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2007 December » Philoxenos


The internet, it’s a wonderful thing

30th December 2007

The internet, it’s a wonderful thing

I learned something new today. But before I tell you, let me ask you a question: Have you ever heard of King Cake?

Don’t worry, neither had I.

Are you ready for the answer?

Go here.

Apparently, King Cake is a huge deal in Louisiana, starting 6 Jan and going through Mardi Gras. We Californians are obviously missing something from our cultural heritage.

And hat tip to Activities Coordinator at Life On The Planet for enlightening me. And if she wants to send me one, that would be okay too ;)

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30th December 2007

AWANA vests and other interesting search results

I just had a look at my Google Analytics account, which tracks how people come to my blog and how long they stay, etc. Turns out people are getting to my blog by searching for information on where to place the badges on the AWANA vest. No joke, currently if you search for “AWANAS where badges go on vest” I’m the fifth result! Who woulda thought. I have mentioned AWANA a few times, most recently here , which is the post that comes up on Google.

For the information of anyone finding this post because of a similar search, I’m sorry but I’m really not the person to ask!! I sewed on the little elephant and lamb badges and discovered I put them in the wrong place. Apparently you’re supposed to start at the bottom of the A (for Cubbies). I just put them wherever I wanted :) I’m such a rebel. But check out to see if you can find the answer. I had a quick look and didn’t find anything useful.

I’m also a popular destination for searches involving “broccoli cheese velveeta casserole.”  Anyone wanting to make it, you rock! I love that stuff. You can find the recipe for it here  . I think I might need to put it on the menu for the following week. Yum!

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29th December 2007

Life, as narrated by…

My daughter.

A bit of background info. We read A LOT. Or , as my daughter would say, very much a lot. We read to the kids, we read our own books, we read on the internet, we listen to audio books. We read.

Our oldest daughter, Precious (age 4), had adopted our love of books and I hope has made it her own love, too. She will take a stack with her to bed and read through them. She has the amazing ability to hear a book read to her just once or twice and then be able to recite it almost verbatim.

Today it was driven home just how much reading has influenced her life. We were all laying around on the sofa, talking and giggling and tickling, as we are wont to do. I said something like “It’s time to tidy up now” or something equally mundane. Precious piped up and said “No, we don’t want to.” But the incredibly funny part was after she said “No, we don’t want to” she added as a postscript “said the children” as if she was speaking a line from a story. ” ‘No, we don’t want to’, said the children as they ate another biscuit.” or something like that.

For the rest of the afternoon Handsome and I would speak as if narrating. “Sweetheart, please pass me a tissue, requested the lovely wife.” or ” What a funny blog! exclaimed the reader.”

It’s one of those things that I think will live in our family culture for a long time. I can just imagine when Precious gets married, she’ll be finished reciting her vows and her daddy will add in an undertone “promised the bride”.

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27th December 2007

Dads and homeschooling

As I’ve already mentioned we’re  starting homeschool kindergarten in January with Precious. We’re starting out using Five in a Row   which is a literature based unit study curriculum. Our first unit is on Katy and the Big Snow, which is a story about a snow plow that helps save her town.

Part of the story includes the use of North, South, East, West . My husband loves using Google Earth, as well as maps in general. He’s keen to be involved in our homeschool so I’ve asked him to teach a lesson on using maps, introducing the idea of cardinal directions.

Last night he came home from a trip to Walgreens with the Orajel I requested but he also bought a compass! It’s a little handheld compass which only cost $3. He was so proud of himself because he knew our daughter would just love it.

And this is why it’s important for me (and other homeschool moms) to keep Dad informed about what’s going on. They have a lot to offer as teachers, too, if we just keep them aware of what the plans are.

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27th December 2007

26 December

Go have a look at your calendar. Look at the box marked 26 December. Most of you will see written “Boxing Day”. I remember, before I moved to NZ, I always wondered what Boxing Day was. I knew it was celebrated by some Commonwealth countries, so it had some British ties. I even asked a Canadian once what Boxing Day was and she gave me some vague information about giving away toys or boxing up things for the poor or something like that.

When I married and moved to New Zealand I discovered that Boxing Day is a public holiday! No work! Gotta like that. Although the origins of Boxing Day were a bit fuzzy, I’m always willing to do my patriotic duty and take a holiday.

Yesterday, Aussie Kim at Homeschool Savvy  did a great post on the meaning of Boxing Day. Hop over there and have a quick read so you’ll know the meaning behind Boxing Day, from an Australian’s perspective.

My resident Kiwi, Handsome, was pretty bummed on Christmas night because he knew he had to go to work on Boxing Day. All day long he just felt it was so weird to have to work on Boxing Day. It’s funny how something like that can really throw you off.

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19th December 2007

7 things about me

Activities Coordinator, over at Life On The Planet , has politely prompted me to respond to her post Seven Random Things . As I told her, I’m very good at avoiding things I really should be doing other than blogging, so here it goes!

Seven Random Things About Me

1. About four years ago I had some minor surgery that required a general anesthetic. When I finally came back to awareness, the first thing I remember saying to my husband was “Whoa, that doctor’s suit was really shiny.”

2. It took me 19 years to realise that I don’t like pepperoni pizza. Up until that point I always ordered pepperoni pizza and took off the pepperoni. I finally saw the light and discovered cheese pizza :)

3. I totally love the Signing Time DVDs. I check them out at the library for the kids but, really, they’re for me :)

4.  Jif is my favourite brand of peanut butter, but I have given it up due to the hydrogenated oils.

5. I can read Korean fluently but don’t understand what I’m reading most of the time.

6. I have a stationery obsession. Back to school sales really get me going ;)

7.  I have never been skiing, though I lived an hour from world-class skiing for several years.

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19th December 2007

Shopping for pantyhose

Last night I was out at Walgreens, taking advantage of the $5 off $20 purchase coupon, which was good yesterday only.

I was standing in front of the pantyhose, trying to figure out which ones to buy. We have the company Christmas party tomorrow night. I guess I’ll have to shave my legs too.


I was standing in front of the pantyhose and this man walks up and starts staring at the pantyhose. I’m not really paying attention to him because it’s not really the kind of place to endear random conversation. Kind of like you never start a conversation with someone standing in the feminine hygiene section.

Suddenly he look as me as asks “Can you please help me out here?” And of course I said I’d help. I asked what colour she needed (I was assuming he was buying them for his girlfriend or something.) He said she wanted skin colour.

Now, this is where I was reminded that we are a multicultural society and not all skin colour is the same. You see, he was black.  So, in the space of a second all kind of thoughts were running through my mind. Do I ask if she’s black? Do I say black or African-American? Who am I to assume that his girlfriend is black too? She could be Hispanic, or Asian, or from North Africa, or just plain white. Handsome and I are a bi-cultural marriage, we just happen to be the same skin colour.

“Who’s skin colour?” This is what I finally came up with. A bit lame, but I was trying not to offend. He looked at me a bit puzzled and then the light came on and he said, while pointing to me, “Oh, she’s white.”

Of course my next question was what size does she wear and he responded that she was tall and skinny, which made me chuckle.

Okay, that rules out control top.

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17th December 2007

I’ve obviously been out of college a long time

Last night we were writing our Christmas letter, to be included with our Christmas cards. And, no, we have no intention in having them posted in time to be received by Christmas.

As I was finishing the editing, it was just a few lines over one page. I said something out loud about being frustrated that I couldn’t get it down to just one page.

My husband looked at me and chuckled. I was like - what? and he said “You’ve obviously been out of college too long. Just adjust the margins!”

Duh! I totally forgot that is the trick that helps every college student survive - adjust the margin a little here, move the font up a smidge there, and voila! A five page, double spaced research paper.

That could be read by a blind person from across the room.

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12th December 2007

It’s all about perspective

Last night my dad called me just to check up on me, see how things were going. He does that sometimes. He used to do that when I was in New Zealand, too. He would often call from some random airport while he waited to board a plane or from a car when he was driving on some business trip. I like that my dad calls me. But that’s not the point of this post.

He asked how things were going and I said, well, the kids are asleep. They’re all alive. So I guess we had a pretty good day. He laughed. But honestly, sometimes that’s all we can hope for.

It’s been a rough week or so, with illness and cabin fever. It’s winter here and it’s getting pretty chilly, although nothing like what they’re experiencing in the midwest with heavy ice storms and such. But because of the cold and the kids being sick with various things I didn’t want to take them out to play, so we’ve been stuck in the house for most of the week, missing church activities and play dates and pretty much getting sick of our own company.

It’s during these times that I must really seek to get perspective. It’s so easy to focus on the negative things that the kids are doing, forgetting that they’re bored, too. They’re tired of being inside. They know they’re missing the fun things they normally do and it’s all because they’re sick which is something they have very little control over (I personally think it’s because we’re just not used to these American germs. No joke.)

So, late this afternoon I left the younger two with my mom and I took Precious, my 4 year old, out to do some things and go to AWANA at church. We ran by the house and the post office then we headed to Walmart. I don’t normally like going to Walmart in the evenings, particularly in December, but I had a good attitude about it. We dined at McDs inside, which Precious thought was totally cool. And then we did a bit of Christmas shopping for Grandma and Grandpa. And I discovered self-checkout, which is awesome.

But the entire time we were out, I was really focussing on Precious. I wanted to listen to what she was saying, answer her questions as intelligently as I could. You know what my favourite part was? Holding her hand. We held hands the whole time, except when we were eating. I don’t get to hold her hand very much because I’m usually holding the baby in one arm and the 2 year old’s hand in the other. The 4 year old I can trust to walk by herself if necessary. But tonight we held hands.

I watched her at AWANA as she got two more badges for her Cubbies vest. She’s growing up. But she’s still such a little girl. I’m so glad for nights like tonight when I can just be with her and focus on her instead of listening with half an ear while making dinner and watching to make sure the baby doesn’t stuff something horrible in his mouth and choke.

I sure hope I can remember nights like tonight when I feel like the kids will never learn how to tie their shoes or I think they’re going to grow up into big kids that will terrorise the neighbourhood or they’ll get scurvy from not getting enough Vitamin C.

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12th December 2007

double ear infection and culture shock

**I started writing this post a week ago. 

My son, nearly 9 months old, has a double ear infection. I took him to urgent care yesterday late afternoon. We’ve had a couple of pretty rough days because he has an ear infection, as well as a cold. He’s pretty miserable.

But my experience with the medical community has brought my heart rate up a bit as I’m experiencing a whole new kind of culture shock. Lots of words that I’m unfamiliar with - HMO, PPO - lots of ID numbers and letters that I’m supposed to know - group name, scheme #, policy holder whatzit.

In New Zealand, if my kids got sick, I went to the local doctor down the street. I didn’t even have to have an appointment if it was really urgent. I just showed up and they fit us in.  The nice doctor looked at the child, told me what he thought was wrong, often it wasn’t anything that medicine would help, but he always made me feel better and we’d go home, no money out of pocket, feeling much better for having a doctor checking it out.

The trip to urgent care cost us $83 and about two hours of my time. Then I had a prescription that I had to get filled, which took another hour of standing in line at Walmart (I didn’t stand in line the whole time.) That only cost $9, which I found interesting, but it was only amoxicillin, which is relatively common. At urgent care they asked me questions that I didn’t have answers to so we had to pay cash up front. I’m just glad that we had the cash. What happens to the people with sick kids that don’t have the money? Where do they go?

Generally I feel like we’re adjusting to life in America. We have a great church, we’re starting to make friends, we’re making new memories with the kids and our extended family. But sometimes things like this happen and I think - whoa. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. And of course when I ask questions that seem stupid, because of course a 30 year old mother should know where to take her sick child and how to pay for it, they look at me like I just walked off a spaceship . I really want to just yell at them “HEY! I’m not weird! I just haven’t lived in this country all my life! I don’t know how they do things here!”

So, the adjustment continues.

And by the way, we do have insurance, but we’re still waiting for the insurance cards with all the numbers and stuff on them that are apparently more important in America than passports, which we have a lot of in our family.

And Little Boy is all better now, a week later. All the kids got sick and we’re just now able to go out again. It’s been a long week.

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