Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Like father, like son

As I've often teased Peter, he has yet to write an academic paper that does not have a colon in the title. They're always called something like, "An Economic Blah-de-Blah Something-ization Concerning A-Really-Long-Word: A Comprehensive Economicalish and Social Entreprenurismic Analysis."

And lately I've noticed that Colsen has adopted a great love of speech with colons involved in each sentence. For awhile, he gave me a preamble of each statement, like,

"Mom! You are going to be haaa--pppppy: We're going to watch Brady Bunch tonight!"

"Mom, THIS is dirty: When Daddy and I go outside to do our work."


"Mom, know why I'm building a house? This is something you're going to like: Because I'm gonna live next door to you!"

One of my favorites was this past Sunday at church, when we were in the bathroom. He says, "Mom! This is magical: I went to the bathroom TWO times this morning! Once at home, and once here!"

Now, over this last week, he's also decided that he should preface everything with, "Let me ask you something: " So, all day, we hear of hundreds of "Let me ask you something's," such as,

"Let me ask you something: What are we doing today?"

(He reminds me a little of Dwight on "The Office" always prefacing things with, "Question:")

Even as I'm typing this right now, he's saying,

"Mom, let me ask you something: Know why I don't like my sandwich? Because it's gross."


"Let me ask you something: If I don't eat my sandwich, I don't get anything else?"

A lot of times it's not even followed up with a question. Sometimes it's just an introduction for a statement, or a story.

My recent favorite--

"Let me ask you something: Here, let me give you some money. I want to pay you for your trouble."

While I was chuckling at this, wondering where he heard that phrase, he handed me a quarter, and said, "Ok, now can you give me some dollars?"

Looks like he's picking up on some Economics lessons from his dad, too.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bee-ing a hard worker paid off

This summer Strider, with some strong encouragement from his parents (alright, yes, Strider, we "made" you do it), signed up to be a Bible Bee contestant for the 2nd time. The National Bible Bee is an organization, founded in memory of a pretty amazing young woman, which encourages young people to study and memorize God's Word.

Last year was not a banner year for him as a contestant. He memorized a lot of verses throughout the summer.... and by the end had forgotten just about all of them. Needless to say, he was not a very high-scorer in the final competition.

But there must be something about turning 10 that changes a boy's work ethic into.... well, a work ethic. At least in Strider's case. We've seen him really work hard at a few things in his life -- and they've all been in the last couple of months. He tackled the Bible Bee challenges with some gusto, along with some complaining... and now at the end of the summer, his memory muscle has gotten quite strong.

This year's Bible Bee program consisted of a 10-week Bible study on the book of Colossians (including books for the parents to work through, as well as the student), and 250 Bible verses for the kids in Strider's age group to memorize. Strider was in the Primary age group; the older kids, called Juniors and Seniors, had hundreds more to learn!

Strider did not learn or memorize all the material, but we think he did great-- he learned about 75 verses perfectly, and did a lot of the Colossians study.

Yesterday the local competitions were held across the country. The contest first included an oral round, in which contestants were asked to quote (exactly, word-for-word) as many of 30 random passages as they could in 10 minutes in front of judges who determined their points based on how many words they missed. Then, the 2nd part of the contest was an hour-long written test of 200 questions. I made Strider mad by snapping this shot of him during his written portion:

After lunch, they announced the winners of this local contest -- and Strider won his age group! It was so exciting to see his hard work pay off! He got a gift card as a prize, so he was pretty thrilled with that. (The top 100 students in each age group across the country are invited to Chicago in November for the national Bee. If Strider's score was high enough, he could end up getting to go... we'll find out in a few days.)

Then, for fun, they staged a competition similar to how the national round goes. The top 5 kids from each group yesterday were given chances to quote verses in front of the whole audience. If they did not get the verse perfectly correct, they were out. Talk about nerve-racking!

Here's Strider quoting his first passage. I can't remember now which one they asked him to do, but he got it correct! I do remember that the passage, later, that he missed a letter in, was James 2:8-9. Oh well. He did better than all but 1 contestant the whole afternoon.
This is the entire group. It was really inspiring to see these young people eagerly memorizing God's Word, and we pray that His Truth will lodge in their hearts to guide them all the rest of their days!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


My baby is 1 and a half! As I started to think about this, I remembered that I had written this about Colsen a couple years ago. As I re-read about that little boy, I was struck by how similar these guys are -- and by how much I love this age!

Like his big brother, Milo has very strong opinions (he's decided he refuses to wear flip-flops anymore -- maybe they're too casual?), and we see many face-down pathetic crying displays when we don't go along with what he suggests. (Give him water when he wants juice, and it takes 2 rooms for him to express how very wrong this is.) For a few weeks recently he was getting extremely upset if we tried to leave him in the church nursery. Then last week he went happily in, and when I came to pick him up, he threw himself on the floor crying because he wanted to stay. These strong opinions are moving targets.

Also like his big brother, he is very bold physically. He is always climbing up on things way too high for my comfort. He loves big slides, big pushes on swings, etc.

And, like Cole, he never wants to be left out if there's a chore to be done. Or cooking, or a craft project, or a game, or really anything. He is Mr. Me-Too, or Me-Four, I guess. He's a lot of "help" around the house.... I look forward to the day when his destructive energy is transformed into constructive energy.

Unlike Colsen, though, Miles has more than the 2 speeds of fast-forward and sleep. He also has a HUG mode, which I loooooove. Many times a day he runs at Pete or me, and just wants to rest on our shoulder for a long while, sucking his thumb. I definitely enjoy this cuddly baby. And we're thankful that he can intersperse mellow moments in the midst of the rest of his general loudness.

And loud he often is. He has a few words: mama, dada, baby, all-done, bye, hot, hello (only when he's on the phone), and something like "of course" that sounds rather close to "all-done," which sometimes makes things confusing. But the rest of the time, he uses sounds to communicate -- and, as my sister-in-law pointed out, he sounds an awful lot like Curious George! "Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh!" The key to translation is all in observing the inflection.

I have more pictures I wanted to post, but our regular computer is now broken (where the pictures are), so this will have to suffice. Here he is after playing in our costume box. (We think this is how he would look if he had Drescher genes instead of Frank genes. :) ) Our funny, intense, adventurous Milo-Q -- we love you!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Field Trippin': Discovery Place version

Today was this year's first field trip: to the Discovery Place. When we got there, we ran into the Drescher's! How random! No, not really -- we planned to meet them there.

We had a lot of fun together, building, exploring, pushing, pulling, experimenting, spinning, lifting, and just generally discovering...
And I enjoyed the opportunity to lie down...
though it was on a bed of NAILS:
THEN, at the end of the morning we ran into Nonna and Poppa! And that was actually pretty random -- they had a community development meeting scheduled there in the building, which we didn't know about when we planned our trip.
Of course the kids wanted to show Nonna and Poppa everything...
...but we had to leave pretty soon to get back to Miles and Babysitter-Extraordinaire, Paige. Bye-Bye Discovery Place! We'll be back soon, hopefully....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Fastest Back-Filler in the Southeast

Growing up in a household with 3 sisters, Pete learned well the skills for navigating a conversation with a female. And being married to me for almost 12 years, having to deal with my unique brand of neuroticism, he has sharpened those skills even further.

Through the zillions of hours of conversations we’ve had, he’s had many opportunities to dig some major holes for himself. (“Wow, Amy, you suddenly look skinny!” “What?!? How fat was I before??”, etc) And he’s also gotten quite good at spotting those holes in the minefield, and quickly filling them back in before I blow up. (“Believe me, you’ve always been thin, but now you’re just downright skinny – really almost too skinny. Well, not too skinny, I mean you look just perfect.”)

I realized just how good these backfilling skills have gotten just yesterday when we had the following conversation. Notice how good he is at anticipating what I'm thinking, so I don't even have to say much:

Pete: “You look pretty. Regardless of everything else, at least you look good.”

I'm thinking: What?? At least?? What everything else??

Pete, seeing the look on my face: “I mean, no matter the circumstances, or whatever stresses you have, or if you have too much to do, at least you look beautiful doing it all.

I'm thinking: Hmmmm.

Pete: “It's good -- you’ll always have your good looks. Well, not always, but you know.”

Me: "What???"

And then the ultimate back-filling technique:

Pete: “Oh, Amy, I was just seeing if you were listening.”

Then he decided to switch topics (another effective back-filling strategy), and proceeded to tell me that he had, in my opinion, overspent on a purchase that I had asked him to make. I started to get all upset, and he said,

“Oh, is this going to ruin your mood? Well then let’s just erase this whole conversation. Pretend you never heard me, ok? Good, ok, it’s erased.”

Hole filled back in.

Another example from today:

Pete: "Amy, you're an awesome mom. Much better than I expected you would be."

I'm thinking: Judging based on what exactly?

Pete, without missing a beat: "Don't worry -- that's a positive statement. I had visions of you being an awesome mom, and you have even surpassed that."

I’m just saying – the guy has gotten quite good at filling in any holes he digs. He is a busy man. And I love him a ton.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Schola per Nemus Profusum

For the next 13 weeks, we'll be studying the Roman Empire, so to get us all in the right mindset, Poplar Streams Academy today was transformed into its Roman counterpart-- Schola per Nemus Profusum. The scholars (Rufus, Garus, Marcus and Marcella) were all dressed in tunics, and Maestra Maria was clothed in an appropriate toga.
We had fun making "wax tablets" similar to what students back then would have used...

And we even let Rayna attend school, even though she's a girl. :)We also counted, using the Latin words for the numbers, and Strider did some exercises with Roman Numerals (not pictured below).

Lunch was typical Roman fare as well... most of which was enjoyed by the kids.

So, off we set with Roman and Latin studies! Maybe at our Roman Feast, at the end of the 13 weeks, we'll each be able to say "Veni, vidi, vici!"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First day of school

Once again Poplar Streams Academy has flung open the gates, welcoming all the enthusiastic scholars eager to enter. Or something like that.

This morning we attempted our traditional "first day of school" picture... and after several shots like this: ... finally got one we could call, "good enough."
Then we went inside... and all colored our hair with school-spirit hair gel!

Everyone thought the hair color was fun...
Even I participated...
... and Milo, too!
Then we did our traditional pledge of allegiance, and singing of some patriotic songs. There was some debate over who should be allowed to hold the flag:

Other random scenes throughout the day:
Rayna and Milo were doing a puzzle... and Colsen was apparently giving himself a music lesson:
A few minutes later, Rayna was still working away, but the boys had switched to a new activity:
And this was what was going on 5 minutes later: Miles pushing all the crayons onto the floor. Again.
Later, a special snack outside:
And to end the school day, we had "PE class" by riding our bikes up to the pool. :)

Then we enjoyed (well, most of us anyway) a new recipe for dinner, based on this one:

All in all, a very good day! I just wish they could all be like this.

For this school year, I made some bookmarks for the kids that have some verses I'd like to be our theme. The bookmarks will likely be ripped or lost in the next few days, but I hope our prayers for wisdom, insight and understanding will continue throughout the year.