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.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Happy Birthday to my Manly Man...

Today is Vic's 30th birthday. I was going to take him out to dinner, but considering our financial situation right now I think that's a bad idea. I have plans to bake him a cake, which he should just love. I'm not much on sweets myself and rarely have them in the house at all, so birthday cake is always a big hit.

I don't really see the point in making a huge deal about a thirtieth birthday. He's not much older than he was yesterday, and he certainly doesn't act any older than 17 (:P).

We're getting our foodstamp benefit tomorrow, which according to the guidelines I've seen is going to be way more than we'll actually use. Maybe we can have a big birthday dinner tomorrow instead. I wonder if you can buy a live lobster with food stamps? Hehehe.

Saxon math rocks...

I can't believe how quickly Chad is absorbing information with Saxon's format. Practice easy stuff every day until it's almost ridiculous, while learning other stuff until it's easy enough to practice every day. He started doing addition problems every day. He's capable of multiplication and division, so I got no arguments over the addition practice amongst multiplication stuff. Now that we've moved on to division work, his practice sheets are multiplication problems, which are now easy for him. I love how basic algebra ideas are worked in as well. In the first several lessons, he was subsituting "n" for numbers in simple problems without even a blink of an eye.

It's really too bad I didn't learn math this way. School in general may have been a lot easier on me.

Now I'll have to look into Saxon programs for my younger kids. The setup of the math program the district uses is just dumb, and most of it is busywork. Anyone know of a similar program for K-2 kids?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Isn't learning amazing?...

Watching someone doing it I mean. My kids just spent half an hour in the backyard watching a spider making a web in the grass. At one point, Chad came running in to tell me the spider had perched on a high point, balled up a great wad of web, and flung it to an area he wanted to go next. This from a kid who's so creeped out by bugs he won't even touch one that he knows is dead.

Isn't it great when they take the initiative to observe and learn without your coaching?

Update on the assistance process...

Well I tried to reach a social worker by phone. Since our kids are already getting medical assistance, I wasn't sure if we had to file a whole new application or if I could just talk to the worker and get the ball rolling that way. After a week of phone calls, the worker never called back, so I decided to just go in and fill out the dumb application anyway.

Today I spent the entire morning in the assistance office because "appointments" are on a first come first serve basis. The actual meeting with the worker took no more than ten minutes, but I was told I needed to supply more paperwork and information before they could file anything for me. I have to meet with someone at the Workforce Development office on Tuesday the 18th to enroll in Promise Jobs.

Promise Jobs is actually a pretty good program, designed to eliminate lifetime welfare recipients. A person is only allowed to receive welfare money for 60 total months in their lifetime, and only if they participate in the Promise Jobs program. The program sets you up with a job counsellor, employment classes, resume preparation, etc. with the ultimate goal of you becoming self-sufficient and no longer relying on government assistance. Where you used to lose all welfare assistance as soon as you got a job, now they continue your assistance for a designated period, with a reduction in the amount based on only 40% of your income. If you make $500/week at your new job, they give you assistance as if you were only making $200.

Vic is still planning to tell them he wants to go to school, and we hope they offer some sort of schooling program that he can participate in. I'm not sure where I stand in all this, since they told me today that I would have to participate in the job-hunting process too. I was happy to know that the worker I spoke with today was intelligent, since he told me I may not have to get a job at all if we homeschool. He said, "You have every legal right to homeschool your kids, and you can't do that very well if you're working full time can you?" That little comment almost made up for the 3 hours I waited in the lobby.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Summer school...

Some homeschoolers go year-round, which I'm sure is part of the reason a lot of homeschooled kids are well ahead of their public school peers. To some homeschooler, summer school is just like regular school. I plan to handle it the same way the public schoolers do, and use the summer to catch up where we may be lacking and review what we're likely to forget.

Chad has struggled and struggled with math. He is an overly logical child, and becomes easily frustrated with something when he can't see the immediate benefit. It was like pulling teeth getting him to memorize his multiplication tables because he couldn't see the benefit. Even after explaining that while yes, you can add it over and over to get the answer, it's so much faster this way, he was resistant.I just bought Saxon 5/4 and 6/5 at a curriculum fair, and I can't even tell you how excited I was at the content. While the 5/4 is technically 4th grade material, there was sooo much in there that wasn't even touched in the textbook from the district last year. I decided to have Chad go through this book first, to get used to the setup for one, and because I'm positive the whole thing will make more sense to him this way.

Cadence will be practicing reading all summer. Her math skills are already well ahead of the public schoolers her age, and she could use a break.Now, if I could just find time to do all this around park trips, assistance applications, and all the other b.s. going on right now to actually do schoolwork.

Monday, July 03, 2006

It happened...

We've finally crossed that line from almost poverty to just plain poverty. Vic was fired from his job. His former employer had asked him to drive out of state, get 4 hours of sleep, work 24 hours, then immediately drive 5 hours home. Vic told them he just couldn't work and be awake that long on so little sleep, so they fired him. Apparently a 24-hour shift is legal in Iowa, but I'm not sure what they'll decide about the drive home afterward. As of right now it looks like he won't qualify for unemployment.

I've been on the phone for the last couple of days trying to get ahold of the social worker I'm supposed to report to. I just have one little tiny question. Since my kids already get medical assistance, do I need to fill out a whole new application for medical, food, and financial assistance for us, or can they just make an adjustment to my current file? Nobody knows, and apparently the social worker doesn't really exist since she never answers her phone or returns her calls.

I don't want to be on welfare. I never wanted to get food stamps. I just don't see any other way to survive at this point. Vic is still looking for work, but there's a problem with working. He needs to make at least $16/hr to support us and pay our bills. If he gets any job at all, even for minimum wage, we will lose any assistance we qualify for, except maybe food stamps which didn't help much anyway.

So here's the tentative plan: We go on welfare for 2-3 months. In that time, we qualify for medical assistance and can get all our dental issues taken care of. Vic will apply for financial assistance to get a welding certification at the community college. When he gets that certification, he can get a job making $18 or more, and we will no longer need welfare. I hope it works. And I hope I can keep my car, my internet, and my dignity through all this.