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Sunday, March 29, 2009

taking a break for a bit

Not posting for a while......horrible evil things are going on in my corner of the world. I don't want to talk about it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How I spent my pictures!

An estimate, the front and back of Leanna's sash for Brownies.
Tom and I were trying to figure out Quickbooks (pain in the butt!) and stayed up trying to get it right. Still a few errors, we're giving up for the night.
Leanna needed her sash finished before an upoming ceremony her troop will perform in. So I spent part of the afternoon and part of the evening sewing all her try-It's on her sash. I still have to get her a flag, troop numbers, and something else too, and sew them on as well.

Parents, Grandparents, and caregivers-take note!

Pretty scary-playground equipment at fast food places isn't always as safe as it looks-although they have soft padding it isn't always enough to prevent injury.

In August, 2005, then 8-year-old Jacob Buckett, his father and younger sister went to lunch at a Burger King in Temecula, Calif. In a matter of minutes, Jacob climbed up the horizontal support poles of the play structure and suddenly lost his grip. He came crashing down, cracking his head on the tile floor. His father Kevin recalls that the horrific noise sounded "as if you took a bowling ball and dropped it about ten feet on the floor." Jacob suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him with permanent, lifelong impairments...........
The Buckett family claims the franchise owner and its parent company Burger King knew the jungle gym was dangerous but never bothered to fix the problem. They argued the playground had significant safety risks such as a lack of "no-climb netting" around the structural poles and not enough floor padding. They say the restaurant owner knew about the potential hazards because of prior accidents.
In addition, they said the restaurant's franchise owner, The Breckenridge Group, failed to safeguard the poles that were used by children daily as monkey bars. The restaurant never posted warning signs and refused to retrofit the structure. Even after Jacob's near-death experience, the playground remained unchanged... three years later.

So the child wasn't just climbing and fell; he was in an area that should have been off limits-blocked off by netting-and was an area kids played in constantly that wasn't safe. Parents assume that because this is a major food chain that all safety precautions are taken care of and it is safe for young children to climb on their own.

This is a parent's nightmare. This poor boy-Today, Jacob Buckett is 12 years old, with the maturity level of a child half his age. The brain damage left him with partial paralysis and severe emotional and cognitive problems. He cannot wipe himself after using the bathroom. He gets frustrated easily and often has temper tantrums. He lacks impulse control, which could lead to dangerous behavior. "Before the accident, he would talk all the time about getting married and having children," said his mother, Julie, who now wonders, "Will he ever have the mental ability to even take care of himself?"

We've reached the stage....

He's at that stage where he loves to wear everyone else's shoes. Particularly Justin's.

I tried to get a picture of him wearing both boots-he looked so cute! But as soon as I picked up the camera he was taking them off. Of course!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Raise Children With a Wild Streak

I like this article! My kids' wild streaks may cause them trouble, but they may also take them down paths less traveled, help them figure out what they truly want in life. That wild streak may just give them the courage to get what they need from life. I was always taught to play it safe, and that still follows me.
Sometimes you have to take risks to get anywhere, and I have trouble doing that. I would never in a million years have started my own business-way too scary! Yet I married someone who did. Thus far it's been a wild ride, with ups and downs. But it's also given us a lot of freedom that we wouldn't have had otherwise. At this point we're still in the early years, so I don't know if it'll end up making us "comfortable" in terms of money. But that may not really be the point anyway.
Having children also led to my making some non-mainstream choices-things I would never have thought I would do. Life takes you on some strange journeys. I keep going back and forth on my decision to homeschool next year-it just seems like such a huge leap, a giant risk! It's a hard choice to make, what if I can't find the right materials, what if I just can't find a teaching style that works, what if I don't keep up with all the extras and accountability for them, what if she has trouble with a subject and I can't find the right way to get through, what if the district gives me trouble, what if I'm just not smart enough to find all the educational opportunities, what if I can't afford the educational opportunities? There are a million questions and a huge sense of risk. It's not a feeling I'm comfortable with. But I've been doing a lot of soul searching. The potential advantages are HUGE. And I read Randy Pausch's book (Thanks for letting me borrow it Sue!)and I was thinking about him saying that the brick walls in life are there to keep out the people who don't want things badly enough. "Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people."
I think homeschooling is one of my brick wall areas. Little walls keep springing up in my mind, and I have to keep talking myself out of it. I really want what homeschooling could do for my kids and my family. I just have to find the courage to do it. I think another quote from Randy Pausch applies, "- Better to fail spectacularly than do something mediocre." [Randy Pausch gave out a First Penguin award each year when he was teaching to the biggest failure in trying something big and new because he thought this should be celebrated. First Penguins are the ones that risk that the water might be too cold.] "
I guess I could look at it this way, the possibility is there for me to fail spectacularly at this effort and become one of those stories about people who homeschooled and probably ruined their kids. But if I don't try I'll always wonder what could have happened. If I fail, I can do it with style, and have fun doing it, right? Worst case scenario, she returns to school and is held back a year-she's young it's not that big a deal.
To bring it back to the article, my children's wild streaks may allow them to start doing what they truly want much sooner in life, and not being afraid. That is definitely a good thing.

Raise children with a wild streak
Many 'ideal' students lack inventive, restless and self-reliant spirit
by: Mark Pruett
A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics stresses the importance of childhood playtime. It reinforces my own belief that many young adults have been cheated by years of excessive schoolwork and teamwork, too many extracurricular activities, and a straitjacketed "just say no to anything risky" upbringing. I am convinced that modern childhood generally does not build enough independence and thirst for knowledge.
For the past few years I helped interview high school seniors seeking scholarships to come to Appalachian State University. These applicants come from all over the state. They play instruments and sports, participate in church and charity, and work in diverse jobs.
They also display remarkably similar accomplishments. They are at the top of their high school classes and possess generically good manners. They lead teams, groups and clubs. They are smart, solid and hardworking.
They might be surprised to learn that I, like many college professors, yearn for rarer traits -- curiosity, passion, a wild streak. Yes, teamwork and leadership skills will help your child to implement someone else's ideas, and extensive extracurricular activities will foster responsibility. What your child really needs, though, is an inventive, self-reliant, restless spirit.
The key questions
For me, the heart-wrenching interview moment is when we ask these teenagers what they would choose to do on a day spent alone. Many say they never have the chance. Worse still, some have no answer at all. This should disturb and sadden any parent. In the end, my scholarship votes ride on two questions: Is this someone that I'd be excited to have in my class? And is he or she open to being changed by my class? Class rank and extracurricular activities are less important than genuine individuality or enthusiasm. It matters not whether someone is bold or shy, worldly or nave. Is there a flash of determination, a streak of independence, a creative passion, an excited curiosity?
We need more students like the ones who leave after graduation to work as missionaries or in the Peace Corps. More like the ones who start successful businesses while in school. More like the ones who find the courage to go overseas for a summer or a semester because they know their own worlds are far too small.
Some students are team players and high achievers, but I'd trade them for stubbornly creative iconoclasts. Some students as children were taught to color inside the lines, watch Barney the purple dinosaur, and always ask permission. We need students who found out what Crayons tasted like, loved reading "The Cat in the Hat" and paid little attention to rules -- students whose parents encouraged their children's curiosity.
Something's missing
The irony is that many students begin to perceive late in college that they've missed something along the way. They regret not taking risks with difficult professors, unusual courses or semesters abroad. They berate themselves by equating self-worth with grades, and they are saddened by the realization that they have only glimpsed the breadth of the university. They begin to grasp that their uncomfortable sense of passivity has its roots in the highly controlled existence foisted on them.
Parents: love, guide and support your children, but don't insulate them, control them or let them be too busy. Independence, confidence and creativity come from freedom, risk and a good measure of unstructured solitude.
Encourage studying but make them play hooky, too -- partly to learn what it feels like to be unprepared and partly to foster spontaneity, irreverence and joy. Study chemistry together, then blow up a television in the backyard.
Foster camaraderie and connectedness through group activities (especially family ones), but be unyielding in your commitment to teaching them to love doing things entirely on their own. Make each child plan and cook the family's dinner on his or her own once a week.
Surround them with books, not video games. Raise a garden or build a deck together. Send them on solo trips.
However you choose to do it, give your children, their teachers and society one of the greatest gifts of all: Help your kids become creative, independent, curious, interesting people.
About the Author
Mark Pruett is an assistant professor in the Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University.
This article, that originally appeared in The Charlotte Observer is reprinted with permission from the author, Mark Pruett.

This one's for my Mom

From News of the Weird:

Americans' Special Relationship with "Taxes":

It is not just that the secretary of the Treasury owed back taxes for years, or that two other presidential cabinet-level nominees owed back taxes. In January, federal prosecutors revealed that District of Columbia Council member Marion Barry, who was already on probation after a 2005 conviction for failing to file tax returns for the years 1999 through 2004, and subsequently almost tauntingly failed to file a return for 2006, has now doubled-down the taunt by failing to file for 2007. And in March, a Georgia state senator proposed punishment for the 22 members of the legislature who either owed back taxes or had failed to file returns for at least one year since 2002. The 22 were not identified, in compliance with privacy laws, but the Senate's Democratic leader, Robert Brown, outed himself as one of the 22 in the course of calling his scolding colleague a "bloodsucker."
[Macon Telegraph, 3-5-09; Washington Post, 1-29-09]

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

And a twist on that.......

10 Reasons Not to Homeschool by Tammy Takahashi
original post here by Tammy Takahashi
28 October 2006 5 Comments

1. There is no “how to”. You have to make your own decisions about what is important in education. You have to read lots of books and do lots of research to ultimately to figure out who you are, and you will soon learn, there is no “right” way to educate.
2. People will always ask you why you homeschool. Then you have to deal with their questions somehow. This. Never. Ends.
3. It is very likely that someone you love will absolutely hate the fact that you are homeschooling, and will make it clear. Wouldn’t it just be easier to do things the way your family expects you to? You’d get along better with them if you do.
4. You have to create your own social networks and be able to make friends without the constructs of a school setting. And the kids have to learn how to get along with people in the real world. The real world is scary sometimes, and it’s not always easy to know how to meet people.
5. You will have to answer all of your kids’ questions. And sometimes, (ok, maybe often), you’ll have to admit that you don’t know something. And you can’t say, “Ask your teacher tomorrow.” Instead, you will have to say, “Let’s look it up.”
6. The first step to successful homeschooling is to let go of everything you ever knew about education, and to start from scratch. If you really like how school works, you may be surprised at how different homeschooling is from that version of reality. Sometimes, that causes smoke to rise from the ears as two sets of gears try to go in opposite directions.
7. There are a million things to buy out there. It’s easy to get sucked into the “it’s for our kids’ education” trap. And beware homeschool conferences. They are like going to an endless mall of educational materials and ideas. If you go to too many of them, you may even be coerced into speaking at one.
8. Even if millions of parents have homeschooled before, nobody will be able to tell you what to expect. Homeschooling is like being a parent - every family is different and you’re going to have to become your own expert and do a lot of research. Sure, it’s possible to homeschool without research, but that’s like parenting without thinking about why you make our choices. So, once you’ve decided to homeschool, you will be spending just as much time as your kids with your nose in a book, or doing on-site research (park days and info nights). In fact, in the beginning, you’ll probably be learning a lot more than your kids are. That is a very tiring.
9. You run the risk of filling your house with books, magazines, science projects and pencils. You may need to convert part of the bathroom into a library. And what’s worse, is that whenever someone starts talking about a topic, you won’t be able to stop yourself from saying, “We have a book on that! Here, let me go get it.” People will either stay away from you to keep from being told all the nuts and bolts about taking a radio apart, or they will always be bugging you for help on their school science projects because they know you have all the books and info (and experience).
10. You are free. Completely and totally free. Do you really want to be free?
Related posts:
Reasons for Homeschooling
Homeschool Teacher Training
Actually, These Are the 10 Steps to a Better Homeschool
On Being Organized and Prepared to Homeschool
No Homeschool Books for YOU!

A brief description......

"54 Reasons Why Families Choose to Homeschool"

1. Be with Your Family

2. Set Your Own Schedule

3. Vacation When You Want

4. Choose curriculum that best suits the needs of your child

5. Be totally aware of the state and progress of your child's education

6. Keep your child away from un-necessary peer pressure

7. Keep your child away from the bad influence of other children

8. Love, nurture, and teach your child the character and morals you value most

9. Make learning fun

10. Make learning as "experiential" as you want

11. Don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to get your child dressed and fed and off to school where their so tired they don't learn well anyway.

12. Break up the day however you want to fit your child's learning attention span

13. Teach your child without any "assumed limitations". Teach multiple languages, develop one skill or subject--the sky's the limit

14. What you teach an older child naturally filters down to the younger child(ren) making learning must easier and faster for siblings

15. Teach at the pace and developmental stage appropriate for your child

16. Avoid educational "labeling"

17. Keep you child as far away from drugs as possible

18. Never have to worry about bomb scares or mass shootings

19. Allow your child to do think, discuss, and explore in ways not possible in a classroom setting

20. Constant positive reinforcement and gentle correction. No abusive words or actions that scar your child's psyche

21. Don't use the school system as a babysitter. You only need a few hours for learning--the rest of the day is filled with unnecessary "busy work"

22. Develop life skills such as cooking, cleaning, and organizing that are easily learned with the additional time spent at home

23. Spend as much time outdoors as you want to enjoy nature and the world around us

24. Teach the value of responsibility by providing daily jobs

25. To make money management as natural as breathing by allowing even small children to do tasks, earn money, save it, and spend it in an appropriate manner.

26. Never have your child beat up by a bully. Teach self-defense skills that will enable him to deal with any situation but not until he is mature enough to handle the emotional aspects of confrontation

27. No pressure or set "expectations" from teachers on a younger sibling that follows an older sibling in the same school

28. Be around when your child needs to talk

29. Take a break when your child needs a break

30. Bond as a family through family group activities

31. Pass on your religious beliefs and morals to your children and stay away from the "indoctrination" of other school systems

32. Teach sex education when you and how you want

33. Develop your child's imagination and teach diverse problem solving skills instead of one institutionalized method of thinking

34. Unlimited possibilities for extra curricular activities that interest your child having to live up to the expectations or skills of others.

35. Develop the individualism of your child

36. Avoid traditional school "group activities" that may leave one student doing all the work or ruining it for everyone else.

37. Never have your child feel the failure, embarrassment, or teasing from "failing" a grade

38. To keep your children out of the care, custody, and control or people you don't know and who naturally teach their philosophy of life whether they realize it or not

39. No opportunity for your child to "sluff off", "snow-blow", or "just get by" with academics

40. To have your child learn initiative naturally as there's no peer pressure or fear of embarrassing himself

41. Allow your child to have input and say in subject matter and style

42. Allow your child to focus on growth and development--not following the latest fad or being in a certain group

43. So your child will only be surrounded by people who love him, encourage him, and want the best for him.

44. Make sure your child doesn't end up graduating without knowing how to read or knowing other basic skills due to educational failings of your local schools.

45. Keep your child out of private schools that have peer pressure, teacher criticism, durgs, sex, and alcohol that your child never needs to be around

46. Avoid grading scales and testing that gives no positive benefit to your child

47. Not to give the state or federal government control of your child that they assume is theirs

48. To easily pass on your unique heritage or language to your child

49. So your child is not limited by "age" or "grade" to advance or explore academics in which they are interested or gifted

50. To teach your children to enjoy life

51. To allow your children to go to work with Mom or Dad when you all want--not just on the one "go to work with a parent holiday"

52. As many field trips as you want, to places that interest your child

53. To just take a day off when everyone feels like it

54. Flexibility to switch or experiment with different curriculum

If you found these reasons helpful and are ready to start home school, then continue at How to Homeschool

How many US presidents served more than two terms?

In case anyone else is curious, I was debating this with Tom. I was absolutely sure that at least one president had served an extra term or two and I kinda thought that FDR and maybe one early president had served extra terms. Here's the answer:

How Many US Presidents Served More than One Term?
The simple answer to this question is that almost half of the United States presidents to date have served more than one term as president. In fact, 20 presidents in all have served more than one full term in office. They were: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Washington, Harry Truman, George W. Bush, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Richard M. Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, William McKinley and Abraham Lincoln.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) is the only us president in history that served more than two terms in office. In fact, FDR was elected to 4 full terms in office. Unfortunately Roosevelt died during his 4th term and the remainder of the term was served by his Vice President, Harry S Truman.
In 1947 the Twenty-Second Amendment of the United States Constitution was passed. This amendment stated that a President cannot serve more than 10 years or two consecutive terms in office.
However, not every us President that served more than one term served them consecutively. Grover Cleveland was the only president that served two terms that were not in a row. Cleveland goes down in the American history books as both the 22nd and 24th President of the USA.
Out of the 20 us presidents that served more than one term as president, 11 individuals served two full terms. These presidents included: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Washington and George W. Bush.
There are also a handful of leaders that were originally elected as a Vice President and ended up serving part of a previous President’s term. Of these leaders 4 went on to be elected to their own term. This President’s include Harry Truman, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge and Lyndon B. Johnson.
These US presidents are not the only American leaders who served more than one term but less than two terms. Richard Nixon resigned during his second term after the Watergate scandal, while William McKinley and Abraham Lincoln were both assassinated during their second terms in the presidential office.

Nice try Batman!

I forgot to post this before. The day after I made cupcakes Timothy and Justin kept bugging me for more. I kept telling them no. At one point I heard Timothy saying, mainly to himself, "I Batman! Batman can have cupcakes!"
And I told him, "oh yeah? Well I talked to Batman's Mommy, and she said he CAN'T have cupcakes!" He made a face.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Helping Out with siblings

A post from a large family blog on what is reasonable help to expect from kids.

I know people always say how horrible it is for kids to help raise siblings-that's one of those criticisms frequently thrown at large families. I have always thought that they were onto something though. Obviously there's a difference between having no parental interraction and having the older kids help out with younger siblings. There's a way to do it correctly and not! And personalities and talent in this regard should always be taken into consideration. But I think mainly good things come of having responsibilities within the family. Helping with siblings should be one of those responsibilities. It teaches life skills, it's training for one day being a good spouse or even a good college roomate. It helps with sibling relationships. It contributes to the survival of the family-which should be something everyone works towards. I think a family should be more than just a collection of individuals who happen to live together. Every doing their part to help contributes to the sense that you are in it together, you're a team.

Happy (Belated) St. Patrick's Day

Since I wasn't able to post on St. Pat's, so here's my Happy ST. Patrick's Day post.......I made green cupcakes for the occasion (but I made them two days late!) I've been behind all week!

Card for Tony

Tony from Antonio's Pizza (downtown Easton) had a minor heart attack. Leanna made him this card and insert, I thought it was cute, so I took a picture.
The translation is:
To: Tony a great pizza worker.
Inside: a slice of pizza that says, We all love your pizza. So tasty!
The other page just has a little picture from each of them.

Getting Crafty

I've started on Leanna's birthday quilted wall hanging. I made one for Justin two years ago-Nemo, and both Leanna and Timothy have complained that they want one too. When I told Tom that he said, "I want one too! With Tigers!"
So I guess I have my work cut out for me!

When I opened the cutting tool (pictured) Justin said, "Wow! Cool tool!" We're thinking he'll be Tom's helper at work one day. : )

Finally painted the bathroom

The color's ok, not great, Tom doesn't like it at all. I'm just happy it's done!

Well, almost done. He still has to put the towel holders up and the thing that holds the hand towels, and it really should have another coat of paint. But this looks so much better than before!

Clearing this up......

My father-in-law complained that I forgot his birthday, and Father's Day in my post on celebrations. He's right that I forgot to add father's day-that often does get put off a bit because father's day is right in the midst of our 3 family birthdays. That was a mistake.
But his birthday wasn't in there because it's sort of all alone. The point I was making was that the flurry of holidays and birthdays seems to begin for me in May. I also left out Claire's birthday-Dec. 14th-because for me anyway, it seems more isolated. For Claire it probably feels like it's mashed in with Christmas. I would have included Maree's birthday's birthday-Dec. 26th-but since she stopped having birthday parties we just give her the presents when we see her for Christmas now. So it doesn't really feel like an extra celebration. Anyway, it's written from my point of view, I certainly didn't mean that any birthdays not mentioned weren't important, or that the people they belong to aren't as loved.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Pirate Name

My pirate name is:
Mad Ethel Rackham
Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Visit with Uncle Billy

Justin's picture of Uncle Billy from Saturday night. He came over for about an hour and a half to arm wrestle, teach push-ups, hang kids on his arms, and to show them his muscles.


This morning I found a post on celebrations-a Mom who says she has frequent parties for her kids on no notice. And she has 13 kids! I've had the subject of parties on the back the back of my mind. Sometimes after Easter the whole celebration season seems to begin. We have Easter, Dad's birthday, Mother's Day, memorial day, Mimi's birthday :( , the end of school, Leanna's birthday, Justin's birthday, Tom's birthday, the fourth of July, Sue's birthday, Jacob's birthday, My Mom's birthday, Laura's birthday, labor day, and the start of school again! Followed soon after by my birthday and Timothy's! Then Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas season!

This year instead of Mimi's birthday we'll be celebrating my cousin's wedding (not that it's an actual substitution, just they're around the same time). And I think in April Laura will be getting her master's, so that's another celebration!

Our parties are pretty low-key, the main ingredients are just family, food, balloons and presents. I don't bother to hand out party favors, and I don't do expensive restaurant parties or things like that. But I've been thinking about how to improve them. I know, I know! Claire and Garrett vote alcohol! Sometimes we remember to find music to play, generally not. I usually intend to have music and a lot more decoration. I like to make their birthdays really feel special and different from any other day. But unfortunately I'm limited not just financially, but with my time. So much of my cleaning has to be last minute, and I try to make the food last minute so it's fresh. And I've been getting experimental with birthday cakes in recent years, that takes time too. My sister Laura generally comes over a few hours early to help with last minute preparations and that helps tremendously! My Mom will usually slice up some vegetables. Which is in itself another change in recent years. Since my Mom's diet changed so drastically after her heart attack, so to has our food on holidays and parties changed. I think this is mostly for the better. I like that my kids will grow up thinking it's normal to munch on peppers, carrots, broccoli, and celery in addition to chips and pretzels. Certainly different from our parties! But I also know that my in-laws haven't seemed to have as much fun lately either, so I'd welcome suggestions from them, as well as anyone else, on different ways to add to their enjoyment.

Why we're fascinated

Family matters for TLC and its viewers
Today on TV
David Zurawik Z on TV
March 15, 2009
For more than 40 years, the American family held center stage in prime-time network television. From the Cleavers of Leave itto Beaver to the Huxtables of The Cosby Show, family life formed the backbone of the sitcom genre. And there was no shortage of family dramas either with such memorable series as Family, The Waltons and Eight is Enough.With the arrival of the new millennium, however, families seemed to have all but disappeared from the network TV landscape. Typical of TV today, CBS' sophomoric sex romp Two and a Half Men is what has come to pass as a family sitcom.But family fare is making a comeback in a big way on cable channel TLC (The Learning Channel) these days, particularly with young female viewers. And TV executives have taken note that the worse the economy gets, the more viewers are making these family-based, home-and-hearth series a regular part of their TV week.Jon & Kate Plus 8, a reality TV show that follows the everyday lives of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their eight children, is one of the highest-rated series on cable TV with an audience of 3.7 million viewers. It is the top show on advertiser-supported cable with young women, one of TV's most desired demographic groups. It beats out such series as TNT's The Closer.

Related links
'Jon & Kate Plus 8' Photos
'Table for Twelve' Photos
The Gosselins have been on the cover of Good Housekeeping magazine and were featured last week on The Oprah Winfrey Show, a barometer of mass popularity if ever there was one. Their success has driven year-to-year, double-digit growth for the once-foundering Maryland-based operation - lifting TLC this year into the Top 10 basic cable channels.And then, there's 18 Kids and Counting, featuring Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, an Arkansas couple with 10 boys and eight girls - and all of their names begin with the letter "J." This supersized family is a little more country than the Gosselins, but it is also a hit by cable standards. Taken together, 18 Kids and Jon & Kate are spurring their own reality TV genre.On March 23, after the season finale of Jon & Kate, TLC will launch Table for 12, another docu-series about a huge brood. Betty and Eric Hayes and their 10 children are the stars of this series, and based on the two episodes made available for preview, it absolutely follows the TLC formula.Eileen O'Neill, the president and general manager of TLC who is responsible for developing the shows and engineering the channel's turnaround, explained the "recipe" for her success."The family itself has to be endearing or have some conflict - those are the two basic reality TV characteristics. The personalities just have to be there," O'Neill said. "Then, there has to be some kind of hook to the circumstances - in this case, it's the size of the family or the multiples."In Jon & Kate, the family consists of twins and sextuplets. The Hayes family, of Table for 12, are twins, twins and sextuplets. The Duggars have three sets of twins.There is undoubtedly a cultural fascination these days with such multiples, as the media's obsession with Nadya Suleman and her octuplets underscores. Last week, Suleman's appearance for two days on Dr. Phil lifted ratings for the syndicated show 15 percent - no small feat in daytime talk TV."Certainly the biological phenomenon of bearing that many children is interesting," O'Neill said, noting that TLC has created shows about "adoption-based" families that didn't "resonate" with viewers the way these shows do."So, there is the element of the biological phenomenon that plays a role. But secondly, there are the logistics of large families. It gives us something to appreciate as viewers when we're trying to put food on the table and be organized for one or two or three kids, and then to double or triple that. It just holds a fascination for us and makes us think maybe we don't have it so tough."Finally, "at the end of the day, there is just no accounting for cute kids," O'Neill said.There are other factors involved, such as religion and what amounts to a conservative ideology. An undercurrent of Christianity can be felt in each of the shows. With the Duggars, a family of Southern Baptists, it is front and center."They all have at their core a tremendous belief in God," O'Neill said. "And with the Duggar family in particular, that's what molds the whole family."But as strong a pull as biology and religion might be, the ultimate attraction of the shows seems to be the way they speak to the uncertain economic times in which we live. As major institutions fail, and the government appears impotent to protect us from loss of jobs and homes, people fall back on family as the one unit they can trust. Think of The Waltons and the relationship of those characters to the Great Depression."I do think the economy has played a role in the success of these shows in the last six to nine months," O'Neill said."These shows have been building in popularity, I suspect, because of the cultural phenomenon we're all navigating right now with the economy. There's clearly a sense in these shows of the logistics of family management, including finances and food. And now there's a greater sensitivity within all our lives about the cost of these things. These supersized families take on those challenges every single day in major ways - and now, more than ever, that speaks to us."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I got the deal tonight!

I got the deal on huggies diapers & wipes. Even though they didn't have gentle care brand in the size I needed, I was able to use another kind of Huggies, and the wipes worked too. I used 3 $5 coupons, and got the $10 register rewards certificate printed at the register! So it was like paying $1.00 for 2 packs of diapers and one pack of wipes!

Another shower related post

Batman is Asleep and Wonder Woman Has Her Period, Now What?

A short post on bad Mommy/good Mommy. I'm pretty sure anyone who is a mother-no matter the end of the spectrum she's on-can relate.

This is what I'm talkin' about!

I like this post so much I'm just pasting it here instead of putting a link. I soo relate! But my water pressure isn't that great and a shower ALONE with no interruptions is VERY rare for me. But I do love a good shower all by myself,where I can actually hear the thought in my own head!

March 11, 2009
The Shower, My Secret Weapon

At some point between the shampoo and the conditioner, I reach the apex of my day. A thick cloud of steam envelops me. My fingers massage my scalp deeply and vigorously, releasing little pockets of stress as the hair products work their magic on my postpartum hairline.

The shower stills that mad list maker who tallies the birthday presents to buy, the playdates to set up, the babysitters to book, and the long overdue car servicing appointment to schedule. All the irritating details of my life fade away in my warm cocoon. I can hear no children. There's no crying, no fighting, no whining, and not even any naughty laughing. It's just me and my aging body being pampered by the strong jets. I entered an incoherent sleep-starved harried harpy and I will emerge a bright and loving domestic goddess.

For now I am just there, bathing in the moment, revelling in a few minutes of private indulgence. Occasionally the kids break into my reverie. They slide open the foggy goose-bump glass doors and shout their needs at me.
"I told you I don't like mac&cheese! I don't want hot lunch today!"
"Jack stole my pony!"
"Juliette has a poop and it smells bad!"
"Bella called me stupid!"
So I cluck soothing noises, plant wet kisses on hurt limbs and promise I'll be right out before sliding the glass door shut to begin the bittersweet final rinse.

But on those days, those gorgeous, wonderful, undisturbed days when the shower is given the time to work its magic, I achieve true brilliance. I'm probably performing a form of meditation, a mind-clearing exercise to get to the real stuff. Regardless of definition, it's when the solutions appear unbidden: great topics for posts and powerful sentences for insightful essays that Brain,Child and Oprah will enter in a bidding war for the privilege to publish. The world doesn't seem so insurmountable behind the curtain of steam in my private oasis. Naked except for the cascading scalding water, I feel like I can accomplish anything.

This is an original NJ Moms Blog post. When not plotting to take over the world from her shower cubicle, Vanessa Druckman blogs at Chefdruck Musings and Chefdruck Reviews.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Useful information for the future.

I may not be able to use this now, but in the future....good to know! I have been throwing out Bed Bath & Beyond coupons that are expired-now I know better.

Bed, Bath & Beyond: since Linens N Things went out of business, no more competitors to speak of-- however, BB&B accepts its OWN expired coupons, as long as they are hard copies (not their printable coupons) so DON'T throw them out just because they're expired.

Huggies deal

I checked out the link on my Mom's blog (check it out, she's been posting again) and here's the huggies deal (though it's worth poking around at other stuff on the link): Hint, any grandparents who would like to do this, it would make an excellent Easter present and wouldn't cost that much!!

UPDATE: Walgreens: Huggies Diapers deal is *even* better than I thought! 2 packages of diapers and one package of wipes for $1 out of pocket!
UPDATE: Walgreens: Huggies Diapers deal is *even* better than I thought!When I originally posted about the Huggies deal at Walgreens (posted HERE), it wasn't clear that Huggies wipes were included.. but they are! So, to really s-t-r-e-t-c-h your dollars, here's what to do.Print $5 off Huggies Gentle Care and $3 off Huggies Natural Fit coupons HERE.(You should be able to print TWO coupons per computer-- to get additonal coupons, ask any friends or family members that are able and willing to print additional coupons for you!) Go to Walgreens (sale ends this Saturday, March 14th) and purchase the following:2 packages of Huggies diapers @ $10/each: $201 package of Huggies wipes @ $6/each: $6TOTAL before coupons= $26LESS 3 $5 Huggies Coupons, brings the total down to $11 *and* you will ALSO get a $10 Register Reward which you can use on your next purchase. The $10 Register Reward can certainly be used to buy additional Huggies products, but you cannot use Register Rewards earned by buying Huggies to earn MORE Register Rewards earned by buying Huggies. So, alternatively, you can use that Register Reward to buy an additional $10 worth of items (that are on sale and/or you have coupons for, of course!) that you and your family needs.And, again, even if you or your family are no longer in need of diapers and/or wipes-- this would make a wonderful gift or donation to a family or charity!Happy shopping-- and nearly free diapers and wipes!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No villiage people yet

Work on the villiage made out of boxes and egg cartons, etc. continues. In part, because I'd like to reclaim the kitchen table. We did some major painting yesterday afternoon. Making people for it will be the last step.


Being the youngest means sometimes having a princess lid on your Tonka cup.

Life Lessons

Very Important Lesson for Today:

Toy lawnmowers DO NOT, in fact, act as vacuum cleaners on the pile of bread and pretzels spilled on the rug and awaiting little hands to put it in the trash because they were too big to go in the vacuum.

Said pile will now be spread across the width of living room rug and will cause the mother of the children that the little hands belong to, to have a sudden headache, as she had just vacuumed the living room floor. But not with a lawnmower.

Recent Stuff

*I'm loving that I haven't turned the heat on in about a week!

*I'm not loving this inbetween weather, where it's warm enough for the kids to play in the backyard, but not warm enough for the sun to dry up the mud-my kitchen floor's been a constant disaster as a result. (For the trillionth time I curse the individual who decided to put a white floor in this house!!)

*Tonight we read the final chapter of Narnia. : (

*Leanna's been practicing math for fun. I know! Makes me wonder if there wasn't a switch at birth!

*I'm really antsy to do some crafts for myself, just haven't been able to swing the free time yet. We made the trek to Joann's on Saturday afternoon, an occasion for sin! as Aunt Cindy says. And this time it was, patterns were on sale and I found some I couldn't resist. I'm dying to do some sewing or scrapbooking!

*Jacob's starting to sit on the potty every now and then, no actual use with it yet though. He gets

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Edible Nostalgia

80s cartoon cakes, for those of you who remember the 80s.

It even happened to Hannah Montanna

Even Miley Cyrus was bullied relentlessly at school
For Miley, the abuse eventually stopped, but for the 30 percent of kids who undergo school hazing each year (stats are fuzzy since many cases go unreported), this type of treatment can lead to depression, even suicide.

I'll definitely be showing this story to Leanna.

(This subject is apparently a timely one, as even the American Girl doll of the year deals with bullying. 2009's doll, Chrissa deals with the subject, and although the dolls are pricey, the books are a lot more reasonable.)

If I had 100 by Leanna

This came home last Friday, I thought it was pretty adorable. I guess I'll translate, as her spelling's pretty bad (I have no clue where that comes from!!)
My translation, with correct spelling (I think!)It's a fill in the blank book so I used...... to show where her words are:
I wish I had 100......yummy strawberries
I would never want 100......stinkbugs and ants.
If I had 100 dollars, I would ......go to New York City and buy a doll and (something, I can't read what she wrote.)
Having 100......cats......would really be a problem. Then she added, My grammy's allergic to cats.
I could eat creams, more than that.
I'd like to give......My Mom......100..... dollars for Christmas.
I think in 100 years.....I will be a rock star.
(And I assure you she meant it to say rock star, not coke star like it looks like!)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Yard Sale Find

A friend tipped us off about a big church yard sale today in Easton. Tom had his first day off in about two months, so the whole family went. It's funny, Tom was mad because we were running very very late today, we got there a half hour before the sale ended. But it worked out to our favor since they were just giving us stuff to get rid of it. They gave us some toys, some books, the pictured ice-cream maker, which I would have bought if she hadn't given it to us. At that table she was quoting prices at first, but changed her mind. Later she mentioned that she was one of six siblings and the younger four were close in age. She said our kids reminded her of her siblings. She said we could make ice-cream as a family on a Friday night-pass it around to the kids to take turns cranking. They gave Tom some shirts, though I doubt he'll use them. We'll pass them along. Jacob found a dinosaur and picked it up saying, "ROAR!"

Anyone have the recipie for making ice-cream? (I think I remember Jamie mentioning having an ice-cream maker-please help us!)

Friday, March 06, 2009

New discovery

We discovered the funniest thing tonight! Timothy can move the outie part of his belly button out further with his muscles! It's hysterical!

Monkee in trouble

I LOVED the Monkees! I haven't heard about them in years though:

© AP
Peter Tork
Former Monkees member says he has cancer
March 5, 2009, 9:41 PM EST

MANSFIELD, Conn. (AP) -- Peter Tork, a former member of the 1960s pop group the Monkees, says he has a rare form of head and neck cancer, but the prognosis is good.
The 67-year-old Tork had surgery Wednesday in New York. His spokeswoman says he is doing well and will begin radiation treatment after a short recovery period.
He announced on his website Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma on the lower region of his tongue. He says it's an uncommon but slow-growing type of cancer, and it hasn't spread beyond the initial site.
From 1966 to 1968, the Monkees had a popular TV show and three No. 1 hits, "Last Train To Clarksville," "I'm A Believer" and "Daydream Believer."

School problems?

Can anyone think of a reason my daughter is throwing up at school but has no fever or other signs of any problems. They send her to the nurse who says she has no fever and sends her back to the classroom. This has happened twice (that I know about) this week. She seems perfectly normal at home, I wouldn't even know about it except that she mentioned it in passing last night, and on Tuesday I attended a reading program thing at her school and when I signed in at the office, the nurse's assistant happened to be there and mentioned that she'd thrown up that day. Otherwise I wouldn't have known.
I'm beginning to wonder if it's nerves-a reaction to the cutthroat second-grade environment in her class. No, I'm actually serious. It's like a mini-version of mean girls. Some of the stuff she tells me about just breaks my heart. Last night she said, "Kevin is nice to "A." and she's nice to him. But I'm nice to "A." and she's not nice to me. Why?"

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Humerous post

I found this post on 5 Minutes for parenting: We're all in this together. I love this one, I found myself snickering at several parts. (By the way, she isn't related to the media's "Octomom" she just has eight kids and calls herself that.)

Octamom Plus Eight
(When she's not avoiding laundry by blogging, Octamom can be found homeschooling her brood of eight. Having left a career in television and radio to become a professional lactator, Octamom has been married to the cutest guy in the world for almost 20 years. Through her writing and photography, she hopes to bring a laugh, share a thought and encourage other moms to enjoy the ride! She blogs at Octamom)

My very brave and patient and organized and pithy neighbor popped in for a couple of minutes the other day and we stood in my non-organized entry chatting (how I have managed to make a formal entry unorganized just goes to show the depth of my talent). The sounds of whining children floated down to us from the upstairs media room, me doing my best to ignore the clarion call of bickering children. Things quieted down for a bit and then I heard the loud squeal of one kid.
I keep an auditory memory file somewhere in the depths of my brain that categorizes and defines the squealing, crying, yelling, shrieking calls of my offspring, kind of like those marine biologists who claim they know all the whale songs by heart. This particular squeal that assaulted the hearing sensibilities of my neighbor and me pegged somewhere around the "Biting Victim" range.
"HEYYY!!!!" I gently called in my soft mommy scream. "HHEEEYYYYYY!!!" "WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON UP THERE?!?!?!?""
"It's okay. It's just Aiden," called a kid voice.
Aiden? We don't have an Aiden. My neighbor doesn't have an Aiden. Who's Aiden?
"AIDEN? WHO'S AIDEN??!!??~~"
"From Jon and Kate Plus 8. We're watching it on tv…"
So I just want to make sure I have this straight. I'm now also having to deal with the bickering and biting and resultant squealing of Jon and Kate's brood along with my own. Okay.
And riddle me this, Gentle Readers. I have eight children. My children are living in a family of eight. We have the same messes, similar challenges, same general chaos. Why, oh why, would my children find viewing other children in the same situation soooooo fascinating? It concerns me. What kind of voyeurism is this?
Is it because Kate is so relaxed and calm compared to their mother?
Okay, that was snarky…but funny…..
This post was originally published on October 10, 2008 at Octamom.
If you would like to be considered to be featured in "A Dose of Humor", please email Rachel at
Be sure to check out Rachel's blog, Grasping for Objectivity in my Subjective Life

I so have to make these!

In an apparent attempt to thwart my goal to lose some weight before my cousin's wedding this summer, cinnamon buns have been stalking me! Seriously, all the sudden they're everywhere. And normally this would be no big deal, but right now for some reason they just look and smell soooooooo good. Click on this link for Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon rolls and see the picture, doesn't it look yummy? It has a maple glaze and the recipe for it includes coffee. Sounds interesting. Sometime I'll have to get maple flavoring and an entire bag of flour to make it!

Tryin to win a free book

Pass the link for this on to anyone you know who might be interested:

A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family shares the story of the growth of our family, as well as the hints and tricks I’ve learned over the years that help me stay sane as a mother of many. I’d never claim to have all the answers, but having a large family has forced me to become more efficient.
Some ideas in the book are tailored specifically for larger families, but many ideas in every chapter could work for any busy family, large or small. As an added point of interest, some of my very favorite blogger-mommas have graciously shared their wisdom for this book, including Shannon (4 kids) from
Rocks in My Dryer, Carrien (3 kids) from She Laughs at the Days, and Jenni (12 kids) from One Thing.

On amazon you can preview the book (click on the Look Inside part) and I was reading the first few pages. I love this part from the second page, it nicely summs it up for me:

"but the decision to grow your family consists of much more than adding up noise and groceries and laundry, and gauging your tolerance of each. You also have to factor in the multiplication of hugs, the many more funny sayings, and the additional joy of witnessing each child succeed at each new phase of life. I think most parents would agree that a single lisped "I love you" at the right moment can easily outbalance a bathtub full of laundry."

(Mom you should read page 10, the last one it lets you preview, I think you'll relate). I'm thinking I should really read this book!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lessons fromt the past

Clara is a 93 year old woman who lived through the Great Depression. She talks of having very little to eat. Dinners consisted of a hearty helping of starch (usually pasta), veggies, and a small amount of meat. Large families eat like that often, even during good times. Nevertheless, Clara has created a series of YouTube videos showcasing recipes her family enjoyed during hard times. The recipes themselves are only part of the charm. Her musings of days goneby are reason enough to watch the videos. I'm linking episode 1 in the series below. To view the rest, visit Clara's YouTube Channel


Last year after tax returns I bought this humidifier

from I finally set it up last week. I was kind of torn between ordering a penguin and an elephant. If I ever get another one for one of the kid's rooms I'd get the elephant. I forget, there were a couple other animals too. It's just really cute and the kids are fascinated by it.

Grocery blues

I get so disgusted by trips to the grocery store. It just amazes me how much you spend for so little!
I bought, an onion and noodles for chicken soup, butter, jelly, cheerios, bread (only two loaves this time, generally I buy four at a time), yogurt, and (a splurge!) yogurt melts for Jacob. Plus a container of mayonaise on sale for $2.00 (normally 5 or 6, they had a huge display of them, but I guess they didn't sell). That's about 20.00 right there and I get home and it's like......ok, what do I have to eat.....nothing! The cereal and sandwhich stuff's for the kids, and the yogurt, and then supper and baking stuff. That happens pretty often!

Pictures of cards

Some of the appreciation cards they've made recently. The one with green scribbles was made by Timothy. It says,

"Mommy, Stephanie, I love you. Timothy."

I said to Leanna, but it's not mother's day. And she said, That's for MOMS DAY, not mother's day!!"

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

More recent stuff

*Timothy is in a constant state of giggliness. Just an observation.

*Jacob's excema is bad bad's driving him and me and Tom crazy.

*Leanna's been writting little stories at home sometimes. They are often about her day, or sometimes about Narnia. Very cute, and I love the self-driven literary streak.

*I am getting increasingly frustrated with Leanna's school and some of the behavior that goes on in the classroom. I like the principal, and some of the staff members I've met. They have a challenging job and most of them seem to truly care about the kids. But we've had multiple situations with kids doing things......if I hadn't been looking into homeschooling already, I think this stuff would have driven me to do so now. I have to talk to the school again, and I really dread doing that.

Leanna's been leading her brothers in making me appreciation cards. She also has another card waiting for "my loving Ant Lara."

This past weekend I took Justin to the store with me. For various reasons it's been quite a while since I've taken just him on an errand with me. He talked non-stop, the entire trip. I quizzed him on current favorites and found out that he likes dinosaures so much because they're big and scary!! It was a lot of fun, I always enjoy when I take just one kid out with me. I seriously cannot comprehend how someone could NOT love each and every one of their children.

* I don't remember if I ever mentioned here how Leanna named one of her webkinz Mayarosa. Strange name, right? Turns out it comes from the cartoon Handy Manny-when the characters reffer to Mayor Rosa, the words kind of slur together and my kids all thought it was one word, the name Mayarosa (pronounced May-uh-row-sa ) Reminds me of Ramona Quimby(book character) naming her doll Chevrolet because it was a beautiful name. Or a two year old Claire naming her doll "Nope." : )

Octomom Hypocrisy

A few excerpts from a newsweek article breifly examining the Octomom:

"Let's take a hard look at the four things about Suleman that ignite the most outrage.......

As for the use of "our" money, it is common knowledge that welfare and other programs such as assistance for women and infants (WIC), disability payments and food stamps are programs actually designed to use taxpayers' money to help pregnant women and children in need, right? There is no freak or idiot clause hidden within these programs. They're there to make sure American children aren't malnourished.
I know; it's unfair that Suleman's children are just as entitled to assistance as the children of people who don't creep us out, but let's not forget, they didn't decide to come into the world this way. And besides, Suleman isn't the only one who's getting "our" money for behavior we disapprove of—bank bailouts, anyone? And many of the institutions that got the first chunk of cash under the financial rescue plan haven't even answered requests from the federal government asking what they've done with the money. At least we know that the worst Suleman can do is buy a whole lot of empty carbs and some dairy with all those food stamps..........
So the question really is how many embryos would you ask to be implanted if you had a history of miscarriages and limited funds? Odds are that you'd pick more than one; only 11 percent of IVF procedures in this country involve a single embryo. "

The article lists the four top complaints and discusses them. I just copied the ones I thought made the best points.

Monday, March 02, 2009


An attitude of gratitude
12:56 PM PST, January 15, 2009
I heard something today that really made me think.
A man was talking about his life and growing up in the Great Depression. During that time, when he was 12 years old, his father died, leaving his mother with 7 young children, no money, and no income.
This man said that he remembered his mom, like a mother hen, huddling all the children around the casket at his father's funeral. She looked down at his father, with the children there in front of her and said, "Look at what you've left me with..."
And I fully expected her to say something like, "all these children, no money, and what am I supposed to do?"
But instead, she said, "Look at what you've left me with" and she looked at the children, "something that is worth more than all the gold in the world. THANK YOU."
I am so thankful for this wonderful example of gratitude, faith, and devotion. I hope it encourages you today as it has me.
Sonya Haskins
mom, author, homeschool advocate

Warning: tear jerker

If you don't mind tearing up a bit (or more), the subject line links to Katie Allison-Granju's blog with a story about her 2 year old cousin who died four years ago. His mother and grandmother were both watching him but he wandered away and in 5 minutes time had drowned in a body of water there. He lingered in the hospital for a while, but they pulled support. I cried for that poor boy's parents.
The child's parents are now adopting another baby, the circle of life in a way is complete. I followed this story when it happened 4 years ago, and it particularly resonated with me because I had a little blond haired, blue-eyed baby boy too. I'm just going to quote Katie here, because she puts it perfectly:

"W's death shook me to the core of my being. I couldn't believe that this vibrantly healthy, beautiful child could really be gone so suddenly. I couldn't imagine how his parents, two people I love with all my heart, would manage to wake up the next morning, not to mention every other morning for the rest of their lives. And I found myself realizing for the first time that Really Bad Things can happen to anyone at any time. Of course, I had understood that at a very surface level before W died, but after he was gone, everything precious to me felt more fragile and vulnerable. And four years later, it still does. I see each of my children in a different way, and I no longer feel as confident that simply being a "good mother" (whatever that means) can really protect them in the way I assumed it could before. It's an awareness that is both painful, and also somewhat freeing. It allowed me to stop clenching my mental and emotional fists so much all the time, and to place more trust in the great universal love I personally know as God."

Sunday, March 01, 2009


A couple people have now invited me to join facebook. If you join and set your profile to private, what can be seen by anyone looking up your name? What are the benefits of joining?

(I know at least a few of you must have a facebook page)

Tech Savy kids

I ran into an interesting example of how my kids are affected by growing up with technology that didn't exist when I was a kid. Leanna was looking for the Grease Megamix song to play (we use an online playlist for songs) and couldn't find it. I was busy loading the dishwasher and couldn't come right away to help her find it. She got impatient and figured out how to find it anyway. She typed "megamixs greas" and ended up on youtube with a megamix video. Pretty cool, but a little bit scary. She could easily end up on a very bad site while searching for something completely innocent. But I was impressed because I've never showed her how to do a search like that.

We didn't have a home computer until I was in 11th grade. We bought one from my Aunt and Uncle who had a business selling them. My uncle had a computer in his house way before anyone I'd ever known. Had to be early to mid eighties. (Livingston st.)
We set it up on the third floor. I remember them showing us how to use the computer mouse. It felt really strange the first time I tried it, it was jumping all over the place and I had to learn how to control it. My Uncle was impatient with us, he'd been using them for a long time already by then. We played card games on it and used it for typing letters and school essays. In high school we had a computer lab we'd occasionally visit with Macintosh apple computers. In my senior year I took a course called computer skills. It was frightfully easy. Much of it is useless now, we did stuff like learning the F1, F2,etc. keys. There were no computer mouses in our lab. I think the earliest time I used a computer in school was in 5th grade, some computers visited our school for two weeks. We got to visit them once or twice. In middle school I remember doing stuff in DOS in an upstairs computer lab. My kids will read that one day and have no idea what I'm talking about. Everything printed out on that paper with the holes on both edges that you had to rip off. My kids will have such a different experience in that respect.

I've purposely not let the kids do a lot with the computer. I know a lot of people make a big deal out of teaching them as early as possible, but I figure I'd rather they play and use their imaginations more while they're young. It's not like it's all that difficult to learn, they'll catch up easily, especially since they watch me doing it all the time. Leanna's had the most computer use, she's the oldest and I hadn't really formulated my theory yet before she started using it. But even then I tried to limit the time she was on it. I think research backs me up too-it shows that after using the computer for reading on a regular basis you tend to have more difficulty reading regular books, your attention span is shortened. I know I can personally attest to that. A child spending a lot of regular time on the computer in the world of instant clicking and jumping from site to site, refreshing the page, etc. etc., well, that has to affect how you learn to think. Leanna's computer use has skyrocketed since she got into webkinz (one of the reasons I didn't jump on that bandwagon immediately), but I've been using it as a reward lately. Generally she only does it on a Friday night when I go out with my sister. And lately some of that time is spend with Justin and/or Timothy playing games. I can live with that. It's just weird to think about how much has changed in such a short period of time.