Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A Coupla More Birthdays

This is that wondrous month when we have three birthdays every week for three weeks in a row.  My birthday on the 23rd was pleasantly uneventful.  I got to go to my improv class while leaving Adora in the dark with the whole crew as we lost power that evening.  The kids spent the day actually trying to be nice instead of showing me how many ways I am capable of blowing my cool which is my usual birthday m.o.  I had my birthday dinner the following night - made myself stromboli and was surprised with a new vacuum cleaner and some pyrex.  I haven't had a vacuum in years so I spent the better part of a day going around the house and sucking things up.  It was divine.

The following week was Miriam's big 17 (ACK!) which she celebrated the day Sandy hit the shore.  At 5:00 we were rapidly assembling tacos and just as the meal hit the table we lost power for the next three days.  So I have no pictures of her blowing out candles in the dark but who needs light with all that firepower to light up the night? In spite of our best efforts to explain to her that we had gone to great pains to get her a hurricane for her birthday, she was much happier with the Disney Princess accessories.

Today is Ben's birthday and following the new trend in birthdays, he was absent for his as well.  He spends two days and a night each week at "boarding school" with his aunt Beth.  Last I heard she was fixing him his favorite Aunt Beth meal and some apple dumplings.  Lucky dog will get chicken potpie at home tomorrow with  candles in his pumpkin pies for dessert.  He still has to wait an extra day to get the gift he picked out and for which he gave me the link.  This birthday shopping in the 21st century is a bit anti-climactic that way.

Happy Birthday to my Girly Girl and my Bestest Ben!  Love you two to pieces!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Remember Remember...Again

It now seems to be a well-established tradition that our family celebrate Guy Fawkes Day in spite of absolutely no British ties whatsoever.  What started out as a quirky homeschool assignment has ended up several years later as Family Tradition.  Since we don't celebrate Halloween (and not necessarily for the most obvious reasons - who has time to costume 13 people to go about to strangers' houses and collect candy so full of artificial crapola I would never let them eat it anyway - not that they would want to...but I digress...) - we have taken to adopting this way fun holiday as a prelude to the 6th of November which is Ben's Birthday.

A few days before the 5th the kids all start working on crafting their effigies.  Miriam's is always a hoot.  The first year we celebrated she mistook Fawkes for Fox and created a fox-like being for her effigy.  I'm pretty sure several years later she now gets that he's not really a fox but persists in her animal-like effigy creations anyway.  It's all part of the family culture now.

The morning of the 5th I get up and stuff my pockets full of candy and pennies.  All throughout the day the kids approach me with their faux Fawkes and ask A penny for my Guy? and are given a penny or a treat.  They have until darkness rolls around to collect before we build the bonfire and toss those Guys in there.  Watching them burn is a favorite activity followed by caramel apples and sparklers.  We see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot!

Monday, October 22, 2012

DOD (Davidism of the Day)

I haven't had one of these in a long while so its time has come...

Actual conversation with David today:

I was headed out the door to the van
David - Where are you going?
Me - to the MVA
So I can renew my driver's license.
What do you have to do?
Take a vision test and get my picture taken.
Oh, can I come along?
At this point John comes down the stairs and asks Can I come?!
David - Hey, where are we going?!

I adore this kid.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Better Late Than Never....Right?!

Sooo.....Nate turned 6 in July and then David turned 8 in August and the party was....well, today.  We are just finishing up a two year cycle which works like this.  One day I get addlepated in the head and announce that we will be beginning a two year birthday party cycle.  Anyone who turns an even age in that two years will get a party.  This is only the second time in the life of our family I have announced this and the last time there were significantly fewer birthdays to celebrate...  So in 2011 we had parties for JT, Andrea, Philip and Ben (who all turned 14), Betsy who turned 10, Miriam's 16 year old Graduation from Homeschool party and then John who turned 8.  In 2012 we had Tali turn 4 (4 is a big party year around here just because *I* am so glad they aren't 3 anymore!), Nate's 6th, David's 8th and coming up in December with be Ruth's 12th.   We had a bit of a family crisis/struggle over the summer and as the summer wore on, we never managed to get those parties done so today was the day.  We combined the two parties into a Lego Star Wars/Pirate Morph theme and here is what we came up with:

Star Wars and Pirate BINGO after the individually themed scavenger hunts.
 Even the pirates got light sabers because...

 everyone also got a pirate eye patch and earring in their Star Wars themed goody bags.

The little pirates had to scavenge for the Cap'n's garb which had been stolen by salty knaves.  Once he collected all his piratey uniform he led them in a rousing game of Walk The Plank (or something like that).
And here is a Star Wars aged guest enjoying the pirate accessories.

And, no, I do not have any pictures of the actual birthday boys...or any of the other traditional stuff such as blowing out candles or opening gifts or smiling broadly while standing arm in arm.  Sorry boys, this year you're just lucky to have the party I guess.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Adora!

Happy Birthday to our Wonderful Adora!  Part of our family with my little Monkey Head for over six years now!!!  We love you! (and thanks for making me make you stuffed shells - oh YUM!)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ancient History

I am so excited to be back in Ancient History this year - this has to be my favorite time period to teach as a homeschooler.  There is so much wonderful stuff to read, learn, do!  Today we were in ancient Sumer.  We were talking about cuneiform so we decided to get out the sculpy and make our own cuneiform tablets.  Then they decided they need more sculpy projects so they made woven reed baskets...with lids...and then added charmed snakes.  I think somewhere along the way we wandered out of Sumer....  As long as they were doing a hands on project, I decide to give their ears a work out and pulled out a translation of Gilgamesh.  It struck me that here I am reading Gilgamesh to my 3rd, 4th and 6th graders (and they are *enjoying* it!) and my son's public high school teachers seem to think he's not capable of much more than R.L Stine horror twaddle oh but I digress...  I have been absolutely dying to use my friend Barbara's (an Orthodox curriculum writer!) History Portfolios.  These portfolios are simply beautiful and will leave my kids with a wonderful keepsake for years to come.   I have Nate, David and John using the Jr. Portfolios and Betsy with the regular level.  I don't have photos of the kids' work in them but I will post some at some point.  I think we're hitting our homeschooling groove again!  As much as I love my special kiddos, I have to say it is really nice to have them in school while I work with the ones a bit more capable of learning the academic stuff.  We can really fly now!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I've had this on my mind to do this for about a week now.  If it's entirely uninteresting to you, I apologize.  It's a chronology of building our family so it skips a lot of stuff in the first few years - in fact, it skips a few years in the first few years... My mind is such a muddle these days I wanted to put some order to my life so here goes:

August 1988 - I begin at Bucknell as a transfer student (miss my sister's wedding which was the first week of classes for me : (

August 1988 - Get my first glimpse of Tad as he is taping balloons to my RA's dorm room door as a practical joke, encounter him a second time while I am holed up at David's house studying German (which I later dropped), eating ham my Aunt Nancy sent home with me, and watching Mary Poppins.  He was looking for his laundry detergent.  I knew that day I would marry him.

September 1988 - Attend the Tree and Rock Sock Hop with the awesomest band Being Don and Nothingness.  Dance my heini off with Tad.  (if anyone still has their cassette tape I would give you anything you want for it!!!)

November 1988 - work tech crew for Never In My Lifetime, sprain my ankle, have my first real date with Tad when I am not able to walk to the cast party, and spend the evening with him instead.

April 1991 - we adopt our first furry child, Alex the black lab, then spend the next month trying to keep a growing puppy from being detected in the Gateways and under the desks at classes and in the light booth

May 1991 - We both graduate from Bucknell

August 1991 - I head to Brown for graduate school, Tad moves back in with his parents to hunt for a job (bad job market, bad memory)  I take Alex with me which doesn't last long and he ends up with Tad

?  1991/92- Tad gets a job with EAI, he and Alex move to the bachelor pad in Whiteford

December 1992 - I graduate from Brown with an MA in Theater History and Theory

January 1993 - Tad and I are married, I move into the bachelor pad and try my best to turn it into a family dwelling

? 1993- Tad, Alex and I move to White Hall on a dairy farm where I learn how to milk cows and get a job as a Youth Minister at St. Clare RC parish

1994/5? - Tad, Alex and I move to Eldersburg, MD to follow Tad's second job with what was then Automated Weather Source, Sometime that year we adopt Pooka, a golden retriever and now have two large dogs in a 4 room house.  Somewhere in here we are declared infertile by a fertility specialist, I quit my job as a youth  minister and Tad and I develop a two person performance which we begin to perform locally

March 1997 - We adopt JT, he is 2months old

April 1997 - we find out I'm pregnant

November 1997 - Ben is born, he is a newborn.  We now have two babies and two large dogs in a 4 room house

Spring 1998 Tad loses his third job with a small contracting firm, we pack up JT and Ben, leave the dogs with Tad's parents and travel out to Chicago and back for 6 weeks performing our Life of Christ show

Spring 1998 - We move into Tad's childhood home in Bel Air - his parents move out and leave his sister with us, Tad begins work for UPS

September 1998 - we bring Jacob home, he is 3 months old

December 1998 - Jake's birthfather bails himself out of jail and decides to be a dad, he is back in jail within a couple of months where he will remain until Jake turns 16, Jake lives with his grandmother

November 1999 - We adopt Philip from Korea, he is 2 years 4 months old

July 2001 - We adopt Miriam from Hong Kong, she is 4 years 9 months old

September 2001 - Betsy is born, she is a newborn

July 2002 - We adopt Ruth, she is 18 months old

August 2003 - John Michael is born, he is a newborn

August 2004 - David is born, he is a newborn

June 2005 - Lightning strikes our house and causes a fire, we move to Riverside

Memorial Day 2006  - the house is complete, we move back to Bel Air

July 2006 - Nate is born, he is a newborn

September 2006 - Nehemiah is born, he and Adora move in with us

May 2007 - We bring Noah into our home as a private foster-to-adopt

June 2008 - Tali is born, she is a newborn

November 2008 - Noah's birthgrandmother takes him for a weekend visit, we never see either of them again

July 2009 - We adopt Andrea, she is 12 years old

August 2009 - Faith is born, she is a newborn

2010 - Tad leaves UPS, goes to work for AWS again which becomes Earthnetworks

January 2011 - Adora and Nehemiah move to their own apartment

2011 - Tad is laid off from Earthnetworks and begins work with Hire Wave as an Engineering Contractor

March 2011 - Zak is born, he is a newborn

September 2012 - Adora and Nehemiah move back briefly then move on to their second apartment

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Stretching it Forward - the Positive Power of Facebook

In general, Facebook has been a very positive force in my life.  I can't place a number or a value on the many relationships I have rekindled, developed or strengthened by electronically eavesdropping on some 540 people.  I know many complain about it being a time-sucker or all the negativity some people throw on their wall or the hurtful comments or snarky political rants or raunchy pictures but honestly I guess I just don't have that kind of friends.  It's a rare occasion when something offensive crops up and I love hearing about the small joys and wonder of my friends' lives.

About 6 months ago I stepped on a scale at a doctor's office and was appalled and embarrassed.  I knew in my heart it's nearly impossible to have 8 full-term pregnancies and not gain some weight but it came time to admit that our magic number is most likely 13 and so from here on out, I have nobody but me to blame.  I started a diet and lost about 30 pounds within about 3 months.  Eventually I was able to add in an exercise program called T-Tapp (nothing special about the name - it's named for its founder Teresa Tapp).  I've been listening to my cyber friends regale me with success stories for years and it was time for me to give it the good post post-partem try.  It promises to drop clothing sizes and over-all inches with just 15 minutes of low impact stretching and core exercises a day.  It frankly sounded too good to be true but I figured I could do 15 minutes a day of anything - heck, I spend more than that on Facebook...

Facebook!  It occurred to me as I was getting my start, that the most motivating thing I could do to kick-start this exercise journey is humiliate myself to 500-some of my closest friends.   Every day I started posting just one line - "T-Tapp done" or "bored to tears with exercising but did it anyway" or "I'm amazing I actually T-Tapped and showered this morning" sprinkled with the occasional "flog me now, haven't tapped in 3 days" and before long I had a long list of people following my progress.  I got 5- 20 "likes" a day on my stupid little posts with tons of encouraging comments from my e-cheerleaders.  Then a funny thing happened.  Other people became motivated to do something for themselves.  I don't even know how many people my posts inspired to get on treadmills, running shoes or give T-Tapp a whirl but I suspect the ones I know of are not the sum total of the power of FB to motivate and encourage.

I am still T-Tapping but I no longer need the self-deprecating comments to motivate.  It is in my body now and the conditioning of my muscles has become its own motivation.  I do need to get back onto the less food is better wagon but I've never been able to handle more than one large self-help project at a time so I'm giving myself a break.  In the meantime, I've been paying it forward by cheering on a few of my friends who are getting started on their own journeys.  But, sorry friends, I haven't been spending quite so much time on Facebook lately now that my body is raring to go do more than tap at a keyboard.  I will encourage those I can when I can because your support has been invaluable to the improvement of my health and because I love you and what you are doing to help yourselves!  To all those who have motivated and been motivated, I thank you all from the very bottom of my tuck, tucked bum!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bargaining Power

Faith has always been a demanding little thing,  loudly proclaiming I WANT and then repeating her demand slightly louder and closer to the nearest ear moments later....and again a few seconds later and again.... Needless to say, she doesn't often get what she wants and our efforts to clean up her act have proven mostly fruitless.  Lately she has added a new twist to her demands - a little incentive.  Now after she wails I WANT , she quickly tries to close the deal with I'll give you money.  Sometimes she switches it up with I'll give you candy.  It's all made rather more endearing by the fact that in general we still can't understand a word she's saying...until she WANTS something - and then it's suddenly all-too loud and clear.

This afternoon Tad and I were sitting on our bed chatting when she charged into our bedroom uninvited - her usual mode of arrival  - and loudly announced a long jumble of...well, something.   After a little questioning we were able to discern the first two words - THE KITTEN...

(Oh, did I forget to mention the kitten?  Meet Malcolm Monsieur Fluffypants Reynolds Klopcic the First who joined our household just three days ago...)

A little more guess work and we were finally able to discern the source of her indignation.  THE KITTEN, it seems, does not take bribes.  Good kitty.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Homeschool Club Launches Zak's Modeling Career

We took our last homeschool club outing of the school year today to IKEA.  Ben decided it was time to launch Zak's modeling career.  What could be a more perfect place?  

Here we have ExecuZak:

 Cowboy Zak taming the wild moose:

 Beast wrestling Beast in a drawer:

Tea Party:

Mirror Mirror On the wall....

A little tired out after all that:

 The hired help was tired out too:

More Beast wrestling:

A little time for Wardrobe:

The tile didn't quite go with his wardrobe:

John was about done by now:

Of course the unsocialized homeschoolers were acting like perfect ladies and gentlemen:

Chef Zak:

Time for breakfast!

The sink modeling the latest in Zaks:

Have you ever tried to go *against* the arrows?  Very difficult.

And everyone needs a cuppa joe at the end of a long day:

All this AND we won today's game of Race the Bus Home for the last school day of the year.