Monday, March 31, 2008

Scooter Rides

Hubby has a motorbike. He bought it just a few days before Pete was born. No, he wasn't having a midlife crisis, and he never used it to roar down the highway at 75 miles an hour; he was merely continuing the tradition of "scooter rides".

When he was in college, he took a moped to school because the parking situation was horrendous. Plus, he wanted to protect his car, an Oldsmobile 98. (Yes, he drives old fart cars. On our first date, I assumed he'd borrowed his parents' car!) Anyway, when his nieces and nephews came to visit, he always took them on "scooter rides". They made many precious memories together, just putting slowly around town.

Right before Pete was born, the old moped finally bit the dust. We thought that that was the end of it, but when his 11-year-old niece came to help with the baby, she was DEVASTATED at not being able to have scooter rides with her beloved uncle! Hubby got to thinking about how much they enjoyed that and decided that he wanted his own children to grow up with scooter rides as well.

Fast forward to the present: every single day that the weather is halfway nice, he and the kids are putting around the neighborhood and nearby woods. The kids look forward to them so much! Not only do they ride, but they often get out and play at their "special spot," a beautiful place with a large pond and small creek, or just explore the woods together. They have learned so much science from these little excursions. (Who needs workbooks?)

I had never been able to go until recently when our neighbor offered to let us borrow his 4-wheeler and a trailer so that we could go as a family. I was thrilled to finally see where they spend their time! They excitedly pointed out all the sights. Daddy had named each of the different trails after them, which made them feel so special.

Here are pics of their "special spot":

I feel SO blessed, knowing that our kids have such a wonderful relationship with their Daddy. He cherishes these times as much as they do.

Friday, March 28, 2008

(Deep Breath, Count to Ten) At Least They're Learning and Having Fun

“Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he’s not interested it’s like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating.”
- Barbara Lamping

I LOVE this quote! I don't know anything about the author, but these words are so true!

School is so much fun. Today we took our nature walk (a la Charlotte Mason) in the woods behind our house. We found all kinds of cool things: twisted trees, sideways-growing trees, fungi, "baby pinecones," many furry patches of moss, and, coolest of all, a 6 1/2" lizard. We also found some blackened chunks of wood in the fire pit, which reminded Drama Queen of the the way that young Abe Lincoln had used it in lieu of a pencil to write on a shovel while he studied at home. Of course, they each had to get several pieces.

Unfortunately, all this fun comes with a price tag. Today I have had to clean up everything that was tracked in on the WHITE CARPET: lots of lovely Georgia red clay, crumbled-and-ground-in charcoal, as well as some thick black gunk from the grill (Hubby had taken it apart last night). Their shoes are a mess; I'm leaving them outside to dry.

Drama Queen and Pete had so much fun on the nature walk that they donned their good shoes and took another one while I fixed lunch. Goody. Now I have double the shoes to clean.

Then there's the gooey mayonnaise stalactite on the ceiling, formed when I dropped the container while distracted by Drama Queen's and Pete's fighting over whose turn it was to hold Kevin the lizard. I managed to remove the formation, but a greasy spot was left behind. I hope another one doesn't grow. Even at a growth rate of 1 millimeter a year, the way I am with housework I would never be able to keep up with it.

Of course, I still had the usual hailstorm of food to clean up underneath Screech's highchair. The area under the table near Drama Queen and Pete is never exactly pristine, either.

I'm worn out. If Kevin the lizard gets loose, I'm taking a hike.

By myself this time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Little Bookworm

This picture is priceless to me. Pete is reading because he wanted to. This is the same little boy for whom I asked for book suggestions a couple of weeks ago because he was not interested in reading.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wite-Out Woes

If you're looking for ways to remove Wite-Out, you've come to the right place!

Keep reading or scroll down . . .

Listed in Category: Everything Else > Preschool-Kindergarten > Other

Toddler Girl Blonde Hair Blue Eyes L@@K!
From a smoke free home! Cute and very entertaining!

Current Bid: US $ .99

Your maximum bid:

(Enter US $.99 or more)

Price: US $100.00

You are bidding on an ADORABLE 2-year-old girl. She comes with her own wardrobe, including the outfit you see here (minus most of the Wite-Out stains). Pickup only, please.

Why am I selling this precious girl on Ebay, do you ask? Well, yesterday I left the room for exactly 40 seconds (I later retraced my steps and timed it) and returned to find this:

No, this is not a Jackson Pollock original.

It is Wite-Out.

Not the water-based kind.

All over the hardwood floor in the homeschool room.

When I left the room, Drama Queen was working in the homeschool room. Screech was happily playing Starfall with Pete on the computer. In that mere sliver of time, Drama Queen got up to see what they were doing (anything to get out of math for a moment) while Screech got up, grabbed the Wite-Out, and slung it all over the floor.

I didn't yell. I didn't scream. I didn't say any bad words. (Well, they may have crossed my mind. But I didn't let them out.) I did what any good Mom would do.

I got my camera.

For this week's Works for Me Wednesday, here are my step-by-step instructions for removing Wite-Out (and probably Liquid Paper or any other correction fluid) from skin, clothing, and finished hardwood flooring:

Removing Wite-Out from Skin:

This one was the easiest (thank goodness!). Just rub a little baby oil or even plain mineral oil over the skin. It rubs right off!

(Be sure to keep the oil out of reach! I saw on Oprah that if children aspirate the oil it coats their lungs and can be deadly.)

Removing Wite-Out from a Finished Hardwood Floor:

(Note: My floor is a hardwood veneer with a high-gloss finish. I don't know how this method would work on unfinished wood. I would test in an inconspicuous area to be sure.)

1) I let the Wite-Out dry completely, but if I had it to do over I would have wiped up as many of the big blobs as I could before it dried. After it had dried I scraped as much of it away as I could. (I used a razor scraper, but I had to be VERY careful. I think a better tool would have been a putty knife, but I didn't have one. I didn't think about this until now but a credit card or even an ice scraper might work - anything with a sharp enough blade to scrape but not so sharp as to risk gouging the wood.)

2) I tried several products to dissolve the remaining Wite-Out (which was a lot; there was so much of it that the scraping was tedious). All of them worked, but some were better than others. (I review them below.) Once you've chosen your remover:

Spray the remover over a large area, let it work for a minute, then wipe a small section with a cloth or paper towel. As the product works, the dissolved Wite-Out mixes with the remover and turns it into a milky white liquid which can get rather smeary.
The trick is to work in a small area, rubbing in small circles. Thicker areas will require multiple applications. These areas also required using the scraper again after softening with the remover. Be patient; it will come off! Keep spraying, waiting, rubbing (and more scraping, if necessary) and repeating until it's gone. The only parts that didn't do well were the cracks in between the planks. I worked as much remover into the cracks with a toothbrush as I could to dilute it and make it less noticeable.

Here are the products I tried, all of which were effective:

Tied for first place:

Motsenbocker's Lift Off #2


Oops! Multi-Purpose Remover.

2nd Place (close):


3rd Place:

Goo Gone

Other products I didn't try but which probably would have worked (be sure to test in an inconspicuous area):

Goof Off
mineral spirits
lighter fluid

The Motsenbockers Lift-Off #2 was AWESOME. It started dissolving the Wite-Out the instant I sprayed it on. Be sure to use this in a well-ventilated area. It's an amazing product, though. I just found out that it's water-based, biodegradable, and has no VOC's. Check out the testimonials on the website for stories such as removing marks left by gel pens which were left in a jeans pocket that went through a washer and dryer!

Oops! Multi-Purpose Remover
also worked just as well.

WD-40 worked well, but just a smidge less quickly than the above products.

Goo Gone worked, but slower than the others. It also required a good bit more elbow grease. The good thing about it, though, is that it is non-toxic. It is citrus-based and smells like overripe oranges.

Here is my "after" picture. (The chip in the veneer was already there.) Ta-daaa!!!

Removing Wite-Out from Clothing:

This was the hardest part, but I did it!
Motsenbockers Lift-Off #2 had many uses listed on the label, one of which was for stain removal of clothing. This I had to see! I never would have dreamed that anything would remove Wite-Out from fabric. (I sure could have used it it after a face painting fiasco at a fall festival awhile back. A whole bottle of red acrylic paint was spilled on my lap. (Although I shouldn't lose any sleep over this, because: a) it was a windsuit, for Pete's sake, and b) even if windsuits were in style, there's no way this momma's tushie is ever going to fit into that size again!)

Back to the remedy: Don't forget to use in a well-ventilated area! The directions said to spray, wait 60 seconds, then rinse with warm water, then launder as usual. I tweaked this a bit due to the thickness of a few of the spots. As I rinsed it under warm water I scrubbed with a soft toothbrush. Admittedly, I got carried away and darn near scoured a hole through the outfit. If I had it to do over, I would still use the toothbrush, but much more gently. I would also wear rubber gloves, as my hands are dry as toast right now. Anyway, it took about 7-8 applications to remove all traces of Wite-Out from the largest spot. As with the floor, the dissolving Wite-Out got smeary and ran all over the fabric. The rinsing step is critical.

It's amazing how it worked, because I seemed to have little success with the stain on the turtleneck. I finally gave up, squirted some Shout on the remaining residue, and threw it in the washer. It came out clean!

Note: I don't know if this helped, but I washed the outfit in hot water. Also, the clothes came out smelling like the remover, so next time I would rewash them or add lots more Downy.

Here are my before and after pics:

Well, I've changed my mind about selling Screech on Ebay. As I was looking for pictures, I ran across this one. How can I resist this precious face?

And besides, where else will I get such great blog material?

Here are some links to previous WFMW posts and others of interest:

Uses for Leftover Bread

Leaky Diaper Fix

Snack Mix Recipe (at the end of the post)

Awesome Stain Recipe

"FUN"damentals of Family Life

How (and How NOT) to Handle a Kitchen Oil Fire

For more great tips, visit Shannon's blog!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Fun

Screech's Easter egg coloring method:

1) Dip.
2) Lick.
3) Repeat as many times as possible until
Mommy takes it away.

4) Scream. Loudly.

Our Easter was spent in Pigeon Forge this year. We went mainly for a Bible Conference but managed to do a lot of fun touristy things as well. Everyone had so much fun!

Drama Queen laughing at The Comedy Barn. She got to go on stage!

Pete enjoyed squirting Drama Queen (and many unsuspecting spectators)!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Seriously Silly

Being silly is serious business in our family. Whether modeling the latest fashion in mopheads or baring our lower teeth and grunting like bears, we are always goofing around. It is such a wonderful release and keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. (Although there's little risk of THAT in this house!) This, along with great communication, is the lifeblood of our marriage. How can I stay mad at someone who lovingly calls me "Horsebreath"? (My name for him is "Moosebreath"!)

Being able to let down our hair (or mop strings, as the case may be) has made our home a safe place. Humor is helping us to model healthy ways to handle the many stresses caused by cohabiting with humans who share our last name and/or DNA. Through (and sometimes in spite of) all our craziness, our children are learning:

- that it's not the end of the world when they mess up;

- to laugh at themselves; and

- how to laugh with others instead of at them.

And humor benefits more than the kids. Sometimes, laughing is the only way to stay sane when your toddler does this. Or your school-aged kids do this.

e.e. cummings said it well:

"The most wasted of all days
is one without laughter."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Egg on Her Face

Well, IN is more like it. Screech was getting bored of just squishing her deviled egg in her hand, so she tried smashing it in her nose. Her "snarsils" (nostrils) were completely plugged up and she couldn't breathe. The funniest part was hearing her talk. ("Bobby, I 'ave egg id by dose!") Look for us on America's Funniest Home videos! (I'm going to send it in and hope for the best!)

St. Paddy's Party

We homeschoolers are quite the party animals. We had another skating party this month, this time with a St. Patrick's Day theme. Drama Queen, Persnickety Pete and Screech each won first place in their respective age groups for dressing up. (Well, to be PERFECTLY honest, Pete was the only entrant for his age group, and Screech didn't have much competition, either!)

Drama Queen with a buddy

Pete did his own makeup

Screech with her skating buddy

Screech's outfit was quite interesting. She does not own a single green item of clothing that was appropriate for slightly cooler weather. I ended up putting a turtleneck around one of her summer outfits and put some funky tights on to tie it all together. There were also some matching pink bloomers that didn't show up in the picture. Turned out pretty cute!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Slice of Homeschooling Life

Here's my tip of the week. For more great tips on anything and everything, head on over to Shannon's blog, Rocks in my Dryer.

My family refuses to eat the heels of any loaf of bread. Truth be told, I’m not a fan myself. I don't even think bread pudding or dressing (stuffing, for you Northern folk) tastes the same made with just bread crusts.

Despite my loathing of the leftovers of the loaf, though, I absolutely can't stand waste. Instead of throwing them away, I pop them into a plastic bag I keep in the freezer. (I also do this with any leftover and/or dried-out bread, rolls, and biscuits. ) The next time the weather is pretty, we raid the freezer for all the bread and then go to the park to feed the geese and ducks. It's great, because there is always plenty of bread to go around, even with Screech throwing entire slices (or eating the occasional piece herself - ewwww). This last time, we even had to put some back into the freezer because we took so much.

Here is a pic of our latest outing when we had a gorgeous 75 degree day:

The kids love this park because they also have a small, free zoo. This particular day was so gorgeous, it would have been a crime to keep them inside doing workbooks (not that we do a lot of those anyway - blechh!). After feeding the ducks and geese, we spent the day at the zoo. I took a bagful of books, and as we visited each animal, we read a book about it. It was great, because we weren't limited to whatever information was posted by each exhibit. Being homeschoolers, we had the whole place to ourselves, and we could take as much time as we wanted.

Here's a shot of Drama Queen reading to Pete. I love the way they share books together!

Just think; if they had been on a public school field trip, they would have been herded along like cattle, having to stay on schedule. When I was a kid, I remember not getting much out of field trips because I was usually stuck in the back of the group and couldn't hear whatever the teachers or guides were saying. I never had time enough to really look at anything long enough to be meaningful. It didn't help that I was usually surrounded by the class clowns who were too busy climbing the exhibits to learn anything about them. (Yup - that there is called "socialization". Don'tcha just want MORE of that for your kids?)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Chibes, Anyone? Cheap!

Drama Queen is quite the entrepreneur. She harvests "chibes" from the front yard (wild onions, for all you city folk) and sells them. As you can see, her price is pretty steep. (Must be organic.) That's quite a bit higher than last week, when they were going for $1.08/bunch. Daddy told her that the latest crop was worth more because the bulbs are still intact.

You'd think he'd keep this to himself. He's her only customer.

If I were responsible for teaching Cubby economics at this age, I would be a miserable failure as a teacher. (Can't get more customers? Raise the price dramatically!)

Here are some pics from a recent family outing to Watson Mill Bridge State Park. It was beautiful! This wooden, covered bridge was built in the 1800's. We drove over it! It sounded creaky and had the neatest old smell.

Screech seemed to enjoy holding hands as she hiked with Daddy. A rare occurrence!

Pete burying his "treasures".

Drama Queen loves to find shells.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My Homeschooled Hoodlums

My kids are the scourge of the neighborhood. I'm serious. The police are involved and everything!

I'm sure you're wondering what these precious young innocents could have been up to to cause so much trouble. Well, it all started when Drama Queen went down the street to play with a couple of the neighbor girls, one of whom just moved in last week. After about an hour, she skipped merrily through the door.

"So, did you have fun? What did y'all do?" I asked.

"Well, it's kind of hard to explain."

(This is when my mommy radar should have gone up. Must be defective. Time to take it in to the shop. The way my luck is going, though, the warranty probably ended yesterday.)

"Well, did you play pretend, or play with toys, or run around outside . . . what?"
It's just kind of hard to explain."

And with that I turned back to my task of bulldozing the kitchen countertops. Ooh ooh! A $10 coupon for JCPenney! Aw, nuts, it expired yesterday. (See what I mean?) Suddenly the phone rings . . .

Neighbor Down the Street: Hi, I just wanted to see if Drama Queen is okay. She was so scared after the police officer left, she shot out the door before I could talk to her.

Clueless Mommy with Broken Radar: Scared about what??? What police officer???? Why?????

Neighbor Down the Street:
(incredulous) You mean she didn't tell you?

Turns out that the local police had paid them a not-so-friendly visit after Drama Queen and the two girls had called 911 at least 3 times! They had taken turns reporting that there were snakes in the house. (I don't know about snakes, but there were definitely 3 rats.) The officer gave them a stern talking-to about how serious a matter this was, and the girls were scared out of their wits.

After a lengthy debriefing with Neighbor Down the Street and Drama Queen, I deduced that Drama Queen honestly believed that: a) the phone was a toy; and b) that they were just pretending. (The phone looked like a toy; she once played with an educational kids' telephone that had a real-sounding "operator" which spouted real-sounding messages when you dialed 911. Also, there was some sort of interference going on with this particular phone so that the girls were unable to understand the person on the other end.)

However, I was naturally extremely upset with her for not telling me what had happened, and told her so in no uncertain terms. You'd be proud of me, though; I did not yell even one teeny bit. I spoke very calmly and didn't even raise my voice. (But it would have felt a little bit better to yell.) Now we come to the part in which you understand how Drama Queen got her name. She started bawling and wailed - with 100% sincerity - "Are you going to kill me???" (I racked my brains trying to think of anything I'd ever said or done that could have led her to think this, but thankfully I came up empty.) Her punishment ended up being that she had to go to bed immediately after supper, and tomorrow she will write a letter of apology to the police department. (I'm thinking of asking Hubby to have her also write me a letter of apology for lying. What do y'all think?) We thought about grounding her, but the weather will be yucky for the next couple of days so she wouldn't have been going anywhere anyway. I hope this will be enough to drive the point home. She had never done anything like this before.

Of course, you know this all happened because she's homeschooled and has no social skills. (Never mind that the other two go to public school.) Actually, I think that there was a huge let's-show-off-to-the-new-girl-and-see-how-silly-we-can-be factor going on here. I am concerned, though, and long for the days when Drama Queen was the one who kept her head on straight and kept everyone else in line. (I remember when she was six, lecturing a 9 year old and a 10 year old because they were speaking unkindly to one another in her presence. Just a few months ago, she eschewed American Girl Felicity because she was "sneaky.")

Oh - I forgot to tell you about Pete's antics. While I was in the middle of dealing with the fallout from Drama Queen's drama, I learned that he and his friend (another homeschooled hoodlum) were tormenting the dogs next door, pretending to shoot them. They were barking up a storm. So, I had to deal with them and call that neighbor as well. Good grief.

Believe or not, during all this insanity Screech was a perfect angel. (She'd gotten all her naughtiness out of her system this morning when she screamed and cried throughout Wal-Mart this morning. Nonstop.
For an hour and a half. And for 30 minutes at Wendy's.)

What a day! Calgon, take me away!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Books Boys Love

This week's Works-For-Me Wednesday, hosted by Rocks in my Dryer, is a backwards edition. Here is my question:

Persnickety Pete, age 5 1/2, used to love being read to, but lately he hates it. He still enjoys picture books, but I have yet to find a read aloud that holds his interest. If Fern and Wilbur dueled with light sabers, or Pippi blew away the robbers with a .44 Magnum, it would be a different story. (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun!) So many "boy-friendly" read-alouds
are just so far over his head that we can't get into them because I'm spending so much time explaining new vocabulary and concepts.

Does anyone have any recommendations for books that little boys love? Although I'm especially interested in read-alouds with fewer pictures, I'm also looking for riveting picture books to rekindle that love for literature that he has lost. Plots involving bad guys, heroes and weapons are a plus!

Thanks for your help! For more Works-For-Me Wednesday stuff, visit Rocks in my Dryer.