. Occasionally, though rarely, they do things that are not very cute at the moment, but I take pictures knowing that I will look at them days or weeks later and find them cute. And there are those rare, fleeting moments, when my friends take my kid's picture when they are doing something that is cute at the moment to them and they think will be cute eventually to me.

THAT my friends, is what you are about to see.

You be the judge.
Zachary (3) had pestered Brian (10) beyond tolerance. I told Brian to leave the room, ignoring Zachary. It worked, and Z was bored, almost instantaneously.

So he found trouble. In an effort to dissuade him, I gave him a "job". He was to clean the extremely large, 80's decor mirror in our bathroom. The darn thing covers the wall above the double vanity. I moved the toothbrushes. I sprayed it down with Windex, lecturing all the while that this was an abundance of blue stuff and he would not get more.

I gave him a wad of clean paper towel. I lectured that it was "more than enough" towel and he would not get more. And he happily wiped away for quite some time.

Then Donovan (4) saw what Z was doing. He immediately ran to me, and with a dreadful stutter finally "tattled" on Z. I told him that was Z's job, his chore. He insisted he wanted to help, and as I began to explain it was Z's chore and he couldn't help, Z hollered from the bathroom, "It's ok, Do'van can help me."

Angels appeared and sang a hallelujah chorus in a moment of toddler kinship.

So I brought Donovan in with his own paper towels, sprayed a little extra windex for kicks, saw how cute they were and sent D's photographer mother in with my itty bitty camera to take pictures, because they were CUTE.

She laughed, she directed (move that way, look at me, cute!) like she does, because she's a photographer, while I sat at my dining room table.

And then I heard it.

Donovan: "I need more soap."


More? Soap?
Uh Oh.

Quickly followed by:
Zachary (loudly) "Shhhh, don't tell my mom!!"
I suspect this is the getting of the more soap...
Time to rinse
While this likely depicts the "Don't tell my mom."
Very satisfied with his work.
Another happy boy!
So nice they can work together!

Partners? Uh, only in crime folks, only in crime!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Where have I been?

Sorry, I hope there are still a handful of people out there who will stop by now and again and see if I've written anything. Where have I been?

Well, right here in Maine. I've been:

*making phone calls for my calling (to find people to do service that needs doing)
*helping out in Primary
*decorating a Christmas tree
*assimilating truckloads of new things into my home (i.e. Christmas)
*reading a series of books (I'm on book 3)
*playing Settlers of Catan
*taking down the Christmas tree
*watched Bedtime Stories at the movie theater (LOVED it)
*watched Bill make homemade ice cream that wouldn't solidify
*volunteering to make copies at the school
*answering emails from teachers about my kids
*cooking dinner for 9+ (we've had a full house a lot lately, it's noisy but a lot of fun)
*sorted all my pictures through 2008 and archived them on my EHD
*washing my bathroom mirrors. Over and over. I'll blog that later.
*painting trim
*eating brownie batter
*baking cream cheese chocolate chip cookies. They aren't that good, but Nicki and Melissa liked them.
*attempted to scrapbook, once.
*sending kids out in the snow to play
*wiping up snow when kids come in
*forgetting to tend the fire
*moved furniture for Melissa
*dragged Nicki to Melissa's to run phone wire
*throwing away broken toys
*wishing I had SOMETHING to blog about.