Sunday, August 31, 2008

Correct Use of Cuisenaire (Math) Rods

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When Arby wrote about his seldom spoken of son, "Idunno", it shamed me into writing more about our own second son, adopted from China. "Not Me" has been living with us about a year now. I'd love to share a recent photo of him, but he is either very quick or shy, for every time I ask "who did this?", I'm sure to hear "Not Me", but I've yet to lay eyes on him. Perhaps I could put out one of those motion detection cameras they use to film rare animals in the wild.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

How We Spend Our Evenings

Like most families, we sit around after dinner seeing how many grapes we can stuff between our gums and our lips, and how that affects our appearance. Lauren is particularly good at it, at least up until she laughs and shoots the grapes across the room. In this video, someone (not me) said she looks like Michelle Obama and again the grapes go flying. She'll do so well in college.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why Johnny Can't Read

It has become apparent to me why boys have a more difficult time with learning to read. Over the last year, I worked with William to learn his letters and beginning reading. He showed some interest, but it soon petered out, and each day was a struggle. I decided to wait until he showed more interest - which was today.

He now has great interest in learning to read words that have meaning and interest for him. Useful words like fart, butt, and poop. Now, he practices on the white board writing these all important words and what sound "ar" and "oo" make. He also has become quite adept at illustrating his writing. It seems Johnny can read - if the words are worth reading.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Put It Back!

When we got to the car, William ripped the stickers from his shirt and threw them to the ground. He was MAD! We'd just been to the dentist and because William normally lets me pull teeth without even a wimper, the dentist got hold of a very wiggly tooth and twisted. It was a little more rooted than she thought, but now sideways, she had to continue to pull it as William squirmed. Quickly though, it came out.
"I don't like this look," he complained while looking in the car mirror. "And it feels weird." He looked a the hole left by the missing tooth.
It's tough growing up.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Life's a Beach

William woke up this morning at 7:30 a.m., talking a mile a minute and ready to start his school work. Bleary-eyed, I tried to see this as a positive. Usually, it takes me about a week to recover from a week away, and I'd been gone 10 days to Holden Beach, North Carolina. To the left, you see the view from our rental's back deck. The rolling motion, gentle sounds and warm air still call to me, yet it is time to start again another school year.

Each year, dh's family gathers there like the Loggerhead turtles who lay their eggs on this beach, following some ancient call. They've (dh's family) gathered along this coast for some thirty years, maybe twenty at Holden. The first time I remember going was in 1992. This year, 58 people were present.

Like this morning, William was full of energy during our week there and combined with family functions, I spent less time in the sand than I would have liked. I suppose there is time for that when I get older. I sometimes look at the ocean cam, seeing that in another place far away, the ocean continues on without me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Can I Have A Box for Mine?"

Joey's eyes widened as the waitress put a plate of crab legs in front of Daniel. My twelve year old nephew had never, I think, witnessed anyone eating such a thing. Daniel, also my twelve year old nephew from my husband's side, loves crab legs. He dug in, cracking the legs, digging out the flesh and eating with relish.

Joe looked down at his hamburger and back again at the crab legs. Joe, you see, picks tomatoes and onions out of his salad, preferring plain lettuce. Exotic food is not for him. Dan picked up the crab leg cracker and worked down the leg of the crab. Joey sat and watched. My sister, Teresa, and I wondered if he was going to lose it right there on the table. Typical of a twelve year old, Dan grinned when he noticed the slightly green hue Joey was taking on and smacked his lips a little more. Joe made it through the dinner, though his went untouched.

We had reason to be concerned, as Joe's gag reflex is highly developed. He once lost his lunch smelling my sister's Lean Cuisereen dinner, claiming it smelled bad. Still, I was proud that he managed to keep it in check and go on to have a nice night after.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


"Please, what?" they would say when I first moved to a new city. In Cincinnati, where I was raised, the German immigrants had contributed a bit of the Motherland to the English language. Please meant excuse me, I didn't hear you, or if you live where I live now, WHAT??? But in Cincinnati, everyone said please as a polite way of asking someone to repeat what they just said. Transplanted to a new environment, no one knew what I meant and I was forced to drop a little part of my German heritage, a small line to my German grandfather, Karl (pictured left).

On my desk sits a photo of my great-grandmother, Teresa, mother of Karl. She is very old in the photo, toothless and wrinkled. When I look at the photo, I wonder what she was like, and how she could stand that her son lived an ocean away in another world. In those days, moving to America meant likely she'd not see him again. How could she have let go, stood such a loss? What did she think when he became an American soldier, fighting against Germany?

Now, our world is much different. People blend, move, travel with ease. Teresa sits in a wicker chair, waiting likely for a letter carried for weeks by boat. We can communicate instantly in a myriad of ways. Still, small messages come from our past in how we simply ask "Please?"

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Good fences make good neighbors."

A rolled wire fence separates our property from our immediate neighbor to the southwest. This fence once sported an electric wire across the top, keeping the horses from grazing on the greener pastures on the other side - though horses on both sides disagreed as to which side was which. When the neighbor leased the place out, the new tenant unplugged the electric fence charger, something about the fence charger being plugged in near the propane tank. (Well, that would solve some of my neighbor problems. Shame on me for thinking so.)

Dh and I are going to try to install a new fence, high tension electric fence in September, removing the rolled wire. I want a "I'm coming to you Jesus" electric fence, one that puts the fear of God in those damn lovely horses my neighbor has. Dear Daughters and I were put in mortal danger when this neighbor's stud jumped said "fence" in March 2007. Only after threatening to geld the neighbor the horse myself and sue him until he lived under a bridge did he take action and geld it. Still, the horses socialize over the fence and munch on the much better grass that seems to grow along the other side of it.

When it is completed, I am going to get Chris' kids to come test it. Her post reminded me of a visit from my sister, Teresa, some years back. A city girl, she was out in the front yard supervising her young son feeding carrots to our horses. She leaned in a little too close, and at that time, we had great fence charger. For a moment, she didn't know what had happened and who she was. She looked momentarily stunned. That is what I want to happen to those horses. It was very difficult not to laugh, though in all fairness, she did once she recovered.

For now, I am going to replace the top electric wire and and hope that it makes "good neighbors" until we can get to building a new one.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

You Say Tomato.....

For dh and I, premarital counseling told us we were compatible but missed one important detail. Both Ohioans, we assumed we had the same accent and pronounciation of important words. Like syrup. But dh was from northeastern Ohio, whereas I, Junosmom, was from southwestern Ohio. And over pancakes one day, the exact day is lost to history, we discovered that I pronounced the word, "seer-up", which caused dh to laugh, for surely it is "sirr-up". I protested, but right or wrong, I have found that my children have somehow been indoctrinated with his position, and laugh at me. I'm not sure how that happened, given that I spend every waking moment with them and they ought to be grateful.

Educated in Ohio, I was brought up to believe that Ohio was on the "right side" of the Civil War and that I was a "Northerner". Imagine my surprise when I found, shortly after marriage, that my new inlaws considered me, now a Kentuckian, a Southerner, and wanted my recipe for pecan pie. I was aghast! I was not a Southerner. Now, I laugh. I am indeed more southern than northern. Or at least, based on my recent trip to New York, I do know that a red light means STOP, not stop after at least five cars have slipped through the intersection.

But the accent has made me realize there are real differences between the corners of Ohio. For example, I loved the name Lauren and knew almost no one named that (and of course later learned that everyone born that year was given that name). It was perhaps not the wisest choice, for I didn't know until we began using it on my beautiful child, that dh and family called her "Lor-en", much different from my family and I that called her "Law-ren". For family harmony, I've given on her name, but still enjoy seer-up on my pancakes.

The latest is our van, knicknamed "Eugene". Dds insist "he" is "u-GENE" and laughed at my pronunciation, "U-gene". We got on this topic with a friend one night while watching our sons play baseball. Lauren and I appealed to her for a pronunciation. What were the odds? She had once lived in "u-GENE", Oregon.

How about you? Do you pour seer-up or sirr-up on your pancakes?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Can You Say Sedentary?

As if we humans weren't in bad enough shape, we now can rest our weary wrists (from all this writing on our blogs, you know) and not even have to turn our ice cream cones. Inventors have come up with rotating ice cream cones. You need only hold up the cone and stick out your tongue. Wait, my arm might get tired holding up the cone. I wonder if it comes with a stand?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Science Friday

All good scientists know math. Arby asked, "If you have four chicken eggs to hatch, what are the odds that all four will be roosters?" If you Google "sex ratios in fertilized chicken eggs" or some such thing, you'll find that there are quite a few studies to determine if environmental factors affect the outcome. Because I've not yet earned my PhD in Avian Studies, I'll stick to a "given no other variables" approach. The possible configuration of baby chicks is as follows:

where G is girl and B is boy. Therefore, Arby, your chances of having all roosters is 20%. You should buy a lottery ticket with your ability to beat the odds. I have experience with this, as we once hatched three eggs, and you guessed it, three roosters. I will say, however, you might want to keep a few roosters around to keep your hens entertained, and perhaps that is why she crowed. What she is trying to tell you is revealed at the end of this article.

Signed, Junosmom who knows more about chickens that a human has a right (or needs) to know

Science Friday Photos
: learning from the holes in the woods

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Healthy Food

In a nutrition class, I remember hearing that if given the choice, humans, particularly young ones, would choose healthy foods as their bodies craved nutrients for their growing bodies. If this is true, why are we a nation in the middle of a health crisis? We obviously are not choosing broccoli at the StuffMart.

More complicated than that, the human body has been programmed to go first for high fat, something rare and hard to attain when one had only a rock to bring down one's steak for the night. Think it's just us humans, though? Horses crave grain, something they must search for tiny morsels in the wild. Given the chance to get into it, they eat enough grain to kill themselves.

Many people don't know that chickens love meat. If I throw them the kitchen slop, they go after meat first, fighting over it and carrying it to a corner to try to keep it to themselves. After meat, they crave white carbs, particularly bread, but also cake, pancakes, corn cobs, anything white. Fruit comes in third with veggies coming in last - just like many of today's Americans.

Speaking of chickens, Arby posted about his crowing hen. I have heard of that, Arby, especially in the absence of a rooster. And, you need to re-think calling them "dumb". Chickens are very smart - at being chickens. How many human adults do you know that if turned loose in the woods, could fend for themselves, finding food, finding mates, and reproducing? Chickens, however, are another story.

Arby also asks, "What are the odds of getting four roosters in batch of four eggs?" Great math problem. So readers, what are the odds that having hatched four eggs, all four are roosters? Answer tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Travis asked "Can you define your happiest day?" Happiest. Perhaps no other culture has concerned itself with happiness as we have. My life has been punctuated with moments of pure joy - making eye contact with dh as I walked down the aisle, the birth of my children, the light of understanding in a child's eye, laughter shared. Happiness, however, isn't a moment or a day. Its a state of being, a collection of moments and days. Its a sense of direction.

One night, I was walking back from the barn. It was dark and beautiful stars lit the sky. My family was safely inside the house, healthy, fed, and the horses nickered softly. The night wasn't remarkable in any way, but I thought to myself, it doesn't get any better than this. As quickly as I admitted that sense of well-being, I wondered what would happen next? Surely something, as I couldn't believe that God would allow me to continue in such a state of happiness forever or I'd not grow and learn.

And sure enough, times changed and some were hard, but again I'd come to another day when I'd say, "It doesn't get any better than this". Helen Keller said, "True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose." American culture teaches us to reach for individual happiness and orgasmic moments. "It's all about me." And this selfish search for those perfect moments and individual happiness, rather than a collective overall happiness of us all, is what is bringing down the American family.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


The men's relay race in swimming had so much to enjoy - from the swaggering French who were beaten, the come from behind finish, and the reaction of the teammates on learning they had won. We laughed and laughed watching Michael Phelps and teammates yell and pump their fists. Speaking of Phelps, when he won the 400 m, they showed his mother watching the race. She yelled and carried on, "Go Michael, go Michael..." Dear Daughter said, "That's embarrassing!" But I had to smile, for during the interview, his eyes scanned the audience and he said he was looking for his mom and couldn't find her.

Other notes: Since when is beach volleyball an Olympic sport?? Dh sure is enjoying this year's Olympics. I think it is more of a spectator sport. Even better - it seems to be raining during the game. Huh.

And if it isn't enough that I have to watch the beach babes, I have to hear about a forty-something swimmer who has a washboard stomach, had a baby in between swim meets, and beats all the 20-somethings. I'm going to go find my ice cream carton of Death By Chocolate.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Could We Have More Cheeps?

Dh was parking the car as I got a table at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Thoughtful as ever, I ordered a beer for him along with a Corona for me.

"My husband will have a Dos Exxis."
"Si, signora, Dos Exxis...."

I am nodding before I hear him finish
"...grande," as he walked away.

What do I know? Thinking Dos Exxis comes in bottles, I shrugged it off until about the same time my husband sat down, they brought the 32 ounce (!!) frosted mug of beer. We began to laugh, as it was a bit embarrassing. At the table next to us, sat three policeman in full uniform. In addition, we were there after Mass because the girls were sitting at the table with the Church youth group at a send-off for a seminarian who'd spent the summer here. Oops! Thank goodness Lauren has her driver's license! Dh and I had a good time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

He Didn't Learn That From Me

Six year old boys fidget, and in particular, at recitals and at Church. Not only does he not want to be there, he can't stand it that you can't talk, pick your nose, or put your feet on the chair in front of you. In the very quiet moments of a service or recital, I have often wondered what would happen if someone farted very loudly just then. At last night's service, William gave us the opportunity to find out. During the solemn sacrament of the baptism of four infants. Lauren, Anna and William began to laugh in that hysterical way you do when know you shouldn't laugh, but in looking at others laughing, you start losing control and tears begin to form. Lauren quickly got control. I was facing away, and dared not look back, or Anna and I would feed on each other's laughter and really lose it. I heard the boys behind me snickering. Lord a' mercy, boys sure are a treat to raise.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Niagara Falls

I hadn't been to Niagara Falls since I was eleven years old. The only memory I have of it was being on the Maid of the Mist. I wonder if this year during our visit, we rode the same boat? In my mom mode, I made mental notes of the location of the life jackets, knowing all the while it was a futile (and in the end, unneeded) thought.

In those days, they issued yellow rubberized rain coats to each passenger, and I remember not wanting one. I wanted to get soaking wet. When we neared the Falls, everyone went to the side of the boat to look and the boat tilted dangerously, prompting the captain to ask people to spread out and that the boat would soon turn, giving everyone a fair chance to see the Falls.

This didn't happen this year, when I returned to ride with my children and mother-in-law. We were issued what amounted to sticky, disposable garbage bags to keep us dry. Just like when I was young, my girls and William all enjoyed the spray, and put back their hoods to get their hair dripping wet.

The Cave of the Winds didn't disappoint us for sheer fun. Again, we were issued garbage bags, this time yellow, and took an elevator down to the bottom of the American Falls. People screamed and laughed and had the most fun having the water cascade over them. If only we could experience more of the pure joy of living in daily life! We did not ever figure out why they called it the "cave" of the winds, as we didn't enter any cave unless you count the tunnel to the elevator (man-made) to be a cave.

Here is Lauren and William (to her right) getting a drenching:

Friday, August 08, 2008

This morning, dh recounted a dream he had last night. He was dressed for work and getting into his car when a miniature buffalo (that apparently was my pet) turned his rear to dh and "let loose" on him, getting all over his clothes and car. I'm no psychologist nor Joseph in the Bible, but this dream was easy to interpret. Subconsciously, dh felt shat upon when being left alone when the kids and I took a five day trip.

Now, before you feel too sorry for him, a dear friend's family did much of the work while we were away, and dh, in fact, did the work cheerfully. He accomplished much while I was away, so much so that I've threatened to leave on little trips more often. I'm sure he truly didn't mean that my little animal farm here was shooting him manure, but I suppose I should pay a little attention to his subconscious.

Blogs, I am told, are like the newspaper. You must write each day and never miss an issue in order to not lose readership. You are not, however, supposed to tell people when you are on a trip for security reasons. I fully intended to have blogs pre-written and scheduled ahead of time, but getting ready for even a small trip for me is the equivalent of preparing for a foreign invasion. So, I left you, my poor blog readers, hanging.

Before the girls were younger, it was even harder. I remember dh once asking, as we prepared for a trip "What was there to do? You just put a few clothes in the suitcase and leave." It is a sign of my control that he lives still. It has gotten easier as the girls have gotten older, and can help pack and get the homestead ready for our departure.

So, leaving our home in the care of friends and dh, we traveled to Rochester, New York for an "International Friendship Concert" in which Lauren played the second movement of the Italian Concerto. In between her practices, lessons and rehearsal, we explored that town and Pittsford, NY. Lauren played beautifully. From there we traveled to Niagara Falls for a day, and then to dh's family farm for a night. It is good to be home.

Photo taken along the Erie Canal

Friday, August 01, 2008

Bathing Beauties

My string bikini days are long over, but I remember the days enough to understand that it is the kind of bathing suit my daughters would like for lounging on the beach. You certainly can't call them "swimming suits" for they are not at all suited for swimming, at least in an ocean. But now that I have daughters, I look at bikinis a little differently. I told them I'd pay for their bathing suits if I could pick them out. I was thinking something like this, just for while we are on a beach.


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