Oct 31, 2011

Halloween Served Cool

On Monday, October 31st, driving to school to pick up Sammy, I happened to note the temperature on the car thermometer.  It was 72 degrees. (fahrenheit)
View of the sunrise from my bed.
Yes folks, 72 glorious degrees with sparkling clear blue skies...


 No worries about bundling up and figuring out how to show off a costume buried in coats and scarves...
...no coats were necessary!
And happily, no trick-or-treating in the snow.  (Something I did more than once growing up in Utah.)
He looks like a marathoner in this one!
(Frankly, Gray could have used a long sleeved shirt and possibly SHOES, but I was in a hurry to get to the dang ward Trunk-or-Treat*.)
It has been getting chilly when the sun sets, and Halloween night was no exception.  But that just made it all the more perfect.  That meant we were completely justified in making a fire and having Hot Chocolate that night.  (Because everyone needs more sugar after a church party and trick-or-treating.)

And THAT is why we chose to live here over any other place in America or abroad!  And why YOU should come visit!

Happy Halloween!

P.S.  I realized when I downloaded the pictures that we didn't get any of the other boys in their costumes.  Maybe because they were sorta lack-luster repeats from last year.  Max was Darth Vader--again--but didn't want to wear the mask, (because the foam fell off so it isn't comfortable) Sam was Obi Wan Kenobi--again--with no light saber, (because he couldn't find any of the 38,000 light sabers we own) and Gabe was Transformer Bumble Bee.  (New this year from Costco.  He actually was super excited about his costume, but still managed to avoid being photographed.  Mom fail.)

And of course, Gray was a little tube of tooth paste!  Costume made by me many years ago for Max in San Francisco.  I didn't even have a sewing machine back then so I put it together with "Stitch Witchery"--the tape that melts when you iron it.  The hat was a made with a lamp shade from Target.

Yes, I know I'm awesome and I should start a craft blog.  Sorry--I'm too busy being awesome at other stuff.  Super important stuff you wouldn't understand.

*which was very fun, but made the evening very rushed and hectic!

Oct 30, 2011

Monday Home School Post

I think I should write about home schooling every Monday.  Why?  Because if I'm going to home school, I need to get myself a leeetle bit more organized.  I need a schedule!  I need some structure!  I need some accountability!
(What I REALLY need is just someone to do all this for me.  Someone qualified.  With a degree and stuff.  Maybe even at a different location.  They could call it  "Shool".)

Okay, so on my very first official day of Home Schooling Max (and Gabe and Gray just for kicks) here are my goals:
Scratch that.  I'm no good at goals.
Here are my ideas of things I'd like to do with Max:

*I'd like us to write books together!
One thing Max really needs to work on is his penmanship and spelling.  So I thought we'd both pick a topic...something we'd like to learn more about, interview people, and write up the q's and a's.  And then make them into books when we're done!

*I'd like to make a history time line...of music.
Okay, so this isn't totally relevant to...anything...but dang it, my kids need to appreciate everyone from Mozart to Frankie Valli to the Beatles and Bee Gees and Neil Diamond to Erasure to Aerosmith, Van Halen and U2 to Coldplay and (shudder) Lady Gaga.  (Who will appear with a large red X over her face.  Oh, did I mention it's a picture timeline? too.)  Isn't this what home schooling is all about?  Brain washing your kids with your own agenda*?  Notice how absolutely no country music is represented?  (BUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!)

*I'd like someone else to teach him math.  Really really well.  Kumon, perhaps?

*I'd like to do lots of art projects with him.  I haven't been reading "Art Projects for Kids" for the last three years for nothin'!  (I hope...)


That's it.

I'll let you know how it goes next Monday!!!

*Not only am I leaving Country out of the history of music, I'm not even going to teach him who Harvey Milk is!  Take THAT California!!!!

Oct 27, 2011

A Few Little October Things

*I'm starting to get a little depressed that I wont be in Misawa for Halloween this year.  For the last 3 years, our good friends the F's have come over for a Halloween Party.  We would eat dinner together and then Erin would make the best donuts ever in my kitchen and we'd trick-or-treat around the neighborhood.  Little Japanese kids would get bused on-base to Trick-or-Treat and we'd get to see all of their cute cobbled together costumes and hear their awesome attempts at saying "Happy Halloween".  Good times.  Sigh.  It's okay though.  New place, new traditions.

*My friend asked me if I'd pulled Max out of school yet and how home schooling was going.  I replied that we're on Fall Break.  And then she laughed and laughed!  But really--it's not MY mandated Fall Break, it's the school district Fall Break.  Which means Sam is home too.  Which means I'm just waiting until November to officially start.

*Speaking of homeschooling, I found a charter school (about 30 mins away) that caters to home-schoolers.  They will GIVE YOU CURRICULUM FOR FREE.  And then your kid can take elective courses one or two days a week at the school if you want.  Or not.  I don't know what we'll do about the electives, but I'll definitely take the free curriculum.  That means I don't have to choose everything individually, and Doug doesn't have to pay for everything.  WIN WIN!  (I figure I can still change or supplement if, say, the math program isn't that great.  But at least this gives me a starting point.)

*Speaking of Doug's practice, (weren't we?) we're ramping up for our Grand Opening Celebration and Candy Buy-Back on November 1.  We made a million flyers to hand out around parks and schools and businesses, (and to every trick-or-treater who comes to my door) and now we just have to hope someone, anyone, shows up.  We really need patients!  And patience while we wait for patients!!

*So I have this head cold.  It started with a sore throat two days ago and then yesterday I woke up with a hacking cough, hardly any voice, and feeling like my head was going to explode.  So of course I whined about it on Facebook.  And then a new friend from my new ward here called and offered to take my kids for a few hours so I could take a nap.  And she did and I did.  Which just goes to show that God can use technology to answer prayers if He so chooses!  Thank you x1,000 Ruth!!!

*Sam Quote:  "Mom, you NEED to change Gray-Gray's diaper!"
Mom:  "I just changed him!"
Sam:  "Well, he pooped and it smells like ACID!"

*And since we're on Sammy now, just so you know, he's been folding laundry like crazy, got his $10 pity money from Grandma, and then $10 guilt money from Mom (thanks to Uncle Dave) and has already spent it on 1. a lego set for himself and 2. a birthday present for his best friend Micheil in Korea.
(No, I'm not the one spelling Micheil wrong.  His parents are.)
(And yes--he's recovered from the Target incident.)

*Oh, and the reason I'm not pulling Sammy out for home schooling too?
1.  He's been thinking about it and decided he does NOT want to.
2.  Trying to make him do something against his will results in a lot of wailing and teeth knashing.
3.  It'll be WAY easier without him.  (No offense Sam)
4.  Max's need is more critical at this point.
5.  We can always pull him out later if he changes his mind.  Which he might when he sees Max not having to leave the house with him every morning!

So that's it.  I'll keep you posted on both practice and home schooling progress.  (Or lack thereof!)
Wish me luck!

Oct 21, 2011

My Mom Is Cooler Than Your Mom!

What, I never mentioned that Faezer is an artist?  Well, she is!  Back in the 60's and 70's, she worked for a magazine called "The Friend" published by the L.D.S. church for kids aged 0-12.

The two paintings we hung in the office were both in The Friend.  The one I've named "Rainy Day" was a full cover spread.  (Unfortunately, the two little cuties on each end got cropped in half because of the pre-determined canvas size.)

Just recently, my super nice cousin Brent, (elder brother of BlueLilyWendy), scanned the originals of these two pieces and gave all of my siblings a very large file of each.  (Actually, access to the files on "Dropbox" if we're being perfectly accurate.)

With the LARGE file size, I was able to order the paintings (from Wink Flash) printed on canvas, using a 60% off coupon.  SCORE!!!

The little boy in the green shirt has always reminded me of Jared Weight.
Jared, if you're out there reading this, I think my mom painted you!
I love love love these paintings, love how they turned out (minus the cropping on #1) and think they work perfect with our retro vibe.  But...

What do you think?
Be honest!
(But know that if you say anything negative about my mother or her art, I'll be forced to hunt you down and slap you with a glove filled with rocks.  On each cheek.)

Open For Business!

Although we haven't had the official 
"Grand Opening Celebration and Candy Buy-Back" 
(we're saving that for Nov. 1) 
Doug's office is open for business!!!

Would you care for a before and after tour?  (I personally LOVE seeing before and after pictures.)  Okay!  Here we go...!

Front Desk Before:  Many clashing shades of green.  No love.  No help.
(One day we'll have the money to replace the green cupboards...but that day is not today.)
Front Desk After:  Neutral color tones down the green.
My mom's painting adds a splash of retro color and awesomeness.

Have a good visit?  Earn a quarter for prize from the machine!  No cavities?  Extra quarter!
Machine from Gumballs.com.  Cute retro clock from Target.  Shilling Tin Toys on the counter (too small to see.)
Open Bay before:  Every shade of blue/green/turquoise imaginable.  A different color on each wall.
I'm so happy the previous Dr. took his water blue cabinet with him!!!

Open Bay after:  Walls all one bright happy color!  New flat screens on the wall (for staff) and ceiling (for kids).
Wall art from Pottery Barn Kids.
Happy patients, Happy Doctor, Happy Teeth!!!

Parent Waiting Room before:  Dull gray/green wall, old stained gray/green carpet.
Parent Waiting Room after:  Pretty green walls, Faezer's art, and super comfy mid century modern furniture.
(And cute throw pillows for Halloween.)

Mini chairs across from the long couch--these sit under two windows that look into the kid waiting area.

This little boy is the epitome of what my mother would have called a "Mud Hen" when I was a kid.  She used it as a term of endearment, but only when we were really grubby and disheveled!

Kid Waiting Area before:  I don't have pictures, but the kid area before was VERY dark.  We lightened the paint and added two windows that look into the parent waiting room.  The TVs were replaced with flat screens and new game systems were added.  Adorable tiny red chairs were purchased at Home Goods and red storage bench was found at a consignment shop.  It's a skinny little area, but I like having it separate from the other room.  In theory, the parents can have a little peace while they wait!
Wall art from Land of Nod.  The storage bench is filled with toys and vintage Little People.
(Not to be confused with Little Village People.) 
Doug hates the wagon already because Gray cruises around crashing into things with it.
I still think it's cute.  All the books were found at nearby thrift stores.

Quiet Room before:  Not my style...

Quiet Room after:  Much better.  (Wall art coming...)
And last but not least, I wanted to show you one last Consignment store find.  When I saw this table, I knew we had to buy it for...somewhere in the office.  Turns out, it's perfect for the employee lounge.  (Which, if we get super busy in the future, will be another quiet room.  Sorry employees.)

my table.
Please disregard the hideous folding chairs Doug bought at Costco.  Clearly, he has no respect for the 60's!  (Trust me...it's even cooler than it looks in the picture.  I can't wait to pick the perfect piece of art for this room.  Low priority though...)

So...that's about it.  It's still a work in progress.  We need a few more pictures and things, but for all intents and purposes, we're ready to go.  I personally love how it turned out but...

What do you all think?  
Would you take your kid here?

Many many thanks go to our talented advisors:  Laura, Kris E., Steph, Beth and lastly, our web designer Shawn who said "If you don't buy those couches, I'll kick you in the face." THANK YOU!

Oct 20, 2011

A Silly Gabey Story and a Sad Sammy Story

We have a lot of cute little kids in our neighborhood.  Lately, Gabey has gotten into the habit of going outside, finding the nearest kid cluster, and insinuating himself into the group.  He is very social and friendly and usually doesn't have a hard time finding someone to play with.  However, many of these kids are a few years older and when he plays with or near the big kids, he comes home with LOTS of fascinating new information.  Today I stopped cooking dinner just to jot down a few of his comments--and then added to the list as the evening went on...
"Mommy did you know there's a girl that eats
And grass!?!
And pennies!?!?!"
"Mommy, one of da girls is from CandyYand and she has a candy car and a candy house that yooks yike gingerbread!"
"Mommy, did you know dat Maffew changed his name?
And he got 'boo'd'* wif a dead wat?
And fwrow-up?"
--two hours later--
"Mommy, is der a CandyYand on dis earf?"

I sure love my little Gabey!

*Getting 'boo'd' is when someone leaves a treat on your porch with a poem and ghost picture for you to hang in your window.  After you get 'boo'd', you're supposed to 'boo' two more neighbors and share the love.  Matthew found out that we are the ones who boo'd him and let us know he does NOT like pumpkin bread.  Even though it was chock full of chocolate chips!!!  I mean really!  It's got to be more tasty than the dead rat and throw-up doesn't it?!?

A few weeks ago, Sammy was trying to find new ways to earn money.  Mind you, he didn't want to do anything too strenuous--like taking trash out.  No heavy lifting for this kid.
I threw out a few ideas, he shot them all down...
Finally, he came up with folding laundry.  He asked if I would pay him a nickel for each thing he folded.
Of course I immediately said "SURE!"  (Since we all know how much I H.A.T.E. folding laundry!)
Little did I know it would become a slight obsession!  He asks to fold laundry almost daily now and he's been slowly racking in the quarters, nickels, and dimes.

So yesterday, he got out his Phineas and Ferb piggy bank and BEGGED me to take him to Target.  He's been wanting to spend some of his hard earned cash on a new Lego set (for himself) and a birthday present (Lego set) for his BFF Micheil.  (Who now lives in Korea.)  Since I had to get some groceries anyway, the five of us (yes, all four boys came with) went to Target.  After a good 15 minutes spent in the toy isle with a million other little kids, Sam found the two toys he wanted to buy.
It was then he started looking for his little tin bank.

It was lost.

We checked the Lego isle.
We checked the neighboring isles.
We retraced our steps and checked the lost and found...three times.

It was gone with all 23 of his hard earned dollars.

It is STILL gone.

There were lots of tears.  And lots of hugs.
But there was no bail out from mommy.

(For one thing, I had no cash on me--I've given it all to my kids in exchange for crappily folded clothes.  Otherwise I may have caved in the face of his huge sad and teary brown eyes!  For another thing, Doug told me I wasn't allowed to bail him out.  Natural consequences and all that.  And for the last thing, I'm not the U.S. Government for cryin-in-the-night!)

BUT, you'll be happy to know all is not sadness and despair!  Yesterday, he was pretty inconsolable.  Today, he is back on the money-making horse.

He folded 14 items and got 70 cents.  He found a dollar in the laundry room and I let him keep it.  He gave me a (pitiful) back rub and I paid him a whole dollar.  (Max was outraged at the injustice of his past low paying back-rubs!  All two of them.)

Then I told Grandma Fae his sad, sad story...and she said she was going to put $10 pity money in the mail immediately!  (That cheered him right up...!)

So, with a little charity and some determination, he'll be back at Target losing more money in no time!!!
 --The End--

Just another day in the life of my boys!

Oct 14, 2011

Life Happens

Because clearly life around here isn't exciting enough what with the trans-continental move, new dental practice, etc., I figured now would be the perfect time to make another huge life-altering change for our family.  (NO, I'm not pregnant!  Quit looking at my stomach!  I told you I've been stress eating!!!)

No--no new baby.  Something even bigger and more time consuming:
I've decided to pull Max out of public school and home school him.

Yes, I realize many of you who know us, or maybe only know me through this blog, are yelling 
"WHAT?!?!?!?!?!" at the computer screen right now.

Because let's face it:  We all know I'm not the home schooling type.
*I'm relatively lazy and occasionally impatient.  
*My house has chronically cluttered surfaces.  
*I've never once cried sending my kid to school on the first day,
*I generally just look forward to the noise level decreasing when two kids leave the house.  
*I've been known to call Home Schoolers "Crazy People" and "Saints" alternately, and have never had any desire to join their number.  

In other words, while I fully appreciate the benefits of home schooling, I've never wanted to do it.  And I've never thought I'd need to do it.  

Public school is just not working for us.

Obviously, many many things play into this decision and I've been thinking about it for a long time; but here are a few of my main reasons:

1.  Max and Sam both have ADHD.  They are both easily distracted and work immeasurably better in small groups or ideally, with one-on-one attention.  Especially Max. (Here in CA, they have HUGE classes.)

1a.  They both have some mild PTSD issues from living through the 3/11 earthquake and aftermath--which was also extremely detrimental to their schooling last year.  (Max was behind in math pre-3/11 and got farther behind after!)

2.  They both have IEP's for additional services required by law and provided by the school district.  Despite this, they both struggle and Max just isn't catching up.  (Sammy's services helped him a ton the last two years, whereas Max's speech therapy has helped him...not even the tiniest bit.)  (And furthermore, I think Max will still receive the same services...?)

2a.  Although I tried to get in to see the Principle to discuss the above items with her before the school year began, I was not allowed to speak to her, and she has still not bothered to meet or contact me.  (Clearly, I'm still a little ticked about that...)

3.  Homework, which I do not believe should be required after a 6.5 hour day, takes us hours of pain and tears.  (And leaves me feeling Max still doesn't "get it".  This is a bigger issue for Max right now.  Sam's issues are more social/emotional.)

4.  If I'm going to spend hours helping Max with school work, I want it to be at 9 or 10 a.m.  NOT the "Witching Hours"--from 3-5 p.m. (With all the neighbor kids playing happily outside the window...)

5. Ultimately, I feel like when it comes down to it, their education is my responsibility.  If the school isn't doing a good enough job, or if they are not doing a good enough job in school, I can expend hours of effort trying to get additional help, like I did last year, only to find that it was mostly wasted effort, or I can quit whining and take matters into my own hands.  It's my job.  So I'm going to do it.

With that said, I've been reading up on this for months.  Here are a few quotes I've found along the way that made a lot of sense to me:  (Since the objection I hear most often is that home schooling isn't good for kids socially, a few of these deal with that.)

The far end of the Family Room:  Our new class room!
"Our modern system is a fairly recent development.  Only in the last seventy years has it become the predominant system."
Found another desk at a consignment store here. 
"Almost everybody in America today is getting the kind of education that has historically been reserved for those who simply had no other options."  (i.e. the poor and lower classes.  The rich were generally taught at home by tutors or sent to expensive private schools.)
What about their social life?
"If parents are so-called "backward and strange, chances are their kids will be also--even if they are in public school.  At least in home school, their confidence is supported and they have a strong chance of getting a good education without their love of learning being destroyed by an artificial social and class structure ...those who tend to struggle socially may be better off in a homeschool..."
In my experience teaching pottery to home schoolers, the above is entirely true.  I found the vast majority of home schooled kids to be sweet, intelligent, polite, and happy to see and socialize with all of their fellow home schoolers.  (And neighbors, and friends, and public schoolers...)
"If your children are educated at school, you still need to give thought to their socialization.  Are they perhaps being socialized in bad ways?"
Aren't all parents worried about negative peer pressure from school friends?
"Public schools also have numerous socializing failures."
(Source for previous five quotes:  A Thomas Jefferson Education)
"What about my child's social development?  Doesn't he need peers?"  Children need friends.  Children do not need to be surrounded by large groups of peers who inevitably follow the strongest personality in the crowd.  The question for any parent is: Do I want my child to be like his peers?  Or do I want my child to rise above them?"
"When I taught school, I was convinced that parents couldn't teach their own children.  But twenty-five years later, I can look back and say: The experiment was a success.  I was the best teacher my children could possibly have had because I was their parent."
(Source for previous two quotes: The Well-Trained Mind)

So do you think I'm completely crazy?  Or just partially?
What do you think about home schooling in general?
By show of hands, who thinks I'm going to crash and burn?

Oct 7, 2011


Sure, birthdays are special and exciting.
But around here we get REALLY excited when our babies turn 18 MONTHS!
Because that's the age our extremely...energetic...children FINALLY get to go nursery at church.  That means, for 2 out of the 3 hours of meetings on Sunday, we actually get to LISTEN without interruption.  (Unless a diaper needs changing.)

I was so excited for Gray-Gray's first day, I made Doug take a picture!

Hooray for NURSERY!!!!!!!!!

Oct 5, 2011

Party Planner Please?

Dear Friends,
I need to throw a Grand Opening Party for Doug's office.
Now, I love me a good party, but I'm no professional party planner and I don't feel qualified to throw this caliber of shindig.

See, for MY type of party, I buy some yummy desserts, invite a bunch of people over, we hang out, listen to music, and possibly play a really long strategic game like Settlers.  (If my guests are the type of people who like Settlers.)  Sometimes we watch Brian Regan clips on-line.

I don't do themes and I've never created a custom center piece in my life.  (Although I've made some epic birthday cakes.)

Therefore, clearly, I need a party planner.

One catch:  I can't pay you.  Except with my love and adoration.
Doug can though!
(Is that worth a party?  I dunno...I get free dental care for my kids.  Do I need to sweeten the deal with a shoulder rub?)

If you come from out of state, I'll even throw in room and board in our guest room (or garage depending on if I've met you before...)

In exchange, you would plan and throw the party (with a tiny budget provided by us) and then a bunch of people would show up, think it was awesome, and give us their unwavering loyalty (and business) for life.

One other catch:  We should probably do this thing in the next three weeks.  
No pressure though...!

Sound good?


And hey, I've already made a huge contribution!
I bought...

Tooth shaped tooth-picks.

You're welcome.

So do I have any takers?





(And before you ask, YES I'M SERIOUS!!!!)

(Why does no one ever take me seriously?)

(Don't answer that!)

Oct 1, 2011

Trip to Utah over Conference Weekend

The first weekend of October we took a last minute quick trip up to Utah.  Doug's dad is in the middle of radiation and chemo for cancer in his throat.  :(  So we wanted to visit and give him some love!  :)
A bonus was being in town for Conference and the blessing of our brand new niece Baby T.  (Daughter of Dave (Doug's bro) and Laura.)

We had a great weekend seeing everyone and had to go home too soon.

On our way out of town, we had breakfast with all of my Utah family.  Unfortunately, the pics are on a different camera for which I've lost the cord.  But it was good to see all of them too!

Baby T meeting Baby Gray

My boys LOVED Aunt Krissy's seeing-eye dog.
I wanted to boil them after they touched it (her), but I restrained myself.
*Dog hair!  Shudder!*

Cute cousins who were born only days apart.  Clearly, they're kindred spirits!

Aunt Bethy with cutie "I"

President Uchtdorf:  always a crowd favorite!

John and Faezer came up and "watched" some conference with us.
If you missed anything, I'm sure you can borrow their notes!

Sammy LOVES babies!

Baby Gray with Grandpa W.

These two haven't seen each other since they were babies.  But it didn't take them long to catch up!

Proud Mommy Laura, Baby T, and Sammy

Beautiful Family!

Ah, the cuteness!

Doug with his Dad and Mom

Their Favorite Child!