November 23, 2010

The Universe sends me a message

    Isn't it wonderful how a way is always provided for us? How we are prepared for things to come without always seeing the preperation or understanding it's purpose? That is one of the things I am most grateful for right now. Over and over in my life I can look back and see how I was prepared to handle something, how someone came into my life at just the right time, or a job or volunteer position I held gave me just the right tools to deal with the upcoming events. I am indeed glad for many things.

Here's just a tiny example, but it served the purpose of reminding me of so much more.

    Yesterday my plan was to make pie crusts, put them in the pie plates and freeze them so they were ready to go later this week. My mom gave me courage to make my own this year, instead of buying the yucky box ones. They really are so much better. Back on track... So I gather ingredients and set them on the table and pull out my favorite apron when my darling daughter says, "I need an apron to help you." Wanting to get on with it, I tried putting an adult apron on her. No go. She wanders off and I sift some flour. She comes back with a piece of pink fabric from my stash in her closet and asks "Can you turn this into an apron? It won't take a long time..." She has big blue eye, and she knows just how to bat them for maximum effect. So, I move the ingredients back to the freezer and cut out an apron for her. Just then the Big kid comes in. He wants one too. I never sew for him, he says. (Well, he's right. He's 9 and not exactly into mama sewn items these days.) He too comes back with a piece of fabric I hadn't had a plan for yet and asks me to whip it up for him.

  I spent the better part of the next hour and a half sewing aprons. Just as I was about to finish Meg's, she comes in asks where the buttons are. What buttons? I wasn't planning on buttons. She has a button thing. So she spent some time picking out buttons from the button jar. Thankfully, I had recently learned how to use my buttonhole foot. (Who knew that was so darn useful?) I was able to add buttons to her apron. Now I had 2 kids with aprons and it was nap time.

     Finally, after dinner, about 6:00 we started with the pie crusts. I had two great helpers. While letting the dough chill so I could roll it, I decided to make a loaf of garlic french bread to use in my dressing on Thursday. While it was kneading, my stand mixer bit the dust. I went through 2 or 3 before finding this one that I could both afford and would last a while. I guess I have had it about 10 years. It's not in the budget right now to get a new one, especially since I am saving for that new sewing machine I need, uh, want. So now what? Now I have two kids with aprons who really want to help me and a lot of work I need to do the old school way. After all, my Grandmother's didn't have stand mixers and they were all amazing cooks. They knew how to put on a holiday meal without all of the hoopla we have today.

My message: Simplify. And spend more time with my kids. They will remember for a long time to come helping me make this holiday meal, and maybe learn something along the way. Perhaps they will take pride in the things they have made and actually eat something this year. Thanks be for the message from above.

November 17, 2010

We have a Mathelete

We have known for a long time that our kid was brilliant. All parents think that, right? We knew it at about the age of 20 months or so when he would memorize and give us correct directions to and from a certain place. Like the commissary to home in HI where I would turn the wrong way every.single.time. We knew it when he was 2 1/2 and was adding up the beans on his plate and stacking the canned food in a certain order. Before he was 3, he had started memorizing books and in Sunbeams (a Sunday School class for 3 year olds) was able to memorize at least half of the Articles of Faith. We knew it in kindergarten when he started doing 6 square Sudoku and by first grade when his times on regular Sudoku were better than his Dad's. Several teachers told us right away that he was different and people commented all of the time on how bright he was. We knew he had a different perspective on the world and that numbers were almost magical to him.
   Today in school he competed for the first time in the Math Olympiads. In our district it's a program for 4-6th grade students to expand their problem solving skills through math. The questions are hard. Really hard. Some of them come directly off of the PSAT tests. The object isn't necessarily to get all of the problems correct, but to figure out how math could help you solve the problem at hand. It's encouraged to look at a problem differently than someone else and you get points for coming up with the right solution using different approaches. A big part of the competition comes after the test, when you get a chance to stand up and show everyone how you came to the answer you came to. It gives the kids a chance to use math vocabulary in a relate-able way, to teach others, to stand up for their own answers and be encouraged by maybe doing things a little differently. I have to say it's a pretty amazing program.
     His current teacher has told me she thinks he is gifted and that in 17 years of teaching she hasn't seen a kid who has a mind that works like that. She encouraged me to look for opportunities to further his obsession (um, talent.) I am not sure the local Rec Center has what we are looking for though. Does anyone have any ideas on how to go about finding the right thing for him? Are there community math groups and do they admit almost 10 year old boys? I am proud of my big kid, who can do hard things. I know there are harder things to come. I hope this little experience in Math club will help teach him some great problems solving skills. I hope it re-enforces his love for math and motivates him to work harder. I hope all of the work will eventually earn him great scholarships and open doors for him all through his life. Having a Mathelete is awesome.

November 15, 2010

Ah, Military Life

Some things in life are just hard. Unfortunately there is usually no way around them. Like the game says "can't go over it, can't go under it, can't go around it, guess we'll have to go through it..." One of the hardest things about being a Military Kid is that you move, sometimes a lot. When you move you have to make new friends, and the worst part, leave old friends behind. When we left WA, Bug left some great friends behind. One of them was able to come and visit this summer. They had such fun, it was like they were never apart. Bug still talks about when we get back (crossing fingers) so that he can play with his friend.

As a Mom, you want to shield your kids from heartache. Also as a Mom, you know they have to go through it to learn and grow. It's one of the hardest things about being a parent. I do know, as a grown-up having moved 9+ times, that you do make new friends and the very best part is that you get to keep the ones who move away. We now have friends in far corners of the world and I love that. In fact, we have neighbors here who we have known since Bug and his Friend were in pre-school together.  As a 9 year old boy, it's hard to see past next Tuesday.

In our new house here there are lots and lots of boys. In the park behind our house they are free to play ball, tag, football, spy kids or whatever they want. They all have a great time back there. A couple of months ago one of them moved away and everyone was sad. They all moped around for days. This week another family moved on to a new Military Adventure, leaving us another 2 boys short of a fun time. The 3 oldest boys were all in the same class at school and some of the same school activities. They loved hanging out. It's so hard to say goodbye. This morning Bug looked toward thier house and said, "School will not be the same today." No it won't, but new adventures are in store, and we wish them well. 


November 2, 2010

Our Fun Halloween

 Aren't they cute? Meg wanted to be a Rodeo Princess after I showed her a picture of my cute cousin Jaime as Princess of the Benton County Fair some number of years ago. She loved the hat but was even more excited about the boots. The child has a thing for pink boots. Can you blame her? I kind of love them too. I have had the suede pink outfit stashed for some time and the belt was Justin's when we was a little tyke. She comes from a great Rodeo family. The belt buckle was a gift from another Grandpa, which she also loved.

Bug wanted to be Monopoly Man. He's Monopoly obsessed. He mostly plays it on the Wii now because the games tend to be easier to save that way when they go on and on. In the game, the Monopoly guy gets a new jacket every time you win a game and he thought that was cool. He's also found a bug in the game so that he can make very advantageous trades. Not that he cheats, I am just impressed he figured it out.

Justin and I threw together our costumes at the last possible minute. The glue was still drying on the skirt ribbon when we got in the car. I love washable fabric glue. I didn't even have to ruin a skirt. Too bad we left the can of spinach on the counter at home. I also gained a whole new appreciation for my husband who has to wear those awful boon dockers every day to work. Those things are horribly uncomfortable.

Everyone had a good time at the Trunk or Treat with a chili cook off, carnival games, a cupcake walk and a bounce house. Quite the party and we all had a great evening.

No ideas for next year. Guess we will wait and see.