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.