Monday, August 30, 2010

Peter's Run-In With the Bees

Time: Saturday evening, around 7pm.

Place: Our neighborhood, a couple houses up the greenbelt. Exact location unknown.

What: Peter encountered some bees. Actually, I think they were wasps or yellow jackets. One way or another, he came home that evening crying loudly that he'd been stung, and even brought a couple passengers into the house with him, clinging to his shirt. He complained loudest about the sting on his finger and one on his head by his ear, but he also sported sting marks on his wrist, arm, back and next to his eye. While they hurt a lot, they didn't seem to swell up much that night.

The next morning, however, he was definitely swollen, making him look almost like he had a black eye at church. Peter thrived in the attention he received because of the eye. This morning, when the swelling in his eye and finger hadn't visibly decreased, I told him I needed to find something to give him to make the swelling go down. He replied, "No! I like my eye this way!" Apparently it doesn't hurt or bother him. I did, however, borrow some children's Benadryl from a friend (I didn't have any for children on hand.) and gave him some before taking him to school. Unfortunately his eye was still looking puffy and pink when I dropped him off a couple hours ago. I hope he tells his teacher he was stung by a bee, and that people don't think he's been beaten up!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Personal History #5

Where did you live while growing up?

House plan of the yellow house to the best of my memory.
I was born in Goleta, California, in the United States of America. The first year or two of my life was spent living in a condo with my parents and older sister, before my family moved to a small yellow house in the same town. This is the first home I can really remember, and it was here that I spent my childhood. The driveway in front of the house curved around the lawn, ending in a garage door that was perpendicular to the street. The front of the garage was concealed by two tall trees (which I spent a fair amount of time climbing), as well as a few smaller bushes. I remember that the garage wall frequently hosted a family of snails. I remember that the driveway had a low spot next to the lawn, where a muddy puddle would form after a rain, which was perfect for floating small paper boats. The front door opened on a short entry hall. To the right was the kitchen, straight ahead was another hall, perpendicular to the first. Turning right down this hall, one entered the living room, with the bulk of the room to the right, and further on, the dining room opened to the left, adjacent to the kitchen. Down the hall to the left originally were four doors - three leading to bedrooms and a fourth to a bathroom. Later on an addition was built ( I think there were four kids in the family at this point), turning one bedroom into a family room, and adding two bedrooms and another bathroom to the house. The back yard was large, and contained a patio, a grassy lawn, a swing set and a yucca tree, as well as a garden area. Next door resided two large black dobermans, who frequently stuck their noses through gaps in the fence and barked at us whenever we chanced to play in the backyard. I remember that if we stood on top of our swing set on a clear day and looked west, we could see the ocean. A couple blocks away was a 7-Eleven where sometimes Mom would send us to buy milk when we ran out between shopping trips.

About the time I turned 12, (and there were about seven children in the family) my family moved to Mission Viejo, California, where I spent the remainder of my youth. The house there seemed huge at first, with four bedrooms, plus a humongous bonus room upstairs as well as a large living room, family room, and spacious kitchen downstairs. The back yard was also a good size, with no scary dogs next door to discourage us from playing in it. My bedroom was up stairs at the end of a hall, the window looking out over the backyard. It was a great place to live!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


The kids have been in school for an entire week now! Wow! They seem to be enjoying school a lot, especially Peter, who continues to tell me ALL about his day. I love it!

Our kitchen when we moved in
Our kitchen as it was when we moved in.
While they've been in school, I've been working on a project here at home. A few years ago, we put our house on the market, in the hopes that we could sell it and move somewhere bigger. In preparation for that, I painted our dark brown cupboards yellow. As you might be aware, we didn't end up moving, we are still here, and the paint has begun peeling from the edges of the cupboard doors and drawers. As part of the process of fixing up our condo, I thought I would repaint them.

Our kitchen after painting the cupboards
A drawer today
Monday I removed the five lower cupboard doors, smeared them with paint stripper and began the long process of preparing them to be repainted. In the process, I discovered what went wrong the first time - I hadn't removed the varnish on the wood doors before I started painting them! Apparently paint doesn't stick very well to varnish. So.... Not only do I have to remove the paint and primer that I put on the doors the first time, now I have to remove the varnish as well, and it isn't coming easily. The stripper gets some of it, but not all, and I'm having to sand a lot of it off with steel wool. Four days into the process, I finally have one side of each of those five cupboard doors stripped, sanded, and just about ready to repaint. I haven't started yet on the other sides, or on the thirteen upper cabinet doors, or the seven drawers, let alone the cabinets themselves. At the rate I'm going this will take me a month. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.

A cupboard after stripping and sanding

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Personal History #4

What did you do when you were a child that got you in the most trouble and how did your parents handle it?

In trouble? Me? I was always a perfect angel! I never got in trouble!

Okay... I do remember one time... It seems I had an imaginary friend as a little girl. Her name was Suzy I think. Anyway, at dinner one evening I was pretending to be her and not behaving quite as nicely as my usually angelic self. My frustrated parents would tell "MaeLyn" to behave and I would reply, "I'm not MaeLyn, I'm Suzy!" Finally, my frustrated parents showed me to the front door and told "Suzy" to go home and send "MaeLyn" back. I ended up sitting on the front porch, a very confused little girl. I realized, of course, that I really was "MaeLyn" however, it didn't occur to me that I could just walk back in the door, say "I'm MaeLyn" and that all would be fine. It was very clear in my mind that my parents had just kicked me out of the house. I don't know how long I was outside that evening. I remember walking to the edge of our property, contemplating running away, but I knew that I wasn't old enough to cross streets by myself. It was also starting to get dark, and I didn't have a flash light or anything with me. It was a bit scary. I remember also looking at the houses in the cul-de-sac across the street and wondering which one of them housed the girl I was supposed to be finding and sending home. I wondered if my parents would like her more than they had liked me. I don't know what eventually ended that ordeal. Maybe I went back in on my own; maybe one of my parents came out looking for me. Either way, I don't think "Suzy" ever made an appearance again.

I have a very early memory of being spanked. I think it was because I wasn't getting my pajamas on fast enough. I always thought that was a dumb reason to have been spanked until I had children of my own. Now I understand.

I don't think bed time was the only time I was a slow poke. I remember times when I was supposed to do my chores, and spending a really long time in both cleaning, and playing, and cleaning some more. I often pretended I was a princess locked in a tower (which happened to strongly resemble a bathroom) and I had to get the "magic" mirror and sink perfectly spotless or the wicked witch (this role being played by my mother) would send me back to clean it again. I don't know how my parents handled my pokiness, or if they were just happy if the chores would eventually get done.

I seriously don't remember ever being in big trouble. Maybe my parents will read this and remember something I've repressed. If so, feel free to add a comment!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Personal History #3

List a few of the simple things in life that make you smile and tell why.

Okay. This may give away the insanity of how my mind works. These are a few of my favorite things:

Frogs. I'm not sure why. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they are my favorite color, that they like water, and something about the shape of their heads make them look like they are smiling.

Daffodils. I love the delicate shape of these bright and cheerful flowers. They kind of remind me of a cross between a tea cup on a saucer and a trumpet.

Puffy white clouds against a blue blue sky. You know the kind of clouds I mean - the ones that are so easy to see pictures in. I like the contrast of stark white against blue.

The crisp snap of a fresh vegetable breaking in half. It doesn't matter if it is a carrot, celery, or, as I enjoyed yesterday, a stalk of raw broccoli, but I find the sound to be very satisfying to some random part of my soul. Come to think of it, biting into a fresh, crisp apple or opening a just ripe banana can also give that satisfying sound.

A cat lying in a ray of sunlight. The opportunistic creatures always find the best places to sleep!

The smell of a loaf of bread fresh from the oven. Or a hot apple pie, or just the smell of applesauce and cinnamon.

The feel and smell of freshly washed sheets when I go to bed. It's even better if they are still slightly warm from the dryer on a cool night.

Sunlight glistening off the ripples of water in a body of water, and it doesn't matter if it is a swimming pool, a lake, or the ocean. I love to watch the light reflecting as it dances on the water as it moves.

A full, resonant, resolved chord of music. My Mom occasionally plays the Grieg Concerto in A minor and I love hearing the chords and scales in the first movement.

Burying my toes in a thick, soft rug. I love the soft feel of the fibers between my toes. It brings back pleasant memories of standing on the beach and feeling the waves suck the sand out from under my feet, or squishing my toes in a giant oozy mud puddle. I get a similar thrill from plunging my hand into a bag of rice and feeling the grains run through my fingers.

And there you have it - ten simple things in life that make me smile, or that I find some subtle joy in. Go figure.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Personal History #2

What did your parents do for work while you were growing up?

When I was growing up, my mother was a busy stay at home Mom, with several young children at home. I don't remember her ever working outside the home until I was married and gone. She was always busy with something or other, but I do remember coming home from school to see her folding laundry while watching "Little House on the Prairie" or "Highway to Heaven" on TV.

From the time he graduated from college, my Dad worked as a computer programmer at a company called Burroughs, which merged with another company to become Unisys in 1986. He stayed with that company until he retired. As a result of the merger, our family moved to Mission Viejo CA, and I remember that one of the qualities they were looking for in buying a house there was that it be located within biking distance from Dad's new work. Dad almost always rode his bike to work and back.

At home we enjoyed the benefits of Dad's being a computer programmer. He brought home our first computer in the late 1970s or early 1980s, with its monochrome screen and DOS prompts. He wrote programs we could play on it, including a Taipei game, and I think I remember a virtual Rubics Cube as well!

Friday, August 20, 2010

School Has Begun - Part 2

Two days into the school year... so far so good. Hannah got her schedule with Honors classes yesterday, seems to know her way around and doesn't appear to have any worries about anything. She has decided to learn to play the viola in her orchestra class.

Both John and Josh say they like their teachers. Other than that, they haven't offered much information about what they did at school, other than which Special (Music, Art or PE) they had.

Peter is still loving kindergarten, and unlike my other kids, he actually tells me about what he did! Yesterday, he began with, "When we got to school the teacher showed us where to put our back packs..." he told me they played "mud tag" in PE, and the teacher read Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See to them, and then he started drawing a picture about the story, but he didn't finish so he'll need to finish it tomorrow. I'm glad he is enjoying it and I hope his enthusiasm lasts throughout the school year.

Meanwhile, in parent land, Steven has been contemplating going back to school for his MBA, and in the thoughts that we will probably have to stay in our condo for the next few years while our money goes into his schooling, we have decided to fix it up so we can stand to be here that much longer. This week Steven began the process of scraping popcorn off the ceilings. We've also begun selecting colors to repaint the walls (they're still the same boring white that they were freshly painted when we moved in), and started window shopping for curtains and carpet (to replace the stained and worn out carpet that was brand new when we moved in). I'm excited to have the place fixed up, having wanted to do some of these things since we moved in seven years ago.

So, now that I'll have about three hours a day when my children are all in school, I'll be cleaning, organizing, washing walls, shopping, painting, and fixing up the house. I think I'll have plenty to keep me busy for a long time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

School has Begun!

It's official. My baby is in kindergarten, my oldest is in Middle School. All my children are in school, or were, for about fifteen minutes today.

I wasn't able to see Hannah off. She took off walking, headed for the bus stop at the same time I started loading the boys into the car to head to school. I didn't follow the bus to her school. I didn't take pictures in front of the school. I didn't even take pictures of her getting on a school bus for the first time (that wasn't a field trip). I hope she is enjoying her day. Last night we went to the open house at the middle school, and talked to someone about getting her into honors classes. Apparently her 5th grade teacher hadn't passed on the forms to get her in, but after the lady looked up her CSAP scores, she admitted that there was no question Hannah should be in honors. She took care of it, and Hannah's schedule should be changed either today or tomorrow. She was able to meet most of her teachers and find all of her class rooms last night, so hopefully she wont be feeling totally lost today. I still worry about her. I think I'm more stressed about her first day in Middle School than she was. She gets out early today - about ten minutes ago, actually, so I'll let her take the bus home and she can tell me about her day when she gets here.

Last night we went to an open house at the elementary school as well. We met all the teachers. (Two of the three are teachers that we've already had.) Today it was just a matter of finding the right line to get into at the school, and then the kids followed their teacher into the building. Peter was very disappointed that he has afternoon kindergarten and had to wait until after lunch. As soon as we got home from dropping off John and Joshua, he asked if it was lunch time yet, and he watched the clock all morning asking, "Is it time for lunch yet?" and "Is it time to go to school?" I'm glad that he was excited about it; six months ago when I'd ask him if he wanted to go to kindergarten, he'd tell me, "No, I just want to stay home with you."
Today is early dismissal day at the elementary school, too, so I'll go back and get the boys in just a couple hours. I hope they are enjoying their day, renewing acquaintances, making new friends, learning rules and procedures, getting comfortable. I think it is a nice way to ease into the school day. Tomorrow the real learning will begin.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Personal History #1

"Tell about an experience with one of your children's teachers."

Hannah turned five one day after the cut off date to get into kindergarten that year. No matter how ready she was, the school would not bend the rules in the slightest to let her in. Not having the means to put her in preschool, I kept her home that year, but got her kindergarten work books to work on. At home, Hannah learned her ABCs and was soon putting letters together into words and sentences.

A year later, she was allowed into kindergarten, just before she turned six. During the first week of school, she wrote a story, and her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Wilson, was very impressed by it. She showed Hannah's story to the principal, and then to the district people and finally managed to do what I hadn't been able to do on my own - get Hannah moved up to first grade, where she would have been if she had been allowed to start kindergarten the year before. I will always feel grateful to Mrs Wilson for putting my daughter's abilities and education ahead of the rules and regulations the school district imposed.

The following year, John was put into her kindergarten class. While he, also, was able to read fluently on arriving in kindergarten, he had just turned five and his social skills and maturity level needed the benefit of kindergarten. Mrs. Wilson worked with him throughout the year, giving him books to read and other learning opportunities that were appropriate to his abilities. I think that she is my favorite of the teachers my children have had so far because of the attention she gave to them and their needs as individuals. Since then she went on to become a reading coordinator at that school, and then moved to another school as an assistant principal. I bumped into her last spring during the district Battle of the Books competition. She recognized me and remembered Hannah and John, but John didn't remember her!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Confession, An Idea and A Plan

Last night I went to a Relief Society meeting where we learned about journals, family history, photography, and scrap booking. One of the sisters who taught mentioned that we need to find a method of recording life's events that works for us, and that a person can still get into heaven even if she doesn't scrapbook. What a relief! I have made a few scrap books - one for my high school years (as a young womens project), one for my college years, and one for my mission. (I put these together in the month or two after I came home from my mission, before I started working - when I didn't have much else to do.) I have put together about 20 pages since I got married, but that's it. For years my "scrap book" was my web site, but even that has been pushed to the side in recent years. As for journal writing, I have been a sporadic journal writer at best. I guess now the closest thing I have to a journal is this blog. And you can see how often I write here - not daily by a long shot, but more often than anything else. But it is a record of my thoughts and feelings, and I do record events that have occurred here.

Last night we each received a "journal bag" that contains a lot of slips of paper with questions on them - ideas for things to write about. (Besides the day to day current events, apparently.) So what I intend to do is write something every day (or at least every week day...) If I can't think of something current to write about, I'll pull a slip out of the bag and write about whatever the question is about. I'd really like to get into a habit of writing daily, and frequently I'm deterred by not having anything to write about, so we'll see where this gets me, and how long it lasts.

So, if you follow my blog, prepare for some more personal, more historic (like about my childhood) types of blogs. MaeLyn's Musings is about my thoughts - about the past, present and future.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another Busy But Fun Day

Yesterday we went to an orientation at the middle school. I still find it difficult to believe that Hannah will be in middle school, and now it is less than a week away. Wow. I was grateful that they had a parent meeting, while the 6th graders were learning the same things and getting their tour of the school and trying out their lockers. I like that the school has a website where we can see what homework has been assigned (not that I'm worried about Hannah completing her homework, but it's nice to have a way to see when she should be studying or completing a project.) I like that we will be able to check on her grades any time online, and so won't be surprised when report cards come home. I like how the 6th graders get a six week introduction to each of the electives the school offers so they can make informed decisions when selecting their 7th and 8th grade electives. I am a little concerned that Hannah isn't currently registered for honors classes, even though we filled out the paper work for them in the spring, and her teacher last year was pretty confident that she would be... I talked to the counselor at the school yesterday, and hopefully we can get that straightened out before school starts.

After the orientation at the school, I felt like having a fun day out with the kids before school starts again. We went shoe shopping first(4 pairs of shoes, buy one get one 1/2 off sale, with a 20% off total purchase coupon - $43), then went to Little Caesar's for lunch. (1 large hot and ready pepperoni pizza - $5 plus tax) A couple of the kids had earned coupons to Dairy Queen for a free ice cream cone through our library summer reading program, so our next stop was DQ to redeem them. I bought ice cream cones for the other two kids as well. (2 ice cream cones at about $1.65 each - $3.30) From there we went to a movie theater to watch How to Train Your Dragon. (5 tickets @ $2.50 each - $12.50) The movie was great. I think everyone really enjoyed it, except for Peter who got a little scared near the end. When we left the theater, the thermometer in our car read 104 degrees. We came home, changed quickly and went to the pool to cool off for an hour (free). Then it was time for dinner. In all, it was a fun day. The kids were good, I wasn't stressed out, and we had a lot of fun. We even ran into some people we knew along the way. I started the day with about $25 in my wallet and came home with less than $5, (I paid for the shoes with a credit card; not cash) but the day was memorable. I hope the kids return to school with happy memories of time spent with the family during the summer.