Saturday, January 26, 2008

Another weekend of fun

Truthfully this post is 2 weeks late, and I'm a slacker in posting, but whatever. I took the photos, so here's the post.

More yard work. The back yard came with a icky Dish network pole in the middle of it, definitely had to go. And yes, we asked a Dish network installer about coming to remove it and he laughed and told us to throw it out. So it was up to us to get this sucker out of the ground. First photo is the above ground part, which Fixitman got off relatively easily.

Second photo is the evil part that was below ground, connected by a rope to the poles we used as leverage to get it out finally after digging a huge hole about 2 feet deep and trying to turn it and shake it and still not getting it loose still. Yep, it was a stupid screw piece in clay soil. Yay for fun! "Definitely not a standard installation" says Fixitman. This took 4 hours out of our day to figure out how to get it out. So much fun!!!

Finally is Dinoguy filling the hole back up, the "fun" part, before using the mower to mulch more leaves for us. Gotta love playing with dirt. Sarge is in the back eating the dirt. Did you know dogs like to eat dirt? What is up with that? Mmm...tasty dirt! Woohoo!

Lest you think we just do yardwork every weekend and nothing else, here is a photo of a game we played, as directed by Dinoguy. I think the goal was to have a really long spoon and try to move marshmallows to a cup, but hey, its easier to hold the spoon closer to get more marshmallows, so whatever. The boys had fun eating a whole bag of marshmallows with their long spoons and couldn't tell me the point of the game besides eating a lot of marshmallows (which they so generously shared with Mom & Dad (ick!)) though I think it originated from a veggietales movie and all their games have morals, but again, whatever.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Gentle acceptance

This is a pretty personal post about thoughts for me, so be gentle in reading it, 'kay?

I've been having a hard time writing this post that's been swirling in my head about acceptance. I think it is because it is a personal topic of overcoming my initial defensive reactions to people who hold different views than me on some topics, but whose opinion I value about other topics. So I get concerned about their reaction to learning I think or believe something else about a different topic. Does that make sense?

This is gonna ramble a bit probably.

I had a pretty good day Wednesday, but a few things came up that started me thinking about the Why to several things I believe again. Why so many things. You know, when you aren't sure what you think about a topic, you spend a lot of time reading and thinking about it, asking questions, discussing it, and the like. But with some topics you reach a point where you know what you think and don't have to ask "Why" so much. You are comfortable with that being your way of doing things. But then those questions might flare up again when you can't clearly state your reasons for believing something when questioned. (Because I am NOT blessed with the gift of people speak.)

My internal response in possible situations like these where I think someone is questioning me is to start thinking thru my various responses and holding arguments with people in my head. Not a very gentle thing to do. And then there are the paranoid beliefs about what people think about me and figuring out how to "prove" to them that they are wrong (despite the fact that they have not said anything giving credence to my paranoia.) This generally leads to obsessing about what if "they" think this about me, and how "they" are wrong. Okay, I hope you don't think I'm crazy by now! This isn't a super frequent thing I promise! And it is really rooted in personal insecurities about being accepted.

So all of this is based on my feeling judged or misunderstood by people and automatically going on the defensive. In pondering and thinking about a few of these things, I found the idea of acceptance. I believe in accepting that as humans we all have different views and beliefs about things and that's okay. We just don't all have to be the same. Why do I do things the way I do? Because it works for me & mine. If your thing works for you and yours, awesome. I accept that. It's different to me from tolerance. I think I am using these words differently than they are defined b/c to me tolerance implies enduring and judging silently while acceptance implies just peacefully allowing people their choices, and liking them for who they are.

Now this doesn't imply approval of choices, but acceptance of who someone is. The thing is, I'm trying to choose to accept people for who they are instead of considering their differences as challenges to who I am. When I choose to not argue in my head, but accept people for their differences, I feel more peaceful and calm.

And I believe that acceptance is a kind of love, especially when you may not agree with someones choices or beliefs. Perhaps that is where the peaceful calm comes from. Choosing love instead of argument or war. Internal or external. Learning and choosing to accept myself and my choices and be comfortable with that around others. That is how acceptance is gentle thoughts.

Here are some kind of similar thoughts in a much better wording from someone else that a friend shared with me recently: Link to don't explain (Go read it, it's really good, I didn't copy & paste b/c of my own copyright concerns.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Playing Games

We love to play games. All sorts of games. As I sat down to write this, Trainboy ran up and asked: "Mommy, can we play another game?" Of course. This time it was Candyland. Before that, the game of Life, Blokus & also Scrabble. No, Trainboy isn't quite able to understand and follow all the rules to some of the games, but he enjoys participating as much as he can. Sometimes that is just holding pieces and playing pretend while the rest of us play. Sometimes that's how we play the games - making up our own rules or by playing pretend.

Dinoguy is interested in knowing how to play by the rules so he can "win". The first time he didn't win Monopoly was a bit traumatic for him, I'm sad to say. But he consoled himself by deciding he would learn to play better and not lose anymore. Often, when the random rolls of the die aren't going in his favor, he just declares the game over and quits, instead of dealing with losing. Other times, I tell him we can put it on pause and come back to it in a little bit.

Scrabble today was entertaining. I learned that he knows several words I didn't know he knew. Last night he got interested in keeping score for a scrabble game I was playing, leading to him practicing writing numbers and his interest in playing with me today. Trainboy also enjoyed making words, showing he is more capable than I may give him credit sometimes.

Which is part of my thoughts on this. Don't sell your kids short by following the age recommendations for games. Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Hi-ho cherry-o - they are all fun...but that doesn't mean that is all your kid can play. Let them join in on some "adult" games, maybe just in free play, maybe with modified rules, or using all the rules. You might be in for a surprise at what they can do, and how much fun you can have together.

The math geek in me gets really excited at all the math ideas being learned in some of the games...I don't know if people realize how much can be learned from game playing.

Anyway - here are some of our games, and some of the mathematical ideas contained in them.

Battleship: Graphing! All that A2, B4 stuff... I love it!

Connect 4 - again, there are graphing concepts there. And patterns.

The game of Life, Monopoly - money skills! arithmetic! I am irritated with the new versions coming out that have "debit" cards so that people don't have to do the math themselves. Are you kidding?

Rummikub - patterns, sets, numbers

Backgammon, Chess - logic, patterns, arithmetic, geometry...

Scrabble - arithmetic, logic & spelling! What more can you ask for? :) (My current fave.)

Blokus, Blokus trigon, Rumis - these are all awesome geometric & logic thinking games that I love. Kids can easily learn the rules or freeplay with the fun pieces.

Izzi, Set 10 - simple card games full of patterns & logic!

Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, other "preschool" games - there's great stuff in these too...I just get so bored with them so fast! It's way more fun to teach my kids how to play games I like. :)

For fun: Here's a pic of Dinoguy eating his current favorite green food - cilantro. Who would've guessed?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gentle living

How do I become more gentle and live a more gentle life?

I have been musing and pondering the word gentle for several weeks now. It has reminded me to be kinder to myself when I have heard derogatory comments coming out of me. The word has reminded me to speak in gentle tones. It has been with me for a while. I like this word "gentle".

But how can I be a more gentle person? I keep waiting for the BIG change I'm going to make to become a more gentle person in my life, but I don't think this is about the big things. It is about the small and simple things that come from pondering and musing about this word. I'm glad I have all year. It will be fascinating to see if I feel very different after this year of gentle. I hope so.

Be gentle.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Paint colors and our home

Here is a photo of our tree and front of the house. Isn't it a gorgeous tree? Love the tree. I also love that it is basically an evergreen here, since it never gets too cold. Did I mention it was in the high 50's today? We played outside some, it was a good day!

Here is a doorway in the kitchen, showing the beautiful color and how it goes with the tile. Ignore the boxes in the background, they are mostly gone now. :) We spent a long time choosing this color and I love it. It is a shade lighter than "brown teepee" and a shade deeper than "pecan sandie". Aren't those great names?

Here is the boys room, which is "Thomas" blue. Honestly, we found this paint in a new can in the garage of our old house, it had never been opened and the boys liked it enough that it became their room color! Free paint is the best!

Here is the couch in the corner of our master bedroom. I don't know if you can see this color great in the photo. It is called "icelandic", and is a pale bluish purple, depending on the light. I love it! (Purple is the best color in the world, thanks for asking. ;) )

Lastly we have Trainboy's train table in the living room corner, so you can be reminded about the pale "oyster" walls in there. Now you have been on a tour of our beautiful paint colors in our wonderful new home! :)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Eating breakfast & Learning to read

What do you eat for breakfast most of the time? Cereal? Breakfast is a great meal, it's interesting to me to see family preferences at breakfast. Fixitman loves sugary cereal by the mixing bowl. He'll eat an entire box in one sitting. Trainboy enjoys cereal and milk as well. Dinoguy only likes cereal as a snack, right out of the box. I stopped eating cereal a while ago. I'm lactose intolerant to some degree, so I don't use milk, and orange juice on cereal only works with some kinds. I stopped drinking soy milk because large quantities of soy are now bad for you. And I read about cereal being bad for you in Nourishing Traditions. So we started eating porridge, the longer cooked version of oatmeal. It's good. Dinoguy loves his "oatmeal" for breakfast with fresh fruit or jam mixed in it, Fixitman & I enjoy it a lot with apple butter mixed in, but Trainboy only eats it sometimes. He prefers cold cereal! Fascinating stuff to me. See my porridge post on my food blog if you want the recipe...

But I digress. The point of this post is remembering breakfast as I kid for me. We mostly had cereal, (I wasn't intolerant of milk at the time), and usually healthier varieties. But I loved to read the cereal box each morning, absorbing all the words on it. It was as important to me as reading the comics each morning.

Dinoguy is learning to read. It's a fascinating process to me, though not at all like I remember my journey. I remember deciding to learn to read and memorizing books to tell my mom I could read. She knew I was memorizing and said it didn't count, but somewhere along the way, I went from just knowing what words were on the page to being able to recognize them and read them. Reminds me of that email forward where all the words are mixed up except the first and last letters of each word, but you can still read it.

Yeah phonics help, but when you know how to read, you don't sound out words. You just know them and read them. Dinoguy recognizes and knows a lot of words, though I'm not sure even he realizes this. He's learning them from the TV, the computer games & the board games we play. From the signs he sees off the road when we are driving around. He's become aware of words and the information contained in them.

He asks me what things say on signs and repeats it to himself and then starts saying it when he sees the same sign again (or asks me again if he doesn't remember). In the car we play the "how do you spell" game. He asks me how to spell words and repeats it to himself. Sometimes they are words he already knows I think and sometimes they are new words. Trainboy likes this game too. A variation of the game is he tells me some letters and asks me what it spells.

One evening we had a disagreement about how to spell the word "dough". He asked, I spelled it, and he told me I was wrong and said it had a "w" in it, asking me to listen to the sound. I tried to explain that -ough is a special sounding part of some words, but he was firm that I was wrong. I let it go. It was a fun moment. :)

He won't perform and read on command. He's overwhelmed by unfamiliar words in books, and tells me he can't read them. As a result, I stopped asking him to read things, but allow him to do it when he wants.

He migrates towards shows about reading like Word World and Super Why?. After we've read a book a few times, he starts reading it to himself, but he's becoming much more accurate and looks at the words some, not just the pictures. At the library, he picks out the graphic novel type books, a la Captain Underpants, which we have some of thanks to gifts I gave his dad when Dinoguy was a baby.

I studied mathematical learning in college, and know all the little parts of numerical literacy he's developing. But the reading literacy is fascinating to watch him develop, since I don't have any checklists in my head and just get to enjoy watching his journey.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Weekend

Saturday afternoon, Fixitman taught Dinoguy to mow the lawn/mulch the leaves. We played outside most of Saturday, since the weather was gorgeous. While the yard is scraggly and abandoned looking now, we have plans... (and it is a great space for playing with Sarge.)

(Dinoguy LOVES to help his dad do work in the yard. He is so excited to help! Hope it continues!)

Fixitman also played a bunch with his belated graduation present from the grandparents Saturday. He has really enjoyed building things with it. Here's a gratuitous shot of him with it. (The photo is from a few weeks ago, in the old garage, but pretend its not with me.)

I unpacked the rest of the bathroom and boy bedroom boxes, so that we can more easily locate all those things. (Nothing like yet another move to make me realize I STILL own too many spa items. Oh well, guess I need to pamper myself more.)

While we are doing gratuitous thank you shots of gifts, here is Trainboy in his cute new church clothes. He won't wear the tie, but looks so cute in the outfit anyway. :)

His first day of primary went fairly well, thanks to the "meet & greet" yesterday I think. I was torn about leaving him, since he wanted me to stay, though he was ignoring me and playing just fine, but the teacher wanted me out. So I sat outside the door and listened until he was happier sounding. She's a nice teacher, huggy and friendly, and I think the year will go pretty good. It's weird to not have a baby or toddler at all anymore. They're both in primary!

As most outfits do, he gradually shed pieces throughout the day, until this evening when apparently he had some risky business to attend to. Then it was time for bed. :)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sleeping & Eating

Sometimes your body betrays you when your little. It demands rest, even if you don't want to miss anything and you fall asleep in fun places. While playing toys, watching TV, or eating.

I managed to remember to grab the camera and capture this video before Fixitman carried him to his bed for an evening nap that sadly did not continue until morning. Oh well. :) It's still a fun video!

I snapped a picture of my new rug and wall color in the living room the other day...I love this rug, and it was on clearance, so even better! :) The color in the living room is the subtlest. It is called "oyster" and is a creamy light pale yellowy almost tan. The idea is to make the room feel bigger but still be warmer than a white. I'm happy with it...(especially since the room was burnt orange before).

I will remember to take pictures of the tree out front and the colors in the other rooms at some point! (Unfortunately you can't see the wall color in the kitchen in the video above. Oh well.)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Animals & more

Today we ventured out into the world again for a tour of a pet store and learned all about red bellied tree frogs, geckos, birds, mice, rats, ferrets, fish whose eggs are dyed to make them glow, turtles...good times we had. I forgot the camera unfortunately.

Better times may have been at the marble slab next door where dinoguy tried bubble gum ice cream with blueberries...and loved it! Trainboy stuck with m&m's in his. :) Then races on the sidewalk and playtime at the park. (It is pretty cold here finally...only gets to 50 during the day, and 20's at night...with a cold wind all the time.) It was a long day, full of adventure and friends.

Fixitman was very disappointed after climbing under the house to discover that the pipes are buried in the ground and he can't insulate them after all. Oh well. At least the water heater has an insulating jacket. Now he can dream about how much insulation to add to the house. (Our room is apparently uninsulated above and beneath.)

We discovered yesterday that Dinoguy enjoys watching Good Eats with me. Too bad the DVD's are so expensive. He is fascinated by the show, and watches intently, demanding I read any words on the screen as well and asking questions and making comments about things he hears. It really is an awesome show.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Flashlight Tag

One of the fun things you can do with a dog. :)

If it's not clear, he is chasing the flashlight beam. This is a gentle version I recorded, he kept stopping to pose for the camera. Trainboy loves to play with flashlights, add a dog running around after the beam, and you have instant entertainment! :)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2008!

I think I will start using nicknames instead of initials for my family. L will be Dinoguy and H will be Trainboy. DH will be Fixitman. I'm not super creative there, but Dinoguy loves dinosaurs, Trainboy plays trains several hours each day and Fixitman loves to fix things, so there are my new family nicknames and why I chose them.

We are busy moving furniture around to how we like it, unpacking boxes and training Sarge. He is a smart dog and learns quickly. Our first big excursion into the world again will be later this week on a field trip with friends. Which is good since I have learned from questions asked by Dinoguy that he didn't completely understand this move...He thought we'd moved to another state and new job and new friends again. I quickly explained we were still in TX and still near his friends and Fixitman had the same job, but I guess having to go to a new church and the new house made him think otherwise.

Trainboy is doing better, he isn't carrying his bedding everywhere anymore, just some places. Which is good, since the floors aren't exactly clean all the time anymore with a dog. I'm going to be mopping & sweeping 1-2 times a day it looks like. Guess that's what happens.
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I love little random things like this. :) If only there were 61 copies of me to help get all the cleaning/moving done LOL. Like in the movie Multiplicity, I doubt that would work out great, but sometimes...


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