Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Putting the Wicked Witch of the West to Shame

I'll spare all the many ways I outbitched the witch tonight, and reflect on this one telling incident.

I've lately returned to gummy bears as potty treats, since Alice has decided to SELECTIVELY abandon her potty-trained status. Amazingly, my big kids kept eating the potty treats, no matter what I said. The little girls are totally capable of saying no to themselves in favor of the rule—not so, the almost-adults. 

I told my big kids, "Anyone who gets into the gummies again, has to buy me a whole Costco bag." Like everything else, they completely ignored me. Over and over, all three of them! 
When they got home I informed them that all three of them had to go to Costco TONIGHT and each buy me a bag of gummy bears. 
(Can you fathom that quantity???)

I immediately get all kinds of passionate argument about how they can't even get into costco, and "my wallet's in dad's car" and "it won't work," blah, blah, blah. "Figure it out. Solve it!" I explain that they'll need cash to buy something at Costco with my card, "So go get cash first." (They ignored this advice.)

Argue, argue, argue. Heat! Fury! Conflagration! 

I finally told them, "You will not have dinner, FHE, treats, NOTHING until you've gone to Costco and EACH OF YOU BUYS ME A BAG OF GUMMY BEARS!"

They all get real calm-like and Nancy says, "Check it out, this is like the first time in two years that mom's following through on a threat." And that was it.  

I can see, I've trained them perfectly to ignore me. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"China doesn't really match our family."

Eden (6) said those exact words during FHE. David was talking about the very UNlikely possibility of needing to move to China briefly for this job he has starting in April. 

He was in the process of explaining how we could make it work--rent 3 apartments right next to each other, since we're not likely to find a 5 bedroom home in a country that allows 1 child per couple. Adding to our weirdness--7 girls.

That's when Eden piped in with, "China doesn't really match our family." 

She has a point. Still, if we possibly can go, we will. And, I've already prepared everyone that if it happens, they will NOT be going to American schools. I'll drop them into a regular Chinese classroom, and pray hard for the gift of tongues. 

Just a thought.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Using Technology to Humanize the Classroom

Another big wow at TED. Just when I thought that the only improvements in education would be found by looking backward, here is a real pioneer. (For a fleeting moment, I had an impulse to learn calculus!) And all this brilliance comes out of his project to help his cousins. Enjoy!

Forgot to mention my favorite part: When you watch the data--teaching for mastery rather than just a pass--the kid who looks like a slow learner in the beginning, might look like an advanced student over a few weeks. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

"The job of the B is to make the C sad" OR . . . How does music do that! OR . . .How dramatic eyebrows can improve your performance.

I'm sure you've enjoyed the brilliance of TED presentations before. This is the first one I've seen that attempts to explain why classical music is for everyone.

You won't believe what this man can do with his eyebrows!


"I walked out of Auschwitz and into life with a vow . . . 
I will never say anything that can not stand as the last thing I ever say."

Friday, February 25, 2011

About that Orva . . .

We're hoping to have this blog up and running this week, so you can see the real post then, but to put everyone at ease, here's my blurb about Orva.


Orva: That sleek figure you see there is no accident, this lady is our health and beauty expert. She’s a true vegan and does hot yoga (Bikram) faithfully. She can help you identify the carcinogens in your life and is the person you want if you’re doing battle with an insurance company or trying to make difficult medical decisions—she’s an expert questioner.  She wins for most grandchildren: 26.

my bad

Nice blogging snafu.  If you saw that post about my book club—that was meant for the new blog we’re trying to start. My finger slipped just as I clicked, and instead of clicking to SAVE, I clicked to PUBLISH. And, since Live Writer is so very efficient—all synced up to to the showerwall—it loaded to the wrong blog (here).

You might have thought I would have the brains to quickly delete it, but Iwhen I looked at my blog, it wasn’t there.

Refresh. Still not there. A cyber mystery. I had no idea, it would post with the date of my FIRST DRAFT—way back in August.

It was an ugly draft, and as soon as I posted, I noticed that somehow in all my cutting and pasting, Orva’s little blurb got deleted. The irony is, the only people who saw this dumb post are the people who have the showerwall loaded into their google reader—basically, David’s family—the only readers (of my 15) who would even know to look for Orva.

Orva, you’ll be glad to know, you had many people come to your defense. No chance you’ll be forgotten, not even on a temporary bad draft posted to the wrong blog!

There’s longevity for you.

Thanks, everyone, for caring. It’s fun to hear from you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Resenting the Hero

UPDATE: David informs me that my review is lean on real info about the book,  for example . . . "Why would I want to read it." So, here's a bone for those of you who like more of a teaser. (In purple to match the ridiculous cover. Don't worry, no spoilers.)

In this world of extremes, the population is constantly threatened by violent atmospheric events (earthquakes, floods, tsunamis). A few gifted people "Sources" are able to channel their mental resources to dispel these events, but left undefended, they die in the process without protection from a "Shield"--another gifted person capable of reaching into the Source to regulate heartrate, shield the mind, and whatever else is necessary to help the Source survive channeling.

The story begins as novice Shield (and smart girl) Dunleavy Mallorough is waiting for her pairing ceremony--where Sources and Shields are brought together for the first time to see who, if any, will "bond." Bonding is instantaneous, spontaneous and permanent. Source and Shield will be connected for life and when one dies, so does the other.

Lee (Dunleavy)has read up on the Source candidates and is appalled when she bonds with overly beautiful Source Shintaro Karish, widely known for his pretty face, excessive philandering, and general debaucheries. But, he's a mighty fine Source: the only one who can sense an event before it arrives, which gets them immediately stationed in the largest and most difficult, weather-torn city on the planet--High Scape. So begins a rocky friendship. 

If this channeling and bonding business sounds weird, it's only because I'm not Moira Moore. It's all very convincing, and our new heroes are flung into an impossible setting where more experienced pairs have failed.
For all it's adventure, the story is also very sociological. The pairing situation creates some unusual dynamics, and injustices surface like they do in any culture. It's a very real world.

One more thing: I am VINDICATED in my LOW opinion of the title and cover, by this hilarious review at Angieville. (I'm not just being picky.)

Now, as we were . . . 

I just finished this fun book. 

NOTE:  This is the all-time WORST cover I've ever seen, mostly based on its total irrelevance: nowhere in the story does anyone polish a man's boots. The characters look like idiots, and that bubble cloud makes it look like some kind of Sweet Valley tween drivel--very misleading. This is not a romance. It's also not for young YA (sorry, Lizzy). It's got some heavy themes, though nothing graphic. 

As long as I'm complaining, it's a poor title as well.  I imagine Ms Moore had some fine words for her publisher.

BUT, don't let all that dissuade you.  This is a great story. I read about the series on my favorite YA book blog: http://angieville.blogspot.com.  Interest piqued, I got it from the library, thought I'd read a few pages before sleep--ha! 

I read deep into the night until the book hit my face and finished it the next night. It's a very compelling story, and her writing style is quick and immediate. She covers all the background you need in just a few pages and the story is off and running.

I started to write a long description of the setting and characters, but I realized part of the fun is discovering this unusual world and this pair of characters. For setting, think 18th century Europe or maybe more like 19th century America (roughly!) but on a different planet. That's all I'll say.

I was a little disturbed by too many allusions to sexual forays, even homosexual flirtations--not my fare for YA--but we never see anything overt or explicit. And that ends in the first half.

Still, she's an excellent storyteller. I couldn't put it down. Very interesting social constructs drive this unusual culture. It made me think about our own world. 

I've vowed not to start the next book until my work is done for the week. I can see from other reviews that they're all productivity killers. 


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Cup of "Perfect Peach" Tea

This is a lovely tea--very fragrant. Everyone in my house THINKS she wants a taste, but I'm alone for actually liking it.

Here's some of tonight's commentary from Alice (3):

Al:  Mom, can I taste your tea?
me: Sure.
Al:  Mmm. It tastes like gum--like CHEWED gum. 
me: Really? 
Al:  Do YOU think it tastes like chewed gum?
me: I don't know. I've never tasted chewed gum. 
Al:  Hm. It tastes like chewed gum. 

She sort of has a point, but how does she know the taste of chewed gum?

(btw: she looked exactly like Jenni Mella--including facial expressions and shoulder shrugs--as we had this conversation. Amazing!)

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Mom, is Dad a nerd?"

Here's a fun conversation I had tonight with Eden (6) : 
eden: Mom, is Dad a nerd? 
me: Yes. Dad likes to be a nerd.
eden: How do you get to be a nerd?
me: You just study hard, you get good at math, and then you're a nerd.
eden: I mean, does someone have to say that you're a nerd--like the mayor or someone like that?
me: No, you just declare yourself a nerd.
I'm not good at math, but I like to think that my closet love of the original Star Trek gives me some rights to nerdhood.
Catch an old episode here.

Live long and prosper!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cooking with My Grandmothers

My microwave died a couple of weeks ago. Quite suddenly. No heaving out it's last breath for a few days, it just didn't work one minute, and I needed a new one.

But, I was sick--really sick--and these things take a bit of research. It needs to fit a very specific, small hole in the cupboards. It took a while before I even felt like looking, then another while to decide which one to buy.

In the meantime, I got to ask myself, "How on earth do I melt the butter for popcorn? --are you kidding me?--a saucepan? . . . frozen edamame beans that Alice insists on daily--no! another pan! . . . I need a quick roux (flour mixed in melted butter) to add to the potato soup? another pan just to mix the roux?"

It was seriously irritating. I ignored all leftovers.

Then one afternoon, I really wanted to reheat some mashed potatoes, and it dawned on me that my grandmothers knew how to manage leftovers without a microwave. I asked, "How did Grandma reheat mashed potatoes?" And, then, without ceremony or any visible indicator, my kitchen transformed into a holy intersection between heaven and earth.

"So simple. Just put a little milk in the pan, get it hot, add the potatoes, and stir really fast before it burns."

It worked perfectly. "Wow, thanks Grandma. What about the gravy? Dinner rolls? Bacon is so messy! and the pans are extra dirty."

"So, easy, just a little extra scrubbing, or soak it while you clean up." So fun to hang out in the kitchen with my grandmothers this week. Whether my DNA retains their memories, or they are actually more available then we thought, it was a party with the grandmas every night in my kitchen.

My new microwave arrived today. It's stainless steel and very sleek. Works great.

Not as fun as my grandmas. I'm going miss them. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

You may have noticed, I haven't been a stellar blogger this year. My resolution for 2011 is to post once a month! I'm really shooting for once a week but don't want to risk overpromising. So here's my first post and New Year wish to you: 

 Hope springs eternal! Here's to looking forward in 2011.