Friday, February 27, 2009

Mentos Madness...

Okay so Mrs. OW I have you to thank for this one. Now my yahoos are hooked. On Mentos and Diet Coke. Oh not to eat or drink. But to make coke rockets and coke volcano's. Today I decided to kick off Science Friday with something fun. So we make volcanoes out of diet coke and Mentos and rockets out of diet coke with Mentos trapped inside. Mr Tomato was supposed to take photos of the event, but well he was a guy what more can I say. So with no photos of the hilarious event to share you will view it here. This is simply amazing and very entertaining for the kids.

FuDay Photos

Noley our resident cake baker baked and decorated a special FuCake for FuDay. Fu in Chinese means lucky and prosperous. Everyone could use a little Fu in their lives. Here's ours....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Two Years Ago Today... Happy FuDay MeiMei

It hard to believe that two years ago we met a very quite reserved little girl that was in shock. She left a world of knowns and was handed over to two large scary looking people with big eyes and big noses and were so dumb they could only speak gibberish---yep that be us!
By the time dinner rolled around and we sat her down to table of food, we had a new girl. Everyday she opened up more. Everyday in the past two years we have seen more of this bright shining little girl. She is a burst of energy wrapped up in a full sense of self. It is hard to not imagine her singing and dancing around the house. Her alpha personality fits in quite well with the rest of the yahoos. Funny how one can travel around the world and end up with a child that is just like the ones you birth....go figure
I'm posting a "gotcha day" photo of her on my lap taken about ten minutes after the "handoff" and one next day photo (in the striped poncho) and three current photos of her wearing her own picked out outfits worn with great joy. MeiMei is quite the "princess" in a very non princess house. Not sure where it comes from, but if it sparkles, shines, and is hoochy then we know she will want to wear it. In fact, we just might have to post some of her "hoochier" outfits in a later post.
Happy FuDay MeiMei!

Homework Anyone?

So it is homework time ( EVERYNIGHT...or so at least it feels that way) and getting MeiMei and Noley to do their work is pretty darn easy. They know the routine....Kumon first followed by school. Tobbers, well that is a whole other story...He would rather do anything other than Kumon Math or school work. The bartering...the bribing....the name it I have tried is not fun. Thankfully we have found something his does like to learn Science and History. Those are the only two pieces of leverage I have over him. I do not even want to think about what a butthead he will be when he hits 14. Any insight or wisdom is greatly welcome!
I walk into the kitchen and here I find Noley happily doing her home work. Not exactly how I picture one to do homework, but hey if it works for can I oppose it?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Yes, we're still in Egypt but are getting ready to leave...

We are about to "Exodus Egypt" in the next week but have enjoyed our time there learning about its history, food, art and people. This past weekend we visited the Rosicrucian Park Egyptian Museum in San Jose CA. The kids seemed so so about it while we were there...but since coming home have talked a lot about it in a positive light. Kinda like how they viewed Disneyland. While we were there is was so so but when we came home it was larger than life. Go figure! Check out the Rosicrucian Park Museum at

Another fun thing we discovered was this website that allows you to change your name into a cartouche. What's a cartouche? Well ask a tomato kid and they will tell you. A cartouche is a kind of nameplate. Ancient Egyptians used cartouches for kings, queens, and other high-ranking people in the kingdom. A cartouche consists of a number of different hieroglyphic symbols enclosed in a loop.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Oh My a Standing Ovation Por Moi?

Well, simply said Yes...
Tonight I went to my first public school community forum where they were going to talk about their budget problems....their need to reallocate resources...bla bla bla. I spent the past three weeks think of what I was going to say but I could not really think of anything that seemed meaningful. I know they are going to close more schools this year. I know mine is most likely NOT going to be one of them so I thought I would go to the meeting and just see how it went. Well in my typical NOT a shrinking violet personality...who by the way has a very HARD time KEEPING her opinions to herself and her month shut (unless I am being paid...then I am very very good at staying PC)...but I digress.....
So they divided the meetings up into five regions and tonight was our region's night for suggestions on saving money and making cuts. Get that the key words are SUGGESTIONS and SAVING MONEY. So after listening to about 40 micro focused people who clearly did not understand what this meeting was about....I decided to stand up and speak. About what I was not sure but I clearly had to stop the Lunacy before I went postal. I was tired of hearing privileged schools whine about having to conduct science classes in the multipurpose room and libraries with old books and experimental schools that needed theaters and alternative education schools talk about needing a track for their 5th graders and a music room so that their kids did not have to practice in the multipurpose room! Hello is that NOT why there are called Multipurpose rooms? So you can use them for all kinds of THINGS!!!!
So I stood up and launched unscripted for about five minutes. I slightly remember rambling about accountability being a three way street. About being a private school family who made the choice to switch to public school and the annual waste that schools spend on trying out new curriculum when no kids or parent really cares that Johnnie is studying the latest in math textbooks and that in terms of basic math and English it has not changed enough to warrant the millions of dollars they spend in their new programs. Having just finshed reading the "Well Trained Mind" and a couple "Charlotte Mason Theory" books as well as "The Educated Child" I found I was far more prepared to discuss changes in education and suugestions for improvement than I had expected.
It is the schools job to teach reading, writing and math (and those of you that know me know I believe it is my job too). That is or should be the foundation of an "public" elementary school education. READING, WRITING and MATH....anything else like science and history are, music, sports and languages are dessert. And right now, they are not doing a good job at any of forget the dessert and FOCUS ON THE FOUNDATION. Forget the tracks, the new science labs, and new pretty books....KIDS DO NOT CARE WHAT THEIR BOOKS LOOK LIKE or if their math program is two or ten years old. It is more important that the LEARN it and the test scores show they are not. I said to forget all the experimental schools that are only available by lottery to get in and take the money and sink it in to the large volume schools since their costs per child are lower. Take those large school and separate out the smart kids and separate out the slow kids and teach at three levels...yes very very unPC but true. Academic intergration is NOT good for the child. How do I know becuase my yahoos are at both end of the spectrum.... I know what I speak....And on and on and on...
I was late to get home so when I was done I turned around to see that the auditorium now had about 400 people in it (I sat in the front) and as I headed out people started standing up to cheer me on, shake my hand and give me a standing ovation. I was followed outside the school to the parking lot by two school board members who wanted to know who I was and if I would be interested in working with the board or being on the board some day. I was followed to my car by the head of the teachers union who wanted my business card to see if I would be willing to come to something...and I was outside by a teacher who I have never seen before that is a first grade teacher at the Yahoos school who said she would love to have my kids in her class. The principle of the yahoos school was at the meeting. I feel like---forget that I know I have the reputation of being a pain in the a** at school because I hold a high standard for my yahoos and the education and likewise I expect them to hold me accountable. It will be interesting to see what the principle will say when I see her at school.....
Gee you can't tell that I'm just a little edgy tonight can you?

Monday, February 9, 2009

We're heading back in time and around the world...

Yep, the big box came and the yahoos are quite excited to snuggle up and head back in time and start traveling around the world. It comes as no surprise to those that know Tobbers, understand that he is a great lover of history and that as a second grader it is not a subject that he gets to study in school. So consequently, his teacher does not think he is a guy that "gets it". I know my son and I know how bright he is...he has just not had a chance to truly shine.
So, last month we started our journey by learning about world history at home. I discovered a great book that laid out a great plan and concept for teaching world history to kids. We have started reading Story of the World and if I was smart enough to give you a link to the books in the series I would. But you'll have to look them up on amazon yourself. There are four books in the series. The books go back in time and are written at level that kids will enjoy.
The actual program that I bought is really a homeschool program from Sonlight The program outlines everything in one set that includes the history books, supporting reference books, and about 17 coordinating literature books for the kids to read on their own and those to be read outloud.
It is amazing...and Mr Tomato thought at first I was a little crazy but he too is shocked that everynight the yahoos beg me to read a chapter from the history book and from the story books. We started with the bang, the garden of Eden and last night had reached the Exodus of Egypt. They cannot seem to get enough. I knew Tobbers would like it but I had no idea Noley would like it too. MeiMei is still working on sitting still, but as a four year old it is not easy to still still and listen to a book with no pictures.
We are reading Monday - Thursday nights. We read three history books (Story of the World, Children's History of the World, Usborne Childrens History of the World) and then coordinating story books and finish our week by eating out on Friday night at a restaurant that coordinates with where we traveled for the week. So far we have been eating a lot of middle eastern food.

I'm looking forward to traveling to ancient China.

Friday, February 6, 2009

So if it is not in writing .... does it count?

Well... word via email is that we have a "verbal approval" One says looks good and the other says no word yet. The later appears to be smelling a little like blackmail. Loving the first email not liking the second. That is about as insightful as I can be right now. I hope to have full disclosure by the end of the month.
Fingers are crossed that our dossier will be arriving tomorrow fully certified and ready to send off to .... Agency yet to be named.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Some Mistakes are Too Fun to Make Only Once

I cannot take credit for this witty peice. Mr Tomato sent this to me today and thought it worthy of sharing. I found it quite hilarious and true and wanted to share. I'm not sure who's wisdom I am sharing so if it is yours. We commend you this is great.

Here are some great ways of dealing with the challenges of life:

  • Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.
  • Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
  • Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
  • Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.
  • If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
  • If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
  • It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply be kind to others.
  • Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.
  • Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
  • Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
  • The second mouse gets the cheese.
  • When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
  • Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
  • You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
  • Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
  • We could learn a lot from crayons... Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.
  • A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.