Friday, February 29, 2008


Yeah, I guess you could call the woman outside screaming at me "unstable". That begins to describe her and is the term that the police officer used when asking what her demeanor was like. OK, go with that if you want. Whatever it takes to get her away from my kids.

Here's the rest of the story...

We live across the street from a park that is the resting spot for several homeless people. It used to be just one man, now there are several regulars. I joked with them yesterday as I entered under their ramada, "do you have to have a beard to come through here?" The kind old guys with long white beards welcomed me through as I escorted Tasha on her scooter. It is the route with cement that accommodates the Dora-mobile.

I'm sure there are drug deals going on, but how would I really know. I do know that other people show up and hang out until a nice-looking vehicle shows up and parks by the bathroom. A nice enough car that I notice it doesn't look right in my neighborhood. Then the guys in the park visit the car, "chat" for a while, and they all go on their merry way. Again, the last guys that fit this description had a nice little conversation with me about my dog. My big, black lab who is more bark than bite, but makes me feel a little more at ease.

Finally, we have this "unstable" lady. She is soooo loud! One week she told off some other guys with some choice words as she stormed off because she was trying to sleep around 2pm. Every time I walk by with the girls she says loud enough for me to hear, "hold it down, hold it down, there are kids around." Or something to that affect. She is always screaming at someone or starting a fight. Last week she was walking down our street toward the park apparently having a conversation with herself, loud enough for all of us to hear. It was late enough that my kids were in bed and it occurred to me that the only problems I have with these homeless people is this lady. Would you call it a "domestic dispute"? Whatever it was, I called the Tempe police and explained the situation. They sent someone out and I never heard a thing.

This evening I'm sitting in my living room surfing for a washing machine while Kyra was reading. I hear from down the street, "does anyone have a gun or a knife?" What? No. She yells something else and I poke my head out. "Are you OK?" Nothing. I walk out to into the yard and ask again, "Maam, are you OK?" She makes it across the street and she rambles something crazy and is talking about only being a threat to herself. No, she says she's not OK, blah, blah, blah. I ask her to please quiet down and stop yelling about guns and knives because there are children that live in this neighborhood. Then she let loose. She blabbered insulting phrases that didn't really make sense but were enough for me to turn around and go inside. But she kept going! Long enough for me to call the police again. She continued yelling for quite a while, yelled her way across the street and to the ramada. The officer arrived withing the half hour and that's when he asked if she was unstable. OK, sure, if you want to call it that. After finding and talking to her he declared her very drunk. So what do I do?! He said if she does it again I can have her arrested for disturbing the peace. Bill said, "Isn't that what you just did?" Apparently not, but hey, do I really want her arrested? No, I just want her gone. What do these other homeless people think? Do they want her gone too? Does she disturb their peace? Do I call the police the next time?

All I know for sure is this...when the lady was screaming at me my big, black lab was safely inside doing I don't know what. When the police officer walked up to the house she barked like crazy! Nice protector, or just plain coward?!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Knock Knock jokes

Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Spaghetti who?
Spaghetti on my plate! HAHAHA!

This was the first original knock knock joke that Billy ever told us. He was about 4 0r 5 and we were obviously eating dinner at the time. It would take a few more years for him to understand the true concept of a knock knock joke.

Kyra told a knock knock joke at dinner a few months ago and, of course, Tasha wanted in on the action. She would tell the same one right back. Then Bill had to go and tell the obnoxious "banana-banana-orange" one and we had to listen to that one for weeks, only banana kept knocking for about a dozen times. THAT'S fun to play, NOT! Again, at dinner the jokes started so I recounted the above story of Billy's funny attempt at a knock knock joke. Kyra rolled her eyes and thought he was goofy. She can tell a joke she's heard, but can't make one up herself really. Tasha, on the otherhand, picked up on the concept (albeit, not funny concept) and proceeded to tell us knock knock jokes related to every item that was on her plate. Oh brother, we've created a monster! The funniest thing is the "HAHAHA" at the end of the joke. This very fake, weak laugh is said by the joke teller, not the people listening. That's what makes it so funny. You might have to hear the non-laugh yourself to appreciate the humor.

So now, as we are driving to school in the morning, EVERY morning, Tasha wants to play the knock knock game. It is making me and Kyra crazy. Mostly because we don't have any good jokes to tell and keep repeating the same ones. I tried to make one up and the best I could come up with was "Woo"..."Woo who?"..."WooHoo, we're almost to school and can stop playing the knock knock game!". Kyra thought that was funny, but then I still had to drive home with Tasha.

Can you appreciate the pain that I am in each morning? Now is your chance to help me. I'll google knock knock jokes later, but for right now I want your input. And don't even try the "boo who" joke, that's the one I lead off with each morning. "Boo Hoo, you don't have to cry, it's just a joke". Tasha laughs every time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Teaching letter sounds

Many parents think they should give their child a boost by teaching them the sounds letters make in isolation. That's alright as long as you teach them the right sound! Sadly, many phonics games are not good at this seemingly simple task. Here's what to look for and what to teach:

Consonant sounds:

Should consist of mainly unvoiced sounds. P should be very quite, not "puh". The biggest problem beginning readers have when they learn that T says "tuh" is that all of a sudden we have the word B-A-T sounding like "batuh". When did that word become 2 syllables? These "stop-start" sounds can be tricky, watch out for: P B T D K G CH J W

"Continuant" sounds can be said until you run out of breath. It is usually easy enough to keep them quiet. They are: F V TH S Z SH L R. Maybe you could lump H in here too but not really. Again, make sure you don't say "huh" should be quiet like when you exhale to see your breath on a mirror on in the cold NY winter air.

"Nosey" sounds actually come out your nose! M N NG The air from these sounds comes out of your nose. Go ahead, try to say them with your nose plugged. NG is said with your tongue at the very back of your throat. Don't put a vowel sound on it like "ing" because you see it in other words too: sing, sung, song.

CH works together like in cheese. It is important to teach this as a sound completely seperate from C.
SH works together like in sheep. Again, teach this apart from S.
TH has 2 sounds. Unvoiced like in with. Voiced like in them.
WH is a lot like W. I don't really have a good separation for these two, sorry.

Borrower Sounds: C X Q Y These letters don't have a real sound of their own, they borrow sounds from other letters:

C for the beginning reader says K like in cat. It says S consistently when it is followed by an E, I, or Y, but that is another blog and another rule.
G for the beginning readers is like in gas. It says J often, and especially at the end of a word when followed by an E. (you will never see a J at the end of an English word that I know of)
X says KS like in fox, except at the beginning of a word where it will say Z.
Q says KW like in queen. It is always followed by a U.
Y is a mess. This will be my next post, OK?!

Vowels: (This is when I become a fanatic about any phonics toy that gives you a sound. Obviously, if I tried it and it says "puh", "duh", "guh", then I ditch it right away. If not, I check out the vowels)

Here are all the short (or soft) vowel sounds to start off with:
A like in hat or apple
E like in hen or elephant
I like in fin or igloo (NOT ice cream)
O like in dog or octopus (NOT open)
U like in fun or umbrella (NOT unicorn)

See the "E rule" post and 2VGW for more vowel sounds. There are 17 in all!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Random thoughts

1. As we were cooking dinner (yes, Bill was helping because he was hungry), Bill informed me that he probably would not be coming home in between work and school tomorrow. I turned to Kyra and say, "Alright, girls night in...chocolate for dinner!" Kyra shouted hurray and then I turned to Bill with a solemn face and told him how much I would miss him.
2. I really want to go to NYCity. Now, more than ever because I read Rachel's blog and I want the chaos of crunching my way through the snow to get to the grungy laundry mat and let my kid watch the dryers spin. Am I a nut?
3. I made Kyra's bed for her this morning and it didn't make me mad that she hadn't done it.
4. My mom and I would occasionally have popcorn for dinner when I was in high school and it was just the 2 of us. Maybe popcorn would be better tomorrow night, followed by chocolate.
5. My sister-in-law just remodeled her basement and gave her husband a workout area. It was across the basement from a 50inch big screen TV that wasn't big enough. They moved the 50inch into the weight area and put a 60inch in the main area. That's 110inches of television!
6. If I answered my children every time they called my name would they listen to me the first time I said something?
7. I'm supposed to be avoiding chocolate in an effort to keep the migraines away.
8. There is a picture that Tasha posted on the wall with green electrical tape that freaks me out. At the top there are 4 splotches that look like cockroaches. I hate cockroaches. Tasha drew it, I don't think they are cockroaches. I don't even like looking at the word cockroach.
9. I'm thinking of quiting email. At least forwarded emails. Bill sometimes screens them and deletes things that he knows will make me mad. Thanks Babe! The problem is, it makes me mad just knowing that they are being circulated.
10. If I had dirt floors I would still have to sweep but I wouldn't have to mop.
11. Kyra thanked me for making her bed. Aah!
12. My clunker car makes a LOT of noise when I turn the air or heat on. Uh-oh.

Bees and Dees

This is a reading post for those of you with emergent readers that mix up their 'b' and 'd' when reading or writing. One thing you should know is this: most kids do it. You or your child are not automatically labeled dyslexic just because you switch these around, even if you do it consistently. There are a couple of ways that I have used to help young children figure this one out:

1. "Check your bed" Look carefully at the word bed and notice the way the b and d look at each other. Sometimes I even write out the word bed on paper and draw a little stick person laying down with the head on the b. Did you know you can take your bed with you anywhere you go? See below, even Tasha can do it.
When you hold up your fists, thumbs extended you have the b and the d. As you say the word bed, you know the 'b' sound comes first, the 'd' sound comes at the end. From there you can match the sound to the letter and sound you need. *

2. "barbie doll" This one works for the girls. It's the same as checking your bed, just know that barbie comes first, and doll comes last. (this is for you, should you need it, Lizzie!) *

*It is helpful for both the "check your bed" and "barbie doll" helps to emphasis the sounds as you touch your child's hands. Say 'b' (while pulling on their left thumb)-'e'(real quiet)-'d' (while pulling on their right thumb. OR, say "barbie" while shaking the left thumb, and "doll" while shaking the right thumb. You may to do this several times in the beginning, or review when problems start to arise again.

3. "Straight lips?" Say the sound 'b'. When you say it your lips are together and form a straight line. (exaggerate this if you need to) Now, look at the letter b and notice that the first thing on the b is a straight line. (not so on the letter d, right?!) The trick to this one is when you see the straight line, start with your lips together. If you need to write 'b' sound, notice that your lips are together so you should start with a straight line.

Now for the funny thing that happened to me once, several years ago. I had several students that mixed up these two letters, ALL THE TIME. When I tutor I work across a table from my students, therefore everything I see is upside down and backwards. I'm pretty talented, huh? So you have 3 kids in a row that will say 'b' for 'd' and vice-versus, I have to reverse it in my head, then flip it back around for them to get it right. Occasionally I would get up and look at it right side up just to make sure I had it right. One night I got home and was talking to Bill and switched the sounds around when I SAID something to him. I wasn't reading anything, just talking. It was hilarious and Bill couldn't stop laughing. We can't remember the word but it was something like dab for bad or briddle for dribble, a real word none the less.

The bottom line is not to be too discouraged if you child does this. It COULD be a sign of something more, but often times it is just something that is learned over time.

Our Clunker

I know I've blogged about driving our really old, pathetic looking Nissan Sentra before but I thought it prudent to share the complement that it got on Sunday. Out of jest, a friend laughed and sarcastically said, "nice car" and then added, "really great gas tank". How cool was that?! Thanks for acknowledging the beauty within!

I think this picture actually makes it look better than it really does. Notice the gleam off the front end and the decent window tint there on the back windows? Oops, maybe you noticed the sagging door-jam rubber on the front window. No hubcaps. (we've gone through several sets, my fault!) The side color looks pretty good but all top surfaces are white with water/sun damage. The window tint is actually peeling and bubbling in many spots. And finally, the gas tank door that doesn't open. (there's a bit of a glare that I couldn't get rid of, use your imagination!)

PS. If you see it sitting somewhere with the doors unlocked, please leave the ashtray change for someone who really needs it :) If that is you, help yourself!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Treehuggers

Here they are, my two "cheesey" treehuggers. This tree is in our backyard and it is either 4 or 44 years old, depending on how you want to look at it. It currently has these 2 branches coming out of the ground (one at a funky angle), no leaves, and 3 clumps of berries holding on for dear life. It is barely as tall as the electrical lines it is trying to avoid.
Ever since I was a kid there was this giant mulberry tree in our yard that dropped these stupid berries on the ground making it impossible to walk barefooted in the grass for fear that you would get stuck by a hardened berry or smash an over-rippened one. Either way it wasn't a pleasant experience. When me moved back into this house I groaned at the thought of the berries! The tree was enormous, you couldn't climb it, and you couldn't grow grass under the north side of the thing.
Then came the storms of 2002 or 2003, I don't remember when exactly. It was during one of the monsoon seasons where there was no rain to speak of but plenty of wind, sand, dust, lightning, thunder and all kinds of ruckus. There were a couple of nights of especially harsh storms that were accompanied by micro bursts. I don't even really know what a micro burst is, but it sounds pretty bad. I imagine this little (micro) gust of wind wandering around through the sky and them BOOM! it explodes (bursts), sending everything in it's way to scatter. What a mess. All I really know for sure is that a micro burst took out our 40+ year old tree. It toppled onto our house, pulling the roots from the ground, but leaving the roof in tack. The tree extractors just shook their heads as they hauled it off. They said that was the healthiest tree they had ever seen uprooted. Yikes!
Healthy roots were an understatement. The roots kept sprouting out of the ground all over the place. Bill was a fanatic about mowing them down for over a year. Then a summer came and went and it was REALLY hot! Do you have any idea how much shade we DIDN'T have because that giant tree was gone? NO shade in the yard and our bedroom received heat all day long instead of not at all. Finally, I convinced Bill to let a couple of the root sticks grow. That was shortly after Tasha was born so the new growth is roughly the same age as she is. Ah, how sweet. Yes, it is a pathetic excuse for a tree but it's ours. There is no breeze to speak of, but it provides a patch of shade in the summer that is big enough to place a 10 foot pool under, so that's something.
This isn't the blog that I started out to write, but I like it none the less. I suppose it is my one tribute to my family "tree" for the month. Boy, that was a really bad pun. I apologize to my posterity but will blame Bill for his fabulous influence in the lame pun arena.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Worst Movies (by Bill and H)

Bill and I like most movies, however there are a few that come to mind as being on the worst list. Some of these are ones that people rave about, love, and can't get enough of. Some of them are ones that are our friends favorites! Here's the list, with some explanations.

#1. Powder. Hands down, worst movie we've seen to this day. We rate all movies based on a "powder scale". Was it THAT bad? No, Powder was worse.

2. Johnny Mnemonic. (Keanu Reeves) This movie was so bad that we felt cheated out of our movie money, and that was before movies cost $9 and we had 3 kids! That started our movie hopping days where we'd get a 2-for-1. Since then we have repented of our sins and pay for each movie that we see.

3. Crash. (Don Chedle) I know people rave about this one and it is supposed to be some amazing commentary on our day, but Bill and I had to turn it off and return it was THAT offensive. We both used to work in a hardware store and have heard our share of swearing, bad jokes, and racism, but this movie had me cringing. I wish they could have made their point without all the crap, but I suppose that was the point.

4. Napoleon Dynamite. OK now, calm down. I know you all think this movie was hilarious and it may be for a bunch of high school students sitting around with nothing better to do. It had a lot of great lines in it to quote, which may very well be reason enough to entertain yourself. BUT, imagine that you have no idea what it's about but everyone you know is raving about it and you think you are going to see a REAL movie. Then, you and your husband rent it, have to return it the next day, and sit down to watch it at 11 at night when you are already tired. When it was over I said to Bill, "I feel two hours stupider having watched this movie." Then we went to bed.

5. From Dusk Till Dawn. (George Clooney) This was a great movie until the vampires showed up. We were sure we had accidentally changed channels. We didn't. Bill went to bed but I had to stay up just to see how ridiculous it got. Since then we have banned all Quentin Tarantino films.

6. This Boy's Life and The Basketball Diaries (Leonardo DiCaprio) I rented these during my "in-love-with-Leo" days. Oh, shut up, you all know he was hot! Anyway, they both probably helped him grow as an actor, but they were just a little too revealing for me. I guess I don't want to know all the awful details of people's lives, even if (or especially if) it is real. (Bill didn't see either of these, he wasn't in love with Leo)

7. Ms. Congeniality 2 and Speed 2. Sandra Bullock just needs to stay away from sequels, although the eye-candy won't stop Bill from renting them.

Well, we were sure that it would be hard to list a bunch of flops but it wasn't. We did have to go and look up the names of several of them but we were laughing as we recalled some of the more stupid points. "Are you going to prom?" Seriously, somebody should have a Napoleon party so we can find this movie amusing. We both have seperate, hilarious memories of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so I'm sure we can find the humor in this Dynamite guy. "What is your name? What is your favorite color? What is your quest?"


Those two catch phrases are working miracles in our little home with our little children. It is amazing how saying, "It IS NOT time to watch IS time for bed" works! I have no idea why. IS it possible that simply pointing out the definate yes and no of a situation eliminates all the doubt and possible arguments that a 3 year old can come up with? "It IS a good idea to do what I ask you to IS NOT good to argue with me." Can you believe that works?! Duh, where has this information been all of my life?! It is all contained in one very readable book called, How to Raise a Thinking Child. I think How to Raise a Thinking Preteen is on my reading list so the author is over there but our family wasn't ready for that book. I checked out the Child book from the library a few weeks ago and decided to give these ideas a go. You start playing games with your kids to introduce these catch phrases...IS and IS NOT, SOME and ALL. I think there are 5 or 6 sets of words to introduce as your child is ready for them. Honestly, I think it is more for us parents to get used to using them. It has been a while since we did this as a game and I forget to use the right words. SOME of the time I will use it and wonder why I haven't been doing it ALL along. I really need to get back and learn the rest of the words, maybe there can be peace and love at home.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

AAH! Where's my laptop?!

So here I am, finally out of my sicko world of going to bed at 9pm, coughing hysterically for hours on end, lying around all day long so my body aches, but too tired to do anything productive...ready to blog and communicate to the outside world...and the laptop is gone! How dare Bill take the thing to school when I NEED it! Forget that we got a laptop so he could stop being the old man and only one without access to the internet during class. Forget that it is his first day back to school in a month. I need the thing to make my way back into the world. I feel so lost, so shut off, so secluded from everything I hold near and dear to my heart. And dang it, I'm definately NOT going to sit at the computer desk to scroll through everyone's blogs, or read the 150 plus emails (OK, actually I'd delete all the forwarded stuff after this long), and I don't even think I can compose a decent blog hunched over in this completely uncomfortable chair. So my dear friends...I miss you and I want to read your stuff, but I'm just not feeling THAT good. Bill has told me for 3 days in a row now that tomorrow the cough will be gone. But did you hear that? Hack, hack. And it hurts at the back of my head, especially when I try to hold it in. I guess I'll go to the couch and crochet while I watch reruns on CSI. Maybe tomorrow I'll get to log on. I know there's something hysterical waiting on April's blog, a strange conversation on Monique's, a darling shot of Sophia on Rachel's, the Cram's are ster-ring, probably a new baby waiting at the Weir's, the Turley's have had 2 weeks of email updates that I haven't read...AAAH...I'm forgeting people but my neck itches from the coughs. Blah. Good-night. And hopefully I'll "see" you all tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"Doting Baboon Dads Get More Grandkids"

I was checking my gmail account and saw the Discovery channel link to an article claiming baboon fathers that took care of their young had more grandchildren. Apparently, if papa baboon hangs out with the kids they mature quicker, find mates easier, and start reproducing sooner. As a result, they get more grandkids. They took other factors into consideration, but the bottom line is that daddy helps the kids grow. (If mom is not around, they can't make it at all. Sad)

So who cares? Well, they go on to talk about other species in the monkey kingdom. it comes...lets talk about humans. Here's the quote: "Human males get a bad rap, but men are fabulous fathers in comparison to 90 percent of the rest of the mammalian world..." Great. Let's give all fathers a pat on the back because they do a better job than the baboon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I call Bill "babe" and he calls me "babe". It's just a common ground, somewhat affectionate, term used back and forth between us. We both know that and have been doing it for years. So here's the conversation we had this evening, from one room to the other.

B: Who is babe?
H: What?
B: Who is babe?
I'm sure I misunderstood, because he's babe
B: Honey?! Who is babe?
I get up and go to the other room. He is holding my cell phone and looking at the call list. This Babe person has called me a lot and he doesn't recognize the number.
B: Who is babe? (holding the phone up for me to see, with an accusatory look on his face)
H: You are.
B: Oh, is that my work number?
H: Yeah, that's why it says, "Babe, work"
B: Oh.
Now he's relieved and I'm laughing. What a dork! Gosh I love him. It's hard to make your husband jealous after so many years of marriage but apparently it just takes him calling you to do the trick. Imagine what will happen when he goes senile?!

He just threatened me not to post this but then I read it out loud to him and he was laughing so hard I had to stop so he could regroup. He thought it was pretty funny when I read it, but apparently there was more to the conversation than I thought.

Ashtray donations

We live across the street from a park, on the corner. People frequently stroll by our house and cut through our corner yard during the day, even when I am standing in the carport. I can only assume that it is done in the evening as well. I also assume that the evening or early morning hours are when people are kindly checking our vehicle doors for us and relieving us of any excess change we may have in the ashtray. One might think that we would lock our doors because this happens, but we figure that they must need the change more than we do. It is a regular enough occurance that I don't think either one of us relies on having change in the ashtray, instead, we consider it a nice surprise. It's not like I check each morning or anything. So my question is...can we deduct the amount of money taken from our astrays as a donation to charity?