Thursday, December 30, 2004

Megabloks Castle

I was online, and I found the link that shows the big castle blocks that I was so excited to find! So now you can see for yourselves what I'm talking about, and what the boys have been playing in. Actually, Bob came home yesterday with a new toy that has proved very popular today. It's one of those arcade style basketball games, like you might find at Chuck E. Cheese's or something, where you shoot the ball (and you can play against someone because there are 2 nets and balls) and try to make baskets, and there is a net on the sides to keep the ball in. It was on sale for only $20. Bob set it up in the basement today, and the boys have played quite a bit of b-ball (warming their Cousin James' heart, I'm sure!).

Trials and Travails

Well, Nathan has come down with the bug that Bob and Melinda had. He was up vomiting a couple of times last night, and was sick this morning as well. He seems better now, and he's eaten a banana and had some tea. I was hopin gthat no one else would get sick, but if anyone had to be, I'm glad it was Nathan. He's definitely the most "stoic" of the boys, as far as being sick goes. He cries while throwing up, but when he's done, he is quite calm, and he says things like, "I'm glad I made it to the trash can", and "hopefully I won't make anyone else sick", and stuff like that. Since he's not dramatically convinced he's the sickest person in the world, I am automatically more sympathetic. For some reason, I have a hard time being very sympathetic with people who don't even try to deal well with pain or discomfort. I think it's a good thing I'm not a nurse! Anyways, Nathan is coping well and recovering quickly, it appears.

Last night we also discovered that one of our heating elements on our stove is not working. I was trying to boil water for some more noodles, and it simply would never come to a real roiling boil. After about 30 minutes, there were only the same tiny little bubbles that had been there for awhile. While I was of course sad that it wasn't working, it at least did explain some things. Things had been taking longer and longer to boil, but I thought that maybe I was just imagining things. I had made fudge last Thursday, and for some reason it never really set up right. I was surprised because it is truly a fail-proof recipe, one that I have made zillions of times before, including just the previous week, with no problems. I think it never got quite hot enough. Fortunately the other side still works, so I do have burners, but I guess now we'll have to figure out how to replace them.

Trials and Travails

Well, Nathan has come down with the bug that Bob and Melinda had. He was up vomiting a couple of times last night, and was sick this morning as well. He seems better now, and he's eaten a banana and had some tea. I was hopin gthat no one else would get sick, but if anyone had to be, I'm glad it was Nathan. He's definitely the most "stoic" of the boys, as far as being sick goes. He cries while throwing up, but when he's done, he is quite calm, and he says things like, "I'm glad I made it to the trash can", and "hopefully I won't make anyone else sick", and stuff like that. Since he's not dramatically convinced he's the sickest person in the world, I am automatically more sympathetic. For some reason, I have a hard time being very sympathetic with people who don't even try to deal well with pain or discomfort. I think it's a good thing I'm not a nurse! Anyways, Nathan is coping well and recovering quickly, it appears.

Last night we also discovered that one of our heating elements on our stove is not working. I was trying to boil water for some more noodles, and it simply would never come to a real roiling boil. After about 30 minutes, there were only the same tiny little bubbles that had been there for awhile. While I was of course sad that it wasn't working, it at least did explain some things. Things had been taking longer and longer to boil, but I thought that maybe I was just imagining things. I had made fudge last Thursday, and for some reason it never really set up right. I was surprised because it is truly a fail-proof recipe, one that I have made zillions of times before, including just the previous week, with no problems. I think it never got quite hot enough. Fortunately the other side still works, so I do have burners, but I guess now we'll have to figure out how to replace them.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Sightseeing

Yesterday Dan, Melinda, Bob, Nathan, and I spent the day sightseeing in D.C. We also asked Luke if he wanted to go, but he's not real big into walking or cold, and we knew there would be plenty of both, so he wisely chose to stay home with Grandma and Grandpa and have a day of being the "oldest" brother. People always tell me about all the great educational opportunities downtown, esp. all the free ones, and I always feel terribly bad when I say really we've hardly done anything since we moved here, but it is quite difficult with 4 boys between the ages of 7 and 1 to do it by myself. So when Mom and Dad volunteered to watch the little guys, I jumped at the opportunity. Dan had several ideas about what to do--he especially wanted to see the FBI Building--but as it turned out, everything he suggested was closed (in fact, the FBI Building has been closed for renovations since 2002, but should open sometime next year), so we had to look for other things. We started out at the National Postal Museum, across from Union Station in the old Post Office building. We got a great parking space, so the day definitely started out right! This museum was surprising interesting, with a lot of hands-on activities for Nathan. We played "Memory" with stamps, designed the best postal routes from various points, made a post card, and looked at a lot of interesting exhibits about the evolution of the mail trucks, how a national postal service brought the nation together, and lots of other stuff. We thought about you, Uncle Jim! Good work keeping the mail coming! : ) We ate lunch across the street at Uno's in Union Station. Except for my spilling Dan's water glass all over his sweatshirt while he was using the restroom, it was a good lunch. Then we drove up to the National Cathedral. I learned a lot there. For example, I didn't know it wasn't completed until 1990! We parked kind of in the back and walked through the Crypt before going into the main part. Downstairs was really neat too--like being in a real castle, I thought! Nathan got a kick out of that thought too, since we've been doing so much with castles for school. There are several smaller chapels downstairs, as well as just neat passageways, doorways, and arches. The main part is very beautiful, esp. all the stained glass. We listened to a guide talk a little about the stained glass. The upper windows tell stories from the Bible, and the middle ones celebrate human endeavors that enrich life, like music, art, science, etc. For architecture, they even had a picture of the USAFA Chapel--it was disconcerting to see that in stained glass! There was also one that memorialized the moon landing, representing science. There is even a real moon rock embedded in the glass. The bottom ones are scenes from American history. They really are all quite beautiful. We also took a ride up to the 7th floor observation deck where we could look out over the city. By this time, we needed to head back hoime, since I was worried that traffic would pick up. It wasn't too bad though, and we got back in plenty of time to go over to the Lorenzinis' house for dinner. So now we can say we've at least done a few more things here in D.C.! And it was a lot of fun to do them with Dan and Melinda too.

Long-Distance Relatives

I hope this gets posted in a timely manner. I posted a message about Christmas this morning, but I don't see it on the blog yet. Well, Dan and Melinda left this evening. We were all sorry to see them go, but the boys, especially Caleb, will really miss them! They read to them tirelessly, Dan wrestled with them, and they just generally gave the boys tons of attention, which they absolutely loved. We are so glad they could come and stay over a week. It really gave the boys a chance to get to know them. It's hard having "long-distance relatives", but we try to include mentions of them (and we have lots of them!) regularily, as in "Aunt Ann gave you that book", or "Do you remember playing that game when Uncle Dennis came to visit?". We also have a lot of pictures around and in scrapbooks so they can visually remember what people look like. But there's nothing like spending actual quality time with the long-distance relatives to really cement the relationship!

Christmas Update

I've been so busy having fun with my family that I haven't been blogging at all! We had a wonderful Christmas, made very special by Dan and Melinda's being here. The only blemish on our day was that Melinda picked up the bug that Bob had, and so she was sick Christmas Day. But she put on a brave face and soldiered through the day, even sitting down here and opening presents the whole morning with us. The boys have really enjoyed the presents they received. We've played several games of Clue and Rummicub, 2 of the games they got. They've spent a lot of time dressed up as knights in the outfits we got for them, and they really like the Megagblock castle we got. It is really nice! It has a door they can go through, and little castle windows they can look though. Definitely a good find. The Lorenzinis got them a castle book that is chock-full of activities and games. They have spent a long time doing all those activities, like "rubbings". I spent a good deal of time 2 nights ago putting together a tiny mangonel (don't know what that is? Look it up!). This involved attaching tiny plastic pieces together with even tinier plastic pegs and a loop of twine that I had to make that was 30 mm long. It looks cute, but it was quite a challenge. No wonder Nathan had to pass it off to me! Aunt Melinda picked out a hand-held Hangman game, which Nathan and Luke have really liked. I'm glad to see the renewed interest in spelling! They all received watches from their Nana, and it is very cute to hear Caleb proudly tell everyone the time! The boys got so many wonderful gifts that they will be able to play with over and over again (my test for a good toy!).

Friday, December 24, 2004

More Christmas Festivities

Yesterday was a good day, if you discount the torrential rain that came down during the day. But at least we weren't back in Ohio! I talked to Amy, and she said they had 2 feet of snow, plus a lot of ice, and everything was at a standstill. The boys, of course, were quite jealous of all this snow, since I told them they wouldn't be able to play out in our backyard anytime soon, seeing as how it is basically a river of mud.

We had our good friends the Lorenzinis over for dinner so they could visit with Dan and Melinda and my parents. We had to put 3 of the 4 leaves in our table ( it was 108 inches long!), and we still had to have Nathan, Luke, Caleb, and Amanda at the little kids' table. There is nothing better than a big table filled with good food, with lots of friends and laughter all around it! After we ate, we went out and caroled at some of our neighbors' houses. Well, okay, we only went to 3, but it was still fun. It was a bit windy, and several of the people we know best had already left for Christmas vacation. But now Melinda can't say that she has never gone Christmas caroling!

Today we are doing a lot of the cooking for our dinner tomorrow. The weather looks nicer today, so we are hoping to go downtown and see the National Christmas tree this evening. Christmas Eve is one of Nathan's favorite days of the year--can anyone guess why? It's because today is his "half-birthday". Today, Nathan is proudly 7 1/2. Happy Half-Birthday, Nathan! : )

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Well, it has been brought to my attention that I need to update the blog! We are having such a great time with Dan and Melinda and my parents visiting that blogging has been the least of my priorities. Plus, since we only have one computer, there are several of us jockeying for computer time. We've had some times of excitement around here. Two nights ago, the pipe in Caleb and Jonathan's bathroom that goes to their tub and toilet froze, so we had to turn off the water to the house while we tried to get that thawed out. Thankfully it did thaw, and nothing burst, so we were very thankful that God watched out for us. It sure was cold that night! Yesterday Dan and Melinda drove a few hours away to Lynchburg to visit Melinda's alma mater, Liberty University. They drove our Camry, which we just bought used a little while ago for Bob to drive to work. Well, they got pulled over and ticketed because we didn't have a VA inspection sticker on it. Bob just registered the car (in VA, not in PA where our other 2 cars are registered) on Dec. 1, and no one at the DMV told him he needed an inspection, so we just assumed we did everything we needed to do. When Bob called the DMV to ask them about this last night, they basically said they don't administer the program, and it isn't their responsibility to tell us about the need for the inspection. So how are we to find out that we need one? Well, in the words of the helpful DMV lady, "You should have read the manual." Which manual? Were we issued one? What is she talking about? She never clarified, just reiterated that it was not their responsibility to tell us. Obviously we were in the wrong, but still it is annoying, since I still don't know how we were supposed to find out about this requirement. Makes you wonder what else the great state of VA is not telling us. Ah, the joys of moving around. Anyways, last night Bob was very sick with some kind of tummy bug. He is finally feeling better this evening, but we are praying no one else gets it. It was certainly a violent bug. No fun at all. The boys are having a great time with their Uncle Dan and Aunt Melinda (and Grandma and Grandpa too, of course, but that is not so much of a novelty!). Caleb and Luke even got to go shopping with them this afternoon! Melinda cooked dinner for us tonight. She made tacos--quite yummy. We've been staying up late talking too. I wish we all lived closer!!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Today's the Big Day!!!

Today is the day we've been waiting for! My brother and his wife flew in this morning from California, and my parents are driving here from Ohio! We are all so excited! We've been in a cleaning and cooking frenzy. It's a good thing we have guests fairly regularily--it forces us to do deeper cleaning and get to the little things on our to-do lists. Every time company comes, we hang up a few more pictures, empty out one or two more boxes, and organize just a little bit more! For this special family Christmas, we really went all out. We got "The Dish" satellite programming for our TV. As a rule, we don't pay for TV--"why pay for trash that we don't want anyone to watch?" is our philosophy. But here in VA, we are sort of in a little valley, and our TV is in our basement, so we get absolutely no reception. The only other time this bothered me was during the Summer Olympics, because I am an absolute Olympics fanatic, and I guess I'm raising the boys to be as well, since I think they were about the only people in America thrilled to be able to watch all the swimming prelims and other trials. For that, we brought our TV up into our family room and got an electric antenna from WalMart, and after much careful adjusting, you could see that there were in fact people engaged in various sporting events on the screen, even if you couldn't tell what country they were from and it looked like it was a little snowy over there in Greece. But we wanted to be good hosts for the family Christmas, and most of the football is not on regular channels anyways, so we decided to splurge and get the Dish. It's still a novelty to go down and turn on the TV and see a picture right away! We've been so busy though, that I haven't even gone down once just to watch. I think I will enjoy the Home and Gardening Channel, but I haven't indulged yet. Having the TV down in the basement really works for people who are trying to cut down on their watching. I never even think about it down there, and it's never worth going all the way down there just to see if something interesting might be on. The boys don't even know that there are cartoons on there, and I'm not going to let them watch any. A video every now and then is fine, but I don't want them to get in the habit of watching TV cartoons. Besides, most of the ones that are on now are just dumb. In 5 years, no one will remember them. What a waste. I don't know how long we'll keep it. We'll see how it works.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

"Stayin' alive, stayin' alive . . ."

Jonathan is clearly right in the middle of what I call the "Saturday Night Fever" phase. This is when toddlers figure out that they can zip the zipper on their fuzzy blanket sleeper a little bit up and down, so they go around with half their chest exposed. Maybe he'll get a medallion and gold chain for Christmas. "All I want for Christmas are a few chest hairs . . ." With the cleft in his chin, people do always say he looks like John Travolta!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A great day for the boys!

Today the boys definitely got into the Christmas spirit! First, Nathan and Luke had an ice-skating party with the homeschool co-op. Another mom, also with 4 boys just about the same ages as ours, and I worked it out that she would take my older 2 and her older 2, since she's a good skater, and I would stay at our house with the 4 little guys (she has a 3 y.o. and a 5 mo. old). Caleb had a great time playing with Daniel, the baby, Joel, took a good nap, and Jonathan just wandered around, not really sure about seeing someone else on his changing table, in his crib, and in his high chair! So we had a great time here. Nathan has been looking forward to this party for a long time. He has strong memories of ice-skating at the Air Force Academy rink when we were stationed there (we left when he was 3 1/2), and he was quite confident of his skating abilities ("Don't worry about me, Mom. I already know how to skate.") I was less sure, and I didn't know how Luke would do without me either. Well, I needn't have worried; I certainly wasn't missed! As it turns out, Nathan apparently DOES know how to skate just fine, and he just skated around by himself the whole time, having a wonderful time. When he got back home he told me wistfully, "That brought back so many memories." Yes, 4 years ago--it's like a whole different lifetime . . . Luke did well too, although he mainly held the hand of the lady that took him. He did skate a little by himself, so I was very proud. Unfortunately neither of them took my advice and wore the thicker socks I suggested, so Luke has a nasty blister on the side if his foot (it's those narrow Monteith feet!). Hopefully he will be able to soldier through with that--he was unsure he was going to be able to make it all the way through his shower tonight, but fortunately, he survived.

Then this afternoon we rolled and cut out the sugar cookie dough we made yesterday. The boys were very impressed with my abilities with a rolling pin, as well as with my capacity for getting seemingly stuck cookies off the wax paper and onto the cookie sheet with just a spatula (Nathan: "That must just be natural talent."). After dinner we decorated the cookies that we made . This is always a highlight for the boys, and I hope they treasure the memories so they can look back at these times fondly when they are older. That might possibly make the mess worth it! Right now, however, I am not thinking kind thoughts about the person who invented all those crazy little balls, sprinkles, and other decorations that must be on every cookie or little boys do not think them worthy. I have "liberal sprinklers" in my family, and so there are sprinkles all over the floor, rolling around, looking for ways to dodge the vacuum. We did 2 different kinds of frosting too, one just my regular cake frosting that Caleb can have, and then also a powdered sugar/milk one that their Aunt Melinda can have (she's allergic to soy so can't have crisco). Caleb decorated the ones with his kind of frosting (but I bet you'd never be able to guess! : ) ). He never used a clean knife for any different color, so the cookies are all very colorful, in unique, festive ways. And of course, they all have plenty of sprinkles! Nathan and Luke had a more thoughtful approach to their colors, and they did have a somewhat lighter hand with the sprinkles. I can see much artistic progress here!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Handwriting Thoughts

When we were back in Ohio, my Dad dug up a box in their basement filled with old school papers of mine, all the way from 4-year-old preschool to 4th grade. I had a lot of fun looking through them there to see my great art talent,esp. in preschool (there are some great "self-portraits" that had the boys cracking up "Mom, you look like a potato!" [peels of uproarious laughter]) , but I didn't really go through all the worksheets until 2 nights ago here at home. Since Mom faithfully saved about every paper I brought home, I have a very clear idea of exactly what I studied when, and it's given me lots of comparison points for the boys and their schooling. I can definitely say that Nathan and Luke are way ahead in math, and I never really saw any history, per se, so I think they're ahead there too. But let me just say that I had great handwriting in second grade (pre-cursive), so that has really inspired me to make that more of an emphasis, since their handwriting is definitely not that great. Now, when we started cursive in third grade, my handwriting definitely went down a notch, since, being left-handed, the whole "slant" thing was quite difficult. There were SEVERAL handwriting papers that were graded "B", which was very rare for me! By 4th grade, my cursive looked very rushed and choppy. It's no surprise, really, that I stopped writing in cursive completely in high school. My printing always was nicer! Now, I think cursive is a little bit obsolete. Very few of my friends write in it anymore. I think I'm not going to make a very big deal about it for the boys. I doubt they'll seriously be considering a career where beautiful cursive is a requirement (IS there any such career?).

English was another area where I think Nathan is a little behind where I was in 2nd grade, so we're working more on that too. I had more "formal" science, esp. in 3rd and 4th grade, although by that I mean pages of definitions and so forth--not really experiments, as far as I could tell. Since we have read TONS of science-type books, I think that they have picked up a lot of the vocabulary naturally, without having to do tons of workbook pages. Next year we'll do more with energy, molecules, and so on, which are areas about which there just aren't that many books for kids. I was also very impressed by the Bible that I had. My 2nd-4th grade years were spent in Okinawa, Japan, and I went off-base to a Christian school there, but my Bible learning was certainly comparable to anything I would have had back in the States. I was particularily impressed by what we studied in 4th grade. We did a year-long geographical survey of Israel, and how how the geographical features figured into events of the Bible. I had forgotten all about this, but I have always had a clear picture of a map of Israel in my mind, and I've always known where the Sea of Galilee, Mt. Hermon, Mt. Nebo, etc. were when I heard and read about them, so I guess I have my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Freeman, to thank for that!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Mr. Rumsfeld's visit to Kuwait

If you are wondering if the media has given the right spin to the story of "soldier discontent" in Iraq, here is the real story from a Sgt. Missick, who was actually at the meeting.

The Boy and His Binky

Well, I think the hold of the binky over Caleb has finally been broken, or at the very least, significantly loosened. Last night was his first night to actually go the whole night without it. For the last several nights, I haven't let him have it to go to sleep with, but it has taken a lot of fussing before he's actually gone off to sleep. Two nights ago, he was very obstinate, and when I told him he could just hug his Koala Bear, he said, "I hate my Koala Bear!" Well! So I took the bear away and told Caleb that if he yelled and screamed for it after saying such a mean thing, then I would have to discipline him. Eventually he went to sleep. For a few nights, he's woken up early in the morning, like around 6:00, and wanted his binky, and I just gave it to him, figuring that as he got better at falling asleep on his own, he would not wake up needing it in the early morning either, because he'd be able to get himself off to sleep. Last night he cried out around 2:30, but I was able to just go in and pat his back for a minute or two, and then he went back to sleep. He didn't wake up this morning until I went in at 9:30. Yay! Of course I don't want his teeth ruined or anything by long-time pacifier use, but I also was worried that his binky was going to fall apart pretty soon, and I wanted him to give it up without it breaking and him having to go off cold turkey!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Christmas Newsletters

Today was spent in a much better Christmas spirit! We had a good day of school, the weather was beautiful so the boys could play outside, and I was able to find not only the missing garlands but also our wreath AND the wreath hanger! I was also able to go by myself to Michaels and Target tonight, which is a guaranteed way to put Christmas spirit into any stay-at-home mom. And my biggest triumph was finally getting around to writing our Christmas letter. Bob was able to play around with the margins so it fits onto our pretty Christmas paper, so now all we have to do is make copies and stuff envelopes. I am one of those people who absolutely loves Christmas newsletters. I love reading about people's families and what they've been doing. Maybe it's because we're military, and so there are a lot of people we become friends with over the years who we then don't see again for awhile. But I am always curious as to how they are doing, and once a year at Christmas is a great time to catch up! While I was back home, I read all of my parents' Christmas letters from last year. They are definitely the "staying-in-touch" type of people. There were over 150 Christmas letters in their box! It's great to visit there in December because they get lots of letters each day, unlike us, where letters and cards sort of trickle in. Reading Christmas letters has given me a vision for what heaven will be like. Whenever I am read about a family that sounds so fun, I always think that it would be neat to live near them. "Wouldn't it be great if all the people on Mom and Dad's Christmas list were in some sort of big community somewhere beautiful, like in Colorado?" And then I think, if they are Christians then we'll all be together in heaven FOREVER! What a great time we'll have! And then we won't need Christmas letters to stay in touch just once a year.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

We're home--and decorating for Christmas!

We made it back home yesterday after 2 wonderful weeks in Ohio. It was a long drive back in rainy, foggy, gloomy weather, but praise the Lord, we made it back safely. Today the boys had their homeschool co-op, so the little boys and I went to Sams to get some food for our bare fridge. But I knew that this afternoon, everyone wanted to start decorating for Christmas--it was the main reason they were looking forward to coming back home! It is so hard to get in the decorating spirit when your house is quite messy--exactly the way you left it 2 weeks ago, plus with all the suitcases and other stuff we brought in from the van and dumped wherever last night. I put on some Christmas music, which helped some with motivation, and we managed to get the family room cleaned up. We brought everything up from the basement and decorated the family room and entry way (except for putting up our tree, which is waiting for Bob), and we have now realized that we really don't have very much stuff to decorate this big house with. Hmm. This is where it gets inconvenient to move frequently. I know we have some more garlands that would look nice going up our bannister (because this is what we did with our off-base house in Colorado), but I have no idea where said garlands could be, other than in some box. I don't really feel like looking thorough all of our boxes, but I also don't relish the idea of buying tons more garlands when I already have some. And don't get me started on our tiny tree issues! It is dwarfed by our big ceilings here! I think I will distract myself by working on our Christmas letter. I always say I want to get them out early in years when we move, but once again, it doesn't look like "early" will be an adjective used to describe them!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

Amy and I took our total of 6 boys to the Boonshoft Mueseum yesterday, and we had a wonderful time. I think it was actually the best experience we've had there. When we drove up around 10:30, there were 2 schoolbuses there, but when we got inside, everything was quiet and empty. We played in the "little kid" area for awhile, and then we discovered all the school kids in one room having a lecture, so we played with water, climbed up the ropes and went down the slides, etc. Then when the school kids were all "released" and started tearing around randomly, knocking down kids and so on, we went back into the room they had been in. This room has a lot of neat stuff--skeletons, stuffed specimans native to Ohio, a big bug collection, lots of ocean creatures, some tanks of spiders and bugs, and most impressively, a large glass room with a big Burmese python. This python has lived there I think 15 years, and I have never seen it move, but it must have had caffeine with breakfast yesterday because he was all over the place. He had recently molted, so his skin was all in one corner, which was interesting in and of itself, but then he started out in his pool of water, slithered out and all over his cage, and then eventually went back into his pool. Neat! And the lady who had given the school kids their lecture was cleaning up, and it turns out that she does bat rehabiltation on the side. She had brought in her pet brown bat to show the kids. This is the same species of bat that infested out big, old house in Xenia, and I told Amy it was amazing how much cuter these things are when they are clean and not flying erratically around you in the middle of the night in the dark. The bat (Millie, I think her name was?) was eating meal worms out of a cup in the lady's hand, and when she was done, she crawled up onto the lady's shoulder, under a blanket she had there, and that's where she just rode around while the lady finished up. Isn't that interesting? I am not called to that, however, I can assure you! Then we went upstairs, where the school kids again were racing around, but praise the Lord, after about 5 minutes, the chaperones started rounding them up because they had to get back on the buses! Yay! So the rest of the day we pretty much had the museum to ourselves. This particular museum, since it is more of a natural science museum, also has some live animals that are native to Ohio and have been rescued. They have a river otter, which again has been sleeping every time we've visited. But this time the little guy was swimming all over the place, coming out to peer through the window at us--what a cute little fellow he was! Overall, a great day of learning AND having fun--which doesn't include racing around like savages, knocking over little people, and generally being wild!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The 10 Commandments of Tree-Decorating

This was written by Nicholson, who posts on the Well-Trained Mind message boards. I thought it was funny! THE TEN TREE COMMANDMENTS Rule #1: Thou shalt assemble the artificial tree and bend the branches for no less than one hour for a realistic appearance. Rule #2: Then thou shalt apply the lights beginning at the top of the tree progessing to the bottom, taking the strand all the way to the center of the tree and out again on every single branch or thou wilt be smitten. Rule #3: Concerning the number of lights. Thou shalt strive for the perfection and beauty of not less than 10 100 light strands for a total of 1000 lights. Less than this and it shall be proclaimed an "ugly" tree. Rule #4: Thou shalt then begin apply the ornaments. Small ornaments shall go at the top. Large ornaments for the base. Thy tree must be proportional. Rule #5: THOU SHALT NOT ALLOW THE ORNAMENTS TO SIT ON THE BRANCH BENEATH THEM! IT IS AN ABOMINATION!!! THEY MUST SWING FREELY ON THE TREE! Rule #6: Thou shalt consider thy work no less than every three ornaments placed by standing back and looking for "holes" in thy tree. Fill the wretched holes with ornaments. Rule #7: Thou shalt decorate the WHOLE tree front and back. Place the old scratched ornaments on the back of the tree lest it be naked. Rule #8: After the ornaments come the garland. This must be artfully draped in even "swags". Then though shalt humor thy grandmother to come "adjust" the parts she condemns as uneven. Rule #9: Lastly, though mayest apply tinsel to thy tree. NOT IN GREAT GOBS but by no more than 5 strands at one time. Then thou must be a good steward of thy tinsel being ever-watchful to not pass too closely by the tree, lest you remove the tinsel causing a bald spot. Rule #10: Thou must promise on pain of death to return on New Year's Day to dismantle thy grandmother's tree or guilt wilt follow thou all the days of thy life.
Mudville Gazette, another military blog, has featured an interesting article called Hating America. It is long, but it made a lot of interesting points. The author is an American who has lived in Norway for a number of years, and he begins by talking about how his perceptions of America have changed as he has lived in Europe, and how he now appreciates a lot of characteristics of Americans that previously he had mocked. Then he basically reviews several books that talk about why Europe hates America, some written by Americans, and some written by Europeans. It was a very interesting article, and his take on it all was worth reading. I think it is important to understand what people in other countries think about us and why, but many of the books out there just seem to be anti-American propoganda, even those by Americans. Sad. I for one am always startled when I read about how controlled the European media is. I guess it makes even CBS seem not as bad as it could be--well, no, it's still pretty bad. Maybe Dan Rather will move to France?

A Long Silence

Well, there has been no blogging lately, because there has been no computer. Sunday afternoon Dad's computer just started shutting down after about 5 minutes of use. After a few calls to Dan (how convenient to have your own personal computer expert on hand), Dad diagnosed the problem as a broken fan in the hard drive, so the computer kept overheating. He ordered a new part, and then we had to wait for it to come in. Today he got it fixed, which was a big feat in and of itself, since the part had a ton of wires. There is still some little problem because now the speakers sound static-y (or should that be "staticky"?), but I think we can all agree that the speakers are about the least important part of a computer! How nice to be on-line again and able to check email. Although, since we are on vacation, I am here with many of the people who email on a regular basis! The good news is that we lead a fairly boring life, and even without blogging for several days, you have not missed out on ANY fantastical adventures or stories of our life! Tomorrow I am taking the boys to the Boonshoft Museum, which is a hands-on museum of natural history. Our membership doesn't expire until March, and the boys love it there, so that will be a fun field trip. Amy and her boys are coming too.