Tuesday, March 31, 2009


We really haven't travelled since we moved back to Wisconsin. We've done a few 4 hour trips to pick up my step-daughter at the halfway point... and those short trips generally turned out to be pretty crazy with the two little ones. It seemed like they were either having simultaneous breakdowns or they were taking turns, neither was more appealing really... so I have not been anxious to do any travelling back to visit family in Iowa. I feel bad of course, but travelling with two little children can be a slightly traumatic experience (never mind the hassle of getting ready to travel with two small children: all the diapers, bottles, extra clothes, and all that goes along with the children, and then the boarding of the dogs, or travelling with dogs and children... etc).

We just took a 9 1/2 hour road trip. And guess what? No breakdowns. Well, I think I may have had one or two ;) but none from the two little kids!

Wanna know the secret? We purchased the best thing in the world for road trips: a portable DVD player!!! Seriously, if you travel with small children, it is completely worth the investment. And I think we got ours for under $100. I'll never go on a road trip longer than an hour without it! Its my hero :)

The only travelling issue we had was around dinner time... we ended up getting into Illinois around Rockford right around 5pm - decided that we would get past Rockford before getting dinner... guess what? Not a damn restaurant for 2 hours!! Nope. All through the suburbs of Chicago on 290: no restaurants, no gas stations... we had to wait until we got onto I80! That was about the most miserable 2 hours ever. The kids were hungry around 5. Luckily they didn't get anywhere near full meltdown mode, but they were out of sorts and a little fussy until they got some food. So there's a hint for you, if you are about to get onto 290 around dinner time, stop before you get there and get something to eat!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Hats are OK

As long as the hat is my idea!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fudge Colored Towels??

David Sedaris is one of my favorite authors. His autobiographical work is hilarious! My favorites are Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked. I have the audiobook for Naked and we used to listen to it a lot while travelling. My step-daughter got a big kick out of the story "The Drama Bug." Of course there were several sections that really were not appropriate for children, so we always skipped those...

One of our other big favorites is "True Detective." Sedaris talks about how his mother and sister really got into this detective show and would attempt to solve all the neighborhood crimes. But when there was a mystery going on in their house they were incapable of solving it... The mystery was that one of the kids (I think there were 5?) were wiping themselves with towelsin the bathroom, which happened to be fudge colored, and then putting them back as if they were unused. Yuck! :) But all sorts of hilarity ensues in the story.

What always bothered me about the story was that I just couldn't grasp the fact that someone would actually have fudge colored towels in their bathroom. What an awful color! Most bathrooms are decorated in light colors and the towels are generally in a matching light color.

Of course this was before I had any children full time. We had our step-daughter on the weekends and holidays. But once we had 2 girls washing their hands after using the bathroom and before meals and bedtime... I very soon realized exactly why someone would have fudge colored towels in their bathroom! Especially someone with 5 children!

Within a couple of weeks all of my light colored hand towels had very dark gray stains on them. And I'm just not good with stain removal... So I went right out and bought a bunch of dark colored hand towels for the bathroom. Not fudge colored though... I just couldn't bring myself to go there ;)

So there's a hint for all of you who may soon have little hand washers... put the pretty and light colored "guest" hand towels in a place too high for the kids, and use dark colored hand towels for the children :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Naptime :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Curlicue

A Perfect Circle

Saturday, March 7, 2009


I routinely use an essay by Richard Lederer called "English is a Crazy Language" in my composition classes. It's one of my all time favorite essays, and students love it, because it talks about all the paradoxes and inconsistencies in the English language. (There is another, longer excerpt here and it's really a fantastic and humorous read!).

I've always viewed this essay with the idea of how difficult it must be for some of my students for which English is not their first language, to learn English. (When I taught in the "bigger" cities, I always had at least one student to which English was a foreign language).

But these days, I'm looking at this essay in a whole different light. Through the eyes of a child learning his mother tongue...

Lederer explains, "Language is like the air we breathe. It's invisible, inescapable, indispensable, and we take it for granted. But, when we take the time to step back and listen to the sounds that escape from the holes in people's faces and to explore the paradoxes and vagaries of English, we find that hot dogs can be cold, darkrooms can be lit, homework can be done in school, nightmares can take place in broad daylight while morning sickness and daydreaming can take place at night, tomboys are girls and midwives can be men, hours -- especially happy hours and rush hours -- often last longer than sixty minutes, quicksand works very slowly, boxing rings are square, silverware and glasses can be made of plastic and tablecloths of paper, most telephones are dialed by being punched (or pushed?), and most bathrooms don't have any baths in them. In fact, a dog can go to the bathroom under a tree -- no bath, no room; it's still going to the bathroom. And doesn't it seem a little bizarre that we go to the bathroom in order to go to the bathroom?"

Of course when children are learning their language, they generalize. They apply the rules that they are learning about the language across the board. This explains why, when they are learning their plurals, they put an "s" at the end. Most plurals are that way. They haven't yet comprehended the exceptions to the rules; such as the plural of foot is feet. They may understand the feet part, but most of the time they will add the "s" and say "feets," because, for them, that seems to be the rule for plurals; you add an "s." (As a side note, you can correct them all you want, but they will continue to say "feets" until they really comprehend the exceptions to the rules, which may not be for a few years.)

It's one thing to look at these issues linguistically and theoretically. But it's an entirely different thing to watch these issues in action.

I was reminded of this essay this week. We were in the car and D was wanting his car seat unbuckled. He told his sister: "Buckle me up!" She said "You're already buckled." So of course he applied what he knows about the rules of opposites and said "Buckle me down!" It makes perfect sense. But of course, buckling something up and buckling something down are pretty much exactly the same idea! Although used in slightly different ways. You wouldn't really say that you were buckling your child down in his car seat or high chair (while it may be just as accurate?). But if you were towing a snowmobile or something on a trailer behind your car and using ratchet straps or something similar, you might say you were buckling down the snowmobile.

We are just in the fascinating stage of language learning, and I'm getting such a thrill out of seeing these linguistic theories in action :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Best Buddies

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