Monday, November 30, 2009

Creating a new web log

One of my projects I'm working on is a newspaper for my literacy class. I'm actually having quite a bit of fun writing and creating articles for this make-believe mathematics-related periodical. In researching material to include in my newspaper, I've come across some interesting tidbits:

  • Michael Jordan was a math major
  • Teri Hatcher was a math and an engineering major
  • according to The Wall Street Journal, the top three jobs to have are all math-related (for you inquiring minds, that would be in order: mathematician, actuary and statistician)
  • Hirojuki Goto holds the world record for reciting the number Pi to over 42,000 digits (it took him only 9 hours to memorize)

Anyway while all that interesting, yet trivial, information was fun to gather, it reminded me of the need to set up another web log. In preparation for my student teaching next semester, I would like to have a blog for my students to read and leave comments (I'm hoping I won't have to heavily edit comments and questions) as well as for me to post classroom-relate information (such as homework assignments, test averages, upcoming unit topics and anything else remotely math- or classroom-related.

I also love brain teasers, logic problems, and riddles. I'm not good at them so I should more accurately state "I love looking at the answers to riddles/problems/puzzles and then smacking my forehead and saying 'I should have been able to solve that!' " Perhaps I would throw in a problem/puzzle for the week and see how many students would even have the curiosity to figure out.

Anyway, I'd love to know what else you think would be helpful on a math teacher's blog. And if you have any names to suggest for this blog, I'm open to these suggestions as well.


And here's a little brain bender for you:
What number should replace the question mark?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Flashback to childhood

'Shroom has taken to sleeping with lots of stuffed animals lately....a lot. His current count is 13 (at least that's what he tells me - I have yet to verify it). Looking at this photo reminds me of my days as a youngster when I slept with many stuffed animals (only 19). I even remember falling out of bed in the middle of the night - twice.

Well, if I hear a thud in the middle of the night, I'll have to assume 'Shroom's bed was getting a bit crowded and he was the one that was ousted.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Time to move on to Thanksgiving plans

Another year of Halloween events has come and gone and I'm ready to move on to the holiday season that wraps up the year. Thanks again to Boston grandma (the kids' beloved Poh-Poh), 'Shroom and Lolli wore custom designed originals (well, if you consider modifications to a Butterick pattern a "custom original").

Lately, Lolli has been on a kick with wearing capes so this year, she wanted to be Little Red Riding Hood so she could wear a nice long cape. Lucky for me, I convinced 'Shroom that he REALLY DID want to be a magician (notice that his cape is a shorter hood-less version of Lolli's cape). Hey, I'm cheap, what can I say. One pattern - two costumes.

The kids had fun trick-or-treating with a school friend and even managed to sleep through last night without nightmares. The poor kids shrieked a couple of times when a "dead mannequin" lying on someone's front lawn jumped up and yelled at them and a "mummy statue" jumped alive right in front of their faces. Poor kids. I thought they would pee in their pants (or in this case, in their capes).

Air Boss manned the fort back at home and tried not to advertise the fact that we were willing to pass out candy. He kept the front door closed and all street-facing windows nice and dark. When I came home, I turned on the lights and opened the front door and we were bombarded with the "professional" tot'ers. I finally turned off the lights and shut the front door...we were after all running out of candy.

Anyway, so glad it's over and done with. Until next year . . . (maybe Lolli can be Supergirl and 'Shroom can be Batman - they wear capes, right?....)

'Shroom passed....

Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
...his first Karate Kyu test. After a rather embarrassing rendition of 10 push-ups (part of the exam requirements), 'Shroom managed to eek by a pass to the next level. We now have a orange belt in the house and Lolli has gladly inherited his white belt. Meanwhile yellow-striped Daddy had to don his Tae Kwon Do gear and prove that his yellow belt is better than 'Shroom's orange!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm FREE! (I mean, it's the first day of school!..)

So, today was the long awaited day that 'Shroom and Lolli would start school together. Lolli in kindergarten and 'Shroom in first grade. Both going to a new school.

Since the kids are still at school and I haven't had the chance to debrief with them, here are my initial thoughts on this first day of school:

- why so many Asians? Latinos? where are the White folks?!
- the pick-up process for kindergarteners is disturbingly lacking any security measures
- teaching in flip flops is okay (as modeled by 'Shroom's teacher)
- where are the White students?
- Lolli is being robbed of a true kindergarten experience as there are only 8 kindergarteners in her class of 24 (she's in a K1 combo class)
- parents have way more homework than kids these first few days with all the forms to fill out, supplies to purchase, earthquake packs to make, and committees on which to volunteer
- I couldn't seem to find the White students
- loud boisterous kids who scream and run around all summer long can be reduced immediately to quiet shy kids the moment their new teacher says "hi" to them
- regardless of all of the above, it's going to be a great school year!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The birthday surprise that didn't quite happen...

Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
Today we celebrated Air Boss' 40th birthday a day early. Knowing that the man was a bit down and sad about entering this new decade and also knowing that he's drooled over every helicopter (from the dinky R-22's to the Coast Guard HH-65's and everything else in between) that's flown overhead, I decided to surprise him.

I booked an hour of helicopter flight time (complete with CFI and fuel) on a 2-seater earlier in the week. While he was out of the house, I scrounged around the rest of our packed boxes (yes, almost 9 months after moving, we STILL have boxes yet to unpack) to find his flight stuff (headset, log book, pilot's manual, maps, etc.)

I told 'Shroom and Lolli about Daddy's surprise and they were excited. They proved to be worthy confidantes as they stayed true to their promise to me not to tell Daddy (even though Air Boss asked them what the surprise was).

This morning, I blind-folded Air Boss and told him that we were going to take him somewhere special for his birthday. Lesson learned: next time I try to surprise him with an unknown destination, I better blindfold him tightly, spin him around until he's just about to ralph, and then thrown him in the TRUNK of the car.

That guy was tracking my every turn! He had asked if we could stop by Starbucks before going wherever we were going. I had time and there was a Starbucks (or three) on the way. I had wasted so much time taking detours, finding curving roads, driving over the same set of railroad tracks (and speed bumps) just to throw him off that there was no time for Starbucks. He could track the direction I was driving simply by feeling the sun on his body (trunk--I tell you).

Needless to say, we eventually got to the airport and Air Boss finally took off the blindfold. While he guessed that we were headed towards the airport, he had no idea that his surprise included flight time.

If you ever wondered if you could "over surprise" someone, well the answer is: yes.

I think Air Boss was touched, overwhelmed and a bit apprehensive of getting behind the T-bar of the R-22 after a 4 year hiatus. In the end, Air Boss postponed the flight time with the hopes that in the near future (after much studying and brushing up on his procedures and check lists), we would ALL go out in an R-44 and buzz around LA.

Without a blindfold on.

Happy birthday Air Boss. You're lousy with surprises but you can navigate much better with a blindfold than I can with a GPS! =)

Old familiar cockpit

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lolli Croft

Lolli Croft
Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
This is what happens when school is out for the summer and mommy is too preoccupied with writing her grad school papers. Little innocent children (girls included) turn elsewhere for other forms of entertainment . . .

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lizard in the house

Cnemidophorus tigris multiscutatus

Today we found a new mouth to feed in our house. It wasn't a welcomed guest nor was it a paying tenant. It was a lizard that freaked me out. Call me a wuss but seeing a long lizard tail whipping out from under your TV console (while watching TV) is worse than seeing a mouse in your house. Air Boss spotted the reptile seconds before me and he saw the thing scurry across the kitchen floor to the family room and under the TV console.
After we sent the kids upstairs, Air Boss and I, each of us armed with a box and some cooking utensil as our weapon of choice, we captured the lizard. Actually, it was really Air Boss who scared the lizard into the box while I scared myself silly while jumping up and down chanting, "He better not run over my bare feet or else I'm gonna scream!"
With the box taped up and placed outside on our patio table, we tried to figure out "what next?" Meanwhile, I felt extremely nervous as I hear the scratching noises inside and saw the box move incrementally closer and closer to the edge of the table. We spent the next 15 minutes getting the lizard out of the box and into a jar. That thing was so quick and so long, he pushed his way out of the jar (while standing on his tail) before we could screw on the lid. Air Boss ran around the yard with the jar trying to corner the thing again while I continued my ridiculous chant of "That thing better not touch me or I'm gonna scream!" [meanwhile, I had no idea that I was already screaming]
The tail freaks me out...
Well fast-forward to a few hours and one Home Depot trip later (Air Boss ran out to purchase door bottom sweeps for both our front and back doors to prevent lizard cousins and cohorts from treating our home like a motel), we had our friends the H family over for dinner.
The kids were fascinated with the lizard thing. I had looked up photos on Google and the closest match I could find was the Coastal Western Whiptail. No wonder the thing is called a Whiptail - the tail is longer than the body and it can flick it faster than you can yell "I'm gonna scream!" We all noticed that the tail was so strong. The lizard kept "standing upright " on it's tail.

Beauty and the Beast

Anyway, the H family gracious took the lizard off our hands and released it in a nearby park on their way back home. We didn't know that their son had already formed a strong attachment to the reptile and sobbed all the way to the park, at the park, on the way home, and at home. CH, thanks for taking good care of the lizard and doing what was best for your reptilian friend.
In the meantime, here is a photo of the lizard doing its best "Geico" pose:Mr. Cool

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Birthday dinner surprise

I couldn't wait to get out of class and go home. I had just parked the car at home and was walking toward the front door when I heard 'Shroom's voice. Wow - I didn't realize that the kids were so audible from the outside of the house [note to self: before yelling at kids, be sure to close the windows].

I walked in the house and realized that the lights were on in the backyard and the kids were NOT in bed. I walked over to the patio door to see what the deal was (hopefully they were not picking up more dead chick carcasses).

I was surprised. Pleasantly surprised.

Air Boss had cooked me a birthday dinner and he and the kids WAITED for me to come home from my Thursday night class to eat dinner with me. Wow! The backyard was beautiful! Air Boss and cannibalized the Christmas tree lights and strung them on the pergola and there was a candle lit dinner waiting for me (with flowers and a bottle of sparkling cider). The kids were understandably hungry but were pleasant and excited for me.

What a great surprise. Thanks Air Boss for a beautiful romantic and kid-friendly (is that possible?!?) birthday dinner. =)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Things you don't expect to see on new sod

On the Freshly Cut Lawn

Luckily I was not home when Air Boss found this in our backyard. It was also a good thing that it wasn't there BEFORE he mowed the lawn.

Apparently a new bird family has settled into the birdhouse in our backyard (the one we forgot to toss out in the trash amidst the busyness of the landscaping). Unfortunately (for us and for the birds), it appears that the chick mortality rate is quite high.

I find this pose morbidly humorous


. . . guess the nest wasn't big enough

Heavenly Peace
Heavenly Peace

. . . a total of three dead birds today. I tell you, that birdhouse needs to be tossed in the trashcan.

Hot Vegas

The kids and I (along with Air Boss and his extended family) all survived 111 degree weather in Las Vegas. Air Boss said that it got as hot as 119 but I was probably passed out unconscious from the heat so I didn't even know.

Poor kids had a tough time. They wilted right before my eyes and I was worried for Lolli whose face flushed almost as soon as we stepped out of the air conditioned car at the Hoover Dam (can you see her very rosy cheeks in the photo?).

future famous landmark @ Hoover Dam

Poor 'Shroom. His noggin' got a big whack at the MGM Grand Hotel. We were there to see the lion habitat which would have been a lot more spectacular if the lions weren't sleeping away the afternoon. Visitors could walk under the Plexiglas bridge where the lions were sleeping and see the underside of the lions (why one would want to see the underside of a lion, I don't know). Well, Air Boss being the doting father and wanting to give his son the best view possible, hoisted 'Shroom up on his shoulders. On second thought, 'Shroom sitting on Air Boss' head would be even higher and provide the best vantage point.


I guess the ceiling wasn't as high as Air Boss had thought. 'Shroom's head had hit the Plexiglas ceiling so hard, it made the lioness sleeping two inches away from his own head stir in her sleep. That Plexiglas ceiling was supposed to be sound-proof. I guess 'Shroom's head was strong enough to break the sound barrier! [poor 'Shroom cried and cried but I think it was more out of embarrassment as everyone had turned to look at him]

Anyway, Hoover Dam was quite fascinating. Quite an engineering feat but I was too overheated to marvel at the structure. Don't let my smile fool you - that's my sneaky grin as I try to release the dam . . .

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Green Carpet

Our green carpet is here! After being without back yard grass for as long as we've lived here (7 months), we finally have something that resembles a yard! Yay!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 8: - it's getting there!

Eight days later, the landscapers have made a ton more progress than I have on my papers that I have to write and pass in these next couple of weeks.

Still no sign of a single blade of grass (which shows me how much prep work needs to happen before that green stuff appears) but the sprinklers are in and have been tested. I hear that they'll be rolling out the "green carpet" tomorrow so hopefully tomorrow's photos will look substantially different and (fingers crossed) better.

I've included this photo that Air Boss took today. This is the area right outside our front door and you'll be happy to note from this picture that we've been trying to reuse and recycle bits and pieces from our old landscape. The cement pavers and clay bricks are all reused!

Now I just have to go post on if anyone is looking to donate some tree branches or clippings . . .

Okay - time to get back to work . . .

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 3 progress

It's been three days since the landscaping team has pulled up in their trucks and taken a machete (literally) to our trees, bushes, weeds, and anything else protruding from our property (organic and inorganic alike).

What a great team of workers. The project lead has his 77-year old father helping out and this elderly--but super strong--man cleared our entire backyard by himself. As you can see, we have trenches dug for our planter wall and for part of our irrigation system. Yup. He did all that himself, too.

Anyway, each time we leave the house, the kids think it's funny we have to cross the "moat" to get to our cars parked on the street. Part of the driveway has been cut and trenched (resembling a rather skinny moat minus the alligators) to accommodate piping for the irrigation system in the front yard.

Everything is an adventure when you're a kid!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Last Day of School

Today was the last day of school for 'Shroom. After a surprise family picnic (surprise for the students, not the parents), 'Shroom received his little certificate that he was going to first grade.

What a year.

Looking back, we have no regrets retaining him for his second year of kinder. However, I'm hoping with summer school and mommy homeschool, he'll stay on top of his game and not forget everything he's learned these past two years.

I think I'll give him a day off before starting with the summer school lessons. What do you think? =)

Congratulations 'Shroom!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The fruit tree of all fruit trees.

Here is a bigger photo of the frea--I mean, fruit tree that originally started out as a lemon tree. It is now a lemon-limon-orange-grapefruit-orange tree (two types of oranges).

I really hope the grafting works because that would be really neat to have a variety of citrus fruits growing on the same tree (takes up less landscape - would be perfect for NYC gardens!) If this citrus tree works, I'll have to think of a way to get an exotic fruit tree going - one that will produce mango, pineapple, papaya, and parsimon. The melons will come right after with cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon all on the same vine!

Mmmm . . . now I need to get me some fruit to eat.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Landscaping Project - Day One

Today marks the first full day of landscaping work at our home in Torrance. The project began last week when our landscaper showed up to dig up some old shrubs and spray weed-killer on our grass (which just weeks before, I had been trying to coax to thrive). We are excited to finally be able to have the kids play in the backyard as well as dine al fresco in the balmy SoCal breezes (contrary to what I used to believe as a pre-LA resident, the summers here in the South Bay are very pleasant, mild, and quite enjoyable - not at all steamy, hot and humid).

Here is one part of our backyard. Right now, we have one lone tree - a lemon tree that has recently had its branches shorn off (I'll have to get a close up of it another day). The story behind this tree is that I had mentioned to Air Boss' parents that I didn't like the lemons this tree produced since the lemons had thick tough rinds, big seeds, and super pulpy juice which made filtering freshly squeezed lemonade a pain in the behind. Air Boss' parents were so gracious and brought clippings from their lemon tree and grafted them onto our lemon tree in the hopes that this tree to produce juicy limons (half lemons-half limes). The tree is somewhat of a "freak" tree as it now has grafted branches of two type of oranges, a variety of grapefruit, limons and lemons. Right now it looks like a overgrown petrified bonsai. But I digress . . .

This is the view of our very bare back deck. See, no furniture, no shade, no personality. No fun. We're hoping to add a pergola in the back that will give us some nice indirect shade for our outdoor meals. Oh, the palm tree in the pot is probably the only thing growning (other than the freak fruit tree mentioned above) in our backyard.

The photo below is a section of our front yard which I call our "courtyard". Our roof extends over a portion of this which makes it hard to grow anything that requires any amount of sunlight. We may end up throwing down white stones or river rocks in this area. The fence you see on the left side encloses the courtyard. It's coming down along with the white brick wall. Maybe the mailman will now feel inclined to deliver our mail in our mail box which is behind the fence.

Anyway, stay tuned for more photos!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Trying to fly under the radar....unsuccessfully

Today was the second killer day with public school math class observations during the day and evening classes at night.  I had my one and only meal of the day at at 8:30 PM after I put the kids down for bed.  I guess that meal would be called "brunner."

Anyway, I'll make this short as I promised to email my project group tonight . . .

 In two of the math classes I was in, the teacher had me stand, introduce myself and say something interesting about myself (nothing like being put on the spot).  In the other classes, I just tried my best to blend with the bulletin board or the building mechanicals in the back corner.

This one class must have been bored becaused they noticed me.  Actually, one kid noticed me and he was sitting in the opposite corner of the classroom from me.

"Hey.  What is that little Asian girl doing there?" he asked.

Several heads turned in my direction.   They couldn't have been talking about me because I wasn't even standing.  How could they have know I was little?!?

Unfortunately, it was me and part of the HVAC system in the back corner of the classroom.  I'm betting $5 that I look more "Asian" than than the HVAC system.

How dare they call me "little" and "girl"!!!!!

And to make matters worse, it was a FRESHMAN class.  What do they know anyway?!?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

One day down....47 days of summer school to go...

While I didn't fall asleep during my first day of class, I went to my 4 PM class with jitters and butterflies in my stomach.  I wasn't nervous about being a student again (after a 16 year hiatus from academia) nor was I necessarily intimidated by the 5 hours of classroom lecture that awaited me this first day.

A few days prior, I had received the course syllabus for one of my classes (an intro teaching class the was the prerequisite and stepping stone for all other teacher ed classes).  While the 7 page syllabus didn't seem that extreme - even for a 6 week class - the 30 hours of fieldwork did.  I would be spending just as many hours OUT of the classroom as IN the classroom doing O&P (observation and participation).

"How can this be?!" was my indignant first reaction.  "Public school gets out in two weeks!  What is there to observe?  Senior skip day?  Class field trips?!"

I hadn't yet read the part that I'm also required to teach a class in my subject content area as well (guess reading stories in 'Shroom's kinderclass wasn't going to cut it as an upper level math lesson).  Lesson planning won't even be covered in my grad class until AFTER public school lets out for the summer.

See my reasons for freaking out?

The prof's sympathetic response was "I guess you'll need to find a year-round school.  Good luck!"


Well, needless to say, I still enjoyed my first day of school.  More accurately, I enjoyed my second class (substantially more than the first class).  I'm looking forward to learning more about classroom management skills (such as identifying and stopping a fight before it becomes a fight, how to combat cheating and the enabling role technology plays in this problem, and how to motivate kids).

Tons of work to do.  I don't think my problem will be fighting to stay awake in these long classes.  It will be more like trying to complete all the assignments on time . . . 

Wish me luck.  I'm needing it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


We've been meaning to take down the old wooden birdhouse that has been attracting a lot of bird activity in our backyard. At least the evidence of ubiquitous bird dropping was giving us the indication that there were lots of feathered friends frequenting the box hanging on the exterior of the chimney.

Yesterday, Air Boss was showing a landscaper the scope of work that needed to be done on our backyard. As I followed the guys, I noticed a small pink thing on the edge of our patio. The pink thing was MOVING.

"Funny, I didn't know that little frogs started out pink," I had thought to myself. Then I saw the pitiful flap of a small tiny wing. It was a bird that was no more than a day old and it was trying desperately to move somewhere.

I don't recall if I shrieked (which wouldn't be totally out of character for me when I'm faced with some hurt animal) or casually called out (which would have been my hopeful reaction) to Air Boss to come and help the bird out.

We figured he must have fallen out of the birdhouse. How he survived a ten foot drop was nothing short of a miracle but then we noticed the bag of top soil in the corner. That probably broke his fall (and perhaps some fragile bones).

Air Boss got a ladder, took the birdhouse down, and the landscaper pried off the roof of the little house to see if there was a nest inside. Lo and behold - Pinky had two siblings.

We didn't know if the mother bird was still caring for her chicks but the wooden house was carefully placed back near the chimney (not quite so high this time) with a newly crafted ledge on the slope of the chimney. Should Pinky decide to bungee jump (without the bungee or wings with feathers), hopefully the ledge would prevent him from tumbling down to the ground.

This morning I went out to check on the bird family. This time, I recall quite clearly that I let out a shriek. I nearly stepped on a quite dead Pinky. His little featherless body was smashed with some bird juice surrounding his tiny body. The ledge apparently didn't work.

I went back into the house, slid the patio door closed, and closed the blinds. Yup - that was sure going to take care of the carcass on the ground. I claimed to a surprised Air Boss, "I don't want Lolli to see it and get freaked out."

"Aren't you going to clean it up?" he asked. No waay. No siree.

I never made it to the birdhouse to check on the other birds until later on in the afternoon (after Air Boss had graciously cleaned up the aftermath). Pinky's siblings were fine and as a matter of fact, another bird had hatched. They were all alive and moving. The two older ones were opening their mouths for food. Sorry. No worms in our parched backyard.

Pinky's younger sibling was even tinier, pinker, and scrawnier than him [after posting this link, I've taken a second look at the photo . . . I believe there are four surviving birds].

Needless to say, we believe that momma bird shoved Pinky out of the house in his injured state where he fell to his death. Survival of the fittest? Don't know.

But what I do know is that I'll be very careful to look where I step tomorrow morning when I check on the chicks tomorrow morning.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Blackhawk, meet Blackbird

After searching the internet for used car deals, we've finally made the purchase and have now graduated from a "one-car family" to a more normal (at least for this area) "two-car family."  Wow - I feel like I'm back in high school with a newly minted driver's license and permission from the 'rents to drive the family station wagon.  It definitely feels good to have a sedan and not feel like I have to burn through 2 gallons of gas to get 'Shroom to and from school (actually with our minivan, nicknamed Blackhawk, it's realistically just under 1.5 gallons to drop off and pick up 'Shroom at school each day).

The whole car buying thing off Craigslist was a bit scary.  I believe that you gotta know your stuff or else be willing to suffer potential fall-out from being scammed.  To make a long story short, we had thought we were purchasing a car from a private seller.  The 2005 Honda Accord looked to be in fairly good condition with perhaps average mileage for LA (but I would consider it high for New England driving).  Even the mechanic said it was a nice car in great condition.

Well, as Air Boss went inside what I thought was the seller's home office to take care of the business transaction, the kids and I sat in the Blackhawk and waited in the parking lot of the apartment complex.  A few minutes later, an older gentleman claiming to be the owner of the very vehicle Air Boss was paying cash to purchase was trying to sell the car to another family (they had just walked off the street into the parking lot).

"What is going on?!" I had thought as I suspiciously watched the used car dealer charade.  Apparently the owner/seller/dealer knew something about the car because he knew the mileage and the make/model/year of the vehicle.  I stepped out of my car and simply said, "I think someone is buying that car."

The owner/seller/dealer/who-knows-who-he-is then took the family to another car on the other side of Blackhawk and proceeded to sell them ANOTHER car.  I took a quick scan of the cars in the lot and realized that our Blackhawk was perhaps the only car not for sale.  And, the building no longer looked like an apartment complex as I saw two Lexus RX300 pull into the lot (both of which had the bright neon yellow numbers on the front windshield).

Huh.  We've been duped.

So much for figuring we were buying it from a private owner.  I phoned Air Boss who was probably at that time forking over $K's to the first owner/seller/dealer/whomever inside.  We later find out that the guy's line of business is an importer/exporter of luxury vehicles to Korea.  Hmmm . . .

In the end, we bought the car (which incidentally is almost identical in color to Blackhawk, hence the name Blackbird).  It's still too early to know for sure if we've been scammed or bought a lemon.  At least we didn't fall for this scam:

"The transaction will be closed only through a 3rd party because this way we will both be protected. My time is limited due to my job in the army so I decided to use a service from PayPay which will serve as our 3rd escrow party in this transaction. To begin the transaction I'll need your full name and shipping address, I will forward the details of our transaction to PayPay and then you will receive an invoice from them. The car will be shipped insured to your location with DAS and you will have 5 days for inspection, I will pay for shipping."

Who would have "thunk" buying a used car could be so scary?

A traitor amongst us....

new Angels fan
Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
Yup - with this photo as proof, 'Shroom has publicly declared his defection over to the "dark side" (which is also ironically called the Angels).

We drove out to Anaheim to purchase tickets for the Sox/Angels game in a couple of weeks. For several weeks now, 'Shroom has shown he is not one to cave to peer pressure, parental threats, or anything else of the like. He has staunchly taken his position and is now a lone Angels fan living in Red Sox Nation (i.e. our house).

Now let's just hope for the sake of harmony in the household, he remains a Celtics fan . . .

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy birthday Lolli!

Thank you!
Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
Half a decade. Can't believe the little girl now uses all her fingers on one hand to show her age. Wow - time sure flies by.

For the first time, she read her birthday card by herself as Air Boss, 'Shroom and I made it a point to write her individual notes in her card. The only word she had trouble with was "daughter."

This week also marked a small milestone for her. She had her kindergarten screening (called "kindergarten round-up" here) and was able to name her colors, count, say the alphabet and write her name. If she got turned away from school, it would have been my fault. School administrators had stamped my paperwork "incomplete" even though her medical & dental forms were present along with her birth certificate and two proofs of residency.

Alas, it was my driver's license which still had our old address. Even though we had updated the information online with the DMV, there was no sticker that was issued in the mail. We were instructed to simply write in the new address on the back of the card. Oops. Forgot to do that. Left me scrambling to find a permanent marker (no luck) and then furiously trying to scratch the address on the shiny card with a ball point pen, a roller ball, and finally a felt tip.

Messy, barely legible but good enough for a "pass". Phew! Lolli is now enrolled. Hate to think I would have to home school her just because I was inept at writing my address on my license.

Anyway, Lolli is now asleep after enjoying her birthday cake (which was simply a stack of "Fat Boy" ice cream sandwiches). Happy birthday Lolli!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Campus Tour & Doctor Drama

I signed up the family for a private tour of the Cal State school I'll be taking classes starting this summer. From what the tour guide told me, the 13,800 students (not sure if that's undergrad and grad combined but judging by the size of the campus, it may be everyone including faculty, administration, service providers, pets, daycare students, visitors and construction workers) are the most diverse university student body west of the Mississippi. Hmm. Interesting. Honestly, I didn't find the campus that diverse at all but then again, "diverse" may cover an over-represented ethnicity.

Nonetheless, Air Boss and I were amazed at how new the buildings were. I graduated from an east coast school where some buildings were almost as old as the US state in which they resided. To give you perspective, the oldest buildings at CSUDH were built in 1960 when the university was founded.

Anyway, the tour was short but I got a good sense of the campus. It felt nothing like undergrad so this will simply be a whole new experience with nothing to compare it to.

On a different note, Lolli had her annual physical and everything went fine except for the shot at the end. She screamed and screamed. Thrashed. Kicked. Negotiated. Thrashed some more. Sobbed. Nothing worked. She definitely gave the pediatrician a reason to contemplate early retirement. I thought these shots get easier as the kids get older.

Tomorrow we go back for a school required shot. I'm sure tomorrow will be another exciting day . . .

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why do parents make their kids do silly things?!

Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
. . . so that we can thoroughly embarrass them at opportune moments . . . say, like when they get married.

Okay - so not fair. Half the kids aren't even ours but they're related so I guess that gives us enough "right" to exploit them (hopefully my brother- and sister-in-law aren't reading this and if so, er-- "thanks for a fun weekend with your kids!")

'Shroom and Lolli are having fun this weekend with their West Coast cousins (okay, I guess I can drill it down to "LA cousins"). Right now, the foursome are sleeping like Pocky sticks on a box (that would be "packed and parallel"). This second night of their weekend sleepover had them falling asleep much faster. Must have been the non-stop day that started at 6:30 this morning.

Tomorrow, we're going to hit the beach and enjoy the sand and the waves. Hopefully they'll sleep in a bit more because brunch at 7 AM doesn't quite sound brunchy to me.

Oh yes - the YMCA pose. For this young generation, YMCA is a place where you work out, take classes, and learn to swim. I don't think they've ever heard of the song - or the People from the Village. =)

[photo: taken on location at our local Costco]

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I've always wanted to be a ninja

Sanding Ninja
Originally uploaded by radioflyer007
Today was Day 1 of our spring break home makeover. The "to do" for this first day included sanding down the bathroom sink vanity and painting the vanity and walls. It would have been nice to have the kids' bathroom back online tonight for them to take their showers, but no such luck. They would have had to take their shower with the toilet tank in the tub with them.

Anyway, this photo was taken by Air Boss who thought I was totally "overdoing it" with the goggles and face mask. I tell you, there was dust EVERYWHERE and there was no bathroom door to close. I just don't find it fun to breathe in this stuff.

The funny thing about this bathroom is that we had picked a color that matched one of the multi-colored stripes on the shower curtain. All that careful planning was for nothing. When the blue paint went up on the walls, it looked strangely familiar. I peeked out the bathroom to the last room in the hall.


Looks just like the blue in Lolli's and 'Shroom's room. Hope they don't mistake the bathroom for the bedroom, or even worse, the other way around.

Stay tuned for the BEFORE and AFTER pictures.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lolli's Artwork

As the saying goes, "the accorn doesn't fall too far from the tree."  One of Lolli's latest drawings shows that she's definitely daddy's little girl.

Interpretation of drawing:
Air Boss is in the cockpit (do helo's have cockpits?) with Lolli sitting behind pilot Air Boss.  Mommy is behind Lolli and we can't see 'Shroom because he's sitting on the other side of the helicopter.

Looks like Air Boss is practicing (or showing off) his hovering technique as the ground seems quite close to the skids.

At least we all look happy and not freaked out!

A Toro is not just a snowblower...

So, after taking a full year to take and pass my teaching exams, pull together my paperwork, get my fingerprints sent to the Dept. of Justice and FBI, get my forearm pumped with a "bubble" to confirm I didn't have tubercuolosis, and re-discover that I DID take a college level math class (thank goodness for those official transcripts!),  I have been accepted into a teaching program at Cal State University (Dominguez Hills).  The bottom of my acceptance letter said "GO TOROS!"

Huh? Go snowblowers?! 

Where I come from, a Toro is the trusted red snowblower that gets pulled out of the garage when the winter white stuff hits the pavement [I believe they also make lawnmowers too but somehow Toros remind me of just the snowblowers].

Anyway, I had shown the acceptance letter to Air Boss and told him, "somehow the acceptance thrill isn't quite the same as my undergrad acceptance."  Maybe I'm getting old and the emotions are wearing down.  Maybe I'm already old and the thrill and excitement of life just isn't there anymore.

Nonetheless, my level of excitement was short-lived as I quickly logged on to my newly activated student account and looked at the summer class schedule.  For the entire months of June, July and August, I'll have 16 hours of classroom instruction each week.  I'll get the last week of August off before the fall semester begins (yippee skippy - not).

I gave my children and husband sad kisses good-bye and tearful "it was nice knowing you" hugs.  I won't be able to sit down and eat dinner with them this summer and I won't be able to tuck my kids in bed at night.  If Air Boss and the kids go camping, most likely they'll have to go without me.  I didn't realize the sacrifices of teaching would start so soon.

"Can't you delay your start until the fall?"  Air Boss had asked me.

"Summer, fall, spring - I'm going to have to take these classes sometime," I countered.

"What's the big rush?  Aren't 10,000 teachers going to get laid off?"

Hmmm . . . pretty hard to argue with that logic.

Anyway, classes aside, I now know (as the brilliant scholar that I am now) that the Toros have nothing to do with blowing snow.  Yes, if it weren't for my years of high school Spanish--or more truthfully in this case, the obvious school mascot--I would still be scratching my head about the "Go Toros!" shout out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Do NOT read if you have a weak stomach (unsavory contents)

You'll be glad that I've decided to forgo photos on this blog entry once you read the details of my kindergarten morning.  I knew that helping out in 'Shroom's class today was going to be a crazy day as the originally-scheduled parent helpers weren't able to make it.  Sooo . . . I had volunteered to "fill-in" for two people.

The day was fairly normal until after snack and recess time.  Back in the classroom, 'Shroom's morning class was joined by the afternoon class (today was an "overlap" day where the AM students and PM students overlap for an hour).  As 'Shroom's teacher managed 48 kids on the rainbow carpet while the other teacher was at lunch, I tried to finish my long list of to-do's before the day ended.

"Mrs. Yee!  Mrs.  Yee*!"  The was no mistaking the urgency in the teacher's voice.  "I need your help RIGHT NOW!"

I rushed to the rainbow carpet where there were several students standing.  One of 'Shroom's classmates was heaving and ralphing.  The teacher had quickly grabbed the nearest trash can and placed it under the boy's previous splatter.  Uggh.  It was a mess.  Vomit (chunkage and all - remember, this is after snack and recess) was everywhere as this boy had walked while barfing.  It was my lucky day.  I got to hold the trash can as the boy continued to toss his cookies (or whatever it was that was in his stomach).

I waited a bit before escorting the boy to the bathroom.  After a moment's hestitation, I turned back and grabbed the trash can.  Just in time.  Another heave.  And more spewing.  Somehow we made it to the boys' room where I looked at the poor kid.  I didn't know where to start.  Clean his face?  Get the bits out of his nose?  His dripping hands?  What about the hair?

I'll spare you the details of the clean up, however, when I went back to the classroom to get a plastic bag to hold his soaked shirt, I saw two other boys stripping down to their undershirts.

"Oh no!"  I thought.  "There are more kids barfing!"  I found out moments later that the boy had thrown up on two other kids (thanks to minimum days with 48 students crammed on one rainbow rug).  One victim had vomit on his face -- and it wasn't even his own vomit.

Needless to say, when I walked back into the boys' restroom, I noticed another disturbing scene.  Some child had used the toilet (no bathroom stalls or doors around the toilet) and had explosive diarrhea.  The evidence (and aftermath) was in the toilet, on the seat and yes, even on the walls.

Well, even with the interruption, I still managed to finish my to-do list.  I think I should get bonus points (or extra credit of some sort) for mopping up vomit and wiping diarrhea off the bathroom wall.

Yeah, mothers seem to have flabby stomachs from pregnancy and stuff.  But I tell you, we may have a jiggly mid-section (okay - so maybe I'm speaking only for myself here) but our inner stomachs are made of iron.  IRON.

* I don't mind posting this name as it isn't even my surname.  Somehow, so many people mangle my (rather simple) three-letter last name that I now respond to this on a regular basis.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Design on a Dime

Ever since we've moved into our new house, I've been wanting to paint our very vanilla walls in our living room and dining room.  We've managed to paint most of the Artists in Trainingupstairs rooms and half the downstairs rooms before we moved in but we've been wracking our brains on what to do with the high ceilings.

Air Boss and I aren't quite ready to pay for a painter to take care of our two-story living and dining rooms.  Nor are we quite ready to rig a scaffold in our stairwell so we can try our hand at painting 16 feet up.  So in the meantime, I thought an easy way to splash some color on the walls was to simply slap some large-scale painting on the walls. 

RedBut then I remembered that I'm cheap. 

I couldn't bring myself to spend $100 on some mass produced abstract artwork that I thought my kids could paint for way less.  So that's just what we did (little did 'Shroom and Lolli know that they were being exploited for their creativity).  

PinkFor less than half the price, 'Shroom and Lolli have injected some--er, very colorful---original artwork that's prominently on display in our living room.  As they do on HGTV's show "Design on a Dime" here is how I spent my money:


1.  acrylic paints and paint brushes:  $8

2.  aprons for kids:  free (they just used their Home Depot aprons)

3.  drop cloth:  free (reused from a previous home painting project)

4.  two 36"x24" stretched canvases:  $44

5.  painter's tape:  FREE (leftover from painting upstair rooms)

6.  warm CA sun that dried the paint in less than half hour:  free

7.  finished artwork:  PRICELESS

 The results, I believe, turned out better than a "paint-by-number" project that I attemped many years ago.  I simply had 'Shroom and Lolli "wash" the entire canvas (both panels) in a dark plum acrylic paint.  After the paint dried, I used painters tape to section off areas that they would fill in.  They picked the colors.  They picked the shapes.  The final product was a pleasant surprise. 

Hmmm . . . I wonder if I can convince the kids that climbing scaffolding is like playing on a jungle gym . . . 

Color Palette