Saturday, December 30, 2006

Goodbye Welfare...

I'm officially off welfare, woohoo! As you may remember, we had an exhausting job-hunting requirement in order to get state aid. Sign a contract every 30 days. Turn in 20 job applications each week and supply a list of everywhere we applied every Friday. Well, since our dental work is now done and Vic is working steadily (still for cash, but it's work), last month we just skipped the applications. We didn't turn in any job logs, so we didn't get a check this month. We still have food stamps, but since I never returned the review call last week, we won't get those anymore either. The best part? Even without the extra money from the state, we paid the bills and still bought Christmas presents this month.

Vic is waiting to hear about a new job opportunity in a week or so. Hopefully it will work out because it comes with a lot of benefits, but if it doesn't there are still lots of options out there. I can't believe we had to go on welfare just to get back on our feet, but I'm so glad I live in a country where a person can get help when they need it. We're not a whole lot better off than we were before this whole ordeal, but I'm hopeful that one day we can look back on this knowing it was the best thing we could have done.

Thank goodness it isn't permanent...

.. the brain damage I mean. We were right back in the swing of things today. Chad plugged away and finished his math in less than an hour, which may be a new record. Cadence happily read (correctly) everything she could get her hands on. Riley not only practiced letters, but did so entirely without my interference. I didn't even give her the crayons.

Nobody cried. Nobody said something was too hard or they were too stupid. Science reading led to an interesting discussion, which even carried over to this evening with Riley "teaching" me about what's inside your body. ("Your brain is special. It makes your teeth chew.") This afternoon, Cadence decided to write a poem (the word "fart" was used only once), and Chad read his new book Wolf Brother. He even begged to stay up late to read just a little bit more. It was a homeschooler's dream.

Now if I could just get them to do anything else (eat, dress, bathe, play) with such ease, my home will be a very pleasant place indeed.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Year's Resolutions?...

Anyone have any resolutions this year? I have never made a New Year's resolution that I kept. This is a common confession really, but most are probably like me and only making the resolution because they're supposed to and not because they want to. So I don't really practice New Year's resolutions. My resolutions come in the form of a wonderful idea, which grows for weeks before coming out in the form of a declaration. Something like, "I am no longer wearing thong underwear. They chafe and don't fit right and I hate them. Monday I'm taking every pair I own and donating them to the Goodwill, and buying three new packages of bikinis instead."

I have an insatiable need for change. I rearrange furniture at least once per year. I buy/make new curtains. I paint. I replace rugs and drawer liners. I can't afford to buy new sheets and blankets every few months, so I keep several sets and swap them out every so often. I plant different flowers in the yard every spring. Outside of my home and general surroundings, I frequently re-invent myself. I don't know who I am and I don't want to. Since high school, I've been grunge, punk, feminazi, soul-searching bible-reader, naturalistic attached parent, sexy strip-club-hopping party girl, laid-back and spiritual, and most recently, home-centered seamstress and worker of fibers. There are other categories I could have fit into and most of those alter-egos still live inside me somewhere, but at the time I never thought of myself with any of those labels. I was just being me. The constants among all the changes are what make me who I am. I have always loved my children and put them first. I have always been a redneck and prefer fishing and beer to operas and champagne. I have always been more concerned with how much fun I was having than what others thought of me. And most importantly, I'm determined to be myself - being who I am, unaffected by what I do.

This constant changing is my way of dealing with the monotony of normal life. I would be truly happy to move to a different house in a different town every two years, but I will live in this house until we can afford to move (or rebuild, whichever comes first - 7 years and counting). I have no control over where I live or the layout of my home and yard. But I can control the placement of my furniture, the paint color in the bathroom, which flowers I plant and where, my clothes and hair, and what I do for fun. Since my husband and family undoubtedly could not handle moving as frequently as I'd like, I'll settle for changing what I can. My changes keep me happy, and although Vic shakes his head after every declared resolution ("I hate this shower curtain. I'm going to make a cover for it tomorrow with that leftover fabric."), I don't think he'd be happy with a boring old "normal" woman.

Whatever your resolutions, make them something satisfying. Happy New Year to everyone!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Miss a day, miss a lot...

Ok, it was technically three days of schoolwork missed for the traditional holiday celebrating, but apparently chocolate and candy canes destroy brain cells. Incidents during school time and the playtime (I call it "unstructured learning - it soothes the control freak in me):

Chad: Which of these states is Montana?
Me (rolling eyes): The green one.
Chad (pointing to California): This one? No, wait. That's Indiana isn't it?
I passed him the U.S. Atlas.

Cadence constantly reversed entire words while reading. Small words like "mot" for "Tom", as well as big words like "please" instead of "sleep." I don't know what the deal is with that. Chad, normally fantastic at reading aloud, could not for the life of him read "Apollo." He kept putting an R in it. Aprollo. Arpollo. Apollro. I'm still scratching my head over it.

Nobody could remember how to do any of the math they were doing without trouble just days ago.

Riley, who knows all her letters and had happily practiced her name all Christmas day on her new Magnadoodle, insisted she didn't know how to write her name. Her writing "lesson" consisted of throwing crayons on the floor and stomping on them. Hey, I'm not pushing her - she asked to "do school" and then acted that way. Sheesh.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dump it in the crockpot...

I love my crockpot. There are lots of folks who think it's cheating to dump stuff in a slow cooker, leave it until evening and call it a home-cooked meal. I figure if I cooked it in my kitchen, it's a home-cooked meal. I'm not too proud to use break and bake cookies. I've used the breadmaker to kneed dough for cinnamon rolls. And the crockpot is my best friend some days.

Tonight we're having chicken-chili tacos. The recipe was just called "Chicken Chili," but my family doesn't go for chili in a bowl. In my house, chili is for topping a burrito or a hot dog. Anyway, here's the recipe:

3-4 large chicken breasts (we use the frozen-in-a-bag kind), cut up into small pieces
2 cans diced tomatoes DRAINED
1 large can or about 2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 packet taco seasoning
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup each of chopped onion, sliced black olives, and green peppers (in my version I use onion powder and omit the rest)
2 Tbs tapioca (dry, from a box)

Dump into crockpot. Stir. Cook 4 hours on low setting. Scoop into flour tortillas, sprinkle with cheese, wrap it all up. Eat.

If you really are looking for chili, you can use petite diced tomatoes instead and add without draining. Super easy. My kind of meal.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Nothing to see here, move along...

Just in case anyone subscribes to my blog, I thought it best to warn you I've been making some changes. I just figured out the labels on blogger beta, and since I had nothing better to do at the moment, I've been going back and adding labels to all my old posts. The new labels will be a huge help to those of you interested in what we're doing for schoolwork but don't care about my measly little life. Or for those of you interested in my goofy obsessions but not our homeschooling. Whatever trips your trigger. However, I just discovered this will list every single post as new on bloglines. I realize suffering through my blog posts is hard enough without having to rehash my mindless blabberings for the last year or so. In any case, disregard all the "new" posts, as they aren't new at all.

Six Weird Things About Me...

Thanks to Bobbi for this meme. Everyone has their quirks right? I'm hoping mine aren't weird enough to drive away the few readers I have.

Six Weird Things About Me:

1. I cannot sleep without my hand on my neck. Not in a strangle-hold, but carefully curled under on the right side. Right up next to the tendons. I've tried to break this habit, but without my hand protecting my neck in this exact spot, I can drive myself to panic. I lay there with my eyes closed, noticing it's not covered until eventually the only part of my body I can feel is that spot. When we were first married, Vic joked about this a lot, saying I must have been beheaded in a previous life or something. Whatever it was, it happened in my sleep.

2. I love onions / I hate onions. I love the flavor of onions. The smell of onion rings makes my mouth water. My very favorite food smell is potato soup loaded with onions. But I will not eat onions. I don't like the way they crunch, even when they're cooked, and ever since 4th grade science class and our unit on parasites, I can't shake how much cooked onions resemble tapeworms. I buy lunchroom-sized cans of onion powder, and use it relentlessly in my cooking. I'm also quite picky about peppers, olives, and mushrooms, but for different reasons.

3. I have some serious texture issues. This is sort of related to the onion thing. I don't like vegetables that crunch when they're cooked, unless they're breaded and deep-fried. I don't eat tomatoes by themselves because they're slimy. I can't stand even the idea of fabric on my teeth. I won't eat anything that squeaks when you chew it, even a teeny tiny bit. The squeaking of styrofoam drives me over the edge, and I don't like to touch anything made from it; same goes for cardboard. There are lots of fabrics I won't wear simply because I don't like the way they feel on my skin. And I'm not talking "I don't like this, it's itchy." I'm talking, "Eww, this is tight and scratchy and.. get it off! Get it off!" I can't get it away from me fast enough. I have numerous other texture issues, I just can't remember them all right now. I'm sure I should see a therapist for this.

4. I only wash my hair once a week, sometimes longer. I'm including this not because I think it's weird, but because I'm sure a lot of other people will. My hair has always been incredibly dry, and after my second child was born it started falling out or breaking off by the handfuls. After several different anti-breakage shampoos and stuffy know-it-all hairdressers who apparently don't know it all, I decided on my own that frequent washing was damaging my hair. Now I only wash it when it's greasy or dirty. More in the summer, way less in the winter. And it no longer falls out like I'm on chemotherapy.

5. I love to narrate my cooking in a Julia Child voice. This started as a goof around thing with the kids, but sometimes I do it when they're not in the room. Sometimes when they're not even home.

6. I still imagine monsters in closets, dark hallways, and basements. I KNOW there are no real monsters, but imagination always wins. We don't have a basement, but I grew up with one. My grandmother has a basement and keeps all her kids' toys down there. When we're visiting, I'll go down to tell the kids we're leaving or call them up for dinner or something.. and I always run back up the stairs. I'm not getting exercise or saving time. The boogieman is at my back.

Wow, I could probably think of a lot more than six things, but I've probably said too much already. I'm supposed to tag 6 people, but since I barely know that many and I've already tagged a few with a meme the other day, I'll leave it up to whoever wants to play.

Good Morning!...

It's 2:45am. I'm apparently up for the day. I went to bed last night at 8:30 after almost falling asleep in the bathtub. My girls weren't even asleep yet when I crawled into bed. Vic woke me about 9 to ask if I was ok, since the idea of me going to bed before midnight is just plain ludicrous. I woke just after 2am with Chad sleeping at the foot of my bed like a collie. To avoid going into a mindless rant about this, let me just say this is an issue we have discussed a million times and is a source of great irritation. After sending him back to his room, I was unable to go back to sleep. I guess my body decided 5 hours of sleep was close enough to a whole night. So here I am.

Yesterday was a long day, which is probably why I was so exhausted. I woke to the telephone ringing and my mother in law on the other end telling me she'd be stopping by "in the afternoon." I hopped out of bed and started cleaning. What strange instinct drives this behavior? Why do I care more about the condition of my house with visitors I don't like than with visitors I do like? My mother in law hasn't cleaned her house in.. well maybe ever. There's a literal path through to various rooms in her house, and some rooms are completely inaccessible. Why should I care if my carpet hasn't been vacuumed or my counters not wiped down? Either way, there I was cleaning 45 minutes later when she called to say she was on her way. It was 10:30. So much for an afternoon visit, and so much for getting my house clean ahead of time.

Thankfully it was only a short visit, as always, and the kids didn't even drag her into their rooms to show off some new thing. When she left, we set about finishing the housework. The kids fought. The vacuum had to be fixed (again).Things were spilled and clothes were changed. Vic was having some kind of nervous episode I guess, because he constantly snapped at the kids and I constantly apologized for him. After about an hour of that I finally asked him, "What is wrong with you?" Turns out the car he's supposed to be fixing for my mom has some rusted bolts and he'd already had to cut off three. He mumbled something about an impact wrench and $50. Whatever.. I just want her car fixed and out of my driveway. We all ate peanut butter and jelly for lunch since we're all out of everything else.

After lunch, Chad started nagging to go to the dollar store. A couple days ago, he decorated his bedroom with a spare set of Christmas lights, and had been asking to go somewhere to get another set or two ever since. I finally caved and just as we started heading out the door, Cadence and Riley were begging to go too. I asked Vic to come along, just to help corral them around all the breakables. Even in a store where everything's a dollar, you can spend a lot of money paying for an entire display of wise men knocked to the floor. Turns out the cheapo lights at the dollar store only have a plug on one end, meaning all strings have to come from their own outlet. That might have still worked if the strings were longer than 5ft. We decided to try a different store.

File back out of the store, pile everybody in the car, break up a fight about who sits in the middle, and we're ready. Except the car won't start. After a brief once-over, Vic announced the fuel pump isn't working. Ugh. We just replaced the stupid fuel pump a couple months ago. It's still under warranty, but it doesn't help much to know that when I'll still be without a vehicle for a few days until it's fixed. I ended up walking up the street to a pay phone and called a ride. My car is still sitting outside the dollar store. I hope they don't tow it.

Considering how yesterday went, it's a good thing I'm up early today (although I'm not so sure I need to be up this early). I still have to figure out how we're getting my car home, and how I'm going to get to the store for some groceries. I've got a big pot of coffee brewing for brain fuel, and as soon as 8am comes around I'll be making phone calls. And that's only 5 hours away!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wow a meme!...

I was tagged! I've never been tagged before. I feel all warm and squishy inside! Thanks to Bobbi at My Little Soapbox for passing it on. Here goes:

1. Explain what ended your last relationship? Umm.. I'm having a hard time remembering my last relationship (the last one that ended anyway). Vic and I broke up frequently and I dated 3 or 4 guys in the spaces in between. I think it was that geeky college kid, who dumped me because he thought I was taking the relationship too seriously. Joke was on him though, because I wasn't taking it seriously at all, and when he suggested that we "just be friends" I laughed out loud and told him I didn't like him enough to be friends with him, I was only hanging around for sex and free beer. And the sex was hardly worth it. That was an uncomfortable ride home, mostly for him. Mawhahaha.

2. When was the last time you shaved? Sometime around Mother's Day. I don't remember the reason, but after shaving bumps and dry scaly skin, I remembered why I hadn't before. I shave underarms every day or two though, otherwise I sweat a lot, and I don't care for that.

3. What were you doing this morning at 8 a.m.? Rushing around like a crazy person trying to get myself and three kids ready so we could take Vic to work and have the car today.. all while Vic stood around complaining about how long it was taking but not helping in the slightest to get anyone ready but himself.. even though he was already ready to leave and there was no reason he couldn't have helped out. Wanna guess what I was doing at 8:15? If you guessed having an argument, give yourself 10 points.

4. What were you doing 15 minutes ago? Reading blogs and eating pizza. Yelling for someone to please close the friggin door for the millionth time so we're not heating the entire outdoors (was that my mother just then?). Reminding Riley the presents don't get opened until Christmas.

5. Are you any good at math? What do you mean by "good"? I can do basic math in my head. I can make change. I understand enough to teach algebra and geometry. Higher math completely eludes me, and I occasionally have trouble multiplying 7's and 8's.

6. Your prom night? Which one? I went to prom as a sophomore with a junior boy. That was highly supervised and therefore, lame as hell. Junior year I went with Vic. He drove a huge green piece of crap van which broke down on the way. The dance was uneventful and I don't remember much of it. Senior year I went with a male friend. The dance sucked so we ditched early and drove around all night. Never a hotel room or a drunken afterparty or anything really interesting.

7. Have you had to take a loan out for school? Nope. I never did git no edyoocashun. My grandpappy didn't go to no fancy college and I didn't need to neither. Honestly, I have plans to go to college, just as soon as I figure out what I want to accomplish there.

8. Do you know the words to the song on your myspace profile? There is no song on my myspace profile. As a matter of fact, there has been no activity on my myspace profile for six months or more. It was fun for about five seconds, now I'm over it.

9. Last thing received in the mail: Some bills, some ads, and an invitation to a baby shower coming up on Saturday. I'm supposed to RSVP. Can we say "procrastinate"?

10. How many different beverages have you had today? 5: Coffee, tea, milk, water, cranberry juice.

11. Do you ever leave messages on people’s answering machine? No. I have left messages on voice mail at an office, but only after at least two tries to reach an actual person. Most of the people I call have caller I.D. anyway, so they know I've called even without a message.

12. Who did you lose your CONCERT virginity to? Promise not to laugh? Nelson. You know those twins with the super-long blonde hair who claimed to be making their way in the entertainment world on their own accord, despite Ricky Nelson being their dad, even though they opened every concert and interview mentioning who their parents were? Them. Some opening band called Tyketto, which was better than the headliner. I think I was 13.

13. Do you draw your name in the sand when you go to the beach? If I'm not in the water, I'm visiting the bathroom or chasing a child. I don't even notice the sand till the ride home when it's stuck in all the worst places.

14. What was the most painful dental procedure you have had? I just had a tooth pulled a couple of months ago. Not a wisdom tooth, but the next molar in on the bottom. I guess it was really stuck because the dentist spent like 20 minutes pulling pushing yanking while the tooth cracked and snapped and made all kinds of gross noises. I'd had 3 Novocaine shots because each time they came in the room I was still not numb. While the dentist was pulling the tooth, I complained of pain, but he insisted it was just "pressure." My jaw hurt for 3 weeks.

15. What is out your back door? Relatively normal-sized yard full of redneck stuff: kids' clubhouse, old falling-apart swingset, several lawn mowers in various stages of disrepair, trailer full of junk parts and broken things, etc.

16. Any plans for Friday night? If all goes well, I have no plans. If it doesn't, I'll be babysitting while my friend goes out to have a life.

17. Do you like what the ocean does to your hair? I'm terrified of the ocean and the one time I went, I didn't get in water above my chest.

18. Have you ever received one of those big tins of 3 different popcorns? Never received, but I've eaten from others' popcorn tins. The cheese is definitely the best.

19. Have you ever been to a planetarium? Not for a long time. I think I was a kid on a field trip the last time I went.

20. Do you re-use towels after you shower? Used for wiping clean water from my clean body? Duh, of course I do. Not that it matters much because bathroom towels are the first to grab when something gets spilled, so they get replaced every day anyway.

21. Some things you are excited about? The idea of getting a pt job. The Scholastic book fair this weekend. Paying off my car finally.

22. What is your favorite flavor of JELLO? Umm... orange? I don't really eat a lot of jello.

23. Describe your keychain(s)? A Miller Light keychain I got as a freebie at the bar on New Year's Eve about 4 years ago. A keepsake picture keychain of Chad from the company that did school pictures his last year of public school. A library card keychain thingy. A Progressive insurance card thing, and we haven't used that company for at least 3 years.

24. Where do you keep your change? In an old fountain soda keg in my bedroom.

25. What kind of winter coat do you own? I actually don't own a winter coat. My winter coat was retired 3 years ago, and I keep saying I need to get a new one but for some reason I never do. I wear a heavy jacket all winter, and on the really cold days I wear one of Vic's coats.

26. What was the weather like on your graduation day? I dropped out of high school. It was cold and snowing when I took my GED test though.

27. Do you sleep with the door to your room open or closed? It's always open, sleeping or not, unless we're doing "married people things." Our bedroom door is the only one in the house with a lock, and only because I'm paranoid that even though the kids have been asleep for hours, they might wake up. Otherwise, my bedroom is a common room.

28. Tag three people: Heads up Ave at School of Thought, Deanna at Growing Warriors, Gail at Life A La Carte. Tag. You're IT.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Kids are great...

Aren't kids just the most wonderful creatures in existence? I mean, sure there's the occasional stress, but overall they're just a hoot.

Thursday, the girls raced each other to the kitchen where I was making lunch to tattle on each other. Because Cadence was able to talk faster and get her side out first, Riley promptly turned and punched her in the mouth. I checked Cadence for injury and reminded them both that their issues could be worked out without my support. I released Cadence and turned to Riley for a chat about hitting. I had no more than gotten the words, "It's fine if you're angry but you may not punch people," out of my mouth when I heard Cadence's angry screams and the sounds of shuffling in Chad's room. Let's all just roll with laughter, shall we?

Yesterday, a still-unknown source started an argument between my oldest two in the livingroom. I popped my head in just in time to see Cadence take a swing at Chad's head. (I wonder where Riley has learned such behavior? hmmm) He deftly dodged the blow, and being mature enough to know hitting doesn't solve problems, wisely chose instead to shove his sister to the floor. This gave Cadence a nice angle to kick from, and while my son is apparently very good at dodging, I got a few good bruises in transferring Cadence to a quiet place where she could calm down. I'm still chuckling over the whole incident.

My son has become an avid joke-teller. Today his joke was, "HONK!" This was of course told loudly and punctuated with the poke of a finger, often on the buttocks of the person being told the joke. The girls laughed hysterically, but unfortunately I lack the proper sense of humor to appreciate such obvious comedic genius. I must be too simple-minded for my brain to grasp the joke, as I acquired a monstrous headache which became worse every time it was told. I'm sure, despite my failings, it was indeed a most excellent joke.

Tonight's bedtime ritual was the same as usual, with Cadence first in Riley's bed until their bickering drove her to her own. Riley swore she wouldn't bother Cadence anymore, but I interrupted to tell her that this nonsense had gone on long enough and they both needed their sleep. Riley angrily interrupted me right back with, "Mama, I'm talking to you, and you don't talk when I'm talking!" Brilliant at three, isn't she? Most parents don't have to deal with serious backtalking until their children are teenagers. But my Riley, she's advanced. One might even say she was a prodigy. Ahh.. I'm just so lucky. ;)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

My super-cool secret pal...

Dear Denim Jumper Secret Pal, you are the greatest!

I got a package! Green Tea (which my children loathe, so I don't have to share woohoo), a very cute door hanger made of Christmasy-smelling leaf-shaped danglies (is that cloves? cinnamon?), and a bar of organic Chocolove.

I like chocolate, who doesn't? I opened the bar and started eating immediately, washing it down with my coffee. The kids wanted to try a piece, so I shared, but since it was dark chocolate they didn't ask for any more. I ate half the bar like a half-starved crocodile. Then it sat on the kitchen counter. I was busy cleaning and stuff, doing my daily routine, and every so often I'd break off a small piece of the chocolate on the way by.

I am so so sorry for wolfing down that first half. Savoring small pieces was the way to go. I've never had much chocolate besides the Hershey's variety sugar-laden stuff, so I didn't know any better. But this rich and bold, yet strangely delicate chocolate has shown me the error of my ways. I have recognized my sin and repent. Deliver us from Hershey's, for thine is the true flavor of chocolate.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I've been avoiding you...

I've been avoiding this blog for a couple of weeks. I do have good reasons. Mostly because I am participating in a winter secret pal gift swap over at TDJ and haven't wanted to give away any info that might link a gift, card or email to me. Then tonight I just remembered that I couldn't really say anything that would effect whether I'm discovered or not. Either she'll figure out it's me or she won't. So I have returned to blog my meaningless ramblings.

This last week or two, I have had so much fun picking gifts for my secret pal. I've spent well over the $15 minimum, but still feel like I don't have quite enough stuff to send to her. I hope she's happy with the few things I've chosen, but if you think it's hard buying for someone in your family, it's even harder buying for someone you don't know at all. I'm just not creative enough to envision someone's personality and choose The Perfect Gift for them, so am sticking to things that she said she likes. I'm sure she'll like it, but I really wanted her to be overjoyed.

And I am waiting with uncontainable impatience for my own gift box to arrive. It's just like being a kid again, not knowing what you're going to get but knowing for sure it's going to be special. I can't even remember the last time I was given a real gift. My mom buys me Christmas and birthday presents, but usually it's something I've been bitching about not having for months, or something completely practical like a jacket or something. When Vic and I exchange gifts, it's usually something practical, and almost always something that really benefits both of us. Even when he bought me the sewing machine, it was still with a promise that he would have mended shirts, soft new bathrobes and lounge pants tailored to fit perfectly. The box I have coming now is filled with things picked specifically for me, based on what someone thinks I will like. Just because. Just for me. Oh I just can't wait!

Must.. stop.. knitting...

I've been knitting like crazy for a week. I started a stocking hat for Riley with Caron Bliss in snow white. I'm working on a sweater for Chad with Bernat Soft Boucle in moss (my mom says this is too girly for him, but he'll love it). They're not fancy yarns but about the best I can afford. And the Caron Bliss is soooo soft and fuzzy! I'm doing some practice-knits for scarves for the girls, toying with different edging.

I'm crocheting a stuffed animal for Chad and an afghan for a friend's baby.

I'm sewing pink nightgowns for the girls and new traditional pajamas for Chad, which will be his first pair. He's been sleeping in the tight-fitting knit pajamas or thermal tops and bottoms since he was too big for footie jammies. Actually, he'd still be sleeping in those except he's grown too tall for his 10's and is not nearly big enough around for 12's. So.. I sew. I'm also making a sleeper, a fleece wintersuit and edging a baby blanket for the aforementioned baby (he's very preemie, so I know his parents will have a hard time dressing the little guy). I was working on a skirt, blouse, and alterations on half a dozen other things for myself, but have put that off till I'm done with my other projects. I'm hoping for sometime next spring.

I keep sneaking away to knit just two more rows on the hat for Riley. Just two rows, knit a row then purl one. That's all. It's going on 3am and I'm only sort of tired. I just keep thinking of all I have to accomplish before Christmas. Then again, if I keep this up I may be in a loony bin by then.

But oh.. I'd have all the time in the world to knit then wouldn't I?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Dodgeball Rocks!...

I know there are a lot of recent public school banning s of dangerous activities (like tag???). I've heard a few comments about dodgeball being a source of segregation and an excuse for the bigger and more popular kids to pick on the smaller, less popular kids. I agree with all that. But remembering dodgeball always makes me smile.

It was raining outside, so we had an "inside day" for gym class. We had large gym classes with 75-90 students. There was a male coach and a female coach, so the locker rooms could be supervised and the class didn't become completely out of control. Of course, the female coach never left her office in the locker room and lots of nasty things happened in there all the time, but I'm sure their intentions were good, right? On inside days, the gym was divided into two parts with a huge curtain hanging from the ceiling, with different activities going on in each area. On this particular day, our choices were volleyball and dodgeball.

All the girls in the class went to the volleyball side, by "choice" of course, where the female coach was managing games. I hated volleyball, so I went to the dodgeball side. To tell the truth, I assumed there would be at least a few girls over there and may have stayed and played sucky volleyball had I known I would be alone with all those jerks. After you cross the curtain, though, you're stuck. And I'd already been spotted by the -slightly amused- coach. The fact that he found humor in me choosing to play dodgeball irritated me. I was not a particularly athletic person, but I was healthy and not afraid to break a nail or mess up my hair by running or jumping.

The coach started dividing people into two teams. He nobly announced that he would do the picking, so nobody had hurt feelings by being picked last. He then proceeded to pick his favorites first, those boys who played football, the wrestlers, etc. I was one of the last 3 to be picked off and the numbers were uneven, so he decided to stick an extra person on my team, saying, "I'll give you guys the odd man out, since you have a girl on your team." I guess I was having a bad day, because I went off on the coach. I yelled right in his face, "How dare you assume I can't play as well as these losers?" I told him I could throw and catch a ball just as good as any boy and could probably dodge better. I don't really remember everything I said in that brief bitchfest, but I ended it with, "You sexist asshole!"

The wrestlers and football players, who answered to this same coach during their sport season, stood in shock. The coach regained his composure and replaced his own shocked look with the former smug amusement. "Well," he said, chuckling, "We'll just see." I never tried so hard at anything in gym class more than that game. We stomped them. I wasn't the last one standing or anything, but I was one of the last five on my team, and we won. I was sweating and beaming with triumph and flashed the coach an "I told you so" look on my way to the showers.

I used to say that I earned the coach's respect that day, since he was nice to me from that point on. He said hello in the halls. He never questioned anything I did in gym class again, even when I opted for weightlifting over the giggly, girly cliquefest that the female coach called aerobics. The truth is, he fell back on the common defense of Shut Up And She Won't Bitch Anymore. It didn't matter though, because that event was a turning point for me in high school. I surprised myself by standing up to an authority, and found it was a whole lot easier to stand up to other students. Who knows what would have happened if I never found my voice.

Maybe I wouldn't be homeschooling now.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Homeschooling has taken over my home...

I'm always checking freecycle for stuff I might want. Nothing I need to have, really, but people give away all kinds of stuff and why not at least look if I end up finding something I could use, right? Tonight I saw a post offering 2nd and 3rd grade teaching materials, and just as I was composing the email to this woman about how happy I would be to take them off her hands, I realized I don't have any room to store one more book in my home.

About a year ago, Vic built me a bookshelf to keep all the "homeschool stuff." I had so much fun loading the shelves and rearranging things. First based on what I didn't want Riley to touch, then as she got older, based on grade level per shelf, then subject matter. Since then, the bookshelf has become overloaded. Things are stacked on top of the bookshelf. Things are stacked in front. Books and games have taken over the kids' computer desk nextdoor to the bookshelf. Stacks and piles of books, papers to be checked, teachers references, and worksheets all over my own computer desk across the room. Reference materials in the kitchen. Letter blocks and various manipulatives on the shelves in the laundry room. I just bought 4 new workbooks and some flash cards last night. Homeschooling is everywhere. When the hell did this happen? Last year I was content with a bookshelf.

I live in a tiny little house, much too small for my Family O' Five in the first place, and space is always an issue. I have no decent place to sew, so my sewing desk is squeezed into a corner in my bedroom, leaving only enough space for me to sit between it and the bed. My crochet/knitting stuff used to be in a wrapping paper box next to the couch, but has since spread to the top of said box, and the top and underneath the end table near it. The computer I'm rebuilding is sitting in the entryway waiting for someone to trip over it and break something - either the computer or something on their own bodies. And Vic whines that he needs a garage because he doesn't have room for his hobbies in his 12x10 shed. Ha!!

I keep saying I need to organize stuff, and that's part of the problem. I'm not sure how somone so fixated on doing things just so can be so lazy and disorganized about everything, but I am. Beyond organizing, though, I think I just need to stop collecting stuff! I just find it so hard to resist a good deal on yarn, fabric, or homeschooling supplies. I will use it all... uh.. at least I think I will. Well I could, in theory...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Is there a support group for control freaks??...

There was a fantastic thread over at The Denim Jumper about the contradictory situation with unschooling while you yourself area a control freak. I need help. I have serious control issues. People are usually not control freaks all their lives, but instead become that way over time. Usually the need for control stems from some kind of insecurity. In my case, I think I was always this way.

I cannot honestly remember a time in my life when I wasn't allowed to do what I wanted. Don't get me wrong, we were poor and I was told "no" several times when it came to the purchase of silly things I didn't really need. But I was an only child. I was the first in the Wave of Grandchildren in my family. I don't know how it happened that I was the favorite among older family members since I was rather hyperactive and a very homely child, but I certainly was the favorite just the same. Being the oldest cousin at family gatherings (and those gatherings were numerous), I was the Leader of the Band. In other words, if I really wanted something and there was no critical reason I shouldn't have it, it was mine.

Now that I'm a grownup, I find my desire to have my own way getting between me and my family, and even screwing up plans for other things I want. I want my kids' learning to be self-directed. I want to be a fascilitator and not a teacher.

Tonight I brought out all the books I got at the library today to let the kids dig through them. They were excited about the "Poop" book, but rather than just let them look at it, I had to read it to them - in my painfully monotone reading voice. Cadence was soon bored and Chad was only half-listening. We put it away and I backed off (a very deliberate action by the way). I had picked up 5 Get Ready, Get Set, Read books - 3 with different letter groups (-an, -ip, -ub) and two with stories that brought all those sounds together. I went off to start dinner and when I came back in I found Cadence reading one of the bring-it-together books and Chad helping her with the harder words. Instead of being delighted at Chad's willingness to help his sister, or being satisfied that Cadence was learning by reading more challenging stuff, I freaked out.

"You have to read these books first," I told her, handing her the letter group books. "These two are for after you've had practice with the others." I took the other books away from her and put them away. They're special books, you know. I didn't realize my mistake then. I didn't realize it when I saw her disappointed face as she started to read The Tan Can that she'd already read once this evening. I didn't even realize it five minutes later when she got bored with reading and went to play in her room. It wasn't until long after when I noticed The Tan Can stuck with the other early readers back in the library bag, where I like to keep books until we're "ready" to read them.

Holy Hell.. I am so stupid sometimes. I need to get some control of myself instead of trying to control everyone else. I need to learn to let my kids learn for crying out loud and stop trying to make them learn. So starting tomorrow morning I'm hanging a special shelf for library books (so I can be satisfied they're staying seperate and will make it back to the library together) out in the open and let them pick whatever book they want. I may even head up to the hardware store to get supplies for a facing-out shelf so they're more visible. I hereby swear to pacify my control needs with choosing books I think they should read (based on our current units or whatever), but letting them read the damn things on their own. I will let them start when they're ready and stop when they're finished.

Baby steps. If I get this part down I might be able to let them put food on their own plates. Man, this condition is just looking worse and worse all the time.

A very quiet Saturday...

The kids spent the night with Grandma last night and I haven't gone to get them from her house yet. Vic is working today. I had to give him a ride to work by 8:30 which kind of spoiled my ideas of sleeping in without the kids here, but I had things to do anyway.

One of those things was the library. We were supposed to return all the books on Tuesday, followed by a well-thought out study list here on my blog, but with all the chaos this week that just didn't happen. I had planned to take the kids with me to the library today, but that was before the whole overnight at Grandma's thing came up. So I went alone. And it was wonderful.

I can't remember the last time I went to the library without the kids. It was quiet. I didn't have to tell anyone to stop running, or remember their inside voices, or please don't take all the books out of that shelf. I didn't have to apologize to any strangers. My kids aren't unruly, they're just excited to be at the library and go around behaving like.. well, excited children. I actually looked at books. I read the synopses. I browsed in the adult fiction section. It was so much fun I could hardly contain myself. I was probably there for an hour, all by myself. So, while the kids weren't there to choose their own books, I think I found quite a few they will enjoy, as well as a couple to be used with our learning this next week.

For our early human studies:
Usborne Starting Point History : Who Were the First People?
When Mamoths Walked the Earth - Caroline Arnold
(We'll have to get some more, but I can find them on Tuesday while the kids pick a few books of their own.)

For Chad, independent reading:
The Borrowers - Mary Norton
Abel's Island - William Steig

Early readers, fun stuff, read-alouds, and picture books:
Get Ready, Get Set, Read set 2
The Bear's Toothache - David McPhail
"Not Now!" Said the Cow - Joanne Oppenheim
Readers Digest Anthology : The World's Best Fairy Tales
Encyclopedia Brown's Book of Wacky Animals - Donald J. Sobol
Poop: A Natural History of the Unmentionable - Nicola Davies (I can't wait till the kids see this one!)

For me:
The Dark Tower I : The Gunslinger - Stephen King (I've actually read the 3rd of this series, but not any of the others, so I figured it was about time I read the whole thing.)
Of Human Bondage - W. Somerset Maugham

I enjoyed my solo library trip so much I think I will have to do it more often, once or twice a month maybe. It's not often I get to pick a book for myself without just grabbing the closest one and saying, "Let's go." I'm now enjoying my computer time without any noise at all in the house, and am pretty reluctant to get off here and go pick up my kids. Call it a vacation. Even for an hour.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Holy Crap!...

So I was wandering around like a crazy person this morning getting ready to go to this funeral. It was way too cold for a skirt or dress of any kind (not that I own many of those anyway), so I'd decided to just to jeans and a nice sweater. Unfortunately, I didn't have a nice sweater, and neither did any of my kids. So we piled everyone in the car and headed to the store.

Remember that friend of Vic's whose wife was in the hospital in pre-term labor? For the sake of clarity here, I will call the friend S and his wife J. Well, S's mom just happens to work at the Walmart near our house, and just happened to be running the register we just happened to go through on checkout. She asked if we'd talked to S today and I said no and asked how J was doing. She said, "Well, they did an ultrasound this morning. The baby passed. They're waiting for the doctor to get there so they can decide what the plan for delivery will be.."

I didn't hear anything else. I walked out of the store in a fog and sat silently halfway home. Finally, Vic asked me what the heck was wrong with me and I just completely lost it. Choking back angry tears, I went off about how they should have delivered that baby when she first went into labor, even though she was a bit early. They should have known the risks involved with stopping labor for days after the water broke. And why the hell weren't they using some kind of internal monitor or something so they could detect distress and deliver the baby right away. At this comment, Vic said, "What the hell are you talking about?!?"

Apparently, S's mom was talking about the baby passed the test. The test I didn't know about because Vic was the last one to talk to S when this 8-point test was discussed. They just did the ultrasound to check the baby's lungs, weight, etc.. and the baby passed the test. Needless to say, I spent the rest of morning and afternoon stewing of the tactlessness of S's mother saying (I swear in a sad, disappointed tone) that, "the baby passed."

J and S had a very small but otherwise healthy baby boy at 5 this evening, by cesarean. He's 4 pounds, 13 ounces but breathing well and holding his temperature. As long as he has no feeding troubles, they expect him to go home in a week or so.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Really missing that digital camera tonight...

I'd love to post pictures of the kids in their cute costumes for Trick or Treating, but alas, I still have no digital camera. It's possible I can scan the actual photographs when I get them developed, but that's just not the same thing. I'm so desperate, I'm considering getting one of those Fisher Price kid's cameras. Those are even a bit too expesive to justify right now. Until that fateful day, I'll just have to tell you about it.

Chad went as a wizard. He already had a cape and staff, so last night I bought some black poster board to make a hat, glitter glue to decorate, and a 3ft gray wig. Sometime this morning I got a brilliant idea to cut 1ft from the wig to make a beard. I used a small piece of fabric with ties, and hot-glued the hair all over it. Made quite a mess, but it turned out nicely.

Cadence was a tooth fairy, not just a fairy but a tooth fairy. I cut two tooth-shaped pieces of white poster board and stapled them to either side of a dress-up purse she already had, then wrote "Tooth Pouch" in glitter and lots of pretty sparkly decorations all over it. She already had fairy wings and a crown she just got as a birthday gift, and she wore a purple sundress over her purple sweatsuit which pulled the whole thing together well.

Riley was a ballerina in one of my old dance costumes. The one she picked was the costume I wore my first year of dance when I was four, so it fit perfectly. Pink leotard with lots of gold sequins and a frilly pink tutu. She wore long johns underneath, the legs covered in tights. She was about the cutest thing on the planet, if I do say so myself.

Unfortunately, it was a disastrous night with huge wind gusts and rapidly dropping temperatures. (Welcome to Iowa, hope you have air conditioning and arctic outerwear, just in case.) We froze our butts off for the first few minutes before deciding to keep the car running and driving along the road as they went from house to house. Vic and I took turns escorting them, and the kids took warm-up breaks in the car often. Riley probably only went to every other house. They had a fantastic time though, which was the point.

On the way home, Riley's sleepy voice came from the back seat, "That was fun, Mama. Let's do that again sometime."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

This has been a REALLY rough day...

The original plan today was Vic going to his friend's place to help with plumbing while I went to visit my grandma. After several failed attempts to get ahold of my grandma (they were probably at church), Vic's friend called to say his wife was in the hospital in pre-term labor. This friend's wife is a very nice woman, and although I wouldn't really consider her my friend, we get along very nicely when the Men are together doing Men things. Her due date was set for December 24th, but I guess they changed it at the hospital to the middle of December somewhere. Although her water broke, they're going to try to hold her off for a few more days until she reaches the 34wk mark. I'm concerned for her, and worried all day about it.

While getting my kids together to (finally) head to Grandma's my cousin called to tell me her grandma died sometime early this morning. While not related by blood, I spent many many nights in her home when I was a kid. I spent many summer days on her boat on the lake. I know every inch of her home and yard. I'm very sad to hear about her death, and I feel really bad for my cousin too.

This afternoon on the way home from Grandma's, I stopped by my older friend's house to visit and got some more sad news. A woman I ran around with in high school lost her 2-1/2 year old son last Wednesday. The funeral was yesterday and I didn't even know about it. She is no longer one of my friends, but we remain familiar enough acquaintances that I feel completely horrible to have missed the funeral.

I just got back from a late-night trip to Walmart for a sympathy card, some puzzle books to take to Vic's friend's wife when I visit her in the hospital, and a pair of pantyhose and a new blouse to wear to my cousin's grandmother's funeral on Wednesday. Ugh ugh and ugh.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

To hell with the moral lessons I guess...

We've tried several times to inform the neighbors about the new hole in their siding. They never answer the door. I'm not sure if they're avoiding us or just don't hear us knocking, for whatever reason. Maybe they think we're Jehovah's Witnesses or something. I've decided to say to hell with it. If there were neighborhood witnesses, they would have told on us by now (unless of course they can't get ahold of those people either). Chad suggested just offering his services throughout the fall/winter. If he should see them out raking leaves, he will offer to help. If it snows, he's going over to clear their walk. I thought it was very responsible of him to say that, but I still think he should tell them about the damn arrow in their siding. I don't even know what to do about this.

And speaking of Jehovah's Witnesses. They stopped by today and shocked me by not asking if I study the bible or whether I'd like to visit their church. The lady just handed me her Watchtower publication thingy and said something like, "Here's some good news for you today." Then she walked away. I couldn't believe it. In case you were wondering, the "good news" is the end of false religion is coming. Thank goodness. I was getting tired of those damn Jehovah's Witnesses.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Moral lessons and broken bones...

Friday morning Chad's archery practice ended after only a few minutes when one of his arrows ended up embedded in the neighbors' new vinyl siding. The neighbors weren't home, so I told him we would go over later and he would confess what he'd done and offer to make it up to them somehow. I'm not sure what can be done about a hole (crack?) in vinyl siding. Can you calk it? Do you have to replace the whole piece? These neighbors hired someone to do their siding for them, so I'm pretty sure they don't have extra pieces sitting around. I'm really not sure what the rules are for dealing with something like this.

Anyway, at 5:30 I spotted the nieghbor's car in the drive, so Chad and I were heading out the door to go talk to them when Riley started screaming from the bedroom. Chad and Cadence had just come out of that room, so nobody had seen what happened. Riley just told me she had tripped on the fan cord and fallen, and repeatedly chanted, "Ow, my arm!" I put her on the couch with an ice pack and tried to distract her with a book. I asked her to raise her arm, bend her elbow, and twist her wrist this way and that - none of which she would do. I wasn't sure if it was a serious injury or not. Ever smack your funny bone so hard you feel like you can't even move your arm?

After about twenty minutes it was obvious she wasn't feeling any better and it wasn't just a hard bump to the arm. We took her to the E.R. and found out that it was indeed broken. The xrays were excruciating for her, and I was kinda bummed they no longer let you have a paper picture - it's all on computers now - but the staff were all very nice. She must have landed on her elbow, and the humerus is broken right above the elbow joint. The doctor said this was a pretty common break. They constructed a splint out of casting material and wrapped the whole thing up in an ace bandage. She went home with a cute little arm sling and a huge stack of Pooh stickers.

On Monday I have to call the family doctor for a referral to the Pediatric Orthapedic Specialist. Since we have Medicaid, we have to choose a Preferred Provider, and may not see any doctor without that provider's referral. Kind of silly, and if they had people filing claims instead of computers, they might notice that she was just seen for a broken bone in the E.R. on Friday, so it wouldn't be a mystery why she was at the Orthapedic on Monday.

Still trying to figure out how I'm going to wash Riley's hair. She won't stand next to the tub and lean over the faucet, my bathroom sink is too small, and when I tried to lay her on the kitchen counter with her head in the sink she freaked out.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

And my embarassment at the library...

I thought we were making a good impression at the local library. I'm always there in the middle of a weekday with my children, checking out a lot of teachers' resource books and such, and otherwise making it perfectly obvious that we are homeschoolers. I thought we were doing a good thing for the community by making such public appearances, especially when we always check out a gozillion books and my kids are just So Freaking Excited to be there. The staff are always helpful and pleasant to us.

Today my son needed to get a new library card. I guess they've changed their system, or maybe it was because we usually use my card and he rarely uses his own. Whatever. The librarian handed Chad his new card and told him, "Just sign your name on the card here." He took the card and very carefully printed CHAD on the line before setting down the pen. "Aren't you going to put your last name there?" I asked him. He gave me a confused look and said, "Last name?" I glanced once at the librarian before sarcastically saying, "Yeah, you know, that other name that goes with your first name?" He wrote the first letter before stopping to spell it out loud to me, in a questioning voice. He spelled it wrong. I corrected him, and he began to write again, stopping every 2 letters to ask what came next. The libarian never said a word, but I could feel the burning condescention.

HOW in the name of Bob did my son get to be 10 years old not knowing how to spell his own last name?!? All the way home, I got a lecture from my husband about what a terrible teacher I must be since he can't spell his own name, and doesn't remember if Iowa is the city or the state, and can't recall his phone number when asked.

It's not that I haven't taught him these things. He's had to spell his name (first and last) since kindergarten. The second half of second grade was spent learning about community, including our address, phone number, city, state, and country. The first half of third grade was spent learning about other states, what a capitol city was, etc. (We happen to live only minutes from Des Moines, so this applies to us directly since we're there at least a few times perweek). I didn't consider the possibility that Chad wouldn't retain this information without constant practice. It's true that since he is homeschooled, he doesn't often need to write his last name (even his first name, really), but you would think he would still remember how.

So, I guess we will practice all that stuff all over again. Daily, if necessary until I'm sure it's stuck. And just for good measure, I'd better make it a random practice exercise at least a few times per year from then on. *Sigh*

So much for that great community impression I was working on. *wink*

Library Tuesday...

Ok, so I didn't go to the library last week. We've been sick.. and stuff. But our old checkouts were not overdue, and we had gotten a good supply of them last time, so the stretch was not so long really.

Our checkouts and planned reading for the next week (or so):

For our dinosaur unit
My Favorite Dinosaurs - John Sibbick
I Wonder Why Triceratops Had Horns and Other Questions About Dinosaurs
National Geographic: Dinosaurs - Paul Barrett
Discovering Dinosaurs with a Fossil Hunter - Judith Williams
Stories in Stone; The World of Animal Fossils - Jo S. Kittinger

Other reading
The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane
Mouse Makes Words - Kathryn Heling & Deborah Hembrook
Billy's Big Game - Paul Harrison & Silvia Raga
Why the Frog Has Big Eyes - Betsy Franco
Pigs in the House - Steven Kroll

On a personal note, I just started reading Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov. I've never read Asimov before, so I'm not sure what I'm getting into as far as writing style. I have enjoyed what I've read so far. I'm curious though. I understand the Foundation series was written before Prelude was written. Am I reading these in the wrong order then, or will I be better off for reading this one first? This book has sparked some interesting thought about the loss of historical records through time.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tis the season for coughing and sneezin'...

Friday I had a sore throat. I was thinking it was allergies, since every fall I get a sore throat for a couple of weeks. I have no idea what exactly I'm allergic to, but regardless it hits me every year. Nope. Saturday morning I woke up with a screaming headache and a sore throat, both of which hung on all day long. This morning it was those two symptoms, an aching chest, a fever, and a double-you-over-until-you-want-to-die kind of cough. Great.

Vic has all the same symptoms I do, only to a lesser degree. Doesn't stop him from whining about it.

Cadence had a fever today. She was tired and cranky.

Riley had diarrhea that didn't wait until she made it to the bathroom. Three times.

Chad had no symptoms of this cold (flu?), but didn't want to be left out of the whining. His arm hurt. And his neck a bit. And he was sure he was developing some weird bump on his foot.

We are all drinking orange juice in gigantic amounts, alternating with water to make up for lost fluids, and napping a lot. Everybody has their own drinking glass, in a different color, to keep from sharing any germs that might not already be public. This sucks bad. Right now is the first time I've felt relatively coherent in the last two days.

I'm hoping I feel better tomorrow, so I can make it to the grocery store before we're left with nothing but peanut butter and beans to eat. I'm also making a very cute sweater that I have to buy trim yarn for. I hope everyone else had a fun and healthy weekend.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Words to brighten my day...

Riley, from the back seat of the car: "Mama, do you know the sun is a actual star?"

She's three and 1/2. I'm not sure if she partially understands this, or if she's repeating something one of the older kids said. Either way, it really made me smile.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Forced into housework...

We have fleas. I'm not exactly blaming my mother, but we had no fleas until she started staying with us, and fleas had taken over her house by that point. We do have 3 indoor-outdoor cats that could have just as easily brought them inside. Regardless of where they came from, they're here.

Last summer we battled with fleas for months. Raid and Hot Shot sprays and foggers. Flea baths for the unwilling cats every week. It was a nightmare, but after gobs and gobs of chemicals, we eventually got rid of them. So last weekend, when one single little flea was spotted, I decided to nip the whole mess in the bud and deep clean everywhere. I washed all the sheets and blankets. I vacuumed the whole house, even under stuff. (The carpet still looks as beautiful under the couch as when we installed it, which makes me hate the visible carpet, but I had no choice but to cover the pretty carpet just so the whole floor would match. God forbid someone come over, see that spot of pretty carpet and realize just how much we've wrecked it since it was put down.) I bathed the cats. Boxer, my 11 year old apricot point siamese, is the biggest howling baby every time he has a bath. It's really pretty funny.

Yesterday, while settling in for a nap on the couch, I found a flea crawling on the blanket I'd snagged from the girls' room. Ugh.

Last night I bought a box of 20 Mule Team Borax, having read plenty of testimonials about its flea-killing ability. So today I've been sprinkling it all over the carpet and rubbing it in with a broom. I've been washing all the blankets again. I may wash the stuffed animals too (Holy Hell will that be a job!). I've been adding Borax to the wash loads too. Not sure if it will help with the fleas, but it certainly helps with the nasty funk that permeates all my son's linens (what is that?!?). I'm considering making a solution of Borax and water to wash the cats in, but I'm not so sure about that. I know you can use boric acid and water to clean gunky kitten eyes, but I don't know if it's the same stuff in 20 Mule Team. More research needed on that I guess.

So, wish me luck. My house hasn't been cleaned this well since the last flea episode. I'm sure my husband is about ready to have a heart attack. In fact, maybe that's where the fleas are coming from...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Why blogging sucks...

I'm about the worst blogger in the world. Weeks, sometimes a month between posts. Sometimes I get busy living my life and don't find any time to write about it. Sometimes I'm just lazy and don't feel like it. Sometimes my life is so lame I don't feel I have anything to write about anyway. I'm almost always online at least once during the day; I just don't always get around to leaving some sign of my online presence here.

Apparently I'm not the only person who feels this way. Just this week, three of my daily reads are leaving the blogosphere. I will particularly miss Doc and Toraji. While I was a once-in-a-while commenter on Doc's blog, I don't believe I ever commented on Toraji's. I was thinking of leaving her a little message, something like, "I just lurked here, but I will miss your blog," but somehow it seemed too little too late. I wonder how many bloggers base the fun of their blogging experience on how many others read their words. I can imagine for some, if the only occasional readers or posters are real-life friends or family members, it may not be that much fun.

Mostly, I do this for myself. I write what I'm thinking, no matter how dull or contradictory to "normal" thought. Still, every post is composed with the small thought lingering in the back of my mind that others are reading. Or at least that others could read, if they happened by. So I try to make it at least mildly interesting to others. I can't compete with the humor and lightheartedness of other's blogs, but I'm very happy just writing my thoughts without being too overly boring. I celebrate my mediocrity.

You should not blog if you don't enjoy it. Even just a little. It's always sad to have to remove a blog from my read list, but I respect the authors' reasons for dropping out. Good luck, ladies. May your real lives be just as great as your blogs were.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Deep Breath...

Dentist appointments start up again tomorrow. Thursday and Friday morning. Then Monday through Friday next week. Deep Breath. I think I need to lie down.

My mother is coming tonight to stay at our house until Friday and be a live-in babysitter again. This is alright, in very small doses, for me. Vic develops nervous ticks when she stays with us. We bicker more. It's not that he doesn't like her. I think he just likes his home to be his own. Next week I've arranged another sitter to watch the kids on Monday and Friday to lessen the days my mom stays here.

In leiu of actual textbook schooling during this time, we will be doing lots of reading. Group reading, independent reading, older-child-reading-to-younger-child reading, grandma reading, etc. I am hoping my mouth is not too numb or sore that I can actually read some aloud too, but we're not holding our breath.

Planned for the next couple weeks:

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
The Golden Skull by John Blaine
Ten Apples Up On Top by Theo. LeSieg
In A People House by Theo. LeSieg
The Age of Dinosaurs by Jane Burton
How Big Were the Dinosaurs by Bernard Most
Shaping the Earth by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

Other Stuff
Experiments from Linda's Homeschool Page on erosion and weathering
More experiments with home-grown crystals from Crystals and Crystal Gardens You Can Grow by Jean Stangl

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tuesday: Library Day...

I've declared Tuesday as Library Day. I'm not sure if that will work beyond this week, but we're going to try. We are limited having only one working vehicle, so I had to take Vic to work this morning before we could go anywhere. After some other errands, we headed to the library.

You'd think the kids were at an amusement park. They love trips to the library and because of this fact, so do I.

After deciding to teach a chronological history, somehow working in geography and government as well, I was on a hunt for books on early human existence. You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to find such books written at a juvenile level, especially just at the local public library. I finally found a book about the days of the mammoth, that had some information about early humans in it. I stuck it in my basket. I found another book about early civilization - wonderful. I stuck it in the basket. Near that book was a book about dinosaurs. Well, I though, dinosaurs did come before people, and what's the point of teaching about life on earth if I'm not starting at the begining right? I stuck the dinosaur book in the basket. Soon I found another book about dinosaurs with more detailed information and some great pictures. That went into the basket too. I browsed some more. Look, a book on how the earth was formed; volcanoes and earthquakes, water and wind erosion. Into the basket. Oh look, a book about the origins of the universe. Well, we are starting at the begining. Into the basket.

After all this, I decided that was a huge amount of stuff to cover at once, and we probably would not get through it all with the amount of information I was comfortable with, within the time I have the books checked out. I decided to wait on humans and just focus on the origins of the planet, and things that came before people. After we got home I was thinking about the orgins of the universe, and how this would be a great lead in for a unit on the solar system. That could take up a couple of weeks. *Sigh*

The good part of this story is the idea of units. We could do the solar system unit while learning about the origins of the universe. With the formation of the earth and dinosaurs, we can do units on erosion, geology, and evolution. We can study prehuman species. We can learn about the origins of language. And religion. There is literally no end to the stuff we could come up with and learn about. I should be feeling overwhelmed right now, but I'm actually pretty excited.

After I have a chance to find some of the units I'm thinking of, and print them, plan activites, and start them in practice... well then I'll be overwhelmed.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Church? Gosh, no!...

Last night, Cadence and Riley stayed overnight with my mom. It's not often they get the opportunity to hang out at Grandma's without Chad, but he was invited to a sleepover.

Chad insisted he didn't want to attend this sleepover, and it took a lot of cajolling on my part to talk him into it. I'm concerned not that he doesn't friends, but that he doesn't even want to. I think a lot of factors contribute to that. One being his experience in public school was so horrible that he can't imagine putting himself in another potentially humiliating position again. He is a very high-strung kid and has a tendency to do irritating and annoying things just to bother others, and that kind of kid is often not liked very much. We're working on the behaviors, but I can't really do much about how people respond to them. I also think he's become so used to interacting with adults that he's not quite sure how to behave otherwise. So we talked about all this, and came to the conclusion that while he wasn't too interested in making new friends, he didn't want to make any enemies either. Sometimes this socialization stuff has to be forced upon them I guess ;)

On the way to drop him off, I commented that he would probably have to be picked up early because one of the other moms was really churchy and would probably be picking her boys up early so they could make it to the early service. I wasn't even talking to Chad, but he heard me and said, "I don't want to go to church." I had to explain that I wasn't talking about him, I was talking about the other boys.

While I was chatting with the Mom in Charge, I mentioned that I would be after Chad early. "I was thinking about taking all the boys to church in the morning," she said. "Would that be ok? I could drop him off after."

"Umm..." I said. I stumbled. I stammered. I finally got the words, "We're not church people," to come out.

She stared. "I know that," she said, "that's why I figured I would ask you." She was still looking at me like I hadn't answered her question yet.

"I would really rather just pick him up early," I told her.

She stared. She began to become irritated, "You don't want him to go to church at all?" Surely, I must be crazy. Or just joking. Or something. Who, even if they don't go to church regularly, doesn't mind their kid going just one time? It is an extra hour of alone time after all.

"No," I finally said, regaining my composure. All the staring and uncomfortable silence was feeding my sense of humor really. "I'll be after him at 8:30. Have a good time, Chad!" Then I left, with her gaping and staring after me.


Chad did tell me this morning he didn't want to stay overnight again with that boy. He didn't say with anybody, though. And he didn't say he didn't have a good time. That's a good sign right?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

No rest for the paranoid mother...

So I'm overprotective, according to most people's standards. So I'm paranoid that my kids' exposure to the "wrong" things might be devastatingly detrimental to their mentality and development. So I'm brainwashing my kids into rallying, sign-toting psycho-feminists. So what? They're my kids, right? So what is a paranoid brainwashing parent to do when every aspect of media is covered with advertising and programming unsuitable for the children?

I briefly considered eliminating the television altogether. The problem is I like television. And since we got cable, there is an unlimitted amount of educational stuff for my kids to watch on tv. As I type, Chad is watching a program on otters. A few days ago we watched a program called Extreme Earth (I think), and all three of my children spent the next couple of hours drawing pictures of tornados and volcanos, and making up various drastic scenarios that all involved the destruction of our house. They learn so much from the television.

And herein lies the problem. Not five minutes ago, there was a commercial break where 3 different men declared their sex lives are great since they lost weight with NutriSystem. The diet program commercial is on almost every break. In the evenings (I'm talking dinnertime, not after-the-kids-go-to-bed-primetime), we see commercials about E.D., which would be cryptic enough without the phrase, "Sex is a very important part of our relationship." The Tag body spray commercials are apalling. Almost every single commercial uses sex in some way to sell their product. I can't even buy deodorant without seeing a curvy, swaying woman in sexy black undies jumping from a balcony into her dress.

Last night I saw a commercial for a video game where players can "be a playboy" driving hot cars, living in palace-style homes, surrounded by their "ladies" (wearing just the suggestion of clothing). This game was rated E-10, for kids 10 and up. Is this the kind of thing most parents expect of their 10 year old sons? Materialism, with women being just another thing to collect? Really, it sickens me. It's just plain sad.

My kids know about sex. We've had many discussions about the purpose, the process, even the very basics of how. Still, I have issues with the sex-obsessed society we live in. I want my kids to grow up with a healthy attitude about sex. And I don't believe conducting every single aspect of one's life around sex is a healthy attitude.

I would like to find some information on raising children with an awareness of the tricks of the advertising world. I'm sure there are lots of parents out there who, like myself, are tired of how easily people are swayed by advertising and how much those little tricks change how people think. Other than just talking about these things with my kids, I'm not sure how to handle this.

In the meantime, I will be muting and/or shutting off the tube for a few minutes at commercial time. At least until we get a DVR.

Homeschool skip day(s)...

Does watching educational tv all day long count as homeschooling? I hope so. I've been so burnt out from all the running around and 6 consecutive dental appointments, including a root canal and an extraction, that I've not had the energy for any schooling. Thankfully my children are unschoolers at heart, and have been reading a lot of informative books and watching Aminal Planet the whole time. No cartoons or stupid Nickelodeon preteen sitcoms.

I don't know what constitutes "unschooling." It seems like every description I've read about unschooling is different than the last. While some unschoolers just let their kids run wild learning here and there at random, some have at least some kind of curriculum and simply let their kids learn it at their own pace. It's not important to me to fit homeschoolers into organized little boxes of "Christian Homeschoolers," "Unschoolers," or "Classical Homeschoolers," but it would be nice if I could find some small niche where I knew I would find others who think like I do.

I'm not a lazy homeschooler, but I also don't have strict lesson plans to follow. We "do" the textbooks until they're finished. We do some worksheets in there, if they're applicable, or maybe just because they're fun. We have lots of discussions. I also have been known to skip chapters if no one in our house can think of a good reason anyone at all should know this information, let alone a 10 year old kid. We focus on reading, writing and math. We never touch the basal reader. It sucks.

Lately though, I have been lazy. I don't want to do it. Neither do the kids. We had a great summer, and now the idea of sitting down and doing bookwork, even for a couple of hours, is overwhelming. I guess for now I will just be satisfied with a unit on Meercat Manor.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Template hunt...

I've been on a mission for a while now to replace my blog template. I don't have anything like photoshop to create my own. So I'm stuck with templates someone else created and paint. Ugh. Most templates I find are whole sets that have some aspects I like and some I don't. There are a lot of free templates out there for movie buffs and pc gamers. Lots of cartoony templates that have as much detail as a Microsoft webding. Gobs and gobs of flowery templates that remind me of my grandma's house.

I do know some html; more than the average computer-illiterate person but not nearly as much as an average teenager. There are a lot of computer terms that I don't understand, but I'm not as likely as some to become so intimidated by terminology that I won't even attempt to mess with it. Most of the html I know I learned from close examination and playing around. All that being said, I'm a bit reluctant to mess with the current template too much. I don't like the boxes. I don't like the margins. I'm scared to change them without finding a template that at least sort of matches what I'm looking for so I can get an idea of how to change it.

A few years ago I created a memorial website for my son on Yahoo's PageBuilder, but became so wrapped up in finding new graphics and constantly making changes that I had to leave off for a while. Like a few years or something. Ok, I completely abandoned the project for the risk of going insane. That and I'd prepared this really long story of my son's birth and death, only to have it plagerized on someone else's page. (How low do you have to be, joshsmommy, to steal my very personal words which I spent hours composing and crying over?) I'd love to make a new one with the knowledge I've gained since then, but I'm afraid I might repeat the maniacal web-searching and downloading that pulled me away from it last time.

Well anyway, I guess I will keep hunting through free template pages and really stupid graphics created by 13 year olds until I find one that suits me. Or at least comes close to suiting me. If anyone knows of some great websites for this, please let me know. (Please keep in mind that contrary to some people's claims, a page with 4 templates that are all exactly the same but with different backgrounds does not count as a "great website.")

Friday, September 08, 2006

So.. Burnt.. Out...

Last week was cause for a tremendous rise in blood pressure as Vic and I started our dental work. I had a root canal, and he got three fillings and started a root canal of his own all by lunchtime on Friday.

This week, we are halfway through even more dental work. Yesterday I had a tooth pulled, requiring 4 shots before I was numb, and a really lot of pulling, prying, sawing, etc. It was a nightmare and now my jaw hurts so badly I can barely open my mouth to eat. Vic finished his root canal today while I got a filling in the tooth directly above the one they pulled yesterday. We go back tomorrow for more drilling and filling. Before we left today, we scheduled 7 more appointments for the end of the month. Oh the joy.

I have been having a lot of trouble keeping up with the 20 job applications each per week for Vic and I, recorded and turned in by noon each Friday. Trying to manage homeschooling, dental appointments, Vic's work, and 20 appointments filled out, logged and returned is a big load. And I just realized tonight that some paperwork that was supposed to be turned in on September 5th is still sitting on my computer desk waiting for me to fill it out. I really really REALLY hope this doesn't screw us for our assistance. I don't know what I would do if I had to fill all those papers out again, and when you lose assistance you can lose it for 6 months.

My vehicle registration is expired, and will be $162 to renew. Not that it matters, since my car payment is overdue as well, and the finance company calls at least 3 times a day. My property taxes are due. The garbage company called to say they would be stopping pickup if they didn't get a payment by tomorrow. My water is about to be disconnected. My phone and internet too. And you know what? I don't care very much. Well, obviously I CARE, but I'm just not very upset right now.

I am just tired. And my mouth hasn't hurt this bad in my whole life. And honestly, I'm numb to the whole assistance thing. I just go through the motions and fill out the papers and hope we don't lose everything before we make it out of this mess. I can't fix anything, which is frustrating, but there is no reason to worry constantly if there's nothing I can do, right? I am just hoping that within a few months this whole thing will be over. And I'm hoping that when it is over, I will still think it was a good idea. I hope I have no regrets for making these choices. I hope my children can understand. I hope we don't end up in a worse position than before. I hope I hope I hope

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Backyard safari: The hunt for BBs...

Today the kids were restless. Fighting with each other. Nagging me about everything. Whining over the littlest issue. I sent them outside.I didn't ever think my kids would have to be encouraged to go outside, especially on a nice sunny day, but apparently they do. I thought the fact that we live in Iowa, where winters can be just one long string of sub-zero days and cloudy skies, they would appreciate any opportunity they had to be outside without a coat. They whined about having to go outside. They complained about having nothing to do. They wandered aimlessly around the yard with mopey faces on to prove how torturous my cruel punishment was.

On my way out to chastize them for being such technology-addicted robots, I noticed the container of BBs we recently bought for the BB gun were outside, and knocked over on the ground. I picked some up, and found a few that had strayed about a foot from the point of spillage. Gathering those, I found some more about a foot further than that. And some more. And some more. At that point I decided I was too lazy to pick them all up and that would be an excellent thing for my nothing-to-do children to take over.

Half an hour later, I found Chad constructing a sifting system. He had noticed the container for the BBs was full of dirt and grass (that probably ended up in there while they were picking up the spilled BBs), and he was cleaning it all out. The top of his contraption was a beach sifter, which allowed the dirt to fall through while catching larger things like the BBs and grass. The next level was a plastic lid from the recycle bin with holes punched just large enough for the BBs to fall through, but catch the grass.

And my grandmother thinks kids have to go to public school to learn how to "think properly." At least they found something to do.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Very crazy week...

I have been so busy this week! Monday was shots for Cadence and copies of immunization records for the district office. We ate lunch at my mother-in-law's house (she called it spaghetti, which it only slightly resembled and tasted drastically different). We visited my grandmother since we were in town.

Tuesday the legal paperwork was due to the district office for Chad and Cadence. Form A (two pages this year), Plan of Instruction, testing option notification, and dual-enrollment form. Two copies to the district, one for me, and one for my portfolio reviewer. I was a copying fool for about two hours. I also had to pick up the books from the school, organize everything and create a lesson plan for the rest of this week. I was up until 1am. Ugh. This wouldn't be such an issue if the school could manage to get the books ready for me sometime sooner than the day before the first day of school.

Yesterday was our first actual homeschooling day this year. We've been doing stuff all summer, but most of it has been whatever the kids wanted to learn about or observe. Unschooling, in a sense. I got the pleasure of babysitting for my cousin, which I already told her I wasn't going to do but it was, "just this one time." She planned to be gone an hour, but it was closer to two. Thankfully, Chad was all done with his school work by the time she got here, so there was no further disruption from my conversation with her until she left an hour later. Cadence's school time went more smoothly since there were no toddler arguments going on in the background by then. Ugh again. We also had a barbecue to go to and didn't get home until after 9pm, an hour after Riley's bedtime. We spent 45 minutes trying to get my poor over-tired children to wind down and go to sleep.

I expected today to run a bit more smoothly, but apparently all three of my kids are suffering te effects of not quite enough sleep. Riley has been whining and bawling about absolutely everthing today, and the other two have spent the whole morning fighting with each other.

Coming up for the remainder of the week: 20 job applications, a birthday party I'd rather not go to, and dental checkups for my older two children. I did half our applications (ten for me and ten for Vic) online last night, since half our job contacts can be emailed. That leaves another 10 applications each that have to be collected, filled out and returned by tomorrow morning, when the job log is due. Let's not even get into the inconveniences caused by Vic working, my errands/appointments, and only one vehicle with current tags. Ugh, ugh, and ugh.

Next week should be a lot easier on everyone. The kids will be more accustomed to daily work We won't have any appointments leaving more time for collecting and returning applications. I won't be looking after any children that don't belong to me. That will be a lot easier, right? Right?

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I'm here. I'm still alive. I wonder how many people still check this blog, if anyone. I would not be surprised if the few people who were reading my sorry little blog have long abandoned me. I would have, if I were them. I just have no patience for slow posters.

For anyone who may still be periodically checking, or for those who may be new to my little miserable corner of the internet, I will update our situation.

We qualified for FIP, aka welfare money, a crappy $540/month. This will pay my utilities, but nothing else. We are getting $520/month food stamps, which is a tremendous help. I was concerned about losing my car, since the monthly alottment doesn't cover my car payment. It also doesn't cover my property taxes, due next month, or my internet access (can you believe that?!? They expect me to live without internet!). Fortunately, Vic found some work with a local remodelling guy for cash. Off the books. Illegal? Absulutely. Serious abuse of the system? Damn straight. But we can keep our car, which makes it possible for Vic to get a real, on the books job - or a job of any kind for that matter - once our dental work is all done. I don't lose my house because of a tax sale, and may even be able to pay the back taxes by the time we're done with this nightmare.

We had our first dental appointment on Wednesday. The dentist says dentures are a silly idea as long as we keep our 6 month checkups, and plans to fill or cap all our bad teeth. We're planning a root canal on my front tooth, which I'm sure isn't that bad, but I've never had one before so I'm a bit nervous. I wonder how silly the idea of dentures would be if I told the dentist the reality - that we may not be able to make our regular checkups unless we have some drastic change in income / insurance by then. Either way, by the middle of September, I should be all fixed up, Vic can start looking for a real job, and we can move on with our lives.

I can elaborate more on these subjects, as well as everything else that's been going on around here, in the next few days. I feel so much better now that things are starting to go more smoothly around here. I can't even tell you how relieved I am that Vic is working instead of rumbling around the house driving me crazy!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Wait! I'm too young to be old!...

Yesterday, my older friend paid for us to spend the day at Adventureland Park, a small theme park not too far from our house. The kids had a fantastic time. I on the other hand, have become a gigantic baby about rides.

I used to be fearless. I used to ride every rollercoaster I came across. Repeatedly. If it spun, swooped or dropped, I was all about it. Adventureland has a ride called the Silly Silo, which is a round room where you stand against the wall and spin until you're stuck to the wall, then the floor drops out. I used to ride that when I was tired from the other rides, but otherwise found it boring and lame. Sometime, I'm not sure when, I became a pansy. Swinging too high on the swingset is unnerving to me. That feeling, you know the one, like when you go over a hill in the car really fast, like your stomach is raising up to your throat? Well, that feeling bothers the crap out of me now.

On our last trip to Adventureland (several years ago), Vic talked me into going on the Space Shot, which shoots you 200ft in the air and then you just fall. FALL. 200 feet. "It's not scary," he said, "it's fun." It was horrible. I felt like I was going to throw up or die. Or throw up and die. This time, it was the Sidewinder. I can't describe it accurately, but basically you're spinning and swinging way in the air at the same time. "Try it," Vic said. "Really, it's fun. It's not scary at all. It's really pretty mild. Almost relaxing." I wasn't buying it. "Then why are people screaming?" I asked. "Because it's fun," he said. I watched the intimidating swirling mass of people. "I don't think I want to ride anything that fun." Eventually I caved. He said it was fun. He said I would like it. He's my husband and I trusted him.

He was a big fat liar. I spent the few minutes on that ride clinging to the bars and screaming my head off. I wasn't screaming because it was fun.

What the hell happened to me? I used to be fun, I swear! I was so looking forward to sharing theme parks with my family. Instead it looks like I'll be the mom on the sidelines.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The gift of a great day...

My older friend has his 15 year old granddaughter Cheyenne staying with him this summer. She lives in Indiana most of the year, and I think she's starting to get seriously bored here with not much to do and none of her friends around. My friend brought Cheyenne to our house this morning, with 5 tickets to Adventureland Park, our little version of Disneyworld. It was such a blessing, since we couldn't afford a family trip to that place when Vic was working, and moreso since he's not.

Chad had a good time most of the day, but about two hours after lunch started complaining that his stomach hurt. It was a super-hot day today and the humidity was really bad, so I was sure he was just overheated and started pushing him to drink more water. He stayed off the rides for a while and drank water, but while riding on a ski lift-type transport across the park, he vomited over the edge. Luckily he didn't hit anyone below, but the people down there were freaking out and running in all directions. It was actually pretty funny. Chad felt much better after that and resumed riding roller coasters without any trouble.

Cadence was a complete daredevil the whole day and had a blast! She rode every roller coaster with her hands in the air, some of them 5 or more times in a row. She is still too short for some of the more intense rides and was pretty disappointed every time she had to sit out. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to fully experience her reactions to her first experience in a theme park, since she spent the whole day holding on to Cheyenne and following her around like a shadow. Cadence just adores her, and I don't suppose that's too bad since Cheyenne is not a bad kid at all. Just kinda sad I missed the good stuff, you know?

Riley was way too small to go on anything exciting, but she was terrified on the few rides she could go on that were at all fast. She complained a lot about not being able to go on stuff with Chad and Cadence, but there were lots of rides there designed for little kids that she could go on. She insists that she didn't have a good time, but she's in a negativity phase right now, and I'm sure she loved it. She cried when we left.

We left the park an hour early when a downpour shut down all the rides. We could have hung around the park, but the rain didn't let up till after the time we were going to leave anyway. The rain hit when we were on the far end of the park, so by the time we got through the park and all the way to the car, we were all thoroughly drenched. That extra hour gave us time to have pizza at home before my friend came after Cheyenne, so I think it turned out to be a pretty good day.