Monday, January 30, 2006

The Bloggies

It's time for the 2006 Bloggies - the weblog awards.

Here's some blogs even I know about:
Post Secret - everyone has a secret
Dooce - so, so funny
Go Fug Yourself - thanks, Megan, for directing me to this one

And here's some new ones I'm going to try out:
Apartment Therapy: The Kitchen
Vegan Lunch Box
The Domestic Goddess
Not Martha

Wow - there is something there for everyone. Go, check stuff out. And don't forget to vote.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Kung Hay Fat Choy!

Happy Chinese New Year ~ Sunday, January 29th.
(Year of the Dog, in case you are interested)

Cute little story: when Sally was three, I tried to teach her to say, "Kung Hay Fat Choy!" Instead, she came up with, "Kung Hay Aunt Joy!"

Friday, January 27, 2006

Favorite Fotos Friday

Samuel and Sally proudly display our cheese bread creations, made with frozen rolls (thawed), butter, herbs, and cheese. Samuel made a little dough nest (top, second from the left), and then filled it with chunks of his string cheese, which he was also eating. It turned out to be really tasty. (You'll notice he's wearing his spiderman jammies - wore them for a full 24 hours again.) Sally's creation is below. Posted by Picasa

Sally's Dough Art - a girl with cheese hair on top of a roll. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Conversations with Samuel

Samuel: "Mom, me want Scoob Doo ton too tats"
Me: "Huh?"
Samuel: "Member? You put your Scoob Doo on your ton. Member?"
Me: "Oh - Scooby Doo Tongue Tattoos?"
Samuel: "Yeah! Member?"
Me: "Yes."
Samuel: "Me have them?"
Me: "No."

Three Things Thursday

All About Food!

(1) I love pizza. It is probably my favorite food. I worked at a pizza joint while I was in high school, and I never got tired of eating it. I like mushroom, tomato, and extra cheese pizza the best. Pineapple should not be a pizza topping.

(2) We are big fans of the food channel. I like Paula Dean and Rachel Ray, and my husband likes Alton Brown. I do not like Giada De Laurentiis, the Everyday Italian chick. I don't trust an Italian chef that is that skinny. Oh, she's beautiful. But her mouth and neck are too big for the rest of her. At least she wears her hair back when she cooks. Get a scrunchie, Rachel Ray!

(3) Sliced cheese does not belong on a taco. I'm talking to you, Jack In The Box! Get a cheese grater already.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Samuel is better. Turned out to be a very short flu. Still, I declaired a sick day, which means lots of cartoons and no milk. Only going out of the house to take Sally to and from school, and a quick trip to the pet store because we ran out of dog food.

Poor dog. This happens frequently. I only buy small bags, because I really don't have a place to store large quantities of dog food. And a large bag would take so long for him to eat, that the last part would be all nasty. The least I can do for my neglected dog is feed him fresh dog food. I do buy three or four bags at a time, but I never seem to go to the pet store when he is on the last bag, because a part of me thinks, we have another bag left.

I couldn't sleep last night, which has not happened in a long while. I read some more of my book, and before I knew it, I was reading the last page and it was 2:30 am! Cripes. You'd think I'd have some more self-control, at my age. But alas, I don't.

I've decided that I love to read because it gives me a better perspective on my life. Sure, sometimes the reading of a book is an escape, a journey to a life that isn't your own. But mostly, it makes me think about things I wouldn't normally think about, and to appreciate the blessings of my life.

It's been really windy here lately. We have some really big pine trees by our house, and tons of those needles blew off the trees and made a carpet on the sidewalks. When Sally and I walk to and from school, the dry needles crunch under our feet. I've never seen anything like it before.

Samuel's new word is "member". He uses it to tell you about commercials. "Mom, member, the cars spin round and round, and they have magnets. Member? And then they crash together. Member?" It's no use saying you don't remember, because he'll just keep at it until you cave. "Oh yes, I remember, the magnet cars. Very cool." Then he smiles and runs off to play.

Sally was student of the month last month, an award her teacher gave her for great improvement in her reading. It's been a real struggle for her, but she is reading without sounding out every word, and getting much better at sounding out words that she doesn't know. We are very proud of her. Go Dog Go still puts me right to sleep.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Small Blessings

As I was dozing off last night, I heard Samuel crying. I half expected it - he went to bed early, which is very unlike him, and acted like he didn't feel great. He threw up in his bed. Thankfully, he didn't get any on Sally. She slept through the whole thing. So I carried her into my bed, cleaned up Samuel and got him in clean jammies, set him up on the couch with a cracker and some water, and then cleaned up his bed. Thank God for plastic fitted sheets, Clorox wipes, and Lysol.

He seems better this morning. Another small blessing.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Oh Yeah - This Is Totally Me!

Your results:
You are Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Green Lantern
Iron Man
You are a beautiful princess
with great strength of character.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Favorite Foto Friday

Sally at a birthday party. She is at the bottom of a huge inflatable slide - very, very fun. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Three Things Thursday

Three ways I can tell I am getting old:
(1) I can't figure out my Blue Tooth Wireless Headphone thingy. I'm fairly certain that Fear Of New Technology is a big sign that I am heading towards the downhill slope. I sat one night with the directions in my hand and wondered if it was really worth the effort to read it and figure it out. (Obviously, it wasn't.) I find this quite sad, but not sad enough to do anything about it.
(2) I have passed the Everybody Is Getting Married phase, the Everybody Is Pregnant phase, and I realized I am in the Midlife Crisis phase. As in, lots of my friends (or spouses) are going through some sort of midlife crisis or trial. (At least I am not in the Everybody Is Getting Fatal Illnesses phase. That's not going to be fun.)
(3) The past two nights, I have watched The Wheel. As in, Wheel of Fortune. And I LIKED IT.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Found A New Website

While looking for the best price for some books, I found this site: Serious Moms. I haven't read everything there, but I like what I see so far. Anyone else a Serious Mom?

A Dangerous Path

I hadn't heard very much about the movie, "Brokeback Mountain", until a friend's blog directed me to this post and review. Now it seems that everywhere, people are talking about this movie. Last week, there was an article about the movie in the OCRegister - mostly discussing the strong aversion of heterosexual males to seeing a movie about two men in a lifelong love affair - mostly about homophobia.

Then I read this, referrring to homophobia: "Research into a physical source of these feelings is lacking."

Oh my, is that quite the dangerous path? What the article is implying is that homophobic feelings can be linked to a physical source. Which means there is a reason you feel that way. Which leads to - it's just the way you are made and there is nothing you can do about that.

So what's next? A physical source for violence or cruelty? How about a physical source for feelings of racial superiority? How about a physical source for child abuse?

A dangerous path. Because I for one think that feelings can be controled. That there is something higher than your feelings: it's called character. Integrity. Self control. Kindness. Love. (Galatians 5:22) And that sometimes, it doesn't matter what your feelings are. It doesn't matter how you feel. For example, some days I don't feel like changing any diapers. That's too bad, huh? Because there are diapers to be changed. Some days, I don't feel like being a mother to my kids. Again, so what? I am their mother. Often times, I don't want to be kind to people who are annoying or smell bad. I don't feel like eating anything other than coffee and donuts all day long. I don't feel like getting off the couch and being productive.

Does anyone else see what a dangerous path this is?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Conversations with Samuel

Over dinner:
Samuel: "Me want handle."
Me: (confused) "You want a handle?"
Samuel: "Me want handle my meat wike Sally."
Me: "Oh! OK" (I hand him a drumstick from the pile of chicken)
Samuel: "Tank you, Mommy."
I exchange a look with Stuart, could this child BE any cuter?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Favorite Foto Friday! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Three Things Thursday

(1) Due to a tire problem (the whole story is way too long to get into here), I have no car this week. I may have no car next week. (And just so you know, this is a tire problem on Stuart's car, not my car, which had a tire problem in November. Those tires are great.)

(2) The above situation, which at first made me frustrated, is turning out to be a real blessing. I am learning that I can get by just fine without a car - I walk Sally to school, there are two grocery stores and several other businesses in walking distance from my house, and I really don't NEED to go all the places I think I need to go. I've rescheduled my week to do all the things where I need a car at night or on Saturday. I'm really proud of myself!

(3) I am so happy with my "music" test result below - surprisingly accurate - that I am thinking about changing the date on it tomorrow so it will be at the top of my blog for the weekend.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Just For Fun

You are Music.
Fundamentally mathematical, you are the most
abstract art form. You get along well with
Poetry and Dance.

What form of art are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

High School Exit Exam

I read an article in the paper a few days ago about the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). 2006 is the first year that this test is a requirement for graduation. You cannot receive a high school diploma in California without passing this test. It is a two part test: English language arts and mathematics. The test is written at a tenth grade level, and students are given the test in the tenth grade. Students have FIVE more opportunities to pass the portion of the test they fail. The CAHSEE was made into a state law in 1999. The first edition of the test was deemed too difficult, so it was made easier and passing requires a 55% score on the mathematics section and a 60% score on the English language section.

Why am I telling you all this?

It's because the article that I'm reading is all about how 15% of Orange County seniors are not going to get their diplomas this year because they still have not passed this test.

My response to this? Good. It's about time the diploma represents some actual learning. Maybe I'm too conversative or old-fashioned, but I think that receiving a diploma is an achievement - meaning that some standard has been met - and not just a piece of paper that says a student went to school for 12 years.

Lest you think I am being too harsh, let me point out some things to show you this test is more than fair:
~ It tests tenth grade level material, NOT twelveth grade material.
~ Students are given six opportunites to pass the test.
~ Schools offer extra classes and tutoring to students who have not passed.
~ Schools already had exit exams; this program just makes the exam standard for the state.
~ Most of the failing students (in Orange County) are special education.
~ Special education students are allowed to have any accommodations or modifications listed in their IEP (Individual Education Plan) for the test.
~ There were five sample questions in the paper - I got all five correct.

(OK, that last fact is neither here nor there, I just wanted to throw it in there.)

So, what if a student can't pass the test? What are the options? It seems several school districts are allowing all seniors to "graduate", that is, walk across the stage in their cap and gown. Sadly, this seems to make parents happy and is all they really want. Some districts are even going to issue "Certificates of Completion", which mean that a student passed all their classes, but did not pass the CAHSEE.

Basically, it means that going directly to a four year university is out. It means that those students who don't pass the CAHSEE are going to community college.

Perhaps that is where they belong.

To the California Department of Education: cheers. I think you are taking a step in the right direction with this exam. I hope you can weather the abuse storm that parents of failing students will unleash upon you in the next few years.

UPDATE: Some links to check out:
Released Test Questions (from the state - very long)
Five Sample Questions (the article I read in the OCRegister)
One Student's Opinion (scroll down to "Exam is not so tough")

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Joys of the Second Child

"Mommy, how do Sally's bunny ears?"

What? What is he talking about? I turn around and see my son, on the kitchen floor, with his tennis shoes. Not the velcro ones. The ones with laces.

I sit down next to him and help him put on his socks. "Sally do bunny ears my shoe laces. It's funny!" I can't believe she is trying to teach him to tie his shoes. I can't believe he is remembering it. I tie his shoes and ask him why he wants shoes on (with his spider man pj's, of course).

"Me go outside. Pweese?" No, you need to finish your milk first, I tell him. He does. I'm really just stalling - I'm not ready for him to go outside and play. I start to clean up the kitchen, and he goes to the door. "Wook Mom, birdies on my monkey bars! They're funny!" I look. Yep, there they are.

Then a bit later, he says, "Scuse me, Mommy, me go outside?" How can I say no?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Back to School

Sally is at school and Samuel is playing with his new tool belt from Grandma and Grandpa (thanks - he loves it!) This house is quiet.

I love school.

Don't get me wrong - I love my daughter and I do miss her when she is at school. But I love these quiet moments, and I love the time alone with Samuel. I love her teacher, and all the things she is learning that I really can't teach her alone. Things like being responsible with library books, a lesson she is learning today as she can't find her library book and it is due today. Unfortunately, she took it on our trips over Christmas break, without my knowledge or permission. Now she is learning personal responsibility. (By the way, anyone out there find a book called Cat Trap?)

I also love the morning walk to school, chatting with my daughter, saying Hi to the other parents and students walking to school, exchanging small talk with the crossing guard. It's nice. It's community. It teaches both of my kids how to be kind to people.

Today, it does not feel like January. There is a strong, warm wind that is blowing all the clouds and leaves and chill away. The air is fresh and clean. It's a good day.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Rolling on the floor . . . that's what the title means, if you are not up-to-date on abbreviated slang. I was rolling on the floor laughing so hard at the new Slim Jim commercial. I'm not a fan of Slim Jims - processed meats are not tasty to me - but this new ad campaign, with the Fairy Snapmother, is so amusing. (This is something about me that you wouldn't guess to be true: I find it highly entertaining when people get hurt doing stupid things. Those funny video shows just kill me. So funny.) To see the one I enjoy, go to the Snap Moments section, and play the lower left picture of the guy on the bike, riding on the railing. Stupid. But so funny.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

2005 Review

I was looking through my archives to see if I posted any resolutions for 2005 (I didn't), and found this post about the two-yolked egg I opened on January 1. It was a sign of the good luck we would have this year. Samuel had several injuries, but he still has not needed stitches or a cast. No surgeries this year, except for Stuart's laser eye procedure, which was elective and not a crisis. We have had no automobile accidents, no lost luggage, no hospital stays. We have enough to eat, enough to do, enough shelter and blankets, time to rest, time to play, time to laugh, time to cry, people to talk to, people to listen to us, people to hug, people to love.

And one more thing: I forgot to put in my Christmas letter one of my highlights of the year - my trip to Hawaii last January. It was fantastic. (Thanks, Mom!)

Three Things Thursday

I've been tagged by KravMom to do a New Year's Meme, so I thought I'd do it here and put three things (instead of seven - yikes! can't think of seven) for each category.

Three Things I Want To Do In 2006
(1) Clean out the garage (due to all the house projects these past few months, the garage is quite the mess. we are going to make a workout room out there, since we have managed to collect a stationary bike, an ab lounge, an inversion table, some free weights, and a few other odds and ends. we'll let you know when Average Chews is open for business)
(2) Write something for publication (I have ideas for several articles and a short story floating around in my head, but I've been too chicken to actually write them down and submit them somewhere. This is my year.)
(3) Make a plan for the backyard. (Our house is coming together nicely, and the pool looks great. The rest of the yard hasn't been touched. We need a plan - even if it is a two year plan - to get things the way we want them. I hope this will include a new low wall by the fruit trees, stump removal, a small garden area, morning glories, and a path. Maybe even a bench or gazebo.)

Three Things To Do Less Of In 2006
(1) Complain.
(2) Yell.
(3) Swear.

Three Ways I'm Going To Be A Better Wife/Mother/Friend/Daughter in 2006
(1) Teach my daugher a new card game and then play with her. (I'm really tired of Go Fish.)
(2) Plan more dates with my honey. (yes, that is my husband)
(3) Re-commit to honesty with my friends, even if that means I need to tell them I think they are wrong.

Three Scripture Passages I Want To Memorize In 2006
(1) "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:9-10
(2) "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32
(3) Psalm 46

Three Books I've Never Read That I'm Going To Read In 2006
(1) Daisy Miller by Henry James
(2) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
(3) Harry Potter #7 (but alas, I'll have to wait for 2007, because I fear it will not be ready this year. (sniff sniff))

Three Movies I've Never Seen That I'm Going To See In 2006
(1) The Passion of The Christ (we actually OWN it, but have never watched it. of course, the kids can't see this, so we have to find a night that they are in bed and we are both ready to watch it. hasn't happened yet.)
(2) The Family Stone (i'm a big fan of sarah jessica parker)
(3) The DaVinci Code

Tag yourself if you want to play!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My favorite New Year's photo - me and the kids ready to go for a walk in the cold mountain air. Posted by Picasa

My favorite Christmas photo - Sally made this ornament for us at school. (Photographed by Tina - thanks!) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Request

If one of your New Year resolutions is to act on your convictions, to make your voice heard, to make a difference, (or even if you made no resolutions at all) please sign this petition to support the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2005. This bill has been brought before Congress several times, but has never been brought to a vote. (Read more here.) Please sign the petition - you only need to put your name and zip code.

And I promise that I won't be political all year long. Most of my musings will continue to be cute kid stories and mommy thoughts. Blessings.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year 2006

I'm back after a long weekend in Big Bear. Had a blast with our friends there and had lots of snow - on the way home. Luckily we were three cars behind the snow plow so we didn't have to stop and put on chains. The snow was beautiful, and Sally was very enchanted with it. (We also finished Prince Caspian on the way home.)