Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This Woman Cracks Me Up

Luci's Mom from Add One Chinese Sister posted this on the Feingold Members' Board. I just had to share. She was describing her eldest son's Homeschool Prom:

Bryan will wear his good jeans.

Dad and Mom and little Brother and Sister sitting on the couch playing "hip tunes" on kazoos.

Chips and Dips served for snacks.

If he does really well in school we might let him invite a girl.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pascha - Something Old, Something New

Yesterday the Eastern Orthodox celebrated Great and Holy Pascha. We made it through the late, late night service which I described on my other blog and then came home and took a nice, long nap. When we woke up we decided to keep the tradition of hiding baskets for the kids. The baskets held treats that were in scarce supply throughout Great Lent as well as a small toy for each child. The hunt was great fun. Of course, Nathan was the first to find his basket and the others followed behind. Tad and JT decided to give their new gps unit a workout and geocached each other's Easter surprises. Tad hid JT's basket up a tree and JT hid Tad's container of beef jerkey in our neighbor, Mr. Frank's yard. Mr. Frank wasn't home to ask if this was ok so JT hid it under a tree and hoped for the best, trusting in Mr. Frank's friendliness to smooth over any troubles. It took JT a while to get the hang of following the gps directions and he discovered his basket long after the others used the more traditional method, they looked UP. Tad's was bit harder. He tracked his jerkey down to a particular corner and tramped into Mr. Frank's yard with his entourage following closely behind. They all arrived at the tree where the booty was stashed but...no booty!! This was followed by a trip to Mr. Frank's front door where he greeted our crew with a very apologetic look. He had found the stash and assumed some neighbor kids had tossed it there. Not knowing what it was, he stowed it away in his garage. It was duly returned to the intended recipient and JT learned a gentle lesson in geocaching without the permission of the property owner!

The rest of the day was spent feasting out of our Pascha baskets on every sort of meat that sparked their desires - beef jerkey, ham and fried chicken, along with breads and chocolate and cheese cake. It was a wonderfully lazy, content day!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Opening Day

Today was opening day for our local baseball little league. I'm not one to try to navigate such activities whilst pregnant so Tad had the 3 baseball players, David and the camera while I sat on the sidelines of JT's lacrosse game. JT's team won a close game and he played quite well, with a couple of assists and coming up with his first win at a face-off.Betsy and Ruth are members of the Diamondbacks team and Ben (much to his chagrin) is a local Yankee. The opening day festivities included 2 inning exhibition games, a parade and lots of other food and fun. The coach of the Diamondbacks gave each of his girls (the only all-girl team in the league) flashing "diamond" rings to sport during the parade which made it all worth it for them. Nobody is too sure who won their game since, as Tad reported, it's not whether you win or lose, but how your hair looks when you pick up the bat (or perhaps how high you jump when you reach home plate).I think Ben and the older boys were hoping for some real action but they did get their first taste at a game with a team they are slotted to play for "real" on Tuesday evening.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Little Miss Muffet...

Sat on her tuffet
Eating her curds and whey



















Along came a spider
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away...

We tried our hand at cheese-making today and had a great time with this poem.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No Chance for Good-Bye

We've had some devastating news over the past couple of days but it's all part and parcel of opening our home and our hearts to adoption. Noah's grandmother took Noah with her for what was to be a weekend visit and then called us last night to say that she would not be bringing him back. She has decided to try to parent him again. He's been living with us for 8 months - since last August - and had been treated as a son and a brother. Before you get up in arms, I have to admit that we have known this could happen, although I truly did not expect it. We had no legal rights to have him here, it was simply a gentlemen's agreement between us and his grandmother. We were treating it as a foster to adopt situation and allowed ourselves to get completely immersed in growing to love him and in treating him just like one of the gang. Unfortunately, she was well within her rights to decide to terminate that agreement.

We don't agree with her decision and we especially feel cheated and manipulated in the way in which she worked it out and our struggle now is not allowing that root of bitterness to work its way into our hearts. I had no chance to say good-bye to him and my heart is breaking into a thousand pieces. I know all the pat answers to why God allows this but it is so painful to see the generations of dysfunction continue and continue when we had the opportunity to perhaps break the cycle with Noah. This is the Eastern Orthodox holy week - we will celebrate Easter this Sunday. It is a fitting time to go through this loss and suffering - this is what made our Lord weep in the garden over the suffering in the world. Sunday we will celebrate Resurrection and Redemption...

JMOD

Today's is a John Michaelism instead of a Davidism, thus the JMOD title. He came up to me at the girls tball practice and declared, "Mom my eyes are in charge of dreams. Because when I close my eyes, the dreams come behind them."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Long, Happy Weekend

FRIDAY:We had a long weekend and it's been a quiet Sunday afternoon recovering. On Friday Tad took the day off and traveled with us to Mt. Vernon, George Washington's mansion and estate. I've been looking forward to this trip for years and we finally made it after I decided to take the bull by the horns and organize a homeschool trip. After I chastised all our fellow travelers to please make it down there on time, we found ourselves a half hour late due to unbelievable amounts of traffic passing through Baltimore and DC at 7:30 in the morning. So, lesson number one is if you want to experience Mt. Vernon expect lots of traffic.

We spent lots of time in the wonderful museum, watching an introductory movie, working our way around the time line of the life of our first president and stopping in the "Please Touch Me" Room which I thought was a real hoot. It was staffed by people who didn't seem to like children and designed by people who didn't seem to know what it means when you invite a child to touch something. The chairs were covered with notices reminding adults not to sit in them because they are child-sized (any adult who has spent 10 minutes with a child usually has a desire to plop down in those chairs in order to get face to face with their playmates). There was a big dollhouse replica of George Washington's mansion with furniture so fragile it could only be "checked out" room by room by the child's chaperone and used while the child was very closely supervised and the museum staff hovered nervously over them preventing any miniature furniture faux pas. There was a board with buttons that lit it up (not sure what that was for since my children repeatedly got reprimanded for pushing the buttons so I finally just kept them away) and there was a tall thingy with spinning panels. Again, not so sure what that was since the children got chastised for spinning the thingys as well. The only thing they didn't get in trouble for was sticking their faces in the Washington family portraits and sitting at the table making letters out of the letter dolls which Ben and Philip and JM spent quite a bit of time doing.

Moving on from there, we approached the mansion only to find a long line which nobody wanted to stand in (it was *hot*!) and so we meandered through the gardens (flower gardens and vegetable gardens which Ben and Philip enjoyed) in hopes of a finding a shorter line later. We encountered a costumed docent who told us all about George Washington's spy ring, the Culver Group which we thought was lots of fun but I'm not sure the kids were so impressed. On the other side of the gardens we found sheep which made the girls beg to go to the pioneer farm site which was down a steep hill which I had run out of enough steam to navigate. So they left me sitting on a bench whilst the rest went in search of sheep and horses. I guess the only thing they found were sheep and chickens - and a long, hot walk. On our return trip, the mansion was still a long line away so we gave up on it. We never did see the inside of the very building we had traveled for 3 hours to see...sigh...oh well...

We hopped in the van and traversed the three miles to the Gristmill and Distillery which may have been the highlight of the day. JT was fascinated with the mechanics of the mill and Tad was delighted to see the inner workings of the distillery. That was a great spot for the kids who got a break from the heat in the stone gristmill building, had a wonderful docent who answered every question great and small and experienced lots of loud and interesting machinery. On the return trip we broke up our stay in the traffic with a trip to Five Guys for french fries for the ride and arrived home in time to tumble into bed and prepare for the next day.

SATURDAY:
Saturday we got up and went to Hershey Park. Adora and I debated long and hard and fished around for a sitter for Miah and Nate and finally decided to just bring them along. Adora was excited about seeing Miah get on some of the rides and was looking forward to being the big mom in the little Busy Bees. It was a great trip for everyone as it worked out just fine for Adora and Tad to take turns with the big six going on the coasters and rides while Tali and I sat on benches watching the mini carousel and the Ladybug coaster go round and round. I let Nate navigate us around the park until he and Miah crashed in the afternoon. I brought my pillow to lighten the load on my bum and we managed to run into Aunt Great and crew a few times. It's obvious who had the camera since all the pictures are of the very little people. Although, not wanting to spring for the $15 post-ride picture of the roller coasters, Ben and JT reenacted Philip's reaction for me when we met for lunch. I have been dreaming, though, of the day when I'm not pregnant or nursing and I actually get to run around an amusement park with my bigs and jump on some coasters....I suppose by then my bones and my bladder will be too worn to make it much fun...If only the kids understood the sacrifices we moms make for them!

SUNDAY:
On Sunday we had a visit from our bishop. We had to get to church a bit earlier than usual to allow for the traditional manner of greeting the bishop at the door. Once we were seated, David took one look at the hat the bishop got to wear and the array of seminarians he brought with him and whispered in my ear, "Mom is it his birthday and are those all his friends?" I've written about that visit in more detail on the other blog.

It's been a long, tiring weekend but we had lots of fun. I'm glad for a Sunday afternoon rest. Tomorrow it's back to the grindstone...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Crazy Weather

Typical to MD, the weather has been rapidly cycling from cool to cold to downright hot over the past week and a half. Last week we had temps almost to the 80's which prompted the big Clothing Shift. This is when we pull all of the containers out of the attic and make them vomit clothing all over the upstairs hallway. It's a harrowing time of year, trying to decide just how many of the long sleeved shirts need to hibernate in those boxes and at what point we can narrow down the pants collections and replace them with shorts. Right now all the kids have an eclectic mix of Summer and Winter clothing gracing their drawers and closets. The biggest problem, then, is teaching the kids (particularly the already learning challenged ones) how to gauge the weather. The day after the Clothing Shift the temperature dropped to 50 something and three days later was back into the mid-60's. After another day of low 70's there is a frost warning in the county for tonight. Even Nehemiah has had trouble figuring it all out and yesterday we found him wearing this outfit: No, we're not sure where his pants are but this is not unusual for him. Today David was outside in his bare feet and winter coat. I'll sure be glad when the weather decides to settle down for the season and I can clean up the mess in the hallway and clear the confused aura hovering over the closets, drawers and coat hooks....

Playing with Video

video
I wanted to see if I could figure out how to put videos here so I had JM make me a movie. Let's see how it works... He made one for Grace too but I'm not sure the public is ready for that one...

After I had JM make his movie, Nathan wanted to try it too except he couldn't understand that he needed to be on the other side of the camera. He spent the whole time trying to chase me around to get to my side of the camera...

video

So Long Sydney

I'm sad to say Sydney, our cockatiel, died sometime today. He was chirping and hopping about this morning but when we got back from our counselor, he had died. He'd been acting a bit funny lately but, this being our first aviary experience as a family, I guess we missed the signs that he wasn't feeling well. He will be missed. He was a funny bird. I never could get him to say "Go Ravens" but he would proudly proclaim himself a "Pretty Bird" (a trick his former family taught him) and it was many a day when one of the young ones would get chastised for running their electronic toy noises for the 8000th time only to discover that the bird was the one making the exact noises (why, oh why, couldn't he learn something CUTE?!). He also whistled better than the average 7 year old so that I never could tell whose tune was wafting through the house.

He hated our school reading time. I guess he felt that his voice should be heard over mine and every time I would pick up a school book to read he would begin making noises. The louder I read, the louder his noises until we would give up trying to compete and cover his cage over with a blanket. He loved Tad and would ride around the house on his shoulder or his head even on days when he was in no mood to be coddled by anyone else in the family. He and Philip had a special relationship. They would spend about a half hour every day talking and bowing to each other. Philip actually cried for about 2 minutes when he realized Sydney was gone. Somehow Philip has always been touched by animals - he had a special relationship with our cats long ago also.

I think, though, I will remember Sydney's private antics the best - the things he did when he thought no one was watching. He once had a week long battle with the living room wall clock after we moved his cage so that it sat just under the clock. Every morning and evening for a week he would sit on the top of his cage and peck at it. He finally stopped when we moved his cage about 3 inches to the right of the clock. That's all it took. Lately he had taken to lining up the seed hulls from his bird food along the length of his perching rope. Maybe he learned the lining things up thing from Philip. He was very meticulous about it. On many an occasion we rescued him from narrrowly escaping the jaws of Pooka the golden retriever. He would get the wild idea that he could fly far, far away and then would land on the floor right in front of the dog's nose. Fortunately, the dog is much older than he and the reflexes aren't so good anymore...

Well, Sydney our friend, you will be missed. You provided our family with many a laugh and your crazy companionship. May you rest in peace.

Monday, April 07, 2008

“You must be having a party.”

Well, he's done it. Tad's first guest post on my blog follows here. He spent a part of his afternoon hunting down a year's supply of soda for the family and he's recorded his fun for all of us to read. He's big on the links - you don't have to click on all of them if you're really not interested in various varieties of grains or the subtleties of hotdog bun styles. This posting may finally reveal the best-kept family secret - that my husband really is one of the funniest people I know.

“You must be having a party.”

I hear these words just about anytime I go shopping for the family, approaching the checkout counter with a dozen and a half each of five or six different items. Since some of the best purveyors of food “on the diet” are near my workplace, I’ll often stop by on the way home to clear Trader Joe’s shelves of whole wheat hot dog buns and other delectables, like a one-man locust swarm with a discerning palate.

Someone watching an older female do the same thing, with a couple of kids in tow for effect, would probably reach the logical conclusion that she was stocking up on groceries for the immediate future. But those eying me as an unaccompanied man with a cart piled high full of food automatically assume that I must be throwing some big debauched bash. Really! As if I had that many friends, not to mention friends close enough to part with my Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat New England Style Hot Dog Buns (no artificial flavors or preservatives).

I probably do this about every month or so. But the big excursion, the party to end all parties comes once a year. No, it’s not the post-Valentine’s day chocolate raid. It is the Passover Coke Round Up.

As some of you may know, during Passover Jews must avoid grain. Some Jewish traditions extend this prohibition from the traditional varieties (wheat, spelt, barley, oats, and rye) to include others such as rice, soybeans, and … corn. Yes, Ashkenazi Jews must avoid what is probably the most popular American subsidized staple food. This is especially a problem when one really needs to take advantage of “The Pause That Refreshes”, because since 1985 Coca-Cola is made in the USA with corn syrup instead of regular sugar. This makes it a big no-no for lots of Jews.

Corn syrup is also a no-no in our house as well, as it is eliminated by many adherents to the Feingold Diet. Once you investigate where corn syrup comes from, you would think twice about it too. Essentially, corn starch is partially digested by mixing it with sulfuric acid or various enzymes in large vats. The resulting goo is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, spiking blood sugar and driving the metabolism into overdrive. Coincidentally, the spike in childhood obesity also begins around 1985....

So, what's a God-fearing Feingold family to do, Jewish or otherwise? Well, both Coke and Pepsi noticed the potential loss of market share around Passover time, and they filled the gap with soda made with good old-fashioned sugar. Sucrose. The way God intended a cola to be made.
So if you look in a grocery store in a Jewish neighborhood around Passover time, you will find specially-capped (yellow for Coke, white for Pepsi, both with Hebrew symbols) bottles of cola made with 100% real sugar. And you also might find me, filling a shopping cart with a year's supply of soda for the kids' birthdays, holidays, and just-because days. And, as I wheel the cart into the checkout line, you might hear someone observe:

"You must be having a party.”

Have you thanked a coach today?




We've been through a lot of coaches in our years of parenting. There's the tball coaches, baseball coaches, soccer coaches, special needs league coaches, lacrosse coaches and gymnastics instructors. We've had homeschooling mom coaches, basketball coaches, Alpine climbing coaches, jumproping coaches and a riding instructor. Currently we have 2 playing tball, 1 playing baseball, 1 playing lacrosse, 2 playing on a special needs soccer program, 7 kids riding horses and about to sign up 3 more for gymnastics. I've always made it my habit when I get those late night emails from coaches with wet field conditions or make up game instructions to send a quick email back with a "thanks for coaching our kids" message. Sometimes they respond with gratitude, sometimes I never hear from them but I feel like it's one small way to "pay it forward". Tad and I just don't have the time to commit to any one team and I certainly don't have the skill to be a coach of anything (except maybe an olympic diaper changing team or the world Special Diets championship) so this is one small way I can spread a little encouragement to the parent who *is* giving their time and energy so my child and his or her teammates can have this team competitive experience. Give it a whirl - be sure to thank your coach today!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

For Better or For Worse

A friend of mine handed this to me yesterday and leaned over and quietly said, "I thought of you when I saw this." I wonder why....hmph..

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Business

I'm afraid I haven't been posting as much lately because life just happens. My computer has been having one temper tantrum after another and I have become fearful of angering it lest it take my words and spew them into cyberspace never to be seen again. My camera has also had a mind of its own as of late and my own addled prego brain has forgotten to take it along to many an important event...including Ben's play. Grammy is rather up in arms about the lack of coverage here of Alice In Wonderland and I must admit to a woefully difficult period of Bad Mommyitis where I forgot my camera, did not manage to blog the Big Event and left family flung far and wide in the dark about the whole event. So sorry. It went well. Ben enjoyed it and did a whizbang job. JT ran the light board and loved it. There will be more theater in the lives of my children. I may even be alert enough to blog about it sometime in the near future.

The next item of business is a name for this baby. Yes, supposedly it is a girl - at least the sonographer seemed to think she saw more girl parts and a distinct lack of boy parts - so we have been calling the baby by the pronoun "she". There is a name in the works which is weird but my husband picked it out and, quite honestly, it is growing on me. Of course it must be either scriptural or fashioned after a saint to make the list of names in this household (how Nathan was allowed my dad's middle name of Lee is rather comical) so this one's name comes from the book of Mark (chapter 5, verse 41 to be exact):

41He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" ).

This is referencing a girl who had died and, in the midst of her mourners, Jesus came to her bedside and raised her up calling her by the affectionate term for Little Girl - Talitha.

The one in utero will be Talitha Hope and has already been shortened to Tali by her parents and sibs. I'm sure at some point it will occur to people to call out to her (and this must be called out, it cannot simply be spoken) "Tally Ho!" but once again we've riled the grandmothers by suggesting such a thing so we'll make that a private affair.

And the last item of business is to introduce my new Orthodox homeschooling blogger friend, Deb. She gave me a wonderful little intro on her blog and I feel compelled to return the favor. I love Deb's blog - she's much less tongue in cheek about her faith than I and I'm sure I'll be learning a lot more from her as we go down the road into cyberspace together.