Friday, January 30, 2009

Future NRA Member

Is this picture scary or what!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

From the Love Guru

On conference day, I was eating lunch by myself at In-N-Out, trying to read my book when I couldn't help but eavesdrop on the conversation at the next table. It was packed, the tables were close together, and the mother & son were quite animated and difficult to ignore. I tried to read but my book about the effects of video games on children (pretty much all bad) was just not as interesting as what they were talking about. In fact, it took everything I had not to join in and give them a few words.

They were discussing his 20 year old girlfriend, Danni. Tim, who I would guess to be at least 25, was complaining to his mother about her. Danni works at the Long Beach aquarium and comes from a single parent household. Her mother has very old-fashioned about dating that Tim disagrees with. Unfortunately for him, Danni is an obedient daughter and listens to whatever her mother says. So Tim has to go out of his way to woo Danni, such as drive her home, which is a ways, instead of Danni just staying the night over at his place, which is only 10 minutes from her work. According to Tim, "It's not like we do anything." Yeah, right. And neither did Brad and Angelina.

His biggest gripe was how he always has to pick up the tab on their dates. During the 4 months that they've dated, she's maybe paid $5 total for a burger and some tacos. He went on and on about how he had to pay for this and pay for that. As far as I could tell, nothing was exorbitant. But still he griped on. And the mother just agreed with him (oh, that's so wrong, she doesn't realize how good she has it with you). She advised her son that he might have to break up with her over this, brought up a few of his past girlfriends (Kara and Lauren weren't like that), and said a couple of times, "Just wait until she has another boyfriend down the line. Then she and her mother will wish she was still with you."

This is why I was just bursting to butt in.
Ha! She would find a better boyfriend than you in 10 seconds flat. You think you're all that? You're a mama's boy, not at all good-looking, and most of all a total cheapskate! Dude, if you can't even willingly part with a little bit of money, then you've got nothing else to give. Of all the things you'll have to give to your girlfriend, money is the least valuable. You're lucky to have her!

I was this close to giving it to them but somehow bit it all back. I'm very discreet that way. By the way, no names or job locations have been changed in the telling of this account.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Capitol Tour

I'll say it again: the capitol in Sacramento is gorgeous. So gorgeous that I could not stop taking pictures. I almost never take pictures of just inanimate objects because they turn out so boring but a building like this stands alone. You can't tell from the pictures, but all the proportions in the building are huge. The doors are 20 feet tall and each head banister has the circumference of a palm tree.

While we were there a high school choir came and sang in the rotunda. The echo added to their voices gave the most beautiful rendition of America the Beautiful I've ever heard.
The room where the state representatives meet. It has engraved ceilings, chandeliers, and a laptop on each desk. I am now considering running for office.
Me and my tour group in the Senate room. It is somehow even more opulent than the other room.
I've tried my best but really the pictures don't do it justice.

Monday, January 26, 2009

O Sacramento

On Saturday before dawn we dragged ourselves out of bed to drive to our capitol.
The occasion was the birth of this little guy.
This was no ordinary baby celebration. It was a traditional Chinese baby party.
We stuffed ourselves shamelessly and then went back to our hotel to lay on the bed like a couple of beached whales.
We slept in, ate a big breakfast, and toured our state capitol. Thanks to our hard-earned tax dollars, the place is gorgeous. All of a sudden I'm into architecture. This last one is the inside of the dome.
The drive there and back was long (6.5 hours each way) but enjoyable, as we chatted almost the entire way, except for 1 hour in which one of us was asleep.

It was an awesome way to start off a new presidency and the Lunar Year. Happy Chinese New Year!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Packing List

Things to pack on a girls only road trip:

1. Skin care regime and make-up because I will actually have time to use them.

2. Junk food because I don't have to set a healthy example for once.

3. Shoes with heels because I won't need to chase anyone around.
The exact amount of clothes as the number of days I will be gone, because there won't be any vomit, snot, or pee.
5. Pictures of people to "catch up" on.
6. Camera to commemorate every little thing because who knows when the opportunity will arise again.

7. Fully charged cell phone, to answer those calls from the husband asking where the diapers and forks are.

8. A purse devoid of diapers, band-aids, lollipops, napkins, tiny toys, and hand sanitizer.

9. A laptop, because I can do without my kids but I can't do without the internet.

10. A picture of the family because no matter how much fun I'm having, I will miss them terribly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pearls of Wisdom

On Saturday I went to a homeschooling conference because (1) I need a good kick in the butt sometimes and (2) it was free. I had never heard of Michael & Debi Pearl who were the speakers but soon learned that he at least is an interesting character, to put it mildly. They live out in a small fundamentalist town in Tennessee, so it was akin (to use his terms) to hearing Daniel Boone speak about homeschooling his kids. For example, he gave us a long list of what we ought to teach our kids and included skills such as hunting game and trapping fish, making knives from scratch, and navigation for when one gets lost in the forest.

He was also highly opinionated about religious issues. He recommended the King James Version of the Bible as being the only one worth reading and commented that he couldn't see why a woman would major in something like civil engineering in college when she's wouldn't be able to continue with it once she had kids.

Also, he doesn't celebrate Christmas because it was based on a pagan holiday. I was most offended when he displayed his small town snobbery by telling us we city folk don't know what real community is. Excuse me, my neighbors sent casseroles over when I was in the hospital during childbirth just like any small town neighbor would.

Despite a few crazy ideas, Michael Pearl displayed a lot of wisdom. Especially during the Q & A session when people asked the most bizarre questions (eg. is it okay if we don't allow our kids to cry? His response: I still cry). I can't remember everything he said without looking at my notebook. It was mostly the usual homeschooling spiel. Overall, he impressed me, and I'm not that easy to impress, I think.

This was my first homeschooling conference ever, so a big part of it was just me soaking it all in. I never would've imagined thinking, gee I don't have enough kids, maybe I should have more, but it popped in my head momentarily as I scanned all the handsome families with 5 or more kids. There's something naturally attractive about a good-looking mother and father dressed nicely with their 5 matching kids sitting quietly. Maybe if I were younger, Mormon, more energetic, more insane...

It was also nice to see the vast number of homeschoolers in the area. Normally I feel like such an outsider, having to deal with people's incredulous expressions (why? are you crazy?). But at the conference, there were over 1000 of us all packed together. It was like, power to us homeschoolers! Some families were very hip with their low-riders and flip-flops while others were Amish looking. It was odd; for the first time in my life, I actually felt fashionable.

Besides giving my fashion esteem a boost, the conference motivated me to keep going, keep homeschooling despite the challenges, and that makes the time spent listening to a quirky guy worth it.

In fact I will be going to another conference in a few weeks because (1) it is cheap and includes lunch, and (2) I could use another fashion self-confidence boost.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Husband the Mechanic

The husband is an amazing man. He can do simple and not-so-simple car maintenance like replacing brake pads

And then snuggle his kids for a reading.
He can also do home maintenance, fancy computer fix-its, and cook. So why is it that he drives me crazy so often?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

List of 10

Over at What's in Sissy's Head, Chris challenged us to come up with 10 favorite things that begin with a certain letter. Mine was T. Here, belatedly (because us moms are like the government - we take off every holiday that we can), is my 10 favorite things starting with T:

1. Favorite soy product - tofu
2. Favorite day- tomorrow
3. Favorite niece - Tiffany
4. Favorite drink - tea
5. Favorite character on Fantasy Island - Tattoo
6. Favorite thing to read - tabloids
7. Favorite number -ten
8. Favorite amphibian - Surinam toad
9. Favorite circus act - trapeze
10. Favorite author - Twain

Hmm...maybe I should do this for the other letters too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Best and the Worst

Best thing about having 4 kids: it's never boring
Worst: 10 years of diapers

Best thing about living in Southern California: it's going to be 78 degrees today
Worst: flip flops everywhere, all the time

Best thing about having daughters: the cute outfits and hairdos
Worst: the boyfriends

Best thing about having sons: finally learning something about males
Worst: their nonstop running, jumping, and climbing

Best thing about the new James Bond: the blueness of his eyes (is it computer enhanced or what)
Worst: that creepy and fake smirk

Best thing about blogging: realizing you had thoughts you never knew you had
Worst: realizing that your life is the most boring ever

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Student of the Week

It's official. I have lost all my brain cells. I've been sitting here staring blankly at the screen for I don't know how long now. Fortunately, the area is cluttered with many papers, including the Student of the Week project description that my son just completed for his kindergarten class. He had to paste a bunch of pictures and information about himself on a poster board to share with his class.

Everything I learned, I learned in kindergarten, right?

My name is: Mommy (aka. Pam, Fearless Mom on good days)
I am proud of myself for: hardly ever buying anything frivolous for myself
Something I like about myself is: my ability to empathize sometimes
My goal for the future is: to travel a lot
My favorite thing about school is: bonding with the kids

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

There by the Grace of God

Our New Year got off to an explosive start...literally. The house next to the one across the street caught fire and burned. We thought it was some wayward fireworks but apparently it was arson.

Here's the view from our driveway

Giant hole in the roof. Luckily no one was home at the time.

In case it's not obvious, this is what the roof is supposed to look like.
The moral of this post is to check your smoke detector or put it back on like we did.

Monday, January 12, 2009

For Clarification

I've gotten some questions regarding the return address labels I used for my Christmas cards. Since there were so many cards to send out, there was no way I was going to hand write the return address, so I grabbed the only remaining labels I had. Little did I know it would generate so much confusion. Here is everything everyone wants to know about my address labels.

1. We are not still getting mail from the previous owners, and none of their names are Resi Dent.
2. The ghosts, bats, and pumpkins have nothing to do with Christmas. The labels are left over from Halloween.
3. We did not pay for them. They were sent to us by a charity.

P. S. We still have a bunch left over, so you'll most likely see them again.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Homeschool Manifesto

We get a lot of questions on our decision to homeschool, so much so that we're writing it all down carrying it with us everywhere. That way, we can just whip out our little booklet and say, "Here, read" whenever anyone asks us. We recommend vegetarians do this also for that ever present question why are you vegetarians even though the entire world knows its better for your health and the environment. In fact, we just got the question yet again from a friend last week. So here, once again, I will try to convince the world of our sanity.

We live in an excellent school district where all the API scores are 8 or above. Our neighborhood school has an API score of 10/10 (highest possible) so we can always fall back on it if the homeschooling doesn't work out. Clearly we weren't forced into this. We chose to very reluctantly. Extremely reluctantly, as in why God oh why us? People think we homeschoolers are all gung ho about it. Really the only gung ho people are found only in kung fu movies.

I should just cut and paste from a bunch of homeschooling books and articles here because there are a gazillion reasons to homeschool, and they have all been documented to death. Some people really want to know what they are, and some people just enjoy putting us on the defense. Little do they know that I used to watch the Practice, Ally McBeal, and Law & Order.

For me personally (the husband has his own list of reasons), the clincher is that I don't want our children to grow up as "normal teenagers." I abhor the society that today's teenagers have to live in. What society is that, you ask, as if you were asleep for 50 years and just awakened? The way they're expected to have a boyfriend or girlfriend at age 13 when actually they think the other still has cooties. The way they feel pressured to be cool, as decided by a bunch of 13 year olds high on hormones and who knows what else. The way they can't tell anyone that they actually hate Hannah Montana and HSM. I, Fearless Mom, hereby proudly declare that we have never watched a single episode of either show and that my daughter refuses to buy anything with Miley Cyrus' picture on it. Yes the road has been long but it has been worth it.

Of course there's the horrible teenager wardrobe (girls - the world is 110 degrees & boys - belts are evil), the cliques, experimentation with sex and drugs, the attitude towards school, the insane amount of homework for college prep students, and the sudden rift between parent and teenager. And these are just the minor things.

I'm not saying all teenagers end up with issues. Lots of them turn out fine (like me, for example). Still even the nice teenagers have to compromise to fit in because what teenager wants to be a pariah? Especially when she hasn't had a hit in ages, although she is married to Nick Cannon. The nicest teenagers I know have great relationships with their parents and befriend outcasts and children alike but they still wear tube tops down to their nipples and spend way too much time alone with their boyfriends.

Call me what you want (over-protective, martian, whatever) but I want better for my kids. I could just throw them into the mix, pray for the best, and try to undo whatever damage at home, but... I am a secret control freak. It may not be immediately obvious when you come over and see the socks, toys, books, jackets, blankets, mail, school papers, crayons, and trash strewn everywhere, but I have my outlets. One is the dishes - cursed is he who leaves dishes in the sink unrinsed (just ask the husband).
And the other of course is the kids. Must make them turn out to be the smartest, most athletic, artistic, musical, respectful, spiritual, decently dressed people on the planet who will go on to conquer the world. If not that then at least a few spelling bees.

Now I know your next question: why don't we just wait until junior high or high school to homeschool then? That's like asking, which is better training for a beginning homeschooler - algebra & Shakespeare or counting up to 100 & punctuation marks?

So we came into homeschooling for a few important reasons such as we don't like to wake up at the crack of dawn but have since discovered an avalanche of advantages. Those may or may not be explored in future posts, depending on how much time I have in between the spelling training.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Husband the Photographer

This series of pictures pretty much sums up the husband's photography skills.

Why we have a picture of each child wrapped around a pole, I don't know.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Everybody Loves Baby

This is what happens when we, the parents, refuse the baby something. He sits down and has a big fit. Which attracts the attention of the entire block but more importantly his siblings.
Who completely surround him, hugging, kissing, and reassuring him.
While he lays there sniffing in indignation.
We've created a monster.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Words to Live By

I adore church. I love singing songs and listening to the preachers, I love that the kids have fun while learning about God, and I love running into our friends and neighbors.

But. There's one thing at church that drives me crazy. Actually, two things, but I'll just mention one for now. The one thing that really bugged me this past weekend were the two people in front of me. They were a lovey dovey couple who could not keep their hands off each other. Throughout the sermon, the man was stroking his partner's hair and rubbing her. Not just a light rub but a deep shiatsu back massage combined with the Swedish treatment. The woman was only a foot in front of me, and the constant massaging was at my eye level. Of course my eyes (and that of the entire biological world) are naturally drawn to movement. Overall it was extremely distracting. I finally had to close my eyes to block them out whereupon I promptly fell asleep.

It's a common occurrence at church. My guess is that these people are new in their relationship and still at that can't-get-enough-of-each-other stage. It happens more often when they're standing up and singing (easier to wrap arms around each other). I've wrapped my arms around the husband and held hands but eventually found it to be in the way of moving to the beat or swaying or lifting my hands. Call me crazy, but I think even the horniest person should be able to put aside their drive for 1.5 hours per week to concentrate on God, Creator of the Universe, Sustainer of Life.

So let me just put it out there. Go to church to focus on God; go anywhere else to focus on body rubs and more.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ready or Not

It's official. I'm back to being a slug. We're waking up late everyday, going to bed late, doing a whole lot of nothing in between. I've spent way too much time on the phone and facebook, and (this is the clincher) I'm reading fiction again.

It's been nice but surprisingly I'm not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. I actually miss waking up early and getting stuff done. Oddly, I miss having something constantly hanging over my head. It really comes down to me not having lots of small goals and then meeting them. Nothing gives a sense of accomplishment like meeting set goals. My previous schedule may have been a tad crazy but at least I felt productive. I see now how people become addicted to the frenetic pace. Luckily, that's not my natural personality; I definitely have a built in limit.

I suppose I should be glad that our holiday is ending soon, that life will resume on Monday when the kids go back to school and the dance studio reopens. In two weeks, I have to go back to work again. I've missed it, and yet, I'm not completely looking forward to it. Go figure. Good thing that it's not up to me, that it's coming despite my ambiguous feelings.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Let It Snow

On Sunday we went to play in the snow before it all melts. We weren't sure how they would take to the cold and wetness but they loved it.
I was a little hesitant about letting the baby go down the hill, so we jammed him in the middle. When he arrived at the bottom, he said,"Do again."
They also had a snowball fight
Which quickly ended when these two broke down because apparently they could give some but not take any.

So small, yet so deadly
Happy New Year!