No Harm Done

Sunday, July 31, 2005

I Feel Better Now

I have always hated poetry.

At some point during every school year an English teacher taught a poetry unit. I never minded so much reading and discussing poetry. It was the writing of the stuff that I dreaded. It left such an imprint on me that I have avoided poetry ever since, and haven't taught Braden any, save for verses by Milne and Shel Silverstein. (Okay, and one poem by Benny Hill, but that doesn't count.)

When I saw Very Bad Poetry recommended in the "A Common Reader" catalogue a couple of months ago, I thought this might be the kind of poetry I'd enjoy. Poetry by truly terrible, but very earnest, poets.

Very Bad Poetry has been a lot of fun to read, though it's best in short bursts, I think. Not a book that'd be as good if you read it straight through. But it has boosted my inner poet's self-confidence. Surely I cannot do any worse than some of the poems I've read in this book. We'll have to try writing some this school year.

The poem I'm quoting below is from a poem entitled "The Spleen" by Matthew Green. (It reminds me a bit of Mickey's "Sure-Flow" jingle at the end of A Mighty Wind.)

I always choose the plainest food
To mend viscidity of blood.
Hail! water gruel, healing power,
Of easy access to the poor;
Thy help love's confessors implore,
And doctors secretly adore:
To thee I fly, by thee dilute -
Through veins my blood doth quicker shoot;
And by swift current throws off clean
Prolific particles of spleen."

Hm. Okay.

Consider this by James McIntyre:

Ode on the Mammoth Cheese
We have seen thee, queen of cheese,
Lying quietly at your ease,
Gently fanned by evening breeze,
Thy fair form no flies dare seize.

All gaily dressed soon you'll go
To the great Provincial show,
To be admired by many a beau
In the city of Toronto.

Cows numerous as a swarm of bees,
Or as the leaves upon the trees,
It did require to make thee please,
And stand unrivallled, queen of cheese.

May you not receive a scar as
We have heard that Mr. Harris
Intends to send you off as far as
The great world's show at Paris.

Of the youth beware of these,
For some of them might rudely squeeze
And bite your cheek, then songs of glees
We could not sing, oh! queen of cheese.

We'rt thou suspended from balloon,
You'd cast a shade even at noon,
Folks would think it was the moon
About to fall and crush them soon.

I'm feeling better about poetry. A little braver and more willing to take risks. "Sure, Braden!" I hear myself say, "Go ahead and write a poem about Transformers. What's that? You want to write about gungan ships from the planet Naboo? Go right ahead!"

There are published poets out there who've penned works about poetry and mammoth cheeses. How can our attempts be any worse?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Ha HAH!! You are DONE!

Finally, the room I dreaded most is DONE! The kitchen, a room that I have put off painting due to my color indecision and fear of taping injuries, is now painted and holding a few small pieces of decoration.

The last two houses in which we lived had naked walls. Why put nail holes in when we weren't sure how long we were staying? We're not sure how long God will have us here, but we decided that we can no longer live as nomads. We must put things on our walls and act as if we are ready to put down roots.

I am no decorator ("THAT'S for sure!" snort those who know me), but I decided that I cannot let the decorating and de-cluttering shows that I love intimidate me. I have finally gotten to the place where I don't yearn for fancy rooms filled with antiques, luxurious fabrics, and Christopher Lowell's "Seven Layers of Design." I just want my rooms clean, comfortable, and peaceful.

But if Vern Yip showed up at my house, I sure wouldn't turn him away!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Today It Was September

It felt like it anyway. The high temp today was 75 degrees. It was sunny and slightly breezy. Just beautiful! It was too nice to stay inside, so we hit the streets for the first time in what felt like days.

It's been amazingly hot and muggy for the past week and a half, and the kids and I were losing what little summer tans we had. It felt good to get out and enjoy the sunshine.

We started out with doctor's appointments, etc. Then we hit the library and the bank. By then it was lunchtime, and we splurged and went to Pizza Hut for lunch. (Mmmmm....breadsticks!)

After lunch we drove to the zoo, with the kids and I talking to Colson the whole time in order to keep him awake. The animals were all out and active, enjoying the weather. They volunteer displaying elephant artifacts was especially chatty and talked to the boys as he let them hold the tusks, teeth, and elephant feet he had on his cart. Two workers were putting the finishing touches on a new cage for the two black leopards that will be arriving tomorrow. Even the hippos moved from their indoor pool to the outdoor pool. (A 30-foot walk that took nearly 15 minutes, by the way.) The baby giraffe is due any day, but today was not that day. :)

After naptime, we went back to the library for a puppet show that made even Brogan giggle out loud.

It was a good day!

Here's Brogan, in his cowboy garb at the zoo.

"No! I will not smile."

And here Colson watches a gorilla. He's kind of hard to see, as he blends into the shadows. The gorilla, that is.

One of their favorite exhibits is the elephant pen. But watch out! One of the elephants had a trainer years ago who taught the pachyderm how to throw. And when that elephant is feeling playful, he will throw: food, rocks, dirt, water, poop, ice. Whatever's handy. Thankfully, he was only throwing water the day we found out about his talent! He's got pretty accurate aim too!

Mario Brothers Update

The amazing acapella group has been revealed as:

"Redefined, " from the University of Wisconsin.

I shouldn't be surprised. When we lived in Wisconsin the statewide PBS stations broadcast UW's band concerts twice a year. those band concerts are fantastic, though, and deserved to be broadcast. Wow! Fantastic creativity and energy going on there!

"Redefined" seems to be dedicated to the same kind of energy and quality. If you want to visit their website to see what else they've done, click here.

Also, here's a list of the Mario Brothers songs, in case some of you are too young (or too old, ahem) to remember.

1) Mario Bros. "Flag/Stage Clear"
2) Super Mario Bros. Main Theme
3) Dr. Mario
4) Mario Bros. 3
5) Mario Bros. "Star"
6) Tetris
7) Mortal Kombat
8) Mario Bros. "Dungeon"
9) The Legend of Zelda
10) Mario Bros. "Game Over"

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Acappella Jazz Choir Meets Mario Brothers

Here is a clip of a jazz choir performing a medley of various Mario Brothers songs from when we were younger. I never had a video game as a child, but I was surprised how many songs I remember. It was fun to guess at the other songs. It's only a four minute clip, but is funny and the songs will stick with you all day.

I love this kind of creativity. I wish I knew who this group was so I could credit them properly. Click on over, though. It takes a minute to load, but is worth it!


Nothing much to post today, except for the dramatic temperature change. For at least a week now we've had temperatures in the high 90s and low 100s. Heat indexes ("indices" is also correct, by the way) have been in the high 100s.

Today, we began the day cloudy and muggy, at 80 degrees. It rained all day, but as the kids were eating dinner it was 67 degrees outside! Unfortunately, it didn't stop raining until after they were in bed. But that means tomorrow will be cooler! And we can go outside without fear! Woo-hoo!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Compare/ Contrast

Let's do a little compare/contrast activity, shall we?

A couple of months ago Hardee's/ Carl's Jr. released a terrible commercial (think: soft-core porn) starring Paris Hilton. I cannot stand Ms. Hilton, not have I ever been able to figure out why so many people are interested in her. But I would've hated this tacky piece of film no matter who was in it. Click on the highlighted link to watch the commercial for yourself. Don't worry. I'll wait.

Take your time.

Okay, back? See what I mean? Ick!!

Now.... This very clever clip is a spoof of the Paris Hilton commercial. I laughed out loud watching this one, and really liked it, despite the fact that I loathed the Hardee's commercial. It's amazing - get the right person for the job, and suddenly you see the commercial from a whole new perspective!

Please comment after you've watched them. I'd love to hear what you think!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Hey Howdy Hey!

We're still here!

Sorry for neglecting the blog, but it's been a busy week. We've finished up the last week of swim team for the summer. We've endured high themperatures with a heat index in the triple-digits. I've painted our kitchen (finally). We've had a motor in the refrigerator replaced (it cost nearly as much as the fridge did a year ago. Yikes!!). We went to an ice cream social in the park and played a game of church-league softball. I've baked 8 batches of my favorite meringue cookies(for a party), but only two of them turned out. (grumble, grumble) We set up our slip-n-slide and had kids over to slide.

Busy. Busy. Busy!

I have a cookie and pie-baking marathon tomorrow, but then after that I'll have time to slow down and breathe deeply again. **sigh**

I have been watching The Office in the evenings. Hilarious!! If you happen to see the DVDs in the library, check them out. (Okay, I know some of you have been burned by my recommendation of Napoleon Dynamite. But, really, "The Office" is very good. You'll like it!)

When Mom and Dad came to visit a couple of weeks ago, they brought a piano as a gift from my grandmother. I know she checks this blog fairly often, so I wanted to include some pictures for her.

From the moment the piano was set into place and dusted off, Braden began seranading us with songs he'd been learning in pino lessons. Mom demonstrated how to use the damper pedal fairly quickly. (Thank you mom!) The keyboard he's been using for the past couple years is not touch-sensitive, so no matter how hard you pound on it it never gets any louder. The same cannot be said for the piano. This month we're working on dynamics. Colson will also sit at the piano and press keys, rock from side to side, and sing, "We're on the waaaaay to Wiggle Baay!"

It's been fun listening to him play both the new songs and the old ones he'd mastered months ago. This picture reminds me of Marvin Hamlisch. He spoke once about attending Juilliard. He said that they spent a lot of time teaching him how to play piano, but what they did best was show him how to play as if it was taking everything out of him. He then proceeded to play "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", all the while squinting his eyes in mock concentration, swaying passionately with the music, and looking for all the world like he's playing a very complicated Mozart piece.

Thank you Grandma!!

Friday, July 15, 2005

One More Fun Way to Procrastinate

This game will suck you in if you let it. I got to Level 5 before I had to force myself to quit. I like a good thinking game, though, so I'll probably visit it a few more times soon.

It's a simple game, developed by John Tantalo, an undergraduate student at Case Western Reserve University, that plays with the mathematical idea of planarity. A graph can be called "planar" if it can be drawn in the plane without any of the edges intersecting. There are a couple of mathematical formulas that you could use to determine whether or not a figure with intersecting edges can be considered planar. But that would not be fun.

This game, however, is fun. Click on over and try it out!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Yeah, I Like Waffles.

It's not fair. Someone who is very dear to me has shared with me that she and her husband are expecting their first child. They have been praying for children for well over a year now, and had just consulted doctors to enter into testing to see if there was a problem. This is not the unfair part of the story, though.

My friend and I discussed morning sicknesss, and she told me that she was worried about overloading her system with vitamins, etc., because in addition to her prenatals, she's been craving fruit and vegetables. ("Ooooh! Is that fresh spinach? are you going to finish that?") She cannot get enough fruit or veg. I advised her not to tell other pregnant women about her cravings, as they would surely hate her.

This. Is. Not. Fair.

Don't get me wrong. M. and I are thrilled for them. And thrilled that she's craving healthy food as opposed to the things normal women crave: chocolate, pickles (yes, it's a stereotype, but it's still true), chocolate, horseradish, ice cream, chocolate. But why was that not ever *my* craving? Why couldn't I have craved kolrabi and asparagus?

During my first pregnancy, I craved breakfast food: cereal, waffles, pancakes, muffins. Do you know how many calories are in those things? I didn't then, but I do now. I ate for three or four people, not just two.

Recently I came across this song and it could very well have been my theme song during that pregnancy. The boys like to watch it, because it's catchy and fun. But for me it brings back those days 10 years ago, when we could eat at Perkins every night if we wanted to (mmmmm! Fruit Belgian Waffles!!), and I didn't care how much weight I gained because I was confident it would all come off in a couple of months after baby arrived. Ha!

For blog newbies, just click on the highlighted words and they'll take you to view the song.

What were your cravings (or your spouses')?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Fourth of July

Sorry I've been so late posting photos from the 4th. The week has flown by, and all of a sudden I looked at the calendar and saw how late it'd become.

This was the first 4th that the two littles remember. I don't remember where we were last year, or what we did. Isn't that sad?

M. bought fireworks from a local stand. It was a giant circus tent at a local church. They sold fireworks to support their missions work. These tents are *everywhere* and people sell fireworks to raise money for churches, schools, scouts, nearly anything. It seems that the people here will buy them too! Our neighbors were setting off fireworks in June. The first trash day after the 4th, people's driveways were full of empty boxes and burnt-out containers.

Another surprise was the fact that apperently no firework is illegal here. Some neighbors hosted very professionjal shows, using fireworks that, up until this point, we'd only seen in city shows or at the Boise River Festival. Beginning at dusk, and lasting for nearly 4 hours, the noise was non-stop. I. Am. Not. Exaggerating. I even took video with my camera because I thought, "No one's going to believe this." It was like living in a war zone. Well, probably quieter than a war zone must be. But pretty active! I wish Blogger would let me post video. I'm not sure how to share it.

Anyway, we started the boys with sparklers. It took them a bit of watching Braden and M. with them before they started to feel comfortable. Brogan really enjoyed them. He didn't wave them around or write his name with them, or anything, but he liked to stand and watch the sparks fly off the stick.

Colson had fun with sparklers, but he tried to touch the end of one that had burnt out but was still glowing. M. yelled, "No!" very loudly, and Colson obeyed, but it scared him. So while he didn't get burned, he was afraid to play with sparklers after that. We have some leftover, so we'll try again.

We also enjoyed watching the neighbors' fireworks.

One of the neighbors down the street had 3 fireworks explode on the ground that were supposed to explode in the air. that was a bit scary. Each time, sparks, and explosive material were sent flying across the cul-de-sac up against houses, toward people in their driveways, and under cars. That part of the street is also kind of near a lightly wooded area, so there was no end to flammable material there.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Vacation Bible School

Braden and Brogan spent the week attending Vacation Bible School at church. It was done with a cowboy theme, and all the kids were decked out in cowboy hats and neckerchiefs. The whole program was very well done: good music, wonderful bible stories, meaningful crafts, and riveting missionary stories. We all had a good time. Friday night was the final night and the kids showed us things they'd learned all week and the adults put together a chuck wagon/ barbecue.

At the end of the evening, the kids went outside for pony rides. Colson had one too, but I wasn't able to get a picture. Colson even got "horsie kisses" on his hand!

Friday, July 01, 2005

It's Like Pepe in My Head

One of my favorite Muppets is Pepe the King Prawn. His speech patterns are very distinct, and I love it whenever he gets to talk in a Muppet movie.

I've recently discovered Manolo's Shoe Blogs, and when I read the Manolo, I hear Pepe in my head. Manolo blogs about fashion quite a bit, but is so humorous that even someone like me enjoys reading him. (And hearing Pepe.) he also is quite good at writing snarky captions to photos he finds. (And the later at night you read them, the funnier they are!)

This entry made me laugh out loud. Mallory, if you read this blog entry, please click on this link!

It's Okay to Cheat When Swimming the Breaststroke

One of my favorite Ole and Lena jokes goes like this:

Lena was swimming in the women's 200m breaststroke at a local swim meet. Everyone got off to a great start, but Lena quickly fell
behind. The other racers finished the race, hopped out of the pool, and started toweling off. When Lena finally finished swimming, she walked over to the judges' table and said, "I don't mean to sound like a sore loser, but I think those other girls were cheating. They were using their arms.

This week as we watched Braden swim in his first meet, my mom leaned over and whispered, "I hope Braden knows it's okay to cheat."

Apparently Braden figured it out. Braden swam in several races, and we were exhausted just watching. Well, watching and sitting in the humid inferno we call "The Natatorium." (It is a beautiful facility, and the meet was amazingly efficient and well-run, but MAN it was hot!)

Anyway, Braden swam in the 200m IM relay and the 200m freestyle relay. He also swam the 50m backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle.

Three weeks ago, he struggled to swim 50m more than once in swim lesson. But after 3 weeks of swim practice, he's made a lot of improvement. He actually won the 50m backstroke for his age group, which surprised all of us, but most especially Braden.

Here's him touching the wall at the end of that race.

What we were most proud of was his performance in the 50m breaststroke where, yes, he did use his arms. When his teacher called him to get to the platform for the race, I was very surprised. I'd never seen him practice the breaststroke. Never. Now he was supposed to swim 50m?!?!? Well, he was very slow, but he did it. He didn't have a powerful kick or a strong stroke, but he didn't give up. At the wall, he took a moment to catch his breath (actually, he did that in every race. sigh), turned, and started back. The other two racers just finished, and were out of the pool and Braden still had 20m or so left to go. We could tell he was tired, but he kept going. We started cheering for him, and one of the coaches from the other team would encourage him when his head came out of the water, "Go! Bring it home! Come on!"

He finally made it, and dragged himself from the pool. Later he said, "I was worried I would go under!" But he finished and didn't give up. Now he knows he can do it. He knows it will be easier next time. He knows he has more stamina and resolve than he thought he did.