Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Party...Good Times

Our neighborhood had a Halloween Party last night. Rick was at work, but the kids and I went and had a great time. They bounced in the bouncy house, got a balloon giraffe and sword, made ghost bead necklaces and got a Halloween cupcake to eat at the end. Maya did a great job being patient in line and coming out of the bouncy house when her turn was over, so that helped a lot (Shayne did too, but he usually does). Here are some pictures of Buzz Lightyear and Batman.

The Lone Wolf

We have lived in our home for the past 8 years almost to the day. During this time we have seen many plants come and go. I have never claimed to have a green thumb, but in spite of that, we have a very sturdy vine (not sure what kind) and two oleander bushes that have survived the long haul, up to and including going without water for 2-3 weeks when we are in Maryland each summer and the average high temperature is over 110. So after all these years, about a week ago, the vine grew one flower. It has never flowered before and it may never flower again, so I thought it was worth celebrating.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Can You Read This?

I got this in a forwarded email. Maybe you have seen something like it before. Kind of crazy...

Cna yuo raed tihs? i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another Recommendation...

Ok, I know I keep writing about books I think everyone should read, but here is one more! I started reading it yesterday evening and couldn't put it down until I had read the last page. Rules is a kid's book that won the Newberry Honor in 2007. The book is written from the perspective of a 12 year old girl who has a brother four years younger than her who has autism. The title comes from a theme that is weaved throughout the book, that the main character, Catherine, makes up rules for her little brother to help him understand the world. It is a touching account of this very likable character's attempt to balance her loyalty to her family and fierce protection of her brother, with what she wants for herself.

It is wonderfully written, and like I wrote, I couldn't put it down. It is true that the subject matter is deeply personal to me, so you may only cry a few times while you read it while I only stopped crying a few times. It is moving more than sad, so don't let the crying scare you off! I think this would be a great read for school-aged kids, probably from 4th on up (5th or 6th on up if reading independently). Even though it is written for kids, I would highly recommend it for anyone. It gives invaluable insight into the lives of families with children who have disabilities that would be hard to find anywhere except for personal experience. Hearing the story from the perspective of the sister/daughter makes it even more interesting. Anyway, it is well worth the time, just have a box of tissues handy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Muffin Man Shayne"

Maya really only started drawing things that were representations of other things (people, animals, etc.) in the past 6 months. She wasn't really very interested in cutting or gluing until this past summer either. I was pretty impressed the other day when she used paper, markers, a muffin paper, scissors and a glue stick to make this all by herself. I didn't even realize she was doing it until she was done. A few weeks ago they made "muffin men" at school, so I asked her what this was and she said "Muffin Man Shayne".

Monday, October 19, 2009

His Mother's Son


Shayne: Mom, is the government watching everything we do?
Me: Not everything...

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Few of the Mamas I Know

Speaking to the moms now...I know sometimes when we are the ones taking the pictures, we don't always have good photos of ourselves with our kids. I am lucky that Rick takes nice photos of me with the kids a lot (and so do a lot of the other husbands!) but as I was looking through some photos, I found a few of my sister and sisters-in-law with their kid(s) that I really like that I don't think they have seen before.

Alison and Matthew 7/09

Tammy and Greg 7/08

Sarah and James 7/09

Tammy and Greg 7/09

Tammy and Melissa 7/08

Wendy, I am going to get a great photo of you and your little one next summer!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not to harp on books I have been reading, but...

...if you feel like this economy has treated you badly, that you aren't living as comfortably as you used to, like many of us do right now, give The Grapes of Wrath a read (or a re-read). Called by some the greatest American novel, I would have said that it was one of the best books that I ever read, except I am still trying to wrap my head around the ending, which I am not sure I like. Apart from that, it is a phenomenal book and well worth the time.
It is about one family that leaves the mid-west during the Great Depression when that part of the country was referred to as "The Dust Bowl". They were kicked off of their land and decided to relocate to California to look for work. They encounter pretty much every imaginable adversity along the way and upon arrival, but manage to keep moving forward from day to day in spite of it all.
I'm sure some of you have already read it-it was on a huge list of books that I have always wanted to read, but haven't yet. Since reading it I feel great to have food on the table at every meal, clothes to wear and a roof over our heads, not that I didn't appreciate it before. It really made me think about what it would be like to slowly loose necessities like food, shelter and clothing in spite of a willingness to work hard, and to realize that so many of the things we worry about loosing are not necessities, but things we could do without if we had to. If you are looking for something interesting to read, I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Our Goal

Shayne and I like Dr. Seuss books. Not just the ones like Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, but some of the lesser-known books like I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew and The Butter Battle Book. Some of them are wonderful and they are even more fun when read aloud. There are 50+ Dr. Seuss books. A misconception is that they are only for very young children, in fact there are many that are written for all ages. Our goal is to read all of them in the next few months. We have read 23 of them so far. I have read a few more than that from teaching 4th grade for so long, but we have read 23 together. Most recently we read If I Ran the Zoo, If I Ran the Circus, The Sleep Book and The Lorax. We are adding to our list as we find new titles at the library. I'm sure at some point we will hit a wall and not be able to find copies of the last few, but I guess we'll tackle that issue when we get there. For now, we are having fun discovering new Dr. Seuss books!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Answer (or The Story of Rex)

Ok, let me start off by writing that I am no Mother Teresa. Shocking news to all of you, I'm sure, but I did start reading her book, pictured in the last post, a little over a week ago after checking it out from the library, and I really like it so far. As I'm sure you know, Mother Teresa is renowned for loving people in the world who are lonely, poor, misshappen, diseased, etc., the least "lovable" from a conventional standpoint, which is something that I have always admired.

Anyway about 3 weeks ago, this hideous, dishevaled and clearly homeless cat decided to camp in our front patio and looked like it already had one foot in the grave and/or was ready to have kittens. We didn't know which. In fact, we didn't even know if it was male or female, and quite frankly, we didn't care to investigate. What we did know was that it was filthy, stout (which is why we thought it may have been expecting kittens), had clumps of matted together fur on its back, the biggest clump being at least the size of a golf ball, and that it looked to be in poor health. My initial thought was that it chose our patio as a sort of shelter in which to pass on to the next world in peace.

Shayne really liked it right away and built it a shelter with a towel (which will never be used again) and one of our patio chairs. At that time it was still pretty hot out, so he gave it some water. The next morning it was still there. We had been talking about maybe getting a kitten and Shayne would say things like, "Why can't we keep it? It's so cute. We wanted to get another cat and this cat needs a home. Let's give it some food. It's hungry." Again, I am no Mother Teresa, which would have been abundantly clear to anyone who could have read my thoughts about the cat at that time, but I was conflicted. The cat certainly was not cute- I don't think that was a matter of opinion. More than that, it looked deseased and dirty. But, we didn't want to teach Shayne that we don't help living things that clearly are soliciting our help just because they are extremely unattractive. So, Rick and I told him that it could be our patio cat, and we gave it some food and some more water. Every morning I was expecting to come out to find the cat dead, gone or with a litter of kittens. None of those things happened, but every day Shayne spent lots of time with it, and made sure its shelter was in good repair and that it had food and water. They were bonding.

After a week of being our patio cat, the kids and I were leaving for school, and the cat came up to the door and tried to get in. This was no surprise, as it had tried to get in several times over the previous few days, getting bolder with each attempt. But this time it was insistant. It faked left, and then right, and then made a run for it. More than anything I was surprised at how quickly it moved. Sick? Maybe it wasn't going to die after all... Anyway, we couldn't find it and we were going to be late so we had to leave it in the house while we were gone that day. It basically refused to leave after that with an iron will I have never seen in a cat and have rarely seen in a person. It simply would not be denied.

So after resigning to the idea that it was going to be staying in the house, I decided to attempt to clean it. I put it in the bathtub and tried to wash out the clumps of fur. Whatever it was that was matted in the fur was not water-soluble, so I didn't get very far. Even when it was in the bathtub and clearly distressed, it did not try to bite or scratch. I took it out, dried it off and tried combing through its fur. 50 minutes later, I had it all combed out, and had only had to cut out the very last of the biggest clump. The cat was very patient and docile during the whole ordeal, considering the discomfort of having all that sticky stuff combed out of its fur. It actually has cleaned itself with no problem since then, which has been a relief.

The next step was to give it a name. We let Shayne name it since it was basically his cat. He decided to call it "Rex". We shortly realized that Rex is a lady cat, but that's ok, Rex seems to fit. She has been with us for almost 2 weeks and has taken every liberty in the house, fully making herself at home. Hoser treated us like we were all traitors for a few days, but has gotten over it. We had our neighbor, who is a veterinary assistant, take a look at her and she said she looks healthy, and maybe three or four years old. She also said Rex is fat with poofy fur, and not pregnant. So I doubt she was homeless very long since she appears to have not missed many meals. The photo was taken after she was cleaned up and she doesn't look too bad. I really should have taken a "before" photo so you could have appreciated the transformation. Hoser isn't much of a mentor, but he tolerates her now at least.

Anyway, we felt good about taking her in and fixing her fur and all, taking a page from Mother Teresa's playbook and trying to love the least-lovable so to speak. Hopefully she will have a long, happy and healthy life with us.

So Mom and Dad were probably the closest, but to be fair to the rest of you, they had a little more information. And Dad, I'm sure "public ridicule" is just over the horizon, but we're used to it. Remember what our last cat looked like (may he rest in peace)...Thanks for all of your guesses.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Any Guesses?

I know I haven't posted in a long time, and I plan to post something more informational soon, but in the meantime...

A, How do you think these 2 images are realated? and B, How do they apply to me this week?