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Posts from ‘August, 2008’

What Can You Learn from a Dog?


picture of Paisley under a chair

Our family seems to be growing lately by going to the dogs! In a comment I added to one of my recent blog posts called great cat quotations I mentioned that even though our kids grew up with cats, all three of them are dog people now. They don't dislike cats, but they've chosen to own dogs instead. The puppy in the picture on the right is our latest "grand-pup" - Paisley. Our daughter Nora bought her when she moved into her own apartment last week. Paisley is a Weimaraner that's about 7 weeks old. That makes our fourth grand-pup. Megan and Jim have a dog who's a mix of terrier and sneaky neighborhood dog, and Mark and Katie have two dogs, both of mixed heritage, that they got from the Greenville Humane Society.

I'm so used to cats now after so many years of having cats that I have a hard time understanding what dogs are trying to communicate to me. Here's a Far Side® cartoon I can really relate to…

comic of dog decoder

If you too wonder what dogs are trying to tell us…

Things we can learn from a dog

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Practice obedience.

Let others know when they've invaded your territory.

Take naps, and then stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want is buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back in the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, prance around and wag your entire body.

No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout. Instead run right back and make friends.

If you stare at someone long enough, eventually you'll get what you want.

Leave room in your schedule for a good nap.

When you do something wrong, always take responsibility (as soon as you're dragged shamefully out from under the bed).

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

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Have you dog owners learned any lessons from your dog?

Here's a parting shot of Paisley in her crate…

picture of Paisley in her crate

quotation...

"Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear." - Dave Barry

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

So if it's a dog's life you're leading or if you're working like a dog, learn some of the lessons above – take a moment, take a breath, and just enjoy being alive. SMILE! (without sticking your tongue out, of course!) 😛


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What’s Your Motive?


What motivates you? How do you motivate others? Is it even possible to motivate others?

Motivation is an interesting phenomenon. Here at the beginning of a new school year, we teachers try to think of ways to motivate some of our less enthusiastic students to try harder in our classes. Not necessarily an easy thing to do. If you read the "experts" in the field, you find a wide range of ideas and suggestions — instructor's enthusiasm, reasonable expectations and goals, showing relevance of the material, asking engaging questions, active involvement and participation of students, building self-confidence, variety, rewards and privileges, rapport between teacher and students, and on and on it goes.

There's a whole industry out there whose goal is to help motivate people. One of their products is the motivational poster. You've undoubtedly seen them. They generally have a symbolic picture, a keyword, and an inspiring or motivating saying or quotation. Here's an example…

motivational poster on destiny

Here's one on persistence…

motivational poster on persistence

There's another whole industry that is a spin-off of the motivational posters. They call their products demotivational posters. Here's their version of persistence…

demotivational poster on persistence

Their whole premise is that "motivational products create unrealistic expectations, raising hopes only to dash them." They go on to say, "…we created our soul-crushingly depressing Demotivators® designs, so you can skip the delusions that motivational products induce and head straight for the disappointments that follow!"

This poster of theirs pretty well sums up their philosophy…

demotivational poster on motivation

Some of their posters are quite cynical, but many are downright hilarious. Sometimes the picture is indispensable and other times their wording is enough. Here are a my absolute favorites…

demotivational poster on apathy

Blame - The Secret to Success is Knowing Who to Blame for Your Failures.

demotivational poster on burnout

Challenges - I expected times like this - but I never thought they'd be so bad, so long, and so frequent.

demotivational poster on cluelessness

Defeat - For Every Winner, There are Dozens of Losers. Odds are You're One of Them.

Dysfunction - The Only Consistent Feature of All of your Dissatisfying Relationships is You.

Failure - When Your Best Just Isn't Good Enough.

Futility - You'll Always Miss 100% of the Shots you Don't Take, and, Statistically Speaking, 99% of the Shots You Do.

demotivational poster on incompetence

Ineptitude - If You Cant' Learn to Do Something Well, Learn to Enjoy Doing It Poorly.

Mistakes - It Could Be that the Purpose of Your Life Is Only to Serve as a Warning to Others.

Pessimism - Every Dark Cloud Has a Silver Lining, but Lightning Kill Hundreds of People Each Year Who are Trying to Find it.

demotivational poster on tradition

Trouble - Luck Can't Last a Lifetime Unless You Die Young.

Underachievement - The Tallest Blade of Grass is the First to be Cut by the Lawnmower.

Wishes - When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it's really a meteorite hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you're pretty much hosed no matter what you wish for. Unless it's death by meteor.

You can see the whole Demotivators® collection on their website despair.com and maybe even decide to buy some of their funny products.

Before leaving despair.com behind, I'd like to highlight a couple more of their posters. Here's one that goes to the very heart of this French teacher…

demotivational poster on effort

I wonder if anyone has shown these two demotivational posters to Obama…

demotivational poster on hope

demotivational poster on change

Ever since I first found the Demotivators® website, I have been saving things that others have put together, following the same basic template, satirizing a number of areas of life. Here are some of the ones I've collected…

demotivational poster on cleaning

demotivational poster on committees

demotivational poster on individualism

demotivational poster on misspelling

demotivational poster on uniqueness

demotivational poster on unity

I found one that I altered — I thought that the blank image with nothing but the word Alzheimer's was over the edge, so here's my softened version of it…

demotivational poster on senior moments

I hope that you were more amused than demotivated by the preceding posters!

Anyway, back to motivation… What motivates you? If you are in a position to try to motivate others, what works for you? Like those posters above, what has demotivated you at times?

As cute as it may be, would the following "motivational" poster be enough for you or those around you?

demotivational poster on awesomeness

I fear that that is what is happening in many classrooms today — teachers telling their students how great they are in an effort to motivate them.

I'm really looking forward to getting some reader input on this whole area of motivation.

quotation...

"When I choose to sin, it's like taking a spoonful of death because sin and death go together." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

In the world of political correctness, people aren't lazy, they're only selectively motivated.


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Did He Pass the Test?


boy taking a test

Does the thought of taking tests fill you with terror? Probably. Classes haven't even begun for us yet, and I'm already thinking about tests. We're in faculty in-service meetings this week on campus and they have been excellent - very helpful and thought-provoking! Next week we'll be working in our offices getting our courses ready to go. Then after several days of course registration, classes will begin September 3. Part of teaching is writing and grading tests. But tests aren't limited just to the realms of academia. Many potential employees have to take tests to show their competencies for the jobs they'd like to land.

Here's a story about a man in that very situation.

Tom is applying for a job as a signalman for the local railroad, and is told to meet the inspector at the signal box.

Tom seems like a good prospect, and the inspector decides to give Tom a pop quiz. He starts off by asking, "What would you do if you realized that two trains were heading towards each other on the same track?"

Tom says, "I would switch one train to another track."

"What if the lever broke?" asks the inspector.

"I'd run down to the tracks and use the manual lever," answers Tom.

"What if that had been struck by lightning?" challenges the inspector.

"Then," Tom continues, "I'd run back up here and use the phone to call the next signal box."

"What if the phone were busy?"

"In that case," Tom argues, "I'd run to the street level and use the public phone near the station".

"What if that had been vandalized?"

Tom quickly replies, "In that case I'd run into town and get my Uncle Leo."

The puzzled inspector asks, "Why would you do that?"

"Because he's never seen a train crash!"

(So, did Tom pass the test and land the job?)

Now here's a little test for you. It appears to be a list of trick questions with obvious answers, but it really is!

The world's easiest test?

(Answers follow, but NO cheating!)

1. How long did the Hundred Years War last?

2. Which country makes Panama hats?

3. From which animal do we get catgut?

4. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5. What is a camel's hair brush made of?

6. The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

7. What was King George VI's first name?

8. What color is a purple finch?

9. Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

10. How long did the Thirty Years War last?

Now remember ... NO cheating!

Answers to the world's easiest test…

1. 116 years, from 1337 to 1453.

2. Ecuador.

3. From sheep and horses.

4. November. The Russian calendar was 13 days behind ours.

5. Squirrel fur.

6. The Latin name was Insularia Canaria — Island of the Dogs.

7. Albert. When he came to the throne in 1936 he respected the wish of Queen Victoria that no future king should ever be called Albert.

8. Distinctively crimson.

9. New Zealand. (Chinese gooseberries is an older name for kiwifruit.)

10. Thirty years, of course! From 1618 to 1648.

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If that test made you feel as dumb as it made me feel, maybe this final item about testing will make you feel like a rocket scientist (or at least a rocket surgeon…).

A college football coach had recruited a top talent for the team, but the player couldn't pass the school's entrance exam. Needing the recruit badly, the coach went to the dean and asked if the recruit could take the test orally. The dean agreed, and the following day the recruit and the coach were seated in his office.

"OK," the dean said, "What is seven times seven?"

The recruit looked terrified as he thought it over for a moment then said, "I think it's 49."

The coach immediately jumped to his feet. "Oh, come on, Dean," he begged, "give him another chance!"

Lends weight to the oxymoronic nature of the expression "sports scholarship," doesn't it? Do you have a test experience you'd like to tell about? We'd love to read about it in the comments.

quotation...

"Right affections lead to right thinking, and right thinking leads to right living." - Dr. Bryan Smith

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, then the lesson afterwards.


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(Non-)Olympic Moments?


You would have to have your head totally in the sand not to know that the Olympics are going on. We've followed the first week and a half far more than we thought we would, but the remaining events really aren't our faves.

Undoubtedly the dominant name has been Michael Phelps. The mainstream media has proclaimed him "the greatest athlete of all time" and the debate will rage on until the next "greatest athete of all time" comes along. Michael has definitely achieved wonderful feats in a very tough sport and seems himself to have a good attitude of humility, but there are still many who are asking, "Well, what about __ (fill in the name of their favorite sports figure)?! Is Michael really a greater athlete than __?!"

I found a terrific comic online this morning that I want to share:

Michael Phelps' dominance

For today's iv, I'm sharing two stories - one funny and one thought-provoking - about some runners, Olympic or not.

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Two gas company servicemen, a senior training supervisor and a young trainee, were out checking meters in a suburban neighborhood. They parked their truck at the end of the alley and worked their way to the other end. At the last house an older woman was looking out her kitchen window, watching the two men as they checked her gas meter.

Finishing the meter check, the senior supervisor challenged his younger coworker to a foot race down the alley back to the truck to prove that an older guy could outrun a younger one.

As they came running up to the truck, they realized the lady from that last house was huffing and puffing right behind them. They stopped and asked her what was wrong.

Gasping for breath, she replied, "When I saw two gas men running as hard as you two were, I figured I'd better run too!"

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In the late 1990s at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with determination to run the race to the finish and win. All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry, slowed down, and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back. Every one of them.

One girl with Down's Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better." Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line.

Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there are still telling the story. Why? Because deep down we know this one thing: What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. More important than winning for ourselves in this life is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course.

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A friend told me that, upon reading my last post about becoming empty-nesters, he thought it sounded like I was saying, "Well, life's all over ... now we can die." I laughed and told him, "Far from it! Let me tell you about Friday of last week...." My wife and I decided to take the day off and "head for the hills" for the day to do some of our favorite things - a last hurrah before my teacherly duties began this week. We headed to Flat Rock, NC, to a shop called The Wrinkled Egg. That day we weren't interested in the shop as much as in the new barbecue place right behind it. It's called Hubba Hubba, and let me tell you - HUBBA! HUBBA! We definitely found a new favorite - or as my wife Becka put it, "yet another reason to go to Flat Rock!" We picked up a cranberry-apricot scone at the bakery in the back of the Wrinkled Egg for dessert/mid-afternoon snack and headed for Carl Sandburg's house. We didn't want to tour the house on this trip - we just wanted to see how this year's baby goats were doing. We took the hike to where the goats are kept and enjoyed petting them. Here's a picture of Connemara (the Sandburg's house) and a picture of Becka with several of the kids.

pic of Connemara

Becka and three baby goats

After that we headed to a quilting shop Becka really likes in Hendersonville. What a nice place - they have an area with rocking chairs and magazines for husbands! I had actually brought along my own entertainment a Sudoku book to pass the time pleasantly, warding off dementia while Becka touched every bit of fabric in the place (of which there is a lot!) After that we went to Lyda farms to get some produce and some early apples. From there we headed off to the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC, to go to Sliding Rock. It was really crowded, and so I had to wait in line for about a half hour before I could slide down the rock into the 55 degree water in the pool at the bottom. Below is a 10 second video clip of Sliding Rock (viewable on the blog itself, not in e-mail or blog readers).

Here's a picture of me ready to begin my trip down the rock...

Rob on Sliding Rock

The line was even longer by that time and we had some other things we wanted to do, so I changed into warm, dry clothes, and away we went!

On the way back to Brevard, we stopped at the ranger station across the road from the Davidson River Campground. They have done a lot of renovation on the ranger station, and there's a lot for children to enjoy inside. One thing we enjoyed outside the ranger station was watching hummingbirds visit their two feeders. After that, we went shopping at four different stores in Brevard (and bought something in each) before having dinner at the Pisgah Fish Camp. While eating dinner we decided to drive back to the ranger station to take some pictures of the hummingbirds - something we hadn't thought to do earlier.

There were even more hummingbirds when we went back than there had been earlier. And the hummingbirds actually flew right up close to us to check us out! Here's a little video footage of their activity (viewable on the blog itself, not in e-mail or blog readers). Sorry for the talking in the background - Becka's on the phone with one of our daughters telling her all about it.

After that, we drove back to Greenville. Now does that sound like two people whose lives are all done and are now ready to die?! 😀

I can't figure out a way to work up a poll question to get at the following - have you decided to and actually gone ahead and tried out any of the activities and/or places that I've written about in the past several years on my blog? If so, which one/s? Since it's impossible to structure as a multiple choice poll question, please just tell about it in the comments to this post.

quotation...

"What you live for and base your decisions on has the greatest effect on your children." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat have become really good friends.


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Kids Say Some of the Greatest Things!


We're facing our nest being officially empty at the end of next week - and I'm not talking about our bird house! Our oldest child Megan will turn 30 next month, and since her birth we've had kids at home, except for short periods as the kids were at summer camps or in their college years working in summer camps. But now after just one month shy of 30 years, this is it - The Empty Nest. Our daughter Nora has been living at home again for the last several years, having moved back in with us while our son Mark was still at home. But next Friday Nora moves into her own apartment.

My wife and I loved raising our family and enjoyed watching and helping our kids go through all the stages as they grew up. Some of our favorite times were during the years when they were little and often thinking out loud. Some of the things they said will always live on in our memories. Little kids are so refreshingly honest in their naïveté, evaluating and commenting on things from their limited perspective! We especially love young children, and all three of our kids seem to have picked that up from us - they are all pre-school or elementary teachers.

Today's instant vacation is some stories I've received from people recounting what young children have said.

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While I sat in the reception area of my doctor's office, a woman rolled an elderly man in a wheelchair into the room. As she went to the receptionist' s desk, the man sat there, alone and silent. Just as I was thinking I should make small talk with him, a little boy slipped off his mother's lap and walked over to the wheelchair. Placing his hand on the man's, he said, "I know how you feel. My mom makes me ride in the stroller too."

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Out bicycling one day with my eight-year-old granddaughter, Carolyn, I got a little wistful. "In ten years," I said, "you'll want to be with your friends and you won't go walking, biking, and swimming with me like you do now."

Carolyn shrugged and said, "In ten years you'll be too old to do all those things anyway."

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One afternoon while I was visiting my library, I noticed a group of preschoolers gathered for story time. The book they were reading was There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. After the librarian finished the first page, she asked the children, "Do you think she'll die?"

"Nope," a little girl in the back said. "I saw this last night on Fear Factor."

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Near our town in France there's a nudist colony. One day as I was driving along in the car with one of my grandchildren, a member of the nudist colony rode down our street on a bicycle. My granddaughter said, "Grandpa, did you see that?!"

I tried to change the subject, but my granddaughter was insistent, "Grandpa, did you see that?!"

I replied, "Yes, honey, let's look the other way," and tried again to change the subject.

My granddaughter said, "Grandpa, did you see that?! That's bad! That person wasn't wearing a helmet!"

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My sister had been ill, so I called to see how she was doing. My ten-year-old niece answered the phone "Hello," she whispered.

"Hi, honey. How's your mother?" I asked.

"She's sleeping," she answered, again in a whisper.

"Did she go to the doctor?" I asked.

"Yes. She got some medicine," my niece said softly.

"Well, don't wake her up. Just tell her I called. By the way, what are you doing?"

Again in a soft whisper, she answered, "Practicing my trumpet."

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On the way back from a Cub Scout meeting, my grandson asked my son the question. "Dad, I know that babies come from mommies' tummies, but how do they get there in the first place?" he asked innocently.

After my son hemmed and hawed awhile, my grandson finally spoke up in disgust. "You don't have to make something up, Dad. It's OK if you don't know the answer."

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Just before I was deployed to Iraq , I sat my eight-year-old son down and broke the news to him. "I'm going to be away for a long time," I told him. "I'm going to Iraq."

"Why?" he asked. "Don't you know there's a war going on over there?"

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Paul Newman founded the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for children stricken with cancer, AIDS and blood diseases. One afternoon he and his wife, Joanne Woodward, stopped by to have lunch with the kids. A counselor at a nearby table, suspecting the young patients wouldn't know that Newman was a famous movie star, explained, "That's the man who made this camp possible. Maybe you've seen his picture on his salad dressing bottle?" ... Blank stares ... "Well, you've probably seen his face on his lemonade carton?"

An eight-year-old girl piped up. "How long was he missing?"

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My last name is a mouthful, so when my three-year-old niece learned to spell it, I was thrilled, until her cousin burst my bubble. "You can spell Sczygelski any way you like," he pointed out. "Who's going to know if it's wrong?"

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For the first time, my four-year-old daughter Kelsey was coming to my office to have me, a dental hygienist, clean her teeth. She was accompanied by her grandmother. When they came in, I greeted them warmly, seated Kelsey and, as usual, put on my gloves, goggles, and mask. About ten minutes into the procedure, she got scared and cried, "I want my mommy!"

I quickly pulled off my mask and said, "I am your mommy."

Without hesitating, my daughter yelled back, "Then I want my granny!"

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A little girl stared questioningly at her grandfather. Finally she asked, "Grandpa, were you on Noah's Ark?"

The grandfather replied with a slight chuckle. "Of course not."

Then girl asked, "Then how come you didn't drown?"

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On the first day of school, the Kindergarten teacher said, "Whenever you need to go to the bathroom, hold up two fingers."

A little voice from the back of the room asked, "How will that help?"

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I didn't know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me, and always she was correct. But it was fun for me, so I continued. At last she headed for the door, saying sagely, "Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these on your own!"

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A mother had invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, "Would you like to say the blessing?"

"I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied.

"Just say what you hear Mommy say," the wife answered.

The daughter bowed her head and said, "Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"

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While working for an organization that delivers lunches to elderly shut-ins, I used to take my four-year-old daughter on my afternoon rounds. She was unfailingly intrigued by the various appliances of old age, particularly the canes, walkers and wheelchairs. One day I found her staring at a pair of false teeth soaking in a glass. As I braced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned and whispered, "The tooth fairy will never believe this!"

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A little girl had just finished her first week of school. "I'm just wasting my time," she said to her mother. "I can't read, I can't write - and they won't let me talk!"

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A woman was trying hard to get the catsup to come out of the bottle. During her struggle the phone rang so she asked her four-year old daughter to answer the phone.

"It's the minister, Mommy," the child said to her mother. Then she added on the phone, "Mommy can't come to the phone to talk to you right now. She's hitting the bottle."

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When my daughter was three, we watched Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for the first time. The wicked queen appeared, disguised as an old lady selling apples, and my daughter was spellbound. Then Snow White took a bite of the poisoned apple and fell to the ground unconscious. As the apple rolled away, my daughter spoke up. "See, Mom. She doesn't like the peel either."

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Working as a pediatric nurse, I had the difficult assignment of giving immunization shots to children. One day I entered the examining room to give four-year-old Lizzie her needle. "No, no, no!" she screamed.

"Lizzie," scolded her mother, "that's not polite behavior."

With that, the girl yelled even louder, "No, thank you! No, thank you!"

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This week, thanks to Skype and webcams, for the first time we saw our grandson Drew walk. He's also now saying words, and we can't wait till he strings them together into memorable things like what you've just read!

Our daughter Megan is an avid scrapbooker. Here's a picture of one of her recent pages about Drew - Your First Year in Review...

first year in review

To see more of Megan's scrapbook pages, click here.

Speaking of seeing things, those of you who read my blog posts by e-mail or by blog reader missed something in my last post, unless you came to the blog itself. (Embedded video clips don't come through in the e-mails or blog readers). To see the video of the Japanese woman showing how to fold a t-shirt in mere seconds (an art that even I have now mastered!), go to my blog and scroll down.

I hope that some of you with kids in your lives will share in the comments some of the great things they've said!

quotation...

"Sometimes parents point their kids to heaven while they lead them to hell." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Children will soon forget your presents; they will always remember your presence.


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