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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"to SANtu Klos I BIEV iN YOU"

I can hardly stand the cuteness.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Randomness and Creator of Many Creations

I am desperately seeking some motivation to write my annual Christmas email letter, to no avail. Instead I am finding myself distracted by completely random things like this government web site that offers cultural awareness assessments in areas of current, ahem, interest. I couldn't resist taking one of the arabic ones; and apparently, 14 years since my time at DLI really is too long. Go figure.

I really have been neglecting my Google reader for awhile, meaning I'm way behind on blogs I like to follow. So what better way to procrastinate? I swiped this you tube from "Et tu?" (see my sidebar) and I got such a kick out of thinking of my dear friend Ruth (Ruth, oh Ruth? Wherefore art thou Ruth?) who has five kids, wondering how many times she has heard each and every one of these comments.

Speaking of blessings, we finally got down to Cincinnati yesterday to the Creation museum, which focuses on Genesis and the scientific support behind God creating the world in six days some 6,000 years ago as opposed to some molecules randomly converging and evolving over millions of years. I have been wanting to get down there ever since my sister told me some eight months about this creation (ha-ha, pun intended) of Ken Hamm's which is strategically located in an area of the United States that makes it accessible by drive from the majority of the 48 States.

I knew we were taking a chance going with the little ones, but I figured at the very least we would just view the free live nativity scene and walk the grounds, which include a petting zoo. However. What with sub-freezing temperatures these activities were either canceled or moved inside, which was okay with us because we had already decided to go ahead and give the museum a try, kids or no, a decision made much easier with the incredible admission rates offered to military which got our family of five into the museum for just $24.32. (Although Sean-Peter would have been free regardless because of his age.)

And doing it over I would not take small children, unless you are okay with going through at a pace that small children require as opposed to taking your time to read and listen and view and soak it all in. And there's a lot to soak. Anyone who thinks that believing in the bible requires leaving your intellect at the door should take up the challenge this museum helps display to readily disprove that notion.

From what I was able to pause and view I could tell that I was fortunate to have already studied many of these truths through Faith Bible Institute courses I took at our church in Italy. If you haven't had an opportunity to take any of these courses, or haven't even heard of them, I would urge you to look into the curriculum and the possibility of your church offering the class, which is available on DVD. It's extremely in-depth, but accessible to the average layman. Or, you know, laywoman. No need to discriminate here.

So I am definitely encouraging John and Conner to return, sans kiddos. Not that I wouldn't want to go back myself; it's just not as high a priority. But for Conner it really is a prime age to benefit from this knowledge all laid out in a way that shows how commonsensical biblical truth is in much the same way that public schools (and books, and tv shows, even cartoons...) make evolution out to be a done deal. Since taking FBI (yes, go ahead and laugh; that's how they refer to it) I haven't been able to look at children's books the same, what with talking about dinosaurs living before people millions and millions of years ago, like it's an historical fact and not a scientific theory.

And speaking of dinosaurs, that is the big draw of the museum for the wee ones. In fact, Olivia is already asking when we can go back to the "Dinosaur Museum", as children readily refer to it: I'm not trying to say it's not appropriate and beneficial to small children; it's just that adults will personally benefit more without their distraction. Olivia and Sean-Peter did enjoy the dinosaur displays and the Flood Room (my name) in particular, with its video and sound effects and dioramas of the ark. And both of them really got into the over-sized industrial-strength puzzle of the ark, while Conner and I devoured the touch-screen computer puzzles of the ark in varying difficulty.

My only complaint about the museum is I wish they had recommended ages posted for their various videos. "The Last Adam" in particular I would not have taken in my four- and five-year-old. I felt it was too intense for both of them, and not at all engaging for a four-year-old who probably needed a nap. He wasn't being noisy, but he couldn't sit still and I know he was distracting to the couple near us; however, opening the door to leave would have distracted the entire small auditorium by bringing in the light.

And now since I have started this post I have heard back from my friend Ruth, who got my email about the you tube video above, and confirmed that she indeed has heard all of these comments in some shape or form. So tell me, honestly, are you a guilty member of the commenting party? heh-heh. I admit I do wonder how a mom of five, six, seven -- or more-- does it, and I am sure I am guilty of gawking from time to time. And I hope they will take this as an apology on all of our behalfs that it's not that we don't think it's worth it. We just don't know how they do it. And I have nothing but admiration for those who do.

And I say this as a mother of only three banshees who as I type are pummelling each other with empty wrapping paper tubes in the next room yet still the din is deafening. Sometimes I find myself gawking at a mother of multiple children because they're all so calm. That's the part I don't understand.

Monday, December 22, 2008

No Guessing What He's Hoping Santa Will Bring

He calls this his "Thomas Map". I keep extras in my purse and in the car. He'll pour through it like some people (not me) might devour a new cookbook, dreaming and scheming.

Were that they stayed so easy to please.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

holiday cheer

I feel like we're going to wash away in a sea of sugar so much have we consumed just the last three days alone. How are you all doing with the holiday preparation? Never before have I baked so many yummy goods, and as I was knee deep in batter it occurred to me that people who do this kind of thing on a regular basis probably own more than one cookie sheet. I might have to look into that.

This year with so many teachers, therapists, bus drivers, bus driver aides -- and that only represents two of my kids -- I decided I needed to make a point to give as frugally as possible, besides most of the recipients not needing or wanting any more stuff to clutter their space. Better to give consumables to fill their stomachs, eh?

Oh, and a card. With a picture of the child with whom their work is currently so entwined. Because someday, as hard as it may be to believe right now, these people who are witnessing and contributing to these childhoods so intimately on a weekly, daily basis, will be but distant memories. The children? They will someday forget -- or at least not quite remember. But these wonderful, caring professionals somehow remember every child who passes through their door.

And they are all so wonderful and caring. I cannot express enough amazement at how fortunate my children have been with all the adults who are influencing their lives. Especially for Sean-Peter, when I look back on just one year ago, how many people have come into his life since then and how far he has come ... it is unfathomable. Our very own Christmas miracle.

Christmas is a time for celebration -- and celebrating we have been! Sean-Peter's class yesterday, Olivia's today ... and Conner just walked in with a pile of loot of his own from his "Secret Santa". Who wasn't so secret as she promptly told him she drew his name and asked him what he wanted then got it for him to the letter. All. of. it.Conner was telling me how many sugar pills he had already consumed and how that was nothing compared to some of the other kids, one in particular who opened up a large bag of skittles and leaned back and poured them directly into his pie hole. I hope these parents all have good dental plans.

Sean-Peter and I both went to Olivia's class party. Of course Olivia's always so excited to see me there, but she doesn't usually get her little brother, too. I've been given reports of how they will see each other in the hallway in school and run up and hug each other. I hope Olivia never gets too old and Sean-Peter never gets too macho to do that kind of thing, but they probably will.

This is the picture that Olivia likes. See that funny kid in front there? Olivia has told him on more than one occasion that when she grows up she wants to marry him, "And he says, 'Ah, you're gross!'" I know. We're in trouble.

Her teacher, however, adores her.

At the party this afternoon we were watching Sean-Peter do the limbo and she says to Olivia, "Your little brother is doing a really good job!" Olivia leans in close and cups her hand beside her mouth to say, "Well, sometimes being little comes in handy."

We decided I should make one of those little bathroom books quoting all these things that Olivia says and call it, "Olivia's Little Pearls of Wisdom".

For his part, Sean-Peter thought he was pretty hot stuff hanging out with all the kindergartners.

Oh, and he got a candy cane, too. So he was all kinds of good.

The day before he had celebrated with his fellow preschoolers. They decorated cookies...And played pin the tail on the ... snowman. Or you know, whatever. (That's my friend Erin supervising. She's not busy enough with her two children and their various therapies and her two (or more?) websites so she decided to be the preschool's PTO vice president as well. God love these women.)

Before these parties commenced we were getting ready to spread a little Christmas cheer ourselves.

As I was readying the plates and cards it dawned on me that I wasn't exactly clear on all the names of the bus drivers and aides. One aide's name, in particular, was puzzling me. I kept asking Sean-Peter and for the life of me it sounded like he was saying "Miss Tambourine," which of course always made me want to break into song, "Hey, Missus Tambourine aide..." which would only frustrate him further, "No, it's Miss! Ta! mo! reeeeeen!" Even Olivia just shrugged.

Of course I asked the transportation office for her name as well, but when they told me it was simply Jeanne I was really at a loss. I had no choice but to leave her card unaddressed but I confessed to her I couldn't for the life of me figure out what name she went by. Jeanne Marie. Ah-ha! Mystery solved. Although she found Miss Tambourine rather endearing. After 23 years of working with these children I think she thought she'd heard it all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

As Luck Would Have It

Olivia blew chunks last night and has now declared that she must be allergic to spinach. Which is very unfortunate as she actually loves spinach and is always waiting on the boys to eat their forced bites so she can finish the rest. "Oh, boy!" she will say as she digs her fork directly into the serving bowl.

By boys I am including John because he's not exactly the best role model when it comes to eating his fruits and vegetables. And it's unfortunate that she thinks she's allergic to spinach -- not that she really is. But you know when you throw up and whatever you happened to eat last you can't help but think is what made you sick? I have that with anything grape-flavored, ever since I was about Olivia's age myself and my family made homemade grape-flavored ice cream at the park and I played on the merry-go-round and got that typical dizzy feeling in the stomach only it never went away and I blew purple-colored chunks that night and was sick for two days. A coincidence, yes. But I still don't like grape and it was years before I wanted to go on a merry-go-round again.

So I hope Olivia doesn't end up with this association with spinach because how many five-year-olds have you ever known who love spinach? And to have it frittered away like that all in one blow. Pun intended.

But I was impressed that when she got sick she made it to the bathroom in time -- even if it was my sink she chose and not the toilet. Since I don't think she's been sick like this since she's been old enough to know that the toilet is the receptacle of choice on such occasions I was more than willing to let that slide. I was just so glad to not have soiled sheets or chunks on the carpet to deal with at four in the morning.

Because then I might have actually insisted on John getting up and helping instead of his, "She did what?" then immediately rolling back over and going to sleep, not even grunting to compete with the crickets following my sarcastic, "No, no, it's all right, I got it. You just go back to sleep. No, really. I insist."

We skipped Sean-Peter's speech this morning, and I kept her from school this afternoon, even though she really wasn't sick anymore. Even though she stated, as her little brother was getting ready for his bus to come, minutes before her bus would normally arrive, "I think I changed my mind and I want to go to school after all." Like she was in charge of the whole thing.

This house was mouse-quiet when I was in the middle of that last paragraph and heard a noise so loud and destructive that it wouldn't have surprised me to look up and see the body of an airplane crashing through the wall. (Didn't something like that just happen in San Diego?) As it was it sounded like the second story fell down. I went upstairs where the little ones were still inexplicably asleep (this is, I'm sure, how humans have survived wars and natural disasters throughout the millennia) and found this:

Don't focus on those squarish holes in the wall. I can't explain those. Ask yourself instead what you should be seeing there and then look down, on the floor.Yes, the mirror.

No one was hanging on it, no one was stomping on the floor, or banging on the wall -- no one was even in the bathroom when it fell. It was completely random.

When I first saw the real cause of what had sounded like an airline disaster, I couldn't help but visualize Olivia standing right there, throwing up in that sink, mere hours ago. That's healthy, right? Focusing on how it could have been worse? Focusing on how lucky that it fell when no one was around?

Because that looks like a lot of bad luck. Seven years, isn't it? And we certainly don't need any more of that around here. Lucky, that's what that is. If a broken mirror is the worst random disaster that we have to deal with, in this age of short-notice deployments and massive layoffs. I'll take it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Holiday Mail for Heroes"

I'm a little late in the game, but tomorrow is the deadline for "Holiday Mail for Heroes" which is striving to meet a goal of delivering one million holiday cards to service members and veterans and their families both in the United States and around the world.

You can go to their site to find the address and guidelines, and also to download and print a free card. But they need to be postmarked by December 10! Yea, I'm nothing if not on top of these things. We've actually gotten a few Christmas cards in our mailbox already ... who are these people?

If you're having trouble mustering up your Type A personality you can go here to gain some motivation and view some of the cards already sent. Can't you just imagine how much a little bit of color like that might make your day?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Little Ice Bunny

Have I mentioned that Dayton's Metro Parks totally rock? I recently learned that one of them has an outdoor ice skating rink and I couldn't believe the reasonable prices. Five dollars is the most you will ever pay, but lots of times -- like Sunday afternoons -- admission is free and all you have to do is pay the $3 for the skate rental.

If you even need skates, that is. Which we do, because this is the first time I've been skating since ... well, since before Olivia was born, anyway. There was a great skating rink up the mountain where we lived in Italy, but I never went myself despite sending Conner up a couple of times with friends. Skating, skiing, sledding, just 30 minutes from our house ... ah, those were the good old days. Though it's amazing how often you don't take advantage of such geography when you have two in diapers.

But we're not in Kansas anymore and there's no place like home, and right now that home is here in Ohio and this place knows how to have some winter fun, mountains or no. *sniff*

And Olivia for one couldn't be more pleased with her good fortune, her very first ice skating experience.

We were going to go as a family, but Conner was being a bump on a log so we made it a girls' afternoon out instead. It was just as well because it. was. cold. And I wasn't sure how little Sean-Peter would fare on the ice nor how long he would last off of it; this isn't the "lagoon" down the street in my Kansas hometown Back In The Day when kids were free to risk their lives testing the ice, skates or no. This rink is by the Miami River, but it's not The River (which is not even close to frozen). And it's regulated-like. We even had to all go in the same direction, just like a good old-fashioned roller rink.

Within minutes of her first foray onto the ice, Olivia stated that she wanted to do a figure eight. I was all like, hmm, sorry to break it to you babe, but you really need to work on your figure one to start.

I thought that was pretty clever. But she confided to me later that she found it confusing. Good old mom cracking herself up.

After spending most of the time clutching the side -- and clutching me (not necessarily a good idea) -- she did finally successfully venture out solo without wiping out. And her goal was to make that figure eight, but I can't tell you whether it remotely resembled one or not so much was I fumbling with my point-and-shoot with frozen fingers. She was, however, most pleased with herself.

And for her first time on the ice, I must say my daughter made me proud. I loved how she got up from a fall every time with a smile on her face.

The hot cocoa was extra, but that smile is priceless.

And I just realized I totally sounded like a mastercard commercial, but it's true.