Fair Days

Went to a neighboring town where some friends live. Their town was having it's annual Fair. I am always surprised at how much I enjoy taking pics at fairs. The gaudy lights get me every time. I tried taking some sneaky pics of people with my camera at my hip. Since my camera is an SLR, I can't see what I'm taking on the screen, so I had some problems getting the shots I wanted. Something to work on this summer... stealth mode photography.

Our friend Jim and daughter #1.

Yordanos and J on the Teacups.

Everyone else moving around Yordanos because she wouldn't keep her foot on the "gas" petal.

Lee teaching Habtamu the rules of the road... Old School!

The only thing worse than this bee (mentioned last year here) is this bee under-lit. Shudder.

Jim's daughter #2: Stealth Mode.

It may be that I don't like what the fair colors do to people, but it interests me still. Wonder if Lautrec felt the same way at the Moulin Rouge.

Belting One Back

Habtamu and I tested and passed our blue/white belt test last week. That's the belt after blue and right before brown. 5 more belts to black belt, but I think we just had our last "easy" belt. Not that we didn't work for it, but from now on the forms become more complex, and we are expected to be better/stronger/faster, etc...

Here are some pics from that day, taken by Yordanos. The batteries in the camera ran out before the actual testing, so no cool pics of us busting boards. We both did the hammer strike.

This was right after I kicked the punching bag over with a flying front kick, and declared I was ready to take the test. It was a bigger bag than the ones still standing. It's kind of a competition between H and I over kicking that thing over. Little kids bounce off it, so you gotta have some weight to actually knock it down.

Habtamu warming up.


I mentioned that we've been going to the city pool a lot. On the very 1st day, Yordanos ran up the ladder to the tallest diving board and...

Habtamu is more reserved there, but he's been expanding his different jumping techniques from the low diving board.

For the record, I did try jumping from the high dive. All I got for my trouble was a wedgie and a partial enema. This is one time I'll gladly play the "I'm 40 now so I shouldn't do that" card.

Summer Doings.... So much to do!

I am several days (weeks?) behind on posting. We've been going non-stop with summer. I am rather lamenting the fact that June is almost over and it's all been about entertaining the children. Yeah, duh, what did I think summer would be about? I'll try to post a few updates to catch everyone up.

My own feelings about summer are quickly going down hill. This week has been unbearably hot and humid. I feel myself becoming crabby and grumpy and, in general, a whiny, red, blob of sweat. Fun for everyone!


Too Smart

We've been hanging out a LOT at the city pool. 5 times in the last week I think. A few days ago, Habtamu asked me how to spell 'pizza' while we were there. I knew where this was going and I rolled my eyes. Yes, people, I ROLLED MY EYES. I said "You know how to spell 'pizza'!" I did not keep the indignation out of my voice. He said "p-i-z-z-a?" Yep. He trotted back over to the concession stand and I rolled my eyes again. He came back and asked me again how to spell 'pizza'. I lost my mind and said "We're not getting pizza here! It's too expensive! And Pizza is spelled P-I-Z-Z-A!" He answered, "ok, I'm just seeing how much it costs, but it's not on the list." I retorted, "Oh, it's on the list. Look for the 2 Z's... it'll be the only word with 2 Z's!" I may have spoken loudly.

He comes back and says he looked 3 times and 'pizza' is not on the menu. I shrugged and said, "I'll go look when we leave." We packed up later and I went to look at the list while the kids headed to the showers.

You can probably guess what's going to happen.

Son of a! Pizza is NOT listed on the menu. You can, however, purchase a "pepperoni slice" or a "cheese slice."

We met back up out front and I said "Well, Habtamu... you'll be happy to know that you were right. Pizza is not on the menu."

I got a well deserved, "I TOLD you!"


Chivalry is not dead... or Hey! These boots are waterproof!

It took camping with Grandma and Grandpa to get the kids to break in their boots. They were all for the boots when we bought them, but then all Spring there was an odd resistance to actually WEAR them.

I'm pretty sure Habtamu's desire here was not so much to "help" as to "test" his new boots.

By the way, Yordanos uses "air quotes" with her little fingers. It's so cute... she's not entirely sure what it means, but she's seen me do it.


Damage Control 101: Step One - Break Something

Calling all you seasoned professionals...

Ok, *hypothetically speaking* if you as a parent made a small error in judgement and it had a negative effect on your children, how much of responsibility do you take upon yourself? For instance, lets say you allow them to stay up past their bedtime or eat a whole candy bar. Everyone involved knows that there are going to be reprocussions, but you let it happen anyway. Maybe it's because the only way some kids learn that they shouldn't drink a two liter of soda in 20 minutes is to do it (hopefully only once.) Whatever. The reason doesn't matter, the damage is done and now poor behavior ensues. Now, to a certain point, as a rational adult you know that it's your fault. You allowed the initial conditions to exist and to catalyze into a problematic situation, but I'm having a hard time exclusively blaming myself. My son wants to be treated like he's 13 instead of a 10 year old. In my mind, that means there should be less of the, "I'm sorry Habtamu, I really shouldn't have let you watch 2 hours of TV. That was my bad choice. I know it's my fault you're cranky now so you go slam some doors until you feel better," and more of the, "Well, what did you think was going to happen? Did you think you were going to feel *better* after watching that much TV? Now get outside and ride your bike or something. Oh, and if you stomp out of the house you can kiss your precious TV goodbye for the rest of the week."

So when do you admit that you really should have nipped the problem in the bud versus letting a child learn the consequences of a given situation? Is a sign of weakness to share the responsibility or does it take the edge off the consequences? Should I go into referee mode and just make the call? Does it complicate the situation too much when there isn't a single point of blame? I don't know. What I do know is that admitting some fault does diffuse the rebuttal and defensiveness.

Now I'm not talking about enticing my child to fail here. Obviously I wouldn't leave a handgun laying on the table then act surprised when there was an incident. Unless you equate a pile of Oreos with a semi-automatic, which on some days is a totally appropriate comparison.

I want the kids to understand that not everything that goes wrong is solely their fault, and yet I want to teach them personal responsibility.

where do you draw the line?


Oh to be a Golden Goose

When Habtamu latches on to something, he's relentless about it. He doesn't have any 'Play it cool' genes. Maybe it's a kid thing, maybe it's a trust issue, but once he zeros in on something, he does not give up. Now, this is great when he focuses on the lawn. But he's been running around with his money in a ziplock bag for about 6 months and recently asked me what I call that thing I carry my money in. I knew once he heard the word 'wallet' I wasn't going to hear the end of it until he had one in his pocket. So that day we ended up at KMart for another errand and we looked at wallets. We found one he liked, the cashier rang it up, and promptly said, "I'm sorry sir, this wallet has been recalled. I can't sell it to you. Maybe the fabric is not flame resistant enough or something." I figured if your wallet caught on fire, you probably had other things to worry about, but I didn't fight it. The only thing worse for H than not getting a wallet, is to THINK he's getting one only to be smacked down in the checkout aisle. I apologized to him and explained what was going on, not that he cared. Walking out of the store without a wallet told him everything he needed to know.

After that he came at it from every angle he could think of, starting directly and working his way toward a very passive aggressive approach.

"Can we go get a wallet for me today?"
"How about now? Can we go now?"
"Can you take me to the Dollar Store?"
"Let's go shopping. I JUST want to look around. Maybe find something for Mommy's birthday."
"What's that thing called again... 'WalMart?' Ohh... 'WalLET' heh. Sounds like 'WalMart.' WalMart is the store, right?"

So about 48 hours later, I find myself wallet shopping again and we spot a pseudo-leather ID holder with a zippered change pocket AND a key ring that he finds acceptable because it's just like Daddy's (more or less.) We get up to the counter and all I can think is, "Please don't be recalled... please don't be flammable... please don't be recalled."

All is good. The wallet barely hit the bottom of the shopping bag before Habtamu scooped it out and asked me if he could tear the tag off. I told him to wait until we got out of the store. So he did. He made it 3 steps outside the sliding doors. We get in the car and Habtamu sets up shop to transfer his stash from the plastic baggie. His two dollar bills weren't a problem, but getting all his change moved over was more of an issue and he ended up spilling a bunch of it in his lap. The next thing I know his whole arm plunges between his knees and after ample digging, he comes up with two coins. Needless to say I found that quite amusing.

"What's so funny?" he asked, still with a big smile on his face from his recent discovery.

"Oh, I was just thinking how nice it would be to have a butt like yours," I said.

"What do you mean?"

"I wish I could pull money out of my butt like you. Then I wouldn't have to work."


"Yeah, I'd sit at home, watch tv, and pull money out of my butt all day. It'd be great." That got a laugh.

"Daddy, it was only a dime and a penny."

"That's fine, then I'd just have to do it all day. When I got tired of picking dimes out of my butt, then you could help."

"Daddy! Yuk!"

"Only eleven cents huh? Hmm, maybe you should dig deeper."

"Ha-Ha! Maybe I could find a hundred dollars!"

"Um... I don't think you want to dig THAT deep." That got him rolling.

Nothing is more universally funny than butt humor. Except for possibly boogers.


There are birthdays and there are BIRTHdays

A year ago today, for Chris's birthday we were on a plane heading to Ethiopia. Look at the cool, optimistic, confidence in those eyes on the way to the airport! There are no pictures of us after the 30 hour flight, for what should be obvious reasons.

Yesterday, my children became cousins as my sister had a baby girl, Jovie Marie.

Happy Birthday Jovie!
(Sorry folks, no pictures yet...)

Oh and Happy Birthday to you too aunt Chris!
Look at that little cutie!

(I'm in sooo much trouble...)


A lesson in American Economics

Since we've gotten past so many of the big American cultural surprises, I forget that there are still some American institutions that are rather foreign to the kids. Like garage sales. I suspect there weren't a whole lot of people in downtown Addis Ababa putting big signs in front of their houses saying, "I've got so much stuff, I'm just going to put a pile of it in my driveway and ask for such a meager pittance that you won't even steal it."

The kids love and are fascinated by garage sales. I think they get that from their Grandmother.

In our neighborhood, some kind soul about 2 blocks away puts up a sign in late April that says, "Neighborhood garage sale coming June 5,6, and 7th!" Which gives the rest of us plenty of time to schmooze off their advertizing efforts. So today, we are having our first family yard sale.

It's 10:30 and thus far we have sold:

-one bag of lightbulbs
-an English/German dictionary
-a remote control car from Habtamu to Yordanos
-a pair of rugs from Chris to Yordanos

Oh, and Yordi ran across the street to another garage sale and bought a "Cutie on Duty" t-shirt. So far we've netted a dollar, but at this rate we'll be in the hole by the end of the day.


New School Subject

I found this idea on someone else's homeschool site, and took it. :) I wanted to get the kids writing stories or journaling.

I have to say they exceeded my wildest expectations on DAY ONE. AND they liked it!