Jokes by Levi

What did the ice cream say when the banana asked when it could come over?
Only on a sundae!

What does a drama king wear to bed?

What do you call a swashbuckling rat?
A pi-rat!

What do you call a shoe that has a problem?
An is-shoe! (An issue)

What do you call a video game that you play with more than one person?
A "we!"

What do you call it when someone listens in on Christmas Eve?

And one contributed by a friend:
What's brown and sticky?
A stick!

Levi called me into his room saying, "Oliver's a quarterback." Oliver was on the bed on his tummy with 4 quarters on his back.

What does a crocodile say when it wants to be a rooster?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Year Baby

We just welcomed our newest family member today, Baby Will, born in Savannah, GA. He weighed in at 8 lbs., 7 oz. My petite cousin is more than happy to have him out in the world--both for the meeting of him but and for the relief to her seriously stretched abdomen.

Welcome to the world, Will!

Girls Like to Shop--Huh?

Well, you really do learn a lot by sitting in the front seat and driving. You become semi-invisible to your kids. I've definitely heard some funny stuff from the back seat but yesterday was the first one that took me aback a bit.

Levi: "Girls like to shop."

Oliver: "Really?"

Levi: "YEA, Girls LIKE to shop!"

Wow. So I said to him, Levi, that's interesting. How do you know that? He replied that he just knew that it was true. It gave me pause to wonder where this idea had come from. I can only guess from TV. I don't shop a lot and I don't know other women/girls in his life that are "shoppers." My husband, working in the sports apparel industry, is a far more enthusiastic shopper than I am, for clothes and shoes, that is.

Anyway, it lead to the discussion of what a stereotype is, why we rely on them and ways in which they aren't helpful. I'm not sure how much of an impression I made.

Our conversation ended with, "Yea, I know, Mama, but girls like to shop."


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Times, They Are A Changin'

I've planned to attend a few events--field trips or get-togethers with friends--and have run into a new snag. I'm used to the days (as they've been for the past 8 years) when I could make a plan and the kids were happy to go along. Recently Levi has started to protest when I don't consult him/them before making plans. Reasonable but I'm having a hard time getting used to it and remembering to consult him so we've had to bail on a few things this week. Sorry friends!

It's tricky sometimes, making a plan that suits us all. Since we spent most of our time together, there are usually 3 people's needs to meet! Mostly we do well in coming up with a plan we can all live with but there are definitely frustrations, disappointments and surprises. Levi's homebody genes are expressing themselves strongly these days. And none of us likes to get over-scheduled, something that can happen easily if I don't keep a careful eye on our calendar. It's hard to say no sometimes--there are so many wonderful things to do--see friends, go to parks and playdates, go on field trips and to all the great local museums. A good problem to have, I guess!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Best Laid Plans

Today I took the kids to a homeschool workshop at the Walter's Art Museum in Baltimore ( The programs always look so interesting (to me, at least!). Oliver turned 5 recently and so both the kids were old enough to go. We had plans to go a few weeks ago and got snowed out, much to our disappointment. Finally, the next one came around today and off we ventured into Baltimore.

Here's what they were headed for: "What can art tell us about the climate and the geography of the area in which it was made? Discover how geography influences art before and after it’s created. Be inspired by the plants, animals, and colors of Maryland as you create a work of art influenced by your own geography." Sounded fun to me!

The kids were excited--right until the time they got divided into age groups that ended up separating them . . . . Oliver marched off with his group--unhappily but he went. Levi, however, refused to go with his. I finally convinced Levi to just give it a try with the promise I'd check on him in 10 minutes. When I went to check on him, he was hanging back from the group looking very tentative, was clearly relieved to see me, and wanted to know what took me so long! It was clear that he wasn't going to stay. They were in the Egypt gallery--his distress was so great that he even claimed to hate Egypt!

So, with one child collected, I wanted to go check on Oliver but 45 minutes of wandering around the museum didn't turn up his group so Levi and I looked around a bit (he was impressed with the Roman and Greek art, unlike the Egyptian!) and then took a break in the museum cafe. Oliver appeared, all smiles, just as we were going to meet him. He said he had fun making his project but the rest was "boring."

Sometimes you just never know what's going to interesting and what's not.

New Hampshire

We just returned from 5 days in New Hampshire with Grandma M. New Hampshire has had lots of snow and a recent ice storm, turning the trees into a crystal forest. The snow provided sledding fun for the kids plus a half day of skiing at Crotched Mountain, a small ski area nearby.

One day we ventured to Worchester, MA to go to the Higgins Armory (

"The Higgins Armory Museum enjoys the distinction of being the only museum in the Western Hemisphere entirely devoted to the study and display of arms and armor, but this is just one of many ways in which the Higgins is unique. Our founder, John Woodman Higgins, chose to house his fascinating and eclectic collection in a building of surprising contrasts, from its steel and glass Art Deco exterior to the vaulted Medieval Great Hall. Visitors will be amazed at the scope and breadth of historical, cultural and technological periods represented by the objects, amassed by a passionate collector over the course of a lifetime. Artifacts ranging from Corinthian helmets of ancient Greece to ornate suits of armor from the height of the Renaissance give our visitors an exciting glimpse into the past, while our many informative and entertaining programs help to interpret the collection in a broad cultural context." The kids were quite impressed with the lances, battle axes, and mauls we saw--very popular items with the boys!

Their children's area holds at least a dozen real armour helmets of all different styles that can be tried on. A dress up area held capes, tunics and, unfortunately for the boys, an extremely large collection of gowns and other girls attire. Also in the children's area was a huge dragon by local artist Hillary Scott. There were supplies available for making and applying scales to the dragon. The museums special exhibit was a display of sculpted dragon heads of varying sorts by Scott.

The Mystical Menagerie of Hilary Scott, displayed "a group of fanciful 'trophy head' sculptures of dragons, dinosaurs, and other mystical beasts" created by the Somerville, MA artist (visit to see more of his work).

Our trip also held a trip to Mariposa Museum and World Culture Center in Peterborough, NH ( Their collection holds folkart, textiles, costumes, art, puppets, toys and instruments from six continents. The kids went on a "scavenger hunt" for animalitos (Mexican painted animals) in the museum. In the dress up area, the kids tried clothes from China, Japan and Vietnam as part of the current exhibit on those countries. Around the corner, we found dozens of puppets from around the world. The kids put on a puppet show that only other puppets were allowed to watch.

A real favorite was found on the 3rd floor where there were musical instruments from around the world. Large, medium and small drums, rain sticks, a small harp, a child-sized guitar, a variety of marimbas, and other instruments I can't even name. All the instruments were available to be played. Drums were the most popular with us!

Besides all that, there was lots of relaxation. Grandma has a bin of toys leftover from Daddy's day--real metal transformers, Matchbox cars, and other random things. A bin of "new" toys has great appeal. We read books, watched movies, slept late (and sent the early risers up to Grandma!).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Earth Sciences

We've been taking a bit of a tour of earth sciences lately. We've done some reading about the layers of the earth, talked about earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, and tornadoes, and more about weather. Our Usborne Internet-Linked Planet Earth Encyclopedia (and no, I don't sell Usborne but I love it!) put us onto a neat site from National Geographic where you can make your own simulation of a tornado, earthquake, and volcano. You choose certain conditions and get to see how it affects your natural disaster. (

We did a fun and simple experiment this morning that demonstrates what happens when air heats up. We took a large soda bottle and put a balloon over the opening. When you put the bottom of the bottle into hot water, the air inside the bottle warms and rises as demostrated by the balloon filling with air. Take the bottle out, the air cools and the balloon deflates. We had fun seeing how fast we could make the balloon fill or deflate by changing the water temperature or taking the bottle outside so the air cooled faster.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Port Discovery

Yesterday we went to Baltimore's children's museum, Port Discovery. There's a 3 story climing maze that goes up through the center of the museum. It's made from rope so it looks like the kids are climbing through the rigging of a huge ship. You can climb up and come down a black slide back to the first floor--or you can exit on the 2nd or 3rd floors of the museum. The maze seemed to be Levi's favorite thing, something he wanted to go back to again and again.
A new exhibit in the museum is called The Wonder of Water full of all sorts of water play. There's a huge "sink" that water runs through and squirts out of. There are toys to float along the stream, small fountains and square pieces that can be inserted to change or stop the flow of water.

You can stand inside a large metal ring, pull the ropes hanging inside, make the ring rise from the bubble solution it's resting in, and find yourself inside a huge bubble.

Oliver's favorite was the water play, especially an area where there are 2 presssurized water guns that allow the kids to shoot water at various musical instruments hung on the wall--a cymbal, 2 drums, large wind chime-like tubes--to make noise with them.

As you see from the pictures, a favorite activity for L & O and our friends was to use the water guns to shoot water at one another! I even got a blast of water from Levi--he says it was an accident! Luckily we were prepared with dry clothes!

In the art room, we got to try Suminagashi, the art of Japanese paper marbling. Levi and I each made a piece, shown below. Unfortunately we missed out on the karaoke (!?). Maybe next time!

One Man's Trash (or Recycling) . . .

A few days ago, I took a paper sack of recyclables I had been saving and dumped them in the middle of our playroom floor with some glue and tape. For 2 days, the kids walked around and over the pile without seeming to notice any of it. Finally, one of them said,"What's this here for?"

"I don't know--what do you think you could do with it?"

What resulted was a great building project by both kids, though Oliver ultimately decided not to glue his together. Levi built a Pokemon computer, pictured above.

Mother Brain

I could blame all of this on the fog of my head cold but, honestly, the cold accounts for less than 5% of this—I don’t know—thing that happens to my brain. It’s been happening since I had children and its official name is Mother Brain. A friend of mine has the best description of this state of mind (or non-mind, as the case may be): It’s as if your brain is in a remote fishing village—and they don’t have a phone. My village has a phone but the connection and reception is periodic, unpredictable and unreliable. There may be extreme static even when they do get through with messages from my brain.

Once you become a Mother, your brain never feels the same again. At times it’s foggy, forgetful, in the clouds, fragmented. At first, it’s purely from newborn-exhaustion that, time of life with a baby when you are awake and asleep at all times of the day and night and the distinction between the two blurs.

When Levi was 11 days old, I went into a paper store to buy paper for our birth announcements. I was familiar with the clerk there. When I checked out with my supplies, she asked, “Aren’t you glad it’s Friday?” I realized that I had absolutely no idea what day it was or what time of day it was. It could have been midnight on Saturday for all I knew.
The newborn days pass and you start getting more sleep but your child’s needs change and grow and perhaps you have another child. You then start living in a constant state of multi-tasking. Sometimes my life feels like one of those “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” books where one things leads to another and another and another. The difference between those books and my life is that those stories ultimately lead in a full circle back to the circumstance that started the chain of events. Often, I never remember exactly what started it all.

So, yesterday I had a severe case of Mother Brain and I fear that I should not be left home alone with small children (not really but you know how this goes). So first, I left a burner on when I put the oatmeal into the bowls and discovered it a half-hour later. Thank goodness for those lights on my stovetop that tell me something is still hot. Oliver asked me to unwrap a cheese stick for him. I peeled the wrapper, threw it in the trash and handed him the cheese stick. A moment later, he gave me a puzzled look and asked, “Where’s my cheese stick?” I looked at him to see that he was holding the wrapper and that I had thrown the cheese stick into the trash.
Trying to get stuff done around the house, I put some clothes into the washer. That reminded me that there was a basket of laundry upstairs that still needed to be put away. I put these away and saw that there were some books in Levi’s room that needed to go back to the library so I stacked those at the top of the stairs. Then the kids needed help with something downstairs. Down I go, solve that problem . . . Now, what was I doing? Oh yea, getting stuff together for errands this afternoon.

We leave for errands with my list (almost left behind), the library books to be returned, and the video that is only a 2-day rental and must be returned today. We do our first errand, no problem. Now to the video store. I manage to drive right by it. I turn around, look for the DVD and can’t find it anywhere (and, yes, I am SURE it was in the car)—not in the bags holding the errand “stuff,” not in the pockets on the door, not under the seat, not anywhere on the floor board. Now I am totally stymied. Where is it? It’s now the next day and I still haven’t found it. I’m guessing it fell out of the car when I opened the door on a previous errand(?)! I’m feeling very crazy.

We get home from doing our errands and I realize I still haven’t called our mortgage company for the missing interest statement (it’s tax time), Levi needs his fingernails cut, the kitchen is a mess and the dishwasher needs to be unloaded. The dog and kids want to be fed. I do manage to call the library to sign up for a kids program later in the week, only to find out I waited too long and it’s full. The things that remain to be done are folding the laundry, responding to some not-optional-to-not-reply emails, pay some bills, clean up the materials from the craft we made from recycled materials, more tax stuff, wrap a book for mailing, make a list of things to be done for the kids’ birthday party this weekend, figure out some activities to feed Levi’s new interest in Earth Sciences , . . . . Shall I go on or are you sufficiently exhausted by now? Did I mention that the trash needs to be taken to the end of our very long driveway? (And that I forgot and now we have a week’s worth of trash in our trash can and no where to put this week’s trash?) Or that my husband will be out of town for the week?

Happily, my mother brain is getting a rest as I write this while sitting ALONE in Starbuck’s.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hiking at Schooley Mill

It was a beautiful and mild (for early February) day today. The sun was bright and there was no wind. We decided to take a hike to enjoy the outdoors before the cold creeps up on us again. Schooley Mill Park is just a few miles from us. We've been to their playground many times but have never explored any other parts of the park. A little internet research gave me a map of a nice network of trails I never knew were there.

To get to the trails, you walk by several ball fields. At the edge, there's a small incline down and a huge stretch of woods I hadn't seen before. We walked down and to the left until we got to Path 19 which I could see from the map would lead us to lake. I find that a destination like a lake, stream or waterfall is good to keep the kids moving--it's good to have a goal!

Not too far down the trail we found a stream that meandered along trailside. Streams always hold lots of appeal for the kids (and the dog which was also along). Before I knew it, they were down there throwing rocks, crossing from side to side and exploring. Despite my requests, they both decided to just walk thru the water and so ended up with wet shoes and socks. They do this every time we hike, winter or summer, so from now on they'll either hike in galoshes or I'll just keep my mouth shut! Levi spotted some animal prints in the sand on the shore. We're guessing they're raccoon.

As Levi stomped thru the water, he announced that he'd never been happier in his life. Wow, wonderful from the child who put up a huge fight about leaving the house to go on this hike!

After the stream play, we went on down the trail to the pond. To our surprise, it turned out to be a beaver pond with a nice visible dam and a lodge that was also easy to see from the shore. This was lots of fun because we've been talking and reading about animal homes, habits and tracking lately. A wonderful winter hike.

Craft Nightmare

I've just discovered my first true crafting nightmare--origami. We bought a bargain origami book at the bookstore the other night. Today Levi decided he wanted to make a penguin and I was game. So we got the stuff out. Most of the directions are graphic--arrows and a variety of dotted lines telling what to do. Bad start. Then there's all this turning and folding in and out. Argghh. I was reminded that visual-spatial thinking is not my strength. Some help I was. Levi finally drifted off after I mangled one penguin. I tried a dragon next which looked much easier but, as the saying goes, looks are deceiving. At least the book only cost $5.99!

Maybe at some point, one of the kids will decide it's interesting and try it on their own. As for me, I don't know. I had a return of those intense feelings of frustration I had when I learned how to sew as a teenager. I would get to a point where I just wanted to take the whole heap--machine, fabric, thread, needles, pattern and pins--and light a bonfire with it in the backyard. In order to avoid an infantile display of frustration over folding paper I've thrown in the towel for now. Though, in light of my earlier post about 10 Dangerous Things, perhaps it would be worthwhile to use it for lighting a fire . . . .