Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

I have long held onto the belief that in order to homeschool my children, I need only stay one day smarter than they are. I am living up to my own expectations. My oldest child is in the 2nd grade.

So far, so good.

Friday night, after the kids had gone off to bed, Fiddledaddy and I cuddled up in his tiny office to watch a little TV on his computer monitor. We can visit whatever major station dot com and enjoy a program of our choosing, with limited commercial interruption. It was almost like a movie date. From what I can remember. Since the last movie we saw in the theatre was, I believe, “Titanic.”

Don’t cry for me Argentina.

Since we voluntarily gave up cable, and our favorite shows such as 24, Lost, and Jericho don’t begin until January, our television watching is greatly curtailed. So, for fun, we tuned into “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?” Because frankly, we were curious.

The show was actually better than I expected. And I’m a huge Jeff Foxworthy fan. I have actually peed while watching the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. And I was nowhere near a bathroom.

The first contestant was a college student who was very enthusiastic. The host boasted that he had exceptionally good SAT scores. I had high hopes for him. Those hopes were dashed, however, when he could not answer “What was the name of the first lady to the first President of the United States. The 5th Graders on the show hurriedly scribbled down their answer. I yelled at the screen, “MARTHA!” But, he remained silent. Shaking his head. Thinking hard.

Oh, for the love of all that is good and noble please say “MARTHA.” He could not. He opted for “help” from the 5th Graders. Miraculously, he left the show with $175,000. A nice haul for a college student. Who didn’t know the name of George Washington’s wife. I hope he found his way home all right.

The second contestant skipped up on stage. She was a bouncy little thing whose claim to fame was that her grandfather invented the mood ring. Which I of course proudly wore in the 70’s. Although, mine was always black.

It was either broken, or I was extremely moody.

My parents would go with door #2.

I wanted Miss Mood Ring to win the million bucks. I believed she had a fighting chance because I thought I heard Jeff Foxworthy say that she was an elementary school teacher.

Oh, she’s got it in the bag, I surmised.

The first question: “How many consonants are in the word V•O•W•E•L?” Smugly, I said to Fiddledaddy, “That is so easy, it’s 3. Give her a harder question, for crying out loud.”

Then, she did something amazing. Thinking out loud, she spelled vowel, “V•O•U•L”, and locked in her answer with confidence. “I’m going to go with 2.”

I thought Jeff Foxworthy was going to choke and drop like Marie last Monday night.

Well, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was afraid I would start throwing things at the computer screen. “This show is dead to me.” And with that I walked off in a huff. Confident in the fact that I was at least smarter than that last contestant.

And this is completely off the subject, but Fiddledaddy had an interesting observation regarding “Lost.” It seems that yet another cast member was recently arrested for driving under the influence. This is time it was one of my personal favorites, Daniel Dae Kim. “He’s gonna get killed off,” Fiddledaddy remarked. I gasped, “That’s right, every time someone gets arrested for drunk driving, they get the ax.” While thoughtfully twiddling his thumbs, Fiddledaddy conjectured, “I think they start drinking AFTER they get the bad news.”

Interesting. I hope he’s wrong. But, very interesting indeed.

I can’t wait until January.

I may as well stamp “LOSER” on my forehead. Just above the eyebrow pimple.

The Thank You Note

When you receive a nice gift for your birthday, good manners dictate that a prompt thank you note follow. At least this is what I’m trying to instill in my children. After Cailey’s birthday bash a week ago, we sat down to write the notes of gratitude for such wonderful gifts. And happily, it doubled as our handwriting practice for the day. Since Cailey can only read short vowel words at present, and her spelling is limited, we composed the notes together, I wrote them out on index cards to copy, and she wrote the actual note.

It was a good plan.

The following is what I wrote out for her to copy for the gift that her devoutly Catholic grandparents gave to her.

“Dear Nana and PopPop,

Thank you for coming to my party. And thanks for my cute shirt!

From,
Cailey”

This is what actually made it onto the thank you note:

“Dear Nana and PoPop,

Thank you for coming to my cute sh**!”

From,
Cailey

Yes, she spelled it out. I did not so that I would continue to be a family friendly blog.

No, she has never heard “that word” before in her short little life. Only because she can’t read my mind.

No, I didn’t have her correct it. I sealed it in the envelope and off it went in the mail. I told my MIL that her thank you note would be forthcoming.

I suspect I’ll be getting a phone call when her mail arrives Monday.

This will surely propel me to my rightful place as “favorite daughter-in-law.”

October 29, 2007

Saturday Stirrings: Crock Pot Roast

Rumor has it that winter is here. But you wouldn’t know it here in Armpit, Florida, as I sit here listening to the hum of the air conditioner. But, I thought I’d pull out one of my favorite cold weather crock pot recipes.

Sort of like my own personal rain dance. Without the benefit on any notable rhythm.

Crock Pot Roast
(most original name I could think of)

(I know, my creativity amazes even me)

Pot Roast, trimmed of fat, 2-3 lbs.
1 Quart Tomato Juice
1 t. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 t. Dry Mustard
1 T. Salt
1/2 T. Black Pepper

Mix all ingredients together and pour over pot roast in crock pot. Cook on slow 8- 12 hours, covered. The sauce can be thickened with cornstarch to serve with the meat. For each 2 cups of liquid, stir 1 T. cornstarch into 1/4 C. of cold water until dissolved and no lumps remain (should look like milk). Place sauce mixture into a saucepan large enough to contain it, then stir in the dissolved cornstarch mixture. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens. Turn down the heat and simmer a minute or two. Serve with the meat. This makes a very tender pot roast!

The meat and marinade (in the precooked stage) freezes well in a freezer bag. Just allow at least 2 inches of air space at the top of the freezer container or bag to allow for expansion during freezing.

Bon appetite.

In other bloggy news, don’t forget that Rocks In My Dryer is hosting the Fall Y’all Bloggy Giveaway starting Monday, October 29th.

Jule’s Moms for Modesty Campaign has moved here!

Have a wonderful weekend!

October 27, 2007

Smile and Say Cheese

I’ve never had a cavity.

Which is a miracle considering what I was raised on. I come from a long line of good southern cooks. I drank my iced tea with enough sugar to ensure the spoon could stand on it’s own. All meats were deep fried in bacon fat and accompanied a side of gravy. Dessert was served after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And then, there were the columns of Oreos, life’s most perfect food.

It’s a wonder I don’t have a set of teeth that sleep in a jar at night.

My mama had good teeth. She didn’t experience a cavity until her late 30’s. And I clearly remember how she felt assaulted by the news. You may as well have told her that Tom Jones was gay. She would have taken it equally as bad.

I didn’t lose my two front teeth until the 5th grade. And my first training bra was still another year away. Salt on the wound. By high school, all my adult teeth were mercifully in, except for my two eye teeth. Every year, our family dentist advised my parents to have those poor baby teeth pulled, and to put me in braces.

Instinctively, my parents knew that my fragile teenage mental state couldn’t take it. And they were sure that I would have made their lives even more miserable than I already was. They were absolutely right.

I can admit that now.

I held onto those baby teeth until about 5 years ago. I kept feeling a popcorn kernel stuck in my teeth. Without the benefit of eating popcorn. I discovered, to my horror, that the adult eye tooth was finally making an appearance, fashionably late. But, the room was too crowded, so it wasn’t getting in. Not without a fight.

Enter adult orthodontia. The baby teeth had to be pulled and “chains” were attached to the stubborn adult teeth, to coax them down. Along with top and bottom braces. The whole thing was much more violent than I’m describing. I’d love to tell you that I was a trooper and endured the hardship with grace and ease for the two long years that it took.

But that would be a big fat lie.

AND I ate popcorn and chewed gum when I had braces. Because I’m a REBEL.

But, with all that behind me, I went for my teeth cleaning this week. The annual Scraping Of The Plaque. Which really isn’t all that bad. I mean, I’ve never endured the pain of drilling for a cavity, or a root canal. So, I shouldn’t complain.

But I do.

At one point during the cleaning, the technician dropped the suction tool on the ground. “Five second rule” I cheerfully chirped. She doesn’t have kids. She didn’t get my humor. She had to stop and sterilize herself and the tool all over again. If I had been a technician with my first patient, I would have boiled everything for two minutes. By the second patient, I would have rinsed it off. But by the third, I would have just shook the hair off and stuck it back in my patient’s mouth.

Maybe that’s why I’m a mother. And not a dental technician.

The actual dentist came into to view my x-rays and look inside my mouth. Thusly ensuring I was getting my moneys worth out of this visit. With a smile, I was told, “Wow, for someone your age, you have a really great set of teeth!”

I force a broad smile, “Why thank you.”

That was so unnecessary.

A root canal would have been less hurtful.

To ease my pain, I went to Dunkin’ Donuts afterwards.

Oh RELAX, I didn’t do it. I just got coffee.

But, I thought about it. And the thought made my smile genuine.

October 26, 2007

Someone To Watch Over Me

This week our homeschool group was meeting at the playground for a little of that all important socialization. The kids are all different ages and sizes, and usually play really well together. At one point in the afternoon, Cailey came up to me and collapsed in my arms. Large crocodile tears trailing down her red and sweaty face. I asked her what was wrong, and finally she was able to tell me that an older boy she was playing tag with, said to her, “I hate you.” I held her tight, stroking her hair. I bit my lip in an effort to keep from unleashing the MOMMY SMACK DOWN on the boy who just hurt my daughter’s heart.

“Hate” is a word we’re not allowed to use in our home. Because of the likelihood it can and will be misused. So, it being a forbidden word in her 6 year old vocabulary, is the worse kind of insult a sweet princess-like girl can receive.

Now when Cailey cries, she can be heard for miles, so all the mothers came to check on her to see if an ambulance needed to be dispatched. Because her wailing sounded like she was surely dying.

The mother of the boy in question caught wind of the slight and she benched her son nearby. Cailey’s 6 year old cousin, Simon, came up to her and said, “Cailey, what happened?” Now Simon and Cailey are tight. Two peas in a pod. They get each other. Both being the middle child, and all. Through heaving sobs she got the whole sordid story out. “Who said that to you?” he demanded. She told him. His eyes grew wide, he shook his head, and kicked at the dirt. Knowing the boy was not only older, but BIGGER, I watched him wrestle with what he should do. After a moment or two, he sighed heavily, and marched over to the accused. “What did you say to my cousin?” Without waiting for an answer, he lowered his voice to an impressive octave and followed with “Don’t ever say anything bad to my cousin again.” And he turned and walked away. A little taller.

Blood really is thicker than water. And the desire to look out for the ones we love wins out over fear any day of the week.

Especially on the playground.

When Cailey starts dating, I’m sending Simon as a chaperone.  If Fiddledaddy can’t make it, that is.

October 25, 2007

Big Brother

I sat on a blanket in the shade, near the dugout.  My two year old son was eating a cheese stick and wandered away from me to explore the perfectly manicured baseball field.  No need to race after him.  The park was completely fenced in, and I could keep my eye on him at the same time my two girls were practicing their soccer moves nearby.  Jensen looked very small standing alone between 1st and 2nd base.  Nibbling on a cheese stick.  A few moments later, his 3 year old cousin joined him on the field.  They faced one another.  And discussed whatever it is that a two and three year old talk about while standing in the middle of a lonely baseball field.

Then Jensen dropped his cheese stick in the dirt.  A small cloud of dust rose from the ground where the snack landed.  While still facing one another, both cousins stood completely still, gazing down at the cheese stick.  In the dirt.

Oh please God, don’t let either one of them pick up that cheese stick and eat it.  You know my sprint isn’t what it once was, and I’ll never make it out there in time.  And besides, it’s so nice here in the shade.”

After a minute or two, Jensen lost interest and walk away.  His cousin remained, still staring at the discarded cheese stick.  He took a step back, and kicked dirt over the offending mozzarella.  And walked away.  Only for a moment.  Then returned to the scene of the crime to kick more dirt over the evidence.  Not unlike Jimmy Hoffa, that cheese stick will never be found.

Satisfied, he turned to follow Jensen onto their next adventure.

October 23, 2007

In The Grotto

My baby girl turned 6 last week. For months she had been requesting breakfast at Bob Evans for her birthday. I don’t encourage her to set her dining sights too high in our one horse town. She got all gussied up, wearing a new dress that her Nana had just made. For her sister. So it was a little roomy, but had excellent twirling capabilities. Besides, if you’re going to enjoy the fine dining experience of Bob Evans, it’s best to wear clothes that have a little “give.” Personally, I find that stretchypants work best for me.

We were suppose to have her “Mermaid” party that afternoon, but alas, that morning we discovered that 6 of our 8 cousin party guests were unable to make it. So, because we’re flexible, and I was frankly relieved to postpone it, we rescheduled for Sunday afternoon.

Procrastination is my friend.

At last Sunday arrived. I spread tarps all over the backyard. And set a large ring sprinkler in the middle. In essence, forming a lagoon.

By the way, spreading large blue tarps all over your lawn hides a multitude of landscaping sins.

I also had a largish baby pool filled with water, and a slide stationed to deposit slippery party goers into it. There were water balloons, and a finger painting station. I served a mermaid cake and ice cream cones. All in the lagoon. So the guests could be hosed down afterward.

One of my most brilliant moments, I know.

Other than a little rain, which no one really noticed, since the adults enjoyed the fact that their clothes were sticking to them because of the balmy conditions here in Armpit, Florida, the party was a huge success.

“THIS IS THE BEST PARTY I’VE EVER HAD!” exclaimed my Cailey.

I neglected to tell her that it’s the ONLY party she’s ever had. So, comparatively speaking, it really ranked way up there on the party chart.

We start getting all festive with the birthday party business, after the 3rd birthday or so. And unfortunately for Cailey, Jensen came along right about then and life came to a grinding halt.

But no more. We’re fast becoming party animals. In fact, I’m planning a party for Emme who will turn 8 next weekend. Since I survived this one. Mostly intact.

I have memories as a child of my mother giving me simple, but wonderful, backyard neighborhood birthday parties. There were games, snacks, and a gorgeous hand baked birthday cake. And my mother always looked spectacular with her 60’s bouffant hair, fashionable capris, and slings. I have the home movies to prove it. I don’t know how she did it. And my parties were always in August.

My daughter will have home movies of her mother with frizzy (not even my Chi could help me today) hair. The parts of my hair that weren’t sticking straight out were plastered to my pointy head from sweat and wayward water balloons. My mascara was running, and I was soaked from head to toe.

The grotto may have been my downfall.

But my baby girl mermaid had a 6th birthday party that she will always remember. And that’s what counts.

mermaidcake.jpg

October 22, 2007

Saturday Stirrings: New Fangled Farm Fry

Say that three times fast.

I’m a breakfast girl. It is by far my favorite meal of the day. And I’m not talking Cheerios or toast. I need something that sticks to my ribs to make it through my busy day. What with the children all trying to drive me insane and all.

When I was younger, living in Texas, and was still in possession of a metabolism, my favorite breakfast involved biscuits, gravy, bacon, and a side of heart failure. And I love potatoes, sausage, and eggs stuffed into a flour tortilla. Heaven.

Alas, I had to change my diet and my disposition. And I was none too happy about it either. Until I found this recipe. DO NOT TURN YOUR NOSE UP WHEN YOU READ THE INGREDIENTS. Just push your way past the gag reflex, and you’ll have a wonderfully delicious HEALTHY and hearty breakfast. I’ve even made this for dinner. You simply have to trust me on this one.

I got the recipe from Dana Carpender’s “15 Minute Lo Carb Recipes.” I heart her.

New Fangled Farm Fry

4 Slices Bacon (I’ve even used Turkey Bacon)
1 C. Cauliflowerets, chopped into 1/2 “ pieces
1 C. Diced Turnip, chopped into 1/2 “ pieces
1/2 C. Diced Onion
4 Eggs
1/2 C. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Salt & Pepper

Chop the bacon up into smallish bits. Start cooking bacon in a big skillet. Combine the cauliflowerets and turnip in a microwavable dish, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover, and microwave on High for 7 minutes.

Drain the vegetables when they’re done. drain all but a few tablespoons of fat off the bacon, and add the cauliflower, turnip, and onion to the skillet. Sauté until the onion is translucent. Scramble the eggs with a fork, pour them into the skillet, sprinkle the cheese over the whole thing, and stir until the eggs are set. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Note: If you use Turkey Bacon, you will need to add a wee bit of extra virgin olive oil to sauté your vegetables. I sometimes serve this in a whole wheat tortilla for extra credit.

Serves 2. (12 grams of carbs, 24 grams of protein)

This and a pot of coffee, and you’re set for the day.

October 20, 2007