Saturday, August 27, 2011

Frolicking Flamingo Has Flown the Coop!

Not really -- I just moved to a new site.  Please find new posts from The Flamingo at: -- see you there!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Hope Springs Eternal Schoolhouse

Casey started third grade today.  We were a little nervous letting him ride his bike to school this morning.

But he said he was ready, so we stifled our overprotective urges.  A child has to grow wings at some point and you just have to let them fly.

He made it to school about 30 seconds later.

We counted once around the driveway as P.E., laughed at our little joke, and headed upstairs to start Day One of Homeschool.

There's our school resource officer standing at the top of the steps.  Honestly, he's not that scary unless you think running straight at your car's front grille while you are driving into the driveway, or once you've stopped, jumping up and pawing at your driver's side window, is scary.  And although he will thoroughly investigate a bag of garbage you sit outside the front door until the next time you can get down the front steps to the garbage can, I can't get him to reveal the source of his fleas.

In all honesty, I was not sure how our first homeschooling morning was going to go this morning.  I was prepared -- I had the Base 10 set out and number discs made and knew exactly what we were going to do for each subject.  But I had no idea how quickly or slowly we would move through subjects and I was clueless as to how Casey would react to  . . . well, pretty much everything.

We started with math.

Those amongst you with a wagering nature should probably place bets now on how many more mornings I will actually make Casey wet down and comb his hair.

Or wear pants.

Casey made a robot with his Base 10 set -- but only after we used it for the lesson.  Do you see the workbook opposite Casey, on the other side of the Base 10 robot?  That saved me when Mace came in before it was time for him to go off to PreK4 and wanted to go to school with Casey.  Mace traced squares and triangles as Casey and I worked through math, so that by the time we took Mace to school, we were ready for history.

Casey read his history lesson in the car on the way to Mace's school, so when we got back we were ready for review questions and narration.  Unfortunately, however, after we got home Casey could not seem to recall why King Charles wanted the pope to declare him Holy Roman Emperor, so next time, maybe I'll turn off the radio in the car while he's reading.

After history, we dissected the periodic table and built some atoms.  The science kit we are using is a Little Professor Science Kit and comes from the Academy of Science for Kids in Lutz, Fl.  Each experiment or activity in the kit is precisely labeled and we had a blast putting together our atoms with the correct number of protons, neutrons and electrons (the electrons glow in the dark -- to remind you  -- they're electric!  Boogie-woogie-woogie!  Don't feel bad, Casey didn't catch the Electric Slide reference, either.).

After science, we moved on to grammar and spelling, both of which were a bit of a letdown after all that running in and out of the master bedroom closet to see the electrons glow, let me tell you.  But we muddled through and then took a break before hitting Latin.

Latin was a short lesson today.  Do you know what the word "toga" is in Latin? It's toga.  See? Latin's going to be a breeze.   We also spent a few minutes reviewing our Latin and Greek root cards that I purchased at the convention.  We had a good time with the cards -- they are going to be great for spelling and building vocabulary.  Not that Casey's large vocabulary isn't troublesome enough already  . . .  a few days ago he told me that he had "plausible deniability" -- and used the phrase correctly.  When I asked him where he had picked up the term, he told me Candace used it on Phineas and Ferb. This is why we prefer Phineas and Ferb to SpongeBob Stupidpants.

After reading Don Quixote (a junior version) for half an hour, it was noon, and therefore time to fetch Mace from school.  We were done with third grade by noon today.  Isn't that lovely?  I have read somewhere that the homeschool day is not done until someone cries -- but no one cried today, thank goodness.

Unless you count that minor breakdown high up on the ropes course at MOSI this afternoon.  But that is fodder for another post altogether and since it did not take place during actual school time this morning, I don't think I have to count it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Saturday Night: Destination Delightful Dunedin

I'm sorry I'm a smidge late posting my weekly blog summarizing the events of the most recent weekend, but I need for you to just be grateful that I'm posting at all.  It's a lot to ask, I know.  But please just try.  If it will make you feel any better, the reason why I'm posting late may become the subject of another post later this week (if I can arrange to sit for an hour at the bounce house place like I'm doing now).  

We celebrated Dez' birthday on Saturday night -- she was turning 29.  Again.  So we got dressed up and headed to dinner out in Delightful Dunedin (Dunedin's city council must be thrilled that their catch phrase has really caught on).  Just Dez, Joe and I were going to dinner and then we were meeting the other usual suspects at Jollimon's.  We wanted to go to dinner somewhere other than Jollimon's this week for a couple of reasons and they both had long hairless tails.

We were about 5 to 10 minutes away from Dunedin when Lauren called us and asked us where we were.  She had just been dropped off by the bus and was standing on a corner near the hospital.  Could we come pick her up?  She was on our way and it would be nice to have another person at dinner, so we swung by her corner and sure enough, there she was standing on the corner of Virginia and Milwaukee  . . . with her massage table (in its convenient 4' x 3' carrying case).  I'm not sure how she thought she was going to make it from that corner to Jollimon's with the massage table in tow, but I'm sure she probably assumed that at some point she would be able to reach one or more of the ten people heading to Jollimon's with us later and they would swing by and pick her up.  The problem for her, of course, is that, had we not been going to dinner earlier, she would have been standing on that corner with her massage table for an hour.  She can thank the rats, I guess.  As it was, she said of the the four police officers that drove past her standing on the corner, only one stopped.  This was their conversation:

Policeman: Do you need help?
Lauren: No.  I just got off the bus and I'm waiting for my friends to pick me up.
Policeman: (eyeing the table) What's that?
Lauren: My massage table.
Policeman: Oh. Are you a massage therapist?
Lauren: Yes.
Policeman: Can I have your card?

I supposed it stands to reason that the best way to get business as a massage therapist is to hang out on street corners with your massage table.  She picked up some business the same way the next afternoon after her massage class (the reason she was carting the table around town all weekend).  She had finished her class and was calling me from the lobby to come pick her up when a random stranger approached her, asked her if she was a massage therapist, and then asked her if she would give him a massage.  So she did.  (I can actually hear my mother swooning at how dangerous this sounds.  But really, being a massage therapist just seems like a risky thing to me in general.  If it were me, I would alert all customers to my taser hanging conveniently from my waist.)

So as it turned out, there were four of us for dinner.  We went to Bon Appetit.  It's right on the Gulf of Mexico in Dunedin -- a little pricier than Dave Ramsey would really approve of when you are in a debt snowball plan, but the food was great.  Joe had lobster pizza -- it was yummy.  The sun set right as we were finishing dinner, so we got some good pictures:

Doesn't it look like I strategically placed that rose in the shot to hide Lauren's cleavage?

It's a shame someone didn't do the same for me:

After dinner, we had itsy bitsy desserts and Robert, our waiter, said Desiree's name in french -- which is "Desiree" but sounds much more lovely than the way we say her name.

And here's a lovely photo of Dez by the water.  

Dez has lost 20 pounds in the last few months.  Doesn't she look great in her new smaller jeans?

When we got to Jollimon's, pretty much everyone else was already there.  We had asked Adam, who had gotten there a good half hour before us to go ahead and order us a pitcher of Sangria and then took bets on whether or not he would actually do it.  I won't say who bet against him, but I will tell you that he did not get us a pitcher of Sangria and Dez had to pay Lauren $5.  In the end it was a good thing that he had not ordered a pitcher of Sangria for us because it was so stifling hot in the area where we were sitting that the Sangria would have been a light pink Capri Sun by the time we got there.

So as usual, a great night with great friends listening to Shane Mead and the Sound a/k/a  . . . Tito.  Tito was awesome.

And we didn't see any rats . . . unless you count that creepy drunk guy who hit on Lauren.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Hope Springs Eternal Dude Ranch

Several weeks ago Shelya mentioned that she was going to have a pony at her daughter, Keller's, 2nd birthday party.  Shelya's family lives in a standard Florida subdivision where pony rides through the cul-de-sac are almost certainly a violation of their declarations and covenants.  So I offered Casa Flamingo as an alternative location for the shindig.  We are not troubled here at Casa Flamingo by pesky homeowner's associations.  If we want to keep 7 camels and 6 pigs in our front yard there's no one to stop us.

Well, the EPA might have something to say about all that poo in the tidal creek by our house, but our non-existent neighbors definitely would not complain.

Shelya agreed that the amenities at Casa Flamingo would better suit her party plans and I promptly put the matter out of my head . . . until a few weeks later when I realized that both Flamingo Joe and Grandma Elsie were going to be gone the weekend of the Pony Party.  So that meant I was on my own for getting the house clean, moving the patio furniture from upstairs to downstairs, mowing the lawn, and picking up the trash that somehow manages to settle in our yard.  See, when we have parties, I am usually responsible for everything inside the house and Joe is responsible for everything outside the house -- which is why I am always cool and refreshed when you arrive at our house for any event and Flamingo Joe is filthy and sweaty and heading inside to take a shower before firing up the grill.

The division of labor for this party fell like this -- Shelya was responsible for planning, decorations, and actual party set-up; Lauren was responsible for cooking most of the food; and I was responsible for not embarrassing myself or my family by allowing people to see my yard or inside of my house in its natural state (overgrown, weedy, slightly messy and a little grimy).

This party is why sweet Lauren spent the weekend with us -- she had to cook.

Here she is wondering where those children's mother is because she does not feel it is her place to yell at the four year old for smearing sugar cookie dough all over the floor with his bare feet ("But I yike it!").

Lauren made cookies decorated with paisleys, cookies shaped like "2"s and "k"s, apple and cherry mini-pies, and an adorable cake:

 Poor Lauren was up baking until 1:30 a.m. last night.  She probably would have gotten to bed sooner if I hadn't made her and Dez move Flamingo Joe's car:

I was steering.

And . . . here they are pushing from behind:

I had to lend Lauren a pair of shoes in which to push the car because the only shoes she packed were high heels.  I asked her what size she wore and she said anywhere between a 7 and an 8 1/2 depending on how cute the shoe is.  One day I will spend an entire blog post analyzing the ins and outs of Lauren's shoe choices, but today is not that day.

Shelya somehow transformed my office "foyer" into a country jamboree in about 15 minutes, complete with Mason and Ball jars for the kids to drink out of.

And don't forget the pony:

That's the birthday girl.  Isn't she cute?  I think the pony handler lost about 15 pounds in the Florida heat this afternoon in our yard.

(But isn't that freshly-mown lawn pretty?)

Neither Casey nor Mace would ride the pony today.  Their fear of horses is a grave disappointment for Joe's sisters, both of whom own and love horses.  Unlike their fear of beets, they did not pick up a fear of horses from me.  I suppose their fear is grounded in lack of exposure.  Just like the beets.

Somehow, word got around that we were having a party at our house and the usual suspects showed up looking for the adult beverage trailer (which was closed for the afternoon).  We gave them pink lemonade in Mason jars and let them pet the pony.  In exchange, they didn't vandalize anything.

As far as I could tell, the party was a success.  The kids were happy; the pony was happy; there were pink boots and cowgirl hats . . . and the water moccasin stayed under the canoe where he belongs:

Apparently our water moccasin is not a fan of horses.  I'm not sure how he feels about beets.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Flamingo Bucket List: See Hillsong Live

We are in the middle of a jam-packed weekend here at Casa Flamingo.  Flamingo Joe is out of town for his 30th high school reunion (I typed "30th" as a joke, trying to make Flamingo Joe sound old and then I realized it really is his 30th high school reunion) -- so he's in Boise with all his ex-girlfriends.  When talk of the trip to Boise came up a few months ago, Joe wanted the family to go with him, but I wasn't so keen on flying across the country with the entire family so that I could embarrass myself making awkward conversation with people Flamingo Joe hasn't seen for 30 years.  I figured Joe would enjoy himself more without having to worry about me chatting up his old classmates about bankruptcy and homeschooling, the only two topics on which I currently am fully versed.

Shortly after the first discussion about the trip to Boise, however, we heard that Hillsong United was coming to Tampa the same weekend.  I'd skip my own 30th high school reunion for Hillsong United -- though I don't think we need to worry about that since I wasn't even invited to my 20th reunion a few years back.  

So last night, Heidi, Dez, Lauren and I went to see Hillsong.  Here are Dez and Heidi, who both thought that wearing black is appropriate attire for attending the greatest worship concert of all time:

Here they are again on the top level of the parking garage waiting for Lauren.

Lauren lives in St. Pete and usually gets around by bus, though last night I think she got a ride from a friend.  She is staying at my house this weekend for reasons I will reveal to you tomorrow.  When Lauren comes over the bridge to Tampa for the weekend, she has to bring stuff with her, of course.  A couple of months ago, she met us in Dunedin at Jollimon's and was going to ride home with us and stay with Dez for the weekend.  Jollimon's is adjacent to the Pinellas Trail, a paved bike path that winds its way up through Pinellas County.  So we are all sitting outside Jollimon's, listening to our friend Tito play in the band, and here comes Lauren, dressed all cute and in her high heels, walking up the Pinellas Trail (apparently having disembarked from the bus somewhere south of Jollimon's), rolling a big suitcase behind her.  Lauren usually travels pretty light so we were surprised to see her with an actual suitcase.  The band kept singing but kept their eyes glued on Lauren, trying to see where the cute girl with the suitcase was going to end up.  She strolled right past the stage and put her big 'ol suitcase in my car.  Dez' new apartment only has one bedroom now, so Lauren brought her air mattress with her in the suitcase.

So last night we waited at the car for Lauren to meet us so that she could put her stuff in my car.  She was bringing springform pans and a muffin pan with her, so I was really expecting to see her pushing her way through the crowd waiting outside the Ice Palace with her rolling suitcase, but she came with just two small bags this time.  

We got to our seats at about 7:10 and the concert was supposed to start at 7:30.  7:30 came and went and the crowd got a little antsy, but the place was full of Christians, so it was a very sanctified antsy and some kids started the wave.  That kept us entertained for four minutes and then we were back to practicing our best mommy faces.  Heidi won:

"WHAT did you say??"

And then Dez broke the arm off her chair.  But no one came to throw us out.

Then 8:00 came and went and the crowd downgraded from sanctified to just plain long-suffering.  Shortly after 8:00 some weird clips played on the big screens above the stage -- a montage of clips of old black and white TV commercials and shows.  We didn't understand the point and chalked it up to Hillsong United being an Australian band.  Clearly we just don't understand Aussie humor.


The band finally came out at some point close to 8:30 and everyone started singing along and did not stop until the concert was over.  I probably knew about a third of the songs, but sang with the rest of them anyway -- the words were on the screens and the music just filled up all the space around you so there was no resisting the singing.  I have never been in the midst of so many people singing together.  There were points in the concert where the band would start playing and singing and then back off the mics so that you could hear everyone in the arena singing.

It was flat out fantastic worship -- and it was just worship.  The whole night was definitely all about God and not about Hillsong.  No one in the band introduced themselves or anyone else on stage.  Every time anyone on stage spoke, they were either speaking about Jesus or to Jesus.  I found it fascinating that although all of the singers had great voices, none of their voices were so distinctive that you would say, "Wasn't that guy on the end great?"  Everything the band said or did deflected the focus from themselves and back to God.  Exactly how church is supposed to be.

So if you are so inclined to go places Christians go and do things Christians do . . . and even if you're not . . . if you ever get a chance to see Hillsong United live, do it.

Even if it means skipping your husband's high school reunion.

Especially if it means skipping your husband's high school reunion.