Friday, December 30, 2011

Best Holiday Letter

We love getting letters and cards from folks over the holidays, so we do out best to always get something out the door. This year our cards were done at the beginning of December, then life got in the way, and they are still sitting here. Not to make excuses (but I am clearly making one here), but the computer that has the database with all of the addresses on it is no longer used, and the new computer that we have, along with all of the rest of the computers in the house, don't have a compatible program, or even a database program, so we're kind of stuck. Needless to say we need to do some work to get the list off of the old computer and onto something that's readable by all the currently-in-use computers.

I wander.

The letters and pictures we received this year were spectacular as usual. it wasn't that they were fancy, fancy. It wasn't that they were superbly written or perfect photographs. But it was all the love poured into them and the fact that we touched base with our old and new friends and caught glimpses of life in their world. But then we got one letter and the last paragraph was so good I had to share. After sharing about their three fabulous kids in their various stages of finishing up their education, and telling us all that they were up to over the past year, the closing line was a killer. The sentiments they express are just perfect:

Here's hoping that we all survive the next election cycle; if you should see the Texas governor, please send him home - we're so embarrassed. Apart from that, we feel blessed and hope that you feel the spirit of Christmas in your lives.

And that says it all. Hope that everyone is enjoying their holiday season!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Sometimes when it's really quiet and I get really bored I hear seagulls squaking in my head. - Ian 11/15/10

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cold Suzie, Warm Suzie

This is what I normally look like this time of year:

But for the past few days I've looked like this:
No scarf, no jacket, no pants (shorts, of course), and no shoes. I'm actually wearing sandals when I go out - in South Florida, of course. It's unseasonably warm here right now - about 80 degrees for the high, but it's beautiful and it's warm, and that's a good thing for me. I'll head back to the cold in Virginia in a few days, but for now I'm soaking up the warmth (not the sun though as I'd likely burn) and enjoying the warmer temps before returning to the brunt of the winter weather up north.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Hope that all of your holidays are filled with joy, love, and peace. Looking forward to another GREAT holiday season here - a bit delayed for us though. I'm in Florida for a week helping out a friend while the family is hanging out at home with Baba in Virginia. We celebrated Hanukkah before I left and we'll get Christmas covered once I get back in a few days.

But I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season, that you get to spend loads of time relaxing and hanging out with family,and that you indulge a bit on the treats and smells of the holiday season!

Image: © Guillaume Piolle / CC-BY-3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baba!

Happy Happy, Merry Merry! Glad that we got to spend another birthday celebrating with you Dad!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Ladies and their Crazy Hair

Ian and Sam had crazy hair day at school, and Lucy wanted to get in on the action. She wanted green hair, so we painted the tips of her hair green, I tossed on some crazy crinoline tube hair thingys, and we went to school. Unfortunately neither Sam nor Ian wanted to actually have lunch with us, but we did pop in on them and say "Hi." Then, we ran a few errands and grabbed a few gifts, and headed home to rest and recover from our day out with crazy hair. Lucy loved her green hair, and now wants more green, or maybe blue, or who knows. "Mommy, when is crazy hair day next?"

Monday, December 05, 2011

Cello Wars

Felt compelled to share this one with you. It's brilliant, and definitely for the kids.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Giving up

Just couldn't keep her eyes open one more minute.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Middle School Sports

Growing up in Texas, I started playing organized team sports in middle school. I started on my less than illustrious volleyball career in middle school initially to avoid taking PE - really, really didn't want to take middle school PE. That philosophy actually did well by me through high school - joining the team to avoid taking gym class/off season training. I started playing basketball after volleyball season was over (when I was a Freshman) so I didn't have to do volleyball off-season, then took up track to avoid basketball off-season. Anyway, it all started for me back in middle school.

Up until middle school I wasn't a big athlete. I participated in the neighborhood fun and games, and gym class and playground activities, but nothing organized. I was more of a dance person - ballet, gymnastics, and clogging floated my boat. But starting in eighth grade, I was all about sports, and it seems that some of that has rubbed off on my eldest. Earlier this year Max tried out for and made a flag football team at his middle school. Max isn't a big guy - just average size for a 6th grader, but he's fast, and he's nimble on is feet. Those two summers of rugby have really improved his football game, and his soccer feet are clearly an asset. He was one of 25 kids in 6th grade that made the football teams. They do play flag football, which is the only reason we agreed to this. Coming from Texas we knew better than to toss our little guy into pads - that's just too scary for this mom and dad. Anyway, the were four teams in the middle school's football league, and Max's team went undefeated this past season.
Unfortunately, due to rain and snow (in October - can you imagine?) they missed a few games, but they finally called the season, and his team was undefeated. I was able to catch just one game - the rest were rained out - but I did see him catch an interception and almost make it across the goal line. It was cool seeing Max, all 56" of him playing football next to some 8th graders that were well over six feet. Flag football season is over now, and while Max is still playing soccer (although indoors - it's starting to get cold) he's already expressed interest in joining a basketball team. While my heart jumps at the thought of one of my kiddos playing the sport that I grew to really love and enjoy, the idea of him trying out for and making a basketball team at his height makes me giggle.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

If you give a kid a violin

We are BIG fans of the Give a Mouse a Cookie series here in this house. Last week someone gave my kids violins. Of course my first thought was to run screaming from the house. How on earth could this possibly end well - not just one violin, but two. Then they started playing, and it was a totally different experience than when my oldest was given a violin. When Max first started playing violin we really thought that he couldn't hear that he was playing the wrong notes (and we weren't too far off - but turns out he's a brilliant trumpet play and can hear those notes perfectly). But Ian and Sam are different. First day out of the case, they wrote some music and played a song for us. They only know how to pluck the strings, not even how to play anything but open strings, their violins weren't completely tuned when they first brought them home, but they created music. So apparently in my house, if you give a kid a violin...
...he'll make music.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cookies! Yuk.

Would you eat these? They were well intentioned but totally burnt. Talk about crispy cookies. Obviously, Tom failed to remove the excess dough from around the edges. Then, he put them in for WAY too long. Needless to say they are hard as hockey pucks, but shaped much more like a rock tablet. But I really did appreciate the fact that he made these for me after a long day. ;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Indoor Soccer Time Again!

After a long outdoor soccer season filled with rain and reschedules, it's nice to move back indoors. All of the games are at the same place, and unless we have a massive snowstorm here again, it most likely won't stack up all in the last few weeks of the season. The kids love indoor soccer, and Lucy likes to run around without being continually told to stay out of the mud, the street, and off the field. Winter soccer is a much easier thing for our family to pull off - three boys all playing travel soccer, Tom coaching one team and me managing another made for a crazy outdoor season. So, between now and about the end of March we'll be hanging at the indoor soccer place near here, hanging out int he warm, cheering the kids on as they take the field.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Missing again? OUCH!

I've been gone again, and this time it was for a pretty decent reason:

You'll notice that it's not my foot, but it is Tom's right foot, and up until this past weekend he wasn't driving, and wasn't walking on his foot at all. This happened almost three weeks ago, so needless to say we've been busy making sure that everyone got to the right places at the right times. My day has included the deposit of various children at various schools or bus stops, driving the littlest one to and from her activities, and getting the hubby to and from work when he couldn't work from home. He was able to catch a ride from a co-worker or two to get out to another work site, but for most of the last three weeks we were a one car family with no public transportation option. The super, crazy, five soccer games and two birthday party day came when Tom's foot looked like this:
Stuffed sausage anyone? Tom's foot spent a good part of the past three weeks swollen up and all kinds of colors (yellow, purple, blue, even a little green). It's a sprain, so the prescription is PT, Advil, and elevation. This past weekend he finally started walking on it, and finally started driving. Whew! We survived the super crazy day with the help of several friends. Now, we are back to being a two car family and Tom is off of crutches as of last Monday. So, all is back to our normal level of crazy in our little corner of the world.

Friday, October 28, 2011


I have a brand new nephew Nathan, and he's adorable!!!
Congrats Bill, Brooke, and Nicholas - and good job!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Benihana Fun

First trip for the youngest three to one of their dad's favorite places to eat - Benihana. Max went when he was a wee one, but this one is pretty far away, so we've never been. They behaved like perfect little children - NOT! But it was their Dad and Uncle's birthday, so we all drove out there, and everyone had fun (and some of us had good food).
They loved the volcano, the guy chopping shrimp, the hats, the hot grill and the dancing oil. And they didn't eat a thing. Max tried a bite of chicken and said that it was yummy, Sam considered he rice briefly (until he saw the stuff in it up close), but both declined any actual food. We fed them before we went anticipating that they'd not eat much there, but it was still fun for everyone.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Being a warm weather girl, I never really wore scarves growing up. But here in the *ahem* south...yeah. Here in Northern Virginia we need scarves a good chunk of the winter or else our necks will get cold! But I'm still not 100% sure how to wear these beautiful scarves, and I have several. They are a little like shoes or purses for some women - I collect them. I make them, I buy them, I covet them, but still not clue how to wear them. But, I found this and thought it best to share:

Now, I wear scarves and ROCK the scarves. I not only make it work, but I look cool doing it (whatever it is...).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Zombie Fun

Leave your 11 year old alone with your iPhone for a minute, and this is what you end up with:
See his zombie, realize that you have work to do, and then this is what you create:
Thanks Make a Zombie! We totally rock Zombie World now.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lucy's first ever visit to the dentist

Lucy has been dying to go to the dentist for a while now. She goes with the boys to all of their appointments, sees that they are happy when they leave, and also get coins to buy prizes, and she's waited (not so patiently) for her turn. She's wanted to walk past the waiting room to see what fun awaits kids on the other side. Her turn finally arrived a few weeks ago and she couldn't have been happier. She marched right in, sat right down in the chair next to Max (we take them in by twos these days), and popped open her mouth when asked.

After the hygienist cleaned her teeth, the dentist took a look, and then they took x-rays as the dentist saw something suspicious on one of her teeth. All this without any fussing, and without even squirming, until the end. When they gave her the coin she practically ran over her brother and another lady waiting to check out in an attempt to tackle the machine with all the prizes. Then the fussing started. She wanted this toy, then that (they are little ones dispensed from a candy machine) and she wanted two, no three toys. Then she started in on Max - why didn't he give her his coin? Why wasn't he getting what she wanted him to get? And we got out of there as fast as we could, Lucy with a burrito - yes, burrito - in hand. Apparently plastic Mexican food toys that are dispensed from a candy machine and cost one dental cleaning are the best thing ever. She brought her burrito home and immediately showed Ian, who pulled out his taco - yes, really a taco - and then played. Dogs, rings, tattoos, sticky lizards, and all the other toys didn't hold a candle to the Mexican food at the dentist. Ahh...the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Spill Proof

Ever wonder how to take your three year old out to dinner and keep them relatively clean? First choice would obviously be feeding them something that doesn't make a mess, but how often is that the first choice of a toddler. Avoiding eating out in public is another choice, but what fun is that. So after four kiddos, I think I finally discovered the secret - raincoats. Who knew that simply sipping up a light raincoat on the messy toddler will keep her from spilling salad dressing all over herself. Napkins, parents and non-drip food won't stop it, but apparently a raincoat will. And it wipes up nicely too. Lucy LOVES salad and lettuce - lechuga, and eats it all the time so it's surprising that it took us this long to figure it out, but we finally did.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Getting ready for Halloween!

After dragging my butt a bit on the whole getting ready for the holidays thing I finally got started. If you get behind on decorating for Halloween, then you fall behind on Thanksgiving, and of course, Christmas/Hanukkah. The past few years I've been able to get my act together soon enough to get the house all pretty on the inside, get a few things thrown up outside, and enjoy the decorations for more than a week. But this year with school starting so late, the crush of soccer, and my general disinterest in the decorating part for some unknown reason, I finally did throw a few things out there. Cute, easy to put up and take down, yet, festive. And you know as soon as Halloween ends I'm tearing this stuff down and getting the Fall/Thanksgiving stuff up. Gotta get decorated!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Welcome to Princess World

I'm drowning in pink and changes of clothes, shoes, and opinions over here. All of this from a three year old - a recently minted three year old to boot. She is all about princess clothes, fancy shoes, changing those shoes and clothes every two minutes, and demanding that she wear jammies to bed for her nap. (Yes, still napping - fingers crossed.) But this is all new territory for us. The boys went through a dress up phase - all Power Rangers - all day. But this is different. Lucy wants to wear these cute little dresses because it's Tuesday, or because she turned left to get into her room, or because she saw a big. She changes in and out of clothes, dumping them on her floor or draping them around the house (often on me) continually throughout the day. I almost want to run out and buy her a ton of fluffy princess dresses so that she has one for each day, or a ton of jeans and shorts, pants, whatever, in cute colors and patterns so she has other things to wear than these fluffy princess dresses. But here I sit, lost in Princess World and not quite sure what's coming down the pipes next. So far she's pretty easy to please as far as clothes go, but at some point I know that she'll turn that corner and the cute fluffy clothes aren't good/fancy/sparkly enough, and that scares the heck out of me.

Saturday, October 08, 2011


By now probably just about everyone has heard - Steve Jobs passed away. I've been going through the last few days kinda sad for the loss - the man was an incredible innovator and an incredible mind. I've been reading blog posts about him and see how the loss has affected some in profound ways. But I consider myself a recent convert to Apple (I've only had an iPhone for two years now) , so not so much of an impact on me.

Just now I realized that Apple has been in my life for a very, very long time. From the time I was eight years old we have owned Apple machines. The first computer that I ever worked on was an Apple III - a dinosaur, and insanely expensive at the time (I think it was the price of a small car back then - around $6,000 when we bought it), but I learned to program on it, found my way around DOS, and learned all about dot matrix printers and floppy discs. We had that dinosaur for a while, and I was able to make the screen dance (or at least the little snake on the screen). It sat impressively on my dad's desk, and unless I'm mistaken, it was our very first family computer.

We branched off after that into a Apple IIc, that I eventually dragged
with me to college (after it was discontinued even). But by the time we bought the IIc the Mac revolution had begun. However, I had my own portable computer to take with me to school, external floppy drive, little LCD screen, and all, and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. At college I walked away from Macs completely. The lure of the PC that did more, faster, easier, was too strong, and my IIc was too slow and old. And up until this last Spring I'd never even toughed a Mac. But now I'm back in the fold, happy as a clam with my Apple once again.

So, thanks Steve jobs for all the time you've shared with me over the years. It turns out that it was much more than I would have ever imagined.

*Apple III photo courtesy of Alexander Schaelss

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


YES! (If you can't tell I'm jumping up and down giving high fives to anyone within reach.) It's candy corn season again! One of my favorite times of year. it doesn't matter if it's raining outside, cold and dreary, if I have my candy corn I'm happy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Toaster ovens may be the death of me

Before Tom and I had kids we ate food cooked in the toaster oven regularly. We were actually pretty proficient at cooking in that little oven - it was easy and quick and didn't require any real cooking skills. I've always been a fan of Black and Decker's toaster ovens, and that hasn't changed over the years. But once again, we've nearly destroyed a toaster oven. Only this time it wasn't me lighting the toaster oven on fire or Tom burning food past recognition - this was something new. It's been many years since we've had a toaster oven, so it's a completely new device to the kiddos. While it looks like a microwave you don't use a plate. It bakes cookies but still, no plates. Somehow Sam missed that memo:
Yes, that's a blue plastic plate melted down into the toaster oven. And yes, those are waffles. Seems that poor little Sam got a bit confused and loaded his waffles and his plate into the toaster oven - the brand new toaster oven. Well, once you start cooking your waffles and plastic plate, aside from stinking up the whole house, you melt your plate. At some point after they decided to send a messenger down the hall to tell me what they did. But it was't the reaction that the boys expected, and it certainly wasn't the sight that I expected to see. Apparently ruining toaster ovens is genetic. This will be #3 that we've had to toss, unless we can burn off the rest of the plastic - which we'll try when it stops raining outside so we don't stink up the house. But still, there's something to be said about toaster ovens in our house - apparently that's not a match made in heaven.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Memories

Looked back at my blog to five years ago to see what I wrote about 9/11, and what did I find? Nothing. Not a single post for the day, and nothing written about 9/11 at all that year. Then I remembered what 2006 was all about for me and understood better. 2006 was us moving to the DC area, both of my grandparents dying, then my mom passing away - all in the same year. So it makes more sense that I wasn't in a spot to reflect on 9/11. But this year, ten years after 9/11, is different. I've been having a bit of trouble with the whole 9/11 for some reason. It's almost as if I'm still processing, wanting to avoid it. We weren't directly affected by it. Tom was home, about to get on a plane to DC, but still packing when the planes hit the towers. Our close family was not directly affected but extended family was (and they left the area as soon as they could for the space and beauty of Colorado). But today as I sit here reflecting on what it means to me - which is what so many folks are asking - I'm not sure what to think. Like I said above, I think I'm still processing. The emotions well up and the fear resurfaces. The unknown is there again.

A few weeks ago we had an earthquake and the cell phones were jammed. Couldn't find Tom for a bit, but at the time I wasn't concerned as I knew generally where he was and that he was likely safe. But now I wonder what would have happened if it had been hours and there was no communication, no contact. I can't even begin to understand what folks went through on 9/11 where they saw the images on the TV and online but couldn't reach out to their family.

So here we are ten years later, remembering, certainly not forgetting, but for me I'm still trying to figure out exactly how to process all of this. Maybe in time I will settle. We did go to the site a few years back and saw where there were no more towers. That was startling. Maybe it's time for us to go back again and see what is in the place of those famous towers, and things might settle more in my mind.

Friday, September 09, 2011


So yesterday I totally threw Giants under the bus. We LOVE They Might Be Giants. They have so many good songs for both adults and kids, but one of my favorites Science is Real spoke to me after watching yesterday's GOP Presidential Debate. So today I thought I'd show them a little love/ Giants are about clever, they are about fun, and they are about creative:

Gotta love TMBG!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Dear Rick Perry

Dear Rick Perry - Evolution is a fact, and science is real.

So terribly sorry, TMBG. We really do love you, but this guy running for President needs to hear this.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

First Day of School

After recovering from the crying and fussing about that we had yesterday, it was good to hear that the kids who actually DID go to school had a great day. The little boys were very excited about their first day, had little to tell me but both thought that recess was fun. It is pouring outside so not sure what was fun about that, but they
thought it was fun. Max liked some of his teachers a LOT, and some he left out completely, so I'm guessing he was non-plussed. He learned some stuff about the school, where his locker might be (they'll get those next week), and that he's the only 6th grader in the Advanced/Symphonic band. Not sure what that means either, but hey, he's excited. All three boys were glad to go back the second day, and so I'm hoping that this will be
a great year. Buses ran on time, supplies were delivered ahead of time, and everyone made it to and from school in one piece. Max made some new friends, Ian and Sam ran across loads of old ones, and all is right in the world. And now, I nap.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Left Behind

Just dropped off the three oldest at their respective bus stops. Unlike some parents who were crying, some who were up and down all night, and some who were anxious for the transition to middle school or a new grade in elementary school, I was (and still am) peachy. Problem is, I have a little girl sitting next to me crying that her brothers are gone. Apparently we didn't prep her well enough for the first day of school. The boys? They are all good to go. Lucy? Not so much. She's now sitting in her room balling her eyes out because she's not happy that she didn't get on a bus, wasn't dropped off at school, didn't get to pack a lunch, and is still here. With me. Alone. All day. I guess it just wasn't her plan for today, but not sure what else we could have told her. I told her we'd do something fun (not inclined to at the moment as she's being rude in the midst of her fussing). I think once she calms down we'll color or watch some Dora. But who knew that the person that would have the toughest time would be the littlest one who was left behind.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Good lord. My husband drives his car to and from work with THESE dirty windows every day. And this picture doesn't nearly so the window justice - they are filthy. They aren't dirty on the outside - they are dirty on the inside. You'd think he's notice, or care, or clean them at least. They're getting worse as we go, and I can almost see my reflection in there, but not in a good way. Oh, well. Not my car. Maybe it's time to replace it - I mean, dirty windows = new car, right?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

If this were any other job I'd be fired

Two years ago I was smacking myself up the side of the head because I left some letters and supplies at home. Today we went to our 6th year of Open Houses, hit two of them today, and didn't break a sweat. Instead of just attending, I set up the PTA stuff, handed out the school supplies, and helped with the ice cream scooping briefly. We had school spirit shop sales that exceeded our expectations, served up a TON of ice cream (probably close to 800 scoops) and got most of the supplies out the door. In addition, we visited three classrooms for the two little boys, cleaned up the cafeteria and gym, and came home. All this after attending Max's open house this morning and exploring his new school (sans ice cream). Wild, crazy day.

We got all three boys settled in their respective schools, have school supplies in hand or delivered, and we are ready to go. How different it is two years down the road. No pressure to bring the supplies to school, no worries about writing the letter, and a much, much easier time. Oh how things have changed (for the good).

September 06, 2009

If this were any other job I'd be fired

NotebookWait, this is my full time job yet after this screw up no one sent me to the unemployment office. Let me explain. I am a stay at home mom. I have four kids, three of whom are in school. The baby would LOVE to be in school (and she finds herself there often while I'm volunteering for things), but she's still a little squirt and has a few years left before she joins her brothers. Anyway, today was the boys' school open house, and we were not only supposed to take them in to meet their teachers, but also bring their school supplies up, and write letters introducing them to their new teachers. Well, I took them to the open house. Yes, we showed up - on time, I'll add - but that was it.

I wrote no letters and the school supplies are still sitting in my basement. I failed on two out of three counts on this particular project. If I was getting evaluated for this performance I'd get really, really low marks, or even fired if it was a big project for a client. But for some reason I'm allowed to slide, a lot. At my job, you see, the rewards are huge, and the repercussions of miscues (that's what we'll call it - a miscue instead of a complete failure to execute) are minor, if any. No one here is watching me to see if my performance is up to par, and no one judges when I miss deadlines or slip up a bit. So I guess I'll be driving up to the school on the first day loaded down with supplies. And I guess I need to hop on writing those letters before next Tuesday. And then I'll be thankful that I can't get fired from this job because apparently I am a little too lax on the details periodically. Then again so is pretty much every other mom that I know - they slip up occasionally too - so I'll just step back now and take a breath. Oh, yeah, and get those letters done ASAP.

This is an original DC Metro Moms post. When she's not lamenting her own lack of discipline, Suzie blogs over at Confessions of a Not So Well Behaved Woman.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bikes and cars

Fixin' your bike sometimes requires an audience:Riding off into the sunset, caring not that her brothers were sidelined by a busted chain:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Daddy, O.K.

Love this - chokes me up every time:

Thanks, Subaru.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Phone funny #1

If he's "The Help", no wonder the competition was concerned about being beaten...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Getting older bites

So I'm just 39 this year (a few weeks ago actually) but parts of me are falling apart. If you ask my darling, loving husband, he will tell you that I've been falling apart for years now - teeth (crowns and laminates), vision (bifocals), and knees (surgery at a young age), but now my back has succumb to age as well. Actually my back has given me fits on and off for years but this time it's because I painted my toenails. Yes, you read that correctly. The act of painting my toenails has caused me back pain. Last Fall it was shelving library books. The act of putting the books on the lower shelves in the school library made my back seize up. This time it's the toe nail polish, and life just isn't fair. I'm a big fan of changing my nail polish on a regular basis, but without having to hit the salon. I guess it's time now to start doing that. I better start popping in for a quick polish change occasionally or else I'll end up who knows where, but face up. But the whole can't reach my toes because it hurts thing? Well that really bites. I love my chiropractor and all, but I'm not nearly old enough to be going through this. And the worst part is - I know that this is just the beginning. Ugh.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sepak Takraw anyone?

Tom says to me last night "So, have you seen the guys who play volleyball with their feet?" I sit for a minute, thinking back to the Paralympics volleyball, but they were on their bottoms and used their hands. I had no idea what he was talking about. He snatched away my phone and found this:

It isn't the wildest thing I've seen but it sure does come close. You have to be flexible, precise, have a somewhat decent vertical jump, and one heck of a good reach with your...leg. Very strange. Apparently it's tough to play as well. It's kick volleyball played with a rattan ball, and you can use your feet, knees, head, and chest, but you still have to get the ball over the net and down into your opponent's court. It's a popular sport over in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, but who knew. What a crazy looking thing to watch - can't imagine what it's like to play.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Adequate Yearly Progress

Once again the issue of Adequate Yearly Progress and the Federal mandate to have all kids passing all state achievement tests by 2014 has popped up. Several years ago I wrote about how we looked past the tests at the school that my kids attend. As my kids roll up and out of one of the best schools around, I look back on what I wrote. Along with over half of the schools in our district, we once again failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress. We made it last year so the ramifications are less than they would be had we not made it last year, but something has to give. The idea of Federal waivers that will drive states towards holding teachers accountable for test scores (and towards Race to the Top which our state withdrew from), well, that's unacceptable. We can't hold teachers hostage and at the same time accountable for test results. SO much of my kids' day is already driven by SOL tests (that's what they are called in VA). Can't imagine what life will be like if there are waivers in place that tied the teacher's hands even further and they aren't allowed to actually teach? Sigh...

But for now I'll look back on what I wrote back in 2007, after only one year at our school. Four years later I would write exactly the same thing. And I feel much more passion for this school that does such a good job of bridging the divides that we see at other schools, that reaches those kids who are left behind at other schools, and looks at the whole child as a way to educate them.

October 05, 2007

Adequate Yearly Progress

BooksI recently had a discussion with a mother whose child was in preschool and she was wondering where to send her kiddo for Kindergarden. She was concerned about the low scores and also the large number of kids on free or reduced lunch at the local elementary school, yet she'd heard so many good things about the school. There was a diconnect. While some folks in the area understand all of the dynamics of the Fairfax County schools, not everyone "gets it." I know that we didn't when we first arrived here, yet I find myself regularly explaining to family and friends why the test scores don't accurately reflect the education that my son is getting at this school. Here is a blog entry I wrote a few weeks ago in response to the report that Fairfax County failed to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress across the board, and also as an answer to the question of why we send our son to this school.

"The Fairfax County school system for the first time failed to meet academic goals under the No Child Left Behind Act, largely because many students with limited English skills struggled on reading tests that were given in response to a federal order, according to school officials and scores released yesterday." -Excerpt from the Washington Post; By Maria Glod and Michael Alison Chandler; Washington Post Staff Writers; Friday, August 24, 2007; Page A01

My child attends a school that did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) according to government standards.

My child attends a school that has not made AYP in the past as well.

My child attends a school where 45% of the students are not proficient in English.

My child attends a school where 54% of the students are on free or reduced lunch.

My child attends a school where he is a minority in many ways.

My child attends a school where 42% of the population participates in the English for Speakers of Other Languages Program.

But my child also attend a school where there are children from 40 countries that speak 20 different languages.

My child attends a school where there is true racial diversity - 14% Asian/Pacific Islander, 6% Black, 48% Hispanic, 26% While, and 5% Other.

My child attends a school where there were no serious incidents or firearm violations, and only two fights last year.

My child attend a school that has had more winners of the Fairfax County Teacher of the Year than any other elementary school.

My child attends a school with an outdoor habitat learning lab, a black box theater, a museum in progress, a state of the art communication lab where students produce their own TV shows and videos, a staffed math lab and a staffed science lab.

My child attends a magnet school for the arts and sciences.

My child attends a school that has a foreign language partial immersion program in Spanish.

My child attends a school that offers about 30 before and after school classes ranging from athletics to science to band to arts and crafts. These classes cover things like photography, healthy eating, drama, basketball, sewing, soccer, science experiments, and many more. These classes are open to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

My child attend a school where kids are given a chance to learn, regardless of where they came from or what language they speak.

My child attend a school where he learns.

My child attends a school he loves.

My child attends a school that really doesn't leave any child behind, regardless of the adequate yearly progress that we do or do not make.

This was posted at Confessions of a Not So Well Behaved Woman on August 26, 2007

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reflections on Turning 39

Yes, actually 39.
To the chagrin of some of my friends I'm still not quite 40. (That's going to be a fun party though.) But for now I'm one step closer to the big Four-Oh, and well, eh. Aside from the smart ass #2 kiddo telling me I looked older that morning when I got up, I don't feel any different. It took me a little longer than my 29 year old self to get up and going, but once I get going I'm a heck of a lot wiser than I was at 29. Thank goodness. And also with age comes grace...and cool pink hair.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

"How to be safe"

The wonderful Jen Lemen posted a piece on being safe that really resonated with me, so I thought I'd share it with you. She talks about being safe in regards to leaving others feeling respected and loved, and that really hit the nail on the head. As parents, Tom and I try very hard to be the safe harbor for our kids, but also each other and any friend or family member in need. While raising kids is in part pushing them out so they can explore on their own, we do so while letting them know that they can always come to us for comfort and love. So, Jen's list is perfect for us.

How To Be Safe
1. Listen. Take everything in the whole way.

2. Don’t judge. Consider whatever you receive as real and true for its own reasons. Remember the truest stories are most often secrets. Treat them as unexpected, hidden treasures.

3. Be gentle. No sudden movements. Announce great departures in logic, reason or values.

4. Be present. Let the whole of you stay for the whole story–your body, your mind, your spirit.

5. Press through resistance with the kindest truth you can find. Do so, knowing you are in the most tender territory.

6. Insist on the highest ideals available at the moment. Do so with innocence. Don’t worry if you sound naive or dumb. Everyone understands eventually that the only place worth running to for cover is Love. Yes, love can destroy, but it also heals everything in its wake.

7. Be really clear. Speak as plainly as you can imagine, and then bring it down to the ground some more. This is not easy, but you can learn how to do it. (Or so I’ve been told!)

8. Weather storms. Be unflappable in crisis. Come back when you should run away. Say words like “I can’t let you go” if only silently to yourself.

9. Set a limit. There’s no refuge where there are no boundaries. You can be a wall as well as a fortress. People may squirm but they’ll also be relieved.

10. Make your body a sanctuary. Be the kind of person who someone can come home to. Open your arms, lean in, lend your body as comfort, sustenance or kindness. You can be safe harbor. To be so only for a moment, is more than enough.

Thanks, Jen, for putting into words what we've been striving towards for so long now.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nail Art Animation - How clever are they???!!!

LOVE this commercial! I'm a big fan of Kia anyway, but this nail art idea has got to be one of the coolest I've seen in a while. I'm a sucker for cute nails (you just have to check out my Pinterest Style board to see that), but this is very clever indeed:

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Can't believe that they are BACK! Aside from the fact that it's in Texas, on a ranch, with guys in tight jeans and boots, it's DALLAS! JR, Bobby, and Sue Ellen are back, all old and wrinkly, but back! Can't wait to see it next summer! Toss in Jesse Metcalfe, and I'm a fan already! And finally, an actual preview:

Thanks TNT!!! You have thrown me back 20 years and transported me right back to Texas!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Beautiful day!

Driving home from rugby yesterday and it was perfect out!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's rugby time again!

Once again it's rugby time! All three boys are playing again this summer, and all three are having a blast! The little boys' team is dominating it's opponents - bot because they are practice more, are bigger and faster, or anything like that, but because they really give it their all. They are playing U9, so it's 7-9 years olds they play with, and they are really enjoying it.

Max is a rugby monster too! We loaned him out to another team since we were short players at this game, so instead of the orange he was in yellow, but he scores several trys for the yellow team!
So far a great season, and we're almost done Big tournament the last weekend in July, then off for the summer! Go PAC Rugby! Go Tigers!

Sunday, July 10, 2011



And she wears it well!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Suzie Needs...Pt. 2

A few years ago I ran a Google search on "Suzie needs" and posted about what popped up. I decided to do it again, and found that not a lot had changed.

The first time I got: "Suzie needs $600," and this time it was: "Suzie needs monetary help ASAP."

Last time it was "Suzie needs a flu shot." And this time "Suzie needs a man."

Last time Suzie was looking to refurbish her home: "Suzie needs her curtains taken down, washed and put back up, the freezer defrosted and the floors scrubbed." This time, "Suzie needs a new home." Think she's moving up, or just out?

And apparently "Suzie needs to buy six 33- cent stamps using EXACT change." Yes, four years later. Think she knows that stamps went up in price?

Google games are funny. What are you up to these days, according to Google, of course?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Fourth!

(Can't WAIT for this new movie to come out!)

Friday, July 01, 2011

Let's Play Blue's Clues!

Eight year ago Max's favorite person left. It wasn't me, it wasn't the cat or a stuffed animal, and it wasn't a Pokemon. Max was two, and his favorite person was Steve, from Blue's Clues. Max visited with Steve pretty much every day - singing and dancing, learning shapes, letters, sounds, and even some songs. Then Steve left for college on a hopscotch scholarship. Funny thing - Max didn't even notice. We all sat down as a family to watch the episode where Steve essentially handed the show over to his brother Joe, and while Joe was cute and funny, Max never watched again. He asked to see Blue's Clues or a few months after Steve left, and he occasionally watched the videos, but he never connected with Joe.

The other day, as Lucy sat down to watch an old episode of Blue's Clues, an low and behold it was THE episode. She plugged right in and said "TWO Steve's!" I told her "No, that's Joe and that's Steve." So I guess kid #4 is also taken with Steve as well. She went about her business and watched the same episode of Blue's Clues that her oldest brother watched, at almost the same age, eight years earlier. Pretty darn cool.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cars is BACK (and we've got a cool give-away)!!!

While they had seen bits and pieces of free Saturday morning movies in the past, in June of 2006 my youngest boys saw their first full length official movie at the theater - Cars (aren't they cute!):
Five years later...Cars 2 is coming out! I am so excited - we LOVED the first Cars movie. We have loads of Cars toys and books, and the boys really took to it. Well, Lucy too is all about cars and trucks (and has been playing with some of the Cars characters even though she hasn't been officially introduced to them yet), and now she has the opportunity to see HER first real in-the-theater movie. Lucy will just be three and the little boys were three and a half, but I'm really hoping that she'll enjoy the second Cars movie (and the popcorn, of course) just as much as her brothers did five years ago!

Between the homage to Back to the Future and the "Materhosen" in the preview below - I'm super excited!

Take a peek at this scene too:

Gotta love a movie that has this great of a bathroom scene - and gotta love Mater! This time around the gang hits the road for an international race - and mystery and intrigue follow them! Cars 2 opens June 24 in theaters across the country (and I can't wait to see it).

If your kids are big Cars fans like mine, keep reading for a cool give-away!

I'm hosting a drawing for this cool Cars 2 t-shirt, along with a few other cool prizes (See them all below). I will select ONE winner for this drawing, and the prize pack will be mailed directly to you.

- CARS 2 t-shirt in youth sizes of S, M, L, XL

- CARS 2 set of 3 bumper tickets

- CARS 2 temporary tattoo sheet (2 per winner)

- CARS 2 puzzle

To enter this giveaway, tell me about YOUR favorite Cars character! One entry will be drawn at random, and the winner will be notified via e-mail. Be sure to either sign in to leave your comment or leave it in the comment itself so I can notify you. Comments will close and drawing will be held at midnight July 5th. Winner must reply to the e-mail notification with their name, mailing address, and t-shirt size (youth only) by noon Eastern on July 7th or a second winner will be drawn.

The small print: I am hosting this giveaway because we are HUGE Cars fans. No compensation of any kind was received. The prizes are compliment of Disney Pixar, but the words and Cars love are all mine. Drawing open to residents of the US only. Thanks Disney Pixar for the giveaway!