Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is That a Typo?

No, it's not a colossal typo. It's a golf line by Nike. The previous line fell under Ball Go Far, and some genius within Nike decided to market the new line to be fun (funner, as they would say) and light-hearted. Apparently, improper use of language conveys funness. Farer! I don't even know her!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Makes Me Drool

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Not to Cheat

Yesterday I busted a group of students for cheating. They had copied someone's lab word for word, right down to the grammar and spelling mistakes. Their excuse was that they're lab partners, so naturally they would have the same answers. I might have let them off with a warning, except they had filled in the answers for this one activity that we ended up omitting. They didn't know that we skipped it because each week they've been running out of there early to copy from an ex-student's lab report. The questions for the skipped section were not easy, yet their answers for it sounded like it came straight from a teacher's mouth.

So I gave them all 0's for that lab and now require them to hand in all their stuff before they leave and get access to their cheater lab manual. I just can't believe how dumb they were with the cheating. They could have at least read the answer and reworded it. Or just corrected the spelling mistakes. I would have never known.

I wonder where they learned to cheat from. I shudder to think that they've gotten away with it before. Maybe there's something about me that emanates stupid sucker. I get that assumption a lot from students because I'm shorter than a lot of them and I have that nice (=pushover) look.

This group of students in particular has been very forward since the beginning, joking to get attention, talking while I'm giving instructions, calling me Pam right off the bat while others at least start off with Ms. or something. I'm sure they know now that I mean business.

The one thing I like about teaching labs is that we get long waiting periods with some experiments, so I have an opportunity to chat with the students. I found out that one student just had twin boys 4 months ago, another just immigrated from Germany because she got married, and yet another is being financed by his in-laws.

It is the sign of the times that a third of my students are business majors. One guy dropped out of music school to major in business. He played trumpet and at least two other instruments and wrote compositions, only to find that he wasn't able to practice, write, and work all at the same time. So now he's just focusing on work and only plays to relieve stress.

It saddens me that he's given up his more "irrational" career choice and doing the practical thing now, that he's compromised on his dreams in order to survive in this economy. Not just him but so many other people. I'm sure it is the dream of some people to do business, but I can't believe it is for that many people, especially because business is so boring.

But who am I to talk, I clean house and change diapers for a living.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Movie Guide

Yesterday, I hung out with some old friends. I stuffed myself insanely, only to find out too late that our next stop was dessert. But did that stop me? Nooo. Soon afterwards, we went shopping and tried on some clothes. I wonder why I never realized two simple things: (1) never go clothes shopping right after eating, and (2) clothes shopping is a really good motivator for me to start exercising again.

Later, I had dinner with my parents. They always think I'm starving and so made a ton of food which they forced me to eat, even after I told them I was full. With my busy schedule, I don't get to relax with my parents very often, so after dinner, we did what any American family does, which is to watch TV.

Despite having 500 channels, there was nothing on besides the Oscars. For the first time in my life, I actually felt sorry for actors, because they sure seemed awkward up there. Like that whole lame exchange between Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black. Someone behind the scenes has some sense of humor, sticking Jen in as a presenter knowing that her ex and rival would be front and center. Especially because said devious person failed to give her a decent script. But I guess if show organizers had to take into account every ex and past relationship, then pretty much 10 people would show up at these things.

In between catching up with my parents (my cousin split with her guy, the father of her child, and is now working at Hooters), we managed to catch the big awards. Slumdog Millionaire of course was the big winner. Which meant absolutely nothing to us, as we hadn't seen a single nominated movie.

There was a time, before kids, that I would actually check out movies thinking they must be good because they won or were nominated for awards. The husband would pop some corn, and we would settle down on the couch to watch. Unfortunately, the movies were typical Oscar fare, so the husband quickly fell asleep watching. Now, if he finds out that a movie was nominated for any award at all, it's automatically rejected.

Here is the husband's guide to movie-watching: stay away with movies with descriptions like "cerebral tale" or "love story." Instead, check out any movie that has explosions or Bart Simpson on the poster. That and also movies like Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar 2.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Message From Our Daughters

One of the most touching parts during this last conference was a segment where the teenage daughters of the speakers got onstage and shared what their mothers did right. There were about 5 or 6 of them, ranging from ages 13 to 18, and they all praised their mothers. (What planet are these girls from?)

From all their different talks, one thing stood out as being the overwhelming praise for the mothers. Every single daughter mentioned it at least once. It had nothing to do with the clothes or cell phones the moms provided. Each daughter saw her mother enjoying her.

The daughters recognized the regular duty of a mother, eg. cooking, taking them to school, and so forth. But these mothers didn't act like it was a chore to these things. In addition, the mothers all went out of their way to do extra things, like going on mother-daughter dates. For children, love is really spelled T-I-M-E.

In short, the daughters didn't feel like burdens. Over and over again they said that. Apparently, their mothers enjoyed motherhood, every bit of it. They liked feeding their kids, cleaning up after them, shuttling them around, doing their laundry. Okay, maybe they didn't actually like all of these, but they had a good attitude and never lost sight of the big picture. I'm sure they didn't fake it (for 18 years?), grumble when their kid asked them for something, or shoo their kid away until the to-do list was done.

It's a shame that the mothers didn't bring their sons (some were at college, others didn't want to come to an all-female shindig). But if the sons had gotten up and spoken to us, I imagine they would have said the same thing. Children need love from their parents more than anyone. And children are smart enough to tell the difference from free love willingly given and guilty love provided out of duty.

I love how the most profound things are the simplest things. The moral of this story is to enjoy our kids. Not just because it would make them better people but because they are worth enjoying.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The 10th Shot

My current project, besides everything I have to do for home and work, is selecting and organizing pictures for our 2008 Photo Book. There are so many pictures! And since I took virtually all of them, I love them all, even this one where only one kid is looking into the camera (but of course not smiling).

My purpose in doing this is so that I can whip out the Photo Book at the first sign of sibling fighting and say,"Look at the stuff you've done together. See, you do love each other. Now act like it!"

The project is also helping me to procrastinate my actual to-do list because looking at my kids is infinitely more enjoyable than working on those homeschool records that I'm supposed to turn in today.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cult of the Knitters

It's been two weeks now since the conference but I'm not done sharing about it. I haven't even mentioned the uniqueness of the setting. Like how cool it was to be surrounded not just by homeschoolers but God-loving homeschoolers. Out of the 500 or so attendees there, nobody was interested in training their kids for spelling bees or early college admission. And no one was homeschooling so that their kids could pursue " the business," which here in Socal means showbiz.

In fact, when the main speaker mentioned her reaction to her son going to film school, we all groaned sympathetically with her. Only at these conferences could you meet a group of moms who have no interest in sending their kids off to talent or modeling agencies and who -gasp- have no interest in it themselves. We may live in the midst of those crazy OC housewives, Laguna Beach teenagers, and other Lynn Spears wannabes, but we will not sell our souls nor our children's, not even for $20 million!

Okay, I did learn a valuable lesson from that segment of the conference. I now realize that I shouldn't disown my kids should they decide to go into showbiz or politics. I wouldn't even be surprised if that happens because really, those are the last wastelands on earth. If Jesus came to minister to the prostitutes and tax collectors, who am I to prevent anyone from doing the same. I do have a contingency plan if that happens though: I will be on my knees the rest of my life praying.

Also, at the conference, I did not receive a single incredulous expression or statement when I shared how many kids I have. The other moms just nodded (yes, that's nice) and shared about their three, four, or more kids. You want to homeschool all of them? Big whoop. Just this makes the conference worth all the trouble.

Finally, where else could you find a bunch of women listening to someone while knitting at the same time (do people still knit)? No wonder women come back year after year, so that they can finally finish the sweater they've been working on for ages. I know it's past time I started a scarf, which is why I can hardly wait till the next conference.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our Long Weekend Together

Sorry about the long absence. One thing about being a stay-at-home mom is that the kids get every holiday imaginable to mankind, even more than government offices. Not only did they get yesterday off but they also got the other president's birthday off as well.

We like to completely escape from our everyday routine on days off. That means going to bed late, going out all the time even if a kid has a fever, sleeping in, and not blogging. I wouldn't mind the blogging except it is too noisy to have any coherent thoughts with all the kids running around.

For Valentine's Day, we had dinner with my family because we see them too rarely these days. We never go out on V Day because of the insane crowds. The husband has a morbid fear of crowds, which is why we only hit amusement parks on rainy days and Superbowl Sundays.

The husband is going to surprise me with a camera, I think, because he's been shopping online and leaving the browser window open. He doesn't do it on purpose; he's just in the habit of
leaving 10 different windows open, all of which are unsaved. Whereas I like to close every single window except for the one I'm using (if it's not saved then it's not important).

I also spent way too much time grading exams. It used to bother me immensely that my exam average was around 50% but from talking to other instructors, I realize that it's just normal. It doesn't matter if I go over the essay questions ahead of time or if I pass out a study guide. For some reason the average is always around 50%. At least I can use their exam scores to scare them into studying more for the next one.

It's good to get back in our regular routine.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Our Valentine Tale

In writing an earlier post from this week, I reflected on another time God turned my garbage into gold.

There was a time I thought I had missed out on the love of my life. I was still recovering from a bad relationship when a friend, an outstanding young man in every way, hinted that he might be interested in me
(only in hindsight did I see this; actually I'm still not sure). He could tell I was nowhere near ready because of the Shoebox cards I used to send out: if they can send a man to the moon, why can't they send them all? (Sigh - good ole days). But since he literally was every girl's ideal, it was only a matter of time that I came to my senses.

I was finally ready to
make my move, even though I was not the kind of girl who ever in a million years would make the first move. In fact, I didn't even know what a move was - I probably would have just stared at him a lot. So on the very night that I was ready to start staring at him, he told me about a girl who had made real moves on him (the tart) and whom he had started dating over the summer. For the next two years, I waited for them to break up. They ended up marrying.

For awhile, I deeply regretted not being more like my sister, who had stalked all her objects of affections. She befriended one guy's dad just to rifle through the guy's underwear drawer.

I was busy moping and so was completely unprepared for what happened next. From nowhere came a new guy. This one hadn't been on my radar at all, and even after we started dating I wasn't sure about him. If there ever was a diamond in the rough, he was it. I still don't know what happened. He was and is of a different background, ethnicity, personality, everything. All I know is that he is my God-sent mate. It was no accident that two souls so close together missed each other by a hair and that two souls which couldn't have been farther apart ended up colliding. Only God could have pulled off something like that.

I'm frequently reminded of this, because the husband surpasses my expectations all the time. And I think back to our dating days, wondering where his wonderful qualities came from. Eventually I conclude that I never saw them, I thought he was just a normal guy. I had no idea how compatible we would be. We never discussed kids, money, or any serious life issues. We had no Dr. Phil, no pre-marital classes, no books on dating, nothing. We only had God and His future for us.

Now I can see the purpose behind it all. I'm glad the husband bloomed so late because it kept those men-stealing stalkers away. I'm glad that I was clueless to the ways of guys, that you essentially have to hit them over the head to get a message across. I'm even thankful for the loser (what was I thinking) who caused me to shield my heart just a bit too long.

And, oh yeah, I'm thankful for the Master Weaver who creates a beautiful cloth of life out of knots, tears, and scraps every single time.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

They Really Like Me

I finally got rated as an instructor. My ex-student gave me a maximum of 5 for clarity, helpfulness, and overall quality. She also gave me a 2 for easiness, meaning I'm not. I'm glad. That will keep those lazy students away. Nothing worse than having to grade all their gibberish, only for them to drop later on. I'd rather they just not enroll and save me some time. Here are my student's exact words:

She's an awesome teacher! Attendance is not mandatory in her class but if you want to pass with an A or a B, you HAVE to attend because her tests are based on her lectures. She's extremely helpful if you're lost and she goes the extra step to help you understand the material. Would wanna take her for all my bio classes if she taught them!

She's sweet, isn't she? I know precisely who this student is. Her name is Lara, and she was my pet student last semester. My "extra help" consisted of chatting with her after class. I have no false illusions; I know that soon the negative reviews will be rolling in. The flunked students would have sent them in already, except they're too lazy to do it. Still, it's nice to know that someone out there likes me.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rest for a Weary Mother

God keeps turning all my mistakes into treasures.

There's my baby boy, for example, whom I already blogged about. What an indescribably precious gem he is. Then there's the time I interviewed for the wrong job but got the right one anyway. I love how God makes it so obvious for me. He knows I'll miss it otherwise. Well, it happened again this weekend.

In preparation for homeschooling my son, I had signed up for a homeschooling conference this weekend even though I had just gone to one by the Pearls last month. I thought, I need all the practical advice I could use. So armed with my notebook and pens, I went to hear Sally Clarkson, who homeschooled all 4 of her kids, with only one remaining at home. I thought I would be getting lots of practical tips, especially since her third child has ADD.

Of course I thought wrong. Turns out the conference was themed "Whole Hearted Mother " and did not really deal with the specifics of how-to. Instead, it addressed the foundations and philosophy on not just schooling but mothering in general. I had been focused on how to teach my son addition. Sally spoke on the importance of teaching him to live by faith. She told of miracles in her family (her son was accepted into the prestigious Berklee School of Music...and he couldn't even read music!) that inspired us all. She told us stories of wonder which were clearly engineered by the Master Engineer.

Really I could go on and on about all the wonderful things I learned. One speaker said her mantra was "die to yourself and live to tell about it." Sally said there's no formula, no expert books to our children's success. There is only what we intentionally and unintentionally teach them about God and life.

To sit in a banquet hall filled with other mothers, to laugh and cry together as we shared our tales, to be told that what we do is vitally important, and then to be gently directed back to what's really important was just what this weary mother needed.

I am already signing up for the next conference, and next time I'm dragging all my friends with me. Meanwhile, don't be surprised if this blog all of a sudden becomes the "Whole Hearted Mother Conference Rehash Blog."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Last Week's Schedule

Monday am: homeschool, dropoff pickup, lunch, dropoff pickup
Monday pm: work

Tuesday am: get kids for school, blog, dropoff pickup, dropoff pickup, lunch, pack stuff for kids' evening outing, dropoff pickup
Tuesday pm: work

Wednesday: same as Monday

Thursday: same as Tuesday except without the packing

Friday am: homeschool, stare longingly at bed
Friday pm: attend mothers' conference, come home refreshed and energized.

Saturday all day: attend mothers' conference, ready to conquer the world.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Heaven Help Me

I've been debating whether or not to homeschool my second one next year. This year he's in regular kindergarten because kindergarten is a lot of fun and I needed an extra year's reprieve. My oldest learned lots of useful things from kindergarten like raising her hand and staying quiet. It reinforced the message that a big chunk of childhood is about learning. She doesn't complain too much about her school work; she knows it's a necessity of life. In fact, she's thankful that she can take a break whenever she needs to and do her assignments in bed.

She makes homeschooling as easy as it possibly can be. I give her a daily stack of stuff to do, and one by one she completes it with hardly any help. When she gets stuck on something, usually math, she writes "need help" in the margin and moves on. Then when I'm done feeding and changing the baby, we do group work together. She's a great independent learner.

My son, however, is an altogether different animal. He can be very active, loud, and stubborn, leading his pediatrician to suspect that he might have ADD. After talking to his teacher and more observation, I think he definitely has ADD tendencies but wouldn't be diagnosed officially as ADD. It almost killed us to potty train him. I couldn't imagine teaching him to diagram sentences.

At kindergarten he gets a homework packet each week to complete. Sometimes, he comes home and does it right away. He won't eat or play until it's all done. Then other times, I can't get him to do his homework at all. He'll just scream and run off. Those are the times I wonder why I even consider homeschooling him. I would have to completely change the curriculum for him. I doubt he would wade through a pile of workbooks like his sister does. More likely, he would scream "this is boring" and run off. I would have to make everything fun, which really takes a lot of planning. And that would still be no guarantee that he would actually do the work.

To help me decide, I started volunteering in his class. Teachers think we parent volunteers are all altruistic but really we just want to spy on our kids. I was there for an hour this week. During this time, the kids were divided into 3 groups and rotated between different activities. For 15 minutes they colored their Valentine's Day display, for another 15 minutes they completed a language arts worksheet with me, and then for the last 15 minutes they played with blocks and legos. Most of the kids were done with their worksheets in 5 minutes and spent the remaining time coloring it - my son was one of these kids. After the rotations were done, they got ready to go home by cleaning up, putting papers in their backpack, and putting up chairs. So really, it took 45 minutes for my son to finish 5 minutes worth of official schoolwork.

I can see why it took so long, though. A few kids needed the extra time and help. And then there were the distractions, so many distractions. One kid interrupted complaining that he couldn't breathe. Another kid got called to the front office for early dismissal. Two more kids got into a spat about the blocks. Still another got confused about his rotation and had to be redirected.

I haven't made up my mind yet (please not this), but so far I'm thinking I surely couldn't do worse than regular school. And that's just after one day of observation.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fleeting Thoughts

Because I've run out of deeply coherent ones

  • What the heck was JK Rowling thinking when she announced that Dumbledore was homosexual? It's not the homo part, it's the sex part. I for one never thought of him having sex at all. This is how we know society has become too sexualized, when everyone talks about a fake ancient man from a book that had absolutely no sexual undertones as being gay.
  • Valentine's Day is coming up. I'm not thinking about romance, though. I'm thinking I need to get to the store and buy 4 boxes of cards for the kids to take to school.
  • Hmm...should I or should I not make my first test hard? This is a dilemma I face every semester. On one hand, I hate dumbing down tests. It's an insult to all the time and effort that I and maybe two students put in. If all I'm going to do is ask simple definition questions, I wouldn't waste all that time on power point presentations, I would just give them a glossary list. On the other hand, I don't want to fail everyone. I'm sure I'll come up with a decision, probably the night before the exam.
  • I really need to stop accepting everyone's old stuff. The leather pants my sister gave me just does not go with the grandma shoes my mother gave me, but I will work it the best I can.
  • One day, this blog will be evidence to the grandkids that Grandma wasn't always senile, just addicted to the computer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Porno Picture

Our girls love to play with dolls. Unfortunately for our older girl, her younger sister "plays" with them by stripping off all their clothes. At any given time we have naked barbies and princesses all over the house. Note to relatives: please don't give us any more barbies. Note to the curious: the boy dolls are not anatomically correct.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Chick's Superbowl

For those who missed the Big Game yesterday, here is a chick's take on the game (aka. all the ramblings that the husband refused to listen to). I am not really a big fan of football or commercials; however I do happen to be a big fan of FOOD, in particular junk food. So of course I had to partake in the festivities.

Before the game, I called my sister and asked her which team to root for. This is because I hadn't watched a single game the entire season and didn't even know where the Cardinals (isn't that a baseball team?) are from. I knew nothing about the quarterbacks or the players. My sister told me just a few bits of information to convince me to root for the Cardinals: (1) they were the underdogs (later I saw why), (2) Kurt Warner has a bunch of kids, and I'm very partial to people who have a lot of kids, and (3) Kurt Warner is better-looking than Ben Roethlisberger.

I'm also very partial to Larry Fitzgerald because of that touching little bio they did on him before the game. Both he and his dad got all teary talking about his deceased mother, and anyone who cries on national TV over his mother has my vote for MVP. Also he has excellent taste in jewelry; those diamonds studs are the very things I would buy myself if I was earning a gazillion dollars.

Speaking of fashion, the trend for this year's football was clearly the long hair sported by Fitzgerald, his defensive teammate #90, and the big mean guy on the Steelers defense. Who would have thought that long hair, which usually conveys femininity, could make a person look so ferocious?

Don't get me started on the uniform. I know each piece of clothing has a functional purpose, but I also recognize Irony in steroid-injected men wearing knickerbockers over knee-high nylons. The fact that no one even smirks at the uniform shows just how inundated this nation is with football.

At the beginning of the game, they had a roll call where each player's head popped onscreen and gave his name and alma mater. I thought, who cares what school they went to? It would have been better if they gave some other piece of information, like their favorite flavor of ice cream. Or even better, the name of their mothers.

Before the game, they also showed an interview with Obama. His speech writers deserve a raise because his eloquence clearly comes scripted. Not that he's completely Bush-like, but his uhs, ands, and pauses demonstrate that the greatest orator of our time might just be the greatest actor of our time instead.

Finally, we get to the actual game itself. It really came down to the Steelers defense being good, the Cardinals defense being lousy, and the referees making the right calls. If those referees were calling a soccer game, they would most likely be dead by now. Of course we musn't forget that last play that's been replayed umpteen times showing Holmes channeling his inner ballerina.

I was surprised at how strict the penalties are. Ten yards for a hold? Come on, how else are you supposed to play defense if you can't hold a guy for a few seconds? And all those penalties for unnecessary roughness; is this football or sissy ball? But I guess the rules are needed for a bunch of steroid-pumped guys who sell drugs in their spare time. Except for Kurt Warner who does service messages for the disabled. Did you know he married a military divorcee, adopted her kids, and is still married to her?

I almost forgot the commercials because frankly most were forgettable. I liked the Bud commercials because of the Clydesdales. As far as I'm concerned, they could just have footage of them doing nothing but running, and that would be a hit with me. The husband liked the Doritos one where the office worker threw a crystal ball at the vending machine. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of hooter women in the commercials. I guess they save it for their TV shows. My favorite commercial showed the cast of Heroes in a football game. In case you were blind and deaf during the game, Heroes is back on tonight. The Dumbest Commercial of the Game has got to go to that one about laughing your butt off.

In summary, kudos to Springsteen for doing moves that will land him in bed for the next week, kudos to NBC for putting together a good show, and kudos to our friends for hosting it and providing the most important part, the FOOD.