Monday, April 30, 2007

Unschoolin' at Sams Club

I needed to get my tires rotated and balanced and since I bought the tires at Sam's, I get that done for a small for the service, 2 hours of my time! So what does a homeschooling mamma do with 2 boys aged 7 and 3. First, she wanders down every single aisle, hits up the free cookies in the back, then wanders back up to the front of the store and feeds her youngins pizza at 10:30 in the morning. Then school begins.

Health Sciences Lesson (appropriate attire, relationships, cleanliness)

  • I buy Pete his first basketball looking shortset (I dislike these personally) and Pete asked why the arms are cut out. I say it is so you can show everyone your sweaty armpits. Pete asks, "Why? Does this attract the girls?" Not now, not ever.

  • I repeatedly tell RePete not to make dust-angels on the dirty floor.

Mathematics (Probability, money, measurements, addition and subtraction)

  • What is the probability that I get to Sam's 3 minutes before they open and I am still 5th in line to have work done to my tires? Crap. I've disliked statistics since my professor stated nobody in his class gets an A. I got a B+. Poop.

  • I forgot my checkbook and Sam's only takes Discover or debit cards. I cannot remember my pin so I have to take money out of the ATM. Quiz: If Mom takes $60 out of the ATM, how many $20s does she have? $10s? $5s? How much money will she have left at the end of 2 hours? ZERO

  • Pete pleads for gum so I buy him the Bubble Gum Tape that measures 72 inches. How many feet of gum does Pete have? If Mom is 5'7", how many inches is that and how much taller is the gum? This ended up being a trick question because Pete had about 3' of it in his mouth already.

  • RePete? There's 400 books in here and none of them are about Thomas the Tank.

School's done, now to go home and finish laundry.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Baby Bison and the state of Washington

We lived in Washington from Aug 1994 - May 1996. I had just gotten out of the Navy and BN was finishing his tour in dry dock and at the sub base. Bangor sub base is a gorgeous base because of course it is in WA. Not a lot of cement, but plenty of trees. Glorious trees. I remember the drive up to WA from San Diego when we were apartment hunting before our transfer and I was in total awe from somewhere in northern CA through OR and into WA. I could see stars again and green trees and grass. I hadn't seen these things in four years.

Even though it rained 3 fricking quarters of the year, it is one of the prettiest states I've seen or lived in. Everything is so lush and I consider it an "outdoor state", meaning anything worth doing is out of doors.

We learned to cross-county ski in the Cascades, hiked the Olympics right after a forest fire, visited Mount St. Helens where even 15 years later the devastation was still so fresh, watched the people catch fish at the famous Pike Place Fish Market, ate at Benihana (the original Japanese Steakhouse mmmm), meandered through fields of tulips - did you know WA is a major grower of tulips?, rode our bikes for miles and miles and visited the Dungeness Spit. I'm sure we did more, but some of those memory cells passed through my placenta to my wee ones-gone forever. sigh.

I love the Spit. It's about 5 miles long and due to lack of interest on BN's part, we only walked about a 1/2 mile of it. Huge logs wash up on shore and there is driftwood galore. I wish we'd gone the distance and had a look at the lighthouse and the natural wildlife refuge - one avid hiker of the spit claims to have observed over 96 species of birds! I love birds. Maybe next time.

And finally, I would feel like I was depriving you of a complete WA visit if I didn't mention the Olympic Game Farm. Here you can drive your car through the park and interact with the animals. So we purchased loaves of bread and headed out and the animals were so friendly and they walked right up to our windows. We fed zebras, deer and American bison. This was a lot of fun until one of the baby bison approached my window. I dutifully held out the slice of bread and when he tried to grab it, his huge black tongue glanced my hand! I let out a squeal and flung the bread. BN and I shared a laugh and then I glanced in my side mirror. That seemingly harmless baby bison was now on a mission. Apparently upset that he didn't get that slice of bread, he charged after us. I'm yelling for BN to STEP ON IT!! and he's laughing uncontrollably at the situation and I'm rolling up my window praying the mama bison doesn't see how upset her baby is and come charging too. The baby catches up and looks as if it is going full charge into the side of our truck...

...well, dear friends of mine, it seems that when the baby tried to get the bread from my hand and licked me causing me to fling the bread, the bread was also licked and made wet enough that when I flung it, it stuck to the side of the truck. Poor baby wasn't charging us, he just wanted that piece of bread. I don't remember any other part of the park because every time BN and I looked at one another, we began laughing hysterically all over again. I'm glad that memory cell stayed with me.

Here's a picture of that ferocious beast (shiver). This picture is captured just moments before it all went down.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Jammin' in the car

Memory Bank 1993. Red Hot Chili Peppers, San Diego...good times,,,good times!

On the way to our Homeschool Bowling League, we were rockin' out to RHCP and Pete reveals his new talent. Before I reveal it let me give you a clue or two. He doesn't need lessons (I don't think?), he doesn't need an instrument and I think he'll be one of only a handful of professionals who do this. Okay so that is 3 but let me continue.

I'm dreaming of the day we sell our home and have the room for me to purchase a piano. I daydream about Pete and RePete sitting on the bench with perfect posture playing beautiful music much to the delight of all of our family and friends at Christmastime. I also hope I get a lesson or two so that I can play a song, something besides the theme from "The Young and the Restless" which I taught myself at the ripe old age of 7.

Or maybe Pete and RePete will go on tour with me and their Dad. Nevermind that our band will consist of 3 drumsets (the boys) and me on the piano or maybe the tambourine. I've been practicing on the Fisher Price one for years.

But Pete's talent doesn't require a piano and nevermind the kid size drum sets to jam along side Dad. Pete's talent is SNAPPING! He snapped right along with RHCP, to the vocals as best I can tell.

Now if you just can't wrap your little brain around just how cool this can be, take a gander at this video clip or listen to this guy. I just Googled those and can't wait to show Pete tomorrow. You know, give him something to strive for, give him a purpose. I think we can still make the family band work.

Monday, April 23, 2007


While crucifying me for drinking Diet Coke, BN answered Pete's question of "what are the good foods to eat". BN explained that anything made by Mother Earth would be good for you and things that were man-made would most likely be bad for you - such as Diet Coke!

Pete then asked another (and I think one of his most profound) question, "what about girl-made foods?"

Which led to his next question. Why don't lions just use bottles instead of their boobs to feed their babies? I of course answered with all the ready knowledge of a Mother who breastfed both her boys - they lack opposable thumbs. ba-da-bum

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Cocoon, Chrysalis, or Village

Pete is fascinated with the caterpillars that are everywhere right now. You've seen the Eastern Tent caterpillars and I'm sure you've taken a stick and pulled on the big silken "tents" in the trees and watched them tumble to the ground. I would never!-at least not since I was 9.

We talked about the life cycle and whether his new friends would become butterflies or moths. Do you know? (answer found at the bottom of this post) We kept one in a container last year to watch the process. Unfortunately, we went away for 3 days and the caterpillar finished his metamorphosis only to meet his demise in our tiny container. I shook the container gently as Pete looked on and tried my best to make it look as though it was fluttering on the bottom of the container. Pete didn't buy it.

Today he found several crawling around the limbs of a tree in our backyard and decided to give them a home. I'm always amazed at what my son can do with leaves, twigs and rocks.

They look so happy in their new home although I have a sneaky suspicion they will pack their little caterpillar backpacks and leave quietly in the middle of the night. Have I told you about the time Pete tried to reconstitute, I mean revive worms he found on our sidewalk? He really does have such a big heart. HAPPY SPRING!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Name Game is Over

While driving back from art class today, I made the final decision on names for my children in my posts. You may have read my earlier post about Sweetie and Lovey. Here's what made up my mind:
Sweetie: Mom I have to go pee.
Mom: I told you to go before we left. We'll be home soon.
Sweetie: (to brother) I've gotta go pee-pee.
Lovey: I ga go pee-pee.
Sweetie: Want to use the toilet? (we are trying to potty train Lovey)
Lovey: Wa u toywet.
Sweetie: Let's go. Let's pee-pee in the toilet.
Lovey: (this is where Lovey catches on to the PT reference) NNNNOOOO! No toywet!
Sweetie and Lovey shall henceforth and hitherto be called Pete and RePete on my blog.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lego Robotics Day Camp

Today BN and Sweetie went to the Eastern Shore for a Lego Robotics day camp for homeschoolers.

First, I have to apologize to BN because as he well knows, I am a Skimmer. I admit it, I'm in a 12 step program - I'm working on it!!

When I read the information for this outing, I swear it was being held just up the road and only lasted 3 hours. While printing the particulars for BN, I read that it was 2 hrs and 15 min from us and lasted 7 hours. He decided to go anyway.

To get there, they had to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel - all 20 miles of it. We took the kids across this for their first time 2 summers ago when we went camping with some friends at Cherry Stone. Since then, any time we cross a bridge over water, Sweetie asks if it is the "17 mile bridge". (I mistakenly said it was 17 miles long and it stuck) This question comes up almost daily as we can't avoid these bridges in our neck of the woods. So FINALLY he got to cross it again and knows what it looks like, so maybe the question will stop. But I digress...

The kids were shown the flight simulators and then paired up to complete the Lego Robots. Sweetie and his partner did great in assembling the robot. BN commented that the other boy was the same age as Sweetie and could read very well. Luckily, the directions had pictures but when it came to the programming, he needed help reading the directions. This has been a sore topic at our house. We both want Sweetie to read and we do all the right "schooly" things to help him, but he is just not interested at this time. I've been reading up on this and finding out that he is not alone in his reluctance. It is quite common and even more common in boys. My approach has softened and I have resumed reading TO him and I ask him to read some from our text Let's Read, a Linguistic Approach by Leonard Bloomfield. We also use Beyond the Code, Book 1. He seems to like this workbook and we take turns reading paragraphs.

My latest read-to book is The Boxcar Children by G C Warner. It's very old school in its approach to life and sentimentality's. Little House on the Prairie-ish. Even my 3yo sits on my lap when I pull this book out. It's 3rd grade reading level, but I think Sweetie might be able to read the majority of it - if he wanted!

The robot worked but could only go back and forth in one direction. BN said they had faulty wires. The boys were very proud of themselves, especially since they were the youngest in the group. You go Sweetie!

Let me leave you with a nugget:
"Schools place emphasis on [early] reading not because it's the best way to learn but because it's the most efficient way to run assembly line learning." Joyce Fetterol

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

History and Legacies

It makes me want to leave a legacy of sorts...oh I guess my boys would count towards that and the things they can do. Sweetie can fake a burp so real sounding I almost always look at him and tersely remind him to say "excuse me" and don't get me started on the armpit farts. The newest charm they are working on is talking with their bellybuttons. I am overcome with pride!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Homeschooling with Chalk

We use books and other schooly things, but the hands on, spur of the moment learning seems to work best. This would actually be called unschooling - something I've looked into, but can't quite let it all go - "it" being the school mentality.

So Sweetie got the idea to trace our shadows with chalk on the driveway. He embellished them with hair and hats. He drew curly locks on Lovey and for whatever reason, Lovey didn't want his curly locks, so Sweetie turned them into ear muffs. This suited Lovey just fine since he wore ear muffs to see the Monster Trucks.

The great part about Homeschooling is that everything presents an opportunity to learn. Sweetie loved how TALL he was at that time of day, so (ding ding-science) a discussion of the earth rotating around the sun ensued. Through this discussion, he decided that we would have to just draw (ding ding-art) Dad in because if we waited until he got home from work at 6pm (ding ding-math), he would be standing "opposite" of us. (ding ding-math/science again) See how this is working. We made Dad extra muscle-ly. :-)

Even if you don't/can't homeschool, make sure and take advantage of these learning opportunities. Your children will learn and you will learn from them.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Quantum Physics

Yes, you heard right. I believe my sons understand Quantum Physics.

Have you seen What the Bleep!? Down the Rabbit Hole ? This is an attempt to prove scientifically what most of us already know - we are all connected. They take it to the most basic levels of atoms and molecules and show how they react with other atoms and molecules. In one experiment, the molecules actually change their patterns to what we would visually expect when an "observer" is present. It's actually quite interesting to watch this DVD, but be prepared, it's heady stuff. I need to watch it again to fully get everything.

So back to my the car doing the whole "he's touching me routine". The problem, and this is where quantum physics comes into play, when I glance in my mirror I become the "observer" and the boys assume a stance of innocence! Just like the molecules, they revert visually to what they know I want to see - my perfect Angels. I glance back at the road and WHAM!, the rules change and I hear the tell-tale whining coming from Lovey, while Sweetie starts on the excuses.

Quantum Physics in its most basic form - siblings.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Easter Eve

I signed our boys up to participate in the Easter Egg hunt at the YMCA. First let me point out that we are against any city-run Easter Egg Hunts. Memory Bank 2002. Have you been to one? The parents give pep talks and go over strategies on how to collect the most eggs - it's really a disgusting display and one we avoid. But the Y offered a smaller hunt and therefore I thought it could be fun for the boys.

We woke up to snowflakes. The Y stated they would have the hunt "rain or shine - so bring umbrellas". Did they also mean snow? The prude mama in me came out and decided we would not even attempt to go. At 10am the snow had stopped at our house and my oldest begged to go anyway and see if the hunt was still on. Once on the highway, I could see the snow had been a little heavier the further north we drove. From the picture I obviously mean "heavy" as it applies to SE Virginia.

Unfortunately, due to running out of the house last minute, we arrived about 5 minutes too late. They were hiding the remaining eggs in plain site and it was a free for all. The boys did not get a single egg, but we still got a treat. I stopped at the convenience store on the way home and let them pick a candy of choice off the shelf and then we practiced finding eggs when we got home.

They haven't mentioned the failed egg hunt since. Ahhh, the resilience of youth.

Is it Christmas or Easter for Heaven's Sake

In celebration of this holiday called Easter, my husband BN went all out! The boys got new bikes and a basketball net. Needless to say, they won't fit in the baskets I so lovingly picked out - so I had to get crafty. I decided to hide eggs with clues in them to lead the boys to their treasures. Even though I know the gifts are just ridiculously over the top, I can't help but get excited to see how they react.
Now the crazy part of all this is that just this last week, BN said "don't buy the boys another toy until they learn how to respect and take care of the ones they already have". Hhmph.
He's such a softy! XOXO Happy Easter, Ya'll! Bock Bock!

Friday, April 6, 2007

My Very First Post

Have you seen Stepford Wives? I don't think it did well at the box office, but what a concept. I decided that I had become a Stepford Wife after finding out that not only did the majority of wives of the men at my husband's company stay at home, but they were also either homeschooling already or would be when their little ones were ready for school. Now don't get me wrong - this is a homeschoolers dream - what a resource for friends and shoulders during this process. It was just one of those weird feelings that came over me and that movie came to mind.

If I start posting cookie recipes, send the calvary!!

Sunday, April 1, 2007


You may know me better as that anti-Stepford wife, Robinella, but in real life I'm a mommy blogger, amateur photographer, crafter, wife and home educator to my two boys and I'm trying hard to not to drown in the pool of testosterone filling the house I call home. Come meet me, my beloved BN and our rambunctious boys, Pete and RePete.

Before you go, have I told you how I became Robinella?

A few moons ago, I was in the Navy. I worked as an Air Traffic Controller and was stationed on a little island and we were a very small group. When you sit for hours couped up in the Tower or Radar trailer, you get to know one another, so naturally we talked and revealed personal stuff. We were sitting around talking about where we were from and something came over me. I thought I'd pull a prank and blurted out that my real name was Robinella. Of course, that was met with "Nahs" and "Reallys?" and I backed it up with factual information that made it conclusive. You see my sister's real name is not Doodah, it's Della and my cousin's name is Stella. After I mentioned their names, everyone believed me and I then became Robinella.

I let this play out for about 3 months before I told them the truth. Unfortunately, it stuck and I was Robinella until the end of my tour. ( I was also called the Porch Goddess in bootcamp and that stuck too, but that is another story.)

The Crew

If you are new to my site, you may find yourself feeling a little woozy. If you are just feeling confused about who we all are, then read on.

Robinella - that's me. artist. crafter. holder of many useless degrees. i home educate my boys and never leave their sides.

BN - my extraordinary husband. musician. software engineer. all-around handyman for our home.

Pete - my very spirited son, born 2000. artist. actor. budding film-maker.

RePete - as the name suggests, he wants to be just like Pete, born 2004. artist, gamer. lego enthusiast.

Doodah - my baby sister. nurse.

Pogo - my best friend. strong supporter.

Mommy - well, umm, she's my mommy.

T-bone - 1995. my nephew. smart. my son's idol.

LJ - 2010.  my newest nephew and a grunting rolly polly.

Uncle C - my little brother. born 1996. a whole lot younger than I.

I introduce as I go along for anyone else. Keep up.


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