Monthly Archives: October 2008

Theeey’re Heeere

If you entered our house right now, you’d wonder what country you were in.  There is a non-stop mix of Swedish, French, and English in the air (and the occasional, “Oops, that’s Spanish, not French!”).  Our (adult) Swedish friends speak English.  And their oldest daughter, who is 11, has been learning English so can carry on a conversation in elementary English fairly well.  All three of their children speak French (as well as Swedish, of course).  All but our youngest son can carry on a decent conversation in French, although he speaks as if he is fluent.  He likes to French-isize English words.  It’s quite funny!  And I keep bringing Spanish words into the French conversations.  So it will be interesting to see the interactions when we go down to the farm in Florida tomorrow where no one speaks anything but (southern) English.  After translating back and forth, my head should be spinning by the end of each day!

After they arrived yesterday, we did our best to keep them awake (their time zone is 6 hours ahead).  I took them to Wal-Mart after dinner.  The kids decided they wanted to see the costumes and each found one they liked.  And I wanted to get just a few grocery items to sustain us today and of course candy for tonight’s ghouls and goblins.  Our refrigerator looks so empty everytime I open it.  But we are leaving tomorrow for a week, and I don’t want to leave anything to go bad.  Not something I want to deal with when we get back. 

I’m off to finish a Red Riding Hood costume and make sure everyone else has all their parts and pieces for tonight. 

Happy Haunting!

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Bye Bye Now

Bling!  Bling!

Ow.  Ow. 

“Oh my gosh, my cheeks are killing me.  I can’t keep smiling like this anymore.  I am exhausted.  I need a break.  A little break?  Okay.  Whew!” (Barbie from Toy Story 2  =)

I spent the weekend with my sister at a women’s expo in Utah in a 10×10 booth surrounded by her Sashay wares.  I did my very best with smiling and selling and modeling and handing out catalogs and …  I think I earned my keep for the weekend, and I liked seeing my sister in action.  She was in her element. 

I, however, was in … a … different element.  My body never knew what time it was, and then we were inside a windowless convention center from sun-up to sun-down for two days.  But I had a great time hanging out and catching up and at the end seeing my nephews for a few hours.  It’s been 3 years, and it took them a while to remember which aunt I was (I am the oldest of three sisters).  But after all of about 5 minutes, I was a member of the family.

I’m going on another trip in a couple of days, but with the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle … and more.  Our Swedish friends arrive tomorrow, and I am cleaning, decorating, shopping, packing, etc. for their arrival.  I am so excited; I just hope I don’t pass out from exhaustion when they arrive.  I usually just have to clean with company coming.  This time our friends are staying with us a couple of nights, so I am planning menus while decorating for Halloween at the same time.  But not too much because we leave the morning after trick-or-treating.  The 10 of us are getting on the road bright and early for a 13-hour road trip to the Sunshine State. 

Fun!  Fun!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Gat-o-ween

Happy Gat-o-ween

Glowing Gat-o-ween

Glowing Gat-o-ween

 

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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I’m going on a trip this week!  Out of town!  On an airplane!  All by my lonesome!  I’m excited!  I’m going to see my little sister, who I haven’t seen in almost three years.  Her husband’s job has them out in Arizona while I’m on the other coast in Virginia.  A little over a year ago, she discovered a brand new company started out there in Arizona called Sashay Jewelry.  She became a consultant while they were still fairly young and has been trying to get me on board to expand their business out this way. 

Unfortunately, I am not a salesperson.  I don’t like negotiating to buy a new car.  I didn’t like haggling with street vendors when we visited Thailand (even though it’s what you are supposed to do).  I don’t like all the pressure.  I’m just not built to be in sales like my sister is.  She loves her product, and you can tell.  You want to buy from her.  I can’t do that – okay – I’m just not comfortable doing that. 

Moving around with the military has made it perfect for spouses like me to have businesses like this one.  I have hosted (and bought from) several parties for my friends who sell kitchen items and scrapbooks and jewelry and make-up and children’s books and … I came very close to being a consultant more than once.  But I have learned that I like being the hostess.  I will support a great cause; just don’t ask me to be the spokesperson.

And that is what this trip is about – helping my sister (plus we get to catch up on sister stuff that we can’t do over the phone).  She has a show in Utah this weekend, and she needs someone to go with her.  So I’ll help her drive there and set up her display and sit with her at her booth and keep her company while we chat and she sells.  I wish it were at my house, then I could bake cookies and make hors d’oeuvres.

But this time, my kitchen will stay clean, and I will hang out with my sister.  And I may start my Christmas shopping while I’m there, too:  http://www.sashaylaura.com/.

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The Wheels on the Bus

Last Friday I got to ride in a big yellow school bus.  It’s been a couple of years.  I’ve gone on numerous field trips with my kids when they were in elementary school.  This time,  it was with my son’s sixth grade civics class.

Initially I thought, Oh, how easy!  They’re not 5-year-olds.  I don’t need to hold anyone’s hand or tell them to stop running around or remind them to keep their hands to themselves.  And I didn’t have to do any of those things.  But I did have get to listen to them talk.  Eleven-year-old conversations are quite interesting.  They want desperately to appear grown-up and yet at the same time can’t quite stop acting juvenile.  We went to an art museum to relate certain works with the topics they are studying about in government.  We looked at photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr. and busts of several former presidents and paintings by American Indians.  Sculptures ended up being one of the topics of (whispered) conversations – specifically the nude ones. 

All the students were divided into groups of about 15, and each group was assigned a parent or teacher and then a museum docent as well.  Our docent was a woman of around 70 who did an excellent job of making the tour interesting with her descriptions and explanations;  she kept the children involved with questions and also answered their many queries.  When the question came up as to why there were nude statues, she handled it quite well.  She asked if any of them had ever tried to draw a person and asked if it was difficult.  Yes, some replied.  She explained that the human body is hard to create in art and that ancient artists took the challenge seriously.  It seemed to hush the whisperings, for then.

On the ride back to school, I listened as a boy told his teacher and me about the truck he wishes to have when he is old enough to drive, the body and the engine and how he already knows how to change oil and tires.  He kept us entertained for quite a while, telling us about vehicles we saw on the road as well.  Occasionally, I glanced to the seat behind him, where two boys were whispering and giggling about something.  They would glance back at me and stop until I looked away, and then the whispering and giggling would start up again – probably discussing those statues again.

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Six Things

I got tagged this weekend by my SIL “Ouisa” at  http://ouisaforpresident.blogspot.com/ to list 6 things that make me happy.  Only six?  It is funny that she mentions that her husband would “probably tell you that nothing makes me happy.”  It makes me stop and think about myself a bit.  I have so many things to be happy about, and I am.  But it probably doesn’t show much.  I am often somewhat quiet and reserved.  Except maybe with my children and husband.  I can show them what’s wrong more often than what’s right.  I know that I need to work on that.

(Only) Six things that make me happy:

1.  Spending time with my family and friends

2.  The sound of children’s laughter

3.  Surprises (planning them and receiving them)

4.  Being in Florida (preferably on the beach)

5.  Visiting new places

6.  Chocolate (did you think this wouldn’t be here?!)

Now I am supposed to tag six other bloggers to do the same, but since I am still somewhat of a newbie and as I said, reserved, my blog-o-sphere is pretty small.  So for now I am going to use this as a personal reminder that I need to try to show those around me more often that I am happy and that they are a huge part of it.

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It’s Not Fair!

I hate it when other people upset my children.  Mainly, because I have to listen to them whine for the next 30 minutes of my life.  And secondly, because I don’t want some idiot messing with my angels!  My youngest son is participating in an after-school basketball tournament this month.  When I picked him up today, the first thing he said was that his team had lost.  And then he proceded with, “And it wasn’t fair!” 

“Not fair” is one phrase I don’t like to hear from my children’s mouths.  I usually reply with, “Life’s not fair.”  Sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don’t.  And when it doesn’t seem to go quite fairly…well, sometimes it turns out better than you thought it would.

So, on our way home, my son proceeded to tell me about what happened when one of the referees blew her whistle during the game.  Being a rule-follower (that I have proudly made him into), he stopped and looked at her for the call while the other children continued to play.  She looked at him and said, “Oh, I was just kidding!”  The other team proceeded to score at that moment.  He told me that after the game he went to the tournament director and tried to explain the situation and was told to stop being emotional. 

E – MO – TION – AL ?!?!?!  I think I would have gone hari-kari on her.  And then she would have seen emotional.  Why must people like that make rule-followers like us yell, “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR!”?

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Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue

Noticing that today is Columbus Day – only because my federally employed husband has the day off while my children got on school buses this morning – I decided to do a little more research on the holiday…or day of observance…or day of protest(?).  First I checked out wikipedia.  I think it’s a great place to start when I want to learn more on a subject because it’s usually simple and to the point.  I remember coloring pictures of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria at this time of year when I was in elementary school.  Reading wikipedia this morning gave me another perspective on the discovery of the Americas.

Apparently not everyone is happy about celebrating Christopher Columbus.  In the US, it’s celebrated as Columbus Day.  Many other countries celebrate (or protest) this day as well but with other names.  It’s Day of Indigenous Resistance (Venezuela), Day of the Race (most of Latin America), and Hispanic Day (Spain).  In Nevada, it’s a day of observance and all government offices remain open (except federal, of course).  In New York, everything closes except the stock markets (I wonder what would happen if they did).  In Colorado, the Columbus Day parades are protested in Denver by Native American groups.  In Hawaii, it’s Discoverer’s Day, and they celebrate more the work of James Cook in the Hawaiian islands than Columbus’s meanderings in the Atlantic.  There are parades and protests all around the world. 

Here in Virginia, it is a legal holiday.  And that makes sense, seeing that a lot of American history happened on the soil here.  So, why are my kids in school then?  I don’t mind; it just seems strange.  Especially since the schools in the city next door are closed.  We live in a pent-city area (is that correct? bi-city, tri-city,…).  In our city, all courts, city offices, libraries and post offices are closed and there’s no trash collection, but school’s in.  Everything’s the same for 3 of the other 4, except 2 of them aren’t opening their school doors today.  And for the fifth city, everything’s open (except federal places).

So even though we are the UNITED States, we still aren’t quite united on this one.  I think, though, that we have a pretty good system of checks and balances here.  They don’t always balance perfectly, but, then, no system is perfect.  When we lived in France, we got to see some of the ways their system works.  We weren’t citizens, but we got to observe for the year and a half we lived there.  And since we’ve also lived in several different states, we’ve seen how the different systems work just within our own country.  Since each state makes some of their own laws and rules, going from one state to the next, we can’t remember if we can drive legally while talking on our cell phones (which is distracting anyway) or who is required by law to wear a bike helmet (I make our whole family wear them no matter what age) or what birth month dictates when a child can start kindergarten. 

Schools have been a big issue for us.  In France, we spoke with a few of the military families that we met there.  We found out, whenever the military transferred their families to another part of the country, their children would know exactly what to expect at school the next day they attended.  The whole country teaches the same curriculum.  If a child is in the 7th grade and is studing world history in Paris then they would be studying world history in Cannes.  Their math classes align; sciences, history, languages… everything is taught at the same level.  And the level is not easy; my children found their studies in France harder than their honors classes here in Virginia, and we are in a very good school system.  It has been frustrating at times for our children to go into yet another school and take the same science class over again.  Or to have to catch up the best they can on that state’s history.  And on top of that, to make new friends and compete with all of the kids who have lived there all of their lives. 

But after next summer, we’ll be back in Florida – permanently – and we won’t have to worry about those things as much.  They’ll finally learn that their state bird is the mocking bird, and the state flower is the orange blossom, and they were born in Pensacola (not Pepsi-Cola). 

In fourteen hundred ninety-two, a lot of things were going on.  Some sad crimes resulted from people expanding around the world.  But hopefully today’s world can learn from all of that history, and we can use that to do better in the future.

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