Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Many more treats than tricks

I wonder just how many people actually play tricks anymore. I remember when I was young there were those few teens who always egged and toilet papered houses, but that was small town stuff. There weren't many options for those too old to dress up and get candy. Now we have youth centers and churches and schools offering alternative activities to trick-or-treating. Tonight as we went around the neighborhood, I didn't see many teens or older kids except for the few that were handing out candy. So either they found something else to do, or I'm premature in my thinking and my pumpkins will be smashed all over the road when I wake up in the morning!
Anyway, the kids had a blast tonight. Trick-or-treat times were from 5:00-9:00 tonight, but we didn't see anyone out until 6:00. We got dressed and headed out as soon as we saw some other kids outside. We went around our block and one other block before Daddy and Hunter headed back home to take a rest and hand out candy. Today was a really long day for Daddy at work, and Hunter had already been out playing and walking this morning so his little legs were done for the night. He did do an awesome job saying both "Trick or treat", and "thank you". I was very proud of him!
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Louisa, Drew, and I hit a few more blocks before we retired. We must have headed in the wrong direction, though, because we didn't run into very many trick-or-treaters and many of the houselights were off. They both got a very big haul, regardless. One thing I noticed, though... there wasn't very much chocolate this year. At least not at the houses we went to. And of course, that is always something I notice.
We came back home and tried to fool Daddy with a game of ding-dong-ditch, but he figured us out right away!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Weekend Round-up

This past weekend we participated in some sort of Halloween event or another every day. Friday night, while Husband and Drew headed off to a Cub Scout fishing and campfire thingy, Louisa, Hunter and I walked a few blocks to a "Pumpkin Patch/Haunted House" thingy. When we got there, the line was very long, and we weren't quite sure what was at the end of it. I took a spot and Louisa walked up to the beginning to see just what it was we were in line for. The line split into two, one for the Haunted House and the other for the Hayride to the "Pumpkin Patch". One of the smaller army units stationed here was putting on the Haunted House. It must have been good because we heard a lot of screams coming from it. I'm sure the soldiers were having a blast scaring the kids (and moms and dads for that matter). I told Louisa I'd give her $100 if she went in to the Haunted House. She said no, and she didn't believe me. Guess she'll never know!
We did go on the Hayride after waiting in line for an hour. When we finally got to the Hayride, Hunter, who had no idea what we were waiting for that whole time, was more than ecstatic. You'd think he just won the trick-or-treat jackpot the way he was laughing and smiling! The Hayride dropped us off in a "pumpkin patch" and the kids got to each pick one "pumpkin" (plastic pumpkin filled with candy). So I guess it was the trick-or-treat jackpot!
This is Hunter and Louisa on our way home. There was a big bright moon, and I was actually trying to get the moon in the background, but in the picture it's just a little dot.
Saturday we were supposed to go to a Pumpkin Farm with our playgroup friends, but things just didn't work out that way. We did get to go to a pumpkin farm complete with corn maze when we were home in Wisconsin, so we didn't miss out on the fun experience. We did, however, end up looking all over our little area for Halloween costumes. We had a costume party on Sunday to go to, and Louisa, Drew, Husband, and I all still needed costumes. We found Drew's right away. For the past month now he has changed his mind about what he wanted to be daily. We saw a knight costume and that was it! He was totally psyched about it. Louisa is a much harder sell. She gets one thing in her mind and isn't happy till we find it. Thank God we finally found it after checking both local WalMart's twice. She found an Elizabeth Swan (pirate version from Pirates of the Caribbean 3 movie) and the search was over. Finally. (did I mention we went to both WalMart's twice?) The search produced nothing for Husband and I, though. We were exhausted and hungry and decided to go home, after we bought some pumpkins to carve. Gotta love WalMart and their $2.88 pumpkins!
When we got home we carved them. Well, Daddy carved them. We all kinda played in the goo. Hunter loved the goo, Drew wasn't as excited about it. Hunter was really excited with the Scooby-Doo jack-o-lantern that Daddy carved for him. Drew picked out a skull (ya, kinda scary for a little guy, but he's tough!), and Louisa picked out a cat that's supposed to be sitting on a moon, but I didn't get the moon done. And by "picked out" I mean picked out a template from a book we had.
Yesterday, Sunday, was the big costume party. Our playgroup was celebrating it's one year anniversary, so the organizer thought it would be fun to make it a Halloween costume party. We donated some stuff for prizes, and in the morning Louisa and I went to help set up. She got to make napkin ghosts, and at the party she was in charge of a toss-the-bat-beanbag game. She really likes when she gets to help out so much like that.
While we were setting up in the morning, Husband called me with a great costume idea. He was in Drew's room and saw Drew's Cat In The Hat stuffed animal, when the idea of being Thing 1 and Thing 2 came to his head. I went and bought two red t-shirts and some blue hair spray stuff. We sprayed the blue stuff on me, but it didn't look very good so we settled on blue hats. I was very happy with our costumes. Quick, easy, inexpensive.
The party was a big hit. Everyone had an awesome time. And they should! The organizer has been planning it for months now!
We don't have any more Halloween fun until Wednesday when we get to go trick-or-treating. But I do have some Halloween-type stuff planned for Drew's school time tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Two Days Down

Now that we are finally settled after our trip home to Wisconsin, Drew and I have started our homeschool routine. We've only been through two days so far, but both days reassured me that keeping him home for awhile is a good thing. I hate second-guessing myself, but I was worried that maybe we made the wrong decision. Both yesterday and today proved that we're headed in the right direction, at least for now.
Drew does not sit and complete his work very well. He needs to have someone on him all the time to sit and do his work. He wants to make excuses why he should get up and go to the garbage can or go to the bathroom. Of course at home he has the temptation of getting a snack from the fridge and procrastinating even more. But we have a set snack time to prevent him from taking advantage of that.
I can't imagine a teacher, who has 25 other kids to deal with, being able to make him sit still and do his work. It's a challenge for me, and it's just the two of us. I also know how to engage him much better than his teacher did. I can tell the second he gets bored and I've lost him. I know when to switch activities, or even just give him a short break. The past two days "my way" has been working. I know we're just at the beginning, though. We have a long way to go. He's loving the one on one attention, and he's enjoying all the different things we can do because it is just the two of us. Like today he got to write his spelling words in flour. That was a huge hit! Then we took a nature walk, learned about autumn, and collected items for a collage. He really wants to learn anything that we throw at him. He just needs someone to make sure that he is staying on task. I really don't think he got that in his class.
Yesterday, Wednesday, we went to the parish (county) school board building to see if we needed to fill out any more paperwork than the stuff we had already sent in to the state BOE. We talked to three different, very nice and helpful, ladies. None of whom were surprised in the least that we had issues with this school's principal. It seems he has less than a stellar reputation 'round these parts. This is his first year in this particular school, but there is a reason why he left his old school. Something about many parents threatening to pull their children from school unless they found a new principal. Huh! Interesting! Wonder how many people will have to pull their kids from Drew's school in order for the school board to consider another principal change? But really, I'm just speculating through rumors I've heard *wink wink*.
An extremely understanding "textbook and curriculum" lady gave me the complete first grade curriculum. I can go back to get the textbooks if I want them at a later time. Since I kind of went in to this homeschool thing so "spur of the moment", I'm just doing some trial and error things for now to see exactly where Drew is at. (gotta LOVE the internet and all the free stuff you can get from it!) I have also gotten so many suggestions from homeschool people, that I think I have enough lesson plans to last until 5th grade! This same lady also offered to help us out if we ever want to go back to the elementary school. She said that she would be an advocate for us if we wanted to meet with the principal to get Drew back in to school at some point. I really don't want him back in that particular school, but it's a good feeling knowing I have someone on *my* side if I need them. Way too many teachers and staff down here use the "good ole boy" system and back eachother up. So I like that someone down here is working for us, the parents and students. Sometimes it feels like we're in this alone.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bloggin from the Rents

Here I sit at 4:30 in the morning at my parents house, wide awake. I tossed and turned all night, and finally gave up about 4:00 and decided to log on and catch up with email and friends. Also hoping that blogging will make me tired enough to go back to bed.
First, I'll give the good news. No, Husband does not have to deploy early anymore. *sigh* Back and forth, back and forth. Welcome to my life as a military wife!
Second, The Trip So Far.
Saturday we headed out on our long trip from Louisiana to Wisconsin. Driving. Straight through. With three kids and a dog. Fun. Thank the Lord for whoever invented portable DVD players.
We arrived at the InLaws on Sunday morning. They live w-a-y up in Northern Wisconsin. Luckily it wasn't as cold as I thought it would be. I didn't bring hats and mittens, so I was a little nervous we would all freeze. It was cold and rainy the whole time we were up there, though. Monday the InLaws took us up to Duluth to an aquarium. We also stood on the shore of Lake Superior and watched a big boat come in. The kids stood on some rocks and let the waves splash up on them. It was a tad windy, and chilly, but fun. The whole time we were at the InLaws, we saw a total of six bald eagles. I wasn't too fast with the camera, though, so no pictures of them.
Wednesday morning we headed out to the UP of Michigan to visit an old army buddy of Husband's. They recruited together for a few years, and our families spent a lot of time together. It was very nice to see them, if only for one night.
Thursday morning we left Houghton, Michigan and headed down to southern Wisconsin. We made a stop in Madison to visit my grandpa. He just got moved into a nursing home. He's pretty miserable because he has always been so independent. He's legally blind, but he can see enough to get around. Unfortunately, his memory isn't quite what it used to be, and he can't live on his own anymore. It's been a year and a half since my grandma died, and he is so lonesome without her. It's hard seeing such an active person stuck in a place where he can't be as active. But, my mom and uncles are making sure Grandpa is well cared for and has everything he needs. My mom worked as a nurse in nursing homes for many years, so she knows how things are supposed to be done. She will be steadfast when it comes to Grandpa's care.
Yesterday, Friday, Husband and I left the kids with my parents and got us some new tattoos. In the city where we went to high school there is a place that I always wanted to go to get a tattoo. It's rated the best in southeastern Wisconsin and I saw a lot of good work from there. We made an appointment awhile back because they usually book up fast. This was Husband's 5th, and my 3rd.
Today, Saturday, we have a wedding to go to. One of Husband's cousins is getting married and luckily for us, we happen to be in town.
Sunday we spend some quality time with the Rents and Monday morning we head back for home. Well, Louisiana anyway. Not quite sure where "home" is anymore.
See, I knew blogging would help, now I'm tired. Hopefully I can get a few hours of sleep before the kids wake up and start annoying me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Is it over yet? Can I open my eyes?

This has just been one of those weeks. An unbelievable week where everything went so fast I'm surprised I don't have whiplash. I think I just kind of closed my eyes, held on, and waited for the ride to be over with like that roller coaster the kids made me ride at Six Flags this summer.
Tuesday Louisa gave her big speech at school for her campaign. She did very well. I wish I could have seen her. I can just imagine her walking up with such confidence, giving the 4th grade audience no reason *not* to vote for her. Competition wasn't that tough, though. There were three candidates in all for the treasurer position and she felt she was a shoe in the whole time. I'm glad *she* had such confidence; I was nervous as heck!
Wednesday was voting day. Her biggest issue was, should she vote for her best friend for president, or for the kid who made the funniest speech and who everyone else was voting for. In true Louisa fashion, she voted for her BFF. Although I did make a point to tell her that she should always vote for the one she believes is the best candidate. Even President Bush's BFF doesn't *have* to vote for him. (if he has one!)
After school on Wednesday, Louisa walked in the door complaining about this and that. Not one word about the election. Finally I had to ask. "So? The election? How'd it go?" She looks down and says, "Oh ya, that.................... I WON!!!!!"
So now Louisa is the school treasurer for student council. She gets a desk at the front of the meetings that will say "Louisa Treasurer". Funny, but that's what she's most excited about! And the popular kid with the funny speech won president.
While Louisa is soaring in school, Drew is having quite the opposite time. His school life is crumbling causing a lot of stress on all of us. Tuesday we got a note from the teacher that said he will no longer get bathroom privileges. In those words. To us that meant she wouldn't let him use the bathroom all day. Husband wrote a note asking her to clarify and wondering just how she expected a 6 year old to hold it for 7 1/2 hours every day. I'm not sure how the phrase "losing bathroom privileges" could be taken wrong, but apparently it was. Wednesday we got one of the rudest notes that I've ever seen from a teacher. It was signed off on by the principal, so apparently he approves of his teachers talking to their parents that way.
Honestly, we've been thinking about homeschooling Drew for quite awhile now. We had some homeschool websites bookmarked "just in case", and this note was just the last straw in a series of issues. There is actually much worse that has happened at the school concerning Drew, but I just don't really want to go into it. It's all a little infuriating.
Drew is smart. Crazy smart. Because of that he gets bored easily. He writes wrong answers on tests on purpose. Every week he has words wrong on his spelling test, yet when you ask him orally he knows how to spell the word. He can add and subtract in his head no problem, but when you put a test in front of him, half of them are wrong. He acts up in class, misbehaves in the bathroom, and doesn't always follow directions. The teacher tells me this like it's news. Like I haven't dealt with Drew for the past 6 years and I have no idea how he is. Ya, I know! I really really know how he can be. But just because he can misbehave sometimes, doesn't mean he should constantly be singled out in class as the sole troublemaker. He didn't stand a chance in that classroom with that teacher. He never got to start each day with a clean slate. She set him up for failure from the second he walked in every morning. I can't have some teacher take my kindhearted, intelligent little boy and squash him down every day. It's not right and I refuse to put up with it.
Thursday we sent a note to school saying that it would be his last day. Louisiana state law says all we have to do is send a note to the principal letting them know we are withdrawing him and a short reason why. That was it! Now we have to file paperwork with both the parish school district and the state BOE. Louisiana is a pretty easy state when it comes to homeschooling.
Thursday morning my husband got a call from the principal who wanted to ask us to keep Drew in school. The principal mentioned how Drew needs more discipline.... and more discipline...... and more discipline..... and that was it. For 10 minutes my husband tried to find a compromise with a principal who kept repeating the word "discipline" over and over. My husband said, "Can you guys give him more work to do, because he's bored in class and he gets antsy?" Principal says, "Your son just needs more discipline!" My husband says, "When my daughter, who is gifted, was little her teachers always gave her extra work and that worked well for her. We just think Drew needs more work to keep him occupied." Principal says, "You need to keep your son in a classroom so he can get more discipline!" Notice the broken record here?
One thing I'd love to know is, who is most responsible for a child's discipline? The school, or the parents? Why does this principal think that his school is the only way Drew will get discipline? Also, and the thing that bothers me the most, why is the word "discipline" the first and only thing that comes out of this principal's mouth?! What happened to "Education"? Why isn't THAT the first and only word that comes from his mouth? Why do I want my child in a school where education comes second, or last?
So, now I add "homeschool mom" to my hat pile. I know we'll do good. Drew has such a good attitude about staying home. He realizes that he wasn't learning much in school, and that at home we get to learn so much more. Besides math, reading, and spelling, he gets to pick every week or every month a topic HE'D like to learn more about. Like dinosaurs, or storms and weather, or space and universe.... it's endless.
I know a lot of people who are pro-school may be asking me, "Wait, what about socialization? He won't get that now that he's home!" Let me give you a glimpse as to just how much socializing these kids get to do in this school. Morning breakfast, no talking. Morning classroom activities, no talking. Lunch time, no talking. 30 minute recess, talking. Afternoon classroom activities, no talking. Gym class, no talking. Music class, no talking. Bathroom break, no talking. Are you getting the picture? Let's see how many times I said "no talking" compared to how many times I said "talking". Amazing isn't it? Is he really missing out on socializing? He's in Cub Scouts, he plays sports, and we attend just about every family activity they have on post. I think he'll be just fine.
Add to my emotional day yesterday the moment that Hunter bashed a baby in the head with a toy at a playgroup meetup. The whole thing went in slow motion for me. I was talking about pulling Drew from school, and in the corner of my eye I saw Hunter pick up a rather big and heavy toy. Very slowly I saw him raise it above the baby, and then bring it down on her head. It didn't register at first. Then I jump up, yell "holy crap!" and grab Hunter. The mom grabs the baby and assures me it's fine. I pack up our stuff as fast as possible and take off, holding back tears that I just know are going to come pouring out the second I reach the truck. I emailed the mom and the baby is just fine. It probably sounded much worse than it is. All I know is that I thank God very often that babies are so resilient.
Today is Friday, and it should be rather uneventful. We have to pack to go on a trip home to Wisconsin. I have to go pick up the $100 worth of Pampered Chef I ordered from a friend today, give her our fish to babysit, and take our house key to another friend so she can come feed the cats.
Oh, and then there's the wrench that Husband threw in this morning. He will probably be leaving for Iraq early after all. It's only 10 days earlier than everyone else, but he'll still miss out on Thanksgiving with us.
I think I'll just sit here and wait for the "all clear" so I can open my eyes again!

Monday, October 08, 2007

On the Campaign Trail

Louisa is running for treasurer on her student council. She participated in the student council last year by being a class representative, but this year she's actually running for a position. We chose "Treasurer" because we were told that last year only one person ran for that position. We thought it would be easy! This year there are 4 candidates for treasurer, so Louisa will actually have to work at it. And really, it doesn't matter what position she runs for, it's the experience she gets from it that matters.
In her school, 4th graders can run for President and Treasurer, and 3rd graders can run for Vice President and Secretary. We figured President would be too hard to run for because so many kids do each year. They also have primary elections, so if more than 4 kids run for a position, they can narrow it down to the top 4.
We spent all day yesterday making 3 big poster board signs to hang in her school. We got as creative as we could, but I also wanted her to do most of the work. Several of the other kids in school had their parents make all of their signs. It's so obvious that the kids didn't make them. I always believe in having the kids put forth most of the effort for their school projects. Even if the project looks like a 4th grader did it, it's her campaign so she needs to do the work. I helped out and fixed some mistakes and added a few things, but she was proud to say she worked hard on her posters. I drove her to school this morning a little early so that she could hang them up. We talked about good "high-traffic" areas like right next to the 4th grade bathrooms, on the wall that leads to the stairs that all 4th graders use every day, and in the cafeteria.
Tonight we have to write a 2 minute speech that she will give to her 4th grade class tomorrow. We have a few ideas of what we want to say. Louisa is not afraid to get up in front of people. She has the skills to make a good speech while adding her sunshine personality to it. Honestly, I have no idea who's kid she is! I could never ever stand up in front of people without bursting into a hysterical, embarrassed laughter. I still get giggly sometimes when I talk in front of people.
Louisa has a good attitude about the election. She knows that if she doesn't win, she can still campaign in her classroom for class representative. And even if she doesn't get that, she's involved in so many other activities that she will be fine. This is a good experience for her and she's learning a lot about the election process as she goes.
Voting is on Wednesday, so keep your fingers crossed for us!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

It's Clean!

Let's see, how long ago did I post about this? I issued my challenge on August 24. I showed a picture on August 26. And now, finally, on October 6 (yesterday) my dining room is clean!There are a few boxes still stacked in one corner, but otherwise, it's spotless! We even shampooed the carpet.
Last night we had some guests over and we had to get the house clean. I wanted to have a little get-together for my two friends who just had babies. A "Welcome Baby" party of sorts.
I was a little sad that I was the only mommy without a tiny one to snuggle. I tried to snuggle Hunter, but he was too squirmy! I am happy to see my friends so excited with their babies. It was nice to get together so they could show their new baby boys off. (and I got my dining room clean!)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Pre-Deployment Brief

Sounds really official, doesn't it? I was at a "briefing" last night!
Acutally, it was far more boring than it sounds. I'm trying to make it into something more enigmatic to take away from how badly I wanted to take a nap.
We sat in a very hot theatre packed to the brim with soldiers, wives, a few children, and a row full of speakers who probably wanted to be someplace else at 6:00 on a Thursday evening. Seventeen speakers to be exact. A few of them were a bit entertaining like the extremely enthusiastic woman telling us about the Army Community Services. She either drank a little Jack on the way over, or she likes her job way too much!
Then there was the American Red Cross guy. A real groovy cat with long hair, a beard, and a dry sense of humor. He said that he'd be more than willing to take advantage of us wives while the guys were gone.... for volunteering opportunities that is! I mean really, if he meant the other thing he'd have 50 infantry soldiers on his butt faster than he could say "Grateful Dead".
We learned where they'll be deployed to and some specifics about what they'll be doing. And no, I can't tell you! At least not until they're over there and doing it.
A week ago we had a bit of a scare. We know the date the unit is leaving (no, I'm not telling you that either!), but we had found out that Husband was going to have to leave two weeks earlier than everyone else. There are only a very small few people trained in loading all their gear, and he was one of them. He would have to leave when the gear (in big huge metal containers called "connexes") went over. I was a little sad that he would miss Thanksgiving. And I was sad that I wouldn't get to attend the big Hail & Farewell. It's not that big a deal, but I didn't get to be a part of it when he went to Afghanistan last year, so I kind of wanted be there this time. We sit in a gym and cry and say good bye to our guys and they load the buses and head to the airport. Probably not near as exciting as I picture in my head, but it's one of those rituals I'd like to be a part of.
Yesterday we got the good news that he doesn't have to go early. He'll deploy at the same time as the main group of his unit. It doesn't mean much, just that we'll have a few extra weeks with him.
I'll report more when he's gone. The unit that our guys are replacing have been there for 15 months now and it's time for them to come home and be with their families. Daddies will come home to new babies they haven't met, husbands will come home to new wives they married right before they left, and life will go on as usual for most of them. Everyone in the army has to do their time. It's a fact that we've all grown used to.
Say your prayers for them, thank a veteran or servicemember, and support the troops in any way you can.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Hunter and I did our usual grocery shopping routine today. I put something in the cart, he takes something out of the cart. I try to be the fun mommy and let him help me shop. He throws cans of soup on my feet. Every shopping trip it's the same. Every shopping trip he throws things at me, and I smile and pick it up and pretend I'm having fun.
Today, as usual, he wouldn't sit. He's old enough now that he's figured out the totally un-childproof seat belts on the shopping cart. In a flash he has it undone and he's standing up in the cart. Then I have half a dozen people with too much time on their hands tell me that he's not supposed to stand in the cart. Gee. Thanks. Because I have no idea what will happen if he falls on his head.
When we got to the check-out, and I was placing my dented cans and smashed bread on the conveyor belt, realizing the many many things I had forgotten to get and dreading the idea of having to do this again in a few days, Hunter decided to undo his seat belt and stand up. Then sit down. Then stand up. The grab a few things off the conveyor belt and throw them. Then take the poster board I was buying for Louisa and throw them. Then scream until I let him pick out some M&M's. Then scream because he wanted the lady to scan the M&M's. Then scream because I wouldn't let him sit on the loaf of bread.
While I was paying, and wondering what the heck I bought that just added up to almost $200 when my husband only gave me $100 to shop with, the cashier said, "Is he ADD?"
Someone hold me back because I'm about to jump over this counter right now and show her what ADD is! First, what business is it of hers? If he *was* ADD, then there's nothing I can do about it. And usually two-years-old is way too young to diagnose it. Second, it's not even called ADD anymore! Pick up a book once in awhile. Watch the news. Pull yourself away from "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader" long enough to learn something really intelligent.
I gave her my don't-ever-mess-with-my-kids-mama-lion look, and said "NO!"

Tuesday, October 02, 2007








Tabitha Lee

October 2, 1977- November 2, 2004