Monday, September 29, 2008

Gang Violence

William, Anna and I were witnesses to some pretty intense scenes of gang violence through our kitchen window today. Yesterday two very large spiders had built their webs next to each other spanning the width of one of our kitchen windows. This morning there was only one of them there, the slightly larger one which I have named Goliath. During lunch I glanced up at him and saw that there was a smaller, longer-legged spider on the edge of his web and that Goliath was in the opposite corner. I went over to look more closely thinking the leggy boy must be building where Goliath’s missing companion had previously resided. That wasn’t the case. Goliath was on the left side of the web (looking out the window) apparently fighting a second leggy spider while the leggy spider on the right side of the window tried to distract him. Right-side-leggy would crawl down the webs of the departed neighbor spider to the edge of Goliath’s web. When he got there, he would put a leg on a strand of Goliath’s web, give it a tug and then hightail it in the opposite direction. This is really what he was doing! I watched him do it over and over! He was trying to distract Goliath while his buddy attacked him. I am insanely afraid of spiders and absolutely disgusted by Goliath and his Goliath-ness, but this was more than I could handle. I tapped on the glass over the distracter-leggy-boy. He raised his legs menacingly toward me and then scampered away. Meanwhile, Goliath curled into a protective sort of spider-ball and waited for attack from Leggy-boy number two. Number two raised his long front legs and stared him down with his evil red head with black fangs, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Finally it came. He lunged forward and, at the same moment, Goliath sprang into action. Leggy-boy number two dropped to the bottom of the window sill on a narrow string of silk. I went outside later tonight to get a picture of Goliath and the one remaining gang tormentor. What was my surprise to see, hanging out in the corner above Leggy-boy and out of sight from inside the house, none other than the gang-leader--the Godfather, shall we call him? He was the very spider who had built his web next to Goliath’s the previous night and now seemed in all seriousness to be directing a gang attack on Goliath in an attempt to oust him from the prime spot of real estate. I d like to point out that there are 4 more windows in this set of kitchen bay windows. What is so impressive about the second from the left?

Goliath under attack by one of the leggy boys. Sorry, the camera wouldn’t focus on the spiders even when I put it on macro setting. I guess the layer of glass between us confused it...

These spiders aren't dangerous are they?

School Kids

Our little ones are back in school. (OK, I'm a little late posting this. They started at the beginning of September.) William is in Kindergarten every afternoon from 12:30-3. Although we live a block from the school, he gets to ride the mid-day bus with some of the other kindergarteners in the area. It picks him up right outside the house and then drives farther away to get more kids. There are usually 3 other kids on it when he gets on. Sometimes he sits with one of them, sometimes he gets his own seat and waves at me while the bus pulls away. He loves his bus driver, who is very funny and makes them all laugh with his comments about Yogi Bear.

Anna is in Preschool at Young Learner's Preschool on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at almost exactly the same time as William. Technically, William starts at 12:35 and gets out at 3:05. Anna is in class from 12:30-3 officially. William tends to reach the exit of the school with his class a little before 3 (so the little kids can get on buses first and walkers can get picked up by their moms). Anna gets out a little after 3. I get to the elementary school early with Becca and wait for William, as soon as he's out, we rush to the car parked in the neighborhood just to the side of the school and drive like mad to get to Young Learner's in time to get Anna before she gets too bored with waiting for me.

Both kids really love school. Anna has no trouble being left at the door. She hasn't given me a second glance once when I've dropped her off. William is enjoying the bus rides and loving his class as well. He told his teacher, Mr B, that he already knew all the zoo-phonics and would gladly help him teach them to the rest of the class. He's a big helper.

Walking Texas Rangers

At work we started a "steps challenge" where we sign up in teams and try to log the most steps for the next few months. I was curious how much I actually walk each day so I got myself a pedometer and joined the Walking Texas Rangers team. (Plenty of Chuck Norris facts to keep us motivated).

I was surprised to find I walked 3.27 miles on Sunday. Thats just around the house, at church, home teaching, and visiting my Webelos houses. How many steps were you allowed under the Law of Moses? I wonder if the Pharisees would have enjoyed having a pedometer. It certainly makes counting to 5000 steps easy.

By the way - one lap around my work campus is 1550 steps for me - thats probably 2000 for the rest of you.

The BEST tin-foil dinner ever!!

Wednesday night I violated the washington county no-burn restriction and did a backyard campfire for my Webelos. We made tin-foil dinners, cooked em up, and ate. This was the first time I put cream of chicken soup in mine and it was delicious! The funny thing was I used the exact same leftover ingredients in a pot when I got home and it just didn't taste that great. Maybe it has something to do with waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for the food to cook on the fire that makes it tasted better... kinda like the meal you eat after fasting (I've never tasted water this good...).

One of the boys wanted just a hot dog in his foil. I forced him to put some potatoes and carrots in, but he didn't eat them. Oh well.

So if you have any stupendous tin-foil dinner recipes I'd love to hear them...

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Politics

Warning: anti-Republican-smear-campaign comments included. Not unbiased.

I found this article,"Blizzrd of Lies," through a comment on a friend's blog. I thought it hit the nail on the head. I wouldn't say the Democrats are without fault, but I was absolutely disgusted by what I watched of the RNC on the night of Palin's presentation. The cruel and untrue comments by Guiliani and Palin turned me completely against the Republican party. Maybe it's just something about me, but when someone spends so much energy belittling others, I lose respect for them. Listening to Guiliani and Palin reminded me of those boys in high school who felt the need for constant cruelty to others - picking on the nerds or those with developmental issues, using sarcasm and snide comments to make everyone else look bad. I could never stand them. I took the time to research some of the things Guiliani said about Obama and found that they were either entirely false or presented in a way to make them appear negative when in reality they weren't. It makes me mad even now thinking about his speech. Well, the article says it better. Why do politicians think it's OK for them to lie to suit their designs? What does this say about the leaders we choose for our nation? And the fact that we blindly support them in it?

There's my soap-box for the day.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Seattle Aquarium

Our last day in Seattle was spent visiting the aquarium down the street from our hotel. The kids enjoyed watching the divers feed the fishes. We all enjoyed the octopus exhibits.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Seattle Zoo Day

Our first full day in Seattle we spent at the zoo. The kids ran all over. They loved seeing the howling monkeys. They loved the flamingos. They had a blast at the natural habitat area with a tunnel system, slides, hollow trees, rope spider web, and turtle shells to play in.

Space Needle

We spent our first evening visiting the Space Needle. Before going up, we bought ride tickets and let them do some carnival rides. They loved the carousel again. And William loved the faster twirly rides. We left our camera in the stroller at the bottom of the Space Needle, so no pics from the top. Sorry.

Taking the Train

We took Amtrak to Seattle this weekend to celebrate our 6th anniversary. The kids had a blast on the train. The trip takes about 3 1/2 hours, so just a little longer than driving, but it's great that you can get up and walk around and spend a ton of money on sodas and cookies. Becca slept a lot of the ride up there. William and Anna and Daddy spent a lot of time sitting in the seating portion of the dining car.

Political Comment

Now, the title of our blog is the Flamin' Libs, right, so how can we get by without any political-themed entries? I thought I'd take care of that today.

Kip and I have been more interested and involved in this election that we have in past elections. I've come to the decision that politicians in general like to spout cliches and half-truths hoping to win voters by the emotions created by their speeches rather than by concrete facts and achievable goals. We found an article online today that I thought was excellent in translating party claims and generally-accepted perceptions into statistical truths. Do Republicans really cut back on taxes? Are they better for business? Do Democrats really "tax and spend"? This article gives you the numbers to answer those questions and others like them. It's a set of 7 articles, actually, but each is fairly short and easy to read. And don't worry, it's not biased one way or the other. It's just the numbers!

You-Pick Farm

On August 28th I took the kids to a you-pick farm. I found one online that had animals to look at and fresh peaches to pick. Unfortunately, the animals were really stinky and the peaches weren't that great. But the kids got the chance to see a real-live, dirty, smelly farm in action. There were BIG pigs, baby pigs and baby chicks, chickens, roosters, a pregnant goat, and 3 horses. And there was lots of manure, spiders, dust, and dirt. My friends Rachel and Amanda were good enough to come along. I don't know that they'll trust me to pick activities anymore. The climb up the hillside to the peach trees with strollers, babies, and kids nearly did us all in and the general dirtiness of everything made us want to pull out the hoses and spray everything down.

The crew coming out of the pig barn.

William and Ian got to show off the rubbery hand-chair.

Big Truck Day

August 16th was Big Truck day at the Conestoga Rec Center. There were tons of big trucks of all types. The kids got to climb inside if they wanted and pull horns and everything! (It was a noisy event.)

This swat team vehicle was a hit because they could climb inside and the policemen gave the kids stickers.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Oaks Park

The library awarded their summer readers with discount coupons to Oaks park, a local little amusement park. I took the kids with Butch and Jo and their kids on the 13th of August. We had a lot of fun, although it was HOT HOT HOT and I was ready to go home after the first ride. Anna was, too, because it scared her. But she decided she wanted to stay after we found the carousel and she and William realized it was the best ride in the whole world.

Becca enjoyed sharing the stroller with Rachel, until Rachel took back the toy she had borrowed.

William loved the frog ride, and all the mildly scary rides that were too much for little Anna. Maybe next year for her...