Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Saint Animatronic

This is what Lily looked like getting ready to meet the bus one school day recently. 
(except for Harry the parakeet, who sadly had to stay home)
Our girl was dressed as St. Francis de Assisi for a very cool + fun school project. 
(Karl thought that even though she was dressed as a saint, she still might run into trouble and wisely drove her to school so that she didn't have to endure school bus martyrdom)
The school project was called a Living Wax Museum, with fifth graders dressed up as people remembered for their acts of courage. 

Lily was pretty good at striking a saintly pose, and then when you would "press her button" she would come to life and deliver a one minute speech about St. Francis and his good and brave life. 
(please note that St. Fran's habit was pulled together quickly with a bed sheet and a stapler... I'm the kind of seamstress who works in staples.)
The Dalai Llama was also depicted in the 5th grade wax museum.
I think that any 11 year old boy who shaves his head to play a courageous spiritual leader deserves and "A" for authenticity and bravery himself.
 Some of the kids were famous musicians...my favorite part about this young Woody Guthrie, was her very convincing accent. I didn't know that the Dust Bowl Troubadour was such a loyal pal to migrant workers... I learned a lot during my visit to the 5th grade!
I also appreciated that some of the kids dressed up as literary characters. Here is the very brave young mouse from the wonderful book, The Tale of Despereaux.

The project was a huge success for everyone... the animatronic 5th graders had fun and learned a lot about bravery. I also noticed that when some of the younger students "toured the museum" they got a huge kick out of pushing the 5th graders buttons to make them speak... the thrill of powering up a big kid can be pretty exhilarating when you are 7 years old.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Our Media Circus...

It looks like the media circus that surrounded the tragic pignapping of our cement hog has packed up and moved on in search of other newsworthy happenings.
Yes... our pignapping was reported on in the Cincinnati Enquirer and on all three local news stations.
Because it was a really, really important news event.
It was even picked up by the UPI so that folks in places like Kansas City and San Fransisco would have a clear understanding of this crime against humanity.
We also made something called Weird News that is hosted by Yahoo.
That's right, my entire family was featured on Weird News.
On Monday morning a respectable newsman knocked on my door and I found myself in serious conversation about my big cement pig, recently taken by thieves.
Is your pig a male or female? asked the respectable reporter.
Female. She's a lady pig, a sow.
How do you know?
me: I just do.
What is her name?
  me: uhhh...
She doesn't have a name!?!
me: I guess not...we always just called her the Big Pig... she is the librarian for the Big Pig Little Library, so I guess her name is Big Pig.
And so I found myself getting all defensive about not giving my cement pig librarian a real name.

Why does the media have to be so judge-y?

Later that afternoon, Karl came home after a board meeting and found Rosie on the front lawn "mic-ed up for a sound bite" and wondered what he missed. 
A lot. 
You missed a lot. 
The press is here to report on our pignapping.
You can't be serious.
Oh yes... this is really important news.

One news reporter really did his best to put a tragic spin on the pignapping. He thought that Rosie would be saddened after losing the family big cement pig and was hoping to get video of a cute little girl upset over her loss. 
Instead this is what he got. 
Doesn't this child look devastated?
Here are the kids with Channel 9 reporter Jenell Walton after she did a "live shot" from our corner once our Big Pig was recovered from the nasty vacant lot.

While the attention was a fun two day distraction, I was happy to return to our usual media free lifestyle.
After my 48 hours of attention I feel like a true kindred spirit to the famed Brittany and Lindsey. I completely understand why they flew the coop...us pignapping victims and troubled pop stars have so much in common in terms of riveting, newsworthy, press coverage.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

FOUND!!! Our Big Pig is HOME!

  While I would love to imagine that our dear Big Pig was whisked away on a festive and care free holiday, it is obvious that she is the victim of some terrible abuse. Our pig is still smiling, but she has suffered, both physically and emotionally. She will need to undergo reconstructive surgery on her ears and of course, will also need a fair bit of psychological counseling. 
She was found frightened and naked in a wooded area adjacent to an abandoned lot. A lot that is  notorious for being a lawless teenage hideout... the kind of place where underage thieves and pignappers congregate and partake in unwholesome activities.
Oh she suffered, our poor dear big cement pig. 
Monte and Angela Davis and their two sons, our pig rescuers.
 Until she was discovered by her rescuers, whose family business, Pixels and Dots, is not far from this lot. They found her and then alerted us, and helped bring our little piggy home again.

Karl and I would like to personally thank our local news media for helping us spread the word of our tragic pignapping. So many worked tirelessly to find her and bring her HOME!

(our dear pig was covered by The Cincinnati Enquirer, WLWT Channel 5 news and Channel 9)

We thank each of them for their reporting and also for reminding us to stay strong and to never ever, give up hope.
Our big cement pig is home again.
Our family is whole again.
Thanks to all who cared.

(If you, dear reader, are the teenage pignapper with the initials "N.F" you quite likely now have poison ivy, too bad, so sad)

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Sadly, our beloved corner pig has been PIGNAPPED!
The crime happened sometime between 10:00am and 3:00pm on Saturday May 19th.
That's correct.
The pignappers were bold. They committed their heinous act 
Her glasses were found a half a block North on Burch Ave, indicating a struggle.
For ten years the Big Pig has fearlessly guarded her corner and the only trouble she ever had was a broken ear.  One month ago she became librarian to her own Little Free Library, and now she's gone. 
I don't think so.
This is a hate crime...a targeted assault against concrete pig librarians everywhere.
If you notice a big concrete pig in your son's bedroom that wasn't there on Saturday morning. 
Please have him return her.
Fraternity brothers...
If our dear Big Pig is now being hazed into your brotherhood. Please bring her home. She is a librarian for goodness sakes, and a sow at that. 
Her place is NOT with you. 
(yep, I'm shamelessly targeting teenage boys)   
  Our corner is desolate without her. 
Our Big Pig Little Free Library is lonely and pigless.
It's a sad, sad world where a concrete pig can not live and work peacefully in her own little corner of the universe. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jamie and Mrs. Duggan

Jamie has been blessed with many completely wonderful teachers over the years. Learning to read was a challenge for him, but he worked very hard at it and was very fortunate to have an entire team of dedicated folks on his side... encouraging him every step of the way. One of those fabulous teachers was Mrs. Duggan, the school reading specialist. She and Jamie spent many hours together piecing together those constant blends and vowel sounds into words and then those words into stories. It wasn't easy, but Mrs. Duggan always made it fun and Jamie really looked forward to their time together. 
Jamie recently learned that Mrs. D. would be leaving the primary school and will instead teach in the high school. She was recognized and thanked at a school mass and Jamie was asked to write a speech to read following the mass to her to thank her for her years of teaching. 
This is Jamie holding his speech.
And this Jamie reenacting the delivery of his speech to honor one of his favorite teachers.

(He dressed for the occasion... he longed for a tuxedo, but made do with a dark suit and bow tie.)
He said that he was a little bit nervous but not at all scared, which Mrs. D. should count as a sign of personal success... the student who not long ago struggled to read, is now unafraid to stand in front of the entire school and confidently read aloud.

 A fourth grade student used the following quote in her own speech...
(I love it, so I am pirating it from her)
It definitely speaks to Mrs. Duggan.... 

 A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others.  
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, translated from Turkish

Thank you Mrs. Duggan, for your hard work, dedication and your devotion to teaching Jamie to read. He will forever benefit from your efforts...now he feels like he has graduated from learning to read and is now reading to learn!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy 17!

Here is my supercool  daughter right smackdab in the middle of Cincinnati just a few days before she turned 17.
(She is imitating the Genius of Water fountain only because I asked... yeah, she's a good kid that way)
And here she is just two months ago right smackdab in the middle of Cuba.
Why is Mary in Cuba?
Well... the Cuban government recently said that they would allow a certain number of student ambassadors to visit as long as they promised to... 
“have a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that will result in meaningful interaction between the travelers and individuals in Cuba”  
Mary thought that this sounded like something that she was interested in.
Yep... bring on the "meaningful interaction."
Which was no surprise to me... Mary has a true spirit of adventure and the energy to follow her spirit.

Happy Birthday to Mary... you never fail to amaze me with your passion to seize the day and hang on tight!
Wishing you an amazing 17th year my dear and lovely daughter!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Miss Lily... Young Violinist.

Lily had her spring violin recital the other day and completely rocked the Minuet in G.
(that would be an extremely biased review from Lily's mom)
Her audience was made up of her fellow middle schoolers, parents, teachers and ten other young musicians. In middle school, playing for adults is relatively easy...we are all proud and quickly impressed by their musical abilities. Playing for your friends; your fellow 11 and 12 year olds, can be a lot tougher and calls for added courage. 
Lily still gets nervous but has had quite a few recital opportunities over the years. Here is Lily at the tender age of 5 playing in her first Christmas pageant recital. 
(she was double cast as a heavenly angel)
Her teacher, Mrs. Johnson is seen right by her side, kindly and patiently helping her bow the notes. 
Lois Johnson is an incredibly talented violinist and a member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. That means she divides her time between working with the symphony, surrounded by the most beautiful and complicated music being played in the city, AND helping kindergarteners squeak out twinkle, twinkle.
I imagine that moving between those two extremes can be an assault on the senses, but I am so glad that Mrs. Johnson is brave enough to take on the challenge of young students. She has been a true blessing to Lily, offering kindness and encouragement over the years... a truly wonderful teacher.
 Mrs Johnson generously hosts recitals in her own home for her young students. Here seven year old Lily plays in one of her at home recitals.
Here is Lily at age eight in a recital with Mrs. Johnson close by...
 And here they are after the most recent recital. 
Thank you Mrs Johnson for six great years of violin and looking forward to many more! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Big Pig Little Free Library

 A few years ago Todd Boll of Madison, Wisconsin put a miniature library in his front yard. The concept was simple... take a book leave a book. Enjoy reading. 
Since then the idea of the Little Free Library has grown into what USA Today describes as a "small but growing movement."
We are so excited to be a part of a MOVEMENT!
We put our very own Little Free Library up on the corner of our yard about a week ago. Because it shares a corner with our very classy cement yard art hog we are calling it
(Also so named as a tip of the hat to the historical Cincinnati nickname of "Porkopolis.")

The mission of the little free libraries are to build community and promote the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide... who couldn't support that mission?
I can honestly say that The Big Pig Little Free Library has quickly become the busiest library on the block. Our collection consists of about 20 titles, both adult and children's books. All sorts of different titles have been exchanged over the past week and it's been great to watch the flow of bookie traffic. During the day, it seems to get the most use from adults, retirees and the like, with a lot of kids stopping by after school.
I love it.
Please come visit.
This is how I first learned of the "movement."

 Busiest library on the block!
 So this photo is kind of staged... Mary doesn't often stand by the library looking cute and browsing books, I made her pose because she happened to be dressed nicely. 
(doesn't she look stylish?)
However...Lily's little pal was completely and honestly engrossed in her book and didn't notice me taking photos. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pretend Skydiving.

 My dear hovercraft husband working his best pretend skydiving moves.

There are some times, when although I don't really have a clear understanding of something- I sign up anyway. Why? I don't know... I guess to be a good sport, or maybe to pretend like I am a fun and adventurous mom. The "fake it 'till you make it" approach to parenting. As an example, not long ago Karl felt the need to add some family excitement to our lives. He thought of the idea of throwing each of us into a giant vertical wind tunnel to see what happens, might just be the thing. And for whatever strange reason, I agreed that fake skydiving would be a fabulous way to spend the afternoon with the kids.

And so I found myself in a pretend skydiving facility (i-Fly) psyching myself up to fall into a giant wind tunnel where hopefully, 100 mph wind would turn me into a hovering mothership.  
I shouldn't have been nervous... but I still was. My entire family (except for Rosie) had just gone ahead of me... and left with big smiles. It seemed overly dramatic to be uptight about doing something my seven year old just did and enjoyed... but Henry does do some weird stuff, and shouldn't be used as a benchmark for good judgement.
But anyway, I gave in to the peer pressure of my family and fell into the wind. 
Thankfully, I discovered that 100 mph is indeed enough wind to elevate my bootay, which is a good to know. And it was really kind of fun in a weird way.   
While I'm not dying to go back and work on my pretend skydiving moves... the rest of my family can't wait to return and once again take the leap into the massive vertical tunnel of wind. 
Here is the link in case you are ever in Orlando and feel the urge to go skydiving without the terror of jumping out of an airplane.
Mary is a most awesome pretend skydiver!
Henry never stopped grinning- he loved the whole experience of jumping into the wind.
Here flies Jamie...
Our pretend skydiver teacher was cool... he jumped into the wind too and grabbed the kids hands to fly them up 20 feet or so. It was the exact same imagery as when Charlie and Grandpa Joe had to burp their way down from the inside of the glass elevator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The H-Bomb flies solo!
Team G working the glamor of flight suits and safety helmets.
(check out the official notice to those pretend skydivers with shoulder issues)