Wednesday, February 23, 2011

mr. Reporter in the news

This must be our year.
Mr. Reporter's homeschool orchestra group was featured in Chuck Rhodes "Out and About" on abc27.  Mr. Reporter was just thrilled to have had this opportunity.  He is the one sporting the crew cut as he plays the violin.

Check it out!

Monday, February 21, 2011

president lincoln pays a visit

On our way to our homeschooling group last week, we were listening to WITF radio and heard a fascinating discussion about the Lincoln Trail in Pennsylvania- the train ride that brought president- elect Abraham Lincoln to Harrisburg, Lancaster and then a few days later on to Philadelphia where he spoke for the first time at Independence Hall.

The program spoke of:

  • his humanity- how tired and stressed he was upon arriving in Harrisburg after having an eleven day train trip
  • how he would keep his "cheat sheets" or notes for his speeches in his top hat
  • how he would let his hair lay however it darn well pleased
  • how his right hand was so sore from shaking hands with everyone that he couldn't clutch anything with it
  • how he spoke with reverence and awe (at 7am in the assembly room at Independence Hall) about his gratitude for this nation and the documents that were signed in that room 
  • how the Founders Fathers of this country purposely left slavery out of the Constitution- as it was their hope and intention that this institution would die out
  • the assassination plots on his life that he was able to avert

If you'd like, you can listen to the program at:

My soon to be ninety years old grandmother once told me that our family is related to Abraham Lincoln.  That we have a connection through the Hanks line (she's been doing our family's genealogical work for over sixty years- God bless her ).  As I was listening about this great man who was our country's sixteenth president, I couldn't keep the tears back.  And I began to wonder what kind of nation would have emerged had he lived?  Would the tensions between the North and the South during the period of Reconstruction been absolved as our country healed from it's deep wounds from the war?  Wounds that I believe are still present to this day.  I don't know.  What do you think?  There really is no telling what the power of one can bring.  And with President Lincoln's humility and his great love for this country, who's to say he couldn't have been the needed impetus to create a new and stronger nation?

The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg offered a free community day on Saturday.  They had an all day schedule of events with music, speakers, and games centering around the 150th year commemoration of the Civil War.  The best part of all was the opportunity everyone had to meet Mr. Lincoln himself.

Mr. Hero shot this photo
He told me that he travels all over the United States to "wherever they need a Lincoln".   Maybe your town will need a Lincoln, too.  Don't we all?

Happy President's Day.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

a pig, an old man, and a librarian

Five years ago, I was on a hunt.  Mr. Reporter was in the third grade and I desperately needed to find some books that would hold his interest as he ventured into the precarious world of reading.  The problem was I didn't have the foggiest idea where to start.

So I turned to Christine- the children's librarian at our East Shore library.  I don't know if she had ever been a mother herself, but she certainly had a sense for children in which I could relate.  She figured out really quick that I homeschooled my children (we were usually at the library during school hours) and she always welcomed me and the boys with a smile or a hello- which I really needed at the time to feed my courage to school them in a way I felt would best honor them as individuals.

Then one day she showed me this section of the children's library that held the picture chapter book series.  These little books were for the reading level that is just before the chapter books.  There are chapters in these books, but just three or four.  The print is larger than the size 12 font and there are pictures on every page.  This was just perfect for what we needed.  And the stories?  They were unforgettable.

We were delighted to uncover the Poppleton series that are written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Mark Teague.  These books are about a tidy pig named Poppleton and the adventures he has with his friends ( who happen to be a mouse, llama, goat, and sometimes a bird or two).   One of my favorite stories is from Poppleton and Friends.

Poppleton hears that grapefruit will make you live longer- and since Poppleton wants to live to be a hundred, he goes to the grocery store and buys a whole grocery basket full of them.  However, trouble arrives when he sits down to eat the grapefruit and manages to turn green from their sour taste.  Undaunted in his pursuit of health, he continues to choke them down until his lips pucker and suck right into his face.  His friend, Hudson the mouse, drops by and notices that Poppleton doesn't have any lips.  Being the inquisitive little mouse that he is, he asks him the obvious question about where his lips have disappeared to and why was he eating fruit that would do such a thing?  Later, in a very gentle way, he introduces Poppleton to his 100 year old grandfather who explains upon inquiry that the reason he was able to live so long was because he had had friends- much to Poppleton's relief (who then chucks the grapefruit).

What a joy it was to see Mr. Reporter devour ALL of the Poppleton books.  Five years later, Mr. Cook and Mr. Ninja discovered and loved them too.

Another series Christine suggested and has been equally received is the Mr. Putter and Tabby books also written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Arthur Howard.

These books are about an old man named Mr. Putter and his old cat Tabby who live in an old house and have a quirky old neighbor named Mrs. Teaberry who likes to wear funny hats with berries on top and buy toasters that sing "America the Beautiful".  They too, have many adventures and it's fun to see how they get out of these scrapes together.

The other day at the Hershey library, Mr. Cook (age 9) was looking for some good books to bring home.  Low and behold he saw the Mr. Putter and Poppleton books and decided that he would take all of them home with him.  At the check-out counter, I started to gush over these books to the librarian- who is probably in his mid-forties or so.  I asked him if he had ever read these books before.  His automatic response was that no, he didn't have kids.

I told him that he didn't need to have kids to enjoy them.

Maybe one day, he'll understand what I mean.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

opportunity costs

The boys participated in their first valentines day party this year with our homeschooling group. 
  •  For 6bucks I bought boxes of valentines each holding a quantity of 32.  
  • We needed more than this considering that there were 40 kids on the list.
  • mr. Tailor didn't want to give away these generic store bought valentines. 
  • He wanted to make his.

  • Initially, I protested.  Knowing that to make this quantity of valentines would take him hours.
  • He insisted.
  • 3 1/2 hours later... he was finished.

  • Showing once again that sometimes the effort is worth the time.   

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

yes... this is a Super Bowl post

I just read that there were 111 million people who watched the Super Bowl this year.  With the US population hitting around 307 million, that's roughly a little more than a third of all Americans sitting in front of their television sets on one Sunday evening.  Incredible.

Well, our family happened to snuggly fit right in with this little statistic- and we don't even have your basic TV programming.  What we do have are close friends who are devoted Packer fans and have a very large flat screen.

I am not a football fan.  I discovered this last year- when they invited us over to watch the Saints massacre the Colts with a 16-3 win (thank you wiki).  Although I really did try.  Last year, mr. Brewski- Craft Queen's sweetheart tried to explain the rules of the game to me and our thespian boys.  He explained what all the lines meant on the football field.  How there are different penalties for doing nasty things like "facemasks" and "excessive celebration".  He pointed out the magic field marker on the the TV screen wasn't actually on the field at all -and was just a benefit to all those football fans who decided to keep their $3-7,000 in the bank so they could watch the game in the comfort of their own home ( actually, the money in the bank is my take on it.  I bet that mr. Brewski would have his seat in the stadium any day.)  And try as I might, I still didn't get it.  I focused.  I drank my alcoholic apple cider.  I focused some more.

 I pretended that it really was a good idea that I left my knitting at home.

What I did enjoy watching was the "fan love"- all of the Craft Queen family members were in Packer attire minus the cheesehead.  The pre-game dinner of yummy brats, chips and cheese, green and gold sauteed peppers, soda, and beer.  Lots and lots of Wisconsin beer.  All those "imported from Detroit" car commercials.  The stimulating conversation about whether or not Apple products are made in California or China.  Chuckling at the irony of the lady adults searching their iPhones to find the answer to this said question (China- humph!). The belly bop that Mr. Brewski and Craft Queen gave each other when their team won. And the look on mr. Hero's face when he saw that he would LOSE his bet.

That hour long back massage made it all worth it.

Thank you Craft Queen.  Thank you Packers!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

women groups

 pennsylvania association for sustainable agriculture- pasa
                                kempton's energy festival
   outsourcing and it's effect on the u.s. trade deficit
                               buying from and supporting local industry
       shepherd mama spinning her wool into yarn
                              4,000 flickr photos being lost
                     going vegan for a week
                  dr. marten shoes-used

Women and their innate ability to jump from topic to topic effortlessly.
Yep.  Give us 2 hours and we've got it all covered.
The result?
Feeling nothing less than wonderfully wonderful.

we woke up a couple of days ago and found this:
where the sidewalk ends
crabapple tree-cicles

so what does a person do on a day like this?

  • give mr. Hero the excuse to work from home
  • skip morning walk
  • take photos very cautiously
  • stay inside and play