Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lesson 187: What do I stand for?

We sure did have FUN last weekend during Ellen's 12th birthday celebration.  I kept telling the six kids we took to camp last Saturday that the party was a Hunger Games themed affair, and only one of them would be coming home alive.  I actually had Emily believing that the knife throwing competition began at midnight.  My money would have been on Sam if I was a betting girl.........

I'm not a betting girl though, but SHE is:

Yes, Ellen is going to be a Card Shark like her grandma.  She loves to play cards.  My mother is thrilled.  The card playing skills skipped a generation.  Neither me or my sister Kenyan are card players.  I suppose we could blame the kids and our busy lifestyles, but in truth, neither of us have the brain or the attention span that cards require.  My mom is sharp and so is Ellen.  I found these playing cards for her on the Ellen Show website.  Ellen will take you for your money someday, although she didn't win the big pot last weekend---Natalie did!

It was fall and we were down in the mountains, so there were lots of pretty things to appreciate.  

The fall colors,


and wild daises that bloomed in purple.  Spectacular!

Natalie got to have her iPod around the campfire, so she was happy.

The boys team won the Girl Talk Game!

And the kids got to spend Sunday at the Farmer's Inn, outside of Cook's Forest.

Sam's favorite part of the weekend was pestering the older kids.  They were all very patient.

He'd spy on them,

Spot them,


And start a rumble.

They were very good sports, and even played Candy Land with him.

Speaking of good sportsmanship, have you been following this story this week, Readers?  No, it does not involve this catch:

Nor the term "Replacement Refs":

Eloise is speaking of this guy:

His name is Aaron Greenberg and he has quite a story.  In his first at bat in the Major Leagues, the unthinkable happened.  This explains it in a nutshell.  Thank you Huffington Post:

Greenberg, a left-handed batter, went to the plate as a pinch-hitter to face the Marlins' Valerio De Los Santos with one out in the ninth inning of the Cubs-Marlins game. De Los Santos' first pitch sailed up and in, striking Greenberg in the back of the helmet, the force being such that the helmet flew off and the ball ricocheted up the third-base line.

Greenberg tumbled to the dirt, both hands holding the back of his head. He has often described that moment as feeling like "my head exploded." He awoke the next morning with symptoms of a concussion — unable to focus and feeling nauseous when seeing bright light.
After struggles in the minors the next season, the Cubs released him in June 2006. Greenberg had chances with other minor-league teams, but never made the majors again.
More than seven years later, the Miami Marlins are giving him a second chance.
The Marlins said Thursday that they have signed Greenberg to a one-day contract, effective Oct. 2, and will play him that day against the New York Mets. 

For all of you Readers who ever wanted a second chance at anything, tune in with me on October 2nd.  I have Post It Notes all over my house as reminders to watch.  I am rooting for the guy.  Everyone deserves a second chance.  May the odds be ever in your favor, Adam.

I wrestled with a song choice for Ellen's birthday pictures for a long time.  I wanted something to match the mood of her birthday as well has her youth.  I settled on the song Some Nights from the band FUN.  I thought the name of the band was quite appropriate to match the festivities of last weekend.  Boy did the kids have FUN.

It was Sam who actually helped me choose the song.  He rides along with me as I run errands after work, cart him back and forth to wrestling practice, and shuffle the girls here and there.  I played the song for him often and it was always his first request after we'd buckle up and fire up the van.  "Momma, can you play my favorite song?" Sam would inquire.  Then he asked me, "Momma, why do I love this song so much?"

"Because there are drums in it, Sam.  You really like drums."

I peeked in the rear view mirror to see Sam's dimpled smile.  "YEAH!  I LOVE DRUMS!  When are you getting me some?"

"Soon," I said.

NOTE TO MY MOTHER:  When you are reading this blog aloud to dad (because he refuses to use a computer), skip this part.  Let's just surprise him.  The drum set is coming next summer and I am setting it up in my garage, right next to his workshop.  It will be good for him....keep him young and happening.  

I'm so serious about it that I just bought Sam this shirt at a great on-line sale at Gymboree.

Every time he wears it, I am going to give you a little secret hand symbol to remind you of your upcoming treasure.  I'll hold my hands out in front of me and play air-drumsticks.  You'll know what I'm talking about.  It's always fun to have a secret symbol with someone, right?  

So Slovenians, our country will be tuned in to watching Adam Greenberg on October 2nd.  We'll argue over if he should have been given a second chance.  It will give us a break from last week's argument over the Green Bay vs. Seattle NFL game---was it a catch?  We argue over everything here in the United States, because we have the freedom to and that is a wonderful thing.  We're in store for a lot more voicing of opinions over the next 40 some days---it is time for our Presidential Election.

In the song by Fun, the lyric that repeats is What do I stand for?  I ask you this, Americans:  What do YOU stand for?    Here is your weekend homework:
  1. Think about the issues listed below---your own real and true thoughts.  
  2. Jot them down on paper if you need to keep them straight.   
  3. Then click on this link:  What do they stand for? (on your computer you may have to click and hi-light the the words What do they stand for? to bring up the link)--to see how the Obama and Romney camps match what YOU feel is best for our country.  
  4. Don't cheat and look at the link first.  Do YOUR OWN THINKING FIRST.  Rule number one for my Quest students, so the same applies my Lamp Posters.
  5. Issues to consider:
  • Unemployment
  • Social Security
  • Tax Reform
  • National Budget
  • Patient Protection Affordable Care Act
  • Same Sex Marriage
  • Climate Change
  • Marijuana
  • Stem Cell Research
  • Oil
  • National Defense
  • Afghanistan
  • China
  • Health care Reform
  • Immigration
  • Environment
What do you stand for?  Find out who most closely matches your views AND GET YOUR BUTT OUT THERE AND VOTE!  And in the language of the Hunger Games :  May the odds be ever in your favor.

Enjoy the video.  It will make you smile and remember what it is like to be 12 and hang for a weekend with your favorite people.  


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lesson 186: Hallelujah!


The exact dictionary definition of Hallelujah according to Mr. Online Webster is, an expression of rejoicing that means "God be praised!  What a perfect title for this weekend's post, as we have many things to thank God for here at the Lamp Post.

The most important event of the weekend is Ellen's 12th birthday.  She was born on September 22, 2000, at 11:11 at night.  She entered the world through pretty much a pain free labor for Mother Eloise (Hallelujah!).  Ellen held off her world debut, just as I had asked her to while she was still in utero.  Baby, I whispered to my swollen stomach, please hold on until the 22nd.  I have to make this appointment for your big sister.  She's having some behavior problems.  I am sure you've heard the constant screaming even through my skin. I REALLY need to make this appointment to get Natalie the help she needs.

 My baby, which later became known to us as Ellen, did exactly that:  she waited until the appointment with Pediatric Neurologist Dr. Joseph Barber was complete.  In the sixty minutes we were in Dr. Barber's office, he was able to determine that Natalie did indeed have autism.  This child has autism.  A simple four word sentence on a doctor's prescription pad was my ticket to services Natalie so desperately needed.  I thanked Dr. Barber for his time and expertise, and as I stood to shake his hand and collect Natalie and my belongings, my water broke right there in the doctor's office.  About 12 hours later we met Ellen Louise (Hallelujah!).

Nearly a dozen years later I made a deal with my daughter who had been begging me for her own blog.  Score advanced in writing on your PSSA Tests (that stands for the Pennsylvania State Examinations, Slovenians) and you can have your own blog, said Mother Eloise to daughter Ellen Louise.  This was an unlikely feat for a fifth grader.  I figured I would be able to put that off until 8th grade when the Pennsylvania students would be tested again in writing.  Eloise thought wrong.

Ellen did score advanced, partly from her own natural talent and partly from some very hard work (Hallelujah!).  She had excellent teachers, paid attention in class, listened to their constructive criticism, learned to seriously REVISE her work, and took test week very seriously.  It was like she was a prize fighter preparing for the championship match.  Ellen went to bed early every night and ate breakfast every morning--two things she ordinarily does not like to do.  It all paid off.  Ellen earned her advanced score and the right to her own blog, three years earlier than Mother Eloise expected her to.

Ellen has met most of her developmental milestones early, so why stop now?  She walked at 10 months old and was speaking in sentences at a little over a year.  All of her baby teeth were gone by Kindergarten, and she wrote her first "book" by the age of 3 1/2.  I guess becoming a blogger at age 12 just fits Ellen's pattern.

Ellen wrote her first post and the publication date is today, her 12th birthday, September 22, 2012.  The blog is titled Life Inside the Lamp Post and can be accessed at the following address:  It is under my own blogger account, so although the blog is public, I still can screen any comments that come in as well as monitor what she wants to post.  Check it out this weekend if you have time!

The above video is from this season's X factor TV Show.  The contestant is Jeffrey Gutt (pronounced Goot).  This is one I really want you to watch the whole way through.  Consider it your 7 minute homework for the weekend.

What I love so much about this 36 year old singer is not just his edgy rocker voice and his rendition of Hallelujah, but his love for his son.  It is so obvious that his little boy is truly what makes this guy's world go round.  I'm a sucker for this song, let alone someone tattooed up who is singing it.  The Lord himself must have liked it too because a loud clap of thunder could be heard during the judging segment.  Listen for it.  But the very best part is the end.  Watch the little boy.  As Simon would say, father and son had a "moment."  It is a moment that I will never forget.  What a great audition.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Jeff Gutt will be one contestant I will follow during this season of The X Factor.

Enjoy your weekend.  I hope you find your Hallelujah moment.  Look around.  They are everywhere.

Mother Eloise

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lesson 185: Just to See You Smile

Happy Weekend, Readers!
This post will give you something to smile about.

Video set to Tim McGraw's Just to See You Smile appears at the bottom of this post. Check it out!

This is what you all get today.  A big smile. It's the end of a very busy few weeks for Eloise.  The start of school is crazy every year, but this year with a third child off to school with my other pair of offspring, it has made life even busier.  Thankfully I have a job that I love, but it too, is extremely busy in September.  I have to come to school with my A-Game ready to play every day, and cannot break concentration.  If you know Eloise, that takes a bit more effort to accomplish than the ordinary person.

Friday at quittin' time has always been my favorite time of the week.  My smile timer is set to turn on at 3:51 when I am walking through the parking lot, headed for home.  I collect my children, hop in my van, and crank the tunes to start off the weekend.  A smiley depiction of Eloise at this time of day would look like this:

The fall brings Friday night high school games, which are my favorite.  Win or lose, I always smile, because I like the atmosphere of a high school game so much.   Most Fridays a smiley depiction of Eloise would look like this:

My Huskies lost last night and I lost a buck on a wager on that game.  Bummer.   But even though my team lost, Sam thought he won with this giant cookie:

If you are wondering, Slovenians, that is one cookie.  I am sure you've heard that Americans have somewhat of a slanted view of portion size.  We shared the cookie, everyone.  Here's Sam's smiley for the week:

Sam's been giving me lots of reasons to smile lately.  He is doing well in school and is settling into a routine nicely.  You can tell that school is making a big impression on him.  Mrs. P, his kindergarten teacher is doing a fine job of setting up behavior parameters for her entire class.  With excitable five year olds, voice level and tone of voice is important.  I can tell she's getting through to him.  Here's why:

After a very busy day, I was a bit frazzled one evening this week.  I was barking orders at my tired children who did not feel like doing their evening chores.  Even Natalie called me edgy.  "Mom edgy" she said as she walked by me.  I growled at her, always being extra cautious not to yell back because any kind of harsh tone always upsets Natalie--growls don't seem to upset her as much.  

If I had a smiley depiction of myself at that time, it would look like this:

Sam, on the other hand, can be yelled at from time to time.  Sometimes he simply does not respond until my voice gets to a holler level.  When I yell at Sam, I look like this:

I was yapping at him to get moving, and instead of the back-talk I usually get, I got this:

I thought Sam was in his bedroom putting away his laundry, but instead he wandered out with this a few minutes later.  "Mom, we have to talk," said Sam, taking my hand and leading me to a chair to sit down.  "Now you sit there young lady and listen to what I have to say." (I didn't mind the "young lady" part).

Dumbfounded I sat in my kitchen while Sam explained to me that I did not need to raise my voice that loud and that I should "watch my tone."  This, Sam explained, was my behavior chart.

When I asked what the G-T-S-N letters were for, Sam said:
  • G--is for Good--that means you were good
  • T--is for Time Out--that means you have to sit and think about it
  • S--is for Self Respect--that means something my teacher said but I forgot
  • N--is for Needs Improvement
"Now this is going on the 'frigerator this time," admonished Sam, shaking his little, chubby finger at me.  "I'm going to use this the next time you yell or make growly sounds at Natalie.  This is your WARNING!"

And then the little control freak proceeded to the 'frigerator and posted my behavior chart on the door by making a big slapping sound to get the post it note glue to adhere.  Sam then turned around to shoot me one last look before wandering off.  I decided to put myself in Time Out and I stayed in my chair for an extra ten minutes.  Thanks Sam.

Here's a Natalie story that will give you a smile.  I am constantly putting my kids' artwork on this blog.  I've given props to some really fantastic pieces that Natalie has created too.  This one takes the cake though.  Can you guess who this is?

Natalie brought it to me after school saying, "Oooooh!  Look at that!  Look what Natalie did!  Nice job, good job, good girl!"  

The face looked kind of familiar.  I complimented Natalie on her work and tried to inquire who the person in  the picture was.  "Is this Mr. Fritts?  I asked (doubtful, but if you know Natalie's teacher, this will make you smile).

"No," said Natalie. 

My mind then ran like a ticker tape and I rattled off the names of anyone I could think of that kinda-sorta fit her depiction: 
  • President Obama?  
  • Michael Jackson (pre-bleaching)?  
  • Rick James?

"No."  "No."  "No."  were Natalie's responses.

I thought and thought much of that evening, enjoying the mental challenge that Natalie always gives me.  Then I found this in the very bottom of her book bag:

"Natalie!  Is that Abe Lincoln?" I hollered up the stairs to her bedroom.

"Yes." was the muffled reply.

I can see you all smiling through the computer screen, Readers.  It made me smile, too.

Ellen is smiling this week because she's just been informed she's getting a special treat come the end of November.  Eloise got tickets for us to go see Carrie Underwood in Pittsburgh, November 27.  My girl has been sporting her metallic grin ever since.

I guess Ellen's smiley for the week would look like this:

And if that all wasn't enough, here is a little more to make you smile.  Because I am a teacher and I feel the need to teach you something every week, consider this next part a Smiley Tutorial of sorts.  The following is a facebook conversation I had with my Bestie, the morning after I returned from a three day get away with her and another friend this past July.  I had only been home for a matter of hours and I already missed my friends.  They make me smile.  I was back to my regular life, making breakfast and planning activities for the day.  It was early, I was sipping coffee, and decided to check facebook.

Say what you want about facebook, but I really do like it.  Eloise is a homebody and most of my time outside of work is devoted to my children.  I don't have much of a social life.  I rarely talk on the phone.  This is where facebook is nice---I can drop someone a quick message or have a light conversation with them without all the haggling, planning, and fixing up that a face to face meeting requires.  Facebooking is simple and easy and light.  That is how I like to keep it.  Eloise likes this.

Much to my delight one of the little green circles lit up next to Bestie's name (which I have changed to Teeny on the posts below for privacy purposes).  Yeah!  She's on! I thought.  I sent her a message on a group feed our trio had going. 

The conversation was not intended to be about smiley faces, but that is the direction in which it turned.  The smileys I am referring to are the ones that appear in word documents when you type a colon next to parentheses.  Generally they look like this:

You can type colon and the parentheses facing the opposite way and a frowny face pops up like this:  

The smiley trend has taken off, and now you can make all kinds smileys and other inserts too, like hearts.

Hopefully you will see the larger lesson that is behind the Smiley Tutorial:  Friends Make You Smile.  My friends have always been there for me at the drop of a hat.  Who drops a hat any more to signal that an immediate response is needed?  I say we stop using that old expression and move on to a more modern phrase.  Eloise suggests:   Friends are there for you "at the flash of a green circle". 

The following (if you can follow it) is our lighthearted conversation that actually started about light--we were writing about the light radiating from my new lamp post.  Then the conversation took a turn to the topic of those smileys.  The red type face is what I inserted to help you understand the conversation better.  It will also give you a glimpse of what it is like being a personal friend of Eloise.

  • Awwww! I LOVE that it was there and lit up when you got home. smile

    (My friend was commenting about my new lamp post)

    • So, how do you make those smiley faces? Can you make a confused one? How about scared. Let me in on your secret.

      (Eloise is a teacher, but all teachers are LEARNERS.  We can't stand it if we don't know something---who better to ask for answers than your best friend?)

      • smile frown unsure :} :o) You type a colon for the eyes and a parentheses for the smile or frown.

        • :~ testing

          (Didn't work--Eloise gets frustrated)

          • What? The Spanish squiggly thing doesn't work?
            Let's try this smile

            • Ohhh! It worked. How about sad frown

              (Eloise finds success.  Happy Eloise)

              • Now how did you get the tilted one? It remains a mystery. unsure
              • Cool. OK What does the star do? kiss

                (Eloise tests.  Finds star makes kissy lips.  Gets overly excited, slips and uses a potty word)

                  • HOLY CRAP! DID YOU KNOW THAT! Red Kissy lips! Some things just rock your world for the better at 7:00 in the morning!

                    (Illustrates that even the simplest things please Eloise).

                    (Eloise bravely tests some more)


                    (Eloise strikes out seven times running)

                    • I want to know how people get a heart symbol to post.

                      (Yes, me too)

                    • heart

                      (Shoot, she beat me--below is my crabby response)

                      • Darn. Nothin'. Yeah. You are such a jerk.
                      • Tell me

                        • Yeah! I googled it and in case you would like to know type a carrot sign and then a 3. No space in between.

                          (Eloise listens to this incorrect advice, but follows...)

                          • ^3

                            • I mean a less than sign.

                              (Professor of Smileys self-corrects)

                              • Yeah!! heart

                                • Success!

                                  • My life is much better now. Was always annoyed with reading people's pinterest comments that had that < 3 and it must not have converted to the heart symbol. I'd say, "Less than 3, less than 3, less than 3--must be something with the number 3" and that is as far as I'd get. Nothing like a cup of coffee and closure to something that has been bugging you---meaning the symbol, not the friendship.

                                    • kiss Bye

                                      • Bye:*
                                      • grin

                                        (Oooohhh, she one upped me again!  A TOOTHY GRIN?  How did she do that!?!! Below is my crabby response, cyber shouting it at her because it's in all caps)

                                        • OH YOU JERK! don't tell me. It will give me something to think about!

                                          • Well...I don't know how to do your red-mouth we're even!

                                            • Reading lesson for today: Context clues. It's there. Read carefully, Speedy.

                                              • I don't have a star on my keyboard. I tried the asterisk, that didn't work...
                                              • tongue
                                              • wink

                                                (....and she one ups me again--a tongue sticking out and a winky one!!! GRRRR!!! )

                                                • OMG--If you were in arms reach I'd slap you. Is that a tongue sticking out?

                                                  (Good thing she lives 500 miles away, or I would have)

                                                  • hee hee hee

                                                    (This has now become a case of grown-up, playground teasing)

                                                    • kiss The asterisk works. It is a SYNONYM for star

                                                      • kiss
                                                      • I had to google it...for me to get it to work, I had to put a dash in between the colon and the asterisk.

                                                        • Can't wait until (another friend--named removed for privacy)reads through these posts. She'll think we're nuts trying to figure out juvenile texting symbols at 7:00 am!

                                                          • ha ha! glasses

                                                            (UGH!  She finds how to make sunglasses!)

                                                            • I was using LOGIC and DEDUCTIVE REASONING this morning rather than GOOGLE.

                                                              I am SOOOOOOOOO Going to kill you. Has to be an 8.

                                                              (NOTE:   It is not nice to say you are going to kill your Bestie.  This could be interpreted as Cyber Bullying--sorry Teeny)

                                                              • :8
                                                              • Crap. Nope.

                                                                (Just fined myself for using another Potty Word)

                                                                • You're right! It is an 8!

                                                                  • This one was 8 and straight vertical line
                                                • UGHHHHH! Those are shades. Maybe 8 dash?


                                                  (Eloise strikes out again)

                                              • July 13
                                                • The 8 comes first...
                                                • angel

                                                • 8---wait, where is there a vertical line on a key board. I am on a lap top, not a fancy iPad.

                                                  (HOLY CRAP--She got a HALO!?!?! When you're down, start insulting your friend's better technology)

                                              • July 13

                                                • I'm on my laptop too's to the right of the brackets keys
                                                • kiki

                                              • July 13
                                                • devil
                                                • pacman

                                                  (OOOHHH!   I am Really going to choke her---look at those beauties!)

                                              •  July 13
                                                Eloise Hawking
                                                • Brackets? Those have to do with math right?I still don't see a vertical line. Why would you need a vertical line other than to cyber give someone the finger? (which I am doing right now if you can catch my vibe)

                                                  (Eloise gets nasty when she's playing down)

                                                    • It's 3 keys over from the letter P to the right. The key looks like this: | \

                                                      • :|
                                                      • Sorry. Have an old computer. Not the latest technology like you rich people have.
                                                      • :;

                                                        (Still down, so I'm still trying the "Better Tech" insults)

                                                        • :5
                                                          Desperate to find one that works to one up you.

                                                          (Four more strikes and one honest admission)

                                                          • Crap. Came up dry. Your boys are going to think you are BOMB DIGGITY cool though!

                                                            (Apologies again for my Potty Fingers)

                                                            • Google my dear Watson, Google!
                                                            • squint

                                                              • Brain exercise, My Dear Friend, Brain exercise. I would much rather annoy myself. I'll look by this afternoon. Going to test now to see if these work on my blogger format. Thanks for the inspiration!

                                                                (And the inspiration finally found me for this post today)

                                                                • Thanks for the laughter! ;D

                                                                  (And I didn't write this in the original post, but I will now:  Thanks for being my Bestie for 36 years---that's longer than Oprah and Gayle!)

                                                                  Friend Number 3 Responds to the Group Post (name withheld for privacy)
                                                                  • I was laying in bed, thinking how can I get up? I'm so tired, not feeling so hot, and have so much to do today. I hardly ever sleep in this late! So, I figured I would check Facebook on my phone to try to get my mind functioning a little. I opened this and started laughing. You 2 are too funny! I have no idea what you guys were talking about, but definitely enjoyed the entertainment. I needed a good laugh to wake me up today!

                                                                    (Glad to know we made Friend #3's day)

                                                                    Have a great weekend readers.  Here are a couple of last pieces of advice for you.  Don't forget to scroll to the bottom and click on the video to see what's left Eloise smiling this week!

                                                                    , LOVE ELOISE

                                                                    smile. smile. smile.

                                                                    Smile, Smile, Smile