Thursday, March 31, 2011

Aunt Teresa!

Since March 19, we have had only 1 full day without a visitor present. That is not a bad thing. We all love having family around here. Aunt Teresa was up first, and she loves to take pictures. I thought I'd share those here.

The kids had a great time with Aunt Teresa, and can't wait until she visits again. That might be awhile, as she is getting married this summer, and is also in school. We'll keep our fingers crossed for another visit and in the meantime, look forward to her wedding.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Melina and the Robot

Aunt Teresa caught this little gem a couple of days ago. I need to say that, while I did major in French in college, I have not taught her any of the language. We can thank Scooby Doo and the Creepy Chef book for that one. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Bits

Last year, our small garden was a success! Tim was the keeper, but the kids and I had planted the seeds and cared for them prior to putting the budding plants in the ground. I have been a little lazy lately, and just yesterday Melina and I went to the store to get our seeds. Aunt Teresa is visiting, so she was our helper for the morning.

I had planned on purchasing seeds for tomatoes, peppers, carrots -- your usual stuff. Melina had other things in mind. She chose flower seeds and watermelon seeds. The one she really wanted, though, was a packet of school bus seeds. Yep, you read that correctly. She thinks you can plant little seeds in the ground and grow school buses. We really did look at the store, but walked away without the school bus seeds. Apparently, the little red man told her that school buses came from seeds.

Spring is March of Dimes time. I have two friends I support with a small donation, both of whom have very healthy little boys that were born too early. This year, Kelsey has a link to another friend of hers that is making donations through the March of Dimes. If you purchase one of the dresses Liz makes (at 20$ each), she will donate 100% of that to the March of Dimes. Kelsey has a nice right up here, so I'd suggest heading that way if you are interested.

Tim turns 40 on Saturday (the 26th). Be sure to wish him a Happy Birthday should you see him.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Closet Fan

There are many things I love that tend to get pushed back into the closet. Any song by Asia, Air Supply, or Neil Diamond qualifies. My love for little kids' clothes-- which involves me wearing them -- is another one. That sounds a little creepy, but manufacturers make the largest kid size pretty big these days, so if I think it can pass as something an adult would wear (or not), I might just purchase it. Case in point: I am writing this while wearing pink fleece pajamas with polar bears, trees, and snowflakes on them.

Anyway, Melina and I stumbled down the stairs this morning, Sunday, at 5:15 am. The only thing I love at that time of the morning is a good cup of coffee (it is sitting next to me right now). Due to the early hour, her request for watching a little television was granted. At some point, between shows, Steven Burns and Steven Drozd came on, singing I Hog the Ground (The Groundhog Song). You can find it on You Tube, if you'd like to hear it, but your best bet might be to get it here. Doesn't the picture below just make you want to know what the song sounds like?!? Okay, maybe not, but indulge me here, or go back to work.

I loved Blue's Clues while Steve was on it, and I actually love hearing this song. I have seen this clip several times on the television, and each time I hear the song, I smile. Steve and the kids (and Steven Drozd -- from the Flaming Lips -- another great band) bounce around and sing about the ground, the groundhog, and the color brown. The song gets the kids moving, and it gets me moving, which is pretty important when you get up before dawn every day.

So, I'll be shelving my insane love of this song in the closet. Unlike some people, I will at least admit to these fancies, and not just in a pseudo-anonymous arena such as this blog. For my next birthday, if you'd like to get me an album by these guys, even if the CD is a bunch of kids' songs, I'll relish it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Math Mishaps

Aaron came home yesterday with a math paper that had 6 incorrect answers on it. Considering math is his favorite subject, I was quite surprised. I don't expect him to always get the right answers, but 6 wrong in kindergarten math seemed a bit much.

The directions (which are read aloud by the teacher) for the first 5 said: Write the number in each group. Add. Write the sum. So, for the first one, he would look at the 7 lizards in the first group and the 2 lizards in the second group, and make a number sentence that looked like 7 + 2 = 9. Basically, he is practicing three things: counting the number of objects in a group, writing his numbers, and adding numbers. Good exercise all around.

But Aaron is very much like his father, who is so excited about math, it can get him in trouble. So on the second page, Aaron should have recognized two groups, one with 6 and one with 2, to make the number sentence 6 + 2 = 8. But he Aaron didn't. He decided to write 6 + 8 = 14. True, but not the correct answer. Same thing with the next one. He should have written 7 + 2 = 9. What did he put? 7 + 9 = 16. Again, the sentence is true, but incorrect for the paper.

I figured that perhaps he was just messing around, and felt like writing something else, but most likely, he did the initial math in his head (6 + 2 = 8) and then took the 8 and added to the 6. He tends to think he can do more math than he can. Many times it works, other times, it just doesn't.

Once I got to the bottom of the page, I burst out laughing. The last problem was an algebra readiness problem. Aaron was supposed to look for a pattern, and then Complete the number sentence. It looked like this:

1 + 2 = ?
2 + 2 = ?
3 + 2 = ?
? + 2 = ?

Aaron got the first three right. He correctly supplied 3, 4, and 5. When he got to the last one, he decided to go out with a bang. Instead of 4 and 6, he put 1000 and 1002.

Aaron made his corrections easily and I am asking him to bring the paper back to his teacher. I plan on attaching a note that lets her know that I have no idea where his head was, but that we discussed paying attention a little better. This sort of mishap I certainly don't mind!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Where's Melina?

Can you find Melina in this picture?

There she is!

The kids all found this hysterical, for quite a long time. Melina just stood there, letting the kids build the column around her. What a sport!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Do you know how much I like cats? We have two of them, so you would think that I actually love them. Well, I don't. I like one cat. His name is Oscar, and he's been dead for quite a while now. I fell in love with that cat, and he with me, and when we parted (upon my leaving for college) it was so bittersweet. I didn't think I'd ever find a cat to replace him, and I haven't. And yet, as I said, we own two cats.

Why? When I first moved out into my own apartment, I felt that I needed some company. I was living alone, and could not have a dog, so I opted for a cat. I just needed to be able to come home to somebody, and not a silent apartment. I found an advertisement in the newspaper and called it right away. The woman giving the cats away was named Lillian, and she lived in the next town over.

Tim and I were dating at the time, and so I dragged him with me to Lillian's house. He figured since you should never go to a stranger's home alone, he better go. And he would have to be friendly with this cat, so he probably wanted to see which one I'd pick out. We made it to Lillian's house, but when we got there, the cats were hiding. That should have been an omen. The cats don't want you, so go away. I persisted.

We left there with not one, but two cats -- my original twins. The momma cat had delivered a litter of four kittens, and Lillian wanted to give them away in pairs, so that they wouldn't be lonely. That probably was the second omen. You don't want two cats, so go away. Instead, I thought it was a good idea. I was a graduate student at the time, so I'd be away from the apartment quite a bit. If the cats had each other, that would be just swell. I quickly said okay. And, I had two great names that I always wanted to use for pets: Lucy and Ferdinand. Two cats, two names. Great.

Aside from the fact that Lucy is actually a male cat, and that both cats are considered obese by the veterinarian, they look like everyday normal indoor cats. They sleep most of the day, and always have. They use the litter, and meow and purr wildly. But these cats, these cats, they are not normal! Evidence that I have?

1. When we still lived in the promised land, and Tim was working at night, Lucy would walk around the apartment whining for him. Loudly. Once Tim came home, Lucy would jump into bed with me. Idiot! I was there the whole time.

2. Lucy has always had a problem covering up his feces. It just sits there. Litter does not control odor if you do not cover what you just eliminated!

3. Speaking of feces, Ferdinand also has a problem. He uses the litter box very well, but neglects to clean his nether regions. I don't even want to get into what can happen due to that lovely characteristic of his.

4. Since moving here, the cats have had digestive issues. Yes, they are getting older, but when we first arrived, almost 8 years ago, they were not older. It seems almost daily -- and I am not exaggerating, just ask Tim -- that we find some spot of cat vomit. This wouldn't be too much of a problem on the wood floor or tile, or even the carpet, but we find it on bedsheets, sleeping bags, and comforters. I do enough laundry with all these people, so I don't really like having to do extras. In fact, I loathe it. I can honestly say I lost it a few minutes ago when the girls told me that yet again, there was cat vomit on their beds.

Once I got downstairs, I began thinking of all of the things these guys do that aggravate me, and then my mind just spiraled out of control. I figured I better do something quick. My first thought was to write up an advertisement on Craigs List for them: 2 free cats to a good home. Neutered males. Up to date on shots. Medical records, all cats necessities included. No medical issues (hee, hee). I thought better of that, and turned on the computer. A blog can be quite cathartic, you know?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lenten Promises

When I was a child, my mom always had us do two things for the 40 days of Lent: give something up, and try to do something positive. It was always more difficult to do the positive things. Somehow, giving up chocolate was much easier than trying to be nicer to my sisters. When Ash Wednesday rolled around last week, the girls and I decided to give up sweets. I forgot about discussing the possibility of doing something positive.

While running on Saturday, I realized that our Lenten promises were pretty ridiculous. I knew I could go 40 days without sweets, and while Zoe especially would complain, with all the fruits coming into season, the girls probably wouldn't miss the cookies and candy. So what would be the point, then? I don't think God will mind if we change our plan a couple of days into Lent, do you? I thought about what promises might do the most good for everyone, and brought up the subject when I returned home.

This is what we decided would be good for the girls:

1. Limit the TV time. The whole TV watching experience has gotten out of hand. I am pretty sure it has to do with all the sicknesses we've had as of late, but I really have gotten lax, and the girls have gotten lazy. We decided that TV had to be limited to 1 program a day. And that doesn't mean a 3 hour program! In this way, the girls are sort of "giving something up" for 40 days.

2. Listen more effectively. For their "something positive", the girls decided that they would try to be better listeners all around; they would try to listen better to mom and dad, as well as to their siblings and friends. And they would be pretty conscientious about reminding each other of their Lenten promise.

I distinctly remember the girls saying that one of their New Year's Resolutions had to do with listening, and when I think back to the past couple of months, I do believe that they are doing a better job listening at home. Of course, there is always room for improvement, so I approved of their choice. In actuality, I think these two promises together will be more difficult for them to keep than simply giving up sweets, but I also think they will feel more fulfilled by keeping them.

Since I do not watch much TV at all, and I think I am a pretty good listener, I plan on doing something positive to better myself. But that decision is a little personal, and perhaps another post altogether.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I love blogging. Partly because I love to write. Always have, always will. Perhaps, if I get good enough, I can make some money someday doing some writing. But I digress.

Another reason I love to blog (and I know that Kelsey will back me up, and she probably has a post on this already) is that you get advice from people who know you (and sometimes, from people you don't).

And, I just wanted to say Thanks! to several of you folks that gave me advice/support regarding the last post: the full-time job, outside the home.

I especially need to say a big Thanks! to Julie, for giving (as she calls it) her unsolicited advice. Come to think of it, I probably did solicit advice, considering I posted the topic. However, it was good to get a view from a full-time, outside the home mom.

Around here, I know many SAHMs that would have given me the same spiel: Your kids are only young once! Why are you in the rush to get back to work? The list could go on. And while I might sound cavalier when I write that, and roll my eyes at the triteness of the sentences, they are exactly correct in everything they said. Luckily, there is no rush. But sometimes opportunities come along.

Because I speak with Kelsey on a regular basis, I know how much fun she had last year when she went full-time for a bit. I thought of that experience and how it could fit into our family. To be honest, it doesn't fit right now. Perhaps next year, but at the moment, not so much. Tara said it best when she said that the timing is not right. Clean and simple.

I sent a second email to Brooke, the babysitter, last night saying that I wasn't ready to teach full-time, and that we could discuss things later. She wrote back saying that she was actually pretty excited about the prospect of helping us. Knowing that, I still haven't changed my mind, but it could make things easier in the future.

So again, Thanks! for helping. Just writing my issues down seems to be a way to wade through the muck, and I appreciate any help I can get, considering the muck grows at an exponential rate these days.

Small update: Brooke and I discussed a few details this morning when I returned. My plan is to tell the powers that be that I would like to be the absolute last resort. If they need a warm body, I can do it. One quarter is only 11 weeks of madness. The whole experience might be much-needed shake up for the kids and Tim, a lesson in how to get along without Mommy so much (Thanks! to you, too, Tami, for your insight.) I still hope they don't need to resort to the last resort, though!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just Say No?

A full-time job. I have one of those already. Until I was a mom, I really didn't understand that parenting and keeping house took so much time.

However, the college called today to see if I could possibly help them. They are interviewing for full-time tenure track positions right now. I did not apply for that position, because I am not ready to work full-time. If the person who currently serves as the annually contracted faculty gets the tenure track position, then that position (the ACF) will be open. The college will be in a hurry to fill it, and the department wanted to know if I could fill it for spring quarter.

The job would entail teaching 18 credit hours, which is quite a bit. Therefore, I would have lots of grading to do, much of which I would be required to do at home. Furthermore, I would be gone Monday through Thursday, from about 7:15 am until 5 pm. I am toying with the opportunity, but here is what comes immediately to mind.

  1. Daycare. Our babysitter is great, but would she want to come 4 days a week, all day? In addition, that cost would probably eat up any money I would make.
  2. Appointments. We have all our appointments set up for the spring. Dentist, orthodontist, optometrist. I'd have to call and switch all of those times to a Friday, if that is possible, or else put them off until summer. Hmmm.
  3. Cooking, cleaning, homework. Who would make dinner? I never start dinner at 5 pm. That time is just too late to start things cooking. I could probably ask the babysitter to start things out, but during that time of the afternoon, it is also important to help the kids with homework. And cleaning? Well, that would have to be pushed to the weekends.
  4. Weekends. I suspect that these would be jam packed with everything that didn't get done during the week: grocery shopping, spending time with the kids, laundry, and more grading, of course. While I don't relax much on the weekends as it is right now, I think that any hope of relaxation would essentially be out the window.

I called Tim and told him the situation, and I emailed Brooke and asked her what her position was on the whole thing. In essence, it is my decision. If the kids were all in school full-time, I think it would be a great opportunity to feel out the full-time job thing. But I truly feel that if I take this opportunity now, I will most likely just feel like tearing my hair out by the end of the quarter, and I am pretty certain that Tim and the kids won't like me so much. In fact, Tim? The kids? I might not even be able to tell you who those people are!

So Brooke, if you are reading, feel free to say that you cannot imagine taking on this responsibility right now. I'd completely understand if you want to keep your schedule the way it is, so that you have ample time to devote to your real job. You'd be giving me a great excuse to just say no to the college.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reproductive Education

I just proctored the last lab practical of the quarter for my A & P class. Because it is an 8 o'clock class, I have a small number of students that enrolled. Usually, the number of students that actually attend is even smaller; a group of 5 students come each week faithfully. This half of the quarter, we covered (among other things) the Endocrine and Reproductive systems. For those of you not in the know, the Endocrine system deals with hormones and the glands that secrete them. I am certain you all know what the Reproductive system entails.

Due to harsh winter weather and missed days of class, those two systems were the only topics on the exam today. The students in this lab did well overall, but I have another one at 10 o'clock, and I can already see the mistakes that will happen.

Question 25.
Part I: Name the organ from which this tissue was taken.
Part II: Name the structure indicated by the pointer.

If you look closely at this photo AND you have studied this information, you would know that this is taken from the ovary. Imagine a pointer on the outside of the circle on the right: the one with the small pink circle in the middle, surrounded by some more pink, with what looks like a large hole on the left and a small hole on the right, all of which enclosed by an oval of purple cells. THAT is the structure the department wants you to identify.

The answer should be: Organ = ovary and structure = secondary follicle.
The answer I get most often is: Organ = penis and structure = primary follicle.

There are at least two things wrong with that answer! One, this is NOT the penis. And two, a primary follicle is not found in the penis. Ovum develop inside follicles, and last I checked one needed to be born XX in order to have ovaries and follicles. One might then ask, what does the histological section of the penis look like? We use a cross-section of it, and it looks something like this:

See that face smiling at you? Yes, that is the penis. A student once compared it to an alien face, and ever since then, the comparison is used, every quarter. Yes, both pictures have circles, but can you see the difference? The squiggle in the center of the picture is the urethra, which is surrounded by the corpus spongiosum. Those compose the mouth of the alien, the eyes being the two circles above that, properly named the corpora cavernosum. Don't you think, if you studied the information, that these two pictures look different? Be honest now.

The Reproductive system is always good for laughs like these, partially because the students think they know all there is to know. For goodness sakes, they say, I've been using these things forever. Shouldn't I know all the parts? Well, yes, you should. But you don't. And that is why I am here. To sort out the penis from the ovary, discuss how the uterus differs from the vagina (really, they are different organs!), and show you exactly what cells make testosterone and which make the sperm (all within the testis, just different populations of cells.)

Aren't you glad you stopped by? Any questions?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Almost Spring Poetry

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

I have done that --

Five times, already, in fact.

Still, the bright pink bubblegum stain of the acetaminophen remains.

Tenacious, this stain is,

Much like the virus that grips Melina.

Fever is what brought on the pink bubblegum acetaminophen,

Since the ibuprofen,

Dye-free and clear,

Had no effect.

Usually it is magic

And my Melina returns to us.

Swirling, twirling, laughing

Through the afternoon until bedtime,

When she pleasantly asks to go to bed.

Bedtime has not been pleasant, though.

Coughing, flailing, my little peanut thrashes.

And each morning, we wake

As tired as the night before.

Sunny days might help, but today it rains.

Plenty of water to wash all of this away,

The virus, the bubblegum, the fatigue.

We can hope. We will hope.

Because under all the drops, we see something peeking out.

A green beginning, a strong new life.

A simple purple crocus flashes its smile at us.

Which reminds me to find the blanket with the purple grape stain on it.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Have I Called You Lately?

No. I have done no phone calling lately, Reader. It isn't that I don't want to catch up on what is happening in your parts of the world, it is just that I don't feel like calling and then complaining. About what, you ask? I don't think you actually need to ask. What keeps cropping up on this lovely blog every month or so? What seems to schedule itself with regularity, much like a woman's cycle? (Sorry, I just could not resist.) A virus. A germ. A sickness. Yes, we've got another one! Here's the rundown on this one:

1. Most people in the house have had a mild sore throat for the last
couple of days.
2. Melina woke up on Tuesday morning feeling warm. She was okay, but not her usual self, and as the day progressed, she was feeling downright hot. We made it through yesterday, thanks to acetominophen and the television.
3. About 11 o'clock last night, Melina's fever spiked, and the medicine I had just given her came back up.
4. At 3 o'clock this morning, Melina was sleeping peacefully, but Tim informed me that Talia had just thrown up.
5. At 5:45 am, Melina lost whatever is left in her all over my pajamas. I am so glad I hadn't changed into work clothes yet.

I have been looking at our situation from every angle. I make an attempt to keep things relatively clean and germ free. We all try to wash our hands properly, especially after coming home from school, church, and the grocery store. We don't share spoons or cups. We must be encountering different strains of the same virus, because all of this bouncing around between sicknesses is just nonsense. Tara said it best this morning, when I called to vent. Upon hearing that 2 of the kids were sick, again, her reply? "Shut the front door!" Love that put a smile on my face.

I'm not laughing, but I am not crying, either. I am trying to figure out what I am supposed to learn from our unhealthy winter here. Patience? Got that one. Tim and I are the epitome of patience when it comes to holding children's heads over buckets or throwing that 30th load of laundry in. Compassion? Think we have that, too. Gratitude? Perhaps. We probably should be thankful that these acute illnesses are all we need to deal with and that we essentially have 4 healthy and happy children. Thank goodness 4 is all we have. Any more, and I am certain our house would need to be quarantined!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Today I discovered a lovely little result. If you list the vertices of a non-self-intersecting polygon in counterclockwise order, then the area of the polygon is

where vertical bars denote the determinant. The first thing I thought when I saw this equation was that I could use the nth roots of unity to get the vertices of regular n-gons inscribed in the unit circle, calculate their areas, and get a sequence that has pi as its limit!


Yeah, me too!

Since this blog is called Heptadecagon, here's the inscribed heptadecagon:
At this scale, it doesn't look too much different than the circumscribed circle, but you can see all 17 distinct sides. The area of the polygon, calculated with the determinant equation, is 3.07055 to six decimal points.

Here are the results of the area sequence, from n=3 to n=1002. At 1002, the area is 3.14157. At n=20000, the area is 3.14159260, which misses pi by about five hundred millionths. If I calculate any more of these, it won't be on this machine. This old 800 MHz, Pentium III has had about all it can take.Yes, the heptadecagon is a Matlab figure, while the area sequence curve comes from LabView. I'm bilingual.