Taking the Scenic Route

Tuesday August 31, 2004

31st August 2004

Tuesday August 31, 2004

Toys that are getting some serious play time in our house

LeapPad.  He LOVES the leappad.  He will go back to it several times a day, spending up to half and hour at a time playing with it.  He just loves it and he seems to be getting the hang of hitting the little “Go”.  So far, he mostly enjoys the first main pages with the alphabet, but is beginning to explore other pages now too.  We haven’t brought out the “Hop on Pop” book yet.  We are saving it for when his interest seems to wane a bit with this book.




Tanagrams.  We ordered a set of tanagrams a while ago that came this week (man, this week has been a good week for Zane in the toy department).  He immediatly figured out to lay the matching shape on the card.  We didn’t try any higher level cards, but he did fine with the level 2 cards. 

One of the funny things is that one of the cards has a flower like shape on it.  (actually the one she is working on on the box)  You are supposed to use a square in the middle and put 4 half cicles around it to form a flower.  However, the picture used to decorate the card shows a flower with the same outer outline, but a small circle in the middle in the same porportion as the circle provided in the kit.  He is not convinced that you are supposed to use the squares and half moons and keeps taking those off and putting the circle on to match the drawing and looks up at me like “quit doing that, this is the way it supposed to go”.  A good example of bad Human Factors Psychology IMO….bad visual clues.

The peices themselves are foam rubber, with a different color on each side.  He will sit there for long stretches putting them together in different ways, including setting them up on their sides (which is impressive to me because it takes a lot of fine moter skills and paitience to get them to stay up on the narrow side)  He seems facinated with shapes lately anyway, so this came at the perfect time.  He has an old puzzle with shapes on it and he enjoys having us name the shapes for him and was playing with those pieces before this came.  It is nice for him to have pieces that are in porportion to eachother so he can see how differnt shapes joined together make other shapes (like two triangles can equal a square).  This just fit him so well.

And, Finally, the train set we got him a few days ago.  He really gets a kick out of it.  As he plays with them (and sometimes just when he is wandering around) he makes choo-choo sounds followed by a woo-woo of a whistle.  (except it sounds more like two-two-two-two……woo woo)  It is so adorable.  His daddy showed him that he could build mega block structrues over the tracks and he got so excited with that concept.

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31st August 2004

Tuesday August 31, 2004

GOP convention.  Today’s theme:  People of Compassion.  Compassionate Conservatism is an oxymoron.  Nice buzzword, but when have Republicans been compassionate to people?  When they pull education funding?  When they make laws that say a group is so horrible they aren’t allowed to marry?  When they pull funding for social services?  When they bomb countries and kill people for oil?  When they destroyed the economy by sending all of our jobs overseas?  When they make it all but impossible for people to have health care?  When they have created a nation where they declare the economy ‘hunky dory” yet there are record numbers of people in poverty?  Oh…I know….they are compassionate to Corporations…that’s it.  That is where all the money is going…corporate welfare. 

The speeches last night made me so angry.  Such utter disreguard for the experiences of true American life if you aren’t in the top 10%.  I don’t feel particularly free, do you?  I worry when I write political stuff that it is going in some database of ‘anti-Americans”.  I guess “free” means that you are free to express your opinion as long as it is in agreement of the shrub. 

Mr flip-flop pulled another one within the last few days.  After years of hard line “we are going to win the war on terrorism”  (war on terror….isn’t war terror? What the hell does a “war on terror” mean anyway…makes it sound like USA are terrorist too.) Anyway, after years declaring we will defeat terrror, he now said “we will never win the war on terror”.  Although I do agree with that…I don’t think anything ever comes out of violence but violence, but it is sure a major flip flop. 

I keep hearing Republicans characterize liberals as thinking that Iraq was just a wonderful place and Saddam wasn’t so bad and that is why we all think it is an unjust war.  I participate in an online community where I am pretty moderate comparred to both sides of the spectrum…there are extreme social conservatives, social liberals, fiscal conservatives and fiscal liberals (I am a social libral and a fiscal moderate btw) and I have NEVER heard ANYBODY who thinks Iraq was a wonderful place.  Where does this characterization come from?  It sound ludicris if you actually TALK to liberals!  I think it is pretty sad that Republicans will actually view Democrats that way….it is so devisive for no reason..there are lots of other issues that they do disagree on, but I don’t think anybody thinks Iraq was a nice place.  What the Repubublicans have twisted is that the “excuse” to attack Iraq (that Saddam was a horrible human being) is a pretty thin excuse and invalidated by the fact that some of our “allies” are actually a LOT worse.  The only reason we attacked Iraq is because the country he tried to take over was producing oil.  That is it.  There is more connection to 9-11 between Bush and the terrorists than there is between Saddam and the terrorist.  Why people still think Iraq had anything to do with 9-11 speaks to the power of the Republican-controlled media.

I feel like I have so much more to write, but I need to go play “trains” right now or somebody is gonna have a meltdown. lol. 

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30th August 2004

Monday August 30, 2004

It smells like a giant fart in here.  Our dishwasher backed up for the millionth time.  We don’t even use the thing because it is faster and easier to wash dishes by hand since all the dishwasher manages to do is cement food to plates rather than clean them.  I have been using the dishwasher to store less used kitchen items, but I am going to have to stop doing that if I have to clean them every time the dang pipes back up and leave a few inches of stinky water.  Blech!

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30th August 2004

Monday August 30, 2004

I will let all of you in on a little secret.  I love dandelions.  Love them.  They are by far my favorite flower.  I even tried to plant a pot of them once, but the seeds I used were too inmature to grow. 

I think God has a special place in his heart for dandelions.  They are a great example of how we are supposed to be as Christians.  They bloom where they are planted, even when they are planted in hostile and unwelcoming environments.  They develop the deepest of roots and the complexity and strength of those roots makes them all but impossible to defeat.  A lot of people consider them weeds, despite their persistance and beauty and do anything they can to rid the world of their kind.  When other flowers, considered more beautiful and desirable by the world begin to age, their colors fade and they whither away to nothing.  The dandelion, in contrast, after what appears to be the end of it’s life, reblooms into an even more glorious creation.  It becomes a gossamer globe, flying to the heavens in it’s final glorious journey.  It is the flower most likely to be picked by a child to present to those they love.  Like all prejuduces, a child must be taught to hate them as weeds, worthy only of destruction.

Some day, when we own a home, we will be the crazy neighbors who let the dandelions (and poppies, and clover, and whatever other wildflower that takes root and doesn’t have stickers attached) grow unchecked in our lawn.  I will probably plant native wildflowers in beds around our house and plan to put in native grasses that require no water (unless it is a drought year).  I can admire and appreciate well kept lawns with meticulously planned out landscaping, but I just can’t see myself using all the chemicals and devoting so much time to the endeavor.  There are so many more places I would rather spend time…I would rather sit in the middle of my natural landscape reading a good book or playing with my child than making the lawn bend to my will.  It just isn’t me.  Considering my husband remembers his dad spending hours and taking a lot of pride in his lawn and landscaping (he even ran a landscaping business on the side while being an accountant), it is yet to be seen how he will decide to have his own lawn.  Some things are genetic….I guess we will see if “desire to landscape” is one that Zach got.

Maybe next spring I will try to plant another planter of dandelions.  This time I will make sure to wait until the dandelion is ready to fly away instead of rippng the fluff off the core. The landscaping people already think I am nuts. (in a fit of PMS, I called them and went ballistic about all the little balls of lawn chemicals on my porch.  I made them clean them all up, and then proceded to energetically sweep *all* the chemical balls off the strip of grass in front of my apartment like a madwoman where ds likes to go barefoot).  The planted dandelions would only validate their beliefs.

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30th August 2004

Family gathers at the Farm

We just got back from my folk’s farm tonight.  We originally left with both cars to do some tune-ups, but the Olds only made it about 15 minutes out of town before overheating.  We left it in a parking lot to pick up on the way back.   I guess it REALLY needs some work. lol.

We had fun out at the farm.  Zane played in the sand pile for a bit with his Grandpa while Zach made burgers and hot dogs on the BBQ.  Steve and Joy came over with Shelby (dog) and Zane excitedly watched the game of fetch.  The dog ran after the toy, Zane ran after the dog.  While we were eating, Zane drank from a cup and was quite pleased with himself.  By the end of the meal, his shirt was wet from some of the over-exuberance, but he did an impressive job with his new skill.  (you can see his wet shirt front in the pictures where he is watching fireworks)

After supper, Joy and Steve set off some fireworks they saved from 4th of July since Zane hadn’t been able to come out that day.  I have not seen Zane belly laugh that hard in a while.  Oh my goodness he was SO excited.  He would start giggling in anticipation as Steve would walk out with the new firework and the giggling would build to a full belly laugh as the firework went off.  It was so much fun.  Zach had to hold him on his shoulders to keep him from darting toward the fireworks. 

After the fireworks, we went inside and Mom gave him a LeapPad, two books to go with it, and a microphone attachment.  At the same time, Steve & Joy set down two boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts.  You can guess which one he went to.  lol. He put a fingerprint on every one of the donuts and, knowing we don’t usually let him have donuts, grabbed one and jammed it into his mouth as fast as he could.  Luckily, after only about 3 bites, he was more interested in what Grandma was doing so I could dispose of the rest of the donut. 

We knew mom was going to give him the LeapPad because she called yesterday standing in front of them in the store.  She had the same concern we did with them…the pads meant for his age focus on tracing letters, and he already draws his letters, so it seemed like it wasn’t a good fit.  She ended up getting the regular LeapPad (meant for 4-7 year olds) instead.  It is over his head at this point, but he spent a full 30 minutes when we got home trying to figure it out.  In that amount of time he figured out he doesn’t have to pound the pen into book for a response (whew!  I was worried he would break it) and figured out the “GO” button (making a G sound whenever he touched it) and figured out that by touching specific pictures it makes sounds.  He hasn’t figured out to run the pen across words yet and I don’t think he gets what the whole thing is about at this point, but I imagine that will come pretty soon.

On a different note, Joy actually hugged me twice during the evening….once when we got there and when they said good-bye.  I don’t remember her ever doing that before, especially not the genuine full hug we had tonight.  Maybe we will finally start making a connection.  She and I are so different in some ways, and the way too much alike in ways that make it hard for us to connect.  Our live experiences are so very different and we are in such different places in life, but I love her very much and really want us to be close. 

The pictures I want to keep in my head for the day:  My Dad and Zane playing in the sandbox together.  Zane on Zach’s shoulders watching the fireworks with Zane giggling and Zach adding sound effects as the fireworks go off…pure joy on their faces.  The drive home with us singing almost the entire hour home.

Zane and his Grandpa playing in the sandbox


Zach battles the flames


Zane playing in the fountain


An all too familiar scene


Watching fireworks

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29th August 2004

Sunday August 29, 2004


I am sitting here watching C-Span with my jaw on the floor.  This is a generational thing…I have NEVER seen protests like this.  I am sure those even just 5 or 10 years older than me have seen protests like this, but for me this is a totally new thing to see a protest on this level.  People as far as you can see.  What is interesting to watch, is that although they are all protesting the GOP, there are chants and signs with hundreds of different reasons…from “bring troops home” to gay/lesbian themed things, to environmental themes.  (Even a “Fox News Sucks” group..lol.  very biased toward GOP for those that don’t know)  Everybody, it seems, has a different reason to want Bush out of the white house, but they all want him out.  And the real protests aren’t even supposed to really get going until Tuesday.  I can’t imagine.  WOW!

Estimates put the numbers at near 200,000, with hundreds of arrests already. 18 square blocks are closed off.

The GOP convention hasn’t even begun yet. 


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29th August 2004

Sunday August 29, 2004

New Toy!

We aren’t able to give Zane new toys very often, so each one is an agonizing decision.  We were really wanting to get him a Brio wood train system, but the price was so far above what was reasonable for us.  Fisher price made a train set that was much more reasonable, but still pretty pricy for us.  We decided over a month ago that we wanted to get this for him since he seemed to love trains whenever we came across them in stores on display.  We still stood in the isle of wal-mart for at least half an hour discussing whether or not it was worth the money and if he would REALLY like it.  (Zane discovered some books that played music and kept him occupied….anybody reading this….DON’T GET HIM THOSE BOOKS….lol..the whole time we kept interupting ourselves with “thank goodness we don’t have any of those” with the tinny sounding music). 

We didn’t need to worry.  I don’t remember EVER seeing him so excited about a toy.  He had some of the track peices together before we could even get all the pieces out of the box.  He was literally squealing and jumping around in delight.  There are also a bunch of add-ons for this set that we can get him at Christmas and such, so that it pretty neat.

We are reserving the radio control properties of the set until a later date since it is better for him at this stage to just push the train around, so this toy really has the opportunity to grow with him.

(this is a  stock photo from Fisher Price Geo Trax Rail & Road System because I need to recharge the batteries in the camera)


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29th August 2004

Sunday August 29, 2004

Finally made it downtown to the main library today to return some books I found in storage.  (never unpacked a few boxes of books and was horrified to discover some old library books)  I did have time to pick up a few books before they closed and am having a ball flipping through “Stitch and Bitch”.  It was on my list to buy, but I wasn’t able to look at it “live” and decided the Vogue Knitting book looked really comprehensive so I got that instead.  I am glad I made that choice, but I really am liking the laid back approach to knitting this book takes.  It does do a better job of explaining why a particular stitch is good in a particular situation than Vogue does, but it doesn’t cover nearly the info of Vogue.  I now am adding little comments in the margins of the Vogue book from this one. lol. 

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28th August 2004

Saturday August 28, 2004

Some recent chalk drawings by Zane



Mystery Drawing (not sure what this is, but I think he means it to be “something”)

eta:  We think it is the touch lamp from Mom’s house that Zane was facinated with. It is the same shape and it was on a geometric rug that the design at the bottom of the lamp resembles.




Hot Sauce Fiend

and finally, in reference to yesterday’s post, a picture of Zane bringing me his hot sauce and crackers.  He lines up his crackers and wants us to put a dot (or five) of hot sauce on each cracker.


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27th August 2004

Friday August 27, 2004

Oh God.  I just found out somebody I know was raped a few weeks ago.  She was in shock and hid it all this time, finally breaking down today in front of an acquaintance of hers who had her go to a Dr.  The Dr. has known her for years and cried with her when he found out, then called her husband and helped her tell him.  He reacted the way you hope a husband reacts, thank goodness.  Now they are left to deal with the devastation of this.  How do you recover from that?  My whole heart just hurts so badly for her, and them.  Everybody who knew her knew something wasn’t quite right because she just hadn’t been herself for weeks (she is usually a really energetic, go-get-um type), but nobody imagined that this was the problem.  I mean, how could you imagine this.  I can’t imagine.  There are no words.

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