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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Valentine's that do more than warm a heart

I've gotten to be a bit "bah humbug" about Valentine's Day over the years. How did a holiday that is presumably about the sweetness of love become so over-commercialized and junk-filled?

This year, I decided to take back Valentine's Day and do something to share our love with some people who could really use it. So, we decided to make Valentine Day's cards for some of the Veterans in our local VA Hospital. Using the free and willing help of the kids in our homeschool coop, we sat down one Wednesday afternoon and got to work.

With a bunch of plain white cards, heart stamps and stickers, the kids sat down and made cards for the Vets. Even us moms got involved, writing messages like "Thank your for your service" and "Happy Valentine's Day" on our own creations.

Last week, we took our stack of Valentine card's to the massive complex that is the VA Hospital in our area. We delivered our cards to the Volunteer Services coordinator who will have them put on dinner trays on Valentine's Day.

Our Valentine's have already been delivered, but I've since learned of Valentines for Veterans, a project to boost the morale of Veterans during National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week that runs from February 7-13.

In addition, Bloganthropy saw my Tweets about our coop project and wrote to tell me of donations the website Dollar Days is making to Sew Much Comfort, an adaptive clothing company for wounded soldiers, in honor of National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week. For every blogger who signs their form by February 4th and then publishes a post about their Valentines for Veterans participation by the 12th, Dollar Days will donate $50 in clothing to Sew Much Comfort.

In addition, Dollar Days will donate an additional $50 in clothing for any blog post that gets at least ten comments. So, please leave a comment and help Sew Much Comfort get more items to help Veterans.


For all the details on how you can help Sew Much Comfort provide free adaptive clothing to service members in need by making Valentine's for Vets, please see Bloganthropy. Many thanks to Dollar Days for donating to such a great organization.

And please don't forget to comment here---I need ten of you (and thanks to you too!).

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Mean girls and skates

I'm ranting about mean girls (while weeping for Phoebe Prince) and revealing my fear of ice skating (Thanks Damien!) over at New England Mamas today.

Would love for you to stop by and visit.


Monday, January 25, 2010

No room at the inn: why it sucks to travel with a party of five

In my neighborhood, most of the younger families have three kids. Many of my kids' friends have two siblings. I've joked that "five is the new four".

But, as my fellow families of five have no doubt discovered, finding a hotel room when you have three kids sucks.

On our last trip to Disney, we rented a house for part of our vacation but decided to stay “on campus” for the second half. Our options, like our budget, were limited. Within our price range, we could purchase two rooms in the Pop Century hotels, but they couldn’t guarantee they would be adjoining rooms which wasn’t something I could risk with a 4, 5 and 7 year old. (“If you need mommy and daddy, just open your door, walk down the hallway five doors, and knock.”)

The other affordable option we had was to book a room at Port Orleans Riverside whose rooms have a trundle bed tucked under one of the doubles. We went this route as the price was right. Our 7 year old slept on the trundle, but within a couple of years, all of my kids will be too big to sleep on that little mattress.

On other trips, we’ve stayed at Staybridge Suites or Marriott Courtyards which have two bedrooms, a kitchenette and sitting area. I heard from Kristen at Motherhood Uncensored that her family of five stayed at the Embassy Suites in Puerto Rico.

In both our cases, we’ve been very happy with the layout, space and facilities, but it makes me wonder how “regular” hotels are going to accommodate the families who are outgrowing their standard two-bed rooms.

Oh well, there's always camping. Our giant two-room tent sleeps five no problem.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010


"Can I touch her?", he asks about our new pet.


The smile on his face as he watches her move around our house is one of wonder, of happiness. He laughs and laughs and laughs. He chases her around the room, then runs the opposite way when her little brushes come for him.

She doesn't bark or meow. She hums.

And best of all, she doesn't shed on the rug. In fact, quite the opposite.

Meet Lucy. Our Roomba. We love her.


(note: Lucy was a Christmas gift from my mom---ok, FTC? The Roomba pictured is actually Lucy II. Lucy I was originally named Jeeves because I wanted a male robot. But, then Issa warned me that her first two Roombas, both named after men, died too soon, but her third, a woman, has lasted years. I quickly changed Jeeves to Lucy, but it was too late. His/her brushes stopped working shortly thereafter and he/she was replaced with Lucy II. I learned my lesson.)


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Vanity, thy name is four eyes

Look who really, really wants to wear glasses.


We've been to the glasses store twice---to pick out my new frames and to pick them up today--and he has been absolutely smitten with these blue frames since he put them on a few weeks ago. You should've seen the faces he was making of himself in the mirror. . .totally in love with his look.

I didn't let him keep them because I'm not buying frames for a kid who doesn't need glasses. But, don't worry D. . .with your mama's terrible eyesight, chances are pretty high that you'll be able to sport some specs soon enough.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I could be an unschooler, if I just understood how

When I first started thinking about homeschooling, I was immediately drawn to the concept of "Unschooling". I loved the idea of letting my kids learn at their own pace, of exploring the world with wonder and excitement, not glumly sitting at the table while I lorded over them.

From the get-go, though, I stumbled. I remember joining Unschooling message boards and feeling way out of my league. These were women (and men) who forged metal, knew the periodic table by heart, knitted sweaters, raised chickens (from eggs!), and took month-long hikes with a compass and a map. They knew the answer to any question, and not after first saying, "let's check Google!". They were smart and resourceful and definitely did not use the television as a babysitter.

There were also the Radical Unschoolers who had no rules for their kids other than basic safety guidelines. Their kids were up until 11 and slept until 10. If my kids are up after 9pm, I start to twitch. I remember innocently asking, "so how do you go about teaching your kids to read" and having the wrath of many descend on me for daring to use the "t" word.

I backed away, slowly, and adopted a more traditional approach. I read The Well-Trained Mind and loved it because it seemed to take away all my worries that my kids would not learn anything if left to my own devices.

But, and this is a big "but", it also turned our homeschool into exactly what I was trying to avoid.

When I say, "time to do grammar!", I'm met with groans. History, my oldest's favorite subject, has become a chore. Science, a favorite among all three, is hardly touched since I can barely get through math, reading, spelling, history, grammar and language in any given day.

But, when I try to loosen up, my kids play. Just play. OK, before you guys say, "but aren't they supposed to play?", I say, "yes!". I want them to play. But, why is it that the unschoolers I read about have kids who do math emails for fun, or start reading chapter books on their own? Mine will sit and play with dolls or blocks or puzzles for hours, which is great, but isn't going to help with "six times eight" as far as I know.

Plus, many unschoolers do what looks like "school" to me with lapbooks, math curriculum, schedules/charts. . .which makes me think that maybe unschoolers are regular homeschoolers with less rigidity?

And for you, how do you make sure your day isn't consumed with your own tasks/needs/jobs? If I don't tell myself "school starts at 9:30", I will find myself writing or cleaning or Googling something until 10 (or later). Especially if the kids are happily playing in the other room.

So before I go and make yet another schedule listing all the subjects we need to cover in a day, please shed some light on what makes unschooling work for you. But, if you tell me your family just finished building a homemade telescope to study the rings of Saturn, I'm going to weep.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Hug first, ask questions later

I entered the Y in a rush, three kids close behind as we made our way down the crowded corridor, trying to get one to swimming and the other to gymnastics before classes started.

As we rounded a corner, Jilly stopped dead in her tracks, squeaked "My Friend!" and started to wave to a little girl standing next her mother. The little girl's face lit up and she waved back. All of a sudden, Jilly did her standard greeting: she walked up to the girl without hesitation, threw her arms around her, and gave her a big hug.

The mother looked at me, smiling, and said, "OH! The girls know each other?!?"

"Yes, I guess they do!" I said uncertainly. "Jilly, how do you know each other?"

"The party. . . you know!"

"Oh. . .yes. . the. . .party?" I looked at the other mother to see if she could fill in the blanks.

"Was she at Joe Josephson's birthday party?" the other confused mother asked me.

No. . .Jilly and I both nodded together.

"Does she go to Town-Other-Than-Our-Own Elementary School? Maybe they met there?"

"No. . .well. . .um. . .maybe it'll come to us soon. We'll keep thinking about it!" I turned, kind of embarrassed that my daughter had mistakenly hugged a total stranger.

As we continued down the hall, I leaned down toward Jilly and asked in a low voice, "Honey, what party are you talking about?"

"Mooooommmm. . .the party we went to at that house. Where I played on the swings with that girl. . ."

And, then it hit me: the girl she played with at a friend's holiday party. After that party, she had bounced to the car, beaming, and said, "I made a friend!" "What's her name?" "I don't know". (Ahhh, to be six and have friends without names.)

I told the kids to stand still and ran back to the mom: "the girls met at Terrie's party!", I said as if I solved some great mystery. (I also thought, "yes! my daughter is not some crazy rogue hugger!").

A little while later, as both our girls took gymnastics together, we talked about how funny those moments of confusion had been, as we tried to figure out how two friends knew each other.

And I wondered how different adults would be toward each other if we all hugged first, asked questions later.


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Friday, January 08, 2010

Half a childhood

Last night I posted on Twitter this note about Belly turning 9:

Birthdays tomorrow: Elvis, David Bowie and my own firstborn, who will be 9. She's my favorite of the three.

And I received this reply from @susancree:

My oldest turned 9 in Oct. Ever since, I keep thinking, wow, that's half of a childhood. Keep hoping I'm doing rt by him

Oh, I hear her.

Half a childhood.


My beloved Belly. How I hope I always do right by you. And here's to a second half as great as the first. Maybe even better.

Much love always and forever. Happy Birthday!


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Office Space

I finally got around to cleaning up our very messy office before the new year.

There were papers to file:


A desk to find:


Where does this stuff go?


There was a box of items my mother chose to save from my childhood home. The priceless items she chose?

A few mice from my once-gigantic mouse collection. Good thing she saved these, they've gone up in value by sooooo much (snort):


There were some special jewels, like the stick pin with NOTHING monogrammed at the top. And the Wonder Woman bracelet:


The ugly-as-sin decorations like the one on the far left that I painted at one of those paint-your-own pottery places when I was 12:


Sunglasses I wore but couldn't actually see out of since they were so dark:


Oh, and then this. . .the boxer shorts I collected from some brave chap on the night of my bachelorette party. I washed them, but still, ewwwwwwwwwwwww. . .


Out with the old, in with the new. Who knows what I'll unearth in December when I do this all over again.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Never too late to start school over

Happy New Year!

I'm stirring things up over at
New England Mamas, offering advice on how to pull your kids out of school mid-year for those who just can't face starting the whole thing up again on Monday.

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