Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Because First BoyCub is who he is, the subject came up Christmas Eve. At 10pm at night, when I'm tiiiiiiired, because I've wrapped 15 million stocking stuffers, at least. 'Mom, I have a question. Where do you suppose Santa starts his deliveries? At the International Date Line? And how many time zones do you suppose he's able to cover in an hour? And what country does he start with?" "China, Son, but he also catches the kids in Siberia too." "Hmm. I'll have to give this some thought tonight." All right Boy, you do that. Let me know when you've solved the problems of world peace and the economy also....

I should probably also add a qualifier that we don't encourage Santa as a rule in the house. So this was totally hypothetical on his part. I just want to know why I have to be included in his musings. And Son, I'm not going off to college with you.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Letting Go of My Perfectionism

I just had to share one more thing. I'm trying to be gracious. I really am. And I know the kids like to wrap presents. But by golly, I'm having a really hard time with Oldest CubGirl's artistic license in wrapping her presents to her siblings. Her choice of wrapping paper? Brown grocery bags. And the adhesive of choice? Duct tape.


New Math

So because I've been slow off the marks this holiday season, we didn't get our traditional Playmobil advent calendar going. And Grammie usually sends us the little ones with chocolate in them, but she didn't this year. So I finally found 2 yesterday at Michael's, and made the younger 4 Cubkids' night, when I told them they could eat the chocolates up to yesterday's date. But then a minor battle ensued when they realized that there were 38 chocolates to be eaten by 4 children. I posted this dilemma to my favorite email group, and a friend responded with new math. I love this suggestion.

She suggested I could eat 2 and then the kids could divide 36, or I could eat 6, and the kids would each get 8, or the best answer, I thought, was that I could eat 34, and the kids could each eat one. At which point, I read this answer, and started laughing out loud. Then they all came running to see what I was laughing about, and said, "Mom! You wouldn't!" Then First BoyCub pointed out that he was pretty sure 34 pieces of chocolate weren't Weight Watchers-approved, and wouldn't I prefer a cookie or piece of fudge instead?

So much for that diet plan. But I do like new math.

Rushing Headlong Into Christmas

But I had to share this Question of the Day with you all. Yes, it again came from First BoyCub. I'm driving in monster traffic yesterday, and battling a headache, and got hit with this one.

"Mom, I have a question." 'OK.' "Here it is. If you were standing next to the International Date Line, would it be possible to wait until just before midnight, and then jump over the line, and lose a whole day? And if you didn't come right back, would it be lost forever?"

Does this count as one of those 'How many angels can dance on the head of a pin' questions?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Insanity Reins Supreme

I have made a tactical error. We tend to like more, um, creative birthday presents. And since it is Second Boy Cub's birthday today, and it's 2 weeks till Christmas, and I feel guilty that the poor kid has a birthday that gets blown over sometimes, (as do all my kids- it'll give them something to tell their therapists), I tried to get a cool birthday present. So since First Boy Cub got an add-on to the game Carcassone, Second Boy Cub also got an add-on. It was pretty cool actually. After FBC opens his, they both assure me there are more add-ons. Little did they know that Mom was on her game. And Mom is thinking- quiet strategy games on the floor. Yeah.

Anyway, the other present, which was the minor tactical error, was a solid 24 foot long piece of racetrack. And 10 Matchbox cars to go with it. Did you know that 24 feet of track will attach to your hall window via suction cup, go down the hall, through 2 loops, over the kitchen table, and continue across the kitchen floor? And did you know that it is possible to get a Matchbox car going fast enough to actually crack one of your windows? 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Great Pumpkin

For those of you who don't know it, owing to the fact you live overseas, tonight was Trick-Or-Treat night in our neighborhood. And I knew within 10 minutes of waking up it was going to be a long day. I had 4 cubs on my bed before 9 am, with various pieces of their Halloween costumes, wanting to discuss nitty-gritty details with me. Please wait until your mother has put her contacts in and had at least 1 cup of tea, before you expect her to focus, let alone be rational. And please check your swords and rapiers at the door.....

So later this evening came The Great Sortation. Did you know that tonight is the night The Great Pumpkin comes? Yes. The deal is this- the more candy you give up, the better the present you will find in your chair at breakfast tomorrow. The best giveaway ever has been the year #1 Cub gave away all but 6 pieces of candy. This year Small Girl Cub kept all but 14. The Great Sortation comes after the gathering/snacking, when they winnow out the Best of the Best, and put it in a Ziplock bag. My family room looks like it's been hit by marauding candy elves. But the sortation is all finished, all small cubs are upstairs, if not sleeping, and it appears The Great Pumpkin may have to make a Walmart run. Sigh. Whose stupid idea was this anyway?

By the way, the Cubs were quite creative this year- we had a Pie Rat, complete with pie pan shield and fork, a Tigger, a Musketeer, a Knight, a Fairy Princess, and the best- #1 Cub dressed in a pair of jeans with stars she'd sewn on them, layered t-shirts, blue stripes in her hair, mp3 player, and a sign that read 'Trick or Treat' on one side, and then on the other side, to answer the question, "What are you?" 'Bored Teenager.' Yup, just the best. She even has the eyeroll modeled to perfection.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Compliment of the Day

"Mom, did you know that shirt exactly matches the circles under your eyes?"

I *knew* I shouldn't have gotten up this morning.

Sunday's Question of the Day

So the Cub that generates the deep questions, on Sunday comes up with this zinger. He starts off in his usual fashion- Mom, I have a question. "So when Jesus comes up out of the river after He's been baptized, and the Spirit of the Lord descends like a dove, is this the first place in the Bible that the Trinity has appeared all together?" Mom's educated response? "We're at church. Go ask Pastor John." And I have a college degree.....

Life with Children

So Saturday's event that definitely falls under the category of "Why I never get anything done around here" would be Cat 1 coming in, bringing presents. More specifically a small, mostly-dead squirrel. Which he proceeded to toss around the kitchen floor, trying to get it to play with him further. And then of course, the dog wants it, since it's clearly a really cool toy. So Oldest Cub goes to pick up cat-and-squirrel, since he now has his toy firmly anchored in his mouth, and he has the audacity to growl at her around the squirrel!

And I'm such a good scrapbooking Mommy, I made her wait to toss the cat-and-squirrel unit outside, until I'd gotten a picture of them. ;-)

Oh, and did I mention, our pastor's oldest daughter was here, spending the night? Yeah, we really furthered her education....

Friday, October 19, 2007

Since I have one...

I figure I could at least update my blog infrequently. So I thought I'd start sharing some of the humorous things that strike me throughout the day as I walk this path God has called me to. One of my cubs is the best generator of most of the humor, so I'll share the Question of the Day with you. And they always start out the same way, "Mom, I have a question." I say, "OK." "Here it is." And then he goes on with the question. So I always have warning that a doozie is coming!

Today's Question of the Day- "Mom, what's the difference between a hillbilly and a redneck?" Any suggestions? :-P I wish I could remember yesterday's. It was even better.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Home again, Home again

Well, we made it! My brother is successfully married, in what was a beautiful service, in a gorgeous setting, and with amazing food! The next day, we left for the little resort town, where we were planning to spend a couple of days with my parents. We drove 8 hours across Spain, to find we'd landed in our new definition of Hell on Earth. This small 'family-friendly' resort town was mobbed with German tourists, too many people, and the hotel was something like a cruise ship gone bad. It had a game room/arcade, 2 cinemas, a discoteque that played till 2 am, and a cafeteria that would seat 2000 people. There were 500 people waiting for breakfast the morning we left. We arrived at 9.30 pm, I spent about 5 hours trying to resurrect us from there, and we left less than 12 hours later. But the rebound from this bounce was amazing. We decided to head off to the city that Gaudi and Picasso made famous. Lots of art and architecture for our last few days.

(Spoiler paragraph- stop reading if you don't want to know where we were.....)
Barcelona is an amazing city. I think we all fell in love. We hopped one of the tourist buses, and rode around to see all the major sights. Its history dates back to Roman times, and it was then a critical Medieval sea port. And then there's all the Modernisme art- I LOVE Gaudi's work. He studied nature, and took his lines from there, so these buildings have flowing curves like waves, and balconies with wrought iron that looks like 3-D leaves. And one of his buildings has a roof that's shaped and shingled like a dragon's back. Amazing. I'd have loved another day or two there. He also started a cathedral, the Sagrada Familia, that won't be finished for another 50 years or so, and is all funded by private donation and admission fees. It's amazing to see his ideas being carried out, some not so accurately, apparently, much later. I definitely need to do some more research on him.

So we made it home uneventfully, which is always good, except for the torrential downpour that occurred just as we were unloading and getting the last things from the car. Since we all got soaked to the skin, that necessitated changing clothes before checking in. I didn't get to, so was a bit soggy till about half way through the flight to New York. I pity the poor work crew that has to put that car back to rights. Yikes. My children now understand in spades why we don't eat in my van here.

So all in all, it was an amazing trip. There was so much that we did, we can't even pick one country that was our favorite, although the Lion King says his was France. Which is good, since he doesn't like to travel like I do. There's a good chance we might get to go back some day! It was great for my kids to get to know their cousins on the other side of my family, my brother got to finally meet my little guys, and we just all around had an amazing time. Now I can bore you all with the 1600 pictures I took!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sorry for the lack of updates!

We've been distracted by the large pool out back of our hotel, and all the family around. We're having a wonderful time in Toledo, Spain. But to catch you all up....

From Mt. Blanc, we went into Switzerland, in search of more Alps. Had the opportunity to climb to the 'Highest Point in Europe', but the weather didn't cooperate. So we rode cable cars, the longest gondola in Europe, and trains. We also got to luge. The kids had a blast with what we called our Transportation Day.

From there, we drove a looong way, back to our beloved France, to where Van Gogh painted his Sunflowers, and also cut off his ear. Any ideas? Then back to Nimes, since we needed one more day in the area, to see another of my mother's favorite cities. This city is made famous by a nursery rhyme. It's another famous walled city.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Experience of a Lifetime

So yesterday we climbed to the top of Mt. Blanc. Or rather took a funicular. Since MB is the tallest peak in the European Alps, we only have credit for hiking in an alpine meadow. We let someone else do all the work. It was amazing. My pictures look like I've posed the kids in front of a backdrop. Today we're off to the Berner Oberland, for more meadows, and some real hiking.

The Lion King arrived safely, albeit a bit tardy, thankfully. And Small Bug graciously awakened and vomited just as we were arriving at the airport, so I found the closest place to park, near the terminal, and entreated a police officer for a 'bano', to clean her and the car/carseat/all targeted objects up. And did you know, it took just long enough for The Lion King's plane to come in? I coached the kids to say "Mama limpia!' It was all good.

We set off for the French city with the most Roman ruins, toured the longest-standing arena and temple, and then, since the hostel didn't have room for the night, took off for the edge of France. (An hour away from Mt. Blanc, on a lake.) Any ideas?

See you on the other side!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Laundry Day and Find-the-Floor in the Car

In preparation for the Lion King's arrival tomorrow! Yea! My kids wanted a down day today, other than scoping out daggers and other Medieval weaponry that we don't have room for. But they can dream, right? Tomorrow, we are up at 7 am, to drive to Barcelona to get the Lion King. Then we turn right around, and retrace our steps back to France, and lots of Roman ruins. We're heading for a famous arena, and the longest surviving aquaduct. Any ideas? Then after that, off to Mont Blanc, and France's City on Water.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Especially for My Mother

We are in Carcassone, the Medieval walled city. It is my Mom's favorite, of that variety. The boys are in 7th heaven. We have stomped around all 3K of the ramparts, with the kids going 'Oh Cool!' every 2 seconds. We are on the way South, to meet the Lion King, who leaves tomorrow morning at some hour that no normal person should be required to be awake. He will arrive Sunday morning. We can't wait. Then we're off to the French Alps, and then the Swiss. I'll post clues later. For now, I'm tired. I went off by myself tonight, after the kids had eaten dinner, and had dinner. It was fantastic. The regional specialty is cassoulet, with duck drumstick, sausage, and beans. It's a great winter meal I need to try to make. Of course, I can't duplicate the effect of sitting on the terrace of a restaurant in Carcassone......

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wish You Were Here...

The children and I are lolling on the Italian Riviera, eating pasta and gelato, and reveling in the beautiful blue Mediterranean. We saw our artists, left for the '5 Lands', and boy, what a drive that was! Now we're staying in an amazing castle for the night. Any ideas where we've been?

The hostel there was an old house built sometime in the 18th century. The kind lady running it put us up on the 2nd floor-which is our 3rd floor. My children assure me there were 55 steps, in a grand square around the hall, which went the whole way up. I'd rather not know that, thanks. And the room was amazing. The only one on the floor with a beautiful balcony, overlooking the garden and the Mediterranean. It's a tough life we're leading. There also was an awesome laundromat down the street. Small things to be very grateful for. I dumped the children in the sea, and did every single stitch of laundry. God is good.

We had lunch in a cute little town- we have discovered focacciarias. Yum! And of course, gelato, at least once a day, and twice when the Cubs can negotiate for it. We then went on to the last town of the 5, and found a beautiful beach. The Cubs are loving it. Driving back was interesting though- lots of twisting roads!

Tonight, we have started back toward France, to meet The Lion King on Sunday. We are staying in an amazing hostel, which is in a castle. The Cubs wanted a room in the tower, but I didn't want to hike to the bathroom! For those following us vicariously, we are in 'The End of Liguria'.


Saturday, June 9, 2007

No, we haven't fallen off the face of the earth...

Although it may seem like it! We made it through Germany, and into Italy. Clues for where we've been- First of all the 'Land' my boys enjoy so much, which has been a highlight of the trip is outside Nuernberg. So is the medieval town with the walls. Then we went to see Mad King Ludwig's only finished castle, where he lived for 2 weeks every month. Any ideas? We also hiked in the Austrian Tirol, while staying near MKL's other, more famous castle. Then we went onto the City of Canals. We had the most incredible experience there-riding a boat at sunset, with fabulous architecture, eating gelato......

Today, we left our city on the water, and travelled to a famous city with lots of Renaissance Art. Someone please tell Lela my young son came through again, with his mouthful of artists. Tomorrow, we tour the Italian countryside, and then to '5 lands'. More later, as we work our way back to Barcelona, to meet the Lion King on Sunday. If you see him Tuesday, wish him happy birthday.

Hannah, Meaghan has your trip all planned out...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Children, I give you Paris...

Said in a grand voice, with a sweep of the hand, standing at the very top of the Eiffel the pouring rain. Why? Because it always must rain on us when we're sightseeing! It did however cut down dramatically on the tourists. The Americans are all afraid to get wet.

Hannah, Meaghan says you both are coming back here some day. Maybe your mom and I can plan some glorious trip for you both. Tam, think about all those stupid pieces we spend hours digging out of my boys' bunks- remember the wars? The 'Land' of their obsessions.....

Today was amazing. We came in on the highway that became the Champs-Elysees, so we came over a hill, and POW!! The Arc De Triomphe! Je suis amazed!

Off to the German edge of France tomorrow, and then to Germany proper. Hopefully I'll find internet access. The next clue then would be Mad King Ludwig's castle, (after the trials,) and then the squirt gun castle. See you then.....

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Children and I Are Changing Passports

We are having an amazing time. We arrived without a glitch, got our tiny, tiny van, (not sure where we are going to put the Lion King or his things), and other than a few wrong turns, made it out of Barcelona, and into France. We stayed at a wonderful hostel in Bealieau-Sur-Dordogne, that has been around since 50 years before Columbus set sail. When was that?

We saw castles and caves, and have navigated through the French countryside, but not so well. There are many small towns not on the maps. And you need to know where you are going to head in the right direction. Not easy when the directions are for the next small town not on your map.

We have discovered that you can buy baguette bread on any corner, and spread it with Brie cheese, which the children are eating like peanut butter. Not a habit we will encourage when we get back.

Today were Monet's Gardens and house. We all agreed it was amazing to be where he actually painted. We also toured a chateau, which the Germans had taken over in WW2. They had hollowed out the side of the rock, and built safe houses for the soldiers. A sad note to discover this in this beautiful chateau.

Tomorrow is the City of Lights, home of Madeleine. I'll try to update before we leave. Then we're going to the edge of Germany, but still in France, for one night, and then to the place where the Trials were held after WW2. We are actually touring a Medieval city not too far from there, on the Tauber River. (That's a clue.) And we are going to tour a 'Land' of my sons' obsessions- Knights, Vikings, and Fairytale Castles.

Hopefully I'll be able to update from Germany. Let me know if you need the answers for the clues.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Aaaaand we're outta here....

Well, the bags are packed, at least for the most part, we're loading the car, and setting the alarm for the unheard-of hour of 3.30am. One of the reasons we homeschool is because we flat out don't get up in the morning. Ugh. Our schedule is to fly from Columbus to JFK at 6.30 tomorrow morning, then kill time at Kennedy until our flight tomorrow night at 6pm. We land in Madrid, then fly to Barcelona, and then drive to our first destination. I'll try to post in the next few days, to let you all know how we're doing!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New Clues-save this for later if you want to follow us on the day

OK, so the first place we're going to visit has the oldest paintings. This will be Sat. and Sun.

Second place- it's an area known for beautiful though not old chateaus, and a medieval castle being built in the 21st. Century. This is Monday night.

Third place, for a few days, he was known as a painter of light, and I don't mean Thomas Kinkade. He revolutionized how the world looked at art in his day.

Fourth Place, for one day- It's known for Madeline and Napoleon. My children want to see gargoyles.

I'll have to come up with a good clue for the 5th place, before we leave this country. Anyone figured out where we are yet?

If you need more hints, let me know.

Let me rephrase that...

OK, it has come to my attention, if you Google oldest paintings, there are some now older than the ones we're visiting. So let's say the oldest ones conventionally believed to exist for a long time. They were discovered by a group of boys in the late 1800's, I think. How's that for generally vague?

As for prizes for guessing, you get the satisfaction of knowing you were right.

A suggestion for those following us vicariously- when my parents did their extensive traveling, we had the world map up on the wall, and the kids would move the marker wherever my parents were that day. It really brought home World Geography for them. I will try to post pictures if possible.

3 days and counting...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dragged Kicking and Screaming into the 21st Century....

Well, it's happened. I've joined the real world. As requested I've started a blog to chronicle the trip of a lifetime. On Friday, my cubs and I head off to New York at an obnoxious hour, and then to Spain.

This all started when my Little Brother decided to get married in Spain. Thanks to him, my cubs are getting the homeschool experience of a lifetime. I figured if I'm going to pay all this money to fly these kids overseas, we're going to make it worth their while. And I'm winging it as a single parent for part of it, since the Lion King can't join us till later. Anyway. Prayers are always appreciated, both for safety, and Mamalion's sanity!

Can you find us on a map? Our first activity will be to see the paintings that have been recognized as being around the longest. What country and city?