Thursday, September 27, 2007

the Big Trip

Today I went shopping with all three kids. This might not sound exceptional, and I often take the kids shopping. When you run through 6 gallons of milk a week, it's just unavoidable. But this was different. This was the Big Trip. Every pay period I make my Big Trip to the supercenter. I usually end up with a big overflowing cart full. Some Big Trips are bigger than others, and this was definitely a big Big Trip. It was just one of those times where we happened to just run out of everything pretty much. I usually try hard to make the Big Trip with as few children as possible, if any. My group did pretty well, I must say, but Kain was very funny about the whole thing. I'm pretty sure he's never seen that many groceries purchased at one time. He and Maria had allowance to burn, so they went off together to look around. When they joined Jack and me again in the food section, Kain was very disturbed by my cart. "Aunt Mel, do you even know what is in this cart? These groceries are going to cost a LOT of money." I said, "Yes, I know. This is my Big Trip," and I explained the whole Big Trip thing to him. He was still bothered. "Aunt Mel, we will never eat all this food. We can't even carry all this food in the house. It wouldn't even fit in the house!" I said, "Kain, we all eat almost all of our meals at home. This food will make enough meals for all five of us for 2 weeks. We do eat this much food. This is what I always buy when I make a Big Trip." "Aunt Mel, why do you have TWO jars of spaghetti sauce? This is too much. This food is going to cost like FIFTY DOLLARS!" "Kain, this food will probably cost at least two hundred dollars. It's ok. This is what it costs each time." His tone was agitated and he was very bothered by the volume of food. It was pretty bewildering for me. He has a big difficulty with trusting us sometimes, with believing that we know what we are doing. But we made it through, the food was paid for, loaded in the car, and you'll be glad to know, it all fit into the house.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Still the baby...

Jack has had a long day. Today was co-op day, and it's hard on him. He misses his nap and is cranky and miserable by the end of it. I'm really approaching the end of my rope over it. I don't feel like it's respectful to him to drag him around all day like this, not every week. I've known other moms that have had their kids take naps in different rooms or in the car, but Jack doesn't sleep well on the fly. I've decided to leave him home with John as often as possible on Tuesdays, at least in the afternoons, for the rest of the term. We will need to figure out something out before baby comes. The kids love love love the co-op. But I won't be able to do the three hours of teaching to earn their tuition with a 3 year old *and* a baby in tow, that's for sure. It's a predicament.

Anyway, I was reminded today, at almost 3 years of age, how much Jack still needs just Momma sometimes. He's a pretty independent guy, not too concerned about new people or new situations, easily entertained by Daddy or one of the big kids most of the time. But when it's 4:30 in the afternoon, and he's just finally gotten to doze off for 30 minutes in the noisy backseat before we arrive home, and then he has to be rudely awakened by being hauled out of the car seat and into the house through the cold fall rain,,,,he sits kind of dazed on Dad's arm and watches me try to make sense out of the piles of stuff hauled in from the car until I notice him and he crumples up his face and cries for Momma. And we sit curled up on the couch as the big kids disperse into different rooms, and he buries his face in my shirt for a long and quiet time. For a moment, I half expect him to try and nurse and ponder briefly what I would do in that instance. But no, he just takes several minutes to get himself together before moving on to big boy things.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

week 6

So, I promise my blog will not turn into a "all pregnancy, all the time" thing,,,but right now, I'm not feeling so hot, so my life is pretty much, well, all about pregnancy, all the time. I'm very tired. I'm having major caffeine withdrawal headaches, and while morning sickness is pretty mild so far, it has definitely arrived.

These, by the way, are just lovely.

I plan on living on them for the next couple of months at least. They hit the spot, especially the lime ones. I have a major thing for sour stuff when pregnant. With Maria, my worst morning sickness baby, I ate cut up lemons with salt on them by the bowlful during the first trimester. And not much else.

Otherwise, I'm trucking along. Kind of. Well, not really. School work is getting done. That's really about it. The house is a wreck. If I could get rid of these caffeine headaches I'd be feeling much better I think. It's misery. Last time I did this I swore I'd never go back to the coffee again. Anything this addictive can't be a good thing. But,,,it makes me *happy*. I miss it. And yet...I'm not entirely sure I could keep it down.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's not all in my head!

I'm tired. Really tired. The last few nights (the first one the day *before* I knew I was pregnant) I have headed straight to bed as soon as the kids were down. It's not the usual end of the day tiredness, which is just standard for parents everywhere, but bone-deep I'm just gonna curl up and die quietly if I can't get to the bed in time tiredness. The first couple of days I was in denial that it was baby-related. Everyone has days where their energy lags. I was probably a bit dehydrated. Maybe even fighting off a virus or something. My pregnancy symptoms always started in week 6, this is week 5, and that means I still have several days to catch up on housework and laundry before the fun begins!

The last two days, though, I've slept late (until 7!). I've taken a nap. I've gone to bed early. And I'm still tired. That's first trimester. I remember it well, that feeling that all the sleep in the world makes no difference, that waking up as tired as you were when you went to bed. Things are falling behind fast around here, and I think I will be dropping the sleeping late and nap. I don't have time for it, it's not making me feel any better anyway, and maybe it *would* make me feel better to plug on and get some stuff done instead.

I'm still going to bed early though.

The bright news is that the first trimester is definitely the doozy for me. I have always felt good once I get past week 14 or so. Come on, week 14!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

just a little life line*...

We're expecting a baby! My unofficial due date looks to be May 17th. We are all very excited around here. No real symptoms yet, I'm only about 5 weeks along, so it all feels a little unreal to me. I keep looking at pictures of babies around this age and trying to picture this impossibly tiny person curled up inside me. The kids keep talking to the baby, which is really cute, even if it only rice-sized right now. :)

Of course, being truly geeky homeschoolers, we will make a unit study out of following the baby's development. Nothing like encouraging a pro-life mentality like finding out that, even though my period is only a week late, even though I just found out I was pregnant yesterday, the baby already has a beating heart that is busily dividing into chambers and already pumping it's own blood, and the main parts of the brain have already formed.
Life is beautiful and awe-inspiring. We are thankful for the gift.

*Swiped lyric from Marie Bellet's song...awesome cd's, highly recommended! Her lyrics give me chills. Someone should buy me her new one for my birthday...

Sunday, September 16, 2007


On a Catholic moms yahoo group that I belong to, one of the moms was comparing having additional kids to juggling...that you start out juggling a couple of balls well enough and then someone hands you another ball, and it's harder for a while but you learn how to juggle with the extra, and so on. This made me smile, because we have a new favorite book in the house. Jack has recently become enamored of Dr. Seuss books, and I have read them all many, many times now, especially The Cat in the Hat. I have developed a theory...a syndrome common among moms...and I call it The Cat in the Hat Syndrome.

Here's how the syndrome works. Here you are, juggling your activities of daily living, and you are doing pretty well too. Don't you look pleased with yourself?,,,housework's done, schoolwork is trucking along, all is well.

And then you decide to add an activity here, an activity's getting challenging! But look at you go! You're balancing it all! You're looking a little manic, maybe,,,getting that wild gleam in your eye...but you are doing it! Go supermom!

Look at you!
Look at you!
Look at you now!
You can add on the co-op!
And teach PSR!
And plan field trips!
And garden!
And bake homemade bread!
And in your free time start a quilt for your bed!
You can start moderating an email list
As you juggle it all!
But that is not all.
Oh, no.
That is not all...

Ah yes...let's freeze here for a minute, shall we? This is me along about December every school year. Notice the bewildered look...goodness, what happened? We were doing so well up there on that ball...

And here's February....on my can, overwhelmed, with my bent rake, wondering what happened. It just little committment at a time.

my rockin day in the kitchen....

Something had to change this school year. I just can't spend the same amount of time in the kitchen as I have in the past. I've thought now and again about doing once a month cooking, putting up a whole bunch of freezer meals, but it's such a *long* and time consuming process. The last time I tried to do this was when Jack was still a little baby. I picked a day that John was home, but still, it took me two and a half days to finish all the meals and really burned me out. So, this time I downloaded some mega menu mailers from I have used other menus from this site now and again, and I love the Saving Dinner cookbook. Still, I didn't want to make them all at once, especially since now I have to double most recipes anyway,,,it would be a *lot* of work for one day. I picked a few recipes from the first menu to use this week, and yesterday I made them up and stocked them away. It really was very easy to do, not only because it was just a week's worth of dinners, but also because you don't actually cook all the meals like you are instructed to do in most freezer cook books. You prep all the ingredients and put them together, but the cooking is saved for the day that you plan to serve the food. Altogether I spent about three hours in the kitchen and put up 7 dinners, plus a big loaf of banana bread and some chocolate chip muffins for breakfasts, and a batch of brownies when a quickie dessert is needed. I also made a batch of broccoli cheddar soup to keep in the fridge for lunches during the week, and a jar of homemade ranch veggie dip.

Speaking of lunches, the afternoons of making hot lunches every day are also gone. The time just doesn't exist anymore. With the doubled recipes, we should have enough for leftovers for at least two or three people to have for lunch. For everyone else, I made a list for the fridge of not-too-junky lunch choices....raviolis, hot dogs (usually not a common indulgence around here, but I got Hebrew National--less junk than most brands, and on whole wheat buns), veggie burgers, tuna fish, salad and sandwich fixings, plus the pot of soup in the fridge....we should be set pretty well.

So, I'm excited, three hours on Saturday and I'm pretty much done cooking for the week. We will still have breakfast-for-dinner on Sundays, and I'll make a couple of nice desserts from scratch on slower days, but that's about it!

Still wanting to share pictures of our school room. My camera is MIA.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Me- while changing a nasty post-nap diaper on his irritated bum--"You look kinda pink!"

Jack- "You look kinda white!"

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

honest homeschooling

On Danielle Bean's blog, she did a post about why she loves, and hates, homeschooling. It's fabulous to read, especially the comments, if you want a really honest look at homeschooling. Danielle says that homeschoolers tend to sugarcoat their experiences, and that's undoubtedly true. We get a lot of flack for homeschooling, and so I do think we tend to gloss over any un-shiny moments, especially when dealing with non-homeschoolers. There is a feeling, especially with all the written bloggy stuff by homeschoolers, that if you homeschool the "right" way you will be able to provide educational bliss for your children with perfectly crafted lessons tailored to their interests and style of learning and your kids will become tiny walking Saints. And of course, to homeschool this "right" way, you must also be a Saint, a shining example of organization, patience, and with an exemplary grasp of algebra and Latin. There also tends to develop this unsaid feeling that if everyone else were a good enough parent/good enough Catholic, they would also be homeschooling. I *don't* believe homeschooling is for everyone. I think it *can* work for any child. I don't think it works for every Mom's personality type or family situation. Nor do I think you can't possibly raise good, virtuous children if you send them to public school, or even Catholic school. I do think you will have a harder time! But I know plenty of great "real school" families with wonderful kids. So, here's my own short list of pros and cons of homeschooling...

I hate homeschooling because---

---Can I tell you how hard it is to even start this list? That's how strong the tendency to gloss over these things really is!

---It's hard work. It's really hard work. Really. It's hard work, and it's a long day. Some days I am wiped out and burned out and wistfully think of what I could get done if the kids were at school all day.

---Your house is never "done". When you clean one room, there's people behind you, all the time, tearing up another. Housework is ongoing, always. We are all in the house all day...dragging out toys, books, craft supplies, making and cleaning up meals, etc. We *live* in our house, all day, whereas for many families, during the week at least, their house stands empty until evening. If I slack up at all on trying to stay ahead of the chaos, the mess gets overwhelming and it's very hard to get caught up again. This contributes greatly to my burned-outed-ness at times.

---I very rarely get any child-free time. I'm not someone that needs a lot of this, and honestly, if I was, homeschooling would be a bad choice for me. But still, I do wistfully eye the shelves in the adult section of the library as I pass by them on my way to the children's room, fantasize about going to adoration by myself, and remembering what it was like to go out alone with my husband. Or even, you know, take a shower without an audience.

---There's a lot of pressure to have perfect kids. Your kids are constantly evaluated in the light of the fact that they homeschool, especially if you have anyone unsupportive in your life. For these people, anything good that your kids do is in spite of homeschooling, and anything bad that they do is because they are homeschooled.

---I worry that Jack is missing out on his share of "mom time". Many days I feel like he is just swept along with the tide of things I need to get done for the older kids. I have to make a concentrated effort to make sure I spend time with him first thing before starting our school day, or the day will charge ahead without it ever happening.

I love homeschooling because---

---We don't have to have our kids "socialized" by a pack of same-aged peers. Their time is spent with us, and they learn social skills mostly from us, not from a bunch of other children. Children are capable of remarkable cruelty, something I don't want my kids to be on the giving or receiving end of. By spending the vast majority of their time with us, they learn to internalize our behavior and our values instead of the values of the 25 other 5th graders they might happen to be with this year. This has a fabulous inpact not only on important matters of virtue, but even on small matters like being swayed along with the next ridiculous toy fad, or refusing to wear a certain pair of sneakers because someone teased them about their shoes at school. The impact is particularly great if you can limit exposure to commercialized television. Maria's first Christmas after beginning homeschooing, I was gratified to know that her gift requests were at least for things she really wanted, not for things that she had seen commercials for a bajillion times or that she wanted because "everybody else has one". This lack of secular socialization becomes even more important to me as Maria gets older. Homeschoolers just tend to be a different crowd, and when I say, "No, you can't wear a shirt that shows your belly/have a Nintendo/listen to that kind of music", I know that the vast majority of the friends my kids have have similar rules in their own families. At the very least, my kids are used to the fact that we just do a lot of things differently than many people choose. My goal isn't to keep my kids completely secluded from pop culture, but to give it the perspective it deserves.

---I don't have to share the best parts of their day with a teacher. I got to be there for their first words and their first steps. I want to be there when they read their first Bob book, when they have a "lightbulb" moment over a difficult math concept, to see their face when they make a spore print with mushrooms for the first time (we just got to do this yesterday). I love discussing religion and science and history with my kids, I love seeing the way their wheels turn and what kinds of ideas they come up with.

---I have time with my kids. When Maria was in school, our lives revolved around the school. She was there for 7 hours a day, and then often various things going on in the evening, and homework to get done...all around my own work-schedule of course, which, since John and I are nurses, involved frequent weekend shifts for both of us. Now, our lives revolve around our family. We spend hours and hours a day together, and we only participate in activities that support our values and enrich our lives. We have plenty of time for activities we deem a priority, like frequent mass attendence, family prayer time, and family play time. I also have plenty of time to "work on" different areas, everything from memorizing prayers to learning how to operate the washing machine, to practicing charity towards other members of the family. The opportunities to teach and guide your kids are endless. We don't worry about finding enough "family quality time", because those times are pretty much happening daily. Our kids also have plenty of time to visit grandparents, even taking off school for a week to fly to Florida or staying for long weekends at Meme's and Papa's whenever the mood strikes. We have taken weeks off to get to know Jack as a newborn baby, as well as weeks off to be with Grandaddy when he was dying.
Our school fits into our family, we do not have to try and squeeze our family's needs into the school.

---My own path to sanctity...having the kids around all the time, being responsible for their education, has made me a much more conscious parent and has pushed my patience, fortitude, selflessness, patience, charity, and patience well past the limit. Homeschooling stretches me and has forced me to become more organized and disciplined than I've ever had to be before.

---No one, not even the best teacher, has more vested interest in my children's success. We have had some bumpy learning issues to navigate. In fact, that was what pushed us to homeschool to begin with. Teachers don't even get to pick their curriculum, must less customize it for every child in their classroom. When she was in public school, she was failing science because she couldn't read the science tests. When Maria was in third grade at home and could barely read or spell, we could patiently peck away at her problem subjects and charge ahead in subjects she could handle. I could do her history reading aloud, give her science tests orally, etc., so that her language difficulities wouldn't hold her back in other subjects.
As a result, I have a child that, although she still dislikes reading because of the amount of effort it requires from her, and tests on a second grade level for writing and spelling, *loves* literature in the form of read alouds and books on tape, has a 7th grade reading comprehension level and fantastic vocabulary. And Kain, of course, has numerous issues that affect his ability to learn traditionally. Homeschooling Kain enables me to sit and patiently work through one small section a day of a kindergarten printing book, give him preschool-type manipulatives to improve his hand-eye coordination, and keep his chair-time to a minimum. I can also pick curriculum that matches my own thoughts on education, that education should be respectful of the developmental phases of a child, that it is not appropriate for young kids to sit with hours of book work a day, that different learning tasks are appropriate at different ages, that you can learn more history from one engaging and well-written biography than you can from a pile of textbooks, and that kids should learn their faith well, to read, write, and speak well, to do math well, and to move on to adulthood with their natural curiosity and desire to learn about the world still intact. Anything else is gravy. If they graduate our homeschool with that much, they'll be better off than I was when I graduated!

Ok, that's it for now. Obviously, I have more pros than cons, or we wouldn't be homeschooling! These are reasons that matter to us. There were other cons listed on the comments at Danielle's site, but I either didn't see those things in my own situation or didn't feel that they were cons. Feel free to add your own in the comments, or link to them on your own blog!

I'm still kickin....

Sorry for my slacker blogging...

We started school last week, and I've just been wrapped up in trying to find our new groove. It's a big jump, bringing Kain into our homeschool, plus adding some preschool stuff for Jack. I really, really don't know how moms with more kids than we have do it, but I guess it's just like anything else, you do it a little at a time. Every school year I get our schedule tweaked just right and think, "Well, I don't know what we'll do next year, I can't possibly add another thing into the day, and Maria will need more school time, Jack will need more too..." etc., but it always works out! Anyway, I have a WHOLE HALF HOUR on my schedule dedicated just to writing! Woohoo! Quite a luxury and don't know if it'll stick, but I'm looking forward to it.

An update...

Entropy nominated me for a "nice blogger" award, which was so sweet! She likes my honest view of homeschooling, which is great, cuz that's what I really try to do here. There's a lot of "I'm the most organized, on the ball mom in the world with perfectly perfect kids" blogs out there. Some of them I really actually like to read, because they do inspire me. And some just get on my nerves. But in any case, this is not one of those, no sir. This is us, in real life. We have moments of enlightenment and peace and love and I look around and think, "What did I do to deserve such a fantastic family?" And there are moments of "I'm sorry, why exactly did I think spending *more* time with these people was a good idea? Ya'll make 12 hour shifts as a floor nurse look like a cush job."

I'll nominate back one of the nicest people I know in the "online" world, Kelly over at the monkey house. Never have I known such a sweet-hearted, faith-filled in a real and honest way person. She is going through really tough times right now, and I just wish she lived closer so I could give her a big hug, send her to go take a nap, and love on her sweet kids.

The kids had their first day of co-op yesterday. I have a big love/hate relationship with the co-op. It's wonderful, it provides many things for the kids that I would have a really hard time producing myself, from exposure to different classes that I don't teach (woodworking, ceramics, spanish, knitting, to name a few things we have taken advantage of) to providing a "school-y" experience of having yearbooks, class pictures, pajama day, sitting in a lunchroom with friends, giving an excuse to pick out backpacks and lunch boxes, etc. The kids love, love, love co-op day. But it is a *long* day. It starts with loading up and out the door at 8:30am, a totally uncivilized hour for homeschoolers to be out and about...I mean, we get out that early to go to daily mass, but that's just a jog down the road for 30 minutes...this is getting ready to leave for the *day*. And we stay gone until after 4pm. This means packing lots of food, the things the kids need to have for their classes, the things I need to have for my class, planning to get essential around the house things done before we leave or after we come back...reminds me of the days that Maria was in school and I had a "real job"! The morning is pleasant enough. Maria and Kain attend their classes (morning classes are academic in nature) while Jack and I go to the library, run errands, go to the park, and just generally hang out together. I don't get much one on one time with Jack, and it's a very nice time. I need to be back at the co-op at 1, and I teach three hours of preschool classes with Jack in tow. It is *tiring*. I can't believe people actually teach preschool for a living. On purpose. Don't get me wrong, I love preschoolers, that's why I picked that age group...they are absolutely enchanting, fun little people. But they are a handful! And after three hours of herding them through structured activity, I am wiped out. By the end of the day, Jack is also tired and cranky from his missed nap and the long day. We are done at 3:30, and head back home with boxes and bags of stuff in the trunk to unload and sort through when we get there. I rustle around to get everyone fed, then Maria has, for the next 8 weeks at least, cheerleading practice from 6-7. Then I'm finally home for the day, throw everyone into bed, and praise God that I get to stay at home and homeschool and don't have to run around like this every day!

In other news, Maria contracted a horrifying case of poison ivy. All over her face. Ew. It was gruesome. We think one of the cats brought it in. This cat, in particular, was suspected...

She roams outside through the rainforest that grows between our garage and the neighbors fence, as evidenced by the burs that are constantly in her fur. So, I got to give her a bath. Good times. Maria, while most of her face healed well, developed impetigo in the areas around her nose and upper lip. Ew. Ew. Ew. So, we spent Monday at the pediatrician's office getting antibiotics for that. She is already doing much better and has just a small ooky area left around her nostrils. It is wonderful to see her sweet face re-emerge. I tried to get her to let me take before and after pictures, but it was a no go.

As far as school goes, we have plugged on in spite of visits to grandparents, doctors visits, co-op craziness, etc., because this is life. I learned a long time ago that if you wait for crazy-free days to get school done, you will only be on week 6 in your syllabus when Christmas arrives. So, some days we have gotten everything nicely done. Some days I've gotten things partly done. And some days I've said, "just go do some cursive and read something, I'm bathing the cat over here!!!"

Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Birthday Maria!

Maria turned 11 years old on the first of September. She had a couple of best friends over for a "girls day out" which included an overnight visit Friday night, then a trip to the local bead store to make lovely baubles in the morning, lunch at her favorite Chinese restaurant, and one really this is the last time trip to the swimming pool. It was great fun, all giggly and girly and full of the swinging from small adult to big kid that only preteens can pull off, giggling over the guys in High School Musical 2 from behind cucumber masks one minute to making play doh sculptures in the craft room the next.

I don't usually like to post photos of other people's children, in case they have objections, but I thought no one but the mother would recognize this lovely creature from the deep.

I wanted to make one of those nifty photo montages for Maria this year, but I just couldn't find the time to figure the darned thing out, though not for lack of we'll be satisfied with a few pictures of my sweet girl, part little kid who still climbs on my lap to snuggle, not noticing the gangly arms and legs that no longer fit on my lap anymore, part young lady who is often amazingly mature and insightful. I love you Ri.

She started life as a woefully frail and underfed child.

Three years old...she has this layered haircut because shortly before this picture was taken she had taken a pair of scissors to her head.

That's my kid on the end, shaking her can.

The ballerina...

Kindergarten picture...always small for her age, Maria was the World's Tiniest Kindergartener. She was not quite 5 years old when she started, and her backpack went covered her from neck to knees.

This tooth fell out right before she went onstage in The Nutcracker

A really over-sugary Easter morning

Maria and Jack

Maria and Jack prepare for the birthday festivities to begin.

The birthday girl gets a new bike.

And, just for fun, the cake that burnt the science project.

mad science

That post below about me being air-headed? Ok, keep that in mind...

So, we did our first science experiment kit last Wednesday. I love science. It was always a favorite of mine in school. Maria loves science too, especially science experiments. We have really bad luck with science experiments...they just don't seem to do what they are supposed to do. But we persevere anyway. Our current science series, which we will be using for the next three years, doesn't have a lot in the way of experiments, though it is a very good series. It was written for "real school" and so I think it must come with a separate lab component. Anyway, we simply cannot have a deficit of science experiments. So, I subscribed to these nifty "come in the mail with all the supplies you need once a month" science programs. The first one was all about recycling, first experimenting with making compost and seeing how quickly different pieces of garbage break down in soil, that kind of thing. Then we made homemade paper out of recycled materials...and well...a picture is worth a thousand words...

Here's Maria shredding up colored paper to add to our recycled materials for added "wow" factor.

Then we whizzed the mixture away in the blender. This particular brew is toilet paper and half a sheet of blue paper. Smoothie, anyone?

Here's Maria straining the pulp over a screen rubberbanded to a mug. And sticking her tongue out at me. Ain't she sweet?

And now she's squishing out more water with a sponge...

...and rolling out still more with a rolling pin...'s the finished product. There's the pretty toilet paper paper. The top one is brown paper bag. The bottom two are newspaper with orange paper added for "wow" factor. They dried for a while on the stovetop until Mom decided she needed that for cooking,,,so she had the brilliant idea of moving the still-damp paper into the oven so they could dry on the racks. Anyone wanna guess what happened next?

This last picture shows an unexpected turn in our experiment. Maria's birthday was Saturday. Friday night I went to bake a cake. I don't use my oven much in the summer, and yes, it's still summer in the south. While the oven was heating, I caught the unexplainable smell of something burning, and while moving, puzzled, into the kitchen to investigate I suddenly remembered the paper. When I opened the oven, there was a dramatic display of smoke and shortly thereafter the BEEEEPBEEEEPBEEEEP of the smoke alarm, followed by several minutes of BEEEEPBEEEEPBEEEEP from Kain as he ran around the house imitating the smoke alarms until I finally had to send him to his room for his own safety.

Conclusions- We concluded in our experiment that orange "wow" and gray newspaper pulp makes brown pulp that looks just like the paper bag pulp. We also concluded that if the only paper bag you can find has been colored all over, and you decide it doesn't matter because you are going to pulp it anyway, the crayon will rise to the top of the blender pulp in little orange and red waxy flakes and stick all over your blender. Oh yeah, and newspaper paper burns more quickly than toilet paper paper, which burns more quickly than paper bag paper. We are working on an article for publication.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

the ugly truth

People are sometimes amused, sometimes impressed, often rolling their eyes behind my back (don't think I can't SEE you) at the lengths I go to to get and stay organized. People that don't know me very well think I am really on the ball. People that do know me well wonder why I'm not more on the ball considering how much effort I put into getting organized. Several family members think I should be in therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The truth is this...compensation. I am totally air-headed, and I'm not saying this as an exaggeration. I have swiss-cheese brain. If I don't write it down, it is gone forever, and if I do write it down, it may still be gone forever because I will probably lose the 3 month old walmart receipt I pulled out of my purse to scribble it on. Homeschooling well requires a good amount of planning and organization, so I overkill. I plan and schedule and make lists and it's all in excess, but it helps me cope enough that the overplanning combined with my leaky brain usually reach a fairly happy medium. I do realize that those who know the symptoms are reading this and going, "well, she has ADD". Yeah, I know. I'm pretty sure I do too. I'm not going to go on medication for it, not when I'm trying to conceive especially. I've managed this long, I'll keep muddling through with my planners and my lists and my constantly tweaked schedules. In the meantime, you'll appreciate the perspective when you read posts about any obsessive school year planning. If you are not such a planner, remember that you may not need to be...your brain may hold water better than mine! In the meantime, I leave you with this appropriately inappropriate quote of the day...

"I know there's deep inside (me) some lazy hippie who'd be perfectly happy to lay on the couch, smoke weed and watch `The Simpsons' all day. I'm really afraid of that guy. I don't like him." _ Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.

Our first day of, sort of...

We had our first day of school on Wednesday. But not really. Our *real* first day is tomorrow. But my parents wanted to take Kain to visit for a few days now that it is cooling off a bit, so we needed to get the "fun stuff" of the first day done while he was still here. So, we went through our new books first thing, and found out that I am way more excited about the new books than the kids. Maria eyed the new pile suspiciously, looked at the end of her Saxon 76 book and pronounced it "too hard" (well, duh, it's the end of a textbook you haven't even started yet?), then stacked all her books up, counted them, and complained about how heavy they all were. What's she going to do, climb a mountain with them strapped to her back? Kain wasn't quite so pessimistic, but I lost his attention almost immediately just the same.

Things got better when we did our "back to school" interviews. During these interviews, which are done separately, I ask the kids a list of questions with the tape recorder going. It's always a riot to go back and listen a couple of years later. Here's this year's interview questions...

What is your favorite food? Maria- sloppy joes. Kain- pizza

Favorite color Maria- hot pink with sparkles. Kain- blue and red and yellow. Also pink.

Favorite Toy? Maria- Rose (a baby doll). Kain- Halo toys (I know. They are evil. I don't buy them, his father does. Such is the pain of raising someone else's child.)

Favorite Movie? Maria- The Secret Garden. Kain- Red versus Blue. (some Halo movie), and Ben 10 (apparently something on Cartoon Network. Don't know, we don't have cable!)

Favorite book? Maria- Little House on the Prairie. Kain- Pokemon books. Imogene's Antlers

Time of Day? Maria- when the boys go to bed. Kain- Computer time

Day of the Week? Maria- Friday, because Kain goes to his Dad's. Kain- Friday, because I go to my Dad's.

Day of the year? Maria- Christmas. Kain- my birthday

Room of the house? Maria- my room. Because the boys can't hang out in there. Kain- the living room. Because the computer is in it.

Saint? Maria- St. Catherine of Seina (her patron). Kain- St. Amadeus (his patron).

What are your hobbies? Maria- jigsaw puzzles. Kain- playing on the computer

What's one of your best memories? Maria- the day I met Eden (her best friend. which is sweet, but she doesn't really remember it, she was only 2! :)) Kain- Going to Incredible Pizza (I don't know what this place is. Sounds like Chuck E. Cheese on steroids going by Kain's description).

What do you like most about yourself? Maria- I'm pretty. (modest, yes?) Kain- I'm good at playing Halo.

What's something you need to improve on? Maria- reading. Kain- being good

What's was your favorite part of school last year? Maria- The Drawing Textbook.
Kain- recess (he was in public school last year).

Are you excited about anything in particular for this coming school year? Maria- The junior scientist of the month kits. Kain- no.

Worried about anything for this coming school year? Maria- spelling. Kain- I want to see Jaice (his friend at school last year).

What do you want to be when you grow up? Kain- a Dad. With three kids.

What do you want your life to be like in 20 years? Maria- Lots of kids, mostly girls. A big house. 2 billion cats. 20 hamsters. Working in my house as an artist making sculptures from junk. (you go girl).

So, after our interviews, we met some friends for lunch at a local pizza/wanna-be-Chuck-E-Cheese place to celebrate the new school year. Then we came home and Jack took a nap while Maria and I worked on the first of her science of the month kits. When Jack woke up, we worked on our Luau themed art kit, making leis (did I spell that right?), watercolor beach scenes, etc. All fun stuff...the real work starts tomorrow for Maria and later in the week for Kain.

Tomorrow, more on our science experiments, including pictures...our luck with science experiments at home is becoming rather legendary, and not in a good way!

Hey, I've got new commenters! Welcome new commenters! That's always fun, especially if I don't know them in real life. If I *do* know them in real life, I wonder if I have said anything on my blog that will embarrass me too terribly. Then I realize that I say things in real life all the time that are embarrassing, so it probably doesn't really matter.