Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Two blog entries in one day???

I know, don't pass out from the shock of it. I seem to have suddenly found my energy (knock on wood) or else those people (and you know who you are!) who keep trying to claim that we're involved in too many activities are right and just having two days at home has done wonders. I will admit that I try to plan to have at least two days a week at home without anything to do, but it just doesn't always work out that way. It will be nice when 4-H is over for the year and I will have my Tuesdays open every week instead of just half of them. But then again there's this Tuesday park day that I've been itching to go to... ;)

Anyway, school didn't start until 1:00 today, but unlike yesterday when it still seemed early, today it seemed so late. Probably because I had to say it about 400 times before anyone got the message. It's time for school now. Let's get started on that schoolwork! OK, put... the... Game... AWAY!! See the problem was that yesterday's Monopoly game just ignited a flame in Cameron and he woke up itching to play it again. I've stated multiple times that one game of Monopoly uses up all my gaming motivation for at least three days, so don't even ask me. Cameron always seems to forget that but today he decided to just play himself. One of his personas had a ton of money and the other one he only gave a couple of hundred to. I guess he wanted to make sure he won.

Cassia and I decided to play a game of Senet while we waited for him to finish up. I like that she's finally at an age where we can play real games together. We did use simplified rules but it was still fun. Unfortunately, she then brought out another game that she wanted to play and while I declined it because Cameron had finally gotten his Monopoly cleaned up and I was ready (still) to start schoolwork, Cameron swooped down and began to play with her. It was an animal alphabet game - phonics and zoology! - so I let them play for a while before finally putting my foot down.

At last the books came out. Actually they were still out but in a very nice way. Since Monday when I took them on the road, I've had the schoolbooks in a big canvas bag. It's so much easier to just leave the bag sitting next to an end table with the books neatly inside than to leave them on the counter where they look and feel messy or to put them away in a cabinet only to drag them out again the next day. Kind of makes me long for my old Holly Hobby book bag from 1977. ;) But back to the books - we started out with phonics for Cassia today. She did very well reading three letter words like cat, sat, and hat and by the end of the list of words I think she was really getting the hang of it instead of just copying what I was saying. Yeah Cassie! Next was phonics for Cameron where we read multisyllabic words ending in y: July, lullaby, supply. He did ok. Not as well as yesterday because he kept forgetting the lesson words just moments after he read them, but he was reading the smaller words effortlessly. Grammar was reviewing nouns, verbs, and the four sentence types. There are only two lessons left in the first grade section of our Grammar book! I'd say we could take a break with it until we start our new year (which I think may end up being only a month from now) but it's one of their favorite subjects! That would just be mean to take it away when they enjoy it so much. ;) The really funny thing though is that if you ask him, Cam will say that math is his favorite subject but I know he wouldn't mind one little tiny bit if we took several months off from doing that!

Speaking of math, that was next and I did what I had previously thought was impossible. I had both Cameron and Cassia doing math at the same time. It was a really good time to do that because she was doing some pages where she really understood the concept (circling groups of ten, counting the leftovers, and then writing it as a number like 18) and he was doing a review section. Well, you'd think a review section would be easy but it was all multiplication problems and he conveniently forgot them all. I think he got really, really tired of hearing me say, "Well count by __s if you've forgotten what it is!" when he really just wanted me to tell him all the answers. I have a feeling that he thinks I don't really know my times tables either and I just want him to do all the work for both of us. ;)

I'll skip the details of the little spat that landed Cameron is my room doing his math while Cassia watched Barbie as Rapunzel and just move on to History. (Oh, I should also mention that while Cameron was taking eons doing his math she also did several pages of ETC.) Anyway, Cassie was done with school by then and chose not to listen in on history so Cameron and I just made ourselves comfortable on my bed and read about the Greek alphabet (note to self: print out some Greek alphabet worksheets tonight!), Homer's story of Odysseus and the Cyclops, and the history of the Olympic games. When the Cyclops story started out with a god wanting revenge on someone Cameron wasn't so sure he wanted to hear it, lol, but he was very pleasantly surprised to find that Odysseus actually survived to the end. In fact, he was downright shocked, lol. I think I've jaded his innocent world view. ;) But the good news is that he was truly enthralled with what we were reading. He kept interrupting me to tell me different tidbits that he knew from other shows like Time Warp Trio and was quite impressed with himself that he already knew that women could not compete in the Olympics. I really should dig through our collection of books on Greece because I probably have some good ones that I could strew about just for fun.

The only bad news of the day is that poor Greyson had a nasty fever all day. I gave him some Tylenol at around 11:30 when it was 99.5 and then found him an hour later dozing with a toy in his hand. I put him to bed and five hours later he finally woke up. His fever had climbed to 101.4 so I gave him some more Tylenol and he stayed awake for another 15 minutes before heading to my room to crawl into my bed. I guess the medicine kicked in because he came out again a half hour later but for the rest of the night he really couldn't muster the energy to do anything more than hold his eyes open (mostly) while watching a Thomas video. The fever went up to 101.7 a couple hours later before finally heading down to 101 exactly. Poor guy fell asleep in my arms in front of Thomas and is now dreaming away again. At least he could keep some food down today. Hopefully the fever will break in the night and he'll be back to his rambunctious self tomorrow. I'll admit that I've been enjoying his quiet cuddles, but I hate to see the poor little guy looking so miserable.

Book tag

Book tag! Here are the rules...

  • *Pick up the nearest book.
  • *Turn to page 123.
  • *Post the 5th sentence.
  • *Tag 5 other people.

The Sustainable Vegetable Garden: A Backyard Guide to Healthy Soil and Higher Yields by John Jeavons and Carol Cox. It happened to be laying next to the computer and is actually the last book I picked up.... lol, but there's no page 123. The last page is 118. I guess I should've checked that first. ;)

Trying again...
Step-By-Step Tarot by Terry Donaldson.

"We are the lovers, united by the emotion we feel for each other."

If you read this and it sounds fun... you're it!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Home on the Range

We actually had a pretty productive day today. I think I managed to get everything done that I had wanted to - and several things I didn't.

I want to say that we started the day with schoolwork, but we didn't get started until noon. LOL, it felt like first thing though! We actually all slept a little late today and Cameron, Greyson, and I woke around 8:30 and then lay in my bed watching Clifford before finally getting up to find Cassia still asleep! She didn't get up until after 9:30. The kids watched tv for a bit while I did my morning stuff (computer, shower, etc). They were watching the "Poached Egg" episode of Bindi the Jungle Girl and when I emerged from the shower I found them all clamoring for a "three-egg omelet made with four eggs." (If you've seen the episode, you'd get it. If you didn't, don't worry about it because it wasn't really that funny.) So I made cheese omelets for brunch (too late to really call it breakfast) and it really felt kind of unit study-ey, lol. The kids learned about different animal eggs, how predators poach eggs from the nest, and so we ate omelets. Sure, why not.

THEN we got started with school. I had told them before my shower that there were to be no complaints about school today, and there weren't. Cameron did a phonics lesson reading three syllable words and did really, really well. Next Cassia wanted to do her Explode the Code book but while she was looking for a pencil Greyson suddenly threw up. He had been kind of "off" all morning so I had a big oh-that-explains-it moment. The kids were really sweet about it - so genuinely concerned. Cassia said, "What can I get you to help, Mommy?" How cool is that to hear when you're helping an almost two-year old vomit without choking?? So then school took a little break while I cleaned everything and everyone up. Grey seemed to feel much better after that, though he was much more mellow than usual.

Cassia did 3 or 4 pages in her ETC primer and I was shocked to notice that she is almost done with the last one! I guess it fits though because she just finished consonant sounds in OPGTR and is moving on to the reading section. Next was Grammar where we reviewed the four sentence types. Math was dividing by 10s. Somewhere in there, Greyson finally decided that a nap really would make him feel better so I tucked him in. We finished schoolwork with some stories from Greek Myths for Young Children. We read a story about somebody and the dolphins which was pretty boring and the kids were ready to call it quits there but I talked them into reading Orpheus and Eurydice because I love a good love story. ;) They were both actually a bit horrified by that one, lol. I was about to call it quits there but they were noticing the picture on the front cover of Icarus and when I told them the premise of that story, they wanted to read it too. Again, the tragedy of it was a bit much for them. I don't know if Greek Myths really are for young children... but I made sure to drive home the moral of Icarus: obey your parents!!

Next on my agenda was transplanting some seedlings from our cute little homemade flat (made from recycled fence wood) to our little 7' x 10' garden plot in the front yard.
As I said in a previous entry, I flaked a bit on getting the seeds started so, so far, only the corn and the beans were ready for transplant. I learned a valuable lesson on following directions though - there is a very good reason for transplanting corn seedlings when they are only an inch tall. If you wait until they are three or four inches tall, the main root is about three times that length and has interwoven itself among your other seedings! Not to mention the fact that you are supposed to plant it with the root as vertical as possible. Yeah, ok. Let me just dig down a foot to plant this seedling. LOL, anyway, I'm sure those little plants could use all the P&PTs you can muster. I actually felt quite cruel digging them out of their happy little nursery full of black moist soil to put them into the cruel, harsh, clay-ridden mess that is our land. My corn didn't grow at all last year when I planted the kernels directly in the bed. Hopefully these little seedlings have had a better start on life and will give us the gift of food in return.

The kids and I finished up our day with a game of Monopoly. Cameron kicked my butt. Somehow, he managed to get all four railroads right off the bat. Actually, he got three right off the bat and then got the fourth one around the same time as I got my first monopoly which pretty much made my measly rent pointless. *sigh* Not that I'm bitter. It's a great math practice though because he loves being the "bankery". Cassia almost made it through the whole game but lost interest right about the point she was almost out of cash. Greyson sat and played with backgammon pieces (we had to steal the dice from that game) most of the time which was a welcome relief to his usual quest to steal all the money and rearrange all the pieces.

Speaking of Greyson, he woke up from his nap feeling much better. He was even running around with the big kids a bit so that was a good thing. He did get sick one more time right before dinner (I think the smell of it did him in) but I recognized the signs and got him into the bathroom on time. He tried to hop right back into his dinner chair afterward, but I convinced him to hang out on the couch for a while instead. He finally crawled into bed all by himself about half an hour early and instantly went to sleep. I hope he can sleep peacefully through the night... but I have a feeling that I am the one dreaming there. What I really hope is that the rest of us don't get this. I'm already feeling a bit queasy but it's probably just from cleaning up so much partially digested food. Well, if we do get it, I hope it's soon because we've got a busy weekend coming up again.

*Oh and I've added some Chickenque pictures to the previous entry. Check them out!*

Monday, April 28, 2008

Chickens and Jeckyll-and-Hyde

Look at me, blogging on Monday! Aren't you proud? I know you are. Now you all just have to get back into the habit of checking in frequently, just like I have to get back in the habit of reading everyone else's blogs. Funny how I seem to have so much less time now. Why is that? The days are getting longer aren't they?

We had a great weekend. We had some friends over on Saturday and we BBQed hot dogs and chatted all afternoon. It was nice to just hang out and talk without anything to do. Greyson had a really good time.

Sunday was the big Chickenque celebration. In case you didn't know, Chickenque is the yearly county-wide 4-H fundraiser. Each club sets up a booth showing off some things they're doing. Our booth was giving away seedlings for the 4H-Million Trees project. It was really cool seeing people wandering around with our little seedlings in their hands.

One of the booths was showcasing a project where you build a Windsor chair from scratch with period tools!

The booth next door to ours was a leatherwork craft. C&C each did one and had a great time with it. Cassia made a flower-shaped necklace with little purple hearts, flowers, and baby feet stamped into it. Cameron made a sword with a snake, an arrow, and some manly looking knot shapes stamped into it. Well, he thought he made a sword. What he really made was a cross, lol, but you just couldn't talk him out of the fact that the shapes are so similar. DH kept telling him, "But it's a cross that goes on a church!" and Cam said, "but isn't a cross really a sword?" I guess in a Crusader sense he's right. I guess I have a little Christian soldier on my hands now - too bad he's a self-proclaimed atheist. ;)

Greyson spent his time enthralled by the model train display. I was able to distract him from that for a few minutes with the animals
(he liked the goats and pigs the best) but then he was right back to the train. What is it with boys and trains?

The best part of Chickenque though is the food. Your lunch/dinner consists of half a chicken, a salad, a roll, and a carton of local milk. We came home with almost a chicken and a half worth of leftovers, lol. It made a great chicken salad tonight. After the BBQ is the cake. Oh the cake! Each family is required requested to bring a cake to donate and then they sell them for $1 a slice or $8 for a whole cake. Turns out that if you wait for the end of the day, the cakes are half price! They were selling them for $4 each or 3 for $11 when we left! What would a family do with 3 cakes?? We restrained ourselves and just bought one. And then we ate it for dinner that night. ;)

So today my morning was spent catching up on all my other computer stuff, lol, while the kids played. Oh wait, no, we started the day with an OB appointment. All four of us, yippee. It was an adventure to be sure. ;) But it was much more enjoyable than last month's super rushed appointment because my OB finally got herself a new RNP trainee to help her out. This is fabulous (even though it took her forEVER to find the heartbeat) because my OB came in looking relaxed and happy and ready to answer the questions that the RNP had relayed to her. So I had lots of time with someone and the doctor didn't have to waste her time (which is apparently super valuable) with the mundane things. Everything looks great, by the way.

So then we went to Trader Joe's and then we came home and I read a bunch of stuff online and the kids played. And then suddenly it was gymnastics time. Doing schoolwork in the car worked so well last week that I decided to try it again... but no dice. Cameron just flat out refused so we went inside where Greyson proceeded to run around like a lunatic and forced us back into the car where Cameron again flat out refused to do any work. *sigh* Greyson fell asleep, like I knew he would, and so I switched the kids out and sent Cameron in for his class and brought Cassia out to the car. She however was delighted to do schoolwork in the car!! She did seven and a half pages in her math book (which I finally found) and probably would've done more if it hadn't been time to go.

The kids made another Jekyll and Hyde personality switch when I made a deal with them tonight that if they promised to straighten up the living and dining rooms after dinner that they could eat in front of the tv. While Cameron vehemently promised that he would (and even managed to bargain for a slice of Chickenque cake after they finished cleaning), he spent his time playing with Greyson instead (even with repeated reminders) and landed himself in bed, without any cake and without any of the toys that didn't get picked up, half an hour early. Cassia on the other hand was delighted to help me clean and did an excellent job. (First time ever on this one, I think.) So Cassia, Greyson, and I enjoyed a piece of stale cake while poor Cameron was in bed wondering how long I'm going to keep his LEGOs this time. Do you think he will be more cooperative tomorrow? Me either. ;)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Trying to get back on track

with both schoolwork and blogging. No schoolwork got done Wednesday. I have no idea why. We had an errand or two to run, nothing major, and the plan was to do schoolwork when we got back but it just never happened. I just feel like I have no control over things sometimes (see iVillage's homeschooling board if you want the full rant on that ;)). The kids spent most of the day covering shields made of K'nex with aluminum foil. It was creative and productive so I was glad to see it happen, I just wish it hadn't taken up ALL of their day.

We did visit the animal shelter to pay our licensing fees so I'm going to count that as a science/social studies field trip in our little black record book, lol. The kids wanted to take home every one of those beautiful cats, and to be honest so did I, but we restrained ourselves. On the way home from there we did have an interesting discussion on the merits of spaying and neutering your pets. Cameron and Cassia do not agree. They think it is cruel and that you should allow your cat to have a litter of kittens first before spaying her. My mom used to believe that too - until we ended up with seventeen cats at one point because our dumb cat kept getting herself pregnant. I tried to scare the kids with that story but they promised that they wouldn't let that happen. When they are adults they are each going to get a cat and let her have six kittens before having her altered. Yes, I'm sorry, but my children are going to be responsible for a dozen strays. Yikes. Now that I think about it, on the way through San Francisco on Tuesday we saw a wood chipper doing its duty on some tree clippings. Cameron just thought that was horrible and cruel to the trees. I said that trees needed to be trimmed just like our hair needs to be cut, but he said that taking the leaves off of trees would be like cutting hair but trimming the branches would be like cutting off our arms and legs! So it looks like I've raised a little environmental activist here. I just hope he doesn't end up joining PETA or something. Actually he's too much of a meat eater for that - they'd never let him in. LOL.

Today, Thursday, I felt like it was going to be another get-nothing-done day, but it didn't end up that way at all. We started with ballet where the class started learning their dance for the recital coming up in June. Cassia was bestowed the honor of being one of the line leaders for the dance. I was very proud and remarked that she must be a very good dancer then. She said no, that she was just one of the biggest and they lined everyone up from tallest to shortest, lol. Her teacher though did say that she was very happy to have found leaders and that being chosen for that was a very good thing. (She only said this because when she announced that they had a couple leaders and pointed to Cassia and another girl, I misheard and thought she said "beaters." There had been some incidents with girls banging on the floor a couple weeks ago instead of listening. I was afraid that Cassia was instigating rebellions again, lol, but it turns out that she must have been listening very well to be given the place of honor and keep it.)

After ballet and lunch I finally managed to get the monkeys rallied for school. Cassia did the first actual reading lesson in our phonics book. She's covered all the short vowels and consonants and is ready to learn to sound things out. The concept is still a bit beyond her, I think, but she is eager. Together we read the words at, am, an, and ad. She kept trying to add all these other syllables in there though. She tried to read "am" as "appamom" or something, lol. She also kept looking away and just guessing random "a" words and I had to keep reminding her that to read you have to actually look at the words. Cameron still has trouble with that one too. ;) Cameron read some three-syllable words today and he did pretty well. It was a two-page lesson and he definitely did better on the first page than the second. Ordinarily I would have broken it up and let him do it on two days, but since we didn't do any bookwork on Tuesday or Wednesday I figured it was a good catch up lesson. Math also ended up being kind of a double lesson. We did a page of review problems from the text orally and then went on to a new section and its exercise. It was an easy section though: multiplying and dividing by 10s. I think even Cassia can do that. Cassia wanted to do math too but I couldn't find her book!! Whoops! For grammar we learned about sentences of exclamation. That was a fun one because there were some really silly sentences like, "There's a pink alien outside the window!"

I was ready to call it a day there. My patience is just not up to par lately and that phonics lesson coupled with Cassia and Greyson constantly interrupting just about did me in. But as I brought the books inside (did I mention that our heater is on the fritz and we did school outside because it was actually warmer than it was in the house?) Cameron said, "OK, I'm ready for History now!" Well I just can't argue with that so I grabbed a library book and read Growing Up in Ancient Greece to them while Cameron built with K'nex and Cassia wandered in and out. This was one of the first successful "I read and you play" sessions we've ever had. Usually the playing just takes over his mind and soon he is talking over me with his own little dialogs between LEGO guys. But this time he was engaged and actually making conversation about the things I was reading. So that was a very good thing.

We also spent some time in the morning learning the numbers from one to ten or twelve in Spanish, French, German, and Japanese. No particular reason for it; it was just the thing to do at the time. Actually, we should be learning the numbers and letters in Greek. That would be cool. Remind me look that up and print out some worksheets for next week.

Tomorrow is Science Class and Favorite Park Day. There are two birthdays being celebrated there and I am really on the fence about whether or not to get gifts. If you remember, back in December there was a double birthday party and I was the only person not to bring gifts. We've never brought gifts to park birthday celebrations so I was totally caught off guard. So you'd think it would be a given to bring gifts this time except that one of the birthdays is for the brother of one of the boys from December. Won't he feel cheated that Cameron bought his brother a gift but not him? *Sigh* What to do. And of course I've put it off long enough that it's going to make for a crazy morning trying to figure it out and then getting out to buy something before class. Will I look cheap not bringing anything again? I know I don't need more crap in the house, but I also know how much the kids like getting gifts. I really wish I had had them make something but that would have taken more organization than I can muster. ;) OK, enough rambling for tonight. TTYL. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Guess who?

I'm alive, I swear! Regardless of what Google Accounts thinks, I exist and so does my email. Hmphhh. I'm going to be seriously annoyed if I have to reset my password every ten days or however long it is that Blogger will remember you. But anyway...

Long time no blog, huh? Let's see last week was pretty laid back. In fact, we only did formal schoolwork on Tuesday! So what did we do? Hmmm, let me go check the calendar. Oh I remember, we were all kind of getting over colds so we took it easy for the most part. Monday was gymnastics. Tuesday was nothing, hence getting the books out. Wednesday the kids went over to a friend's house while I went to go have "the big" ultrasound. Oh yeah, did I not mention that? It's a BOY!!!! And he looks perfectly healthy, so that's always good to know. Cassia cried, but she's over it now. ;) Thursday we were supposed to have Cooking Class for 4-H but DH made me cancel it so that I didn't push a small chest cold into a very large case of bronchitis. It was a good call. I don't think we did anything Thursday then except ballet. Did we watch movies? Hmmm, see I hate when I can't blog - it's like I lose pieces of my life. Yes I think we had an Indiana Jones marathon that day. No wait, on second thought, Cameron had a major LEGO building bonanza going on Wednesday evening, all day Thursday, and Friday morning. He had downloaded some bonus instructions from the LEGO site to build an A-wing out of his Star Destroyer kit. Wow, I have never seen such determination in him. He was focused and concentrated and, best yet, happy to clean up the debris at meal and bed times so that I would continue to let him work until he was done. That was why no school was done - there were much more important things going on!!

Friday was Science Class which was a very welcome thing since we had missed the previous week due to illness. Poor Cameron had been up throwing up all night. :( There the kids made circuit boards out of a paper plate, a AA battery, a popsicle stick, a zip tie, two paper clips, some aluminum foil, a couple wires, a small Christmas light, and lots of scotch tape. Very cool project. After that was the park which was a fabulously dirty time as always. We were there from about 1 until 6:30!! One of the moms was commenting that the really interesting games always start after we've all been there for three or four hours. By that time, everyone has already done all the stuff that they needed to do (dig in the sand, climb trees, chase each other with swords) and then a big group dynamic kicks in and they come up with the coolest games at that point. Really intricate fun games involving usually at least 10 kids. We were saying what a shame it is that most people miss out on that by only staying at the park for 30 minutes or an hour. I think that must be a real homeschooler attitude to just block off the entire day for the park and the wonders that lie there.

The weekend was really great. Cameron had a baseball game on Saturday while Greyson had gymnastics. After the gym, Grey and I went on a date to Starbucks. Nothing like a decaf latte and apple juice over coffee cake to start your day. Mmmmmmm. I think the rest of the day was just spent doing house stuff. Sunday we went out geocaching. Did I tell you about our geocaching? I think I told you about the first project meeting, but I didn't tell you about last weekend where we met everyone at the park and hunted some real ones. We didn't find all of the ones we were looking for but we ended up finding one on our own that the rest of the group looked for for a long time and couldn't find! Here's our conquest:

Anyway, we went out on our own on Sunday to look for some that are located around our house but we didn't have much success. It was really cold and windy too so that probably made it harder for us to stay focused. We did find one though and it was in a playground that I hadn't known about before - so that was a bonus!

Monday I tried to get us "back on track" but we still didn't manage to get around to doing schoolwork before it was time to go to gymnastics. But I was determined so I brought all of the books with us. Greyson was in a "mood" anyway so I didn't really want to deal with chasing his crazy butt all over the gym. I walked Cassia inside for her class and then the boys and I stayed in the car and did school. Greyson, as I predicted, fell asleep. It turns out that 45 minutes is just enough time to do phonics, grammar, and math with a little time to spare. That's good to know that it can all be done that fast (if you're locked in a car with no distractions, lol).

Tuesday we had a field trip! We went to the Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco for one of their Concerts for Kids. The drive was beautiful and the kids really seemed to appreciate some of the old buildings, especially those that had survived the Great Earthquake. City Hall is gorgeous
(this picture doesn't do the dome justice) and is right across the street from the Performing Arts Center. We spent quite a bit of time with our eyes up to the sky and our jaws hanging open marveling at that one.

The symphony was great. Cameron really enjoyed it. Cassia was good through the first half (and it was only 45 minutes, lol) but then it was just too much. It was hard though because it was a real field trip thing - as in there were HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of school kids there. They were so not interested. You could tell that for most of them the only reason they were there was so that they weren't in school. They were all bored and jumpy. And that is a contagious feeling. How long could Cassia be expected to sit there and enjoy the music when everyone around her is bouncing in their seats, turning around, fiddling with their backpacks, and just generally not getting a single thing out of the experience?? Didn't they realize that they were seeing a phenomenal orchestra for the bargain price of $5 a seat?? Cameron knew that, lol. I made sure he knew how special it was for us to be able to go see the SF Symphony. He even wants to know when we can go back! They have some family music shows that I think I'm going to have to look into.

Another great part of the show was that we happened to be sitting right across the aisle from some of our 4-H friends! That was really amazing because it wasn't like our HS group had a block of seats. We were all just given individual general admission tickets and they squeezed us in where there was room between the school groups. After the show we braved the restroom - yikes, lol - and then all went out to lunch. It was a nice surprise ending to a nice afternoon out.

So there's your ketchup for the day (catch up, get it?). Like some fries with that? Oh I just crack myself up sometimes. ;)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Week of the Water Heater

I guess we were just not destined for school this week. The solar guys came on Tuesday to install our super cool new solar water heating system and that not only took all day, but it took two days. And the second day we had no water at all because they were working on plumbing the system. Blech. If I had known how that second day was going to go, I would have either planned to be gone (but I just don't feel right about leaving a crew in the house alone) or at least bought us a case of bottled water. Can you believe we had no bottled water at all and no pitchers of it or anything in the fridge? We ended up microwaving glasses of ice cubes by the end of the day, lol. We're a big water family. There was a gallon of juice in the fridge, but it's just not the same. At least that meant that we weren't needing the bathroom too much - toilets don't work without water either, you know. ;)

They finally got out of here at about 7pm on the second day but they left us with piping hot water and a beautiful new tubular skylight in the kitchen. The skylight is the coolest thing ever. We had this dark little kitchen and almost always had the lights on in there. Now the skylight lights it up whenever Mr. Sun is in the sky. It's nice too because it starts out low when you first wake up and then by 10 or 11 it is brighter than the lights ever were. Around sunset it glows this beautiful blue color and Dave the Solar Guy said that it does that during a full moon too. I highly recommend them for all the dark corners of your house!

So we never got any schoolwork done. The crew on the roof was just too interesting. We did go to a 4-H meeting on Tuesday afternoon though. It started with a silverware stuffing party as we filled little baggies with plastic utensils for the Chickenque coming up in a few weeks. Then there was "the boring meeting" and I think Cameron volunteered for a committee or two. After the meeting was chocolate cake to wish bon voyage to one of the former leaders and her family before they make their move to Alaska. OMG, that was the best chocolate cake ever. They should've put a warning label on it

Warning: Consumption of this cake can cause greedy overindulgence in pregnant women and incredibly long-lasting hyperactivity in children.
LOL, it was that good. So anyway, after the children were all hyped up they had pet show and tell day. Lots of happy dogs and several terrified cats and guinea pigs. We decided not to actually bring out pets (I was wondering how I was going to handle three children through all that much less a pet or two!) so Cameron brought pictures instead. Unfortunately, he didn't quite get the concept that the audience couldn't see the pictures while he was looking at them. ;) See Greyson the Blur in this one? LOL, he loved all the pets and couldn't get enough of them.

I guess 4-H always counts as school to me. It's definitely the most schooly atmosphere they are ever in. Wednesday I kept saying, let's just wait for the workmen to finish up before we start school. I don't want to be interrupted. LOL. Yeah, well that plan didn't work. ;) We did get some good lessons in stuff like tools, reflection (the tubular skylight), and career choices. Cassia says she wants to be a worker when she grows up now. We also got a great lesson in patience.

Today was supposed to be catch up day but now everyone is sick. Cassia was actually more sick yesterday but it hit Cameron hard today and he is currently napping on the couch. Greyson has a bit of a cough too but it hasn't slowed him down any. We won't get any school done tomorrow because if the kids are well then we are going to Science class and then the park and then baseball! Actually, I'm hoping we can just go to Science Class, come home to rest, and then go to baseball. I have a feeling though that we're going to be laying on the couch all day watching movies.

I spent the day finally planting my seeds for our vegetable garden. I'm actually doing it a few weeks too late but I really wanted to do it right this time. I ordered a starter kit so that I could do everything "by the book" as told by this fabulous sustainable gardening book that I got from the library last year. Anyway, I forgot that you're supposed to start the seedlings several weeks before the last frost so I'm a little behind but hopefully we'll still have a bountiful vegetable garden to enjoy. It won't have quite as much variety as my mix and match garden from last year but it will be much cheaper and much more salad ready. We're even growing watermelons and Haogen melons! That will be a blast to have fresh watermelons. The starter kit also included seeds for a Calorie Crop (in other words, food like wheat, potatoes, and onions that give your diet a lot of calories for the space they take up in the garden) but I don't really have a place to plant them. The starter garden is supposed to be 100 square feet but we only have a 7' x 10' plot. I really want to dig up another little section somewhere but I doubt that it's going to happen this year. Hopefully the seeds will keep until next year. (Freezer?)

Oh, and one more thing... taking away tv is a really bad punishment to dole out. Cassia's entire class was misbehaving this morning in ballet and so they didn't get their usual stickers for the second week in a row. She was not happy at all and when I handed her her shoes and said "let's go" she threw them at me, crossed her arms defiantly, and said, "No!" Well that lost her her tv for the day but it also gave her opportunity to just get into more trouble!! She and Greyson have been up to no good all day. I miss my tv babysitter/child soother!! I hope I don't have to do that one again. ;)

And that's the news from Bermland. One more quick plug for Dave and the guys at the Sun Connection. The were really, really fabulous. They worked hard and did not skimp a single corner even though the entire process took much longer than they expected. They are currently the only Northern California suppliers of this solar water heating system, so give them a call if you want one or for an amazing tubular skylight if you live in Sonoma or Marin county. Thanks, Dave!!!

Monday, April 07, 2008

No news is no news

Well, I made it back here slightly before a week! I'd hate to become a once a week blogger. ;)

Not too much happening though.

Thursday was ballet class and then the usual schoolwork. We started reading about Greece but I can't really go on because my library books haven't come in yet. (Not that I don't have a ridiculous number of books on Greece in the schoolroom that my aunt passed down to me - but I haven't gone through those yet so we're ignoring them.) Cassia got promoted from the little girl class to Pre-Ballet for this summer even though they had previously told me it wouldn't be until fall. I wish it were because she's so amazingly talented but I think it's just because they want her to take one of the Pre-Ballet summer camps (more $$$). And of course we're falling for it. ;) But it's ok because we should be able to have her in ballet camp and Cameron in golf camp the same week leaving me with only one child. Can you imagine? It's only for a couple hours a day, but still, it's a milestone.

Friday was Science class where the kids learned edible geology. The did plate tectonics with mint Oreos to show how mountains form and then broke up Pangea (a graham cracker) and watched its soil (frosting) and plant & animal life (sprinkles) get distributed over the world (paper plate). It was cute. That was followed by playing swords with the boys in class and then Favorite Park Day which actually ended in a complete melt-down by Cassia because she didn't get to play with L5 long enough. Of course that didn't matter when I couldn't get her to leave R8's house to go to the park! I think we may have to pick instead of doing both every week. Maybe trade off weeks of staying to play or going to the park.

Saturday was baseball and gardening.

Sunday was a Geocaching project for 4-H. That was fun! I kind of had to talk the boys into it, but I knew they would love it... and they did! This was the first meeting and we met at the leader's house to learn the rules and then they had hidden different caches around their property for the kids to find as practice. Cam and DH had a blast and found every single one of them. Of course DH wants to buy his own GPS now, lol. Cassia had a great time just playing dress up with C5 and Greyson had his own little explore going on. We all had a really good time. :)

Monday Greyson finally went in for his long-awaited GI appointment. It was pretty anticlimactic. We just talked and they ordered some blood tests (to appease me, I think) but I have the feeling that the doctor just thinks that "some kids are just like that" and he'll eventually grow out of this. She suggested some supplements that might help and said come back this summer and we'll see if it's gotten any better. I guess the main point is that he is growing well and things have gotten better since giving up dairy so they're ok with where he's at. I'm pretty tired of the constant diaper related infections, but hopefully the supplements will help that.

We got home from there with about an hour before gymnastics, so no schoolwork got done despite my plans to push through it real quick. LOL, as if. ;) So we went to the gym and the kids got their permission slips for the Big Gymnastics Show in June. Thankfully they were both placed in the same show, lol. I could've changed them, of course, but it's nice that I didn't have to. They got assigned to the best show too - Sunday matinée!

And that's what we've been up to since last Wednesday. Tomorrow is the day we've all been waiting for... water heater installation day!!!!!!! So hopefully by this time tomorrow I will be clean and warm and happy. Yay!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Play Ball!

Slacking again! Man, time just gets away from me lately. I meant to blog Monday but DH was home so that makes it tough. I meant to blog Tuesday but we were busy all day and then Cameron and I ended up watching a Giant's game together until 10:30pm (!) and by then I was just too tired. I've been meaning to blog all day today, but here it is 9:45 and I'm just now getting to it. Where does the time go??

So let's see... Monday was a pretty good day. I started the day out with an OB appointment. Blobby is just fine (and we find out if it's Blobby or Blobbi on the 16th!) but I was told that I need to drink more water and try to stay off my feet as much as possible (hahahahahahaha). Just a little more aching/cramping/contracting (hard to tell what it really is at this point) than my doctor is comfortable with. And you know, she must be right because now that I'm paying more attention to it, I notice that it's always coming when I've been standing at the computer too long or have been running too many errands. So I've really been trying to go sit down when I start to feel it. DH is terrified that I'm going to end up on bedrest, so I'm doing my best to make sure I'm getting some rest when I need it.

Anyway, after that Cameron and I did some schoolwork. We only had time for Phonics and Grammar before it was time for gymnastics. We learned something new in Grammar though (which is always a nice surprise since there is so much review, lol), the definition of a sentence. Neither Cameron nor Cassia had any trouble picking out which was the sentence and which was the fragment in the examples. We took Math and Spelling along with us to the gym. Math was multiplying and dividing by fours and Cameron had a couple interested people at the gym asking what grade he was in and what school he went to and such, lol. He's a very proud homeschooler. I love that. I also noticed that even though he's doing a 2nd grade math book - and he knows that - he told people that he was in first grade and that this was his first grade math book. I like that he doesn't feel the need to brag about the level. Maybe he just doesn't realize that all first graders don't do level 2 math? He does like to brag about the fact that he's got me teaching him cursive even though I told him that most kids don't learn that until 2nd grade. LOL. People don't seem very impressed by that though. ;) But where was I? Oh yeah, we were doing math at gymnastics. We ended up not having the time or the inclination to do Spelling there so we were going to do that and History back at the house afterward.

Both Cameron and Cassia did FABULOUSLY in gymnastics this week. It was Star Week where they are tested on their skills and Cassia got 5 out of 6 stars on hers. That means a new star on her name tag which she is just thrilled over. We've missed the last couple star days and they don't have make-ups for her class, so she was feeling a little behind/left out. Cameron, if you remember, only got two stars at his make-up last month and was absolutely devastated. He was convinced he would *never* pass level two. Well, he got SEVEN stars and earned his level two ribbon. WooHoo! I was so genuinely proud of their hard work that I told them that I'd give them a pass on the rest of their schoolwork for the day. Cam said that he'd take the pass on Spelling but he still wanted to do History. :) So here's what we did for History:

Frescoes! Just like the Minoans covered their palace walls with. Those were really fun. I don't know how authentic they really are (painting with poster paint on wet plaster of paris) but they were fun and we will probably all now remember that frescoes are the ones done on plaster.

Tuesday we had our EcoArts project for 4-H. We made kites out of paper bags. It was a fun project to make but the cutting was actually a bit hard for the kids (most of them 2nd grade or under). I'd say their education was lacking but a public school teacher recently told me that she has 4th graders whose cutting skills are practically non-existent because the school took cutting practice out of the Kindergarten curriculum. Guess why... yep, because they aren't tested on that particular skill. *roll eyes* We went out for ice cream with a couple people after the meeting and as is typical of a 4-H day, we never got around to doing any book work. Oh well. They got cutting and painting practice in... no test required. ;)

Today, Wednesday, we didn't actually get around to much book work either. We ran some errands in the morning and then came home to find that the mailman had delivered a new game: Smath! Of course I was just as bad as the kids and had to open it up and read all the directions the second we got it, lol. So we decided that we would do a quick Phonics lesson (plurals ending in -es) and then we would play Smath for math. What a great game! It's really just Scrabble with math equations instead of words but, man, is it fun! I love Scrabble anyway and I love equations so it was just heaven to me. Cameron and I had a pretty close game going on... until Greyson toppled the board, that is. But it was time to go to baseball anyway so we geared up, strapped ourselves in the car, and... and... nothing. Dead battery. Somebody had been playing in the car and left all the lights on. That somebody is not allowed to stay in the car after we go in the house anymore, no matter how much she begs. So we had to walk to the baseball game. Luckily it only takes ten minutes to walk there so it wasn't a big deal. We were going to just drop Cam off and then hit the grocery store but obviously that didn't happen. I guess I'm going to have to get up early and make muffins or something for breakfast since we don't have anything else, lol. And it looks like I'll finally get a chance to use my AAA card tomorrow morning. DH won't be home to jump the car for us until late Friday night, and I'm sorry, but we've got plans. No time to wait so I'm calling in the professionals.

Speaking of professionals - we finally get our new water heating system installed on Tuesday!! WooHoo!!! T minus 6 days until we have hot water again!!!!!