Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Science Experiment

I did a science experiment with the kids today. It failed. We all put on safety glasses, and I lit a candle and blew up a balloon. I asked the kids to predict what would happen if I lowered the balloon near the flame. They both thought it would pop. They covered their ears, and I put the balloon near the flame. It popped. So far, so good.

Then I filled the balloon with water before blowing it up and asked them what they thought would happen when I lowered it onto the flame. They thought it would explode water all over the place. Actually, the water was supposed to boil inside the balloon without popping it, and I was going to talk about heat transfer.

It started out well. I held the bottom of the balloon directly in the flame, and it didn't pop. The kids were duly amazed. The flame left a black mark on the bottom on the balloon, and I explained that it was carbon from the flame.

Sarah was cowered behind the wall, barely peeking around so she could see. Noah had all his Matchbox cars lined up on the table, pretending they were soldiers in a battle. The water never boiled. Suddenly, the balloon exploded and water went everywhere. Sarah shouted, "Run for your life!" and did just that. Noah looked at his car soldiers, now sitting in a pool of water, and said, "I guess I should have evacuated the troops."

I think I either put in too much water or too much air. We'll do some more experimenting and see what happens.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Two of my favorite recent photos. The one of Noah flying a kite on a nice spring day was actually taken five days BEFORE the one of Sarah dragging her sled up the snowy hill. I love unpredictable spring weather!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lousy Rotten Day

This day started bad (when I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and never got back to sleep) and got worse from there. Sarah woke up way too early, which almost always portends a bad day for everyone. Then I inexplicably ignored my motherly intuition and allowed the kids to watch "Charlotte's Web". It was a cute movie, and Sarah loved it, but the whole reason I've never read them the book is that I know it would devastate my sensitive Noah. He teared up at the beginning when Fern's mean dad wouldn't let her keep the pig, and he came unglued when Charlotte died at the end. He dove under the blanket and sobbed for an hour. He was out of sorts the rest of the morning.

I was a little like that when I was a kid, but not to that extreme. I remember watching "Frosty the Snowman" and feeling very sad when Frosty melted. The fact that everyone was dancing around and singing about how he'd be back again someday, was no consolation to me.

Meanwhile, I barked at Sarah nonstop about character issues. I decided to make her into a responsible and content person in one day, by constantly correcting her, and often not nicely. I've been reading a parenting book written by an old fart who thinks that "an unhappy child is a healthy child" and that children should behave as little adults. I'm not sure why I'm reading it or why I let it affect who I am and who I think my children should be, but I ran the house like a drill sergeant on PMS today.

During quiet time, Sarah was banging her fairy wand against the wall like a lunatic, and then she started crying because it broke. She wanted me to fix it, and instead of sympathizing with her frustration, I followed the old fart's advice and said, "I can't fix it. You're the one who broke it." She wanted to have a funeral for it after quiet time. I told her to take a nap. She sobbed for 15 minutes.

A few minutes later, she came out (still during "quiet" time), carrying a broken necklace and whimpered, "Mom, can I have a word with you? My heart is broken into smithereens because of 1) your anger at me, 2) my broken fairy wand, and now 3) my broken necklace." She said all this very sadly through tears, sticking up each finger as she listed the corresponding offenses. I rocked her awhile and apologized for being angry with her and sent her up to take a nap. I did some crying of my own around that time.

Sarah didn't nap. Noah came out from quiet time, all wet and puffy. He said, "I cried all through quiet time, because I was remembering when we went up in the Sears Tower and went to that little park in Chicago and Dad wasn't there and I'm so sad that he couldn't be there to experience what we did and why did Charlotte have to die?" Among the three of us, our total tear output was probably a pint today.

My afternoon plan was to clean out some toys and organize some things, but I gave up on that and told the kids we were going outside to get some fresh air and a fresh start on the day. We jumped on the trampoline and almost took off flying with the huge wind gusts. Then I decided to take us all to Steak 'n Shake for happy hour (half price milkshakes), because we seriously needed a happy hour.

I stopped reading in mid-book, which I almost never do, and switched to "I'm Glad I'm a Mom", by Jill Savage. Ahh...much better.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Sarah put on her new princess dress today and announced that she was marrying Noah. She started giving everyone orders and arranging the whole thing. I was the flower girl (I dropped Nerf bullets for flower petals), and Mike was the ring bearer (Sarah put the rings on a Noah's ark pillow).

Noah was noncommittal, so Sarah started chasing him around, yelling, "Marry me! Marry me!" Finally, he said, "You can't force marriage on someone, Sarah. I don't even want to marry you. And besides, I'm joining the Marines!" He took off with a gun that he'd made out of Legos, and she chased after him.

She wanted me to take her to the "spa" before the big event. I painted her fingernails and sprayed some perfume on her wrists. Then she asked me to spray some on her heels. She had a beautiful headband and fancy long gloves, but she ripped the headband off at some point, and decided to go gloveless so everyone could appreciate her fingernails.

She gave up on Noah and decided she would marry a neighbor boy instead. She asked his dad for his hand in marriage, and the dad said he would try to send the groom over later (he left her at the altar). I think Noah felt bad, because he did agree to marry her. Here are some pictures from the ceremony.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hideous Mole

I have a hideously ugly mole on my arm that I'm so tired of seeing. So I put a little circle bandaid over it a few days ago. Today I took off the bandaid and realized that I had only exacerbated the problem. It's obvious how much time I've spent outside in the last few days, because now I have a tan line around the hideous mole. It looks like someone took a highlighter and drew a circle around it. The only way it could be any more obvious would be if I put a post-it note on my arm, with an arrow pointing to the mole, and wrote, "Everyone make sure you notice this mole!"

Shopping for Dogs

Noah has been wanting a pet dog, which isn't going to happen. He's quite certain that every other kid in the whole universe has a dog, and I'm the only mean mom who won't allow one. (It does seem that way, even to me, but I stand firm.)

I keep a running shopping list on the refrigerator. Apparently, I'm not the only one who can reach it. I stuffed it into my pocket on the way to Wal-Mart. When I got there, I pulled it out and right under eggs and bread, there was "DOG" in Noah's distinctive printing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Best Friends

Sarah is talking about what she's going to do with her vast birthday fortune ($12). She put $1 in the offering at church, and she said she wants to buy Noah a Hot Wheels car at Wal-Mart. I told her it wasn't his birthday, and she said, "I know, but best friends can give each other presents ANY time!"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Question Jar Update

The question jar is getting full, so I have some research to do tonight. Here are the questions:

What year did Alaska become a state?
Do all alligators lay eggs or can they give birth to live babies?
Why do cars backfire?
How did John Wilkes Booth die?
How do you say "windy" in Spanish?
What are bellows?
What ever happened to Paul Revere?
How does conditioner work?
Why do light bulbs burn out?
How can so much snot come out of such little noses?
What was the first war?
What is the economy?
Why can we see things with our eyes closed?

Good Exercise?

Sarah wanted to sign up for tumbling class. I thought it would be good exercise for her. The kids get a sucker at the end of every class. After her first class, Mike and Sarah had this conversation:

M: What was your favorite part of tumbling?
S: Eating the sucker.
M: What was your second favorite?
S: Getting the sucker.
M: What was your favorite part about the actual tumbling?
S: Unwrapping the sucker.
M: What was your next favorite part about TUMBLING?
S: Seeing the sucker.
M: What was your next favorite part about TUMBLING?
S: Finding the sucker.
M: Did you just want to take tumbling classes so you'd get suckers?
S: Yes!

Weather Girl

Sarah was sitting on the toilet this morning, and she said, "The toilet is a little city. My bottom is a little cloud. I think it's going to rain on the city today."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Princess Cake

Here is the cake for Sarah's 5th birthday. I hope she's edible(the cake, not Sarah). I baked her for over an hour, trying to make sure her insides wouldn't be goopy. I've never baked a cake in a bowl before, so who knows. She looks pretty dense (I'm referring to her weight, not her intelligence), but the true test will be Sunday when we crack her open.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Translation Update

After asking Sarah for a translation of yesterday's love note, it turns out my interpretation was completely wrong. It was actually a list of things she wanted me to do for her and snacks she wanted me to provide. She also delivered a sealed note to Noah yesterday, which said,

NOAH (in perfectly printed letters)

She told him it said: "Noah, I love you and I want to play with you."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Love Notes

Sarah has always loved to make little messages of love and deliver them to us, to strangers, to anyone. Before she could write, she would cut out hearts or little scraps of paper and shove them under our doors. Whenever we stay at a hotel, she always delivers something under each door on our floor.

Now she can write a few words, and she draws squiggly lines for the rest of the things she wants to say. She has a stack of paper in her room covered with squiggles, which she calls her book, and she "reads" it quite often. She almost always writes her "S" backwards, and she often gets "W" and "M" confused.

She likes to write love notes and put them in envelopes. She was going through a lot of envelopes before I had an idea to save some paper. I give her all the junk envelopes I get in the mail (there's at least one every day), and she uses them for love note deliveries.

During quiet time today, an envelope appeared under my door. I opened it and discovered this note:


I interpreted it to read, "MOM, I love you very much, and I'm so glad to be your daughter."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cleaning Robots and Scaredy Cats

Noah is always talking about wanting a bigger house where he has room to run. Yesterday he said he wants a huge house with 52 bathrooms. I asked him who was going to clean all those bathrooms, and right away he said, "Robots come out of the faucets when they sense dirt or germs. They clean, and then they go back up into the faucet."

On an unrelated note, Noah was talking with his friends about all his fears, and he said (completely unashamed), "Yes, indeed, I'm a scaredy cat!"

Friday, March 6, 2009

Little Pioneer Man

We tapped our maple tree a few days ago and collected about four gallons of sap. We spent all day (12 hours) boiling sap today for maple syrup. Noah has always loved to work, but I was amazed that he worked as hard as any adult today, and with more stamina. He chopped and hauled firewood, poured sap, tended the fire, raked, picked up sticks, etc.

I finished the syrup in the kitchen, which made a lot of humidity, so we brought the big, heavy dehumidifier up from the basement. I was struggling with it by myself when Noah came along and carried one side of it. When we set it down, I looked over at him and thought, "When did my son become a man?!" I think it happened today, while he was working. He would have been a good pioneer boy.

That thought started me thinking about how kids were more mature at a younger age 150 years ago. There was no time for foolishness, selfishness, TV, and video games. They worked hard just to help their families survive, and I'll bet they slept hard all night too, like my little man is right now.

Interview Questions

I found these interview questions for kids about their moms, so I asked my kids. Here are their answers:

Noah-Age 7

1.What is something mom always says to you?
I love you.

2. What makes mom happy?
When we obey.

3. What makes mom sad?

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
She tells me funny stories.

5. What was your mom like as a child?

6. How old is your mom?

7. How tall is your mom?

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
does her Community Bible Study homework.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
her conferences.

11. What is your mom really good at?

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Being patient.

13. What does your mom do for a job?
Takes care of me.

14.What is your mom's favorite food?
chips & salsa.

15.What makes you proud of your mom?
that she stays home with me.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Renee Zellweger.

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Play with my Webkinz.

18. How are you and your mom the same?
We both love God.

19. How are you and your mom different?
She’s older than me.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Because she says it to me every day.

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?
That he’s her husband.

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
To the library.


Sarah-Age 5

1.What is something mom always says to you?
I love you.

2. What makes mom happy?

3. What makes mom sad?
Cutting onions.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
By doing something funny.

5. What was your mom like as a child?

6. How old is your mom?
70? I don’t know.

7. How tall is your mom?
about 60 feet.

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Play with me, of course. Oh, and Noah.

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Play with Noah.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
For making TV work.

11. What is your mom really good at?
That’s easy. Ms. Birdy’s assistant on Webkinz.

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Oh, that’s easy. She’s not very good at doing a backbend.

13. What does your mom do for a job?
She works at home to spend full time with us two kids.

14.What is your mom's favorite food?
I think it should be pancakes. That’s my favorite too.

15.What makes you proud of your mom?
Playing with me.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Reader Rabbit.

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Watch TV.

18. How are you and your mom the same?
We both have dark brown hair, but mine is darker.

19. How are you and your mom different?
She has white hands, and I have brown hands.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
By hugging me.

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?
Lifting him up.

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Personalities, Part 3 (Monsters & Door Cracks)

Noah told me that he can't go to sleep if his closet door is open even a crack. He said, "I'm too scared to go over and close it, so I just get under my covers and imagine that the monsters are going to come out of the crack. Or sometimes I think they left the door open a crack on their way into the closet. Sometimes I imagine them peering out the crack at me." Sarah was casually eating her lunch while she listened to Noah ramble on and on about imaginary monsters. Finally she said matter-of-factly, "When I see a door open a crack, I shut it!"

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I always took my literacy for granted. English was my favorite subject in high school and my major in college. It was never difficult for me until I tried to teach English to a 14-year-old Korean girl (Noah's foster sister). She had lots of questions about grammar rules and phonics that I couldn't answer. I suddenly realized that English is a very complicated and, at times, inexplicable language. When I asked her the same kinds of questions about Korean, she couldn't answer me either. She told me I sounded like a Korean child, making all the same mistakes as little kids when they're first learning the language.

Noah started reading when he was five years old, and as I listen to him read now, I still marvel that young children can break the code. When he was beginning to read, I had to mask my frustration and boredom as he painstakingly sounded out new words and slowly strung them together in a monotone blur. Now he is faster and has a little more intonation.

Sarah is starting to show signs that she's getting ready to read, so it's all starting over again. It's amazing to see her starting to make connections and figure out how the letters combine to make words, and words combine to make sentences. Soon she'll realize that sentences make paragraphs, and paragraphs make whole books.

Frustrating as it is, I do love watching my kids learn how to do something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. It's rather like watching a flower blossom. The bud is not very attractive, but with a little nurturing, it turns into a beautiful bloom.