Smoke and Smile

 This is me.  Look at me, furiously trying to write a blog before bedtime.

This is me this week.  I am nursing a son with an earache and a baby with a fever.  The other three started home school.  A little crazy but there are always extraneous circumstances, so it feels quite normal.

Last year my mom gave me this old phonics book and I really enjoy looking at the pictures. 


This is my chance to explain outdated contraptions like a radio.  The things you learn in Alley's Home School.  It's rich!

This is my tribute to one of my favorite shows, House Hunters.  And my husband.  If I could get him to wear this outfit and carry a gun like this he'd be quite the realtor indeed...

This is not something we teach of course, but it is too funny not to share.  Actually, we did learn about it.  How people used to think smoking was cool.  That they did it in front of their kids and everything.  It's health class in the 21st century!

Here is what really goes on.  When you buy new Playdough the students go wild!

Juliet kept making the cheese face.

This was while she was on the fever medication.  Feelin' drugged and good, baby.

I love my students.

This is my pseudo student, home from school with his ear pain.  He begged me all day to let him stay home for good.  My home school is that good!  (Granted, all he did for schoolwork was read a good book.)

We teach you to smoke and smile.  Not really.  But if the tobacco is a metaphor for an enriched, vintage education, with some crazy on the side, you're going to want to light up at our house.  (I like how he has a cigarette and a bowl of tobacco and pipe.  Like he's switching back and forth.  The ridiculousness of it all!)

Here's to a school year when we don't learn to smoke and smile.  I think I can handle that.


Goodbye Summer

Monday was rainy and blah and I felt sort of down even though I finally got my bedroom in order.

I figured out why.  I am mourning the end of summer.  Jackson started 5th grade Monday and I've been in full prep mode for home school to begin next week.  It has been a wonderful summer.  Full of sleeping in, seeing friends and family, accomplishing home projects, and just enjoying my kids.

Not that I don't enjoy them in the school year.  But now I must put on the hat of teacher again.  And while I enjoy this too, it does require an extra measure of patience and grace that I don't need as much in the summer.

Home schooling is super hard.  Especially with a toddler.  I can say this from experience.

I know that while I'm trying to teach language, she'll be doing stuff like this.

And I will let her.

And then my house will get super dirty.  But my children will know their parts of speech.  Hopefully.

 This was my bedroom before we bought the house.

This is before we got our IKEA furniture.  We only had a bed.

 This is right before I started painting this summer.

And this is how it looks now.  Are all these pictures overkill?

I will move on to better ones.  These are my lovelies on the 4th of July.

Here is Penelope with a frog she caught this summer.

Now I really want to make a joke about hopping into the new school year but I would never do something so cheesy.


Tires at the World's Fair

The 50th Anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair is this year.  My dad, Jim Moninger, (aka Slim Jim, Slim Pop, Pop Pop or just plain Slim) performed as a water skier in the World's Fair in 1962.  There is a committee requesting memories and stories from people who were there.  We encouraged my Dad to record one of his stories so I interviewed him and thought I'd post it here.

When he arrived in Seattle after a 76 hour bus ride from Arkansas he saw the arena where he would be skiing.  They were building four foot high concrete walls around a football field where the running track was, planning to fill the 26 foot wide 3 feet deep space with water and driving the boat (and pulling the skiers) around the water filled track.  It was completely unfinished and they had 2 weeks until the start of the fair.

Dad and the other skiers (about 5 girls and 5 guys total) practiced their show in Lake Washington in freezing cold water due to melting snow running off mountains.  In the stadium there would be two ski jump ramps, 12 feet wide and 24 feet long.  There were no ramps in Lake Washington.  They needed to get to the performance space to practice and work out the details.

About 2 days before the fair was to begin they filled the "moat" with water.  The skiers were there to watch as they put a boat in it to see what would happen.  After circling the "moat" once, the boat had to come back to where it started and cross over the crazy waves it had made the first time around, which were crashing against the concrete walls and creating very rough waters and erratic waves.  Obviously there would be no skiing in those conditions.

T-minus 2 days and there were no ideas regarding how to solve the problem.

My dad had lived on a lake for the last 10 years.  He had noticed that where they had hung tires on the dock as a bumper for the boat, the tires would absorb the waves of the boat and make the waters still.

So dad suggested it.  Line the "moat" with tires.  But how do you fasten tires to concrete?  Well, Dad suggested attaching wood to the top of the concrete.

In a day workmen built a wooden cap on the inside and outside wall of the moat so they could have something to fasten a rope to and hang tires on.

Meanwhile, the skiers had been enlisted to help.  They went to a tire company and loaded up hundreds of tires on rental trucks.

They were down to one day until the fair and their show started.  So the skiers themselves and anyone else they could find who was able took hammers, nails, and rope and lined about 100 feet of the track of water with tires on both sides.  After running the boat through it they could see that the tires were going to work so they finished out the entire space.

The skiers were down to the wire to organize their show.  Their manager made a list of the events in order and they had limited time to practice in the arena.  But they started on time.

If you had attended the World's Fair for a day, you would have had 4 chances to see the ski show, three day shows and one at night.  When the skiers weren't doing their thing, in between each of their shows there was a full 3 ring circus going on inside the water track, elephants and all walking across a ramp and bridge to cross the moat.

That's not all.  While the circus was setting up, a daredevil motorcyclist/tight rope dude would ride his motorcycle from the top of the stadium up a wire that was attached to the top of the Space Needle.  He wouldn't get all the way, but he'd go as far as the motor would take him, stand on top of his motorcycle for some fanfare, and then ride back down backwards.

Dad performed for about two months at the World's fair and then had to leave due to an injury that happened right there in that tire lined moat.  But that's another story.