Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Retirement Home Friends

We visited a nearby retirement home recently.

I love to see the cheerful looks on the residents' faces when they see young children walk through the door. (Joe and I are chopped liver at this point.)

Mikey perked up when this gentleman mentioned he used to fly B24 bombers in WWII. He told Mikey that they used to call the plane a "flying coffin" because the only exit was in the rear of the plane making it difficult to get out of in case of an emergency.

We're glad he can now laugh about it.

We're also glad to see that he and his wife still had a sense of humor after spending the evening at the E.R. after she fell out of bed and broke her arm in two places.

We've known this next gentleman for about four years now.

He's Yogi Berra's first cousin--really. At 95, Mr. Berra is as social as can be and invites our youngest to celebrate their November birthdays together. He loves to talk about the old farm back in St. Louis.

The kids always get a piece of fruit from his wheelchair stash.

It was one banana and three oranges this time! And I think his fruity gifts are very sweet.

Reminds me of when I worked as an elderly outreach volunteer in Appalachia. I rarely left a home without something--zucchini, green beans, even an owl statue once. Sweet.

We love to hear stories of the past from these residents.
We've met a widow whose husband was stranded on a South Pacific Island during the war.

We met a blind man who used to tune all of the concert pianos at the University of Texas.

We've met a former dancer, learned some Cajun traditions, heard the story of how a former nurse met her neurosurgeon husband on the job.

We've pet their cats and dogs, seen their frog figurine collections, looked through albums of their family photos, shared in their stories of celebration as well as tragedy...and have witnessed the end of some lives.

We have been enriched by it all, and the kids pray for these people and look forward to our visits.

One thing still has yet to be accomplished.

They haven't had the chance to drive one of these.

On the way out, Jimmer spotted one and said, "That electric chair over there looks too enticing. I wish I could hop on and go for a ride!"

I love his term, electric chair!

Luckily, we made it out before his willful resistance gave out! And maybe with luck, he'll eventually get the chance to pilot one.

He's already had a foot race against one older church friend who was driving full-tilt on his speedy electric wheelchair.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Random Happenings

There hasn't been a shortage of activity around here, but because it's been a while since I've posted, I've simply compiled some unrelated photos.

* * * * * * * * * *

The kids have been fiddlin' around quite a bit. They're learning a handful of new songs for their upcoming performances next month.

Their favorite new tunes are "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," "Orange Blossom Special," and "Cajun Fiddle."

We've started our new school year, and Mary Kate loves to read some of her new books to Jimmer.

Mary Kate's eyes water very easily.
They water when she watches me put in my contacts,
when she gets her teeth cleaned at the dentist,
when we simply TALK about her eyes watering.

In this case, she was reading to Jimmer about how sweat glands work!

Even though her eyes water easily, she is a little nurse in the making. She's always been the first one to offer help in an emergency.

A name poem I wrote last week for a friend's daughter who just lost her baby the week she was due. A very, very sad occasion.

My English/Spanish-teaching-sister-in-law is a fine editor.

This succulent plant makes me smile.

I love its cheerful flowery shapes.

This is what I found yesterday while doing laundry. It's from one son's pocket.

If I'm lucky, I find these things before they run through the washer and dryer.

It's all a boy needs: a stick, rubber band, knife, string, etc.

I think it's the precursor to his eventual "nerd pack." The best (and heaviest) nerd pack we know of is in the family. Put it this way, Grampy can build and figure out anything with the stash he keeps in his front-pocket pack! Along with a slide rule, calculator, daily meter-reading documentation, and handy engineering formulas; I believe he even keeps a little saw in there.


I just received the reel-to-reel tapes of my dad playing the King in "The King and I" his senior year of high school (1961) and had them transferred to CDs. So fun listening to them.

My aunt sent me these photos from her yearbook.

She also sent this one of my mom from the same year book.

Personally, I think it's refreshing to see that they're not all showing their belly buttons!

Okay, I believe this is about the most random post I've ever done. Then again, last week was busy and quite scattered, so it's somewhat fitting.

So goes life.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

This father is:

really cute when he laughs at my jokes (I love to make him laugh!),
absolutely endearing when he laughs at the kids' jokes,
and adorable when he makes us all laugh;

a powerful superhero when he tosses our 75lb kids over his head into the pool,

playfully fun when he lets the kids tell him how to shave off his beard, step-by-step,

humble, yet inspiringly masterful when we drive over the first bridge he built (1993) next to Mansfield Dam on our way to the marina,

sweet and Godly when he tucks the kids in bed, leads nighttime prayers, and makes the sign of the cross on their foreheads,

adventurous and resourceful when he takes us on lots of fun trips,

patient and brilliant when he teaches the kids math and takes the time to answer all of their questions and explain how scientific things work,

adorably animated when he reads to the kids and makes different voices for all the characters,

He's just the best

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

May We Cake & Caffeine

According our cute neighbor,

who is May We Cake?

and who is Caffeine?


We call him Way Way...
because that's his name.

I just don't know how to draw the characters.

He sure is a little character!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 1

Homeschooling Year 6

Loving our new books!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

School Planning Thwarted :: Part 2

How can a family with four children possibly function in a home with only ONE egg of Silly Putty?

You're right--it simply can not, I've found.

It started when one of the kids was playing with it and made a pointed statement, "You can't have the Silly Putty yet. I haven't played with it very long."

After a while of listening to their conversation about how much play time is sufficient and nothing getting resolved, I come into the picture. I start talking about the importance of sharing, world economics of supply and demand, telling them what I used to do with Silly Putty (pat it onto the Sunday funnies and make an ink transfer), then realize my talk is not getting us anywhere.

Then, out of the blue, I lose my wits and say something committal like, "Maybe we should figure out how to make some more." The kids light up. The rest is history. And, once again, I temporarily ignore my school planning.

Instead, we dug up some glue and Borax and made our own silly putty.

Luckily, we had a box of Borax handy. Why? I can't recall why, exactly, I have it. I don't use it as a laundry booster.

Maybe at the grocery story, I had a clairvoyant moment foreshadowing this day when I'd be in a desperate search to keep my kids content and threw the box in my cart.

After visiting Death Valley last fall, Borax holds an all-new meaning and understanding for the kids (who are the ones who remembered we even had some).

Death Valley = Home of the 20-Mule Borax Teams = deathly hot = 116-degrees-at-the-end-of-September-HOT.

This is the face I got after I told MK that I thought this blob looked like female reproductive organs. NOTE: If you don't want to be reminded of various innards, you may want to tint your silly putty something besides this internal-organ-pink that we made.

Anyway, those poor prospectors out in Death Valley probably set out to find gold or silver and strike it rich but only found a pit of...borax--in one of the hottest places on earth.

Little did they know how valuable their efforts in that vast and arid desert would be to my family today. Today, I LOVE Borax!

This reminds me of another internal organ, but I'll spare you this time.

Oh, look. There are signs of my never-ending school planning on the floor.

A little time making putty = a lot of time having fun!

After the kids noticed some non-Newtonian properties with the silly putty, they reminded me of this video they saw a while back showing how you can run across a pool of a corn starch and water, or stand still and sink in it.

I love it when unplanned science happens, even if it's at the expense of a little school planning.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

School Planning Thwarted :: Part 1


The only people I know who may want to read this post are the only other true car fans in our lives, Grampy and Uncle Joe.

Sorry to the rest of you. Consider yourselves warned.

* * * * *

The day started when Mikey made a request to use the computer while I was checking email. After patiently waiting, he got his chance to look up a list of Supercars.

He would have been totally satisfied to find a mere list of the cars. But, thanks to the many wonders of cyberspace, he not only found a list but an internet-linked list of every single one of the cars...with lots of information and oodles of photos for each one.

The first car he searched for was the Bugatti Veyron. I really have no idea how he even knows about this car. After seeing this link, I'm just wondering WHY a $1,700,000 "street" car would need to go 253 mph with an acceleration of 0-60 in 2.6 seconds.

Bugatti Veyron

Unless you live in rural Montana, wouldn't you need your own road to drive on? You KNOW that owners of these types of vehicles aren't just looking to putter down the road to pick up a few groceries. And...wouldn't the driver pass out from lack of blood flow to the brain with that kind of acceleration?

Oh...NOW I remember why Mikey likes this type of car so much.

When asked what he'd like to be when he grows up, he once said he wasn't quite sure, but would like to do "something that requires wearing a G-suit."

Mikey is kind of scaring me. He says things like, "You can tell the Koenigsegg by the two domes in back."


and "I knew that was a Zonda by its exhaust pipes."

Pagani Zonda C12 F

What's even scarier is that after I asked him where, exactly, the exhaust pipes were on the Zonda, I thought to myself--"Yeah, that is a good identifying feature. Now I can point one out too." Like I'll ever actually see one.

If you haven't found the four exhaust pipes yet, they're in the cute little circle above where the license plate is supposed to be. But, as you can imagine, none of the Zonda drivers would want to actually mount their plates. They might get caught speeding.

I'm afraid this may be as close as we'll get to seeing any of these Supercars.

Mikey's Matchbox Supercars
Front to Back: Dodge Viper SRT10 ARC, Ford GT LM, Saleen S7, Bugatti Veyron
(per Mikey: these cars are in order of speed--slowest in front, fastest in back)
Figures he'd have them organized in some way.

As I sat with Mikey supervising his search, he dashed off to see what the girls wanted in the other room. But first he said, "Can you look up what the EB stands for? It's on all the Bugatti steering wheels." Off he trotted.

I find myself--mySELF--looking up this stuff on the internet. (Okay, the EB stands for Ettore Bugatti, the company's founder.)

I set up Mikey's own bookmarked folder, CARS TRUCKS SUPERCARS, on the internet. You should have seen how fired up he was about finding this Supercar website. It was like the dawning of a new age. Doors just burst wide open for him.

Good thing he's still not bigger than I am, because I know I'll have to start fighting him off the computer.

Now, I MUST get back to some more school planning. The kids would like the living room floor back.

Official Supercar photos filched off:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Musical happenings...and laming out

May was pretty much a blur.

Maybe that's why I haven't posted this collage until now.

The kids' violin recital was sometime in May. I can't recall exactly WHEN in May--just within the last month is all I can say for sure.

It's what happens to my homeschooling brain come this time of year. At least that's my story.

The only child I snapped a photo of while they were actually playing DURING the recital was Jimmer. In the above photo, the other kids were just warming up.

I know...outstanding job, Mom! Way to go the extra mile in documenting your children's precious memories and activities.

At least Joe got video footage, so we're covered. He always has my back.

If I forget, he remembers. If he forgets...I probably forgot also.

I've always used his brain as my crutch like that, and he knows it usually works out pretty well for me.

I did manage to capture Mary Kate and her besties entourage at the recital.

Oh, my lameness gets even worse.

This is the only photo I took of their piano recital last week. None of the kids are even in the picture.

Stellar, no?

It was dark, had my small camera, didn't want to distract them with the flash, blah, blah, blah...

Again, Joe had my back with the video. Just one more reason to love him.

I'm blaming my fuzzy head on all this mess.

School planning.

This coming school year (starting June 14) should be pretty interesting since I'm doing all of the planning in my totally lame condition.

Homeschool year #6, here we come!
Please wish me luck.
Thanks. =)