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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Post title links to the source. 

Say what??

The TaxProf reports IRS Commissioner Does Not Do His Own Taxes Because of Complexity of Code
During an interview on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" on Sunday, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said he uses a tax preparer for his own returns:

"I've used one for years. I find it convenient. I find the tax code complex so I use a preparer."
Stop and think about who is saying this. He isn't an average joe. He is the guy in charge of the IRS. And he finds the tax code too complex!
I would love to have a law that required every Congressman to do their own taxes. Maybe they would rein in the IRS a bit.
(Hat tip: Instapundit)
posted by Henry Cate

Woof Moon

Tonight's Moon was a Wolf Moon
Tonight's full moon will be the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. It offers anyone with clear skies an opportunity to identify easy-to-see features on the moon.
My picture of it isn't so great, by the time I remembered to go out and take a picture the view was foggy.  But earlier tonight I saw it quite bright and clear.  I had Leanna quick bundle up and go out to observe.

Since it's the first full moon of 2010, it is also known as the wolf moon, a moniker dating back to Native American culture and the notion that hungry wolves howled at the full moon on cold winter nights. Each month brings another full moon name.
But why will this moon be bigger than others? Here's how the moon works:
The moon is, on average, 238,855 miles (384,400 km) from Earth. The moon's orbit around Earth – which causes it to go through all its phases once every 29.5 days – is not a perfect circle, but rather an ellipse. One side of the orbit is 31,070 miles (50,000 km) closer than the other.
So in each orbit, the moon reaches this closest point to us, called perigee. Once or twice a year, perigee coincides with a full moon, as it will tonight, making the moon bigger and brighter than any other full moons during the year.
Tonight it will be about 14 percent wider and 30 percent brighter than lesser full Moons of the year, according to
As a bonus, Mars will be just to the left of the moon tonight. Look for the reddish, star-like object.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Baum-talented Leanna

Clay baskets from art class and Leanna's watercolor pencil drawing.

The class' landscape, entitled Rainbow Rain.  They were working on depth-foreground and background.  Leanna's part is shown in the top picture, from the red berries by the yellow flower to the other yellow flower(she drew the flowers also). 
Just braggin' while Leanna does some reading comprehension sheets.  Last week Leanna's art teacher stopped me to ask if Leanna showed me her gallery picture-they went downstairs to the gallery to copy any picture they liked.  The teacher showed me Leanna's picture and said it was really really good.  She said particularly the tree was great for her age.  I thought it looked nice but had no idea it was that good.  But the teacher seemed really impressed.  (It's the picture with Leanna in it).
Today I went and looked in the gallery at the picture Leanna chose to copy-she has expensive taste, her picture sells for $6,500.00
They finished the pictures today and while they were down in the gallery someone named Lorenzo(I think)  came over and complimented Leanna's trees.  He's been with the school for a very long time, I'm not sure but I assume he's a teacher there.  Apparently this is a really big deal as he rarely compliments anyone.  The teacher said she only once got a compliment out of him and she went home and yelled to her Mom, I got a compliment from him!! Leanna didn't tell me about this, another girl told me in the elevator.

JD Salinger

J.D. Salinger died at age 91 yesterday.  As a literature lover who enjoyed Catcher In the Rye (all the way back in 10th grade!), I felt compelled to add this bit of news here.  Kurt Vonnegut died not that long ago too.  I think John Updike also.  It's not been a good time for male authors!

EDIT: A link to a piece on how Salinger's Haulden Caufield influenced modern culture in so many ways. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sewing and kids and boys

Teaching all the kids to sew is on my list of things to do.  Well, the list in my head.  (I write tons of lists, I am a big listmaker.  Does all the stuff on my lists get done?  Well, no.  But I really like to make the lists anyway.  It clears my head and straightens out my thoughts.)  But I love the thought of all the creative things that the kids could make!  Here's Soulemama's post on her boys' creative sewing efforts.  She just bought them their own sewing machine.  Her oldest just turned nine.   ( mother promised me a sewing machine when I turned took her until my wedding to get it for me!!) 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A thought

Because a lot of people have been telling me that our misfortunes are all our own fault(they phrase it slightly differently though), I thought I'd post this as an alternative way of thinking.  Not blaming the people that (I think) are trying to be nice by saying those things, just saying, hey, did you consider this?

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Suffering is meaningless unless you decide otherwise.

By Rabbi Harold Kushner The following article, excerpted from Kushner's bestseller, is a response to suffering which assumes that God is not the immediate cause of tragedy. It should be noted, however, that this is the theological solution of this particular thinker, and indeed, is probably contrary to traditional covenantal theology, which assumes that suffering is inflicted on the Jewish people because of their sins. Reprinted with permission from When Bad Things Happen to Good People, published by Schocken Books.

Suffering is Not Punishment from a Cruel God

I believe in God. But I do not believe the same things about Him that I did years ago, when I was growing up or when I was a theological student. I recognize His limitations. He is limited in what He can do by laws of nature and by the evolution of human nature and human moral freedom.

I no longer hold God responsible for illnesses, accidents, and natural disasters, because I realize that I gain little and I lose so much when I blame God for those things. I can worship a God who hates suffering but cannot eliminate it, more easily than I can worship a God who chooses to make children suffer and die, for whatever exalted reason.

Some years ago, when the "death of God" theology was a fad, I remember seeing a bumper sticker that read "My God is not dead; sorry about yours." I guess my bumper sticker reads "My God is not cruel; sorry about yours."

God does not cause our misfortunes. Some are caused by bad luck, some are caused by bad people, and some are simply an inevitable consequence of our being human and being mortal, living in a world of inflexible natural laws.

The painful things that happen to us are not punishments for our misbehavior, nor are they in any way part of some grand design on God's part. Because the tragedy is not God's will, we need not feel hurt or betrayed by God when tragedy strikes. We can turn to Him for help in overcoming it, precisely because we can tell ourselves that God is as outraged by it as we are.

A Sense of Meaning Makes Pain More Bearable

"Does that mean that my suffering has no meaning?" That is the most significant challenge that can be offered to the point of view I have been advocating in this book. We could bear nearly any pain or disappointment if we thought there was a reason behind it, a purpose, to it. But even a lesser burden becomes too much for us if we feel it makes no sense.

Patients in a veterans' hospital who have been seriously wounded in combat have an easier time adjusting to their injuries than do patients with exactly the same injury, sustained while fooling around on a basketball court or a swimming pool, because they can tell themselves their suffering at least was in a good cause. Parents who convince themselves that there is some purpose somewhere served by their child's handicap can accept it better for the same reason.
Do you remember the biblical story, in chapter 32 of Exodus, about Moses, how, when he came down from Mount Sinai and saw the Israelites worshiping the golden calf, he threw down the tablets of the Ten Commandments so that they shattered?
There is a Jewish legend that tells us that while Moses was climbing down the mountain with the two stone tablets on which God had written the Ten Commandments, he had no trouble carrying them although they were large, heavy slabs of stone and the path was steep. After all, though they were heavy, they had been inscribed by God and were precious to him. But when Moses came upon the people dancing around the golden calf, the legend goes, the words disappeared from the stone. They were just blank stones again. And now they became too heavy for him to hold on to.

We could bear any burden if we thought there was a meaning to what we were doing. Have I made it harder for people to accept their illnesses, their misfortunes, their family tragedies by telling them that they are not sent by God as part of some master plan of His?
Let me suggest that the bad things that happen to us in our lives do not have a meaning when they happen to us. They do not happen for any good reason which would cause us to accept them willingly. But we can give them a meaning. We can redeem these tragedies from senselessness by imposing meaning on them.

Looking to the Future Redeems Our Tragedies

The question we should be asking is not, "Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?" That is really an unanswerable, pointless question. A better question would be "Now that this has happened to me, what am I going to do about it?"
Martin Gray, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Holocaust, writes of his life in a book called For Those I Loved. He tells how, after the Holocaust, he rebuilt his life, became successful, married, and raised a family. Life seemed good after the horrors of the concentration camp.
Then one day, his wife and children were killed when a forest fire ravaged their home in the south of France. Gray was distraught, pushed almost to the breaking point by this added tragedy. People urged him to demand an inquiry into what caused the fire, but instead he chose to put his resources into a movement to protect nature from future fires.

He explained that an inquiry, an investigation, would focus only on the past, on issues of pain and sorrow and blame. He wanted to focus on the future. An inquiry would set him against other people--"was someone negligent? whose fault was it?"--and being against other people, setting out to find a villain, accusing other people of being responsible for your misery, only makes a lonely person lonelier. Life, he concluded, has to be lived for something, not just against something.

We too need to get over the questions that focus on the past and on the pain--"why did this happen to me?"--and ask instead the question which opens doors to the future: "Now that this has happened, what shall I do about it?"

Monday, January 25, 2010

Recent Arts/Crafts

Timothy cutting the outline of Filmore

Filmore, from Cars, and Thomas the Train

Clark Kent (but supermans cape fits in his neck)


Justin made me a cardboard airplance

Lions, inspired by Madagascar II

Just a few pictures from Leanna

Blueberry muffins

card from Leanna

Senseless babyfood

I've suspected this: It just might make more sense to feed your baby scraps of table food than to give them pureed jars of baby food and rice cereal. Click here for the article.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hopefully it's true

Victory In Defeat

Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The boughs drink in new beauty,
and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture.
Sorrows come
To stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The erruption(s)

Timothy's turn
Not the most realistic lava spurts, thanks to our design flaws!

you to add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to thicken your lava, it didn't work for us though, but it did make pretty bubbles!
Justin's turnPictures of the erruptions.......Leanna went first with the red lava, then I let Justin and Timothy try with new blue lava too.

Volcano fun

Mixing a mountain

Making the mountain
Painting the mountain

Measuring the vinegar
Adding food coloring

Ready to go!

I'm still 2-3 weeks behind on my posting, but I'm slowly getting caught up. In geography we did maps of Hawaii and both Leanna and Justin were facinated by the mention of volcanoes, so I thought that was an excellent direction to go in next for science. I got a kit from Borders. I should have more closely monitored Leanna during the measuring though, because we ended up with our mix being way too watery and it kept sliding right off the mountain and took much longer to dry. So it didn't look as realistic as it should have. The mountain was too thin and we couldn't build up the top the way it should have been (that would have hid the tube better). It really didn't matter to the kids though, they had great fun with it anyway.

Oh I've been there!!

Had to LOL at this headline:
Ben Affleck Wants a Boy... But Jen Garner Doesn't Want the Weight Gain

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I'm on Vikadin and I was explaining to Leanna how that makes you sleepy and that you can't do anything that requires concentration like driving or operating heavy machinery and could have bad consequences if you can't concentrate. She said, "Like dancing?" Wouldn't have been tops on my list, but I suppose one shouldn't dance when heavily medicated either!

Questionaire for the older 3 kids

I got this idea from here, another homeschooling blog called Magic and Mayhem.

Cereal – Cocoa Puffs
vegetable – I don't have one
drink – Soda
toy – Barbies
TV Show –I don't have one
game – Parchesi and Green Eggs and Ham game
book – Bobbsey Twins book
restaurant – Friendly's
holiday – My birthday
animal – Rabbits and horses
If you could change your name, what would you choose? Rose
What do you love about each person in our family? Daddy:Sometimes he lets me watch my favorite shows Mommy: You're pretty Justin: He'll play tag with me Timothy: His voice is so sqeaky like Piglet. Jacob: He's cute! His voice is so cute when he talks! And when he dances!
Where would you like to go on vacation this year? To the ocean
What are some of your wishes for this year? I wish that I will have a whole bunch of American Girls by my birthday. And I hope that somebody saves Chrissa, cause I want her.
What would you like to do for work when you grow up? I want to work at a pet shop.

Cereal – Honey Bunches of Oats
vegetable – corn on the cob
drink – punch
toy – my robot clock
TV Show – Cyberchase
game – Can't Catch Me! (tag)
book – Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel
restaurant –McDonalds
holiday – My birthday
animal – Dinosaur
If you could change your name, what would you choose? Thomas the Train
What do you love about each person in our family? Daddy: he lets us have cheese curls and chip Mommy: She takes us to stores. Leanna:She gives me money. Timothy: He plays Can't Catch me Jacob: He lets me spin him and hold him.
Where would you like to go on vacation this year? the beach
What are some of your wishes for this year? I wish that my Mommy and Daddy would never die.
What would you like to do for work when you grow up? A lightbulb seller.

Cereal – Cocoa Cereal
vegetable – Mashed potatoes
drink – Orange juice
toy – Handy Manny set (toolbox)
TV Show – Handy Manny
game – Checkers (but he doesn't know how to play)
book – Llamas in Pajamas
restaurant – Tony's
holiday – Easter
animal – Lions
If you could change your name, what would you choose? T-I-M-O-T-H-Y!
What do you love about each person in our family? Special Agent Oso! (He had a bit of trouble answering this question)
Where would you like to go on vacation this year? A fair
What are some of your wishes for this year? A happy new year
What would you like to do for work when you grow up? A Dad (his first answer was, "Jolly jolly roger!" So either a dad or a pirate flag.)

Temperature gun

Ok, just ran into this and though that temperature gun would make an awesome present for Justin! I'm thinking ahead here, but I (or someone else) could search ebay for a good deal on this and I know it would provide hours of fun!! And education!

How cool is this??

A lapbook for Webkinz! I'd have to modify it to make it for an older child, but yay! Something to really motivate her!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Timothy falls into the 75% of left-handers who have two right-handed parents. This talks about other qualities of lefties.

Aldi Blog

One of the homeschooling groups sent out a call asking about people's blogs. One Mom mentioned a new blog she's started (she has several others) about recipies using products from Aldi's. I know my MIL LOVES Aldi's, so I thought I'd share the link here in case others were interested. So here's the Aldi Blog

Monday, January 18, 2010

Timothy's sand art

One of Timothy's Christmas presents (I think from Nanny Sue and Pop-Pop, but forgive me if I'm wrong, it's hard to keep track of so many presents with four kids! Thanks if it is!) We're slowly working through our craft gifts......right now my extra time has to be focused on cleaning and school. And I'm trying to do more baking to save money too. Quite a few of the crafts require active participation from an adult, and the kids have trouble understanding why they can't just dive in and open every single one!
He really enjoyed making these, though the stickers were kind of small for little hands.

The Small Matter of Homelessness

A story like this is very scary to me because I can see how easily it could happen to us as well.

Funny Video

A youtube video that shows how sexist advertising is. And it's funny.

I found it on this blog. Interesting to look through if you're into Feminism.

For Nanny Sue

Here's a closer picture, it's not a reflection, that is painted on the building.
These hats were made by Aunt Cindy. They're very soft.

All three boys got one for Christmas.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Local Sights

We stopped to see a local piece of scultpture after class one week when Leanna made her own in class. I took a picture of a nearby building as well, you can see why.

Shaving cream for kids........

This last picture isn't shaving cream......
It's Jacob, copying his older siblings with what he could find.......diaper rash cream. He wasn't happy to have it washed off either.


Justin made me a snowman and a sherrif badge.

This stuff is pretty fun to play with, it's like a more flexible rice krispie treat. And not as tasty, I'd assume.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Venting, yet again.

Just frustrated I got another lovely orange note in the mail as a reminder to get Jacob's lead level retested. Last Thursday I ran into the Lead Abatement duo again (head of the program and the man who does the testing/legal enforcing). She just gave me the slip Thursday afternoon, I had the testing done Monday afternoon! I thought that was certainly a reasonable amount of time. After a week they're sending reminder notes (and this for a kid who last tested UNDER the legal limit) for a test already completed. And I was originally told that I wouldn't have to test him anymore. Sheesh!
Unless they got another extension, this week our landlord's court case against the city should have been heard. Not that we'll hear anything about it, the landlords don't contact us unless it benefits them. Or they just show up at the door and expect us to be ready that second. The inspector guy told me that he's never lost a case yet. No matter how this case went it's still bad news for us.......we could have between a week and a few months to find a place to go for the duration of the work/testing. Which has been estimated at 3 weeks for the work and up to 3 more weeks for it to be inspected and get lab results (then possibly re-cleaned and re-tested if needed). The inspector admitted to me that he knows that although he can protect us from being kicked out because of the lead, it's very likely they will find another reason to use to get rid of us as revenge. We're also supposed to move everything out of the basement......and we have no where to go with all that stuff either. Tom outright refuses to do it. Which means the job will take longer and it will cost our landlords more. Which they could try to pass the extra cost onto us (and I can see them winning that case, I personally wouldn't blame them). It's all very nerve-racking and it frustrates me that there's no sympathy or offers to find a solution. They've never had this situation-he said once he had a situation where a family of three had to move for a week, but they just "vacationed" at Grandma's for a week, no big deal. It's completely different with four kids under 8 who have to be out for a month and a half. It sucks that this program which is suppossed to protect Jacob, in actuality will most likely kick him out of his home.
It's really irritating to not know when anything will happen. We don't know when we have to move out temporarily and we don't know for how long. We don't know for sure that we will have to move permanantly. We don't know where we will go. It means our lives are just up in the air and it's very hard to make plans. I'm supposed to call a music school director to talk about what kind of scholarship plans they have, and make arrangements, but if we end up moving out of the city, we won't be able to do that. All our appointments, doctors, classes.....all that would have to change.

On a side note, they thought our phone had been disconnected (it wasn't they had written down the wrong number) and he mentioned that he couldn't protect us if we weren't paying rent with a tone of voice that suggested that he assumes that we're probably doing something wrong (since I'm worried about the landlords kicking us out). I just hate the automatic assumptions....we have a lot of kids and not a lot of money= we must be troublesome tenants who occasionally skip/pay rent late, who don't pay other bills-like the phone bill-as well. Granted, at this point we're not that far away from not being able to pay our bills. I guess it's just the attitude, the idea that because of our financial situation people think they know what we are like (and it's all negative). I've gotten that attitude from so many people the past two years. It really starts to affect you after a while.

(I don't mean to sound rude, but please do not tell me that it's all for the best and what is meant to happen will happen. I know this, and happen to believe it myself. That doesn't make it any easier. There are complicating factors which I won't discuss here, and they make having to move a much more difficult thing than you can imagine.)

Voting and AI and Obama

Interesting, and makes sense to me.
How American Idol Paved the Way for Obama

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Year's Day evening

It was the 3 Stooges, all NY's Eve and Day at our house
I took advantage of the time with Tom at home to have him help put together Timothy's Colossal Stunt set. All the kids enjoyed that.